Home    Topics    Memorials    Miscellany    Transcripts    References    Family History    Glossary    Latest    Beeston Blog    About us          Site Search   
OverviewGleaningsOldrini AutobiographyThen & NowParish Church HistoryDivine Mercy..A Crimean DiaryBurialsMarriages 1558-1812Canterbury WillsMarriage Licences 1754-70
Transcripts


Main TextVicars of BeestonChantry PriestsIllustrations
Parish Church History

A History of the Parish Church of Beeston - by G W Deverill


This account was first published in booklet form in October 1927 to mark the Beeston church's Sixth Centenary Celebrations. It had been written by Mr Deverell following a suggestion by the then Vicar, Rev L. Norman Phillips, that such a history of the church would be appropriate. In the Foreward, the Vicar thanks the author, going on to say "he has spent much time in probing into the past, and has taken infinite trouble to verify his statements, and we owe him a very large debt of gratitude."
The work has been transcribed essentially unchanged and modern readers should be aware that references to "now", "today", etc relate to 1927 when it was originally written and that monetary values have been unaltered from old currency formats.

Preface by the Author - This history is purely that of the Parish Church, and matters connected therewith, and is not intended to be a history of Beeston, admitted the two were synonymous in olden days, but the aim has been to omit matters extraneous to the subject. The booklet represents a fair portion of new information, the rest is purely a compilation. I have merely taken upon myself the task of putting into a concise form that which the trader might cull from other sources, if he were so disposed, time allowed, and the requisite books were available. Naturally I have had recourse to other people's writings, but I have, as far as I could, embodied in my account the result of most recent research. "As far as I could" has to be said, for I have not always been able to lay my hands upon all the data desired. The task has involved not a little perseverance. It is no egotism to say that only those engaged in similar pursuits can form a just idea of the time and research requisite in collecting and digesting materials for a booklet of this description. Where facts have been borrowed from previous writers, great care has been used in verification of such records. It is to be regretted, from an archaeological point of view, that it is not someone's peculiar function to record the events which chequered English village life in olden times of this and similar parishes, It is only from extraneous sources, from oral tradition (not always the surest guide), from Post-Reformation Registers, Terriers, and the works subsequently acknowledged, that these particulars have been compiled. Much use has been made of the books and Transactions of the Thoroton Society. Doubtless to Beeston folk, particularly those connected with the Parish Church, this booklet will have a significance and interest of its own. We can certainly boast of a hoary tradition and an ancient pedigree, even though posterity has left us such scant fragments of previous edifices in our present church. However, something it will be, to have succeeded in preserving from oblivion some of the reminiscences of a very ancient if lowly, village, Due acknowledgement must be made to the many friends who have made the result possible, and particularly to Pro. A Hamilton Thompson M.A, D.Litt, F.S.A, Professor of Medieval History, Leeds University, for kindly offering to peruse and check the contents prior to publication, from whose pen I have borrowed the notes on "The origin of Monastic Life" - G. W. Deverill - Beeston, October, 1927.

BPC pre 1842 The Church - We have no authentic means of judging when a Church was first built in Beeston, but if we assume that the Angles came about A D. 600, they were, before the year 700, converted to Christianity, and would probably build a Church, however rude and poor in materials and design. This Church, the forerunner of anything in stone, would be built of reeds and wattles.

When the Danes came, and established their authority at Nottingham and Derby, the Church at Beeston would suffer a similar fate to the rest and be destroyed, but would be rebuilt afterwards, for Beeston being situated between the waterway of the Trent, and the highway connecting the two towns, where the Danish Government was established, would be affected by Danish law.

The fact that Doomsday Book does not mention a Church at Beeston, is not proof that one did not exist in the reign of William the Conqueror. Doubtless when the Normans came, the existing building would be pulled down and a more stable and ornate structure would be erected which in turn would be superseded by a more elegant building in the early 13th century.

We have no remains whatever of any portion of that Norman Church in our present building; in fact the only relic we have of the 13th century church which followed, is the font, the top half of which is Early English of Henry III time. This was discovered when the Church was rebuilt in 1842, and was somewhere under the altar, where it had been stored away for a long lapse of time. Another building subsequently followed possibly one hundred and twenty-five years later, this 14th century Church being of the Decorated Period, of Edward III time. A relic of this we have in the image niche incorporated into the wall at the north side of the east window, although the head-stone forming the trefoil is an inserted renovation of later date. Of this Church we also have the piscina and sedilia. The latter originally had crockets and finials1 to outline the cinquefoil heads, similar to those in Barton Church: a close inspection will show where these have been chipped away. Niche, piscina. and sedilia, are not necessarily in their original positions, although of course the piscina and sedilia would be on the south side of the High Altar, wherever that was in the 14th century Church. The fact that these triple sedilia exist, gives rise to a conjecture that the church at this time must have been of some importance, for there would be a priest, deacon, and sub-deacon officiating. Stones of this Church were doubtless incorporated in the subsequent building and handed down to us in what is left of that Church, namely the walls of the present chancel. It is a much modernised chancel,2 but in the main it represents all that posterity has left us of the last Church prior to the Dissolution, which was probably built in the reign of Henry VII or VIII, the period of later Perpendicular, when the glories of medieval architecture were on the wane.

BPC 1844 With the exception of the chancel, all was pulled down in 1842-43. The tower was then found dangerous, the north wall was very much out of the perpendicular, in fact the whole building was in such a dilapidated condition, that the chancel was the only part it was found possible to retain. The chancel at this time was blocked up with high pews, and the sedilia were turned into book closets for the use of the Sunday School, then held in the Church.

The old Church consisted of nave, chancel, and small tower nearly in the middle of the south side, having a clock3, a porch westward of the tower, and a short aisle to the east of it. A colour drawing of this church now hangs in the vestry. (See above right; the church in 1844, after restoration is shown left).

There were no effigied tombs or monumental brasses in the old church, but only a few mural tablets, which were re-erected in the new edifice.

The present building is in the late Perpendicular style, and was adapted to the architecture of the chancel in 1843-4, from designs of Messrs. Scott and Moffatt, Mr. Scott afterwards becoming Sir Gilbert Scott. We have therefore in our church one of the earliest efforts of restoration by the grandfather of the present architect of the new Liverpool Cathedral.

The present church was consecrated by the Bishop of Lincoln on September 5th, 1844. The vicar at the time was the Rev. F. T. Wolley, and he raised by public subscription the bulk of the money to pay for it.

His wife laid the first stone of the new church, but died before it was opened. The reredos and pulpit are later additions.

Choir and organ were originally in a gallery at the west end, entrance to which was from the outside of the church, north of the west door. The entrance and staircase remain, but the doorway at the head of the staircase is now blocked up, though it may still be observed inside the church. The gallery was demolished during the vicariate of the Rev. T. J. Oldrini.

The doorway on the north side of the chancel led into the former pulpit of our present church, and must not be taken as having any connection with a rood-loft. This kind of staircase, let into the thickness of the wall, and leading up to a rostrum or pulpit, is an uncommon feature of our churches nowadays. When Sir Gilbert Scott designed this, he possibly had in mind the staircase generally found in the refectory of monastic remains, which led to the pulpit from which one of the monks read aloud whilst the others were taking their meal.
,br> Two curious old bibles4 of black letter type, which were found in the tower chamber, are now in a glass case in the porch. They have been retained owing to their errors in spelling, and are of the early edition of the Authorised Version, 1611, issued by order of James I. One is of the first issue, with the errors characteristic of that edition; the other is of a subsequent issue, with the errors of the first corrected, except two in Ezekiel, but in which a further mistake has crept, not in the first issue.

Another interesting relic from the previous church is the old Poor box, which is now found S.W. of the Font. It bears the inscription "1684 W.A, E.B, C.W," the latter letters standing for churchwardens, and the others their initials.

The Communion Table in the north aisle, also a relic of the old church, is Elizabethan.

In 1797 we read that "over the communion table were a few remnants of ancient glass5". Whatever the east window contained in those days we have no trace to-day, for not a relic remains of that glass.

A close study of the carved heads, where the hood-mouldings of the arches meet above the pillar capitals, will show that all save one are of the usual type associated with the period of which the nave is a reproduction, viz., heads of Kings, Queens, Bishops, etc., but the one on the extreme west of the north side represents the head of a boy. It would appear that the masons at the time were lodging with the parents of Mr. Robert Lowe, and to complete their work, left to posterity a likeness of one of the sons, whose head we now see. So runs the story, but however interesting it may appear, its authenticity unfortunately cannot be vouched for, Mr. Robert Lowe being only a few months old when the church was reconsecrated in 1844, his elder brother too would be barely two years of age at the time. However the head is unusual, and one is prepared to think that the masons, as a compliment to their landlady, carved what they imagined one of the sons would be at the age of six or eight years.

So much for the church fabric. Of the history of our church we know nothing earlier than the reign of Henry II. About 1160 however, we have definite proof that a church .existed, for the letters of Popes Alexander III and Lucius III., (referred to later), were contemporary with this period.

We also know that later in the same century, the representatives of the Bestonian church went annually at Whitsuntide to Southwell to join in solemn procession according to the papal Bull of 1171, and took as Pentecostal offerings 1/8. At that period Stapleford took 1/5, and Wollaton 1/3, the amounts roughly representing their relative rateable values.

Following this we have proof that in A.D.1200 a grant of land at Bramcote was made to Silvester, son of Robert, the chaplain at that time of "Bestonia."6

In 1230, the Prior and Convent of Lenton procured confirmation of a pension of 22/-, to be paid them annually out of the vicarage of Beeston.

Later on, in 1241, Richard de Beauchamp, Lord of Beston, gave land in this parish to Lenton Priory.

Following this, in 1267, the name of a vicar - John - occurs in an ordination list of that year, the said John being ordained by Archbishop Giffard of York.

From an early date the vicarage was appropriated by the Priory, and the church, for a time, appears to have become a chapel subject to the mother church at Lenton. (The priory arms are still to be seen on the outside of the east end of the church, above the chancel roof, at the apex of the nave roof). At the time of this appropriation, the parishioners and the poor vicar naturally objected, but letters were produced from Popes Alexander III. and Lucius III approving of the appropriation, which letters had doubtless been obtained under influence.

Henceforth the Prior of Lenton became patron, and ecclesiastical lord paramount of the place. The vicar could have hoped for little chance of success, when engaged in contending against such all-powerful influences. It was once more the story of might overcoming right.

The Rector of Arnold, John de Ia Launde, and William de Hundon, Rector of Barmburgh, Yorkshire, were appointed commissioners to try a dispute as to the repair of the chancel by the parishioners, and the payment of 22/- yearly by the Vicar of Beeston to the Priory, the 22/- being a pension confirmed in 1230. We have no information as to the result, but it would appear that the Priory claimed the vicarage and tried to evade its duty to repair the chancel, endeavouring at the same time to make the poor vicar pay up his pension of 22/-, at a time when the income of the vicarage was eight marks (£5/6/8).

The monastery retained the advowson and appropriate tithes of Beeston down to the Dissolution, although during the major portion of the 14th century the advowson was retained by the Crown, owing to the restrictions then placed upon alien monasteries, but towards the close of that century the Priory was permitted to resume its right.

The date of grant of the foregoing advowson is of peculiar interest to us, seeing that from such a date the history of our church may be said to commence. Anything prior, must of necessity, be mere conjecture. Although we have no documentary evidence, (for reasons hereafter explained), we may safely assume 1160 as the approximate date. This is proved by the fact that bulls of appropriation were granted by Alexander III and Lucius III.; for, even if such bulls were fabricated to suit a special occasion, it does not follow that they recorded things which had not actually happened.

Furthermore, following the grant of this advowson, it is likely that, as a result, Lenton appropriated the church (which was the purpose and natural consequence of early grants of advowson, in days before Statutes of Mortmain - 1279) and obtained papal confirmation to secure their right against possible infringement. Whether a vicarage was endowed early, or whether the priory merely served the church by chaplains, seems uncertain: it is often very difficult to determine such points; and the records of ordinations of vicarages and of institutions to them in the earlier York registers are very imperfect The fact also that Lenton, which was subject to Cluny, was therefore exempt from the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of York throughout its earlier history, makes the truth of the matter more difficult to discover, as the business of exempt monasteries, even where (as in the appropriation of a parish church) a diocesan might claim some say in the matter, was conducted without much reference to him, and consequently does not often find its way into diocesan records.

Whatever arrangement may have been come to earlier, the regular appointment of vicars after 1327 shows that the vicarage was an independent benefice to which the prior and convent were bound to present, and that if, up to that time, the church of Beeston had been a mere chapel dependent on Lenton and served by hired chaplains, it was now given the legal status of a parish church with an endowment for the vicar. If the vicar had only £5/6/8 (a normal endowment for a country vicarage), he was at any rate bound in law to receive it as the income of his freehold benefice, and not merely as a casual stipend which could be stopped at any time.

The first vicar of whom we have any knowledge (referring of course to the first in our list of regular appointments), was Wm. deWillesthorpe, appointed October 12th, 1327 (whose Sixth Centenary we are now celebrating), but his successor, William de Beston, alias William de Beckford, vicar 1339-1349, appears to be the first notable person connected with our church, He moved from Beeston to become Rector of Cotgrave. After he left our parish, he founded August 1st, 1355, a chantry in Beeston, dedicated to St. Catherine, where prayers were offered for the founder whilst he lived, for the repose of his soul at his decease, and for the souls of his parents, brothers and sisters,7 or as the "Chantry Certificate Rolls"8 quote it: "The Chaunterie of saynt kateryns in Biston, founded by oon William Biston for A preste to praye for his soule, his frendis soullis & all Crystian soullis." He endowed the chantry by giving forty-five acres of land in Beeston, and thirty-four acres near Lenton. Part of this land has been identified as below the present lake on the Highfields Estate, showing that after it was taken from the church at the Dissolution of Chantries, it passed from one hand to another and eventually became the property of Sir Jesse Boot. Most probably the present University Boulevard is on land which at one time was a portion of this endowment.

Delving further into the past, however, it is interesting to know that a portion of this endowment represents land originally held as manors by three Saxons, Alfag, Aiwine, and Ulchal, which was taken from them at the Conquest, and given to William Peverel, the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror, Lord of Nottingham Castle. When the Peverel family fell into disgrace, the estate was forfeited to the King, who gave it to a branch of the Beauchamp (de Bello Campo) family, and this land was obtained by William de Beston from Roger Beauchamp. This endowment was confirmed by the Archbishop of York, May 19th, 1356, and John de Beston, probably a brother of the above William, was appointed as the first chaplain, subsequent chaplains were appointed by the Prior of Lenton.

The prayers for the souls of the faithful departed were probably continued for nearly two hundred years, until the chantry was suppressed and its endowment confiscated by Edward VI 1548. Traces of this chantry were discovered in the south aisle of the old church by Sir Gilbert Scott before its demolition in 1842, but none of the remnants were preserved.

By a curious coincidence, through the generosity of Mr. F. H. Starling, a piece of land to the east of the top of Marlborough Road, which formerly was a portion of this endowment, has come back to our church again; on this a church will eventually be built to supply the needs of the growing population to the north side of the parish.

Of interest to us is the fact that one of the last recorded acts of public penance took place at Beeston in 1782, when one Mary Read did open penance in the church, bare footed, and wrapped in a sheet. Public penances which prevailed in medieval times for offences committed were continued in later days, and the discipline of the church to wrong doers was severe.

The County Records throw further light on past misdemeanors in Beeston, for we read that on "October 1st 1627 evidence was given in court on oath by divers faithful and worthy men that John Weston of Beeston, tailor, on the Lordís day, viz: on the feast day of Easter last, after receiving the Lordís sacrament, was in an alehouse and was drinking there till he was drunk. He was sent to the House of Correction to be whipped." Another and much earlier item of interest may be added, although it was not necessarily connected with the church. William de Beston in 1206 paid the Sheriff ten marks that "he might be permitted to return to religion." This was not penance for wrong doing, but that he had been a member of a monastic order, - doubtless the Cluniacs near by at Lenton Priory - and left it, and desiring to return was penalized, not by the prior, but by King John, who wanted money, and would have it, regardless of the method of obtaining it.

It would appear that candidates for a public office were required as a condition for qualification to publicly receive the Sacrament of the Lordís Supper,9 as we find in the Borough Records that the minister and churchwardens of St. Maryís, Nottingham, in 1744, gave a certificate to the effect that John Henson,10 lately promoted to the Vicarage of Beeston, did receive the Sacrament of the Lordís Supper according to the usage of the Church of England, in the public church of St. Mary, immediately after divine service etc.

The Plague raged in Beeston near the end of Queen Elizabethís reign, and according to the parish register, between May 17th 1593 and March 22nd 1594, one hundred and thirty-seven persons died as a result. An extremely heavy mortality this, considering the smallness of the place at that time, for it would possibly represent a fifth of the population, - one even might suggest a quarter - for even two hundred years later, viz: 1801, the population was only nine hundred and forty-eight. The site of the grave, called "the Plague Hole," was at the east end of the churchyard.

The churchyard is now a pattern of neatness, being extensively adorned with trees, shrubs, roses, and other flowers, but in 1809 it was much different, cows at that time being permitted to graze. There was then, also, a thoroughfare through the churchyard. The position of the stile on the north side, now built into the wall, can still be located; it now leads into an adjoining garden.

Immediately adjoining the churchyard was what was known as "the Poor Row," built on the waste, where a few poor families resided rent free. This row was taken down in 1844, when the church was rebuilt, and no substitute provided.

The site of the old Tithe Barn was near the east end of the church facing the street.

Church expenses were in olden days paid by a church rate, which in 1823-24 was 1Ĺd. in the £ in Beeston; realising £18-16-0. One wonders how the Rev. J. F. T. Wolley made ends meet in those days.

Existing at a period prior to the establishment of Church rates, the fabric of the Church was kept in repair by "Church Ale," the brewing of which in the precincts of the sacred edifice, was kept as a festival. This was common to parishes throughout England, and the Bodleian Library preserves records of such festivals at Elvaston and Ockbrook, Derbyshire. Funds were thus raised for most of the necessary needs, redecorating, purchase of books, etc.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, a custom existed in Beeston of providing a christening robe for the infants at their Baptism, the said robe being kept at the Vicarage.

Another interesting custom, long since abandoned, was the ringing of the church bell on Pancake Day, the "pancake bell" being rung by the oldest apprentice in the parish.

Two obsolete institutions must be mentioned, the Pinfold and the Stocks, for both were connected with the church at one period. The Parish Pinfold stood where the offices of the Urban District Council now stand, although it projected forward into what is now the roadway. The pinder was elected annually at the Easter vestry, to apprehend horses, cows, sheep, etc, which strayed in the fields or lanes; these could not be reclaimed without payment of the pinderís fees. The Stocks stood adjacent, south east of the Pinfold, where the parish constable kept under control persons guilty of petty crimes. He was a local officer selected by the Easter vestry meeting, but appointed by the justices for the apprehension of offenders.

In the reign of George II, June 2nd, 1735, Archdeacon Marsden, B.D., visited the Church, and a "Schedule or Inventory of Church Articles" resulted, "taken by the Minister and Churchwardens of all books, vestments, and vessels belong to the Parish Church of Beeston." From it we learn that besides two large black-lettered Bibles, and two great and one smaller Books of Common Prayer, there was "a Book of the Homilies, a Table of Marriages, and a Register of Parchment." As to vestments, the Church then possessed "two surplices," "a carpet" for the altar, also "two linnen cloths," one for the Holy Table and one "to cover the elements," a pulpit cloth and cushion, and "a hearse cloth." The holy vessels were of a very meagre description, a small "silver cup with cover to it, two pewter flagons, a salver, a basin for the offertory, and a round pewter plate."

These appear to have been the only vessels in use, till the Archdeacon of Nottingham visited the church in 1833, when he ordered additional Communion Plate; the Vicar at the time (the Rev. J F. T. Wolley) presented a flagon and plate, both double-plated and silver-edged, which were used for the first time at Easter of that year. These were partially superseded by a new alms dish, given in 1856, and in 1857 by an electro-plated chalice and paten of a more ecclesiastical pattern than the ancient ones. In 1889 a brass altar cross was given by the Misses Percy. In 1890 a silver gilt chalice and paten were given in memory of Sarah Watson, and in 1912 a similar gift by the communicants.11

Additional to the foregoing, £1,000 in 1904, being a legacy of the late Mr. A. W. Bailey, this sum was left to benefit the Living of our Parish.12

In 1917, £100, a bequest of Miss M. E. Percy, which sum was to be expended upon repairs or decorations of the Church.

In 1926, an unexpected legacy of £111-13-11, from one of the poorer members of the parish, under the Will of the late Mrs. J. A. Warner.

The extract of the Will relating to this bequest is as follows:-

I leave to the Parish Church of Beeston all that remains in my General Post Office Bank, and the money to be invested by the Vicar and Churchwardens, and the interest thereon to be devoted to the said Churchís expenses for ever.
The Bells - The old church boasted of three, which were transferred to the new, when the edifice was rebuilt, but which, according to the Rev. T. J. Oldrini, "were far from being silvery in tone in later times, whatever they might have been originally." The first bell had inscribed "In Principio erat Verbum" ("In the beginning was the Word"). The second bore round the lower part :- "God save his Church 1640." The other had an inscription, "Celorum Rex Christe Tibi placeat sonus iste," which may be rendered, "0 Christ, King of the Heavens, may this sound be pleasing to Thee."

They were recast in 1870, when three more were added.

The last two, treble bells, to complete our present peal of eight, were added in 1877, subscribed for by the inhabitants of Beeston and neighbourhood, to the memory of John Watson.

Charities - An ancient board, set in the Church in 1724 (now hanging on the west wall of the porch), records the various charitable bequests to the poor of Beeston.

Amongst other benefactions, one is struck by two sums of £10 left anonymously, all honour to such donors. Then 20/- per annum by a Mr. Handley, of Bramcote; £5 by John Kirkby, of Sneinton; £5 by Hannah Garton, of Chilwell; £5 by Thomas Hallam; 3/4 yearly, to be paid every February 2nd by Ann Lacey; £2/0/6 composition for horse doles, by assigns of Mr. Charlton; £5, five dozen bread, yearly on Whit Sunday, by William Mackerill; £5 by Mrs. Dorothy Strey; £10 by Mrs E. Chariton; and £10 by Mrs. M. Chariton, her sister.

By a deed dated February 24th, 1737, these benefactions were invested in the purchase, for £70, of Rawsonís Hassock Close, comprising nine acres. The vicar, churchwardens, overseers, and "three substantial inhabitants" were empowered to annually apply the "benefit and produce" of such close "for the use, benefit, relief, and better maintenance of the people of Beeston, in augmentation of the parish levies and assessments." The poor too were not forgotten at the enclosure, several closes being allotted on their behalf.

New trustees were appointed in 1877. The lands were sold and the proceeds invested by the Charity Commissioners. The income is distributed yearly by the trustees amongst the poor.

The only charity to-day distributed by the Vicar and Churchwardens is the proceeds of a legacy of Elizabeth Wakefield, of Broadgate, Beeston, who died 1895, and whose last Will and Testament reads as follows:
"I bequeath to the Vicar and Churchwardens of the Parish of Beeston, a legacy of £100, duty free, upon Trust, to invest the same and apply the income annually on or about the 1st day of September in the payment to such necessitous women who have not been married or are widows, who are and have been for ten years consecutively resident within the said parish, as they or the majority of them may deem most worthy, in sums of from 4/- to 5/- each."
Vicarage before 1860 The Vicarage - The Rev. T. J. Oldrini refers to the old vicarage (shown left) as "a sadly poor place, wretched in the extreme, and partially destroyed by fire." The nail-head moulding of the arch, which ran through the whole building, and was its main support, indicated great age, probably six hundred years. In fact on the demolition of the ancient edifice in 1860, not only were the oaken rafters discovered to be of very early date, but to have been used antecedently for some other purpose. In 1704 the parsonage is spoken of as "built with studd and mud and covered with thatch," and as "containing a brewhouse, kitchen, parlour, passage, and a few pantries." Thus it probably remained till so late as the time of the Rev. Thomas Bigsby, vicar, when it was described in 1809 as "built with brick and mortar." We hear also of a fish pond in front of the house, and that the garden was then neatly laid out, an alcove or summerhouse being also erected. Later on still, in 1854, when it was inhabited by the curate, it had, though very dilapidated, yet a kind of picturesqueness, covered as it was with jasmine, woodbine, and a fine japonica. Towards the west it was overshadowed by a splendid horse-chestnut, which had been planted by the Rev. T Bigsby. It was finally demolished in 1860, and rebuilt.

Vicars - Of the pre-Reformation vicars we know very little. In 1560 however, the second year of Elizabeth, the Parish Register begins to help us somewhat. The Register of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, was authorised in 1538, but the Beeston Parish Register does not commence until 1558, and in this we find the Rev. W. JEFFREIS, vicar 1592-1604. It would appear that he died January 5th, 1604, and was buried at Sawley. His writing is fairly legible, though not equal to his successor, the Rev. WALTER KYNNERSLEY, vicar 1604-1643, who, from the fact of his having kept the registers in Latin, it may be concluded was a scholarly man. He was instituted to the benefice in the second year of James I., and lived long enough to see troublous times. His last signature was in 1643, the particular year when the Parliament abolished the Liturgy, and established in its stead a new Directory for Worship. He was vicar for 39 years, but we have no record of his movements after leaving this parish, or the date of his demise. There is no trace of any incumbent for the next six years. During the Commonwealth the registers were miserably and illiterately kept, the benefice having passed into the hands of the Presbyterians. A WILLIAM WESTABY was the minister, the civil marriages being performed by Thomas Chariton, Esq., J.P., of Chilwell Hall. Births (not christenings) are recorded during this interval. His death took place in August, 1658, and he was succeeded by WILLIAM CROSS, M.A. He was a good preacher, and although an interloper as far as our church was concerned, was generally respected. He came from Attenborough to Beeston, and left our parish when the 3rd Act of Uniformity was enforced, after which he lived at Loughborough, but at the time of his death he was a pastor at Derby. After the Restoration we find the Rev. HENRY WATKINSON, B.A., vicar 1663-1711, who was inducted on March 16th, 1663, the Presbyterian clergy having been ejected throughout England on August 24th of the previous year. The Rev. Watkinson held also, conjointly with Beeston, the neighbouring parish of Attenborough. He died October 5th, 1711, his wife surviving him by about eight years. They are both interred in the chancel; he is the only vicar interred in our church. The stones to the memory of this vicar and his wife may be seen in the floor of the nave at the entrance to the chancel. The next in succession was the Rev. THOMAS TROWELL, vicar 1711-1744. "The Schedule or Inventory of Church Articles," already alluded to, was made out and signed by him and the churchwardens. His wife was buried in the churchyard on October 4th, 1732, and he on May 16th, 1744. The next, the Rev. JOHN HENSON, vicar 1744-1758. We learn from the registers that he was inducted into the benefice on June 4th, 1744, by the Rev. Chappell, Rector of St. Peterís, Nottingham. His writing in the registers is beautifully plain and neat; he held other preferments besides. We have no account of his death here; he was vicar for about fifteen years. His successor was the Rev. TIMOTHY WILDE, vicar 1758-1799. He was master of the Free Grammar School of Nottingham (now the High School). He appears to have been a very popular person, and lived to a ripe old age. He was buried at St. Peterís Church, Nottingham, January 30th, 1799, having being vicar for forty years. Following him was the Rev. THOMAS BIGSBY, M.A., vicar 1799-1822: he was also vicar of Burton Joyce, and held other preferments besides. He occasionally resided at the old vicarage, but was principally resident at Arnold. He had a dignified appearance, and dressed in a black coat, knee breeches, silk stockings and silver buckles, which formed the garb of the clergy at the beginning of the nineteenth century. He was good-natured and kind hearted, especially to his poorer neighbours, but appears to have been somewhat indolent and careless in the management of his parish. The keeping of the registers was entirely left to the care of the parish clerk, who being a sorry scribe, miserably fulfilled the task. The Rev. T. Bigsby was twenty-two years vicar and died Oct. 25th, 1821, and was buried at Arnold. A mural tablet was placed in Beeston Church to his memory. The Rev.J. F. T. WOLLEY followed, vicar 1822-1854. He was son of Francis Hurt, Esq.12, and in 1822 married Mary, daughter of Adam Wolley, Esq, of Matlock, whose surname and arms he afterwards assumed. He rebuilt the Parish Church, prior to which (1834) he built the National Schools. He had five Sons and two daughters, and lived in the old Hall. He passed through much trouble, but was greatly esteemed. He died in 1877 aged 81. There is a brass plate to his wifeís memory, and a window to his, subscribed for by parishioners and old friends. The Rev. T. J. OLDRINI. M.A., was the next vicar, 1854-1885, during which time the present vicarage was built, the Day Schools13were enlarged, the organ chamber was added to the chancel, and the organ and choir brought down from a gallery at the west end, a peal of eight bells fixed, the reredos, choir stalls and lectern added, the last three being gifts of the late Mr. C. F. Fellows. In 1873 he did a very useful work in publishing his "Gleanings, or something about Beeston in Olden Times," which he had long been collecting, and he thereby preserved reminiscences of persons and places that would otherwise have been lost.

During the next twelve years he had learned much more about the history of the parish, and therefore announced for issue "The History of Beeston, Old and New," but death prevented the issue. He was an active broad-minded man. His daily work was visiting his parishioners, not only church people, but the whole of them he called on once a year, and the sick he visited regardless of denomination, and having a kind and affable manner he was much loved. He died aged 60. The funeral was a remarkable demonstration of the affection with which he was regarded, for in the presence of 3000 people the body was laid to rest. There was a great procession, not only of the family, but of clergy, office bearers, etc., including deputations from every Nonconformist denomination. The last sermon he prepared he could not preach; it was preached by his curate, the Rev. F. S. P. Pyemont, on the Sunday after the funeral, and the text was prophetic: "We know that we have passed from death unto life." Following him was the Rev. R. D. HARRIES, M.A., vicar 1885-1902. He took a great interest in the church. During his time the chancel was refloored and the present choir vestry built. The pulpit, a memorial to the Rev. T. J. Oldrini, subscribed for by friends and parishioners, was added, and the west window reglazed. He was instrumental in getting the land in Station Road, and what is now the vergerís house, given to the church, (being gifts of the late Mr. S. Watson) and funds wherewith to build a large portion of our present Sunday Schools. The Valley Mission Church also was opened in his time. The next was the Rev. A. C. BECKTON, M.A., vicar 1902-1906, during which short period funds were raised for enlarging the Sunday Schools. He was a man of wide sympathy, splendid organising power, and considerable force as a preacher. Unfortunately a ministry full of promise was suddenly cut short, for a stroke deprived him of his speech, which he never regained. Following him was the Rev. M. H. PITTSTUCKER, M.A., vicar 1906-1914, a great scholar and a wonderful preacher. He resigned through ill-health. The present altar was an anonymous gift during his vicariate, and during his time a considerable sum was raised for various repairs, alterations and additions to the Church. The next was the Rev. W. P. COLE SHEANE, M.A., vicar 1914-1924. He was Succentor of Southwark Cathedral prior to coming to Beeston. He founded the Guild of Servers in 1917. Through his energy and under his guidance the War Memorial Screen in the north aisle was erected. He took an active interest in local affairs, becoming a member of the Rural District Council. Last of all, our present vicar, the Rev. L NORMAN PHILUPS, M.C., 1917, bar 1919, Croix de Guerre with palms 1917. He was curate of Cold Waltham 1912-13, and curate of St. Andrews, Portslade-by-Sea, 1913-14. From 1914-1919 he was on active service (not in a clerical capacity) with the Duke of Wellingtonís Regt., and was twice mentioned in dispatches. On demobilisation he was appointed Priest-in-Charge of Holy Trinity, Horsham, where he remained until he came to Beeston in 1924.

Beeston Parish Registers - 1558 to 1812 - The first volume of Beeston Registers consists of 64 leaves of parchment, stitched together without any cover or binding. It contains entries of all classes from 1558 to 1653, but is very defective for the last ten years of that period; two leaves, containing entries of 1611 and 1637 respectively, appear to have been lost. There are few entries during the Civil Wars, and none of them marriages.

VOL II consists of 16 leaves of parchment, stitched in a parchment cover, and contains entries for the years 1653 to 1677. This volume begins on February 18th, 1653, of which year Thomas Beighton, of Beeston, clerk was elected "Parish Register," and his appointment confirmed by Thomas Charlton, of Chilwell, Justice of the Peace. During the Commonwealth the marriages were performed as civil contracts, the officiating magistrate in most cases being Thomas Chariton, aforesaid.

VOL III consists of 30 leaves of parchment, bound in calf, and Contains entries of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials from 1678 to 1719. The opening pages of this volume contain a copy of "An Act for Burying in Woollen onely."14 VOL IV consists of 48 leaves of parchment, bound in calf, and contains Baptisms and Burials for the years 1720 to 1769, and Marriages 1720 to 1753.

VOL. V. is a paper volume, minus a cover, it contains Marriages and Banns, 1755 to 1782.

VOL VI contains Baptisms and Burials, 1769 to 1812. The first page of this volume Contains the following :- "The Reverend John Eyre, M.A., Archdeacon, in his Perambulation through his Diocese in June, 1811, when at this Parish on examining the Registers found they were kept on paper, upon which he Ordered the Minister, The Rev. Thomas Bigsby, Vicar, Mr. William Barker and Mr. James Bond, Churchwardens, to provide two Books made of Parchment, the one for Baptisms and Burials, the other for Marriages, and the same to be Transcribed, Which, at a Vestry Meeting held at the Church the 26th day of September, 1811, it was unanimously agreed that the same be Transcribed by Charles Marshall,15 and that Two shillings and sixpence per year be allowed for Transcribing the same." Following this: "N.B. October 6th, 1813. National Registers having been provided by Government since the above order, and the Book for Marriages not being wanted, It was ordered to be made use of for Transcribing the Church Wardens accounts into."16

VOL. VII contains Marriages 1783 to 1812.

VOL VIII is the first of the National Registers.

As the early history of our church at Beeston is so connected with Lenton Priory, a little information as to the origin of Monastic life, the advent of the Cluniac order, and the foundation of Lenton Priory in particular, may be of interest.

The monastic life had its origin in the retirement of individuals from the world to solitary places where they devoted themselves to religious contemplation. During the early centuries of the Christian era this practice became common in the East. The words "anchorite" and "hermit" mean respectively one who goes apart from other men, and one who, like the Egyptian hermits, lives by himself in the desert; and a monk, although the title became applied specially to members of religious communities, meant in the first place a man who leads a solitary existence. The hermitages of Eastern monks were often collected in large groups, and more than one attempt was made to bring their inhabitants together in a social life under a common rule. The great development in this direction, however, took place in the West under the influence of St. Benedict, who, towards the close of the fifth century, entered a hermitage at Subiaco, in the Sabine hills. Others followed him into his solitude; and, recognising the special dangers besetting a religious life in which each man was a law to himself, he formed these into communities which became the pattern of monasteries throughout Western Europe. His Rule was composed originally for the monastery over which he himself presided, but it was naturally adopted by all which came under his influence. Strictly speaking, he founded no Order of monks. Each Benedictine monastery was self-governed and owed no obedience to a central body; but, while each developed its own customs, the Rule of St. Benedict was the fundamental principle of its existence, and when, in later days, separate Orders came into being as branches from the main stem, his Rule was the foundation on which they were established.

The early centuries of Benedictine monasticism were chequered by political disturbances, and, although it spread rapidly, it was in need of constant revival. A great reform of monastic life was initiated, early in the ninth century, in Gaul and Germany by a second St Benedict. abbot of Aniane in Languedoc; but, during the disturbed period of the decline of the Carolingian empire, this was not permanent. In 910. however, the abbey of Cluny in Burgundy was founded by William Duke of Aquitaine, and, under a succession of abbots remarkable for their piety and powers of organisation, became the centre of a wide-spreading movement of reconstruction. Not only did Cluny become the head of an Order, composed of numerous monasteries in all parts of Europe completely dependent upon the government of its abbot: it was also the source of reform to many independent religious houses in France and Italy, and contributed its influence to similar movements in Germany, the Netherlands, and England.

The Cluniac revival reached its height in the eleventh century, and its long duration had a lasting effect upon the monastic system of the Middle Ages.

Lenton Priory was founded by William Peverel, in the reign of Henry I. 1108, and was of the Cluniac order. Henry I. on his accession to the English throne, in the place of his elder brother, Robert, Duke of Normandy, whose crown he had usurped, seeing that it would be to his advantage to conciliate his subjectsí granted them various privileges and immunities and made great concessions to the church.

The King was specially anxious to gain the confidence of the clergy, because he proposed to marry Matilda, daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland, but as she had been brought up in a convent, the legitimacy of the act became a matter of doubt. This difficulty the church alone could overcome. The unanimous decision of a council of bishops, abbots, and monks, was that Matilda had never taken the vows of a nun, and was therefore free to dispose of herself.

The concessions to the church, tending to give confidence to the clergy, caused religious houses to spring up with such rapidity, that during the thirty-five years of Henryís reign, no fewer than one hundred and fifty were established, the Cluniac Priory of Lenton being amongst their number.

In the monasteries of this order we find that from an early period their churches were richly and beautifully adorned, and the ceremonial specially elaborate. This general luxuriousness led to the great revulsion which ended in the establishment of the Cistercian reform.

Establishments of the Cluniac order were generally near a town or village, hence, after the Dissolution, the buildings were used as a general quarry for the neighbourhood, for which reason we have no extensive ruins of that order left in our country to day. Of Lenton Priory nothing remains, except the Font17, (1) which is now in Lenton Parish Church. Wenlock and Castleacre alone possess indications of their former glory; Lewes, Bromholm, and Thetford retain some of the minor conventual buildings. On the other hand the Cistercians practically always chose a site in a secluded vale remote from any town, hence more extensive ruins of their establishments remain to-day, such as Fountains, Tintern, Melrose, Furness etc., for their very seclusion preserved their buildings from the utter destruction which befell monasteries existing in or near towns and villages.


Authorities consulted by the author: Thoroton's History of Nottinghamshire 1677, Godfrey's Lenton, The Borough Records, The Records for the County of Nottingham, The Chantry Certificate Rolls for the County of Nottingham by Pre. A Hamilton Thompson M.A, D.Litt, F.S.A., Dugdale's Monasticon, The Place-Names of Nottinghamshire, "Gleanings" or Something about Beeston in Olden Times by the Rev. T.J Oldrini, M.A., Old Nottingham Suburbs by Robert Mellors
Footnotes (by the author unless otherwise stated):
1The Rev. T. J. Oldrini in his "Gleanings," 1873, referring to relics of the old church, stated that part of a stone finial then existed. No trace of this, however, can be found to-day, presumably it would be a portion of one of the sedilia finials.
2For the past three centuries the chancel appears to have been a ceaseless cause of anxiety to the church, for we find that during the Commonwealth, Beeston got into trouble "For not repairing ye chancell," and we read of further repairs in 1704, 1781, 1809 and 1825. It was again repaired when the church was rebuilt in 1843-4, and has been since.
3The church clock is referred to in April, 1704, as having the works much interfered with by owls and others of the feathered tribe, which tenanted the ruinous belfry at that period. There appears to have been more trouble a century later, for in one of the Parish Registers we find on the opening page, "The Church Clock set agate. 8th June, 1808."
4During 1917, the late Mr. Harry Gill casually got into conversation with an old Bramcote inhabitant, whose ancestors formerly lived in Beeston, with the result that he showed Mr. Gill some fragments of stained glass, which he said were formerly in the old church at Beeston, previous to its restoration. Mr. Gill quickly detected that these fragments were packed for preservation with leaves torn from a black letter Bible. This packing consisted of a frontispiece and other pages, and on smoothing them out it was at once evident that they were the leaves missing from the Beeston Bibles. The owner said that they were brought from Beeston by his grandfather. The restoration of these pages was promptly arranged for, and to-day they are in their original places in the Bibles.
5Apparently some glass existed in 1873, for we find the Rev. T. J. Oldrini in that year, referring to it in his "Gleanings," as representing a woman in the costume, as far as could be judged, of the time of Henry VIII. and bearing some resemblance, strangely enough, to the portraits of the Kingís elder daughter, afterwards Queen Mary.
6."Bestonia," one of the Latin forms from which Beeston is derived. Its origin prior to Doomsday Book, 1086, is more or less conjecture, although we have definite proof of its evolution since. "Considering that many places take their names from rivers on which they stand, one might advance the theory that Beeston is derived from an old river-name Beos-ca. This assumption is based on the occurrence of such a name on the Continent; a river Biese joins the Aland in the northern part of the province of Saxony. As many river-names were brought over from the Continent by the Anglo-Saxons, this particular one might have been amongst them." Vide - "The Place-Names of Notts." page 13, which also gives the following:- "Bestune 1086, Bestona 1200, Beston 1284." The present writer however, from various books in the Thoroton Society library, has traced its evolution to date, as follows, Bestonia 1240, Beston and Bestone from 1284 to 1482, Biston 1547, Byston 1574, afterwards Beyston, Beaston, Beeston. Some of these, although included, represent a variation in spelling. There was no standard in those days, dictionaries were a thing unheard of, and most important documents contained what we should to-day term ill-spelt words.
7"At mass every day the chaplain was to say the collect Deus cui proprium for the founder, and Inclina for the souls aforesaid, and he was to say the office for the dead daily, except in Eastertide and on double feasts. On Sundays and feasts of nine lessons his mass was to be that of the day, on Saturdays of our Lady, on Wednesdays of St. Katherine. On doubles, if he was in Beeston, he was to help the vicar in reading and singing, taking his hour of mass without prejudice to the vicar.
Besides the endowment, the founder gave a missal, a book of hours, a pair of vestments with towels, a strong box for the books and ornaments, a chalice of two marks weight, two oxen worth 24/- and three horses worth 30/-, as permanent property to the chantry. If the chaplain died after the hay and wheat harvest, between the Nativity of our Lady (September 8th) and Christmas, he was to demise a moiety of his hay and straw to his successor." (Vide The Chantry Certificate Rolls for the County of Nottingham).
8"The Chantry Certificate Rolls." A return made under the Act of 1547, following the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535. It was a survey of all chantry and similar foundations in the country, with such endowments of lights, lamps, and obits, as the commission could discover. The primary object of which was to estimate the revenue to be derived from the certified foundations, and to provide such information with regard to their endowments as was necessary in view of future grants or sales, or as a basis for calculating pensions to be paid to the chantry priests. At this period the chantries in many places had ceased to exist. Beeston became defunct in 1548.
9The Test Act of 1673.
10The Rev. J. Henson, vicar 1744-1758
11Donors of more recent years have fortunately been more numerous and more generous.
1912 - Pair of brass candlesticks, given by Mr. H. A. Price
1913 - Carved oak Communion Table, given Anonymously
1917 - Silver processional Cross, given by Mr.F.Nettleship Hill
1926 - Six brass Altar candle sticks, given by Mr. F. H. Starling
1926 - Pulpit Crucifix, given by Mrs. Ebblewhite
1926 - Processional torches, given by The Acolytes
1926 - Figure for processional Cross, given by Mr.J.Baugh
1926 - Ten scarlet cassocks, given Anonymously
1926 - Fair Linen Cloth, given by Members of G.F.S.
1926 - Two lace Super Frontals, given by Mrs.Cole
1926 - Leather book cover for Priestís Stall, given by Miss Chadwick
1927 - Silver figure for processional Cross, given by The Acolytes 1927 - Violet cope, given Anonymously
1927 - Two pairs of brass vases, given by Miss Hilda Smith
1927 - Sanctus bell, given Anonymously
1927 - Mothersí Union Banner, given by Mrs.Armitage
1927 - Sanctuary chairs re-covered in leather, given by Miss Percy
Besides the above, numerous gifts of money to the Sanctuary Fund, Altar Linen, etc., etc.
12Note by David Hallam : this is incorrect; his parents were Charles and Susanna (née Arkright) Hurt. Susanna was the daughter of Sir Richard Arkwright.
13The old Day Schools are now the Church Institute
14This Act was passed in the reign of Charles II, 1661, and was intended to lessen the importation of linen, but it failed, although the penalty for a breach was £5.
15This Charles Marshall appears to have been a schoolmaster. Had he been paid 2/6 per item instead of per annum, his work could not have been better executed, his writing has to be seen to be believed, it could hardly be surpassed by copper plate itself.
16A diligent search through this volume however, fails to disclose any Churchwardens Accounts, which might have proved very useful and interesting matter. 17The font has been frequently illustrated and described. It is only necessary to mention here that it is Norman in style and unique in design. After serving for upwards of 700 years in the monastic church, and then in the first separate parish church which stood upon the site, it was cast out, and occupied a place in the garden of a modern house built upon the site of the Priory gatehouse. It was eventually re-installed in the new church of Holy Trinity at New Lenton, where it remains.