For this church:
Halloughton is not mentioned in Domesday Book except as one of the twelve outliers of Southwell. But the village had first appeared in historical records when King Edwy/Eadwig gave the estate of Southwell to Oscytel, Archbishop of York, in 956. The parish was not specifically mentioned as part of the gift but the archbishop was granted jurisdiction over it as part of the overall Southwell estate in a famous charter recording the king’s grant, where it is called ‘Healhtune’.
Halloughton was later one of sixteen prebends attached to the collegiate church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Southwell. The earliest surviving evidence for the prebendal system suggests that some prebends were already established before the Conquest, but more than half of them, including Halloughton, were established after 1066. By this system each canon fulfilled a double function – that of a parish priest in the church which gave the title to his prebend, combined with participation in the duties of the collegiate body of which he was a member. The canon received the rents and tithes from his prebend, which was in the gift of the Archbishop of York. In later years the average prebendary discharged his parochial office by means of a vicar (normally resident, but not in Halloughton) and was represented in the choir of Southwell by a vicar choral. Many of those appointed prebendaries in the Middle Ages were important administrators in church or state, who were rewarded by more than one prebend. These could be held in other cathedrals or collegiate churches like York, Beverley or Ripon, thus generating considerable extra income. This system survived two brief suspensions (in the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, and then from 1649-60) until the final dissolution of the Chapter in 1840. Those then holding prebends were allowed to keep them for the rest of their lives, but by 1873 all the members of the old Chapter had died and the prebendal system became defunct.
A tradition is recorded, using the testimony of Lambert de Trekingham, (prebendary 1311-after 1333) which suggests that the earliest mention of Halloughton’s prebend is around 1135 –1154 when King Stephen directed to William Peverell of Nottingham and the sheriff and his ministers, that ‘the canons of Southwell should have the woods of Halton prebend in their own hands and custody and thence take what they should need, as in King Henry’s times; and that his foresters be forbidden to take or fell anything there’. However, Lambert appears to have glossed or misunderstood the evidence of the White Book of Southwell. Nevertheless this does provide irrefutable proof for the establishment of the prebend of Halloughton some years later around 1162.
The thirty-first Archbishop of York, Roger de Pont L’Évêque, apparently was an ambitious and avaricious man but ‘out of his great riches, however, founded the Prebend of Halton’ and endowed it. What Roger was doing, in effect, was providing a suitable reward for one of his household clerks (a man probably of Italian origin), as well as making proper provision for pastoral care at Halloughton – and this may mean a relatively recent foundation of the church itself.
According to The White Book of Southwell, the prebend was 16 acres together with ‘tithes of orchards and gardens and of birds as also common of pasture, pannage of hogs in acorn times and liberty of taking wood upon the forest, provided no waste be committed’.
However, when Archbishop Roger died in 1181, King Henry II seized all of the prebendary’s money and plate on the grounds that he had died intestate and during the ensuing ten years, whilst the See of York remained vacant, the money went into the king’s coffers. The main reason Halloughton was poor was that the original endowment was small.
Nevertheless, at some time in the thirteenth century a stone church was built near the entrance to the village. Only the east wall and the round arched inner doorway of the porch remain. The chancel screen was added a century later.
It seems as though the village produced at least one major clergyman, for between 1292 and 1324 John of Halloughton (also known as John de Halton) was the bishop of Carlisle. Little is known of Halton's early life, but we know that he attended Oxford University and that he was a canon and cellerer in Carlisle Cathedral. After his formal consecration as bishop in 1293 he spent much time with King Edward I in Scotland and was present at Berwick when Edward decided that the throne of Scotland should be vested on John Balliol; he spent much of the time between 1292 and 1295 in Scotland, as Pope Nicholas IV had appointed him to collect the crusading tax that the pope had imposed. However, when England and Scotland went to war in 1296, he returned to his diocese and remained there.
In the 1291 Pope Nicholas IV Taxatio, Halloughton is listed as ‘Prebenda de Halton’ and was valued at £6 13s 4d. Fifty years later, in the Nonae Rolls, the valuation was the same – 10 marks (£6 13s 4d), with additional information that ‘there are no merchants, nor citizens, nor burgesses nor anyone else dwelling in the marshes or in other waste places who do not make their living from agriculture ...’. In the 1428 subsidy of Henry VI the taxation value for the ‘Prebenda ecclesie de Halton’ was levied at 13s 4d.
The Registers of Lincoln Wills have an entry in 1410 of a hermitage at ‘Halton by Southwell’ but only of an anchorite (male or female) and not a wandering hermit. An anchorite denotes someone who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be able to lead an intensely prayer-oriented, ascetic and, circumstances permitting, Eucharist-focused life. As a result, anchorites are usually considered to be a type of religious hermit. The anchoritic life became widespread during the early and high Middle Ages. Examples of the dwellings of anchorites and anchoresses survive. They tended to be a simple cell (also called an "anchorhold"), built against one of the walls of the local village church. Once the inhabitant had taken up residence, the bishop permanently blocked-up the door in a special ceremony.
Hearing Mass and receiving Holy Communion was possible through a small, shuttered window in the common wall facing the sanctuary, called a "squint" or "hagioscope". There was also a small window facing the outside world, through which the inhabitant would receive food and other necessities and, in turn, could provide spiritual advice and counsel to visitors, as these men and women gained a reputation for wisdom. Anchorites never left their cell, ate frugal meals, and spent their days in contemplative prayer. Their bodily waste was managed by means of a chamber pot.
According to an account by the commissioners of Edward VI in 1547-8, Halloughton was one of three chapels of ease being served from the minster, the others being Halam and Morton. In 1653, by an Act of Parliament, Halloughton along with Halam was amalgamated with Southwell for the purpose of record keeping.
In 1698/99 a lease was made between the prebendary Roger Altham and William Wolseley the new lessee of the estate who was to enclose the one acre of land ‘commonly called the Churchyard’ by a stone wall and other fences. William Wolsely could take profit from the depasturage or could mow or graze the land when necessary but only for his own use.
In 1703 a dispute arose about the feast (July 25th) of the Dedication of the Church of Halloughton. It was eventually agreed that if St James Day fell on a Sunday it should be kept on this day but if it fell on any other day of the week it should be observed the Sunday following.
The prebendary never was a rich one, a fact that was poignantly highlighted in the Visitation returns for 1743 provided by the then curate Samuel Bird:
‘15 families. 0 dissenters. No meeting house; no endowed school; no almshouse, hospital or endowment nor any lands left for repair of the church. No house or lands belonging to this curate on £10 per annum. I reside at Southwell. No curate – I officiate myself. Public services one a fortnight; sometimes fore noon sometimes after noon.’
The Inventory of 1809 recorded “One small broken belt, one surplice, one Bible, one Prayer Book. The Communion Plate is a silver chalice and the flagon and plate for bread and alms are pewter”.
Sometime between 1773, when Grimm executed his sketch, and 1825 a tall cupola was added to the church. From the later painting the church also appears to have been whitewashed on the exterior. There are no records to indicate that this was the work of the Church.
In 1851 only 79 people lived in the parish. The church had 123 seats, but no return was made on census Sunday.
Between 1879 and 1882 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners commissioned Ewan Christian to oversee a restoration of the church, which cost £1500. This was at a time when Christian was busy working on similar projects in Nottinghamshire including Southwell Minster. The Vicar at the time of the restoration was Nathaniel Midwinter of Bleasby, who was sufficiently moved to compose a couple of poems about the undertaking, one before and the other on completion. The following is an extract from the first.
They fell, those stones, with mournful sound
And as we gazed upon the scene
Soon comfort came! A smiling ray
“Awake ye slumbering stones, awake!
“All honour waits you, such the grace
After the restoration, the church was said (in 1912) to have only 70 seats. It was at that time a chapel within Bleasby.
St James is (in 2012) part of the Trent Group of parishes, sharing its Vicar with six other parishes but it still holds to its tradition of an ever open and welcoming door; a little haven of tranquillity for whomever wishes to visit.