For this church:
There was a church at Weston at least as early as 1086 when it was recorded in Domesday Book.
In 1182, Gilbert de Arches granted the church to the Benedictine monks of Blyth Priory, and his son, also Gilbert, confirmed his father’s gift before 1208. An agreement was arranged whereby the monks would present Humphrey de Tickhill to fill the next vacancy at the church, or some other suitable clerk upon Gilbert’s nomination. Accordingly, Humphrey succeeded to the rectory, and after him R. de Caneton was instituted. At the next vacancy, upon the institution of Ralph de Wadsworth, the archbishop of York reserved an annual pension of five marks to be paid annually by the rector of Weston to the advantage of Blyth Priory in order to increase the hospitality of the religious house. This pension was still being paid in 1379, and was also recorded in Valor Ecclesiasticus, 1535.
After the dissolution of Blyth Priory, the pension was paid to Trinity College Cambridge and subsequently relinquished to augment the value of the living at Weston.
Despite the grant of Gilbert de Arches to Blyth Priory in 1182, the advowson of Weston church remained a point of controversy. In 1255 Robert de Hersin quitclaimed his right to the advowson, and in return the monks made Robert and his heirs partakers of their benefits and prayers. Competing claims in the 13th century resulted in the setting up of an inquiry by the archbishop of York on 1 June 1280. On 18 June 1280 Sir Richard de Weston renounced all claim in the advowson. This was followed on 30 July by Dulcia de Bakepuz and others and on 1 August with similar renunciations from Sir Robert de Morteveyn, and on 2 and 5 August renunciations from the bishop of Lincoln and John de Heriz respectively.
The monks of Blyth Priory thereby secured the advowson to the church. With the beginning of what became the Hundred Years’ War, Edward III ordered all alien priories in England to be taken into royal custody. Blyth Priory was one such religious foundation, and on 16 July 1349, because the priory was in the king’s hand by reason of the war with France, Edward III presented one Hugh de Appelby to the church. Towards the end of the century, on 3 September 1391, Richard II presented John Hertipole, royal clerk, to the living at Weston.
It is believed that the tower and nave are the oldest parts of the church, which were probably built in the 13th century, whilst the aisles were added later – although possibly also in the 13th century – on each side of the nave. The chancel appears to have been rebuilt in the 14th century.
Other points of interest from the early history of the church include a grant on 29 September 1268 by the archbishop of York for the vicar of Weston to take a leave of absence to study theology at Oxford, while at the end of the fifteenth century Sir Henry Pierrepont, who died in 1499, willed that ‘an able preste… be hired to rede and syng for me… in this church for a year’.
During the ecclesiastical taxation assessment of 1291, the church of Weston was valued at £12 with an additional pension of £3 6s. 8d. paid to the priory of Blyth (see above). In 1341, the church was valued at 23 marks (£15 6s 8d), and held a ninth of sheaves, lambs and fleeces to the annual value of 15 marks 6s. 8d., arable and meadow land worth 4 marks yearly, and a tithe of hay and altar dues to the annual value of 46s. 4d. In 1428 the church was valued at 18 marks (£12) and owed a subsidy of 24s.
In addition to the parish church there was also a private oratory in the manor house of dame Anora de Pierrpoint at Weston. A licence to hear divine service for three years in this oratory, along with two others at Holme Pierrepoint and Woodhouse Hall near Welbeck, was granted by archbishop Greenfield on 6 October 1308.
In 1334, a list of benefices held by alien priories in archbishop Melton's register details that the prior and convent of Blyth held a portion of Weston church with an annual value of 2 marks (£1 6s 8d).
In 1603 the churchwardens presented that 'the parsonage is out of reparation and in decay; the chancel is ruinous and in decay', and in 1612 that 'our church wall is in decay, but our purpose is to take it down wholly and repair it very sufficiently, and do crave a time for the same'.
During the archiepiscopal visitation of 1743, Paul Jenkinson, rector of Weston, provided a detailed account of the church and parish. The rector recorded that the parish contained around forty families and only one dissenter who was a Quaker. There was no meeting house, but a charity school had recently been built and was endowed with £5 yearly to teach ten children to read and be instructed in the principles of the Christian religion. This school had been built by the instruction of Richard Hawksworth who, in 1736, gave £50 for construction costs and endowed the school with five acres of land (by 1832 this was worth £7 a year, rather than £5). The rector also reported that three or four alms houses were maintained by the parish, and although there was money left to be applied for pious uses, through ‘neglect’ and ‘mismanagement’ these resources had been ‘misapplied’. The rector sought to exonerate himself from blame by explaining ‘I’m very much afraid tis not to be recovered this said sum which was left before I was Rector’, although his own uncertainty surrounding the precise number of alms houses maintained by parish does little to commend his own capacity for resource management.
The neglect and mismanagement recorded in 1743 may have been a sign of things to come. After visiting the church towards the end of the 18th century, John Throsby recorded in 1796 that the church was ‘a dirty place, nothing in it material’.
For the purposes of the 1743 visitation, the rector also reported that he lived at Newark ‘for the recovery of my health’, but a residing curate, qualified according to the canons, resided in the parsonage house in Weston and was paid £30 yearly by the rector. There was nobody who attended church who was not baptised or, being of competent age, confirmed. The public service was read on holy days and prayers and sermons were given every Sunday, either in the fore-noon or after. The children and servants of the parish were catechised at Lent, and the sacrament was administered five times a year. There were around 70 communicants in the parish, and between 20 and 30 were usually received for the Lord’s Supper, with around 40 at Easter. The rector reported that timely warning of the sacrament was given before it was administered. At the end of the eighteenth century, in 1795, the parish was enclosed and 315 acres were allotted to the rector in lieu of tithe.
Richard Stevens was the rector in 1764 at the time of Archbishop Drummond’s Visitation. He was also vicar of Bottesford, Leicestershire, where he lived, and he paid a curate, Henry Clarke, who he had inherited when he became rector in 1748. Clarke lived in the parsonage house at Weston, and was allowed £25 a year from the rector, together with surplice fees. The sacrament was administered three times a year.
In 1840, the church was repaired. New pews were provided and the chancel was restored. The rector covered the expenses of rebuilding the chancel, whilst the remainder (£150) was completed by subscription.
In 1851, during the curacy of John Procter, it was recorded that the parish of Weston covered an area of 1,690 acres, and had a population of 487, with 264 males and 223 females. The church held endowed land to the value of £420, and gained an income of £1 from fees. The church could accommodate a congregation of 180, and of these spaces 100 were free. The general congregation in the morning was 52, and 100 in the afternoon, with 55 enrolled as Sunday scholars. In 1879 it was recorded that there was also a free church in the parish, which could accommodate 170 people, whilst Weston All Saints could accommodate 300 parishioners.
The Rev. Stephen Glynne visited the church on 22 April 1874 when he described it as ‘a neat village church in pretty good condition’. He noted that ‘the nave is partly fitted with open seats’. Whether or not it was in good condition, within a few years it had been extensively renovated, and it reopened in April 1880 after a general restoration carried out by the architect Mr E. Browning of Stamford and the builder Mr John Wilson of Retford.
The old seats and pews were replaced by oak seats with square ends carved after the pattern of some of the old ones which were left. The oak roof of the nave was restored, and new roofs of pitch-pine were placed over the aisles. The former oak pulpit was replaced by a new one, and the floor of the nave was re-laid. The font was removed to the west end of the south aisle to form a baptistery, and a corresponding portion of the north aisle was made into a vestry. The chancel was supplied with new oak seats with carved ends, and was laid with encaustic tiles. The churchyard was levelled with soil taken away from the walls and the church was thoroughly drained. The cost of the restoration, including £100 for a new organ, was £1,300.
The restoration of the chancel was undertaken by the rector, but £1,000 of the expenses were provided for by Earl Manvers, patron of the church. Countess Manvers gave a new altar cloth.
Weston All Saints was visited by Edwyn Hoskins, Bishop of Southwell at 6.30 pm on 13 May 1911. The rector was C. D. F. Hamilton, instituted in 1895, and the net annual value of the benefice was £237. The population was 290, a significant decrease from the 487 parishioners recorded in 1851. The church could accommodate 200 people, and there were 39 enrolled for the church day school. For the year ending 30 September 1912, there had been four baptisms and seven confirmations. In the year following this visitation, the historian A. Hamilton Thompson noted Weston church, alongside those of Scrooby, Weston, Tuxford, and Edwinstowe as examples of good spires that were not gothic in style and could be dated to after the Renaissance.
An inspection of the tower in the 1960s revealed three bells in poor condition, having last received professional attention in 1888. The treble bell bore the inscription ‘GOD SAVE THE CHURCH 1646’, and may have been cast by the Nottingham Foundry of Oldfield. The second bell has been identified as being cast c. 1550 by R. Mellors, a Nottingham pre-Reformation founder. The tenor bell, meanwhile, bears the words ‘Recast 1888’.
Several other interesting aspects to the church were recorded by the Rev. T. W. Swift who became the priest-in-charge of Weston church in 1966. At one time in the past apparently there had been a ‘beautifully carved chancel screen’ but it was not known when this was removed. Jacobean woodwork constituted the altar and by the 1960s was covered by ‘a more fashionable twentieth century all-purpose frontal’. Swift also recorded that ‘tiny fragments of medieval glass are a tantalising sample of the windows which must once have been contained in the stone tracery. It is sad that generations long-departed were not able to preserve these for us.’
Other items of note recorded by Swift included the font, the chest and the plate. The Norman tub font was most likely in the church during the 12th century, whilst the old parish chest was traditionally used to deposit documents and valuables and the keys to each of its three locks were shared between the incumbent and two churchwardens so that the chest could not be opened unless all three were present. Writing in the 1960s, Swift reported that ‘Present day visitors to Weston church always remark on its beautifully kept churchyard and its spotlessly clean interior.’
A later restoration came in 1977, with the Newark Advertiser reporting on 4 June that year that the clock on the tower of the church had been re-gilded, re-enamelled and renovated for the Queen’s silver jubilee at a total estimated cost of £450.
The parish records are in fair condition and date back to the sixteenth century. The earliest baptism is 6 December 1559, the earliest marriage is 9 October 1559, the earliest burial is 26 November 1649.