For this church:
Monuments and Memorials
A feature that catches the visitor’s eye in the church is undoubtedly the fine set of alabaster effigies on the altar tombs commemorating the four successors of the Sacheverall family who were Lords of the Manor in the early 16th century to the middle of the 17th century:
The oldest and finest of the tombs stands under the canopy in the wall of the north aisle and commemorates Randolfus Sacheverall who died in 1539. He is shown in full plate armour with his first wife Cecily. Round his shoulders is the SS collar marking a follower of the house of Lancaster during the civil wars of the 15th century but from which hangs a double Tudor rose symbolizing the union of York and Lancaster in the Tudor dynasty. He later married Anna but her death is not filled in.
In the chancel, parallel to the tomb of Randolfus, is that of his son Henry who died in 1558. Like his father, he is clad in full plate armour though lighter and less elegant. His first wife Lucy lies in a heavy cloak and her dress is not arranged in folds but stands stiffly out from her feet indicating the approaching fashion of wearing a farthingale, so much affected by ladies of Elizabethan times. The tomb chest is decorated with sixteen plain shields carried by children, and probably merely decorative weepers.
Also in the chancel is the tomb of the second Henry who died in 1580. He is clad in half armour; his head rests on a heavy helmet; crested and mantled as are his father and grandfather. His wife Jane, daughter of Germain Ireton, lies on a heavy cloak and wears a voluminous gown, the small ruff collar of her mother-in-law has now swelled out into a full Elizabethan ruff standing out three or four inches round her chin. The tomb stands on a brick plinth and is the same size as that of the first Henry who died in 1625 leaving £30 for a tomb to his father and mother and £40 for his own monument. The tomb chest bears the images of three young men and three young women - the sons and daughters of the family.
The tomb of the last Henry shows an effigy little different from that of his father. He alone occupies the tomb chest, which also shows two babies in swaddling clothes and his daughter. Above the tomb a flamboyant canopy frames his three wives, kneeling at small prayer desks, one behind the other. The sculptors’ attention to detail is here better displayed than on any of the other tombs. Here an attempt has been made to show each lady in the dressed as she would have been in her prime years during the reign of the first Stewart king. Henry’s heir and one daughter died young. His surviving daughter, Eleanor, married Roger Columbell. Henry did not approve this match though the Columbells’ seem to have been an old family and as financially secure as this junior branch of the Sacheverall family. Henry bequeathed the manor of Ratciffe to a nephew, Sir Thomas Hutchinson the son of his sister -Jane who was wed to Thomas Hutchinson of Cropwell. Sir Thomas, having taken pity of Eleanor gave her half of the estate. The remaining half passed to Colonel John Hutchinson on the death of his father in 1643. John made the acquaintance of Lady Ann Somerset, who was in poor circumstances due to her catholic religion and unable to raise money from her land. John agreed to purchase her lands at Lowesby and needed to raise funds in a hurry, he did so by renting his portion to relative, John Ireton, the brother of Henry Ireton (Oliver Cromwell’s brother in law).
The Sacheverall family supported Parliament in the Civil War. John Hutchinson also was a Parliamentarian and prominent military man defending Nottingham and the Castle against the armies of Charles 1st. He was one of the signatories who signed the Kings death warrant. John died imprisoned at Sandown Castle in 1664. The Sacheveralls were related to the Ireton’s of Attenborough (see above) and were the ancestors of the Sitwell family, one of Britain’s most prolific groups of authors. Sacheverall Sitwell received the family name.
The Sacheverall families are the ancestors of the Sitwells who have fame from their literary merits also being a renowned family for great influence and fortune. Henry Sacheverall married Jane Ireton of Henry Ireton fame; their daughter, Jane married Thomas Hutchinson of Cropwell. He inherited the Manor on the death of Henry Sacheverall in 1624. Their grandson was Colonel Sir John Hutchinson of Owthorpe. Famous for his stand against the Royalists at Nottingham during the civil war, he was a signatory to the death warrant of Charles 1. The Hutchinsons relinquished the manor at the restoration of the monarchy. John died in prison at Sandown castle 1664.
The tombs were restored to their present condition in 1973 through a generous donation from the Pilgrim Trust. They were dismantled, cleaned and reassembled incorporating a waterproof membrane in the tomb chest. They are among the best examples of this characteristic Nottinghamshire craft.
Numerous alabaster floor slabs dating from the fifteenth century adorn the church and are largely undecipherable. Two notable slabs are of the Babington family, Isabella, the wife of John Babington (killed at Bosworth Field, 1485) dated 1486 and Elizabeth, the wife of Anthony Babington dated 1505. Another slab is to John Prescott, a rector of Ratcliffe who died 1497. There is also one to Sir Thomas Finderve and Elizabeth his wife, (daughter of Ralph Sacheverall), who died in 1574.
Other Family Monuments
By the early 19th century most of the principal farming families of the parish had their graves in the church. The Hickinbothams and the Bosworths owned the two largest farms and have their grave stones set in the floor. Sarah Higginbotham and her sister Mary Smith in 1859 bequeathed money for the relief of the village poor, which became known as the Smith-Hickinbotham Trust. A memorial to this is on the south wall of the chancel.
Elizabeth Kirkland, the first schoolmistress, also made a bequest in 1923; a plaque beneath the tower commemorates this Kirkland Gift. In 2000 it was determined that these charitable bequests were no longer relevant and both were wound up, a once-only payment being made to Abbeyflelds Homes which was in keeping with the original intention gifts to the aged poor.
Another group of gravestones is of the Chamberlin family who owned Redhill Farm. John Chamberlin became the High Sheriff of Nottingham in 1789. Israel Chamberlin was unfortunate in being poisoned in 1839 by his housekeeper who instead of his medicine mistakenly gave him a lethal dose of opium. The fate of the housekeeper is currently unrecorded.
In the north aisle is the seriously damaged but reassembled gravestone of Edward Trowell. This was dug up from the churchyard a few years ago and brought into the church. He was a yeoman famer buried in the churchyard on 14th February 1663. A transcript of his will is also displayed nearby.