For this church:
Ollerton, or Allerton or Alretun as it was known, has a complex history influenced by its position at the junction of some major roads which include the medieval road from London to York.
There is mention of the village in the Domesday survey of 1086; there were in those days two manors, one that belonged to Gilbert de Gand and the other to Roger de Busli. It is believed there has been a church on this site since Domesday though no church is actually mentioned.
The first mention of a priest by name occurred in 1200 – when it was recorded that William (Rector of Ollerton) witnessed a grant. Ollerton had its own priests until the thirteenth century, although the living was appropriated to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln. The six hundred years that followed saw Ollerton have its own church, but a church that formed part of Edwinstowe parish with the vicar and curate of Edwinstowe being responsible for services at Ollerton and the pastoral care of its parishioners.
As Ollerton was effectively a subsidiary chapel of Edwinstowe it does not appear in the 1291 Pope Nicholas IV taxation, nor in the 1341 Nonae Rolls, nor yet again in the Henry VI subsidy of 1428.
In 1598 the churchwardens returned that ‘the part of the churchyard fence to be repaired by Mary Hudleston is not sufficiently fenced’. In 1603 they stated that ‘Mr Barton, the vicar of Edwinstowe, an able and honest, painful preacher (though of no degree in the university) is our vicar; Mr Barton, vicar of Edwinstowe, is our vicar also, [but] his predecessor was our vicar only, and the value of his benefice in the King's Books is £12 11s 10d, and we will prove Ollerton a church of itself; Edwinstowe is one mile distant from Ollerton; there are about 10 recusants, of whom two are women and the rest men; communicants number about 100, non-communicants who come to church and have not received with us number about four.’ By 1666 it was the turn of Raph Rockle to be admonished for his churchyard fence being out of repair.
In 1684 the churchwardens provide a snapshot of the church that then existed as they returned: ‘our church, steeple, chancel and north quire are not sufficiently repaired and beautified, though for the church and steeple we have done what we could; the chancel or south quire, which belongs to Mr Rich. Neal, impropriator, is 'ready to drop down' and the said impropriator peremptorially denies to repair it, and the north quire belongs to Tho. Markham Esq. above named; no poor man's box’. They also added that the churchyard fence was not in good repair ‘but we do not certainly know who are the offenders’. The following year they reported that the seats of the church were out of repair.
The parish church of Ollerton is dedicated to St Giles. St Giles, a seventh century Athenian, lived as a hermit in the French forest and was a very popular dedication in medieval England. The present building dates from around 1780. The re-use of some of some old stone in the rebuilding gives it a venerable appearance on the outside. However, the inside has disappointed some distinguished visitors, including John Throsby and Viscount Torrington, who have described it as ‘ugly and ill-contrived’ and ‘having nothing to delight the soul of an antiquarian’.
The three-decker pulpit and the gallery at the west end were dismantled in the 1860 restoration of the church. Pevsner describes it as a preaching house because of its absence of a centre aisle and the small size of the sanctuary. This reflects how the Church of England rested greater significance on preaching in the period when it was built rather than the sacrament of the Holy Communion. Archbishop Herring in c.1740 recorded that Holy Communion was only held four times a year.
An extract from a document dated 1780 reveals that for some time the Church had been ‘very ruinous and the same had been obliged to be taken down and rebuilt’. There was a plan to rebuild, funded by Sir George Savile, who advanced £200 and provided materials including stone and timber at his own expense. The people were able collectively to contribute £100. In 1780, however, the building was still yet to be completed.
Throsby, writing in 1796, records that ‘the Church, or rather Chapel is small and newly built...’ He also records that the lordship belonged to the Hon. Lumley Savile of Rufford Abbey. The area consisted of 1,300 acres, with a town, Ollerton, with several hundred inhabitants.
People in Ollerton committed to bringing education to the village successfully prevailed upon the generous nature of the richest land owner in the area, Earl Manvers, who purchased a site where they hoped to erect a school. This group consisted of the vicars of Walesby, Edwinstowe, Weston, Perlethorpe and Clarborough, supported by Henry Gally M.P. Their lobbying proved successful: towards their target of £650 the National Society contributed £75, the Retford Deanery Board of Education £150 and Committee of Council on Education £150. The costs were met and both the boys and girls schools were launched in September 1842. The church had close links with the school; performing services on days of celebration and aiding in the religious education of the children – deemed of great importance by those in power.
The Ecclesiastical Census of 1851 records Ollerton as the Church of an Ancient Chapelry. Ollerton, in the Parish of Edwinstowe, Registration District of Southwell, County of Nottingham. It records its endowment as £99 10 9. It states pews were rented at the cost of £2 12 6 and that there were 50 free seats for those who could not afford to rent. More importantly it gives an insight in to the size of the congregation in 1851. The morning population had a total of 155 parishioners, whilst the afternoon had 125.
The square tower with its four pinnacles is modelled on the typical thirteenth century Nottingham style. It contains one large bell with an inscription: ‘I to the Church the living call, but to the grave I summon all’.
There have been various additions and alterations made during the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The east window is a memorial, painted and erected in 1873 by Cecil George Savile Foljambe to the memory of Louisa Blanche, his first wife. He was also responsible for the window on the south side of the nave that depicts the twelve apostles dedicated to Hon. Mrs Lumley Savile. From the early 17th Century to the late 19th century when a member of the gentry died, the coat of arms was painted on a diamond board.
The church committee first raised the question of restoration in 1861. After a series of meetings, that began on the 12 July and continued until 17 October, work began and continued until February 1862. The original plan of a centre aisle was not carried out but the pulpit was moved, the gallery taken down, and the seating rearranged. The whole building was thoroughly cleaned and restored. Kelly’s Directory of 1900 places the capacity at 280, so the removal of gallery reduced the church’s accommodation, but by this time the population had peaked and was on the decline.
Also it was around this time that the churchyard ceased being used for burials and the cemetery at Forest Road was opened. The church reopened on 16 January 1862 and there remained a debt of £57 12 for the work. In 1871 the church was insured for £800 and in 1890 for £2000.
In 1875 Cecil George Savile Foljambe donated a peal of six bells. At the same time a clock was added to the tower by public donation. The prayer desk and lectern of iron and wood were the gift of Revd. William Reade.The font made from serpentine marble was placed in the church in 1876, the cost once again covered by public donation.
It was not until 1888 that Ollerton gained its independence as a parish. This was performed by an Order in Council and published in the London Gazette of on 10 July 1888. Ollerton was separated from Edwinstone and became ‘The Perpetual Curacy of Ollerton’. The lands, rent charges and other dues were to be paid to it. As far as Ollerton Church life is concerned it seems to have been a non-event and is barely mentioned. The first to lead the newly independent parishioners was Revd. John William Paley Reade, whose father, William Reade, had been curate at Ollerton 1859–1873.
In April 1911 Ollerton hosted Edwyn Hoskyns, the Bishop of Southwell, during his visitation of all the deaneries. In his report he makes a stark assertion that ‘not slowly by rapidly Worksop is becoming a great mining centre’, and warned of the likely impact on the area, citing a report that projected a population increase of 10,000. He stated that it would be necessary to form a new parish in order to account for the increased number of parishioners.
During the nineteenth century there was a growth in population of Ollerton. In 1801 the population was 439, it climbed steadily, reaching a peak of 937 in 1851, remained stationary for 10 years, 932 in 1861 and then it steadily declined, in 1901 it was 690. However, the major growth came when Ollerton Colliery opening in 1925. It became clear at this time that an additional church was necessary to provide for the increased population.
In 1931 St Paulinus Church joined St Giles in the Parish of Ollerton.