St Catherine


The Domesday survey mentions that Cossall, or ‘Coteshale’, consisted of a portion of land owned by Leofnoth valued at 16s, but there is no mention of either a church or a priest. Following the Conquest the land was valued at 10s. The Morteyn family eventually held the manors of Wollaton and Cossall, together with other lands held in the Honour of Peverel. From 1236 a church or chapel is recorded in Cossall in the parish of Wollaton, served by the same rector and in the possession of the Morteyn family. The first recorded rector or priest was Elyas de Elinnechurch whose patron was Dame Emmetina de Morteyn. The church is dedicated to St Catherine who was martyred during the 4th century and considered an important saint during the medieval period.

An Inquisition Post Mortem provides an indication of the extent and value of lands passed to Roger de Morteyn following the death of his uncle Sir William de Morteyn in 1283, which included the church in Wollaton, together with the church or chapel of ease in Cossall, valued at £10 yearly.

At the 1291 taxation of Pope Nicholas IV there is no mention of Cossall but Wollaton alone was then valued at £8 annually. No mention of Cossall is made in either the 1341 or 1428 subsidies either, implying it was assessed at a very low value.

By 1305-6 Sir Roger de Morteyn’s financial situation had deteriorated and he sought loans from Sir Richard de Willoughby, with de Morteyn lands being used as security. During 1312 Sir Roger granted parkland, together with the advowsons of the church at Wollaton and St Catherine Cossall, to the Willoughby family. The advowson provided the right to appoint a vicar to the family who had either founded or endowed the church or to those to whom the right had been transferred. In 1314 Edward II granted licence to Sir Roger to assign 80 acres of wood and the advowsons of Wollaton and Cossall to Sir Richard, held by him of the king in capite of the Honour of Peverel.  In the Newstead cartulary for 1315 it is recorded that Eustace de Cossall, at some previous time, had given a selion (typically one furlong in length by one chain in width) of arable land assigned to the light of Cossall Chapel. Another entry in The Newstead Cartulary dated April 1334 records that Sir William de Cossall, another prominent land owner, settled land and 20s. yearly rent with the appurtenances in Cossall, Nottingham and Bulwell to find three chaplains, two in the chapel of St Catherine in Cossall and a third in the Priory of Newstead, to celebrate divine service for the said William, his ancestors and successors.

Sir Richard de Willoughby died in 1362 and was succeeded by his son Richard. Richard died in 1364 without an heir, and consequently the inheritance and ownership of the manor of Cossall was brought into lengthy dispute. Following protracted claims and counter claims it returned to the Willoughby family early in the16th century. Throughout this period of uncertainty, however, the advowson of the church of St Catherine remained in the Willoughbys’ possession.

At the Reformation in the 1530s the house and garden for the chantry priest at Cossall was worth 3s 4d annually and in addition he received £4 from the Prior of Newstead; Ralph Cook was named as the chantry priest. This arrangement implies that the chantry was probably supervised by Newstead Abbey.
The Compton Census taken in 1676 indicates that in Cossall there were 40 people eligible to receive Communion. Two considered to be or suspected as being Catholics might have been part of the Willoughby family.

A Parliamentary bill passed in 1722 forced Catholics who refused to take the oaths of supremacy, allegiance and abjuration to register their name and the value of their estates. Robert Willoughby Esq. of Cossall was included in the register and his land was valued at £186.14s. 0d.

At the time of Archbishop Herring’s Visitation Returns in 1743 there were 28 families residing in Cossall, six being Presbyterians and one Roman Catholic. The Rector of Wollaton (with Cossall), George Staunton Brough noted: ‘We have no lands left for the repair of either of our churches, but Lord Middleton repairs the church at Wollaton at his own expense’.  

In 1748 the following Terrier was issued by the Rector, Geo Brough:

A true and Perfect Terrier of the House, Outhouses, Stables, Tythes Compositions and Profits belonging to the Rector of Wollaton cum Cossall given in at the Archbishops Visitation A.D. 1748 At Wollaton. The Glebe and Composition at Cossall Scite of the Church and the Church yard. Four Closes of a Lane now in the Tenure of James Godber. A cottage in the Tenure of Joseph Doubleday with a croft. A cottage in the Tenure of Joseph Badder with a croft.
The composition for the Tythe nine pounds per anum.

On 14 June 1786 a Terrier was issued by Isaac Pickthall, Rector of Wollaton cum Cossall:

A true and perfect Terrier of the Houses, Outhouses, Stables, Tythes Compositions and Profits belonging to the Rectory of Wollaton cum Cossall given in the Ordinary visitation of his Grace William Archbishop of York held at Nottingham on 14 June 1786.
The Glebe and Composition at Cossall. The Scite of the Church and Church Yard. Four Closes and a Lane now in the Tenure of John Godber. A cottage in the Tenure of Sarah Cross with a Croft.
A cottage in the Tenure of Richard Lowe, with a Croft. The Glebe at Cossall has common right upon Cossall Common in proportion as other lands have. This living is augmented by Benefaction with £400, which is in the Hands of the Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne.

The church of St Catherine appears to have fallen into a gradual state of neglect and disrepair. A series of churchwardens’ presentments refer specifically to the condition of the church building and to relationships with the parishioners and priests:

1596 The chancel is in ruin and decay in the default of Mr Aldredge, parson; we do not have any divine service on Wednesdays or Fridays in the default of Mr Aldredge the parson, or of ‘Mr Curate’, divine service has been omitted on divers Sundays and holy days.
There are no divine services on the Sunday after Easter; there were no Evening Prayers on Palm Sunday in the default of Persevall Hind, rector of Wolerton (Wollaton)
1684 Our minister Mr Geo. Antrobus for not choosing a parish clerk that is sufficient and can read English; the chimney in the parsonage house is out of repair; our minister Mr Geo Antrobus for not residing upon his living, and coming but once a year to officiate at our church.
1704 ‘the church steeple has fallen down and needs rebuilding’.
1706 ’the steeple of Cossall church is not yet repaired’.
1718 October, the church was out of repair and the utensils the Archdeacon ordered had not been provided.

The accounts of Francis Roberts, Churchwarden in 1718 confirm that Lord Willoughby was given notice about the repairs required and that some work had been carried out.

23 May 1718, Parochial Visitation Order, the following work to be carried out by the churchwardens; repair the church in the out walls by pointing them with mortar, and making the roof good which is now very bad and in danger of falling.

There is however no firm evidence that work other than essential repairs was done, and the church was still considered to be in a ruinous state.

Parochial Certificate dated 13 April 1719, work carried out as follows: the out walls and roof repaired and there is new pulpit cloth, carpet and cushions; there are new pews; and a Book of Homilies was bought.

The Parish Accounts of St Catherine from 1717-61 reveal minor work such as mending of the church gate and a window being carried out.

In 1738 a charge of 1s. 6d. was made for seeing Lord Middleton about the chancel and churchyard:

1741 for two bell ropes 0. 2s.6d.
1743 for mending the altar rails 0.0.4d.

No evidence has been found to establish exactly when the steeple was repaired or replaced. John Chapman’s map published in 1776 depicts the church of St Catherine minus the spire.

At the time of the Drummond Visitation of 1764 the entry for St Catherine, Cossall was included together with the Parish of Wollaton. There were 28 families, of which four were Presbyterians. In the Alms House or hospital in Cossall a popish priest performed some of the offices of their religion with great secrecy, and was attended only by a few poor belonging to that hospital. The Rector provided two services at Wollaton each Lord’s Day. Cossall had only one service every third Lord’s Day conducted by the Curate, William Kelk, who was allowed £40 per annum and surplice fees. Although Cossall had 80 possible communicants, only 14 or 15 received communion.

Throsby refers briefly to the church in 1790, stating ‘The chapel has only one aisle - in it is a vault for a branch of the Willoughbys’. When Elizabeth Willoughby died in 1667 her interment in the Willoughby vault was possibly carried out with Catholic associations, provoking Samuel Kendall, the rector, to withhold repairs to the chancel in 1668.

In 1801 William Stretton described the church as ‘a mixture of Saxon and Gothic architecture, it has a nave and one side aisle, a very low spire steeple, and the whole small and in a very decayed state’.

In State of the Church in the County of Nottingham and Diocese of York Review, compiled in 1831, Cossall was recorded with a population of 842 and the church accommodation considered as being sufficient. St Catherine remained united to Wollaton and was endowed with 200l- private benefaction, and 200l- Royal Bounty.

The Rev. Francis Hewgill became the Rector of Wollaton cum Cossall following the death in 1838 of George Sanders, the former incumbent for 40 years. The church had continued to fall into disrepair and from a letter dated 17 June 1838 from Lord Middleton’s Agent, Charles Chouler, to the Rev. F. Hewgill, Hewgill had requested information regarding Terriers as a possible means of funding repairs. Chouler confirmed:

I cannot say whether a Terrier has been given in since 1786, I since find one was given in in 1877. An inclosure has taken place at Cossall subsequent to that period, when the lands and a portion for the common right were allotted and laid together. I cannot yet see upon what grounds the late Mr Sanders can be excused from dilapidations at Cossall chancel. Certainly not in consequence of lands being given up to Lord Middleton.

Chouler states that Lord Middleton did bear the charges for repairing the church and providing new bells at Wollaton. It was also agreed that based on the land taken he would pay all future expenses attached to Wollaton church. This did not, however, appear to be the case for St Catherine’s and Chouler goes on to confirm that:

All expenses which have from time immemorial attached to Cossall church have invariably been defrayed by a church rate collected in that parish, without in the least interfering or being connected with Wollaton.

Chouler summarises:

This in my opinion is a sufficient proof that the two parishes, though denominated Wollaton Cum Cossall have not otherwise been connected and I have never before heard it hinted that there was any reason why the rector should not repair the chancel at Cossall.

The matter appears to have been unresolved and in 1842 the Rev. Francis Hewgill reputedly arranged for the necessary repairs and partial rebuilding of St Catherine’s church at his own expense. This included enlarging the chancel, nave and clerestory using existing stone and the addition of the north aisle. The west tower and octagonal spire survived the rebuilding.

Religion in Victorian Nottinghamshire the Religious Census of 1851 lists the parish of Cossall as an area of 720 acres with a population of 159 males and 144 females. The general congregation totalled 42 in the morning and 103 in the afternoon with 46 Sunday morning and 47 afternoon scholars. The church could hold more than 160, but the benches were fit for school children only.  

Correspondence dated 9 January 1876 from the Bishop of Lincoln clarifies any possible doubts regarding the status of the living in Wollaton cum Cossall:

Following inquiry the Bishop of Lincoln found that the living in Wollaton cum Cossall is consolidated and therefore instituted the Reverend H C Russell who read himself in at both churches on 9 January 1876.

Henry Charles Russell was Rector of Wollaton cum Cossall from 1876-1922.

The provision for Public Worship in the Midland Districts listed the parish of Cossall as part of Ilkeston, comprising 720 statute acres. In 1861 the population was 256, decreasing to 235 by 1871.

At the time of the Parochial Visitation of Edwyn Hoskyns, Bishop of Southwell 1911-1915, Wollaton with Cossall was listed as part of the Deanery of Beeston. The seating of St Catherine’s allowed for a congregation of 190 people with 126 children on the Sunday school roll.  

Maintaining the church and funding repairs was clearly an ongoing problem. In the early 1900s there was serious concern regarding main areas of the church, repair funds were required and it was necessary to prioritise repairs in order of urgency.

In April 1904 attention was drawn to the condition of the tower and belfry. It was inspected in 1919. In April 1909 urgent attention was drawn to the condition of the leaking church roof. The churchwardens and parishioners may have been attempting to carry out their own repairs, as the minutes record that ‘if the repairs required are extensive some outside help will be needed’. A special meeting in April 1915 indicated external help was required to carry out repairs. The builder commissioned discovered that the work needed was more extensive than anticipated and the final bill amounted to £52. 3s. 3d., almost double the original estimate.

During April 1918 it was considered that the east end of the chancel roof could easily be repaired, but the nave roof was of greater concern. In February 1922 the bell tower had continued to deteriorate further and a crack was considered to be getting wider, but no action appears to have been taken.

In January 1933 it was recorded that ‘the church roof must be seen to, it is leaking in several places’. The question of the tower was again raised at a meeting in 1939 but it was not thought to be in immediate danger. The Reverend Harry Liddell suggested the matter be held over until the Bishop’s appeal had been dealt with. The question of a fabric fund was again raised. In the same year a resolution was passed to install electricity.

In May 1944, £100 was required to make the tower permanently safe. It was suggested that temporary repairs be carried out until after the end of the Second World War.

In January 1949 A.W. Elliot & Co. of Nottingham provided a detailed estimate totalling £233 for repair work required to the tower and steeple. This included repairing the brickwork and installing a lightning conductor, fixing copper guards to the spire and belfry. The Parochial Church Council recommended that the work be done immediately. The fabric fund stood at £163. 11s. 1d. A house-to-house appeal was organised throughout the parish to meet the balance. In April 1951 repairs to the steeple had been satisfactorily completed.

In a report of April 1951 the chancel roof was still leaking badly during wet weather. In November 1964 Broadhead & Royal, Chartered Architects and Surveyors, confirmed to the Rev. W L Archer that all the required work on the chancel roof be carried out, repairs were also necessary on the main roof and re-routing of the rainwater pipe from the tower. The final account was £116.

During the Parochial Church Council Meeting in June 1934 the Chairman considered that the time was right for Cossall to be made a separate parish. It was agreed to write to Lord Middleton and the Bishop of Southwell requesting their support. However, in spite of their support, at a meeting later in 1934 with the Archdeacon the committee was informed that the separation of Cossall from Wollaton ‘would take a long time before definite steps could be taken’.

A Parochial Church Council meeting held in March 1947 opened with the proposal to discuss the amalgamation of Cossall with the Parish of Wollaton. The Archdeacon of Nottingham provided an account of obtaining sufficient clergy and being able to provide adequate remuneration. Following consultation with the Bishop it was agreed that the best arrangement would be to appoint a vicar to Awsworth, which would include the responsibilities for Cossall. Cossall was promised a fair share of the services and continuance of the current services. The stipend would be not less than £500, with at least £200 provided by Cossall.

On 10 April 1947 the Archdeacon, the Rev. J. B. Halet again addressed the Cossall Parochial Church Council regarding amalgamating Cossall with Awsworth, stressing that Wollaton was a growing parish and that it was not possible for the Rector to adequately serve both parishes. It was also difficult, because of the shortage of clergy, to secure a curate for Cossall. ‘As a temporary measure the Rev. Hobson, vicar of Awsworth, should look after both parishes, and money from Wollaton help to maintain him in his duties at Cossall. A resolution was put to the meeting that while maintaining the Parish required a full time resident priest, it was agreed to support the plan suggested by the Bishop that the spiritual direction and oversight of Cossall Parish be entrusted to the vicar of Awsworth, provided that the Sunday service be maintained as before. The arrangements were to be reviewed after two years.

As part of the Union of Benefices Measures 1923-1936 Pastoral Re-Organization Measure 1949, the following provisional proposals were drawn up:

1. The Chapelry of Cossall shall be severed from the Benefice of Wollaton with Cossall and annexed to the Benefice of Awsworth. The style of the new Benefice shall be ‘Wollaton’ and ‘Awsworth with Cossall’ respectively.
2. The union shall take effect forthwith and The Reverend Michael Faraday Giles shall be the first Incumbent of the new Benefice of Wollaton and the Reverend Herbert Leslie Hobson shall be the first Incumbent of the new Benefice of Awsworth with Cossall.
3. The Patron of the new Benefice of Wollaton shall be Baron Middleton and The Patron of Awsworth with Cossall shall be the Lord Bishop of Southwell.
4. The Parish Churches shall remain as heretofore and the Church at Cossall shall be a Chapel-of-Ease in the new Parish of Awsworth with Cossall.

The new Benefices shall be in the Archdeaconry of Nottingham and Deanery of Beeston.

The document dated 22 March 1952 was approved and signed by Russell Southwell, Lord Bishop of Southwell, and signed by Michael Faraday Giles, Incumbent of Wollaton with Cossall, and Herbert Leslie Hobson, Incumbent of Awsworth. The Re-Organization and Order approved by Her Majesty the Queen took effect from the day it was published in the London Gazette on 7 August 1953. The severing of the Chapelry of Cossall from the Benefice of Wollaton with Cossall brought to an end an association with Wollaton that had spanned over 700 years.

The constant problems with the leaking roofs no doubt resulted in damage to the interior of the church. In September 1956 W. Church, Ilkeston Architects, reported on the floors of the nave, side aisles and the area around the organ at the west end, which was described as ‘… absolutely decayed and rotten with Dry Rot to a degree beyond comparison’. Fungus was evident on the floor and in all the pews in the nave, aisles, pulpit and was attacking the choir stalls. The system of roof water and growth of vegetation around the entire church was not helping matters, and if the situation was allowed to continue the whole of the woodwork, including the organ casing, was in danger of collapse. It was recommended not to use the central aisle owing to its dangerous condition.

The repairs involved removal and replacement of the entire wooden floors in the nave and side aisles, and sections around the organ at the west end, and the removal and examination of all seating in the affected areas. All defective woodwork was to be burnt immediately. The remedial work included the laying of concrete, damp course, cement screed and flooring blocks. The choir stalls were removed and stone floor cleaned and prepared for laying flooring blocks. A rough estimate amounted to £375. Work was to be carried out with all possible speed.

In January 1961 it was found that the chancel roof, nave roof, and reredos had evidence of Death Watch Beetle and Common Furniture Beetle, and the bell frame and floor showed evidence of old attacks of Death Watch Beetle.

The north and south aisles, platform to the altar, first floor to the tower, pews and kneeling rails, choir stalls, ninety-three chairs and the moulded wall plates in the south porch were showing signs of attack by the Common Furniture Beetle. The end of the ridge beam set into the outer wall had been heavily attacked by Wet Rot Fungus, as a result of timber that had been built into damp wall stones. The recommendation was to treat all accessible timbers until the work planned on adjacent stonework had taken place. The estimate totalled £228 and the work was completed on 17 August 1962.

Correspondence dated November 1966 from the Church Commissioners to the Incumbent of Cossall St Catherine states: ‘The Church Commissioners have been notified that the church of St Catherine Cossall has been included in a list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest compiled by the Minister of Housing and Local Government in pursuance of section 32 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1962’.

A list of work carried out by H Jowett between 1973-5 provides details of work completed inside the spire and bell chamber, the porch and the exterior of the church walls.

The spire and the bell chamber involved the pointing of all joints and replacing approximately forty stones. Partly bricking up three large spire windows and renewing hardwood louvres. The bell frame, floor and underneath the belfry floor were treated with preservative. Cost £810.

The porch required all joints to be pointed, two new coping stones and the renewing of plaster. Cost £245

The exterior walls on the northwest corner of the north aisle required four feet of coping and a large corner stone replacing. Cost £230

The exterior walls of the south aisle, west and east elevations and the south elevation of the chancel required all joints pointing including buttress and fifteen ashlar stones replacing. Cost £820

The exterior walls of the east elevation of the chancel required all joints to be pointed including the buttresses and twenty ashlar stones were replaced.
Cost £460

The exterior walls of the vestry required all joints to be pointed. Cost £140.

The exterior walls of the north and east elevations of the north aisle, north side of the clerestory required all joints repointing. Cost £280.

All the work was completed on 14 August 1975 and the cost of the repairs totalled £3215.

In the Manchester News on 10 August 2010 an article appeared regarding the theft of lead from church roofs in various counties including Nottinghamshire, the church mentioned being St Catherine’s, Cossall. The Rev. Andy Lord was reported as saying ‘Lead has been taken from the roof of St Catherine’s church in Cossall a total of 12 times in the past four years’; and that it had since been replaced with a suitable alternative.