Kingston on Soar
St Winifred

History

Kingston was mentioned in Domesday Book, but it did not at that time have a church. Ratcliffe on Soar was the mother church of the area with chapelries at Kingston and Thrumpton.

The original chapel-of-ease could date from the 12th century, but there is no mention of Kingston on Soar in the ecclesiastical taxation assessment of 1291-2 (the Taxatio). In 1371 Pope Alexander III issued a bull whereby the clergy and laity in every parish in the county went at Whitsuntide to Southwell to join in a solemn procession. The laity were probably represented by the Churchwarden, who took as Pentecostal offerings for Kingston 8d. Ratcliffe took 8d, Thrumpton 10d, Sutton Bonington 1s 1d and Gotham 1s 1d. We do not, however, know when the money began to be taken.

Ratcliffe was given to the Priory of Norton in Lancashire, and so the tithes of Kingston had to follow the gift of the church, and that gift was confirmed by Roger de Laci, constable of Chester, who died in the year 1211 and who in his deed gift mentions the church at “Radeclive upon Sore” and the fourth part of the mill there, and the tithes of the other parts. The connection with the Priory continued nearly 200 years, until in 1409-10 it was transferred to the Priory of Burscough, in Lancashire. In 1536 the Church of "Ratclyf on Soar, with the Chapels of Kynston, and Thrompton" were valued at the clear yearly sum of £6 134d.

The Babbington family built a chapel in Kingston c1538. As lords of the manor they left their mark at Ratcliffe, having two memorials there. Isabella, whose husband John was killed at Bosworth, was buried at Ratcliffe in 1486, and Elizabeth, wife of Anthony was buried at Ratcliffe in 1505.

Kingston old chapel appears to have been converted into a church, as was Kingston into a parish, under the Babbington family. The chancel and chancel aisle are c1540. Before that period the Babbingtons were buried either at Ratcliffe on Soar, or in the church of their principal seat of Dethick, in Ashover, or at their still older seat of East Bridgford.

As far as can be ascertained, the original church was dedicated to St Wilfred.

Around 1820 some rebuilding took place. A tower, and spire, at the south end of the Church, appears to have been erected in 1832.

In 1851 the church was reported to have 120 free spaces and 36 others. The morning congregation on census Sunday was 40, with twenty Sunday School scholars. Over the preceding 12 months average attendances were 80 in the morning, and 100 in the afternoon with 20 Sunday School scholars at each service. The minister noted that ‘the services in this church being held together with Sutton Bonnington St Anne’s are morning and afternoon alternately’.

When the church was rebuilt c1900, great care was exercised in regard to the Babbington Chapel, by the marking, and, where practical, re-instatement of the old stones. The rebuilding was carried out by Henry Strutt, second Baron Belper, in memory of his son who died in 1898. There is a bronze tablet in the church to this effect. Belper rebuilt and extended the nave and built the present tower, south aisle and porch.

The church is in the Perpendicular style, but to some extent made to harmonize with the original architecture. The tower was given a new clock and three bells. The cost was £4,757, and a further £600 was spent in furnishing with seats and an organ. Lord Belper gave the reredos.

The entrance is through the lychgate, erected by the inhabitants of the village to commemorate the Coronation of Edward VII in 1902.

Decorative items on the exterior

The external east wall is decorated with Heraldic plaques of various noble families endeared to this church in days gone by, these being primarily the Babbingtons with the Stanhope, Ferrers, Cliftons, Pierrepont, Sacheverels, Quincy and Ormond with whose families they intermarried.

In a niche of the gable of the porch of the church is a statuette intended to represent St Winifred, her hand resting on a cross. St Winifred, according to the legend, was a noble Welsh maiden to whom virtue was dearer than life, and when she repelled the unholy proposals of Prince Caradoc, he cut off her head, which rolling down the hillside, there sprang up a fountain of water with healing powers, and not only was the head restored, but the saint lived 15 years afterwards, and over that spring was built a church, at Holywell, in Flintshire, to which pilgrimages were made, with beneficial results.

The Tower and nave are built in a mixture of styles, with Decorated and Perpendicular window in the nave, and hoodmoulded lancets square-heased belfry lights in the tower. The tower is situated on the southwest corner of the present building after an extended north aisle was added at some point. Three sides are fitted with single arched lights below the first stringcourse or band of projecting stonework.  The upper band supports the top of the tower, which is finished with decorated battlements and an array of carved pinnacles; tracery also decorates the upper course of stonework.

Nave roof construction

The chancel was largely rebuilt with many of the old features retained, the rainwater heads are date marked 1900 with a “B” monogram and a crown to denote the Belpers’ baronetcy. The roof to the nave and south aisle is trussed rafter construction with a medium pitch and plain tiles. The chancel roof construction being of shallow pitch is metalled in stainless steel.

To the north side of the church is the extension for the vestry, also there is evidence of once having been a boiler house here, now removed.

In 1912, the church was reported has having 200 seats, and the village as having 50 children on the roll of the church school and 46 on the Sunday School roll. Over the previous year there had been 4 baptisms and 8 confirmations.

The church register of marriages from 1755-1811 have been extracted by the Rev John Clough, Rector of Wilford, and published by Messrs Phillimore and Co. There is a register of burials commencing 1657, and of baptisms commencing 1690.