For this church:
The earliest documentary reference to Gringley on the Hill comes from Domesday Book of 1086, in which it is noted as Gringeleia. Ekwall suggests that the name may derive from Grēningaleah, meaning the clearing of the dwellers on a green hill, or the clearing of the people from Grēninga ie Little Gringley, but Gover, Mawer, and Stenton consider that no certain interpretation is possible.
In 1086 Gringley on the Hill was recorded as comprising arable land, wood pasture, meadow and a fishery, and supported a church, 10 villagers and 6 smallholders, indicating a population of around 70. Although it was not a particularly large settlement at this date, Domesday Book estimates that Gringley on the Hill had been worth the considerable sum of £10 during the reign of Edward the Confessor. Although its worth had fallen dramatically to £4 by 1086 it remained valuable by the standards of the locality, probably due to the existence of the fishery, which produced 1000 eels per annum.
Before the Norman Conquest, the township belonged to 7 thanes, but by 1086 they had been dispossessed and it had become part of the extensive landholdings of Roger de Busli, who had fought with King William at the Battle of Hastings. de Busli’s tenant was a man named Roger, who was succeeded, as in several other places, by William de Lovetot after Roger de Busli’s death towards the end of the eleventh century. De Lovetot founded Worksop Priory in 1103, and in c. 1130 he endowed it with, amongst other possessions ‘... all his churches of his demesne of the honour of Blith, viz. the churches of Gringelai, of Misterton, of Walcringham, of Normanton, of Coleston [Car Colston], of Wylgeby [Willoughby], of Wyshou [Wysall], and his part of the church of Tyreswalle [Treswell], with all lands, tythes, and things belonging to the said churches...’. After the church was given to Worksop, secular clerks may have been responsible for celebrating the Mass, at least initially.
In c.1160 Richard de Lovetot added to his father’s endowment at Gringley ‘by the church on the east side, c. a mess. (or mansure) on the south side another for the proper houses of the canons, with a certain space to make an orchard, as it was inclosed by the bank, and the whole (gravam) grasse, as it was incompassed with the bank, and one mansure without the bank [ate vinas]. This suggests that the work of the Church was carried out by resident canons of the Priory from around this time, and it seems likely that this arrangement continued until the first known vicar was instituted just over a hundred years later.
Richard de Lovetot’s son William made further grants to Worksop. He died young, and was succeeded by his 7 year old daughter Matilda. She later married Gerald de Furnivall, who joined the Crusades and died at Jerusalem in 1219. Matilda gave the windmill at Gringley – ‘which was situate on the west side of the town’ – to the Priory, in memory of her younger son, Sir William de Furnivall, to whom she had given the manor. He had granted a fair and market at Gringley in 1252. Thoroton does not give a date for the gift of the windmill, but assuming it was granted to Worksop in the mid to late thirteenth century, it may have been one of the earliest to be constructed in Nottinghamshire. It had a troubled history, as will be seen below.
The elder son of Gerard and Matilda de Furnivall, also called Gerard, released the manor to Henry, son of Richard of Almaine, and his heirs, being part of his fee of Tickhill, and in default of their line to the Crown. A jury of c.1280 found that:
The prior of Worksop ought to receive the tythes of the yearly rents of mault, and of paunnage, of hens, eggs, and of all other issues coming out of the manor of Gringley, and that all the priors of that place his predecessors were wont to have them, and were seized thereof in the time of Matilda de Lovetot, William de Furnivall, and their ancestors, lords of the said manor of Gringley, until it came to the hands of Sir Henry de Almaine, whose bayliff took the said tythes from John the predecessor of the said prior, and the bayliffs of Constancia, wife of the said Henry, then unjustly detained. By a special verdict taken in an assize, [in 1276 and in a subsequent hearing in 1326] … the jury found precisely that John de Vescy, and his servants, did unjustly eject the said prior out of the said mill. And afterwards the said prior, [in 1277] complained that before judgement given, Richard, son of Albred, with forty others, by the command and mission of Henry de Luffenham, constable of Tickhill, with force and arms pulled down the said mill, & William de Aune, constable of Tickhill, made it appear, and the prior denied not, that the mill then [viz. 1326] stood not where it did of old on the soil of the prior, but two sellions off, on the soil of the king. Thereafter the prior had order, if he pleased, to build it where it formerly stood, and to recover the suit to it by the common law.’
A vicar of Gringley is noted from c.1266 but his name is not known. The first recorded vicar, William de Burghes, was instituted in 1272, and would therefore have been in residence at the time when the disputes over tithes and the mill were at their height.
It has been estimated that the population expanded generally by about 50% in the 200 years after Domesday and although there is no documentary evidence specifically for Gringley on the Hill, there are references to its fair and market which suggest a reasonable level of economic activity. The fair was held annually on the vigil, feast and morrow of St Peter ad Vincula (1 August), and the market was held weekly on Mondays. Prices recorded from the market give an indication both of economic activity, and of what was being produced locally. In 1295-6, barley was being sold from 3s to 4s 6d a quarter, oats 2s 10½d to 3s 10d, beans 4s 6d, peas 4s. Oxen, then chiefly valued as draught animals, were 10s each. The following year wheat was 4s to 4s 4d a quarter and eggs were 4½d per 120, and pigs were 3s 3d each. Grease, used for cart-wheels and manufacturing candles, was 10d for 7lb, and wheat had risen to 6s 8d, though it dropped the year after to 4s 9d. Pigs fetched 3s 6d in 1298, cheese was 8d for 28lb, and butter was 9d for 28lb. The remains of the market cross survive, dating from the fourteenth century and located on Cross Hill, comprising a square plinth of four steps, a square base, and an octagonal ashlar shaft about 7 feet tall, with a niche on the east side.The commercial activity evidenced by the market and fair would have taken place within the context of what was still a feudal society. Details of the open field system have not survived in documentary form, but can perhaps be inferred from ridge and furrow and from the pre-enclosure field system which has been conjectured from details in the enclosure map and award. The Carrs would have been undrained at this time, and extremely valuable as a source of fish, eels, wildfowl and reeds for thatching, as well as for seasonal pasture. Closer to the village would have been open fields, which were in later times called Mill Field, Long Row Field and Ley Field. There are also several contemporary references to a deer park, of which the earliest dates from 1296, when Robert de Hayton made 8 roods of hedging around Gringley Park, such work being worth 8d yearly. In 1315 the keeper of the park at ‘Gringele and Whetelaye’ was ordered to let the king’s yeomen take 20 bucks and 20 harts, which suggests that the park was to the south-east of the village, spanning the parish boundary. The area around Beacon Hill was traditionally known as ‘The Parks’.
At the Taxatio of Pope Nicholas IV in 1291 the clear annual assessment for tax is given as £13 6s. 8d. for 'Ecclesia de Gringeley eidem monasterio appropriata' [i.e. Worksop Priory]. The church is also listed in the Taxatio as being a collegiate dignity or prebend comprising largely of spiritualiities of St Mary and the Holy Angels alias St Sepulchre's (chantry college), York.
References to church activities are extremely sparse, but the Revd H. Minta notes a Visitation on 19th December 1300: ‘Notice of a visitation of the deanery of Retford, east of the water of Iddel [the river Idle] on Saturday, before Lent, in Gringeley Church’. Although this is the only specific reference to Gringley church, he infers that the church must have been active, since there are numerous names referring to the village in the ranks of the clergy. In 1287 Robert de Gryngeley was instituted to the vicarage of Thorpe Arch, in c.1290 William de Gryngeley, priest, to the rectory of Marnham. In 1302, Robert Gernon of Gringeley, priest, was admitted to the vicarage of Calverton, and in 1304 Roger de Gringeley was referred to as a deacon. There are also references to Adam de Grinley and Roger de Gringeley as clerks.
In 1308-9 the prior and convent of Worksop produced their charter, or a sealed letter of 1191-1212, to Archbishop Greenfield to substantiate their claims to, amongst other churches, Gringley-on-the-Hill.
On 2 April 1315, following a complaint from the proprietors of the church, the prior and convent of Worksop, Archbishop William Greenfield issued instructions to the Dean of Retford that a warning and inquisition was to take place against those who had cut down trees in Gringley churchyard (... contra illos qui exciderunt arbores in cimiterio ecclesie de Gringeleye.) He warned that unless restitution of the felled trees took place within six days the perpetrators would be excommunicated.
The manor reverted to the Crown in the early to mid-fourteenth century. It had been granted to Queen Philippa by 1340, when a commission was appointed to deal with persons who had broken into her park and closes at Gringley, to hunt deer, take fish, and do other damage.
In the Nonae Rolls of 1341 the entry from Gringley stated that the church of Gringley (Gryngely) with the vicarage were taxed at 16 marks (£10 13s. 4d.) and no more,and the ninth of sheaves, lambs and their fleeces were worth 13 marks (£8 13s. 4d) a year at true value and no more, and that a dowry of the same church was assessed at 4 s. 37 acres of land were valued at 16 s. per annum, 6 acres of land belonging to the church were valued at 9 s. per annum, the tithes of hay were worth 8 s., mortuary oblations and other tithes were valued at 43 s. per annum.
Gringley’s population would have fallen dramatically during the mid-fourteenth century due to famine largely brought on by a worsening of the climate, and then by the Black Death, which struck in 1348. Depopulation led to falling prices, the proportion of meadow and pasture to arable increased, and labour was commutated for cash. This is evidenced in the 1373 accounts of the King’s manor at Gringley, in which the tenants are spoken of as paying various sums for ploughing, weeding, reaping, and so forth, rather than doing the work themselves. A lease granted by the Duchy of Lancaster in 1498 is of interest insofar as it lists a number of field names in the parish, namely Wottonbakforlong, Northwong, Over and Netherstelastede, Oseley under Pyknoate, and Hungrehill.
The tax assessment under Henry VI in 1428 reveals that Gringley was assessed at 26 s. 8d., i.e. it had the same annual valuation, £13 6s. 8d., as in 1291.
The population is likely to have begun to grow again after 1500. In 1506 Hugh Fixer of Gringley was found to have broken into Gringley Park by force and arms and to have cut down and removed 20 oak and 10 ash trees without licence, to the damage of the king of 20s, and Christopher Thoresby, another yeoman of Gringley, carried out a similar offence, causing damage worth 40s. A return of 1538 notes 150 fallow deer in the Park, but this appears to be the last documentary reference to the deer park. It is not mentioned by Thoroton or shown on his 1677 ‘Mapp of Nottinghamshire’, indicating that it went out of use in the sixteenth century.
The reign of Henry VIII saw the dissolution of the monasteries. Worksop Priory was visited in 1536 by the commissioners Legh and Layton, who affected to have discovered four canons guilty of unnatural sin, and one who desired to be released from his vows. The annual income was declared at £240 and the debts 200 marks. Sir John Hercy, writing to Thomas Cromwell in October 1538, remarked that ‘the prior and convent of Worksop are so covetous, they sell flocks of sheep, kyne, corn, woods etc’. As Page says, ‘Who can blame them? They clearly foresaw their overthrow.’ The following month, the priory was surrendered, the prior, sub-prior and 14 canons being given pensions, including the four who had been accused by Legh and Layton.
Gringley-on-the-Hill, as a possession of Worksop, was valued only for the rectory. The Valor Ecclesiasticus states: 'Also the personage of Greynley of the Hill for the tenthe of corne ther xxx quarters whete price le quarter .. vij li x s. [£7 10 s.] also lx quarters of barley at ix li [£9] and one oxe stalle fed price iis. vj d. [2 s. 6d.]'. The total value is given as £16 12s. 6d.
In 1546 Robert and Hugh Thornehill purchased various monastic properties from the Crown, including Gringley Mill, which was valued at 33s. 4d. per annum. The rectory of Gringley was granted c.1553 to Sir James Foljambe by letters patent, for the annual sum of £22 13s. 4d.
Not long after, a dispute took place in the village which was taken to the Star Chamber for judgement in 1557:
‘John Graie of Gryngeley, co. Nottingham, complains that whereas on the feasted aye of the purification of our Lady, in the firste and seconde yeres of mats reignes, in peaceable and queyeth maner did resort unto the paryshe churche of Gryngeley to the intente to heare masse and other dyvyne service…that one William Walsam, Robert Crosse, Hugh Hylton, John Johnson and dyvers other ryottous and evill disposed persons, to the number of six persons to your saied subjects unknown, arrayed wth swords, buckelers, daggers, long pyked staves and other unlawful weapons, in very ryottous manner assembled themselves together in the said paryshe church…by the procurements of the said William Walsam dyd make an assaulte upon youre said subjecte and hym did so beate wounde and evill intreate, that he was in greate peryll and daunger of hys lyfe, etc…The said defendents William Walsam and John Johnson saythe that the said Byll of Complaint is untrewe and that the matter therein conteyned is only of malice & of mere vexacon imagined by the said Complaynt being a troublesome & unqyuiyet person to thentent to put the said Defendantes to trouble costs and expenses in the lawe. Deny that they made any such assaults as is slaunderousley alledged. Pray to be dismissed with their reasonable costs and charges.
The judgement in this case does not appear to have survived so its outcome is unknown, but it points to the quarrelsome and even at times violent tenor of the times. It is also of interest for illustrating the continuity of families in the village – it is reasonable to link the James Fixer referred to above with the Hugh Fixer who broke into Gringley Park in the early years of the century, and the John Graie, Robert Crosse and William Walsam noted above with the Arthur Gray, Edmund Crosse and William Walsham listed as landowners in 1612 by Thoroton.
Although it took place in the churchyard, the above dispute does not sound as though it was religious in origin and it is interesting to note the Revd H. Minta’s comments on the Dissolution and Reformation of the mid-sixteenth century: ‘widespread change in religious thought was in progress, as a result of the Renaissance, and the first serious rumblings of the Reformation, had already been heard and became more insistent as the century advanced. Yet while very serious repercussions of these changes must have been felt in the village, they appear to have passed almost unnoticed in the various records which have come down to us ... parochial life went on without any serious break, and normally without note in the various registers’.
However, serious religious dissent is evident during the reign of Elizabeth I. In 1559 commissions were instigated to secure the subscription of the clergy to the Prayer Book which had been imposed during the reign of Edward VI and to the Act of Uniformity, securing the new Queen Elizabeth’s supremacy At the royal visitation on the deanery of Retford, the list of clergy who failed to appear included the vicars or rectors of Beckingham, Bole, Clayworth, Gringley, and Worksop. The offending clergy were pronounced ‘contumacious’ – although it seems likely that the majority eventually acquiesced in the changes. There is no way of identifying the Gringley vicar who failed to respond to the citation to attend – it may have been John Kechyn or James Barton, or indeed an unrecorded priest who served between them, or after Barton.
Further dissent, though this time exhibited by a parishioner, is recorded from 1584, when Richard Fox was cited at the Archdeacon’s Court for saying ‘that it was never a good world synce prestes were maryed and called the Vickers wife of Gringley paynted stocke. Also he sayd that preestes calves and byshoppes calves would over rone the Realme’. He was ordered to acknowledge his fault in the church before the congregation and also before the clergy at the next exercise at Retford. Again, it is not possible to be sure of the vicar to whom he was referring - it may have been James Barton, or an unrecorded priest who served after him, but it is reasonable to assume that it was the first time Gringley had had a married vicar.
In 1587 the churchwardens returned that: 'Our chancel is out of repair in the default of Mr Folgham', and in 1609: 'we want a chest for the keeping of the ornaments of the church; our church is not in sufficient repair'. Major repairs were evidently in hand in 1612 as they reported: 'the repair of our church is as yet unfinished, by reason of want of stones for covering the top of the walls, through the default of James Barton and Georg Lidyate of Eastretford or one of them'.
James Brewster was appointed as vicar in 1603, when the adult population of Gringley was reported at 240. Brewster is mentioned at an Archdeacon’s Court hearing in 1608, when James Stanfield of Gringley, admitted ‘that for one whole yeere ending at Easter laste paste he did occupie one malting kilne in Gringley aforesaid & gained thereby & for & in liewe of the tenth of his cleere gaines gotten that yeere by the trade’ paid sixteen pence into court for James Brewster the vicar. Brewster appears to have been rather a disreputable character. He may possibly be the same James Brewster who was found guilty in 1595 of embezzlement, neglect and a variety of ‘other lewd Demeanors’ when master of Bawtry Hospital from 1584. He certainly appears to have been, as vicar of Gringley, indicted for drunkenness and for being concerned in riotous affrays, for riot and assault, and in 1616 for frequenting ‘tippling houses and for being a common barrater’ [i.e. swindler].
There was a tragedy in 1611, when two men were killed by a bell falling from the tower of Gringley church – the record of their deaths comes from Clayworth, where they were buried.
Brewster was succeeded as vicar in 1617 by William Saxton, a graduate of both Oxford and Cambridge, and the first of a number of incumbents presented to the living by Sir John Manners, later Earl of Rutland. This vicar too was accused by his churchwardens in April 1618 as being 'a frequenter of alehouses'. Saxton died in 1626 and was buried in the churchyard. His successor was Robert Aynsworh, a Cambridge graduate who does not appear to have taken up residence, at least in the early years of his cure. Thomas Walkden, Timothy Luddington and Charles Aynsworth did duty as curates between 1629 and 1635, whilst a Thomas James, a farmer, seems to have been recorded in occupation of the vicarage in 1635.
In 1629 the church is said to have been damaged by fire. In 1631 the churchwardens were warned to certify at the Archdeacon’s Court ‘that their pulpit (which is lately removed in their church) be sett up in the antient place again’. The fact that the pulpit had been moved may give support to the claim that a fire had damaged the church, but if so it seems odd that it was not mentioned.
Plague was prevalent in the district during the first half of the sixteenth century – it hit Worksop in 1604 when Anne Hoddell ‘a stranger’ died, and by the end of 1605 54 people had died there. The practice was to isolate the affected settlement, and for the surrounding parishes to pay for their relief. During 1631 38 people died in Gringley – a very considerable proportion of the population. By 15th July the township had been put into quarantine, which lasted till 1st February 1632. That July a complaint was upheld against Sir Francis Thornhagh by Thomas Bulloch and Matthew Walsham for non-payment of wages for work done to ‘Sweeten and cleanse divers houses which had been infected’. Thereafter the incidence of plague became rarer, and there are no further records of plague after 1637.
It was at about this time that the project for draining Hatfield Chase and the Isle of Axholme began to impact on the community. The Carrs, the low-lying, northerly part of the parish, would have been a valuable source of fish, wildfowl, reeds for thatching, and seasonal pasture. Some drainage had probably taken place previously, and Bycar Dyke is thought possibly to be Roman in origin. In 1626 Charles I granted Hatfield Chase to Cornelius Vermuyden, the Dutch engineer, with the aim of draining it. The work was done within two years at a cost of around £400,000, and involved straightening some rivers and diverting others into new drains. One of the rivers was the River Idle, which was blocked at a location called ‘Idlestop’, and diverted into the River Trent along the Bycar Dyke. A second long drain was cut from Idlestop to Dirtness. The drain ran parallel to the Torne River and the water was sluiced into the Trent at Althorpe. The completion of the work was only the beginning of a long struggle between the Crown and the commoners: drainage had stopped the annual flood waters which enriched much of the area, some areas became too dry to pasture the numbers of stock they had supported before, whilst other areas, which had previously been dry enough to use as pasture in the summer, were now flooding. Gringley Carr lay just south of the area drained by Vermuyden, but it was the embankments created to alter the course of the Idle which turned the waters onto the Carr, depriving the community of the use of its common pasture. Along with many of the inhabitants of Hatfield Chase, the local populace broke down the banks and cut the sluices, and the trouble continued well beyond the time of King Charles into the days of the Protectorate.
J A Aerlebou’s ‘True and Perfect Plott of Ev’ry Particular Close in the Severell Counties of York Lincoln and Nottingham in the Levell of Hatterfield Chase survey’d in the Year 1639’ shows most of Gringley Carr set out in large oblong enclosures. This suggests that much of the common land was planned for enclosure during the drainage of Hatfield Chase, even if it never actually took place. The map is of interest in that it is the earliest depiction of Gringley church, which is shown with a pinnacled tower, nave and chancel, surrounded by houses. However, it is considered that the depiction is wholly symbolic, since the churches and settlements of Misterton, Misson, Haxey, and Owston are show identically.
By comparison with plague and the appropriation of common land, disputes relating to the church appear relatively trivial. In 1633 there was a disagreement over communion wine. In 1633 Giles Thorpe and John Gamston were presented at the Archdeacon’s Court ‘for want of wyne at the Communion at Christmas’. They alleged ‘that the minister bid them buy 5 quartes of wyne for the Communion and they provided 6 quartes and a pint’. They were ordered to certify at the next court that this was true. They failed to do so but later alleged that they had delivered the certificate and the case was dismissed. The main interest now is the light this seems to shed on the quantity of wine drunk at communion!
The church pews also seem to have caused contention. In 1630 John Crosse junior – presumably a descendent of the family involved in the 1557 dispute – was cited at the Archdeacon’s court for ‘pulling downe two seates to the displacing of above x persons & disturbing of the whole parishe’. Then in 1638 a detailed survey of all the churches in the Archdeaconry was made, and it was noted that at Gringley on the Hill ‘The seates in the church are all topped with firr deale bordes higher than they aunciently were by which meanes it can not appeare whether the people sit or kneele in tyme of divine service. There are some seates on the Sowth-side the church ununiformed and the like on the north side. The ancient fabric of the seates which was verie decent is sawen off to affix the higher worke unto to make the same undecent for church seates for publike prayer because the same are to[o] private’. The 1638 survey also pointed out that ‘The poore mans box is not kept for want of lockes & keys. The chest which ought to have three lockes for the keepinge the Register booke is kept by the Clarke without three lockes by meanes whereof the minister hath been abridged of the due keeping of the same. The new churchwardens did lay up a rope amongst the books in the chest’.
Church records ceased during the Civil War and Protectorate, but a memorial stone exists to James Horbery, showing that he was vicar between 1650 and his death in 1657. There is reference to Gringley in the ‘Parliamentary Survey of Livings, 1650’ quoted by Minta thus ‘The Impropriation of Gringley super Montem is £100 p. a. John Earl of Rutland the Improprietor. The Vicarage is worth £16 per annum. Mr James Horbery is Rector there but only Vicar for sallery. The cure is served by James Horbery or in his absence by Mr Martin Horbery both being Preaching Ministers’.
The Churchwardens’ Accounts for 1650 are also quoted by the Revd Minta. 13s 6d was spent for bread and wine for the Michaelmas communion, 13s at Christmas and 19s 10d at Easter. Money was spent on bell ringing, the north and south doors were mended, and work was carried out to ‘the great south window’. A new bell was hung in 1655. It is an unusual period for the casting and hanging of a new bell, given that this was during the Protectorate, when church bells were more likely to have hung silent than been commissioned.
It is not known who succeeded Horbery as vicar, but Bradley Cowling is recorded as vicar by 1663, to be followed by John Cooke in the following year. Cooke was also the vicar of the adjacent parish of Beckingham, where he resided. He was in post when the Hearth Tax returns were made in 1664 and 1674. The return for Gringley in 1664 show a very high proportion of small dwellings, but the number of very small dwellings is reduced in the 1674 return. Since the overall number of dwellings is roughly similar, this is taken to indicate a slightly different method of recording, rather than a sudden building of bigger houses. The larger number of dwellings with 2-3 hearths would have made for more tax, but is also probably more accurate than the earlier return. The number of dwellings indicates a large village with a population in the region of 400-450, suggesting that the settlement had recovered from the outbreaks of plague earlier in the century.
Of local names noted earlier, the Cross, Gamston and Johnson families had several entries in the 1664 Hearth Tax returns, and there were also a Bullocke and a Walsam. There was also a Widow Fixer in the neighbouring village of Walkeringham, and a Thomas Fox at Clayworth. All the Gringley families are also recorded in the 1674 returns, indicating a relatively stable population – somewhat unusual for Nottinghamshire during the period, when a considerable turnover in population was more the rule than the exception.
The Compton census returns of 1676 paint a similar picture to the Hearth Tax in terms of population. In answer to the questions regarding the number of people of an age to receive communion, and the number of recusants and dissenters, the curate replied that there were 242 communicants, and ‘thanks be to God’ no recusants or dissenters.
Minta notes from the Rector’s Book of Clayworth that 5s 2d was collected on August 24th 1679 at a Clayworth service ‘for Gringley upon occasion of a fire wch fell on their Feast-day, June 29th last past’, and it is said that fire damage was visible in the roof of the church when it was restored in 1912. In 1684 the Justices of East Retford ordered the Overseers of the Poor at Gringley to ‘sell the goods of Dorothy Gandy, a mad woman, for her present maintenance in gaol’ and Gringley was also ordered to pay 2s per week to Mr John Martin, gaoler. The Gandy family is recorded in both Hearth Tax returns, and Dorothy Gandy survived many years after her incarceration, to be buried at Gringley on 16 March 1697.
The earliest Terrier dates from 1687 and is as follows:
‘A true and perfect Account of the Dues and Rights belonging to the Vicarage of Gringley super montem in the County of Nottingham
Two Roods of land in the miln field Butting on the miln-leas
Two small parcells of Meddow call’d cottage’s parts, lying in the West Ings
There is the tythe of Lamb and Wooll, with other small tithes
Dues for herbage and Easter Dues; one Vicarage house, a small crofte, which is All but Surplice Dues – All which will not Amount to above sixteen pounds ye Annum
(signed) John Cooke Curate’
John Cooke, who had been curate of Gringley since 1664, died and was buried in Beckingham in April 1690, ‘having, as was supposed, cut his throat with hot waters’. This indicates that he had scalded his throat, rather than that he had committed suicide. He was succeeded by Thomas Simpson and then in 1693 by Anthony Wilson, who was also vicar of Everton, another adjacent parish. Minta quotes the Revd Wilson’s accounts for 1705, in which 12s. was paid for the annual perambulation of the parish, 13s. for ‘Bell Brass and Bell wheel mending’ and 9s. 2d. ‘for Bread and Wine at Cressmas’. Minta also states that ‘a document of considerable interest and historical value, exists among the ancient papers of the church, in the form of an assessment, made by the churchwardens in 1698. The document opens with the words “Gringley sup mont: 1698. An assessment made ye 11th day of March 1698 for ye Churchwardens at a penny a horse & a penny a beast & fine sheep a peny 3 acrs (?) of … a peny as followeth”. It is not possible to give more than this passing reference to it here, except to say that it gives the names and relative substance of 90 ratepayers, representing the chief, perhaps the whole of the house and property holders of the village’. He also refers to the accounts of the overseers of the poor and of the parish constable. Unfortunately, all these documents now appear to have been lost.
The Revd Wilson was succeeded as curate in 1710 by James Ibbotson, who was also vicar of Walkeringham. The Revd Ibbotson appears to have been in post until 1716, and he was replaced as curate in 1718 by the Revd Barrow, also vicar of Walkeringham. The communion rails were replaced for the sum of £1 5s., with the further sum of 2s. 4d. for ‘oyl & colouring of ye rails’, in 1720 the constable ‘laid out for the Town Stocks 0-13-6’ and in 1726 and 1728 new churchyard stiles were erected.
In 1734 or 1735 Joshua Waddington was installed as curate: like his predecessors he was also vicar of Walkeringham. According to the Revnd Minta the Poor Law accounts for 1738 detail ‘Jun ye 1. Wid Brewit Beuriell Charges Pa’d for coffin 6:0; Pa’d Parson and Clerk 2:0; Paid for lying her ought 0:6; Pa’d for bread and ale at the wake 0:8’.
Responding to Archbishop Herring’s questions in 1743, the Revd Waddington stated that there were 90 families in the parish, and no dissenters. There were no licenced chapels, and no school, the children going to ‘a neighbouring town’. Waddington did not reside in the parish, but at Walkeringham, and he employed no curate, himself taking the service every Sunday. He catechised the children and administered Holy Communion four times a year. He had no record of the actual number of communicants, but there were 80 the previous Easter.
According to the Revd Minta the Poor Law accounts for 1763 note ‘Joseph Smith’s funeral 16-0; a pair of Breeches for Geo Thursby 2s 6d; Coals for the Poor 33 Hundwt at 1-2-0; coals brought from wheel head 0-15-0’. Responding to Archbishop Drummond’s questions in 1764, the Revd Waddington stated that there were about 90 families, all of the Church of England. There was no chapel or charity school, but ‘one Waterhouse, schoolmaster there teaches the children to read, write and account and instructs them in the church catechism, and brings them to church’. By this date, Waddington resided at Harworth, and his curate the Revd William Stead, who had been curate for about a year and a half, lived at Walkeringham. ‘Forty or 50, sometimes above 60 persons receive the sacrement’.
In 1765 Lord Byron unsuccessfully attempted to sell the Gringley manor and estate to Lord Middleton. In 1774 it was sold to the Duke of Devonshire, who later made an exchange with the Duke of Portland. It is said that Byron was not fully paid until 1809.
The Terrier of 1770 gives greater detail than those of previous years:
‘A true Terrier of the House and Glebe Lands and the other Lands, Tythes & dues belonging to the Vicarage of Gringley on the Hill Nottinghamshire in the Deanery of Retford, taken in the Year 1770.
Chapman’s map of 1774 is the earliest depiction of the entire parish and it shows both the substantial extent of the Carrs, still not enclosed and forming the larger portion of the parish, and the line of the Chesterfield Canal, begun in 1769 but not fully opened until 1777. The canal reduced transport charges to a fifth of what they had been previously, between the industrial West Riding of Yorkshire and the Humber. It stimulated growth in Retford, Worksop and particularly Stockwith, which became quite a flourishing little river port. The map also shows that the road through the village, linking Bawtry to Walkrith Ferry, had been turnpiked by this date, and toll bars are depicted at Scaftworth and Drakehole. Gringley’s church, with its nave, chancel, and tower, are depicted accurately, and the road network is readily identifiable. Two windmills are shown to the west of the settlement.
In 1776, shortly after the publication of Chapman’s map, the Carrs were enclosed, and new drains were cut. It may have been as part of the 1776 enclosure and drainage that Carr Road and Cross Lane were laid out, along with the drains that run parallel and at right-angles to them, since they are not depicted on Chapman’s map. There were by this date a number of enclosed fields within the parish, abutting the settlement, and also off Wood Lane, Walkeringham Road and Lancaster Road. However, extensive areas of open field still survived: Long Row Field and Ley Field to the north and north-east of the village, and Mill Field to the south. Further drainage took place in the Carrs in 1801 and 1813 ‘at immense expense to the proprietors’ but the ground level dropped so severely due to shrinkage that a steam pumping engine had to be installed and more work carried out in 1828-9 at a further cost of £5,000, which according to White’s Directory of 1832 transformed the area ‘from a morass to a fruitful plain’.
Wesley visited Gringley at least twice, first in 1774, recording in his Journal that he observed only one inattentive person in a ‘high congregation’, and again in 1776.
The Revd Waddington died in 1780 and was succeeded during the following year by Edward Mason, who was also curate of Blyth, where he lived. He was later also appointed vicar of Sutton cum Lound and Scruby.
Writing in 1796, Throsby states of Gringley on the Hill that ‘the village stands loftily; on one of the highest eminences…appears a large mound of earth, like a mount or beacon, whence you have very extensive views. The church is handsome, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, and is well pewed; it has a pinnacle tower, a nave and side aisles. Among a variety of gravestones in the church-yard, one I noticed which remembers Winfred Vernam, who died in 1791, aged 74. It says bluntly:- “Remember reader thou must soon be laid in one the shape of me”, meaning her grave.’. Throsby also states that the Duke of Portland was lord of the manor and chief proprietor (having recently exchanged land with the Duke of Devonshire), and that the Duke of Rutland was impropriator.
Gringley’s population is recorded at 533 in 1801, indicating moderate growth during the eighteenth century. The parish’s remaining open fields were enclosed in that year, most of the land being allocated to the Duke of Rutland for tithes, and the Duke of Devonshire, still recorded as the major landowner despite Throsby’s observations of a few years’ earlier. Other moderately large and medium landowners also received land, including Messrs. Gamson and Cross, who had been recorded in village documents from the sixteenth and seventeenth century. The church is shown clearly on the Enclosure Map, and the pattern of roads, lanes and paths in the village is readily identifiable, and relatively unchanged since that day. Field names from the Enclosure Award include Colley Close, Storr Close, Gold Croft, Saxber Close, Sandholes, Crookenback Close, South Side Flatt, Friths Close, Rye Croft, Wells Croft, Pilcroft, Far Lancaster Close, and Roe Close. Hungerhill Field recalls the field name ‘Hungrehill’ of the late fifteenth century, indicating poor, infertile ground. Colley Close may also indicate cold or infertile land. By contrast Gold Close may imply riches, but is more likely to indicate yellow flowers, such as buttercup or gorse. Rye Close and Pilcroft point to arable land – pill-oats are a species of oat in which the hull does not adhere to the grain. Frith is likely to indicate woodland. Crookenback probably refers to the shape of the field, as might Storr Close, which could derive from ‘stort’, meaning a tail or projecting piece of a field. Roe Close, although at first sight may seem to indicate the medieval deer park, is more likely to derive from the Old Norse vrá, meaning a nook of land. Saxber Close may refer to a previous owner and Southside Flatt and Far Lancaster Close are topographical in origin.
The Revd Mason died in 1801 and John Holt, vicar of Wrawby in Lincolnshire, was appointed the following year. He eventually became vicar of five parishes, none near Gringley, and most of his duties were performed by William Hodges, vicar of Mattersey, until 1815, when he appears to have appointed a series of curates, the last of whom was T Owston, who is recorded as living at The Grange in White’s Directory of 1832.
In all, with the turnpike road, the canal, and its market and fair, Gringley must have been quite a bustling settlement by the early nineteenth century. White’s Directory of 1832 describes it as a ‘delightful village, forming four streets of detached houses on the highest part of the road from Bawtry to Gainsborough…A great annual fair is held here on December 13th, for sheep, cattle, boots, shoes, cloth, blankets &c; a hiring for servants on November 1st, and a feast on the nearest Sunday to St Peter’s day. The Church is a neat Gothic structure, with a nave, side aisles and tower, and is dedicated to St Peter and St Paul. Near it stands an ancient cross, which was repaired about ten years ago, when it narrowly escaped the desecrating intentions of some of the parishioners, who wanted to use its materials for the reparation of the roads. The parish contains 168 houses and 737 inhabitants’. This suggests that the village had increased in size by about 60% since the late seventeenth century. At this date, and for about a century after, Gringley boasted a wide variety of professions, trades and commercial enterprises. In addition to 21 farmers, there were the curate, the parish clerk, a school master, a school mistress, the proprietor of a boarding school, a surgeon, the lock-keeper, 3 victuallers, a brick maker, a bricklayer, a coal merchant, a timber merchant, a joiner, a plumber, a saddler, a blacksmith, a wheelwright, 2 corn merchants, the miller, a butcher, a baker, a tailor, 3 shop keepers, and 6 boot and shoe makers, suggesting that the village may have been a local centre for shoe making. With the opening of the Chesterfield canal, there were also 2 boat owners. Coaches from Doncaster and Sheffield to Gainsborough called daily, and there was a carrier to Gainsborough on Tuesdays, to Bawtry on Thursdays, and to Retford on Saturdays.
The Revd Holt died in December 1835, and was replaced by the Revd William Mould in August 1836. He was the headmaster of Retford School, and another cleric who held numerous other posts, being at various times curate of Babworth, Sutton-cum-Lound, Hayton, Misterton, and West Burton. He died in January 1837 and was succeeded by the Revd Herbert Napleton Beaver in the July of that year.
Henrietta Stockdale was baptised in Gringley church, shortly after her birth in 1847. Her father was vicar of Misterton, but the family rented a house in Gringley since Misterton had no vicarage. They were visited in 1863 by Edward Twells, newly consecrated bishop of the Orange River Mission in South Africa, and his visit began a connection with Bloemfontein which culminated in Henrietta’s training as a nurse, and emigrating to South Africa in 1874. She helped found the Community of St Michael and All Angels in Bloemfontein, took her vows and was thereafter known as Sister Henrietta. By the time of her death in 1911 she had laid the foundation of professional nursing and hospital organisation in South Africa, and the anniversary of her death is fixed in the calendar of saints of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.
The Revd Beaver was the first vicar for many years to serve the parish himself, and to be resident in it. Almost immediately on his appointment, he had a new vicarage built, replacing the modest four-room thatched dwelling referred to in the diocesan terriers. The new vicarage was a double fronted residence adjoined the western boundary of the churchyard, and it is shown in detail on the tithe map of 1859, when a small piece of land elsewhere in the parish was exchanged for land on which to construct a stable yard and garden, befitting a gentleman’s residence. The stable yard accommodated a stable with loft and dovecote over, a harness room, a cowhouse and woodhouse, a cart shed, a coach house, and a pigsty and poultry house.
Sir Stephen Glynne visited Gringley in 1850 and described the church as follows:
'An ordinary church – having a nave and Chancel, with N. aisle and West Tower. The latter is 3d P. embattled, with 4 pinnacles – divided by one string only – and having corner buttresses – a 3 light W. window and door – and 2 light belfry windows/ somewhat inferior to Beckingham. [visited on the same day]The N. aisle has a pretty good stone parapet – but a debased window without foliation. The aisle is continued without interruption along the Chancel. In the nave is an arcade of 3 pointed arches with tall circular pillars, having octagonal capitals. There is a Clerestory on both sides, though only one arcade – having square headed windows. On the S of the nave is one 3d P. window and one square headed of 3 lights, which is of M.Pd character, like many found in the midland counties – The Chancel arch is pointed on octagonal corbels. Between the Chancel and N. aisle is a curious double arch – the Eastern arch is obtuse and moulded, springing from stilted shafts – The Western arch is very different and chamfered. The Eastern arch presents a different face to the aisle and has square corbels – but on this side there is much of the appearance of an outer wall and it may be inferred that the aisle has been continued at a later period along the First P. chancel. There are corbels over the arcades. On the piers facing North appear to be some square holes, as if something had been there inserted – The E. window of the Chancel is M P. of 3 lights – and on the wall on each side of it is a bracket. On the S. of the Chancel are 2 windows, with squareheads – 1 M P – 1 3d P. In the S E.angle of the Chancel is an early piscina formed by a 1st P. foliated capital of a shaft – the interior of the capital scooped into a square
The Font is not ancient – but of octagonal form – with a drain – The N. door is modern – The S. door is 1st P – the outer arch on shafts with sq capitals – the inner small one onomposts – The wall on the S. is stuccoed
There is a very fine cross in the centre of the village'.
A religious census was carried out in 1851, by which time the population had reached 866. The census recorded that the church could accommodate 239, but had a congregation of 84 for the morning service and 61 for the evening, indicating an average of 104. These numbers compare poorly with the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, established in 1800 and rebuilt on the same site in 1836, and the Primitive Methodist Chapel of 1838, which enjoyed average attendances of 233 and 140 respectively. Aggregating the attendances, approximately 55% of Gringley’s population attended church or chapel, which was far higher than the county average of 44%. But only 21% of the worshippers were Anglican, rather than the county average of 45%, demonstrating the strength of Methodism in the larger villages of north Nottinghamshire.
The Revd Beaver died in 1853, aged only 52, and is buried in the south-eastern corner of the churchyard. He was succeeded by Thomas Marshall, who resigned in 1857 to be replaced by John Williams, who resigned in 1860 or 1861. The mid-nineteenth century saw Gringley’s highest population, recorded at 874 in 1861, and a number of improvements to the civic life of the parish, with ‘a large church Sunday School’, the opening of the National School in 1855, ‘a neat brick building with the master’s residence attached’, and the Parochial Lending Library, which contained 330 volumes. From 1872 Gringley had street lighting.
Marshall was succeeded by the Revd Gustavus Hopton Scott, who according to Kelly’s Directory of 1881 had ‘found the church in such a bad state of repair, that the interior of the Chancel with the Holy Table, was covered with snow on his first seeing it’. By 1864 he had replaced its internal fittings, and as noted above, was running a large Sunday School. According to White’s Directory of 1885-6, it was also he who had been responsible for establishing the library. By 1868 he had ‘opened out’ the tower arch. However, relations between the vicar and congregation seem to have deteriorated rapidly, and in 1872 Mr Cripwell, the Duke of Portland’s agent, wrote to the Bishop of Nottingham stating that the Revd Scott had alienated all the principal farmers by his high-handedness, and that he had closed the school. The vicar’s intransigence was eventually overcome, but in a memorandum to the Duke, Cripwell described Scott as ‘the most intractable and unmanageable article I have ever had to deal with…the most mischievous and ill-disposed man I ever met’. The school issue may have been settled but quarrels appear to have continued during the whole of Scott’s incumbency regarding liturgy, vestments, the church rate, and his alterations to the fabric of the church, with services being boycotted and virtually picketed by Scott’s opposers. No doubt there were faults on both sides, but the vicar was unquestionably eccentric – it is said that he would watch the congregation assemble from a vicarage window, and then on entering the church himself, would lock the door behind him and pocket the key!
The Revd Scott died on 13th January 1910, in readiness for which his coffin is said to have long stood by his bed. Although the church and churchyard had been closed to burials in 1907, he had negotiated an Order in Council, which allowed his body to be buried ‘in a vault or walled grave’ in the chancel. Dr Charles Cox, visiting in 1911, described the church as follows:
‘In most grievous condition; sadly deteriorated since visit of 1875. Perp. Tower of 2 stages in dangerous state; pinnacles and battlements in a heap inside basement. N arcade of 3 arches with circular piers E.E.; N chancel chapel, archway E. E. N aisle windows Perp: also 3 Perp. Clerestory windows S. side, but S. aisle gone. Chancel has good Dec. or early 14th cent. Features; exceptional shaft piscena. S. doorway, set back, Dec; N entrance classical. (Reg 1678).
A plan of 1911 shows the church as it then existed, with only the north aisle, and the south wall of the nave close to the chancel arch, with the stone pulpit made to the Revd Scott’s design, nearly touching. The vicar’s stall is in front of the pulpit, there are choir seats in the chancel, and a number of box pews with doors, in the south part of the nave and in the north aisle. An accompanying set of elevations depicts the tower without most of its battlements and pinnacles, and also shows the medieval fenestration to the south wall of the nave.
The new vicar, Charles Bailey, was installed on 6th September 1910, and he set to work immediately to renew the spiritual life of the church and to restore its fabric. An altar cross, candlesticks, altar linen, an alms dish and a hundred hassocks were quickly provided by donations and from the churchwardens’ funds, and there were between 60 and 70 communicants in Easter 1911, and a month later, 30 candidates for confirmation. By February 1912 over £1500 of the £3000 needed to restore the church, had been raised, and it was felt that the work could begin, to a design by the architect Harold Bailey, who was the vicar’s brother. In May, before the work was finished, the vicar was able to say that he wanted ‘all the Parish to feel that they have done something towards a work which will change our Parish Church from what it had become, - a disgrace to the Diocese, - into what I believe it will become – one of the finest churches of its size, and I hope one of the best kept Churches in the diocese’.
The restoration was completed in the year and cost in total £3026 1s 6d, most of which had been raised by donations, subscriptions, collections and events such as garden fetes, teas and concerts. These continued through and after the First World War, to clear the debt of £500 which had been borrowed from the Diocese. The debt was finally cleared in 1920 (ibid). The restored church, with its new south aisle and porch, is depicted on the Ordnance Survey map surveyed in 1918 and published in 1921.
One of the Revd Bailey’s innovations was the establishment of the Rogation Procession from the church to Beacon Hill. Archbishop Hoskyns visited Bawtry deanery in January and February 1913, and in his letter to the clergy he made the following points, which are likely, in view of its recent problems, to refer largely to Gringley on the Hill:
‘During the last few years the Church in this district has received blow after blow from her own sons, both clerical and lay, so that for a time a paralysis seemed to settle down upon some of the Parishes. But the darkest clouds have passed away, and today some of the brightest and best work is being done where conditions seemed hopeless’.
The Revd Bailey resigned his office in 1916 to take up the post of Vicar of East Retford. His successor was Spencer Howard Hayward, who had had a connection with the parish during the Revd Bailey’s time, having been one of those who had preached during the celebrations which took place at the re-opening of the church in 1912, when he was curate at Harworth. His was the melancholy task of organising and arranging the funding of both the War Memorial and a stained glass window commemorating the fallen, which was dedicated in 1920. It was also the Revd Hayward who instituted midnight Mass at Christmas and Palm Sunday services in the parish during the early 1920s. Unfortunately his health deteriorated, and he was forced to resign in 1926, to be succeeded by Harold Standish, whose ministry was marked by the construction of the Church Room in 1927, and the commencement of the repair and reconstitution of the National Schools, a project which eventually took over a decade. He too died young, and was succeeded by the Revd Henry Minta in June 1930.
Gringley’s population declined from a high point of 874 in 1861 to stand at 741 in 1921 and 724 in 1931. However, the village still retained numerous local tradesmen in those days. Although there was no longer a corn merchant, a miller or a saddler, and there was only one boot and shoe maker, there were still numerous farmers, market gardeners and smallholders, as well as two blacksmiths, a wheelwright, a joiner, two builders, a painter and decorator, three shopkeepers as well as two butchers, a fish dealer, a baker, a grocer, a draper, a dressmaker, and a music teacher. The canal had lost importance, and there were no longer any boat builders in the village, but – a sign of the times – there was now a motor engineer and a cycle repairer. The importance of the internal combustion engine was recognised by the construction of a bypass in 1939.
Despite the extensive work which had been carried out during the nineteenth century, the Carrs were largely waterlogged again by 1939. They were requisitioned and reclaimed again by the Nottinghamshire War Agricultural Committee during the war years, among the most important examples of this kind of work undertaken by any county, resulting in the whole of the area being brought back into cultivation. Postwar, the rehabilitated land was offered for sale by the Ministry of Agriculture as 5 farms totalling 2758 acres, with a gross annual income of £4793 pa.
The Revd Minta was a meticulous local historian, without whose research the current piece of work could not have been written. He remained Gringley’s vicar through the post-war years until his death in January 1962. He was a devout and much-loved parish priest, as evidenced by his obituary, published in the parish magazine for February 1962, which reads as follows:
‘…His life was not easy and could well be taken as an example of determination to overcome difficulties, and of courage to fight adversities. He was a soldier in the mud and miseries of the First World War, and when that was over, he became ill during the influenza epidemic of 1918, and suffered for the rest of his life from the effects. He was ordained soon afterwards and served as curate in a Nottingham parish.
Shortly after coming to Gringley in 1930, he developed cancer of the throat, but survived the extensive operations to put that right, although with impaired speech.
In spite of these disabilities, he worked extremely hard, devoting all his time to the care of the parish, and to his priestly duties. These he regarded as administering the Sacraments, preaching the Gospel and visiting the sick, and while he was always ready to take part in any social activity for the Church, he thought of this as a matter of much less importance, being happy to leave such things to his laity. He was a man of great humility and on these occasions, it was always gratifying to him, to find how the members of the parish came forward to help.
Always he was cheered and helped by his devoted wife, and to her and to her family, we offer our deepest sympathy. Perhaps they might draw consolation and inspiration, as we must, from the knowledge that we can look back with humble gratitude to a lifetime of service cheerfully given by our devoted, devout and sincere Father in God.’
E. A. Schofield’s memories of the village were recorded in 1960, when he was about 78 years old. He remembered the brickyard at the canal, where bricks were taken away, and the barges came back laden with coal, some of which went to fuel the gas works. He stated that the Revd Hopton Scott, for all his oddities, was ‘a fine tall figure of a man, rather eccentric in his manners, often seen driving a horse and gig’ and that ‘there was quite a stir in the village at the time, some were for and some against a burial in the church.’ He recollected that the River Idle was famous for its fishing and added ‘I have seen fishermen with a pillow case full, or very near full, of pike, perch and huge roach with the blood showing through the case, on a nippy morning on the Misson side of the river’.
Gringley’s population has remained relatively stable through the second half of the twentieth century, to stand at 699 in 2011. However, the number of farmers and village tradesmen has diminished considerably as farm sizes have increased, individuals and businesses have become more mobile, and small communities have become less self-sufficient. Falling Church of England congregations have forced the amalgamation of parishes, and Gringley on the Hill is now grouped with Misterton, Beckingham, Clayworth, Walkeringham, and West Stockwith.