St Giles


The small village of Darlton is situated midway between Worksop and Lincoln, three miles north-east of Tuxford on the A57. The church of St Giles is located on a bend in the road which cuts through the centre of the village. Domesday Book named the village as ‘Derluvetun’ meaning ‘tun or farmstead of Deorlaf’. This was most likely a reference to the Saxon tribe that settled here. In 1086 the village was noted as one of the four Berewicks of the Manor of Dunham, though no church or priest is recorded; it belonged to the crown until 1631.

The church at Darlton is thought to have been built as a chapel in the late 12th century under the auspices of the mother church at Dunham-on-Trent. The living was conceived of a perpetual curacy in which the vicar of Dunham remained patron and incumbent of both St Giles and the church at nearby Ragnall. In 1134 King Henry I had given the church at Dunham to the Archbishop of York to make it a prebend in the church of Southwell. These prebends were benefices that provided income and prestige to their prebendaries, who were canons at the minster with additional duties. As a result, the tithes of the church at Darlton belonged to Southwell Minster.

The church is dedicated to St Giles although some of the ecclesiastical records in York record the church as dedicated to St John.

In 1280, one William de Darlton was parson of a mediety of Otterington church (North Yorkshire), when he was granted the windmill at Darlton by King Edward I as the king had learned the mill stood on William's soil.

There is no mention of Darlton in the taxation of Pope Nicholas IV in 1291, no doubt it was included in the returns for Dunham-on-Trent. Likewise in the taxation of 1428, whilst the Nonae rolls of 1341 mention neither Darlton or Dunham.

The building as it stands today consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle, and small west tower with an unusual pyramidal roof. The church, churchyard wall, and 19th-century lychgate remain, Grade II listed. Of particular architectural interest is the south doorway with its dogtooth ornamentation which dates from the early 13th century. Rebuilding in the 14th century added a north aisle with an altar dedicated to St Nicholas.

In 1333 Thomas de St Alban, prebendary of Dunham-on-Trent, held the fee of Dunham, Darlton, Wympton, and Ragnall and had view of the frank-pledge (an old Saxon custom for sharing legal responsibility amongst the community) at Darlton and elsewhere.

In 1451 John Croftes of Ragnall, a local landowner, left 3s. 4d. to Darlton chapel in his will, also leaving donations to several other local churches at the same time.

The church held two fine brasses depicting a man in armour and his lady which are thought to date from c.1510. The brasses were formerly mounted on a slab of stone and fixed to the north wall of the chancel, but have now been moved to East Drayton, St Peter. Although there is no inscription, it is possible that the two figures represented are Sir William Mering and his wife who resided at the nearby manor of Kingshaugh. This particular seat originated as a royal hunting lodge under the patronage of King John.

In 1514, one Robert Rayner of East Drayton willed 20d. to the high altar at Darlton. In 1541 John Mering bequeathed 6s. 8d. for the reparation of the church. During the 16th century, it appears that Darlton, along with its mother church at Dunham, was well supplied with vestments. In 1552 Commissioners noted an impressive catalogue of particulars including a ‘chalice parcel-gilt’, a ‘cross of brass’, a ‘coppe of blake and green sylke’, a ‘vestment of green and redde satyn’ and one of blue and red, ‘one candlestick of brass’, and ‘three altar cloths’.

The church register dates from 1568. There is also a fine silver communion cup (no longer kept in the church) known as a ‘Grindal Communion Cup’ which bears a cover with the date of 1579. This name references the injunction of Archbishop of York Edmund Grindal in 1571 that Holy Communion should be administered ‘in no chalice nor anye prophane cupp or glasse, but in a communion cupp of silver with a cover of silver’.

In 1603, one John Lees of Darlton was presented by the churchwardens of Grove for failing to pay the parish clerk there his due, being a nett of barley 'as was the custom'.

From 1659-1660 we have evidence of three marriages taking place in the church solemnized by Christopher Dickinson, the ‘Minister of Darlton’. It appears that after the death of vicar Walter Cary in 1657, Dickinson had been chosen by the Commonwealth regime. He was either forcibly dismissed or chose to resign following the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

In 1676 a religious census listed 94 people living in Darlton, of which two were said to be Papists (Roman Catholics). These two may have been Francis Mullinsay and Thomas Cayley, who around this time were presented for 'absence from church for one month'.

At the visitation of Archbishop Herring in 1743 there were 35 families in the parish, none of which were dissenters. The vicar, Andrew Cave, chose to reside in the vicarage of the mother church at Dunham. Although no curate was noted, all in the parish had been baptised. Public service was read in the church every other Sunday. Local children were noted as being instructed in the catechism by ‘a poor man’. Despite these efforts however, the parishioners were noted as ‘backward’ in ensuring that their children and servants be sent to church for instruction.

Andrew Cave’s successors did not always serve Darlton directly. William Law, vicar of Dunham from 1754, appointed a curate to serve Darlton. In 1764 this curate was Thomas Newbound. This did not mean Darlton received more attention though – services were still given only on alternate Sundays, and Thomas also resided in Dunham rather than in Darlton itself.

The church received a new set of three bells in 1787, which replaced an earlier set of three of unknown provenance. The new bells were donated to the church by Joseph Walker, esquire, likely the same man, or his son, who had sold the tithes in 1743. The bells were made by the founder T. Hilton of Wath.

The great tithes of the church (which mainly meant tithes on corn and hay) had long ago been appropriated to Southwell Minster, most likely via its prebend of Dunham. These tithes were let out to certain local individuals. In 1764 William Cartwright had purchased them but for much of the 19th century the church’s tithes were in the hands of the Crawley family of Ragnall, first William Crawley, esquire, and then his son Samuel.

In 1851 the religious census recorded the population of the parish as 95 males and 90 females, making a total of 185. There is some indication that the 19th century vicars paid more attention to Darlton as in 1851 Reverend Frederick Norris was giving services every Sunday, alternating between mornings and evenings, although only to a congregation of about 40-50 people (out of a village population of 185).

The church in the
early-mid 19th century

Regardless the church had suffered from earlier neglect. In 1856 Henry Jubb became Vicar of Dunham and writing in 1906 said that the church was 'in a deplorable state…with a chancel cut off by a wall and merely a doorway. I found a wretched old brick porch, not worth keeping…The chancel I found quite separated by a wall from the nave, so that for the Ante-communion Office I quite disappeared to read the commandments.' The year before, the aisle and nave had been restored by the Nottingham architects Thomas Chambers Hine and Robert Evans, who also added a pyramid cap to the tower.

The Reverend H. Jubb clearly felt determined to continue this restoration work and had a new chancel built at a cost of £400, sponsored by the ecclesiastical commission, and the nave, north aisle, and vestry further restored for another £700, most of which cost he paid himself. He also replaced the brick porch he had so disliked on arrival with a lych-gate. In December 1858 Hine and Evans placed an advert in the Nottinghamshire Guardian inviting tenders for 'the works required to be done in rebuilding the parish church of St Giles, Darlton'; this probably referred to the work on the chancel which was completed in 1863.

A festival was had in Darlton on 16 November 1863 to mark the reopening of the church. The report of the Nottinghamshire Guardian recalled how St Giles had been ‘one of the most desolate description, conspicuous only for unsightly old pews and a pulpit equally so’. Now however, ‘instead of pews we see plain open but handsome benches’ made of oak. The chancel was ‘thrown open and the fine old east window elegantly restored and filled with stained glass given by the vicar’. This window was conceived of in memory of two ‘near relations’ of  Jubb’s who died during the time of restoration.

The occasion of the reopening saw the church decorated with ‘flowers, evergreens, corn, and grapes, which gave to the altar a very splendid appearance’. Everything was done ‘to make the church comfortable, neat, and beautiful’. The work was completed by Messrs Lee and Tomlinson of Retford under the architectural guidance of Hine.

Three quarters of the expense for the repairs was borne by the vicar, Jubb, and his relatives. The remainder was raised ‘by the parishioners and landowners’. The entire cost of the chancel repairs was upwards of £1,000. This latter bill was footed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

On the day of its reopening in 1863 a procession set out from the residence of churchwarden, Mr Morris. The choristers joined the clergy in their surplices and hoods and the churchwardens carried processional maces ‘adorned with massive Maltese crosses’. The Bishop of Lincoln was in attendance and a processional psalm was chanted at the new lychgate. After service a celebratory luncheon was enjoyed and tea provided by the vicar. Services ran every evening that week and were so popular that ‘many were obliged to go away, owing to the church being so crowded as to oblige the vestry and belfry to be used for standing places’.

Sir Stephen Glynne visited St Giles on 13 February 1868. He noted that it was 'a small church lately mean and neglected, now much improved'. From his account of the church we can also work out what had been achieved in 1863:

It consists of nave with north aisle, chancel and low western tower. The north aisle is a recent addition to the church, which is all now in good condition. The tower is low and insignificant and of debased character of 2 stages without buttresses, somewhat improved by the addition of a pointed tiled roof. The arcade of the nave has three pointed arches, on octagonal pillars, the eaves wide and has an open roof with collars, covered with tiles. The seats are all open and new. The windows are of early Decorated character. The chancel arch is pointed on capitals of Early English foliage. the east window of the Chancel is Edwardian of 5 lights with mullion crossing and foliation only at the point. a new vestry is added on the south. On the south of the Chancel is a Priest's door and two windows, one single, one of two lights. the south doorway of the nave is semi Norman, the outer moulding of a kind for the church and embattled.

In 1912, the church at Darlton was noted as accommodating 100 worshippers. There were 12 children that regularly attended Sunday school. In the year ending 30 September 1912 there had been 4 baptisms and 6 confirmations.

In 1922 the patron of the church was listed as the Bishop of Manchester. According to White’s Directory the living this year was vacant. Dunham, with its two chapelries at Darlton and Ragnall, was worth a total of £210. By 1936 it had been transferred to the gift of the Bishop of Southwell, and increased in value to £260 per annum total.

In 1963, the church sold a leaflet detailing its history in order to raise funds for a further renovation. At this point, St Giles had a congregation of 107 parishioners. The congregation appealed for £700 to restore and refurnish the church.

In 1979, ancient trees in the churchyard were cut down in order to expose the church clock. A report in the Nottingham Evening Post noted that the face of the clock had been obscured for the best part of 40 years.

The church closed for use in 2006.