St Stephen


Once of historic importance, Brough is now a small hamlet consisting of a few scattered houses 3 miles north of Newark situated on the Fosse, 12 miles from Lincoln. Crocolana (Brough) was once the site of a Roman Station. Numerous coins, pottery, glass, bones and knives were found at Brough much of which was unearthed and documented by Cecil Woolley.

Thomas Cecil Smith Woolley was born at South Collingham in 1853, the eighth of fourteen children. His parents were ‘loyal and sincere church people’ where the ‘family talked less about religion as acted upon it’. This upbringing continued throughout his life, leading to his development of the Chapel of Ease to Collingham at Brough in the 1880s.

Services were held in the small school-church built in 1874 where Cecil was a Lay Reader. However, his work developed rapidly and it soon became apparent that this building was not large enough to cope with all the services, night school, Sunday school, bible classes and choir practices. In 1884 the owner closed the building and soon after it was pulled down. Services moved into a barn and then a farmhouse, neither of which were adequate on a regular basis.

Fundraising was begun for a more permanent structure, with a ‘school-church’ suggested at a cost of £450. In 1885 building work began and more Roman pottery was unearthed whilst excavating the foundations. By April 1886 the memorial stone was laid and by June of that year the Church was ready for use. The new church dedicated to St Stephen could hold 110 comfortably and around 200 could be crammed in.

St Stephen’s was built in red brick in Early English style, consisting of a nave, chancel and vestry with a bell turret over the chancel arch. The final cost was around £550, a little over budget. The organ and choir stalls were dedicated in July 1903 by the Suffragan Bishop of Derby.

In 1911 there is a record of the Harvest Festivals held over the weekend of 17-18 September, with 34 communicants at the 9.15am Sunday service. In the evening the church was crowded and on the Monday tea was provided in the school free to all inhabitants of Brough and Danethorpe, followed by sports in Mr Blundy’s field. This was accompanied by entertainment by the schoolchildren.

There was also a presentation to Mr Woolley for his ‘untiring labours over 36 years’.

On 28 June 1914, there was an Evensong Dedication Service at St Stephen’s, with a tablet erected and windows installed in memory of Thomas Cecil Smith Woolley.

By the 1950s there were still regular services at Brough with early morning communion and evensong taking place there.

In 1953, on the 67th anniversary of the chapel’s dedication and opening service, there was an Inspection of Religious Teaching on 24 June. The inspector was greatly impressed with the way the children entered the building and worshipped together. He was very pleased with the progress they were making. The day ended with a church sale and social evening by the St Stephen’s Guild with a Punch and Judy show and ventriloquist act.

By 1970 it was reported that Brough village was ‘almost deserted’. With the local farmers now using machines to do the work once done by hired labourers and many of the cottages pulled down, with few people living in Brough.

The remote and poorly attended chapel was recommended for closure by the PCC in November 1985. This was given formal approval by the Bishop of Southwell on 24 January 1986. The chapel closed almost a year from the date of the laying of the foundation stone in 1886. As part of the closure process the chalice and paten were sold to St Aldgate’s, Oxford, the organ removed to the Convent of St Laurence in Belper and the lectern went to the chapel at Center Parcs. The chairs were infested with woodworm and were destroyed under faculty in 1987.