For this church:
Two chapels have existed in Cropwell Butler: the first, a medieval foundation dedicated to St Nicholas, had disappeared by the mid-17th century; while the second was constructed in 1845, restored and reopened in 1897 as St Peter’s Mission Church, and subsequently closed in 1976. They almost certainly occupied entirely different sites within the village.
Cropwell Butler is listed in Domesday but without mention of any church. Roger the Poitevin (d. circa 1140) granted the church of ‘Crophill’, along with several other churches, to the monastery of St Martin at Sais in France.
During the reign of Henry II this grant appears to have been superseded when the ‘chapel’ of Cropwell Butler was given to the priory of Austin canons at Thurgarton by Matthew de Vilers alongside the neighbouring church of Tythby.
Pre-reformation wills in the registry at York reveal that the chapel was dedicated to St Nicholas. The chapel of Cropwell Butler was not assessed for the purposes of Pope Nicholas IV’s ecclesiastical taxation in 1291, and neither was any church at Cropwell Butler assessed in 1341 in Nonarum Inquisitiones or for Henry VI’s subsidy of 1421. However, in 1406, Cropwell Butler chaplaincy appears in an assessment of unbeneficed clergy for the subsidy of 6s. 8d. from each unbeneficed member of the clergy granted to Henry IV by the clergy of the northern province.
In 1553 an agreement was made between churchwardens and royal commissioners, where it was recorded that Henry, Earl of Rutland (1526-1563) had delivered to Thomas, curate of the ‘chapel church’, ‘one chalice with a patent of silver for the administration of holy communions’, and also two bells and a sanctus bell to be hung in the steeple of the church and ‘safely kept unembeseled, and unsold until the king majesty’s pleasure be further known’. By this time, the church was a chapel-of-ease to Tythby, and in addition to the custody of the chalice and bells mentioned above, the church also possessed a vestment and an alb, both of white silk. In 1603 there were 200 adult inhabitants in Cropwell Butler and Tythby.
At the Reformation Lenton priory also held land in Cropwell Butler to the value of 4s. annually, but there is no indication that it had any interests in the chapel.
In 1650 a parliamentary commission reported that the benefice of Cropwell Butler, valued at £80 (‘fower-score pounds’) per annum, was in the possession of Lord Chaworth who received the profits from the benefice for his own use.
Thoroton, in his history, published in 1677, noted: ‘The tithes are my Lord Chaworth’s, who finds a chaplain at Tythby, whither the inhabitants of Crophill resort to as their parish church’. Apparently the inhabitants of Cropwell Butler had similarly relied on the parochial function of Tythby before the Reformation, when the church was in the possession of Thurgarton Priory.
From Thoroton’s entry, it would appear that a church building no longer existed by the 1670s, and John Throsby had nothing to add on the subject of the church in 1790. In White’s Directory for the year 1832 it was noted that no traces of the ancient chapel remain, and, as such, it appears that Cropwell Butler was without a church between the second half of the seventeenth century – if not before – and 1845 when a small church was erected.
For the purposes of the Archbishop Herring’s visitation in 1743, Thomas Heblethwaith, curate of Tythby with Cropwell provided a detailed account of the joint parish.