St Peter


The first definite mention of a church at Old Radford occurs in William Peveril’s Charter of Foundation of Lenton Priory, because he endowed the new Priory with the townships of Lenton, Radford, Morton and Keighton. Although the exact year when William Peveril granted this charter is not known, it must have been between 1103, when Matilda, daughter of King Henry I was born, and 1108, when Gerard, Archbishop of York, one of the witnesses, died.

In 1171 the priest and churchwardens, in accordance with the Papal Bull, went to Southwell to go in the great procession and took the parish Pentecostal offerings of 1s 1d.

It seems highly probable that, like other churches on the River Leen, St Peter’s was repaired and partially rebuilt at the beginning of the 13th century under the influence of Archbishop Walter de Gray (1215-55).

The vicarage in 1223-4 consisted of the whole alterage of that church with four bovates (oxgangs) of land belonging to that alterage with their tithes, and the tithes of two mills and all that toft lying between the toft of the church and the waters of the Lene. In 1276 Hugh Croft held two mills in Radford and Lenton by the service of carrying a falcon at the summons of the king and Richard Grey held them under him.

The taxation of Pope Nicholas IV records that Lenton Priory was then receiving £6 13s 4d a year from the Church of Radford.

The Vicar of Radford is mentioned in connection with a chantry founded by John le Colie in 1340 in the church of Sutton Passeys. The chantry was moved into Wollaton Church in 1360. Shortly before the Reformation a request was made by Robert England which is thus entered into the chantry certificates:

The Parish Church of Radforthe ys worthe by yere in a certain somme of money granted for term of certain yeres, to be payed by the executors of the last will and testament of Roberte Inglande for the contynewance of a trentall of masses to be song there until the furste daye of May that shal be in yere of our lorde god mdlvjxs for treme(?) of yeres.

Records of tithes of Lenton Priory show regular payments from Radford. In 1291 Radford paid the Prior of Lenton an income of £6 134d and this amount continued until a new survey, the Valor Ecclesiasticus, was completed in the 27th year of Henry VIII. The document shows that the income of Lenton Priory included at that date ‘Radford Tithes of corn and hay £6 13s 4d. Demesne lands, rents, mills, fair etc at Radford £15 17s 6d.’

According to a valuation made in 1387:

there are belonging to the same Priory, certain lands and tenements in the hands of divers tenants, some free men and other natives in Lenton, Kyrkton, Radford and Newthorpe and these are worth £40 4s 4d a year … and they say that there belongs to the same priory, the tithe of corn of the rectories of Lenton, Kyrkton and Sutton which is worth £20 per year.

Radford was appropriated to Lenton Priory by 1428, when it paid 13s 4d to the Aid. (Beeston paid 20s, Wollaton 16s.)

In 1536 the Willoughbys of Wollaton were paying 8 shillings a year to the Vicar of Radford for his share of the Tithes of Sutton Passeys. After the Reformation William Statham was granted a lease for 21 years at £11 per year on the tithe of corn belonging to the rectories of Lenton and Radford; a portion of the tithes in Sutton Passeys in the Parish of Radford and the tithes of corn and hay on all the demesne lands of the late monastery of Lenton, all of which came to the king by the attainder of the late Prior for 21 years at the respective rents of £6 13s 4d and forty shillings as valued by Thomas Holcroft and John Assheton. In 1677 the vicarage was worth £3 94d whereas when the Prior was Patron it was worth £5 00d. Radford also received bequests. One such was from John Barker of Radford, miller and farmer at Bobbers Mill, made in his will in 1551, desiring to be buried in Radford Church near his former wife Lucy England; and he left 6s 8d to the church.

Edward Southworth Esq of Radford was buried in the church in 29 June 1573. Southworth’s widow Winifred subsequently married Humphrey Hanmer Esq. The parish register records the baptism of their eight children. She died on 12 January 1608 and was buried in the church near her husband.

In 1593 John Wood, Clerk, had licence:

… to exercise the post and office of schoolmaster and instructor within the parish and also within the church of Radford … and to teach the art of grammer there, and the good, not the bad authors on the law of the statutes and ordinances of this realm, to interpret and expound sermons publicly in the Latin or the vulgar tongue and to do, exercise and expound other things that shall belong to the aforesaid post and office.

The vicar and churchwardens were ‘peremptorily and most firmly ordered under pain of contempt of court not to make or offer any impediment … so far as the use of the church or otherwise allows’.

During the reign of Charles I (1625-40) John Lambert, parish clerk of St Nicholas, Nottingham, admitted in the absence of the parson he had read prayers in the church [Radford] here several times during the plague time. He was cited to the Court of the Archdeacon, and was dismissed with a warning not to repeat the offence.

In 1676 the curate William Parker returned that there were in this Parish, 145 persons of age to partake of the sacrament, two people known or suspected to be recusants and five who either distinctly refused to communicate or who wholly absented themselves on those days when they were required by law to communicate.

The vicarage was worth £5 when the Prior was Patron. In 1677 it was worth £3 9s 4d and the king was Patron.

An account of the church and parish was prepared by the Rev George Wayle, the vicar, for Archbishop Herring’s visitation in 1743:

About seventy families (in this parish) of which two only are dissenters … the one a family of Papists and the other of Presbyterians besides which there is one single man, a Presbyterian, one woman a papist and one woman a quaker … nor any lands or tenements left for the repair of our church or to any other pious use. I do not reside upon my cure. But I reside at Nottingham a Small Mile from Radford. I have a dispensation for non-residence because I am Under Master of the Free School in Nottingham. I have no residing Curate. The Publick Service is read once every Lords Day and the reason of its not being performed twice is because the other part of the day I always read the Publick Service in the church of Lenton … I usually catechise every other Sunday from the beginning of Lent to Michaelmas and most of the Parishioners send their children to be instructed. The Sacrament is administered four times yearly. There are about 160 communicants of which usually about twenty receive and there were much about that number at Easter last. George Wayte, Vicar of Radford.

William Stretton, who died in 1828, left a description of the church building in his Notes on the History of Nottinghamshire. Radford Old Church was built of Ashlar stone and brick and consisted of a lead covered nave and a south aisle and a leaded and embattled low tower of early Norman date. The aisle was separated from the nave by a pier arcade of two pointed arches 11 feet wide, having zigzag and billet mouldings and springing from a short circular column of 2 feet in diameter and two semi-circular or half columns. The chancel was of the Lancet period and there was a stone south porch.

In 1803 Edward Cresswell, vicar of Radford and of Lenton, was licensed to reside elsewhere on account of the benefice being of small value and there being no parsonage in either parish. His licence was renewed for two years in 1806 and one further year in 1808 provided he resided in one of his benefices then. He was at one time Curate of Clarborough near Retford, and was Master of Wilford School prior to his institution to the vicarages of Lenton and Radford.

Drawing dated
1916 purporting
to be of the
church in 1811

Few descriptions have survived of the earlier church. Throsby, in the 1790s described it simply as ‘a little church in disorder’, without elaborating. Fortunately William Stretton provided a fuller description shortly before it was demolished in 1811. He described it as stone and brick, with lead covering the nave and south aisle. The low tower had battlements, and was also lead covered. The single aisle was separated from the nave by low pointed arches. There was a narrow chancel, and three east windows with bays and a lancet window on the south. He found the church to be damp and ‘ruinous’, with the back wall supported by clumsy brick pillars. There were no monuments or private chapels, and it was already too small for the growing population of the parish.

In 1806 plans were drawn up to take down the north wall and add a 15ft south aisle. However, on 14 March 1810 a meeting of the parishioners of Radford unanimously agreed to demolish it, when it was described as a ‘small and very dilapidated structure’, and to build a new church. The cost was about £2,000. Of this sum, George de Ligne Gregory, lord of the manor, and Lord Middleton of neighbouring Wollaton, each gave £200. The rest was raised by public subscription and through a brief, or circulating begging letter, as well as a levy on parishioners. The bells were reused from the old church, together with circular windows from the old tower and some of the stone.

In 1851 Rev Samuel Creswell reported that on census Sunday his morning congregation was 150 and a further 150 Sunday scholars. His evening congregation was 100. He added that there was no parsonage house, and that since he was inducted in 1840 he had built a large National School, for boys and girls, and enlarged the burial ground at a cost of £1000. This was a reference to the extension of the graveyard and the stone wall built around it in 1844. Remains, supposedly of an 11th century church on the site, were found at this time.

The churchyard was further extended in 1869 when a piece of ground taken from the adjoining glebe was consecrated as additional burial ground.

A low tower and a chancel were added in 1871 and consecrated the following year. They were funded by the Rev Samuel Cresswell, son of the Rev Edward Cresswell, vicar when the new church was built in 1812. The organ chamber was also added at this time. The total cost was £1,500.

The church was re-seated with a reredos erected in 1880 by the the Rev C Lea-Wilson MA, vicar 1880-1913. At that time he had 370 sittings.

A new organ was presented in 1901.

In 1912 Old Radford had 840 children registered in its Sunday School, and there had been 97 baptisms and 33 confirmations over the previous year.

A war memorial cross was erected in 1920. It was redecorated in 1921, and an oak tablet of seven panels, bearing the names of the 338 men from the parish who fell in the Great War, was placed in the chancel.

In 1933 the balcony was removed, when it was decided to lower the ceiling in an attempt to save on heating costs.

In 1962 John Player & Son, the tobacco company and one of the largest employers in Radford, paid for improvements.

In 1985 the back part of the church was made into a community room and kitchen. Some pews were removed and a screen erected to separate this part from the main body of the church.

In 1992 Nottingham City Council took a lease of the graveyard and created a park for local people with seating and a re-sited British Legion Cross. This was opened on 4 April 1993.

In September 1994 the church was burgled and the brass eagle lectern, originally from St Christopher’s, Sneinton, was stolen and has not been recovered, although other items taken at the same time were found in the River Leen.