Strelley, Nottingham – All Saints’

On Sunday 10 September, after a morning’s work, we headed across to Nottingham to visit the church of All Saints, Strelley – SK 506422. It’s on the west side of the city, on a minor road through the village, down to the Hall – there also seem to be lots of nice walks nearby (once you cross the M1). Church website here.

The church was completely rebuilt by Sir Sampson de Strelley in the C14, but the lower part of the tower is C12. The Clerestory was added in the C16 to replace the original steep-pitched roof. I didn’t have much of a look round outside. I did notice that Richard Savin’s vital spark was extinguished.

Inside I got a lovely welcome. Refreshments were provided, and they had a lovely display of wedding dresses and congregational photos.

This is a church with a lot of interest. I’ll try and sort my photos out to make some sort of sense. Let’s start with woodwork. The Chancel screen is a very fine example of C15 workmanship and stands on its original stone plinth. However experts believe it came from somewhere else, perhaps Bilborough church or Dale Abbey, as there are signs it has had to be cut down. It survived the Civil War and Puritan period as the Rector, Abraham Forbes, boarded it up. The rood (the figures of Christ, Mary and John) are Victorian reproductions. The screen is a beautiful piece of work.

The pulpit contains several carved oak panels, four of which are probably C15, while the canopy and back are Jacobean (C17). The choir stalls are C15, but I failed to photo the misericords. Here is the guidebook drawing.

In the Chancel we have some lovely Strelley monuments. In the centre is the monument to Sir Sampson de Strelley (died 1390), who rebuilt the church, and his wife Elizabeth (died 1405). The tomb dates from 1405-10, hence the knights clothes are from a period slightly later than his own (says the guidebook. I can’t say I’d noticed). The couple are holding hands which is rather nice. Apparently the head of the knight rests of the family crest, the head of a strangled Saracen. (I’m just imagining trying to get that past the DAC). His feet are on a lion, her’s on pet dogs. Look at her jewellery – it’s wonderful. The angels hold shields, probably once emblazoned. Like many other tombs I seemed to have photoed recently, it is of alabaster. The best alabaster came from nearby quarries at Chellaston, south of Derby, and from about 1290 Nottingham had a considerable reputation for the carving of alabaster, as did York.

Their grandson Sir Robert (died 1438) is probably buried under the incised slab by the altar. He was one of the lancers at Agincourt. There’s also John, his brother – and I’ve lost track which stone is which.

I think this is another Sir John de Strelley (died 1501) and his wife Sanchia (died 1500). Sir John’s feet rest on a lion, and each foot is supported by a carved figure, called a weeper, sitting on the lion’s back holding a rosary in the left hand.

This is another Sir Robert (died 1487) and his wife Isabel (died 1458) – her brother was John Kemp, Archbishop of Canterbury. There is also a reconstruction drawing of what it would have looked like. The plates were made in Flanders and engraved by workmen in London.

So, lots of lovely memorials – and there’s some rather stunning glass too. We have glass from the C14 and C15, as well as Victorian and early C20. You can work out what comes from which period – and just enjoy them.

The font is C14, though the steps are more recent.

I hope this has given you a taste of this lovely church – there was a lot more I could have photoed. They have a very complete guidebook – so a bit of history to finish with. It was originally a Saxon settlement, established by Domesday. Little is known about the Lords of the Manor until the reign of Henry I (1100-1135). The de Strelley family then owned it until the reign of Charles II, then it was sold to the Edge family – and the last Miss Edge died in 1978. Just two families through so many centuries of English history. Sampson Strelley was one of the knights at Runnymede, persuading John to sign. Another Sampson rebuilt the church in 1350 as an act of gratitude for surviving the Black Death. The population of the village fell from 250 to less than 100. This Sir Sampson’s grandson, Robert, was a lancer at Agincourt (I mentioned him above) and he was knighted on the battlefield. Over the centuries the estate was divided between different family members, and survived on the profits of coal mining. There is a tablet in St Mary’s Nottingham recording Elizabeth Strelley, died 1786, as “the last survivor of that ancient family.”

This was an agricultural community, but coal mining started in the 1500s. In 1604 the furst railway in England, a wooden track with horse-drawn wagons, was constructed to carry coal from Strelley pits to Wollaton. Apparently you can see mounds which are the remains of C16 bell pit workings behind Broad Oak Farm. There are details here  and here. Time to read Michael Lewis’ Early Wooden Railways – he lectured at the WEA when I was at Lincoln Theological College. I know whose lectures I got most out of!

Very nice lunch at the Mulberry Tree Café in the Hall behind the church – website.


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