For this church:
Features and Fittings
The door to enter the church appears old, made of oak with iron hinges, having horizontal and diagonal bracing, and a large lock and latch to open. The key, which is 9.5 inches long (24cm.) goes into the lock upside down. The north door opposite, appears to be 19th century with lattice bracing on the interior. This has no lock and is secured with a wooden beam which slots into the stonework on either side of the door. There is an iron ring on both sides of the door to lift the latch. There is also a priest’s door in the south wall of the chancel which has a lock and key and a ring handle.
A beautiful fine tapestry glazed and hinged in five parts that stands in the south-west window of the south aisle. It is a representation of the Nativity done in exquisite tiny tapestry stitches with embroidered Bible texts on each section. It is modern and was given to the church in 2011 by Mrs Gill Barton whose daughter found it in the loft of an empty shop which she was renovating. The first section shows a shepherd with the text embroidered from Isaiah 40:11, the second section shows two more shepherds and an angel with text Luke 2:8. The central section shows the Nativity scene with star and angels above, donkey and shepherd to the left and a wise man and sheep to the right with texts Luke 2:7 and Luke 2:13-14. The fourth section shows two wise men with text Matthew 2: 1-2 and the fifth shows a camel with text Isaiah 60:6.
On the west wall to the left of the font is a wall hanging 'HE IS RISEN' made by the children at the Easter Club in St Michael’s in 1995.
The font is 14th century, hewn from a single large block of sandstone into an octagonal shape with quatrefoil decorations carved around the principal sides. It stands 4ft. high on a plinth with step and is 29.5 inches in diameter. It is similar in design to the fonts in St Anne’s and St Andrew’s, Kegworth, but it is very unusual in having three projections at the top, one large, two small, perhaps for the priest’s book, salt and candle (chrismatory), although Bond conjectures the larger projection may have been for a basin. The inside is lined with lead.
The cover is elaborately carved wood with pierced Gothic tracery designs dating from the Victorian period, and hung from the roof by a cantilever system.
Behind the font, in the south wall of the vestry, is an iron safe with a black painted door. The key has been missing for many years. The door reads:
Paschal Candle & Brass Ewer
At the side of the font is a small wooden cupboard used for flower vases and the Paschal candle stands there for use at baptisms together with a brass ewer with tapering body on a domed foot with a solid scrolled thumb-piece. There is a solid Latin cross finial on the handle. It is inscribed:
Side Altar Table
At the east end of the north aisle is a wooden altar table bought from St Michael’s Church, Radford, Nottingham in 1974 when that church closed. At that time it was planned to use the area as a side chapel and an altar rail was made but the plan was abandoned as it was not popular with the congregation. The table is sometimes moved and used as a nave altar.
Altar Frontal Chest
Behind the side altar stands an altar frontal chest with a hinged top opening and a drop-down front. There are three altar frontals and pulpit falls. The Victorian white frontal has rich harvest themed embroidery and was originally given in April 1892 by Miss Blakesley, of Darlaston House, Brighton (sister-in-law to the Rector, the Rev Ralph Yearsley). It was repaired in 1986, in memory of Andrew Gillies and Frank Rostance. The Victorian red frontal was repaired in 1989. The green frontal was made in 1980 in memory of Neville Turner. Work was done by Mrs Doreen M. Thompson. There is a wooden box above the chest which contains bookmarks in liturgical colours.
Above the side altar is an appliqued picture showing the Nativity, the Crucifixion and the Empty Tomb. It is inscribed 'Worked by the children of St Luke’s school, Shireoaks, on behalf of the Church Primary Schools in the Southwell Diocese and presented to The Bishop of Sherwood as a token of gratitude for his untiring efforts on their behalf'. The picture was made in 1974 on the retirement of Right Rev Kenneth Thompson and the picture was donated by his widow.
Chairs & Pews
At the front of both the north and south aisles are six rush seated chairs, made of beechwood. These are all that are left of the chairs that were put in to replace the old box-like pews in the restoration of 1878. The Right Rev Dr Trollope, Bishop Suffragan of Nottingham, warmly welcomed this change. 'He rejoiced to find ... The old, exclusive seats were removed, which were so unseemly, so unjust in the house of God, they could all join without distinction in the holy place as brothers and sisters of the great Catholic Church of Christ' (Nottinghamshire Guardian, 8 November 1878). These chairs, in their turn, were replaced by the fine oak pews which are currently in the church. They were donated in 1909 in memory Sir Alexander Armstrong RN KCB.
Pulpit & Screen
The hardwood pulpit is octagonal with beautifully carved leafy fronds. It was erected in 1895 and designed by W S Weatherly, assistant to George Gilbert Scott Junior. It has three steps and a handsome brass handrail.
A wooden rood screen dividing the chancel from the nave was erected at the same time. The top part of the screen was removed by faculty in 1963 leaving the bottom part which still stands today. Marks in the arch show where the screen was fixed. The photograph hanging on the south chancel wall shows the screen.
The Deanery Magazine for December 1894 records the state of the Screen and Pulpit Fund which was opened six years previously and the Rector writes: ‘An estimate has now been obtained from Mr Elwell, of Beverley, which is for £147 10s 0d (without rood). The architect (W. S Weatherly, Esq) considers this a very moderate price, and that in Mr Elwell’s hands the work will be thoroughly well executed. It is still possible to have the work completed by Easter Sunday, if those who have not subscribed, but who purpose doing so, will kindly make known their contributions, as soon as possible, to the Rector or Wardens…’ (The Rood is a cross or crucifix above the screen).
These two staves are clipped to the central pews with brass fittings. Each is topped with a brass globe and cross filial.
Choir Stalls & Litany Desks
Oak choir seats were installed when the chancel was rebuilt in 1878. Additional oak choir stalls and litany desk, beautifully carved, were added in 1914. The inscription on a brass plaque on the litany desk reads:
There are other brass plaques on the choir stalls:
There is a stone altar incised with five crosses which is on an oak frame and fixed to the east wall. There is a retable over the altar of polished alabaster and marble which was intended to form the base of a new reredos for which a faculty had been obtained in 1878. However, the reredos was never purchased and the rough stonework where it would have been is covered by a curtain.
In front of the stone altar is a wooden altar. This was brought from St Anne’s vestry in 1981 and a new wooden top made for it so that the priest could stand behind it to celebrate Communion, facing the congregation, instead of the traditional style of standing in front of the altar, leading the congregation.
To the left of the altar is a modern sanctuary lamp, purchased in 2009, which shines 24 hours a day to show that God is always present and that the sacrament is reserved in this parish.
Sedilia & Piscina
To the right of the altar in the south wall is a piscina and sedilia with three seats separated with dark grey marble pillars. Above them are beautiful stone carvings of rose hips, passion flowers, a grapevine and bird, wild roses with a bird and acorns. These were made in the 1878 restoration but in the medieval style.
Two Victorian brass chandeliers hang from the chancel ceiling by chains from circlets. There are six candle sockets attached to the annulated coronet and a central candle socket.
The lectern is a very fine eagle carved from oak. The detail in the feathers, talons and head is quite remarkable. The desk is supported on the wings of the eagle, standing on a sphere at the head of a hexagonal base with fleur-de-lis carvings. The lectern was given by Sir Ernest Paget in 1895. The Deanery magazine for December of that year states ‘The entire work, embodying a natural treatment of the eagle (symbol of S. John the Evangelist), is undoubtedly an animated and finely-conceived piece of modelling, with a noble and free outline, well worthy of that celebrated firm, Messrs. Mayer & Co., of London and Munich’.
There is a wooden litany desk at the east end of the north aisle with separate kneeler and a carved wooden litany desk with attached kneeler at the east end of the south aisle.
A good quality baby grand piano, made by Collard & Collard stands at the east end of the south aisle. It is inscribed:
A pair of very fine Victorian brass candelabra on wrought iron stands are at the east end of the north and south aisles. 15 candle holders spring in two tiers from a central twisted stem with an additional one at the top. The top row of candle holders are secured with beautifully made brass acorns.
There is a plain pointed piscina in the south east corner of the church which may be original and indicates the presence of a former side altar.
The chancel floor was tiled, some with encaustic designs, in 1878. This is now covered by a gold carpet but examples can be seen beside the priest’s door. According to the Nottinghamshire Guardian who reported on the re-opening of the church in 1878, the tiles were 'obtained from Mr Godwin, Hereford'. The pews are on wooden flooring and the rest of the church is also tiled, dating from the installation of pews in 1909. Much of the floor became uneven and the aisles had carpet laid down the centre in 2005.
Under the aisles are passages which were used for heating the church. In places these are about five feet high but some are lower. They are lined with ancient slate gravestones which are now illegible. In the 1800s there was a huge stove but flooding was a constant problem as the passages are only a little higher than the nearby River Soar. When a hot water heating system was introduced, the passages were sealed and a boiler house built. This was replaced by a second boiler house, see notes under churchyard. The Deanery Magazine describes how, in 1901, the Parish Warden recommended that a well be dug underground below the crossing of the two main aisles and this provided water for the heating and kept the passages and the boiler house dry. The well now has a modern submersible pump that has been installed to continue to keep the passages dry.
Pictures and Photographs
On the west wall of the south aisle is a list of incumbents.
In the vestry, details of the peal are recorded on a painted and varnished wooden board, fastened to the south wall as follows:
On the west end of the north aisle are records of other bell ringing achievements: Rung in 2000; Quarter Peal in honour of late Roger Dyson 5/9/10; Peal on retirement of the Rev Dr John Davey, 2hrs 53mins (1st peal since refurbishment); Quarter peal to welcome new Rector Michael on St Michael’s Day 29/9/15; Quarter peal in honour of late Margaret G Smith 17/7/16.
On the south wall of the chancel is a photo taken around 1909 which shows the new pews. On the back is printed 'Presented to St Michael’s Church 1997 by grandchildren of late Mrs Mary Ann Hickling (nee Domleo) born 1869 Poplars Farm, died 1955 Sutton Bonington, married 1890 at St Anne’s to Mr Frank Hickling born 1863 died 1929 Sutton Bonington (ex choirboy at Lichfield Cathedral, 3rd generation of parish clerk'. The Deanery Magazine for Sutton St Anne Nov 1890 reads 'The wedding of Mr Frank Hickling to Miss Mary Ann Domleo calls for some remark from the fact of their both being members of the oldest families in Sutton Bonington, the Bridegroom having been for very many years the much valued gardener at St Ann’s Rectory, from his youth up a very useful member of the church choir, and like his grandfather and great grandfather, the Parish Clerk. The various duties of these offices having been discharged with the utmost satisfaction of all who attend the Church. We trust that every blessing will await the young couple in their new sphere of life'.