Mansfield Woodhouse
St Edmund

History

Though to all present appearances, a modern place, Mansfield Woodhouse has a history dating from the Roman period. In 1786 Major Hayman Rooke discovered important Roman villas at Northfield with mosaic pavements.

In 1304 a fire which swept through the whole village destroyed much of a stone and timber church. In 1306 a rebuilding was undertaken to provide a chancel, nave and tower. The tower of the rebuilt church still survives being the oldest part of the present building.

Robert Stuffyn founded the chantry in 1344. He made various benefactions to the Austin Priory of Felley, in consideration of which the Prior undertook to find a chaplain and pay him ‘six silver marks each year’ to pray for the souls of Robert, his wife Alice, and of all their ancestors, and for the souls of all the faithful, at the altar of the Blessed Virgin in Mansfield Woodhouse. Chantry priests were appointed until the time of the Reformation.

George Fox, founder of the Quakers, visited Mansfield Woodhouse on his preaching travels in 1649. He appears to have tried to preach in the church whereupon he was severely beaten, placed in the stocks on Cross Hill for a time and then stoned out of the village. He encountered this sort of reception elsewhere during his travelling and preaching.

On 22nd March 1816 the church steeple was damaged by an earthquake which necessitated repairs.

The nave and aisles were virtually rebuilt between 1804 and 1810 and further restorations took place in 1850 and 1878. These latter being by that eminent Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. At these restorations the aisles were extended to the length of the chancel thus forming chapels either side. In 1878 restoration involved the alteration of the tower, and the spire was raised to a height of 108 feet. Work on the south porch took place in 1886.

A number of non-conformist congregations became established at Mansfield Woodhouse in the early 19th century and by 1841 the Independents, Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists each had a chapel here. A United Methodist Chapel was built in 1883 in High Street with a schoolroom at the rear. This is now known as the Trinity Methodist Church.

The clerestory at St Edmund’s, probably of late 15th century origin, was removed in 1848 and involved alterations to the roof.

In 1930 the sanctuary was reconstructed and the altar was rebuilt as an exact replica of an old Saxon altar.

Unfortunately the church was subject to vandalism in 1975 and it was of great concern to the community who rallied to the cause by setting up a public fund for repairs.

Due to mining subsidence extensive restoration took place between 1986 and 1988. As well as major restoration to the stonework, other changes included moving the choir stalls from the chancel to the north aisle, installing a 1920 Willis organ alongside the choir stalls and modernisation of the heating system. The work was finally completed in 1988 and a flower festival was held in thanksgiving for the major restoration.

Complementing the church, is the Turner Memorial Hall built and opened in 1908 in memory of the late Mr F J Turner, agent to the Duke of Portland’s estates. Attached to the hall is the Stable Centre (previously a near-derelict building). It was refurbished and opened in 1993, serving as a café and drop-in centre, and is also managed by the church. St Edmund’s Scout Group meet at the stone-built Scout Hut at the rear of the hall.

This beautiful, well-positioned church, standing in the centre of the town, still serves the needs of an expanding community.

Relevant Dates

c1190   A new part-stone and part timber church was built 
1250   Earliest named curate, Walter Clerk of La Wudehus
1304   Another fire destroyed most of the church
1344   Robert Stuffyn founded the chantry
1816   The steeple was damaged by an earthquake
1878   Major restoration by Sir George Gilbert Scott
1908   The Turner Memorial Hall was opened by the Duke of Portland
1986–88   Extensive restoration after mining subsidence
1993   The church Stable Centre opened and Scout Hut built

Church Registers

The church registers date from 1653 and include baptisms, marriages and deaths.