St Mary


There was probably a church in Edwinstowe before the Conquest reputed to be built over the site of the temporary burial of St Edwin, King of Northumbria after the battle of Heathfield. This would have been built of Sherwood Oak on a stone foundation.

Domesday Book:

In Edenstow is a Berewick of one Caricute of land to be taxed, land to two ploughs, there is a Church and a priest, and four bordars have one plough, wood pasture half a mile long and half broad.

The Berewick was an outlying part of the Royal Manor of Mansfield. The Medieval parish consisted of the villages of Budby, Carburton, Ollerton, Perlethorpe with Thoresby, and Wellow.

Edwinstowe and its Chapelries was given by William II to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln and is listed in their earliest Charter of 1146.

Henry 1st built a Royal hunting lodge at Clipstone within the parish of Edwinstowe and all of the medieval Kings visited it for the hunting. It is not surprising that as part of his penitence for the murder of Thomas a Beckett he should rebuild the church in stone.

In 1250 the men of Wellow successfully petitioned the Dean and Chapter to have their own Chaplain and churchyard at their chapel, as it was too far to carry coffins for burial in Edwinstowe churchyard.

Being within the Forest, Edwinstowe was subject to the Forest Laws In 1334 the Vicar John de Ryston was convicted of venison trespass, and in 1340 Thomas Fox, vicar, son of Henry de Edenstowe was imprisoned at Nottingham for ‘trespass of vert in Sherwood forest’.

In 1341 Henry de Edenstowe, King’s Clerk, Canon of Southwell, Lincoln ,and St Asaph with his brother Robert, vicar of Warsop, made a grant of land in North Muskham to the Prior of Newstead to pay for two priests for the Chantry they were building on to the church of St Mary at Edwinstowe. This consisted of the whole of the south Aisle. Henry died on 1st Feb 1350 and we presume he was buried there.

In 1423 the parishioners of the chapelries , led by men of Wellow, petitioned against the vicar, Robert Gomondely, concerning the annuity of 11 nobles given by the Dean and Chapter part for the Vicar and part to be divided amongst the poor. Each claimed a larger portion for their parish. A system was set down so that men of Wellow were to be present when the money was apportioned.

In 1639 John Snowden and Thomas Oldham, Churchwardens, were cited to the Archdeacon’s Court by the vicar

... for not presenting the decaye of the revestrie house belonging to the said Church of Edwinstowe, Clipston, and Budbye, whereby the goods of the said Church were last yeare stolne away to the value of about ten poundes, and the chest wherin they doe lay certain writings and other things belongoing to that church is without locks and keyes for the preservation of those goodes.

After the Civil War Thomas Bowes,Vicar petitioned the Dean and Chapter for a resumption of the ‘Lincoln Dole’ , “11 nobles, 5 nobles for the vicar and 40s to the poor…relating neer to 30 families”. And he would like the arrears since the Restoration. Unfortunately this letter is not dated but we know that the ‘dole’ continues to be paid until, in 1878 Earl Manvers, exchanged the church for St Mary’s in Nottingham so that he owned all the village, having also bought out the Duke of Portland’s portion.

In 1664 the church was in need of £83 worth of repair. The Chapelries were asked to share the cost, however they all pleaded that they had their own chapels to repair.

1687 A Terrier gives a description of glebe lands in the three fields and a list of tythes.

The 18th century saw many changes in Edwinstowe. This village seems always to have had a shifting population of gentry because of the proximity of the Royal Deer Park at Clipstone and the frequent visits of the court. When Charles 11, and then Queen Anne, sold off Crown land, new estates were formed in this area so that it became known as ‘The Dukeries . Once again the Gentry found it a pleasant place to live and several houses were built. At the same time, whilst the brickmakers were in the area, old cottages were rebuilt in red brick. Only the Black Swan escaped being modernised.

All of these properties changed hands frequently and several of them came, during the 19th century, to be owned by Earl Manvers. A member of the Pierrepont family had leased Edwinstowe Rectory Manor from the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln soon after the Restoration and thereafter the lease was renewed until in 1878 Earl Manvers made a formal exchange with St Mary’s Nottingham so that he virtually owned all of Edwinstowe. There is a Tenant Roll and tithe document in NA describing the properties showing changes of tenancies from 1744 to 1907(DDT 12/5)

1743 Archbishop Herrings Visitation list the number of families in Edwinstowe as 60, Clipstone 20, Budby 40, ‘4 of the last are Dissenters viz Papists’

In 1763 a letter from the surveyor of the Dean and Chapter gives valuations for various land and tithes etc with a note at the end:

‘NB The Tenant hath built a new house upon the premises at his own expense’

The Terrier of 1781 has a full description of the new vicarage. It also records that the church has 3 bells and a clock with a face on the east, besides the usual plate:

One plated Flagon, one plated Cup, one plated Salver, all very good. The linen consists of two Surplices, one Tablecloth, and one napkin, likewise green cloth to cover the Communion Table, one green Velvet Cloth and some Cushions for the Pulpit, in the reading desk one large Bible; one large Commonprayer Book, with Clark’s Book & also a Register Book for Baptisms and Burials, and one for Marriages, also one strong chest kept for the town’s use.

There is an even fuller description of the house in the Terrier of 1817 The description of the church plate shows little has changed. They add that they have, ‘all things necessary for the Communion service’; and they now have two Common Prayer books.

In 1820 the old oak roof had been removed, a plaster ceiling made and the walls all plastered in medieval style. Fortunately in 1897 they changed their opinion and the plaster was removed, including the ceiling.

The vicar at that time was the Rev Henry Telford Hayman, ‘One of the most popular clergymen in Nottinghamshire, a cultured amateur musician’. His father-in-law was Dr E Cobham Brewer, prolific author of diverse subjects but now most famously remembered for ‘A Dictionary of Phase and Fable’. This has been regularly reissued ever since. He came to live with his daughter at Edwinstowe in 1878 until his death in 1897 aged 87 and is buried in St Mary’s Churchyard.

A new vicarage was built for the new Vicar, the Rev Edward V Bond, who came in 1907. He was particularly interested in History and Archaeology. He discovered the site of St Edwin’s Chapel and hermitage in the forest near to King’s Clipstone. This had been founded by King John as a Chantry to pray for the souls of his family and for all whom he had wronged. The Rev Bond searched the area for stones and persuaded the Duke of Portland to erect a cross and plaque to mark the site. He also discovered the stone altar in the belfry floor. In 1912 he obtained a Faculty to remove the wooden Altar steps and replace them with stone; to enlarge the Sanctuary and replace blue slates with mosaic; to open out a new window in the Chancel; and to erect the stone altar in the South Aisle.

In 1918 the Rev Frank Cecil Day-Lewis became Vicar. His famous son, Cecil Day-Lewis was a young man at University at the time and he wrote in his memoirs:

When my father moved to Edwinstowe, it was a country village, ... before he died, it had become a mining town ... We lived on coal. Seams of it lay below our feet-rich seams which had hardly been tapped yet … and my father’s stipend of £600 a year came largely, I believe, from the titled patron of the living, beneath whose land the coal had been found

In 1921 the south aisle became once again a memorial chapel, the stone altar was erected and the memorial stone to those who had died in the war, together with the British Legion flag. The lighting was replaced, first by acetylene gas and later by electricity. In 1935 expensive repairs were necessary to the organ and to the hanging of the bells. The Rev Day-Lewis died suddenly of a heart attack on 29th July 1937. In 1938 altar rails to the south aisle altar were erected in his memory.

At the same year, under the new vicar the Rev Donald Haseler, new choir stalls and also a Chancel screen were given by Mrs J. W. Stevenson in memory of her husband.

In 1950 an extra face was added to the church clock on the south face with external floodlighting. This was done with the co-operation of the Parish Council.

After the 1939-45 war society changed. The coal fields were nationalised and the landowners lost their coal revenues. As a result their contributions and the coal owners contributions to clergy and curate stipends were removed. The new vicar Revd Basil Evans could not afford to live in the large vicarage with its grounds and he exchanged houses with the Doctor

The Coal Board decided to float the church on a raft of concrete, and remove the column of coal which had been left under it. This was done in 1952/3 and caused much worry when it was discovered how shallow the foundations under the tower were!

In 1955 a new High Altar was made by Robert Woodhead and given in memory of Charles and John Greenfield, a local farmer and his only son who was killed in the war. At the same time a new War Memorial tablet was added to the south aisle Lady Chapel for 1939-45 with 14 names. Four years later the last stained glass window by the font was donated in memory of Dorothy Ottoline Shaw Browne. The old Jacobean altar now stands near to the entrance to the church and is now used as a table.

When the Rev H Pickles accepted the living the chapelry of Old Clipstone was transferred to the parish of New Clipstone in the Mansfield Deanery.

In 1969 Perlethorpe was given official independence with the appointment of a Priest in Charge. It had already had its last joint Church Magazine with Edwinstowe in May 1966. Earl Manvers built the present church in the 19 century and the priest was also his Chaplain.

In 1962 the Revd Harold Pickles, a keen musician, planned to bring the choir and congregation closer together. He moved the organ from the Chancel and re-sited it in the nave which necessitated the repositioning of the pulpit. However, there was opposition to moving the choir stalls! The church was rewired with new light fittings. The medieval aumbries were provided with panelled doors, one of which, in the Lady Chapel, now houses the Reserved Sacrament. Money was given by the Bolton family to provide a carving of the Virgin and Child for one of the plinths in the Lady Chapel; St Margaret was added to the other plinth in 1975, the 800th anniversary.

The 800th Anniversary was graced by the Archbishop of York, the Rt Revd Stuart Blanch who preached at the final service of the year’s events.

When the Rev J Ford accepted the living the chapelry of Carburton was transferred to the Priory Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert, Worksop.

St Giles church, of Norman foundation, consists of nave and chancel , a square bell turret and a small porch, there is a double sundial on a corner of the church. In 1958 the rendering was removed for repair work and Norman arcading was uncovered on the south side. In the 16/17th century Carburton forge was a thriving industry with a larger population.

Much money and effort has been expended on repairing Edwinstowe Church building. The 1980s saw repairs to the tower, spire, and walls; then it was the turn of the Clerestory windows. Once again new lighting was needed and many money-raising projects were necessary. At the same time many people were involved in working tapestry kneelers which are now much admired. The last project of the Revd John Ford was creating a floor in the belfry for the ringers and releasing a room beneath to use as a crèche during services and as a Meetings room. A kitchenette and a toilet were skilfully put in the North Aisle, in a space behind the organ. These are hidden behind an oak screen, once a reredos.

In 1992 there was a community enterprise to stitch a parish map, measuring 10' x 8'. This was finished in 1996 and the only wall large enough for it is in church. It hangs on the west wall of the North Aisle and is much admired by visitors.

In 1996 the church welcomed its first female Vicar, the Rev Annette Cooper. At the same time it became clear that the roof was in need of £100,00 worth of repairs. Once again money raising became almost paramount but with a Funding Campaign, the Historic Churches Trust, English Heritage, and good will from the villagers, all has been finished.

As part of the Millennium celebrations the Parish Council have shared in the cost of electric winding for the tower clock.