All Saints


The village is mentioned in Domesday Book where it appears as Godegrave. The derivation of the name is from ‘Cotta’ (a personal name) and ‘gracfe’, (a grove or thicket). In Domesday four tenants are mentioned: Ogga, Thorkell, Warner and Wilfill, together with 13 freemen, 26 villagers and five small holders. The parish name appears as Cotegrowa as early as 1094.

Domesday also mentions ‘Half a Church’. According to Thoroton, the explanation for this rather odd reference is that one half was in the lands of Ralph de Buron and the other in the fee of Roger Pictavensis [Poiteur], of Swinshed, Lincolnshire. Thoroton also records that in 1144 Hugh de Buron and Hugo Meschines his son and heir gave one half of the church to Lenton Priory.

Parts of All Saints, Cotgrave, date from the 12th century, but the church includes additions and alterations from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries as well as later alterations.

In the Valor Ecclesiasticus, ‘the parish church of Cotgrave is worth by year in certain land ther granted for the maintaining a lamp burning there for ever, 9d’. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, both rectories were granted to George Pierrepont, whose successors held a manor court on Easter Monday until the reform of local government in 1894.

In the reign of Edward VI, the Church Goods Commissioners recorded four bells in the steeple, and various items of plate.

In May 1614 the churchwardens of Cotgrave presented the rectors of both medieties to the Archdeaconry of Nottingham court for not fulfilling all of their duties and reported problems with the church itself:

'Mr Thomas Hunte and Mr Lattermar Cros [are presented] for not catechising except in time of Lent; the said parsons do not read the names of all who have been christened, buried and married according to the articles; we have four bells and one of them is broken, and we desire time for the casting of it; present the town for the body of the church floor being unpaved, because two graves were lately made; we crave a day for the mending of the church floor; they are in repairing of the 'challe' and will have it done before next harvest.'

Ten people were presented as Popish recusants between 1604 and 1628. The Protestation returns of 1641/2 include Gregory Henson, ‘recusant’. The Return gives the names of 167 men over the age of 18, including Robert Kinder, the Rector, and Anthony Sommersby, curate. Ten individuals shared the surname Scrimshire. Harold Scrimshire was constable, and Thomas Scrimshire was churchwarden. The Scrimshaws owned land in Cotgrave. Members of the family had previously been rector, and several monumental stones commemorating their lives can be found in the churchyard. Subsequently the name appeared as Scrimshaw.

Seventeen people were presented for absence from church for one month during the reigns of Charles II and James II.

During the Commonwealth period in the seventeenth century, John Clarke, who took possession of the benefice in 1659, was described as ‘a popish parish or a sismaticall fanatical state preacher’. He was ejected under the terms of the Act of Uniformity, and died in Basford in 1669. On 12 July 1680 William Riches was fined for keeping a conventicle in his house on 31 May 1668. The Conventicle Acts prohibited the assembly of more than five persons (apart from the family) in a house for religious purposes not in accordance with the Church of England Prayer Book. The granting of more religious freedom under the Toleration Act of 1689 allowed Quakers to affirm instead of taking the oath, and John English of Cotgrave made a statutory declaration under the legislation.

No details of Cotgrave were recorded in Archbishop Herring’s visitation of 1743.

The return for Cotgrave at Archbishop Drummond’s Visitation in 1764 records that Pierrepont Cromp was the rector. Cromp lived with his wife's parents in Frinstead, Kent, because their 'age and infirmities stand in need of all the comfort and assistance their children can afford them.' The parish was served by Cromp's curate, William Smith, who was 'much beloved and esteemed', lived in the parsonage house rent free and was paid £40 p.a. and the surplice fees. Service was performed in the church on Sundays and saint days. A sermon every Sunday morning at ten and prayers at three in the afternoon. The sacraments were administered four times a year to around 60 communicants. There were 108 families in the parish; only one family was 'papist'.

Between 1785 and 1811, the parish registers record the baptisms of 73 children from the Lodge-on-the-Wolds, a local hostel for mothers of illegitimate children.

William Stretton, visiting the church in 1808, noted that the church had a ring of bells ‘not in tune’.

Alterations were made to the church in 1818, for which a Faculty was obtained from the Archbishop of York. Nottinghamshire was at that date in the Diocese of York.

Rev. J.H. Browne, rector between 1811 and 1858, although he was also Archdeacon of Ely, responded to the 1832 Articles of Enquiries. The population he noted as 842, and the church was capable of holding 350 people. Two services were held each Sunday. He himself lived in the glebe house and enjoyed an annual income of £709 7s 5d almost all of which came from land rent. Land tax and poor rate reduced this figure to £627 12s 9d net.

The church is known to have undergone a thorough repair in 1843, which probably included the removal of the parapet from the north and south aisles.

The Wesleyans opened a chapel at Cotgrave in 1839. It had 258 seats, and an afternoon attendance according to the 1851 census of worship of 116, including 46 scholars, and an evening attendance of 75. At that date Cotgrave also have a Primitive Methodist Preaching Place, which had opened only on 23 May 1850, with 100 free seats and space for forty standing. Attendances on census Sunday were 90 and 140 respectively in the afternoon and evening.

In 1851 All Saints, Cotgrave, had 450 appropriated sittings. Attendances were given as 350 in the morning and about 280 in the evening. Unfortunately the compiler of this part of the return was able to state only that this information was ‘the best … which I can obtain, the Rector and Sexton having positively refused giving any information whatever’.

Browne drew up a terrier at some point during his time at Cotgrave which, unfortunately, he did not date. It listed the following: a substantial glebe house with suitable offices in good repair; two stables, one with three stalls, the other with four; a small barn, a piggery and a farm house; a Sunday School room; 565 acres in lieu of tithes; and a good barn, stables, waggon and hovels. The terrier also noted that a cowshed and cottage had been erected by Browne on the glebe land.

In 1859 the churchyard was enlarged by the addition of one rood of land given for the purpose by Earl Manvers. All Saints was reseated in 1862 with open seats, at the expense of the rector, Rev. E.H.H. Vernon.

The interior before the
1877-8 restoration

Sir Stephen Glynne, visiting All Saints in 1869, commented that the exterior ‘has been for the most part covered with modern stucco’. If he was unimpressed by the outside he was even more so inside: ‘the whole church has the air of having been repaired and beautified too soon and in unsatisfactory manner’. ‘The chancel’, he added, ‘has been very poorly modernised, and has ugly windows’ but at least the tower had ‘good masonry’.

In 1873 the Rector, the Rev. Alfred Hensley enjoyed much the same income as Browne forty years earlier. He received £702 annually from land let to tenants, and valued the land in his own occupation at £30 a year. Land Tax and Poor Rate cost him £42 annually.

The church was thoroughly restored in 1877-8 by the architects Evans and Jolly of Nottingham. The Nottinghamshire Guardian, reporting on the reopening of the church by the Bishop of Lincoln on 22 January 1878, provides a detailed description of the changes:

'... the whitewash which has so long disfigured the walls has been removed. The white plaster ceiling, which has been an eyesore for about an equal period—the period of the density of church wardens in regard to architectural matters—has also been swept away. Instead of these disfigurements, we have now the stone walls laid bare, while the beams of the ceiling have been encased. The gallery, which blocked up the west end so effectually, has been removed entirely, and the window proper to that situation has been re-opened with good effect. The old loopholes which admitted light above the roofs of the aisles have been converted into clear storey windows of a pretty design, and with tracery. A battlemented cornice has also been carried round. On the floor the old high pews of the Georgian era have been entirely dispensed with, their place being now occupied by pitch pine low open pews. The aisle windows have not been interfered with, but in the chancel a new three-light north traceried window has been introduced; the former three-light east window has been retained; and a new two-light window has been inserted upon the south side. The old square-headed south door, surmounted by a window, has been displaced in favour of a pointed doorwav. Gas has also been fitted throughout the building. It is about a half century since the “improvements” mentioned as now having been swept away were effected, and their removal has decidedly improved the appearance of the interior. Outside a porch has been built at the chief doorway, the appearance of the building has been much improved by buttresses along the sides of the aisles, similar supports being placed at the corners of the chancel.'

A vestry on the north side of the chancel was also added and a carved octagonal stone font and timber pulpit provided. The total cost was £1,300 of which Earl Manvers, lord of the manor and patron of the church, gave £1,000.

Hensley was still Rector in 1887 but by then his income came from dividends on Consolidated 3 Per cent stock held by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

In 1899 the organ chamber was built between the north aisle and vestry. A traceried window, matching one already in the church, was inserted in the south wall of the chancel. At the same time the levels of the sanctuary were adjusted, an oak reredos was installed, and new furniture included an oak communion table and a jewelled altar cross.

On 2 December 1900 William Hayes and Thomas Rowe attended a church service while very drunk and, most shockingly, were still wearing their hats! They were made to leave by a member of the congregation and once outside started pushing at the church doors. They were charged with being drunk and disorderly and fined 15s each.

Three of the bells were recast in 1906 and a new one added. The belfry and spire were restored at a cost of £700.

During the First World War the Rector of Cotgrave, the Rev John Percy Hales, served as the chaplain to the 8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters and went with them to the Western Front in 1915. He was twice Mentioned in Despatches and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1917.

In 1920 a stained glass window by J.F. Gascoyne & Son of Nottingham was dedicated as a war memorial for the parishioners who served in the First World War. in 1929 a new British Legion flag was carried into the church by four women whose sons died in the war. And, on the same patriotic note, the following year the church acquired a new flag of St George to be flown from the tower.

In 1922 the Rector, Rev John Percy Hales, described himself as living in a house situated on 17 acres of land including surrounding fields, and containing three living rooms, fourteen bedrooms, a kitchen, offices and a servants hall.

On the 24 January 1926 new oak choir stalls in the chancel were dedicated by the Rev. Canon Holbrook, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Nottingham. The scheme was initiated by the Rector (the Rev. Alan Chaplin) and was carried out at a cost of over £200.

A Lady Chapel was formed on the south side of the church in 1932.

In 1942 the patronage of the benefice was transferred from Earl Manvers to the Southwell Diocesan Board of Finance.

By 1961 the population had declined further, but the following decade brought considerable change. The sinking of a colliery, and with it the building of a considerable number of new houses, saw the population increase to 5,083 in 1971. Most of the houses were built by the National Coal Board, which also provided other facilities in the village. The closure of the colliery in 1993 has had a further marked effect on Cotgrave.

All Saints has had an interesting role to play in these changes. What in other parishes would be called a church magazine takes the form of Cotgrave Magazine, called The Cross, and provides information on a range of activities including details of services in the Catholic Church, Our Lady of Grace, the Methodist Church and inter-church news. It also contains news and features relating to the social and cultural activities of the village.

Layout of the church
before the fire
Layout after the fire

In May 1996 All Saints church was badly damaged in an arson attack. The fire destroyed the tower timberwork and the nave roof and the rest of the church was badly affected by smoke and water damage. It was restored the following year by John Cunnington, Architects, of Matlock. A new nave roof was constructed, an underfloor heating system installed, the tower timberwork replaced and a wrought-iron spiral staircase to the ringing-chamber erected. The opportunity to archaeologically investigate the building was also taken during which the foundations of the late C11th/C12th church were uncovered. The church was reconsecrated and rededicated by the Bishop of Southwell on 14 December 1997.

On 27 April 2012 a new extension on the north side of the tower containing a kitchen, toilets and storage facilities was opened by the Bishop of Southwell.