For this church:
Hawksworth church is dedicated to Saint Mary and All Saints and was founded by the Normans in the 12th century, probably around 1150. However, a small number of medieval documents and some archaeological evidence suggest that there was an earlier church in the village which was dedicated to Saint Edmund the Anglo Saxon martyr. The ecclesiastical taxation assessment of 1291/2 records that Hawksworth church was dedicated to Saint Edmund as well as to Saint Mary and All Saints, and the Calendar of Papal Registers in 1484 refers to Hawksworth church as the parish church of Saint Edmund the Martyr. The association of Hawksworth church with Saint Edmund continued to at least the early 16th century, when there was a chancel of Saint Edmund situated off the south part of the main chancel, as described in a will written in 1503 by one of Hawksworth’s rectors. As the chancel was rebuilt in 1851 no visible remains can be seen to corroborate this.
As archaeological evidence of pre-Norman worship, Hawksworth church has the remains of a large portion of what is usually called an Anglo-Saxon cross. The cross shaft has recently been dated to the late 9th or early 10th century. It is a large oblong tapered stone carved with Danish Viking scroll and Christian cross ornamentation on two faces, and it now stands inside the west entrance of Hawksworth church. This may be the same cross that was standing in the churchyard in 1434, as described by a rector of Hawksworth in his will. The cross shaft has survived because some time before 1812 it was used to form the lintel of a south porch to the church, with the tympanum placed above it. When the south porch was demolished in 1813 the cross shaft became the lintel in the western porch which was added at this time, again with the tympanum above it, as recorded in an early glass photograph. After 1866, when the west porch was taken down, the cross shaft was removed and propped up outside the church, leaning at an angle against one of the buttresses of the tower and on 12th November 1908 it was moved inside the church.
The Anglo Saxon cross shaft has no decoration on the back and one side which is unusual. Similar crosses dating from the 10th century found at Bakewell have pagan panels on two adjacent faces with Christian panels on the opposing faces, which is typical of this time indicating conflation of the religions of the pagan Norse with the Christian Saxon. Perhaps two faces of Hawksworth’s cross shaft were similarly carved with pagan decoration which was removed when the stone was re-worked to cut out the square rebate for use as a lintel with the tympanum above it. This is the view in the National Monuments entry which records that two faces of the cross shaft were destroyed when it was used as a lintel by the Normans. In another local example, portions of a very similar Saxon cross found at East Bridgford lost the patterns on the back and one side when the stone was re-cut and used to form an arch of a window by the Normans who did not want their architecture to show artistic symbols of their Anglo Saxon predecessors.
Although the information is limited, when considered together the historical and archaeological evidence suggests that an earlier church building dedicated to St Edmund may have existed on the same site before the current building was founded in Norman times. The historian JT Godfrey was of the opinion that the original church at Hawksworth was of Saxon or Danish origin but no archaeological surveys have been carried out to look for an earlier building. There is now no visible evidence of an Anglo Saxon church in Hawksworth and the oldest part of the existing building appears to date from around 1150.
There is no mention of a church at Hawksworth in the Domesday Survey of 1086 but this omission is not significant, since many churches went unrecorded. At Domesday, the land of ‘Hocheword’ is divided between two Norman landowning barons, Walter d’Aincourt who was Lord of Blankney and Gilbert de Gand. The latter held the greater part of Hawksworth and from subsequent transfers of the advowson or right to present the rector, it seems likely that his property included the land where the church now stands.
The first accurate date for the presence of a church at Hawksworth is in 1167, from a 13th century document which records that Richard, Prior of Saint Katherine’s of Lincoln had been pastor of Hawksworth church for 40 years until 1207. It does not say if he was the first pastor and the church foundation date probably precedes this, since the lower part of the church tower is thought to be of 12th century construction.
Commemoration of the foundation of the church in Hawksworth is recorded on a Norman sandstone tympanum. This is undated but it is believed to be from the early to mid 12th century and it is currently located on the external south wall of the tower. Translation of the Latin inscription reveals that ‘Walter and his wife Cecelina caused this church to be made in honour of Our Lord and of Saint Mary the Virgin and of all God's Saints likewise.’
The precise identity of the founders Walter and his wife Cecelina is unknown but various theories have been put forward. Early historians suggested that Walter was either the 3rd Baron d’Aincourt born around 1100 and grandson of the Walter d’Aincourt mentioned in Domesday, or that he was Walter de Aslockton, a descendant of the de Aslockton family that held the d'Aincourt land in Hawksworth in the Domesday Survey. In both cases the name of Walter’s wife is unknown. It seems unlikely that the d’Aincourt family owned Hawksworth church because although the family held land in Hawksworth and later donated it to Thurgarton Priory, this did not include the church. For example, when Walter’s son Ralph 2nd Baron d’Aincourt founded Thurgarton Priory around 1140, he bestowed all the churches of his demesnes to the priory and Hawksworth church is not listed or mentioned later. Similarly the church is not included in the terms of the Deed of Confirmation from the de Aslockton family to Thurgarton Priory. Their holdings in Hawksworth are described as land and tofts or small farms.
Evidence suggests that Walter was perhaps Walter de Neville or more likely Walter de Sancto Paulo. Although there is a third candidate, namely that Walter was a member of the Newmarch family (known also as de Novo Mercato or de Novo Foro) who held the land in Hawksworth that belonged to Gilbert de Gant at the Domesday survey, this seems unlikely. The Newmarch family did have links with Hawksworth and in 1209 Adam Newmarch claimed the right to the church. He was descended from Ralph de Novo Foro whose daughter married William of Whatton but in a 1209 court ruling, Adam agreed to acknowledge that it was not his by right.
Hawksworth church may have been founded by Walter de Neville and his wife Cecilia, but this assumption is only speculative as there is no direct evidence of the Neville family being involved with Hawksworth church in its subsequent history. Much of the land in 12th century Hawksworth was held by the de Neville family and this land had been part of the holdings of Gilbert de Gant at Domesday. Walter de Neville’s father Gilbert de Neville was a knight of Hawksworth during the first half of the 12th century and Walter’s uncle Sir Jollan de Neville was born in Hawksworth in 1100. The Nevilles were highly influential as chief justices in royal service from the 12th century onwards and the descendants of Walter’s older brother Sir Geoffrey de Neville include many of the aristocratic families of England including future queens such as Anne Neville the wife of Richard III. Walter’s cousin Jollan, son of Jollan de Neville, was born in Hawksworth in 1140 and went on to become Lord of Rolleston. There seem to have been close ties between Walter and the de Nevilles in Hawksworth; Walter and his older brother William and their cousin Jollan de Neville were barons at the coronation of Richard I, their names appear on official charters together and they acted as witnesses on land transfer documents for each other. Walter de Neville married Cecilia de Crevequer in 1155 in Lincolnshire and through her dowry became Lord of Mirfield in Yorkshire. The name of Walter’s wife is therefore in accord with the name on the Hawksworth tympanum which refers to Cecelina, if this is considered to be the diminutive form of Cecilia. Walter, the founder of Hawksworth church was most likely to have been Walter de Sancto Paulo but there is only one document linking anyone of that name with Hawksworth. In a Latin parchment stored at Leicestershire Record Office, Walter de Sancto Paulo gave (presumably as the father of) Alexander de Sancto Paulo of Hawksworth in service as a knight to Jollan de Neville. The document is undated but from the names of the guarantor and the witnesses, it probably dates from the mid 12th century. There is no further information available about Walter de Sancto Paulo.
The Advowson of Hawksworth church held by the de Sancto Paulo family and their descendants, who were Lords of Sibthorpe, is clearly documented from the mid 12th to the 15th centuries. The first mention of a church at Hawksworth is when Gocelinus de Sancto Paulo, Lord of Sibthorpe, gave the church to the priory at Thurgarton as recorded in an undated Charter of Confirmation. This charter was drawn up by Roger the Archbishop of York which dates it to some time between 1154 and 1181. Gocelinus granted Hawksworth church to Thurgarton in memory of his father Roger de Sibthorpe, his mother and all his ancestors. It is also recorded that Alexander de Sancto Paulo gave the rights to Hawksworth church to the Priory of Saint Katherine of Lincoln. Since St Katherine’s priory was founded by Robert de Chesney, the Bishop of Lincoln and confirmed by Henry II, its foundation can be dated to some time between 1154 and 1166 so the gift was made after this time. The priory of Saint Katherine’s in Lincoln is known to have presented the rector of Hawksworth in 1167 and so it is a reasonable assumption that Thurgarton’s right to the advowson must pre-date this.
Having the advowson or right to present the rector at Hawksworth determined who would receive any money or pension due and this dual claim to the advowson that arose in the 12th century was a cause of many disputes down the centuries. Between 1192 and 1198 papal judges adjudicated between the prior of Thurgarton and the prior of Lincoln Saint Katherine’s as to who should have the right to the advowson of Hawksworth church. The courts ruled at that time that the advowson and all the benefits of Hawksworth church would be equally divided between the two priories.
The next dispute was at the beginning of the 13th century when four parties considered they were patrons of Hawksworth church. To determine who would have the advowson and any pension due, the dispute went before the courts in 1208. William de Sancto Paulo of Hawksworth (son of Alexander de Sancto Paulo), claimed the advowson of the church from the prior of Thurgarton but the prior provided proof in the form of the Charter of Confirmation, as gifted to Thurgarton by Gocelinus de Sancto Paulo in the 12th century, to support his right to the advowson. At the same time the priory of Saint Katherine in Lincoln produced their own charter proving the advowson of Hawksworth church had been given to them by William’s father, Alexander de Sancto Paulo. A fourth party Adam de Newmarch also claimed the right to the advowson at Hawksworth. His ancestors had held land in Hawksworth at the Domesday survey in 1086 when the Newmarch family had the fee of Gilbert de Gand who held the greatest part of Hawksworth. The dispute was settled the following year in 1209 at court in Derby. William de Sancto Paulo withdrew his claim and a parchment document dated the 10th year of the reign of King John refers to an agreement when Adam de Newmarch recognised that the two priors had the right to the church of Hawksworth but that he should present a rector for the next three times successively to Hawksworth church. After this the advowson should 'remain entirely' to Henry, Prior of Thurgarton and Richard, Prior of Saint Katherine’s by Lincoln.
Adam de Newmarch presented Martin and then Elias as parsons of Hawksworth in 1209 but both either resigned or died during the first year, after which he presented for his third time Robert de Camsale who was pastor from 1209 to 1241. On 2 April 1241 James Poignant was appointed rector of Hawksworth by Archbishop Gray of York by joint consent of the Priors and Convents of St Katherine, Lincoln, and Thurgarton, Nottinghamshire, and the two priories agreed to share the income. However, the de Sancto Paulo Lords of Sibthorpe were not content to relinquish their right to the advowson as decided in the 1209 ruling, because in 1277 Henry de Sibthorpe took the dispute back to the courts. It was agreed in 1278 to change the original ruling so that from that date Thurgarton Priory and the Lords of Sibthorpe would present by turns and divide the pensions received from the church between them and this arrangement continued until the late 1400s. No reason is given for the exclusion of the priory of Lincoln Saint Katherine in the 1278 legal judgment.
In 1291 the taxation roll of Pope Nicholas IV gave the annual value of the church of Hawksworth as £8, and the pension paid by Hawksworth church to the Prior of Thurgarton was 3s. 4d. Sibthorpe patrons of the church over this period included Simon de Sancto Paulo of Sibthorpe followed by William and Elyas de Middleton and the rectors included Roger de Aslacton and Hugh Bozon, all of whom were part of the Sancto Paulo family. During the period when Thurgarton Priory and the Middletons were patrons the value of Hawksworth church was £10. The medieval stained glass windows of Hawksworth church represented the coats of arms of the Middleton, Sibthorpe, Leek and Bozon lords as described by Thoroton in 1677, but these no longer exist.
Thomas de Sibthorpe, parson of Beckingham, built a chapel at Sibthorpe in about 1320 which became a college of priests at Sibthorpe in 1341 and Simon de Sancto Paulo, who had the manor of Hawksworth and kept the courts there at this time, gave four houses and 10 acres of land in Hawksworth to the college. The rector appointed by William de Middleton of the Sibthorpe family to Hawksworth church on 23 July 1345 was William de Sibthorpe who was described as an acolyte, so perhaps he was one of the priests in training at Sibthorpe college. In the Nonarum Inquisitiones of 1341 Roger of Hawksworth (who was presumably Roger de Aslacton the rector) gave 20 marks (£1 6s.4d.) to St Nicholas Church in Nottingham.
By the end of the 1400s the influence of the Lords of Sibthorpe seems to have come to an end and the last mention of the Middleton family appointing a rector to Hawksworth is in 1472. However, the duality of the advowson of Hawksworth church, which originated with Thurgarton on the one hand and the Sancto Paulo Lords of Sibthorpe on the other, continued to be seen until the late 1700s.
In 1505 by lapse of the Lords of Sibthorpe claim, the Archbishop of York appointed Richard Smyth to be rector of Hawksworth but he died soon afterwards, and in 1506 Thurgarton Priory appointed the next rector, Edward Woodhouse. Although Woodhouse lived until 1528 and requested to be buried in the chancel of Hawksworth church, it seems that Robert Sutton was also presented as rector of Hawksworth around 1523. In a dispute of 1523, three members of the Sutton family claimed against Thomas Bleasby and his wife Katherine for land and for part of the advowson of the church in Hawksworth. Katherine was related to the D’Isney family and an heir of William Middleton of Fulbeck. The Middletons were descended from the de Sancto Paulo family which could perhaps explain Katherine Bleasby’s interest in part of the advowson of Hawksworth. The basis of the Sutton family’s claim is unknown but the legal judgement was in their favour. According to the Valor Ecclesiasticus undertaken in 1535, the annual value of Hawksworth rectory was £8 13s.8d., Robert Sutton was then rector, and the annual pension paid to the Prior of Thurgarton was 6s 8d.
Ownership of the two parts of the advowson of Hawksworth church is not always clear from around the time of closure of the monasteries under Henry VIII. Soon after the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries Act of 1536, Thurgarton Priory was dissolved in 1537 and as it was the turn of Thurgarton to appoint the next rector of Hawksworth church, the Assigns of the Priory appointed Robert Pride as rector in 1543. A document of 1601 states that in 1548, the pension of 6s.8d. out of Hawksworth rectory previously paid by the parson of Hawksworth to Thurgarton Priory, and the advowson of Hawksworth previously belonging to Thurgarton Priory, were granted to Sir Thomas Hennage, Sir William Willoughby and Lord Willoughby by Letters Patent dated 17th August 1548, to be held of the Honour of Bolingbroke by soccage. On 5th Sept 1553 an inventory lists Hawksworth church goods. The parson was Robert Pride, John Carrington and Richard Kyrchever were churchwardens, and John Wright and Thomas Wright were described as ‘townes men of Hauksworth’. Robert Pride was rector until 1551 and in his will dated 17th July 1554 he requested to be buried in the chancel.
In 1554 Richard Whalley owned the advowson and appointed the next rector of Hawksworth, Bryan Saundford. There is no record of how Whalley obtained the advowson of Hawksworth church but he did already own land in Hawksworth. When Sibthorpe College of Priests was dissolved in 1545, the surrender of the property that Sibthorpe College held at Hawksworth was signed by the warden of the college Thomas Magnus on 17th April 1545 who obtained a grant for life of £197 6s.5d. of everything that had belonged to the college. On his death in 1550 the remainder was granted to Richard Whalley and his heirs. However, this does not explain R Whalley’s right to appoint the rector since Sibthorpe College of Priests had never held the advowson of Hawksworth. His right to part of the advowson was quite probably through inheritance from the Lords of Sibthorpe, since the agreement for Thurgarton and the Lords of Sibthorpe to present alternately was still in place and Thurgarton Priory had appointed the previous rector. Richard Whalley’s connection with the de Sancto Paulo lords of Sibthorpe was through inheritance from his grandfather who had married an heiress of the Leek family. The Leeks were Lords of Screveton, and these in turn can be tracked back to the de Sancto Paulo Lords of Sibthorpe who had held the rights to Hawksworth church in the 12th to late 14th centuries.
Around 1553 Richard Whalley’s holdings in Hawksworth went to Maurice Dennys. Richard Whalley had been imprisoned in the Tower by the Duke of Northumberland for being involved in a coup to make the Duke of Somerset protector at the next Parliament. Whalley had mortgaged Hawksworth Manor and two other Nottinghamshire manors to Sir Maurice Dennys, a fellow MP and property speculator, but Whalley’s imprisonment prevented him from redeeming them at the agreed time. Dennys protested that the lands were worth £40 a year less than Whalley had claimed and in 1553 claimed £3,000 by default. It seems that Richard Whalley lost his property in Hawksworth at this stage because later they were granted back to him as recorded in a manuscript of 14th July 1561 in the reign of Queen Elizabeth which states that the demesnes and manors of Hawksworth together with the advowson of the rectory and church of Hawksworth, ‘late in the possession of Sir Maurice Dennys’, were granted to Richard Whalley and his heirs. Since he appointed Bryan Saundford in 1554, Whalley must have retained the advowson until this date. From 1569 the parish registers for Hawksworth start to record baptisms marriages and burials. Whalley died in 1584 and in 1585 John Deane or Depup MA was appointed rector by his patron James Cooper. By rights it was the turn of Thurgarton to appoint and James Cooper, who was of Hawksworth, was perhaps one of the Cooper family who had been granted the property of Thurgarton Priory after dissolution. Richard Whalley’s grandson, also called Richard, died in 1627/8, his heirs got into debt and Hawksworth manor and the advowson went to the Earl of Newcastle. The Earl fought on the Royalist side in the Civil War and his lands in Hawksworth (200 acres) were forfeited. In the Parliamentary Commissioners report of 1650, the rectory of Hawksworth was worth £60 ‘three score pounds per annum being sequestered to the State’s use from the Earl of Newcastle’. Robert Rockall was the present incumbent and he was described by Thoroton as ‘the most ingenious Rector of this place, aged about 60 years. A bachelor and a great example of piety, charity and eloquence’.
On 23 December 1652 Hawksworth Manor and other land was bought by William Clayton ‘a bargain and sale for £707 9s.’ William Clayton was of Rumley in the county of Derby and he paid the Aldermen of London receivers and the commissioners for the land forfeited by William Earl of Newcastle. Just seven months later on 14th July 1653 William Clayton sold the manor and all of the property of Hawksworth for a much greater sum of £1160 to Robert Butler gentleman of Southwell. Robert Butler became lord of the manor of Hawksworth and both Robert and his son Richard were lawyers and patrons of the church. The wife of Robert Butler of Southwell was descended from the Whalley family of Screveton.
In 1662 Robert Butler appointed John Simpson as rector and in 1664 the Hearth Tax for Hawksworth records 24 households paying tax and 16 exempted. A note written in 1670 by Mr Butler refers to monies due to him from the Duke of Newcastle for Hawksworth rents, £288 in 1664 and interest for 1664-1670 of £103. In 1676 when John Simpson was rector, 88 people in Hawksworth were receiving communion and there were 6 dissenters. John Simpson was buried at Hawksworth in 1679 and Richard Bradford MA was appointed as rector until he died in March 1700. The name of his patron is unknown but according to Throsby, William Clay Esq presented a rector in 1690. There is no record of the next rector, Pickering Dickinson, being appointed but in his will dated August 1700 he describes himself as Rector of Hawksworth.
Throughout the 17th century, churchwarden presentments record that Hawksworth church was in a poor state of repair. From 1641 onwards the steeple was regularly described as in decay and in 1664 the records state that the church was in great decay and ruin and the parish was not able to repair it ’being all or most tenants’. By 1684 the steeple was still in need of repair, the church floor needed paving and the chancel roof was out of repair. The Butler family continued to appoint the rectors of Hawksworth with Francis Chappell from 1701 to 1707 and then Humphrey Brailsford in January 1708. During the latter’s time in office, work seems to have been done to repair the church since the last mention in the churchwardens’ presentments of the church being in disrepair is 1718. Also in 1718 the printed Creed and Lord’s Prayer were given and these still hang in the church.
In a conveyance document dated 2 December 1724, Thomas Jubb, gentleman of York, who is described as the patron of Hawksworth, sold a part of the Advowson of Hawksworth church. Jubb was the Archdeacon’s Registrar in York in the 1720s but the reason he held the Hawksworth advowson is unknown. Given the historical origin of the two parts of the advowson when Thurgarton and the Sibthorpe Sancto Paulo family presented alternately, Jubb’s right is likely to have been due to acquiring or inheriting the Thurgarton moiety. Jubb sold the advowson to Thomas Wright, gentleman of Sheffield, for £210. The 1724 conveyance stated that Wright was to make the next presentation of the rector at Hawksworth and it mentioned Humphrey Brailsford as the present incumbent of Hawksworth rectory with a warranty by Mary Butler widow, and Jane Butler daughter and heir of Richard Butler (son of Robert Butler).
In 1729 Richard Butler’s widow Mary sold the manor and the Butler portion of the advowson of Hawksworth for £2070 to Thomas Smith, a gentleman of Hawksworth who signed a mortgage document dated 4th June 1729 for £1300. Thomas Smith was also of Nottingham St Peter and a member of the family who established Nottingham’s first bank on Timber Row and he occupied a messuage and 52 acres in Hawksworth which is the acreage usually associated with the manor house.
The rector Humphrey Brailsford died in 1733 and in 1733 Thomas Wright, gentleman of Sheffield (who had previously bought part of the advowson from Thomas Jubb in 1724) appointed Hammond Turner as rector. Thomas Wright was a solicitor who may have been from the Wright family of Eyam Hall in Derbyshire and he was related to the Claytons and with the Garland family of Todwick Hall in Yorkshire which was also Hammond Turner’s parish. In 1736, Hammond Turner bought Hawksworth Manor which he owned until his death in January 1775. This purchase included the advowson and it seems from this time on he owned both moieties since there was a single patron after this and his widow Elizabeth Turner appointed the next rector. In 1743 at Bishop Herring’s Visitation, there were 16 small families and no dissenters in Hawksworth. Church wardens were Thomas Abbot and John Oliver and the rector, Hammond Turner, explained that although he was patron of Hawksworth church, he did not live in the village because he had a parish at Todwick in Yorkshire where the Duke of Leeds was his patron and required him to attend that parish in person. In fact Hammond Turner was rector of Todwick and Treeton in Yorkshire for most of his life and he lived at Treeton Hall from 1743, rarely coming to Hawksworth. He had to get special dispensation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to permit him to hold Hawksworth parish as well as his Yorkshire parishes.
In 1761, under the Act of Enclosure for Hawksworth, rights to common pasture land disappeared, the ancient enclosures were lost and 150 acres were allotted in lieu of tithes. In 1764 at Archbishop Drummond’s visitation there were 25 families and no dissenters in Hawksworth. Churchwardens mentioned were John Oliver, Richard Burrows and Thomas Oliver. Hammond Turner described himself as rector and patron, and he stated that he resided in his parish of Todwick in Yorkshire and kept a curate in his parsonage house in Hawksworth. His current curate was Thomas Todington who was soon due to leave, having been there for 11 months receiving payment of £25 per year. After Hammond Turner died in 1775, his widow Elizabeth Turner of Treeton, Yorkshire, inherited the advowson and presented the next rector, John Dixon MA, in January 1775. It is not recorded when he left the parish but in 1784, Creed Turner the son of the Revd Hammond Turner became rector. Although not listed in the Induction Mandate, Francis Parker BA was appointed in 1788 as rector of Hawksworth. This may have been an arrangement made by Creed Turner who, like his father, continued to live in Yorkshire whilst rector of Hawksworth. Francis Parker was the son of Kenton Parker of Sheffield, attorney at law and his mother Hannah Shiercliffe had family connections with Hammond Turner’s patron Thomas Wright.
At the end of the 18th century in 1790 the value of Hawksworth church was £8 13s.9d. and in 1795 there were 16 households in the village. By 1801 there were 154 inhabitants in Hawksworth. When the rector Creed Turner died at Treeton Yorkshire in 1804, Hawksworth Manor was left to his sister Lois Turner and in November 1805 Lois Turner married Dr John Storer a founder and the first physician of Nottingham General Hospital. Hawksworth Manor became the property of the Storers, and Dr John Storer’s son by his first wife Mary, the Rev John Storer, was appointed rector of Hawksworth by his father when Francis Parker ceded the living to him in 1808.
Much church restoration work took place while the Storer family was in Hawksworth. In 1812 part of the nave wall was rebuilt, the south porch was taken down, a new porch was built at the west entrance and the communion rails were renewed. During this time the rectory was enlarged.
In 1832 White’s Directory records 212 inhabitants in Hawksworth and about 800 acres of land, most of which belonged to Dr John Storer as Lord of the Manor and patron of the rectory. In 1837 the north aisle was added to the church which is commemorated by a stone tablet which records that the church was ‘enlarged and beautified’ at the sole expense of Dr John Storer. Later that year he died and was buried in a vault near the chancel in Hawksworth church with his wife Lois. Their son, the Rev John Storer senior, who had been rector of Hawksworth for 29 years also died in 1837 at the age of 57 and was buried in Hawksworth church. Hawksworth Manor passed to his son, the Rev John Storer junior, who was rector from 1837-51.
In 1851 George Hunt Smyttan became rector and his aunt Mrs Lucy Hunt was patron of the rectory. Church restoration work continued and the chancel was rebuilt of stone with a high pitched slated roof in the autumn of 1851, the chancel arch was restored and the east window was filled with stained glass. In the 1851 Religious Census of Nottinghamshire, there were 88 males and 83 females in Hawksworth, 50 people attended church in the morning and 76 went to the evening service.
In 1853 there were 171 inhabitants in Hawksworth and on 24th October 1853 a small portion of additional burial ground at the south east corner was consecrated by the Bishop of Lincoln. The Reverend George Hunt Smyttan published a book in 1854 called ‘Florum Sacra in Simple Verse’ to raise funds for building a school house in Hawksworth that year. He published several poems and many sermons to raise money for good causes and is remembered as the composer in 1856 of the Lenten hymn ‘Forty days and forty nights’. In 1857 he wrote that Hawksworth was a good example to other congregations. He said that although there were about 180 souls and no resident gentry in the village, he had managed to raise £37 9s.4¾d. that year from the village which was given to a variety of educational and religious causes. At Easter 1858 a new organ was dedicated in Hawksworth church, probably paid for by the rector. Smyttan was organising secretary and associate of Dr David Livingstone and ran many fundraising events for the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa. He resigned from Hawksworth in 1858 due to ill health and sold his property and all his belongings in 1859 to fund his travel to Central Africa. However, due to ill health, he was unable to take part in the ill-fated first mission to Africa in the early 1860s when most of the missionaries died in Africa mainly due to malaria. There is a mystery about his death. The official version is that he died suddenly in Frankfurt am Main in Germany around 1870 and as he was unknown, he was buried in a pauper’s grave there. Records show that the British Consulate in Frankfurt was officially notified of his death in February 1871. However, it is clear that his widow Frances Smyttan knew she had been widowed as early as 1867 from letters written by her sister, the women’s rights campaigner Josephine Butler. Smyttan was succeeded as rector of Hawksworth by William Herringham in January 1859. In 1866 a new west door with stone arch and mouldings was presented by Mrs Herringham senior, the west porch was removed and the dedication stone was placed in the south wall of the tower. Herringham resigned in 1873 to go to Old Cleeve in Somerset and he appointed John Blurton Webb MA from Old Cleeve as the next rector of Hawksworth, who was the incumbent until 1878. The Rev. John Glenn Bayles was appointed Rector of Hawksworth by his father in law George Blackburn of Nottingham in January 1879. Village legend is that John Glenn Bayles was unfrocked for being drunk when christening his son. The evidence from the parish registers is inconclusive although there is a period in the 1880s when ceremonies were performed either by the Vicar of Car Colston or the Curate in Charge.
Gradually the population of Hawksworth decreased from 173 inhabitants in 1901 to around 116 in 1951 and 1961. By 1944 the churchyard was becoming overcrowded and a request was made to the rectory for part of the grounds known as Baxter’s Garden to be bought by the church and used as a burial ground. The owner did not grant the request since Baxter’s Garden was being used as a kitchen garden and by the schoolchildren as a garden. In 1967 Hawksworth became part of the newly formed Cranmer Group of parishes which also included Aslockton, Orston, Scarrington, Thoroton and Whatton.
In 1974 the church was found to have dry rot. The inside had to be gutted; pews were stripped out, under-floor heating pipes were taken out and the solid fuel boiler was removed from the south west corner of the nave. In 1975 the trenches for the cast iron steam pipes were filled in with concrete which effectively blocked off access to the crypt under the chancel, the walls were plastered and in 1976 the church was given a fibre glass roof, the first in the country. At the end of 1976, a Granwood floor was laid over concrete. The cementing and the plastering were done by a small team of boys from Whatton Detention Centre which at that time was a young offenders’ institution. During this work the Reverend Geoffrey Blackmore took the opportunity to revise the whole church layout. The font was moved (causing damage to its stem) from the west entrance to its current position at the west end of the north aisle. The Saxon cross shaft was moved to the base of the tower. The coffins removed from under the church floor were re-interred in the churchyard. The work was paid for by a diocesan loan and a grant from the Lady Hind Trust and the village raised the remaining £4,000 by running street markets; three were held in 1975, 1976 and 1979 with a fourth in 1981 which included a church exhibition of old village photographs. As a result of this, a large collection of historical photographs of Hawksworth was amassed.
Around 1987 Hawksworth lost the use of its village hall when the Methodist chapel was converted to residential use. At the same time the church building needed essential repairs costing around £15,000 in order to remain open. Funds were not available and the congregation was declining. To overcome this, the village voted almost unanimously in July 1987 to undertake a scheme of converting the church to a dual purpose building to enable the space to be shared, both for community use and as a place of worship. For its time it was one of the first in the country to run such a project and the aim was to retain the chancel for worship and deconsecrate the rest of the church for use as a village hall. Southwell Diocese supported the scheme as the only chance for the long-term survival of the church.
The village set out to raise the money needed over the next two years by holding fund raising events and seeking grants. On 27 February 1989, Hawksworth Community Association was officially set up as a charity to run the village hall and for fundraising in the village with the trustees having responsibility for the upkeep, maintenance and running costs of the building. Apart from the chancel, the church building was deconsecrated and became Hawksworth Community Hall from 24 July 1989.
Work on the conversion started in 1989 and involved demolition of the outer vestry walls which were in a bad state of repair with a leaking roof. Re-using the same stone, the two outer walls were rebuilt and the vestry was converted into a kitchen. The church organ was moved from the chancel arch into the nave and a mobile platform was made for the organ so that it could be moved around. The open archway between the vestry and the chancel was blocked off to form the kitchen wall and a new doorway to the kitchen was created in the east end of the north aisle. A drainage system was installed and toilet facilities were provided at the west end of the north aisle. In 2000, thanks to a private donation, the clock mechanism was removed from the tower and a motorised unit was installed with an electronic radio controlled unit and electric bell strikers. In March 2005 the future use of the church was in doubt since several urgent essential repairs costing around £30,000 were needed if it was to remain open and in use as a church hall. Many people pledged their support and money was raised by donations, Gift Aid, fund raising events and successful grant applications. Extensive repairs took place including kitchen and chancel roof repairs, external re-pointing, disability audit work, repairs to rainwater pipes and gutters and decoration of external doors and ironmongery. Internally the chancel arch was cleaned and re-pointed, the arches between the chancel and north aisle were cleaned back to stone, the columns were cleaned, the north wall was re-plastered, the floor was sanded, and all walls inside the nave and tower were decorated. Around the same time since the churchyard wall fronting Main Road was bowing out and becoming unstable, essential reconstruction was carried out to make the it safe and retain the 100 year old holly trees. Again in 2010 it seemed that the church would have to close when the upper stages of the tower were judged to be unsafe. A massive fund raising effort began and in April 2012 the tower was restored at a cost of more than £90,000, with £25,000 being raised through Hawksworth Community Association and private donations from villagers. Other funding for the project came from Nottinghamshire County Council’s Local Improvement Scheme, Rushcliffe Borough Council, Waste Recycling Environmental (WREN) and The Lady Hind Trust. The main work concentrated on repairing, re-pointing and replacing much of the tower stonework which had corroded in many areas. The badly eroded part of the stone western door archway was renewed, new tower pinnacles were made and the coping and gable cross finials over the chancel were also repaired. Thanks to a private donation, the two clock faces on the tower were re-gilded, the hands stripped and blacked and each clock face was fitted with a new electric movement set behind the face. This meant they no longer needed to be linked to each other by the bevel gears and rods from the original 19th century installation. When installed in 1873, the clock faces had been sited partially obscuring the bell chamber opening, in order that they could be lined up with the mechanism and gears, which at the time caused significant damage to some of the stone course. This was all repaired when the clock faces with their individual motors were re-positioned in 2012 just below the bell chamber openings.