Society events during Summer 2002


North Nottinghamshire Churches – Saturday 8 June. Leaders: Jean Nicholson and Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson and June and Peter Burton outside St Swithun's church, East Retford.

It was strawberries for tea when Jean Nicholson and Michael Jackson led the expedition to five churches in North Nottinghamshire. Our first visit was to Babworth. Here the Rev Richard Clyfton preached from 1586 - he inspired the movement that eventually led to the Pilgrim Fathers and the United States of America. We were particularly privileged to be shown the chalice from 1569 that had been buried under the chancel floor for 350 years and which had been used by Clyfton - also the breeches bible. From there we went to Sutton cum Lound with the exuberant tracery of its west window and its fine bench ends. St Michael at West Retford was our stop before lunch with a quick glance at Trinity Hospital en route. After lunch we visited St Swithun’s at East Retford.  Our final visit was to Mattersey: little of the priory now remains but we visited the church of All Saints in the village and were able to examine its most important treasurers - the two stone carved panels dating from the early part of the 14th century and believed to have come from the Priory.

Keith Goodman

Northamptonshire – Saturday 6 July.  Leader: Steph Mastoris

The familiar journey into Northamptonshire via Melton Mowbray and Oakham was greatly enhanced by Steph Mastoris who acted as guide to the area. At Lyveden New Bield we had coffee and biscuits before being given a fascinating tour of the gardens. These are slowly being restored to their Elizabethan glory as planned by Sir Thomas Tresham, who never lived to see his plans completed. The custodian brought to life the beauty of the area and left us all longing to return to see the result of all the hard work.

Lunch at Oundle followed, then it was on to Fotheringhay to see the remains of the castle with the memorials to Richard III and Mary Queen of Scots, the castle motte having been planted with thistles to commemorate the latter. The county historian gave a fascinating insight into the history and landscaping of the site. Some of the party then wandered round the church while others were taken to see an ancient warren. An excellent day was brought to a close with a superb tea provided by the ladies of Cottersock at the village fête. Many thanks to Steph Mastoris and Sue Groves for their organisation and enthusiasm. 

P A Messenger

Nottinghamshire Gardens – Thursday 8 August.  Leader: Philip Jones

I don’t know when Philip Jones planted the idea of visiting Thoresby and Clumber, but it came most happily to fruition for our visit, and, paraphrasing one of the Liverpool poets: the sky decided that the rain had been out long enough so he took it back for the day.

  Thoresby is now a Warner Holidays Hotel (with English Heritage involvement). Andy Malam, Head Gardener with a Rufford background, enjoys both problems and satisfactions connected with returning the formal gardens to the  ‘mirror’ effect of two similar halves. He works with, not against, the rabbit, the fox and the deer who have a penchant for the roses in his developing Victorian Rose Garden and he’s delighted at discovering original woodland drain holes and pipes as clean as a whistle.

Clumber’s walled kitchen garden was full of marvellous colours. In the greenhouses the protective furry skin on peaches means they can tolerate the intense heat of the glassed side; it would kill the smooth skinned nectarines which need to be grown against the inner wall. The Nottingham Medlar (planted recently in a Bulwell Community Scheme) is Victorian. The list of fines on the wall shows how strict life was for a gardener. “Gathering fruit with dirty hands-4d.” Neil Porteous, Head gardener, and Jez took us around. Our thanks to everyone involved. Claire Wells

Nottinghamshire Churches – Saturday 7 September.  Leader: Barbara Cast

All Saints church, Hawton.

The final excursion of the 2002 season formed part of the series of visits to our county churches. On this occasion we visited All Saints, Hawton, the charming church of St Giles at Holme, All Saints and St John the Baptist at Collingham, the little church of St Cecilia at Girton and St Helen's at South Scarle.

Pevsner found that "The chancel [at All Saints, Hawton] is one of the most exciting pieces of architecture in the country." And those who visited on 7th September could not agree more. The beauty of the tracery executed by master craftsmen of the 14th century was enhanced by the erudite explanation and interpretation of the present incumbent, the Rev JB Quarrell, whose research and ideas on the purpose of the so called Easter sepulchre should, by general agreement of those on the excursion, be published. St Giles at Holme is exceptional for being almost all of Tudor work, the creation of John Barton, a wealthy wool merchant who proclaimed his thanks for his sheep-created prosperity by virtually rebuilding this little church and making it one of the most interesting to visit of any in the county. John Barton built a splendid tomb for himself and his wife – but does he lie there? Collingham can boast two splendid mediaeval churches, testifying to the former importance of this elegant village. Standing out from the other interesting features are the fine arcades in both churches, 13th century of varying styles in All Saints and the north one at St John the Baptist of highly decorated Norman work. Girton's delightful tiny church is dedicated to St Cecilia. A feature which caught the eye of many members was the cross carved on a stone now incorporated into the porch, believed to be a remnant of the earlier Saxon Christian tradition on this site. Finally to St Helen at South Scarle – another surprise in its splendid Norman arcade which bears a similarity to its neighbour in South Collingham. Another item that captured the visitors' eye was the vamping horn found during building work and now displayed on the north wall. This was another very enjoyable and informative excursion to our county churches – many thanks to those who welcomed us and spoke with such enthusiasm of these amazing spiritual buildings - works of art cherished by dedicated people in very small communities, working against the odds to obtain the funding needed to keep these national treasures in good order.

Barbara Cast