Broughton Sulney
St Luke


Possible origin

The site of the church is next to what was at some time the manor house. It shares an accurate boundary with this, now split in two by a narrow track. This site lies adjacent to an ancient well known as ‘The Stockwell’, though not in a way that suggests a holy well – more the water source for the centre of the original village. The church contains the enigmatic carving traditionally of St Oswald, king and martyr, which has been dated at circa 1100AD (Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture – awaiting publication), and a small patterned carving (see Everson and Stocker, 2016). It is possible that the site was used for Christian purposes before the construction of the present building, though there is no evidence of an earlier stone structure. If there was an earlier church on the site it is likely that it was constructed of wood.

The medieval period

Domesday Book had the land belonging to Earl Algar but transferred to the King. 23 villagers and 4 smallholders, and a mill, but no mention of either a church or a priest.

The first record of the de Suleny family in England is circa 1172. Though it is not certain when they gained the manor of Broughton, they certainly occupied it by 1200. It is probable that they had the present church built, along with extending the village westwards and trying, unsuccessfully, to set up a market. Around 1300 the manor passed into the hands of the Clifton family, major Nottinghamshire landholders. The Clifton family kept the lordship of the manor until 1623 and the advowson of the living until about 1728, shortly before they appeared on the ‘Declaration of Recusancy’.

In the Close Rolls of 1237 there is mention of the Abbot of Swineshead having a claim on a third part of 7 acres of meadow in Broughton, but this appears unconnected with the church.

An entry occurs in the Calendar of Welsh Rolls of Edward I for the year 1283 where the king granted Roger de Daleby, parson of the church of Brocton Solom (which has been identified as Broughton Sulney) letters of protection lasting until Midsummer, with clause that the king wills that his corn, horses or carts, etc. [shall not be taken by reason of the army of Wales, in other words, for the Welsh war].

In 1291 the church was valued in the Taxatio of Pope Nicholas IV at 18 marks (£12) as was described as Ecclesia de Brocton. However, in 1341, at the taxation of the ninths, there is no mention of Broughton Sulney. The church appears again in the 1428 subsidy of Henry VI where its historic annual valuation of 18 marks is confirmed and the applied subsidy of 24s. affirms that there had been no change in value since 1291.

On 5 March 1314 Archbishop William Greenfield appointed (deputacio) Sir John Sewal, vicar of Colston Bassett, as curator of the rector of Broughton Sulney due to the rector being indisposed due to old age and weakness and who was unable to fulfil his office. Sewal's appointment was revoked shortly afterwards, on 20 April, and Master Richard de Aston, rector of Bonnington was put in his place. This situation pertained for one full year until a replacement rector, Hugh de Fishlake, was put into office.

Archbishop William Melton (or his clerks) undertook a visitation to the church on Thursday 13 June 1336.

Pope Nicholas V in 1448 granted William Spence, who held the church of Broughton Sulney, dispensation to hold for life value not exceeding £30 sterling. Spence does not feature in the known list of rectors and may therefore briefly have held the advowson at this time.


The Valor Ecclesiasticus at the time of the Reformation records that the rectory of Broughton was valued at the clear yearly sum of £11 9s. 4d. John Sykes was the rector.

The inventory of church goods, drawn up in the reign of Edward VI., contains the following entry for this parish:

This Invitory made 5 september 6 Edw vj ffyrste [1553]
one chales wyth a patent syluer and gylte
Itm iij bellys in the styple
Itm ij corporaxes ij copes ye one of Red sylke the other of grene saye
one vestment of Rede sylke and one of blake Saye
ij albes one Surples iij aulter clothes ij towelles iij bannar clothes
one crosse of brasse one crosse cloth of sylke
one boke of comen prayer
vj candlestycks of laten
Itm a hand bel
j cruet
Thom's lorde and george brett churchwardens.

The churchwardens often reported misdemeanours amongst the parishioners. One particularly colourful example occurred in May 1624 when one churchwarden presented John White: 'on suspicion of incontinency with [blank], wife of John Harte, by reason that they were locked up together in the house of the said John Harte and [there was] no company with them, as the fame goes; the said [blank] Harte on the like suspicion and fame; the said John White, for on Sunday 30 May 1624 the churchwarden and his fellow churchwarden Hughe Bishop came to White in good sort to enquire concerning the above premises, whereupon White broke forth into many evil speeches against them, and afterwards prepared himself with a staff and met the churchwarden in the street and 'bett' him and broke his head so that he bled 'in great abundance', upon which some company laid hands on him; after he had got away he cried out from the company and said he would have his life.'

In 1650 the Parliamentary Commissioners reported: 'Alsoe the Rectory or Parsonage of Broughton which is worth one hundred pounds per Annum sir Gervase Clifton Knight and Baronett the now Patron thereof Richard Colebrand sen. Clerke the present Incumbent who hath the Cure of soules there and receives the proffittes thereof to his owne use and beinge disabled through old age to performe the Cure in his owne person doth hire Edward Haynes Clerke to officiate the said Cure who hath twentie pounds a yeare and his diet for his sallary and preaches twice every lords day.'

A certificate, signed by J. Morice, rector, Willm Brett snr, Thomas Listar and John Branson, dated 24 Sep 1708, confirmed that the steeple had been sufficiently repaired.

John Throsby, writing at the end of the 18th century, described the church as having: 'a nave and side-aisle, a low tower steeple, with 3 bells; the walls want a little cleaning of filth. Against one of which there are 2 stones to remember the Bretts, and others on the floor for the same family.'

Reordering of the church in 1733

The date of this is significant, as the Cliftons had just sold the advowson of the living, and as previously they were quietly recusant, they would not have minded ‘popish’ ornamentation, and appear to have appointed priests of similar sympathies (though nobody who would ‘rock the boat’ in such a political matter). Under the new ownership of the advowson it seems that Protestantism came in with a vengeance. In the archdeacon’s visitation of 1770 we learn that the Rector was taken to task for employing a curate who attended independent meetings in another town.

The documentary record of this work, which is found in the Quarter Sessions Records of 1729 (C/QSM/1/24), does not include a plan or specification. It is as follows:

The inhabitants of Broughton Sulney in this county present a petition to this court for a certificate to the (?) chancellor in order to obtain a Brief for repairing and rebuilding this church. The charge provides as follows on the oaths of the workmen:

James Brewer & John Jackson

/ masons for masonry, stone, sand, carriage, lime etc.

/  £630

John Smith & Edward Spencer

/ Carpenters for wood and workmanship

/  £290

John Wilson

/ Plumber for the lead glazing of the windows etc.

/  £190

According to Meaby (1929) Nottinghamshire Extracts from the county records of the eighteenth century, the petition was signed by Thomas Hemsley and John Pilkington, Churchwardens, and nine others.

A certificate was issued in December 1734 by the rector and churchwardens requesting a decree to erect a loft or gallery in the church.

The re-ordering of the church in 1733 might well have been similar to that surviving nearby at Kings Norton (Leicestershire) and Teigh (Rutland). Subsequent records indicate that the chancel arch was bricked up except for three narrow openings, and the tower arch was also blocked. Brick was used for this, and a small amount of brickwork survives at roof level above the chancel arch. The bricks are 2¼” thick, which is what is known to have been produced by the village brickyard at that time. A door was cut in the west side of the tower to admit the bell ringers. New windows of Georgian style were inserted, the porch was altered as described above, and pews and a west gallery were constructed. 60% of the cost of the work was for masonry, but the amount of new building of the period does not account for this level of expenditure. Historically, the cost of dealing with the weathering of the ironstone outer skin of the walls has been high, and these may have been refaced at this time, which may be the source of the expenditure. Photographs of 1950 show a level of weathering that might have been experienced over 200 years, but not a lot more. A wide gap in the mortar joints surrounding the south nave windows indicates that the latest general refacing of the wall predates the replacement of the windows in 1879.

Shortly after the reordering, in 1743, Archbishop Thomas Herring undertook a visitation of the archdeaconry and the returns for Broughton Sulney reported that there were about 40 families with only one dissenter who called himself an Anabaptist. John Dawson was the rector and he stated that he resided at Burton-on-Trent but had a residing curate who was licenced and lived in the parsonage house. The curate was paid £30 per year, surplice fees, use of the parsonage, and a piece of ground. Public service was held twice every Sunday and once on holidays.

When Archbishop Drummond undertook his visitation in 1764 the rector was still John Dawson who reported there were now 45 families, two Anabaptists and two Methodists. Dawson still resided at Burton-on-Trent and named his curate as Webster. The curate was still paid £30 a year, surplice fees, the use of the parsonage, and now had a garden, orchard, the churchyard, and a croft, which Dawson stated he reckoned 'as good as forty pounds a year'.

In 1786 Bacon lists the church as being valued at £11 9s. 4½d. in the King's Books, and having an annual tithe valuation of £1 2s. 11¼d. Sir Gervase Clifton is identified as patron in 1689, Sir Robert Clifton in 1727, and William Radcliffe Esq. in 1736 and 1767.

At the 1851 religious census there was a population of 394 in the parish and the church had seating for 134, free spaces being 77. Joseph Burrill was the rector.

In April 1853 Sir Stephen Glynne visited the church (calling it Over Broughton, a name sometimes occurring in medieval documents, and, interestingly, attributed the dedication to St Oswald, also the medieval form) and recorded what he found: '

A small Church – with nave and north aisle, Chancel and low West Tower and S. porch. The nave has a Clerestory, though there is but one aisle – the arcade of 4 pointed arches with octagonal piers having capitals, in the mouldings of which appears the toothed ornament. The Clerestory windows are only on the N – and square headed and late. The aisle is very narrow. The Chancel arch is gone and replaced by an Italian screen. The windows of the nave are mostly modernised. In the Chancel is one double lancet and one late Perpr. The Chancel [roof] is tiled – the other parts have plain parapets and there is a Cross on the E gable. The Font has an octagonal bowl panelled with Decd tracery. The Tower is embattled and has a Perpr panelled band under the parapet – is divided by one stringcourse and has a modern door. The porch has crocketed pinnacles flanking the gable and a panelled band – but the door is modern and bad.'

Replacement of the chancel in 1855

The original design
for the church

When Mr Eddie became Rector in 1853 he rapidly organised the rebuilding of the rectory and the chancel of the church. It is clear that he had hoped to take the parishioners with him in paying for the rebuilding of the nave and the tower in high Victorian gothic style. A drawing of the design was published in the Ecclesiologist with a caption implying that it had been built. Mercifully, only the chancel was replaced following a design by S. S. Teulon, who also designed the Rectory.

As Mr Eddie, being rector, had the chancel repair liability, he could replace the chancel at will. There is no record of any faculty for the work. Mr Eddie came from a wealthy family from Barton on Humber. He appears to have funded all this work himself, though being recipient of the Glebe Rents on 250 acres must have been some compensation. According to the 1861 census he had six living-in servants in the new rectory as well as a coachman living in the cottage next door. It seems likely that he also had built a farmhouse (now demolished) on the part of the glebe land known as ‘High Holborn’.

Though the outside of the chancel is of stone, the greater part of the walls are of brick, with rendering on the inside scribed to make it look as if the window reveals were made of stone. The stone which was used on the outside was, almost certainly, from a bed of micritic limestone that outcropped in the middle of the working face of the village brick pit. This is relieved by occasional squares of ironstone. Elsewhere in the village this limestone is only used for farm buildings, presumably because it weathers badly and was a cheap by-product. The building quality has been problematic ever since, and has required underpinning and strengthening with reinforced concrete beams to stop the east end moving outwards, pulling the roof with it.

There are small stained glass windows on either side of the sanctuary which are in the arts and crafts style. The north one commemorates Mr Eddie’s father. There are two corbels supporting a roof truss that are in the form of angels that are unmistakably Victorian in style (excessively angelic).

The new rectory 1859

In 1859 it was reported that: 'Mr. S. S. Teulon has designed a new rectory for Broughton Sulney, of which he is restoring the church. The material is red and black picturesquely combined. Considerable play is given to the design by the introduction of a porch supporting an oriel, of a three-sided oriel on the ground-floor, and of a rectangular oriel standing at a corner of the building and running up into a quasi-spirelet half disengaged from the building. The accommodation includes drawing-room and dining-room and study on the ground-floor, and three best bed-rooms with dressing-rooms to each, two of the latter possessing fireplaces.'

Reordering of the nave and north aisle in 1879

The faculty application of 1879 states that the ‘church is out of repair and needs immediate restoration’. The following items were listed:

It is proposed

To enlarge the north aisle by taking down the present north wall and building a new north wall 4’ 6” to the north of it.

To remove the present unsightly and dilapidated gallery at the west end of the church.

To open out the tower and chancel arches.

To provide new heating apparatus.

To generally restore the windows throughout the church, providing new ones where necessary.

To restore the defective masonry, iron and woodwork where necessary, throughout the church.

To clear out the whole of the present seats and reseat the church (increasing the capacity from 180 to 225).

The church before

The work was planned by R W Johnson, architect of Melton Mowbray, who estimated the cost at £486, and was carried out by Mr R J Bickmore of Bingham, builder. The money was raised by the parishioners. It was noted that certain monuments, tablets and tombs (and coffins) might have to be removed, but they would be put back ‘as nearly as may be in the same positions which they now occupy’. The result of this work changed the church back from a pseudo-chapel to mostly what we see today. A photograph exists of the tower and south side of the church taken before these alterations, showing Georgian windows on the south side of the nave, as well as the Georgian door case to the porch and to the tower. The replacement south windows are either second-hand originals or good copies of a style of window associated with the first quarter of the 14th century. It should be noted that their tops are higher than the roof would have been in the first quarter of the 14th century.

Bishop Trollope reported that ‘The piers on either side of the chancel arch have been renewed after the design of the original ones, of which a small portion was found’. ‘The piers …. consist of clustered shafts, having long bell-shaped caps’. The chancel arch and the tower arch are copies of arches of the Early English gothic style. This suggests that the chancel arch was removed completely before being bricked up in 1733, only providing three small openings to the chancel. This necessitated complete replacement of the pillars and the arch. Sadly, the replacements did not copy the Romanesque originals. There is evidence that the tower arch was Romanesque, because the drum pillars remain. Additionally, inside the tower, set into the west wall, is a beam that is likely to have been part of an original floor of an upper chamber. This beam is lower than the top of the present ‘gothic’ arch, but would have been just above a Romanesque arch. The beam was cut by the west door to the tower that was installed in 1733, as the churchyard is much higher than the tower floor.

In 1889 an organ was installed at the east end of the north aisle. A new steel bell-frame was installed circa 1902 and the three bells were re-hung. After this, very little seems to have been done until after the Second World War.

In 1914 the church was said to be able to accommodate 200 people, and there were 34 on the Sunday School roll. J. Faulkner was the rector.

There was a faculty application in 1931 for restoration work to the church and in 1935 it was reported that repairs were in progress.

In 1949, a fourth bell (treble) was made and hung by Taylors of Loughborough to commemorate the former Rector, the Revd Archibald Pryor, who was killed while serving as an army chaplain.

In 1953, a new boiler was installed, together with new radiators to supplement the heating pipes at floor level. In 1954, Canon John Knox became the rector, and soon set about fund-raising for a major programme of repairs and alterations, which carried on until his death in 1966. He was known for his Anglo-Catholic sympathies, which may have, in places, influenced the work done. In 1957 the nave was re-roofed in lead and the supporting timbers were repaired. The nave floor was levelled and reset with slabs, replacing glazed tiles. In 1960, the glazing of the east window was replaced by Pope and Parr of Nottingham. This was paid for by the churchwardens.

A Rector’s vestry was added to the north of the chancel, together with a toilet and an underground boiler house according to a design by Vernon Royle of Nottingham. An arch was cut between the vestry and the chancel to accommodate the organ, which was moved there, possibly in 1962. In 1960 a screen, designed by Broadhead and Royle, was erected across the tower arch, as the Rector complained that the curtain did not stop the drafts from the tower when he was performing baptisms. It is not known when the font was moved there from the centre of the nave (as shown on the 1879 plan). In 1960, also, a vestry screen, across the end of the north aisle, was donated, and made by W Appleby of Nottingham. In 1962, a Lady Chapel was created there.

In 1964, a choir vestry was constructed in the angle between the tower and the north aisle. The west wall of the aisle was removed and rebuilt in brick, and a space was cleared in the aisle to form a baptistry. The choir vestry was designed by Broadhead and Royle, and was clad in Hornton stone (the local ironstone having become unavailable) but lined with brick. Repair work was carried out to various buttresses.

In 1982 a fifth bell (treble) was added. This bell, of great antiquity, had been rescued from the derelict church at South Wheatley, and was found to be a good match for the other bells in the tower. The bells were overhauled, having previously been unused for some while. At about the same time electric radiant heating was installed and the old heating system abandoned.