For this church:
Other names found in the archives for Oxton include: Oxtune, Ostone, Oston, Oxston, Osone, Oxen, Oxon, Hoxton, Oggesdon.
There is no mention in the Domesday Book (1086) of a church or priest at Oxton, but the present church has several Norman architectural features.
In 1223 Henry III made a “grant to Robert de Nottingham, King’s clerk, of the prebend of Oxton and Crophill, lately held by John Landulphi de Columpha in the King’s gift”, followed in 1324 by a prohibition to all ecclesiastical persons against attempting any action against the King’s rights of presentation.
In 1242 the first canon of Oxton was appointed, one Stephen de Lexington. Up to 1900 Canons of Oxton were lords of two manors: Oxton Overall and Oxton Netherall.
In 1330 Edward III “allowed men and tenants of Oxton to have common pasture in Shirewood Forest at all times, it having been found by inquisition that such had belonged to the holders of these prebends since time immemorial.” In 1334 Edward III refers to “land in the prebend of Oxton without the forest of Shirewood” and therefore not subject to Forest Law.
In 1552 Edward VI demanded the church surrender to the crown three bells, a hand bell, a silver chalice and a corpus, two cruets, a brass cross, a brass pyxe (box), two brass candlesticks, two altar cloths, two towels, a blue satin vestment, a vestment of greensaye and a robe to it, a vestment of white fustian without a robe and a cope of white fustian.
Two cases of bad behavior in the church occurred in the C16. The first, in 1584 concerned a member of the Sherbrooke family who was in “ill repute” for decorating the tower with ‘ale poles’ and later for bawling during a service about his right to a stall or pew. The second was in 1585 when Thomas Walker and Marjorie Bell, surrounded by many others equally profane, baptised a lamb by dipping it in the font. They were ordered to do penance at Newark and Mansfield markets.
As a result of the Visitation of 1637, the churchwardens were ordered to cause “all the stalls in the body of the church (save fower rowes of stalls on the north side of the middle alley and other fower rowes on the south side, and thre other stalls at the low end of the church neare the font) to be taken up and made uniform to the said xj ancient stalls, and to cause a cross alley to be made from the north alley to the south alley over thwarte, as near to the pulpit as may be. They are to cause the leads to be amended where it rains in, and to cause the reading place to be made out of the Chancell, and to cause the Communion table to be railed in”.
A terrier and inventory of 1764 describes the Vicarage as:
a Parlour with a plaster floor and hung with paper. A House with a stone floor and drawn with lime and hair. Two Chambers with plaster floors, one with paper and Dutch matin with lime and hair. Two Garrets and a Sheddy the same, an arched Cellar and a passage into the Croft. The House and Parlour is 30 foot in length and 15 foot in breadth. Adjoining the House is an old building called the Kitchen and one Chamber over it 15 foot square. The Fence is pails and quick. The Kitchen is built with brick mud and covered with thatch. The House with brick is covered with tiles, the Out Buildings with stud and mud and covered with thatch. The Barn contains 18 foot in length and 15 foot in breadth, another building, 18 foot in length and 15 foot in breadth.
The document continues by listing church furniture:
4 Bells, a Clock, a Font, a Poor-box, a Holland Surplice, a new Prayer Book and Bible, a Book of Homilies, Communion table with a green covering for same, a white Linen Cloth, a Napkin, a large Pewter Flagon, a Silver Cup weighing seven ounces and a half, a Pewter Plate for the bread and a Wooden Box to collect the alms at the Communion, a green Cloth and Cushion for the Pulpit.
A school charity was founded in 1783 by Margaret Sherbrooke who bequeathed land (then producing £16 10s p.a.) for a master to teach 24 poor children. She also bequeathed £6 p.a. for the maintenance of the schoolroom and decreed that the master should reside in the village and never be absent for more than 10 days together, nor more than 20 days during any one year.
Lieut-Colonel Sherbrooke commanded the Oxton Volunteer Corps in 1803. It was formed, together with many other militia in the county, to give resistance to the French army if required.
In 1844 the Patron of the church was Earl Manvers, and the perpetual curacy annexed to the vicarage of St Mary, Nottingham until 1831. In the same year records show there were 56 stocking frames in the village.
In 1849 1139 acres were enclosed and described as “in its present state, almost unproductive”.
In an 1853 Directory, Oxton is the subject of a curious tale:
In the garden of a Mr Duffield (landlord of the Royal Oak) is a gigantic 2 year old brocoli (sic) plant; 8ft in height, circumference near the ground of 11 inches. As if to complete the curiosity a pair of wrens have nested in two of the upper branches of this cabbage monarch and have 4 young. Numerous parties visit this great curiosity.
In 1885 the vicar at that time was president of the Oxton Church of England Temperance Society and Band of Hope. With a number of Methodists in support they held a fete and gala at the Pleasure Ground where 800 people enjoyed tea in a big covered shed. Many more obtained refreshment at the Green Dragon Inn, so much so that no beer was left for the following day.
Between 1884 and 1888 the old Vicarage was pulled down and a new one built. The cost was met by a grant of £1500 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
In 1894 the Living was in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor.
In 1967 the Vicarage was put up for sale by auction. Ten years later, in 1977, 3259 sq.yds.of glebe land next to the old vicarage were sold for two building plots, fetching £17,000.
In 1978 £3000 needed to be raised for renovations to the school. No support for its continuation had come from the church; furthermore the role the church had played and the role it should play in its future was questioned. However, in 1978 the case for retention of Oxton village school was successful.
Churchgoers at Oxton 1676-1879
In 1676 returns gave 178 persons old enough to take the sacrament, 11 Dissenters, and no Baptists. By 1748, Archbishop Herring’s Visitation found 104 families of which there was one Quaker, two Anabaptists and two Presbyterians. There was no meeting-house, charity school or alms house.
An Oxton Quaker, Robert Scothorn, sailed to America in 1684.
A religious census of 1879 counted 434 members of the established church.
The roof of the nave was raised and a clerestory added. The church was also re-pewed and a new board floor made of deal laid down. The bill runs: “for taking up old pews, pulling down old galleries, laying floor-joists, preparing and fixing new pewing for body of Church and chancel, preparing and fixing free seats and singing gallery, repairing and making good old pewing ... etc etc £196”. The floor was paved with “50 yards of good boasted white stone paving” at a cost of £46. Minor work entailed the repairing of the north aisle, the two porches, windows, staining and varnishing of the pews, colouring of the walls, laying of brick drains, repairs to the spouting and the purchasing of stoves.
Ornaments for the Church included a set of the Ten Commandments, Creed and Lord’s Prayer painted on canvas for the chancel, a new Communion table, repairs to the Sacramental vessels and a carpet. A new bell was purchased for £53 to replace an old one, for which £30 was allowed.
All the bells were re-hung. The colour was scraped from the walls inside the tower, and the little C13 turret door was discovered. Evidence of a fire was found on the walls in the north-west corner of the tower. About 1887 the Thomas Robson Organ was purchased second-hand for £80.
The tower was re-pointed inside and out and all defective stone was made good. A new lead roof with new oak beams was installed. The belfry or clock-loft was decayed and the floor was replaced in new English oak; window lattices were renewed and bird-guards added. Most of the steps leading to the tower were remade in cement.
It was discovered that the whole of the north wall had been built without a foundation and was therefore pulled down, together with the small red brick porch. It was re-erected on a 3 ft. concrete foundation using the old stone. As the church had no vestry at that time it was decided to extend the wall, thus allowing for a new vestry and organ chamber to be included. An old square window “of no architectural value” was not replaced.
The north wall as described above was rebuilt. The east window, which was completely awry, was straightened and defective stonework made good but no changes were made to the east wall. The chancel then had an inner ceiling, which in part hid the east window. This ceiling was removed, as was the plaster from the walls thus revealing the priest’s door, the blind window above it and the aumbry. The walls, being made of rubble, could not be pointed inside and had to be re-plastered.
The roof was found to be in reasonable condition and only a few defective beams needed replacing. As for the slates, metallic nails replaced the wooden pegs that had been used before. Defective stone-ridges and old spouting were removed and replaced by new.
Two stoves had previously provided the heating, one near the tower, the other in the chancel. Unsightly piping, carried through the roof, took away the smoke. Three new Musgrave stoves were fitted and the architect, on his own responsibility, fitted three new chimneys, but these were not to general approval.
The four windows in the chancel and the window in the north side had their stonework repaired and the glass reset in new flashings. In the case of the other five windows, the glass was repaired as necessary. Much of the stonework and the flashings of these windows remained in a very defective condition.
The interior stonework, arches and pillars had been covered in paint or distemper. This was hacked off and the stonework exposed. Defective stonework was made good and joints were re-pointed.
A pre-1898 photograph of the nave and chancel arch shows the outer circumference of the chancel arch bearing this inscription from 2 Chronicles 6.21:
Apparently, this was removed or painted over at this time, the walls being coloured twice after restoration. The first coat was a light green paint, which proved unsuccessful as it turned blotchy. Two years later a further two coats of terracotta-coloured paint were applied. The beams in the south aisle and chancel and the mouldings of the ceiling were stained and varnished.
The pews in the nave, having received a good deal of damage during the restoration, were re-stained and varnished in dark oak colour. At Christmas 1899 Mr William Hill, builder of Southport, donated a new oak altar table, together with a reredos, in memory of his father-in-law, Mr William Wain who was a verger of the church for 40 years. The 1842 stained deal Holy Table was removed to the back of the church. The organ was re-tuned and moved to the new chamber in the chancel. The 1842 pews and panelling in the chancel were removed and chairs substituted for use by the choir. The communion rail and banisters had been painted brown and now the paint was cleaned off and the rails slightly widened and lowered. New matting was procured for church and chancel and the lighting improved by the addition of 100 candle-power oil lamps.
In the Nave the large copies of the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments, erected in 1842 and painted on canvas, were removed. The pulpit was remodelled and repaired, “rendering it almost new”. The carved panels had been the work of a previous vicar, Rev H.Tibbs.
About this time the font was moved from the west end of the nave and positioned close to the east window of the south aisle. The arrangement of the hatchments was also altered so that where previously there had been two above the chancel arch, there is now only one.
C20 Additions and Alterations
The east chancel window was re-glazed as a war memorial containing the names of the villagers who died in the Great War 1914-18. It was dedicated in 1921.
A faculty of 1927 mentions new choir stalls, reredos flanked with oak panelling, oak panelling around the chancel and carved figures of the four Evangelists, all given by the family of Kyrle Smith. The front row of seats in the nave was removed. Pevsner calls the woodwork “rich but rustic.”
Photographs taken of the exterior of the chancel in 1951 show it to have been supported by wooden beams acting as buttresses. The walls were bowing and leaning out of true. A building housing a heating-stove abutting the south chancel was taken down. Restoration took place and a service of thanksgiving for the church was held in the same year. The Festival of Britain, also in 1951, was celebrated by commemorating Robert Scothorn’s emigration to Pennsylvania in 1684. A framed embroidered vellum records the occasion.
To celebrate the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, a cipher was placed above the south door. A new oak lectern was given in 1964 in memory of Ralph Lane, a descendant of Robert Scothorn. A steel frame was made for the bells in 1984, re-placing the worn out wooden one. A bedding ring beam was concreted into the tower, new running wheels made for the bell ropes and the bells re-tuned by Taylors of Loughborough. Electric radiant heaters were installed in 1985.
Subsidence caused by Calverton colliery was rendering the structure dangerous, so a faculty of 1986 provided for underpinning and stabilization. During the digging of a trench around the church, the vault was accidentally broken into and re-bricked up before a thorough recorded examination could be made.
In 1689 four Quakers: William and Fra Scotherne, John Oldham and Thomas Lam were affirmed in Oxton and in 1698 a non-conformist meeting-house was licensed to John Oldham under the Toleration Act. Indentures and conveyances start in 1699 for the lease of a building with two large bays and one small bay for one year to “the people in scorn called Quakers”. Other indentures exist dated 1748 and 1799, but there are no records beyond 1799. There was also a Quaker burial ground, probably near the Green Dragon pub where Robert Sherbrooke was buried in 1710 leaving money for the succour of Quakers.
A Primitive Methodist Chapel, part of the Hockley circuit, was erected in 1824. Until then united prayer meetings were held in the Lowther Hills near Oxton, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Services in the village began in a cattle shed near the Bridge Inn on land belonging to Mr Burgess Thurman of Church Farm, who later gave the land on which the chapel was built. There were 126 members in 1879, but the chapel eventually closed and members combined with the Wesleyan Methodists.
In 1845 a Primitive Minister, the Revd J.Eckersley, arrived at Oxton to find the chapel would not hold the congregation and therefore decided to hold the meeting in the open air. A procession formed, the people singing as they walked to an open space near the church where the Minister opened the service with a prayer, only to be interrupted by the Vicar shouting “You must give up my good man. I cannot allow it. You are deluding my parishioners. I am their authorised teacher. You are on consecrated ground”. The Minister was more than equal to the occasion, speaking to the Vicar with such effect that he hurriedly departed. A local newspaper, in reporting the event, added the comment: “We were not surprised at this unmanly and unchristian conduct of the Vicar, when we were informed that he had previously turned away a faithful servant from his home because he had been so notoriously guilty as to enter a Wesleyan chapel.”
The first Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built in 1790, followed by a new one in 1839 that was completed in six months at a cost of £562. Pew rents were the main source of income, raising £11 in 1875 and £1 4s 6d in 1912. Seat rents continued, set at 7½d per sitting per quarter. There were 210 members in 1879. In 1894 an organ costing £40 was installed. In 1953 a Memorial service was held for the 27 men of Oxton who died in the two world wars and a Roll of Honour was dedicated (now in the parish church).
Aaron Richardson Memorial Hall.
A legacy of £780 was left for a hall that “should be the centre of the corporate life of the village and be available to people of all denominations.” It was attached to the Methodist chapel and also served as a Sunday school, cinema and for other social purposes. Donations, interest and subscriptions came to £1,300. The total cost was £2,300. It is now a part of the private house formed from the old chapel.