St Michael


The name Farnsfield is said to derive from the description “Field-of-Ferns”. An alternative derivation put forward is the home of the 'faron' or sheep.

In Domesday Book (1086) it is entered under the spelling 'Farnesfeld'; there is no mention of a church. It was referred to before this in the Yorkshire Charters of 958 as 'Fearnesfeld'. At Domesday, one bovate of land was in the jurisdiction of Southwell.

In the Yorkshire Charters Farnsfield is described as one of the 'towns that pertain to Southwell with sac and soke' indicating strong dependant connections with Southwell in the late pre-Conquest period. It was certainly part of the estate given by King Eadwig to Southwell in 958, and, although not specifically stated, this may well have related to ecclesiastical connections with the Anglo-Saxon Minster church there. It afterwards formed part of the western portion of the manor of Southwell and was acquired by the archbishop subsequent to the Norman Conquest.

Farnsfield is a large village and parish, situated about 4 miles from Southwell. It was enclosed in 1777, when 350 acres were allotted to the three (Southwell) prebendaries of Normanton, Norwell Overhall and Palishall (Southwell), 157a 3r 15p to the vicar, and 5a 1r 21p to the Chapter of Southwell in lieu of tithes.

The population was about 200-300 in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1676 it was 204. It rose to 564 in 1801, and to 1149 in 1851, but subsequently declined to 886 in 1901. The population as of the 2011 Census is over 2,500.

The church is not mentioned in the Taxatio of Pope Nicholas IV in 1291, presumably as its income was too low. Neither are there any later records of taxation in the 1341 Nonae Rolls or in the 1428 subsidy of Henry VI, almost certainly for the same reason.

In October 1294 Archbishop John le Romeyn was at Farnsfield issuing a commission to make a visitation to the deanery of Holderness. In December 1298 his sucessor, Archbishop Henry of Newark was also there, this time issuing a memorandum concerning the Lincolnshire churches of Panton and West Barkwith.

A chapel-of-ease on the site was administered by curates and vicar choral from Southwell. However, in December 1313, Archbishop Greenfield required the Chapter of Southwell to appear by their proctor to show why they had appropriated several parish churches, including Farnsfield against the common law (conta ius commune).

In the late 14th century Thurgarton priory was granted income from many of the villages surrounding its estate including, in 1392, a moiety of 1lb of pepper in rents issuing from diverse tenements in Southwell, Edingley, and Farnsfield. However, Farnsfield church at this time appears to have remained under the jurisdiction of Southwell.

In January 1466 a letter of the official of the archdeacon of Nottingham preserved in the Rufford Charters mentions the priest at Farnsfield who was one Thomas Hyll 'presbiterum parochialem de Farnsfeld'. The implication here is that there was already some degree of recognition of a separate parish.

The beginning of the 16th century was a time of great religious conflict. Language in services was changed from Latin to English. The chapel-of-ease was elevated to a vicarage in 1527, with its own vicar and entitled to the small tithes of wool, lambs, flax and hemp, pigs, geese and chickens. The great tithes of corn and hay remained with the church of Southwell

The vicar was entitled to the Easter and other offerings, giving a yearly income of £4. This income was similar to vicars of Calverton, Edingley and Bleasby, slightly more than Blidworth and Kirklington, but considerably less than the rectors of Hockerton and Eakring and the vicar at Rolleston who received between £9 and £10.

The first vicar was 'dom' James Barra, a nephew of the Rev Robert Barra of Southwell. In 1536 the vicar was William Barra.

During the 17th century Farnsfield had resident vicars (Hugh Hill and John Proctor lived in the parish) and during the incumbency of John Proctor the chancel was tiled and paved and the church whitewashed and painted. At the start of the century, in 1601, the vicar Thomas Pawte was presented by the churchwardens of Bilsthorpe for marrying two strange persons, whose names they do not know, in their church porch. In 1620 the churchwardens of Mansfield presented Thomas Telyar and Brigett Dringe for fornication, stating that she says that she was begotten with child by the said Thomas in the time of her service with Robert Ward of Mannsfeild, and now she has fled out of the Archdeacon's jurisdiction of Nottingham into Farnesfeild [Farnsfield] which is in the peculiar of Southwell.

For most of the 18th century Farnsfield was served by one of the vicars choral from Southwell Minster.

In 1743 the Vicar reported ‘no almshouse in the village’. About 60 families, including two families of Quakers and a Quaker Meeting House. Samuel Bird, the vicar, was vicar choral at Southwell Minster and lived in Southwell.

The situation was much the same in 1764 when Charles Fowler, vicar, made the return to Archbishop Drummond. There were 58 families in the village of which two were Quaker and the rest Anglican. Fowler lived in Southwell, but served the parish from there. He administered communion five times a year.

The Church of England suffered a period of decline for most of the 18th century, but from the 1780s there were definite signs of renewed activity in Farnsfield, perhaps with the diversity of new religious groups. In 1789 the old church was virtually rebuilt, and between 1764 and 1786 a sum of £400 was raised to purchase a house and two acres of land for use as a school. In 1792 a schoolhouse was built.

The census of 1851 reveals a glimpse of religious life in Farnsfield. The church was possibly the smallest of four churches, seating 100 (84 seats rented out) with attendances of between 80 and 90. The Quakers' chapel was alleged to seat 300, the Wesleyan Methodists seated 368 (148 rented out) and the Primitive Methodists had 120 in the evening chapel.

The church prior to
restoration in 1859

In 1853 the church had one aisle and a square tower, with 5 bells. The living was a discharged vicarage valued at £165, and had 19a 3r 6p of glebe.

The northern side of the tower, with buttresses, was enclosed within the church during rebuilding in 1859/60 following a fire in 1859.

The new church was consecrated in 1860. 

There was a small organ, given by Miss Milward (of Hexgreave Hall) in 1851.

Alongside the church is Church House, now divided as two residences, originally bought by Mrs. S. Wilkins in 1888 at a cost of £500 and presented as a Club and Reading-Room. It was known as Church House Institute from 1889 to 1945.

The population of Farnsfield was 923 in 1912, and there were 120 children on the school roll and 103 on the Sunday School roll. 14 baptisms and 8 confirmations had taken place within the previous year.

There was a bier, given in 1932, which was later presented to Brewhouse Yard Museum, Nottingham.

In 1976 the Choir vestry converted and extended to form covered room known as the west end room. A kitchen and toilet were added with a new access doorway through the west wall. The room was dedicated by the Bishop of Southwell the same year.



Farnsfield was referred to in the Yorkshire Charters as "Fearnesfeld".


"Farnesfeld" mentioned in Domesday Book, prepared under the direction of King William l. No mention of a church.


June 15th, the church in Farnsfield was consecrated by order of Cardinal Wolsey. Consecration by John Maxe, prebendary of Halloughton.


Date of record of name of the first vicar, James Barra.


The vicar was William Barra.


Edward VI ordered the removal of items from the church.


John Watson jnr was one of the principal landowners in the village.


The Restoration.


John Proctor, vicar, died.


Draft petition to build a singing loft and removal of font to provide extra space.


William Watson died. 


Table attributed to John Watson.


Farnsfield was enclosed.


Faculty for new seating in church

1788 or 1789?

John Watson died.


Monies raised for rebuilding of the church.


Anglican (charity) school founded. Buildings purchased, with a house and 2 acres of land.


'The old church was largely rebuilt' (reference in Notts Villages).


Faculty for new seating (with plan) giving names of seat-holders.


John Dolby offered to build a schoolhouse 28' x 18' x 11' for £49.


Bells recast by Osborn, paid for at least in part by sale of land.


Bells opened Jan 10th.


John Watson Thornally died.


24 hour clock with one small dial given.


Stretton found 'nothing of interest except the old chancel and a churchyard cross with a sundial, overlooking the ancient font which, after lying outside, now reposes within the building'.


The schoolhouse was found to be in bad repair.


Augustus Charles Gregory born. Family emigrated to Australia in the late 1820s.


Sarah Burgess died, aged 68.


Archdeacon Wilkins D.D. was the incumbent.


Last date for record of a maypole in the village.


There was a small organ, given by Miss Milward


Contract with R. and G. Noble for £304 for new school rooms.


A fire at the church. The parishioners decided to enlarge and rebuild the church.


Petition to perform divine service in the National School room until the church was rebuilt. New church was built.


The new church was completed at a cost of £2,762 5s 3d, raised by public subscription, and church was consecrated. The contractor was Jas. E. Hall.


In the same year an addition was made to the graveyard.


The Church School was reopened, the Rev H R Wilkins BA (died 1874) was the incumbent.


Three apse window by Wailes installed.


School by Hine and Evans.


Church not named in Whites. The church had one aisle and a square tower, with 5 bells. Miss Milward left £1,000 towards the rebuilding costs, the rest was raised by subscription. There is a font given by Harrington Shore, Esq.


Mortgage of £1,400 for Parsonage House.


A further addition and consecration was made to the graveyard.


Gas was introduced in the village.


An addition was made to the churchyard.


Vicarage built. Cost £1,640 2s.


Account submitted for architects fees for vicarage.


Railway came to Farnsfield.


Nave window by Clayton and Bell.


The present clock was presented by the late Canon and Mrs Whitelegge at a cost of £150 or £180. The old clock was sold to the church at Calverton.


The Church House was bought and presented as a Club and Reading-Room.


The bells were re-hung, cost £65.


The Church School was considerably enlarged. School Room 62' x 20' x 14' 6". Infant Room 28' x 18' x 14' 6". Classroom 20' x 18' x 14' 6". Cost £40.


The water works were built.


Account submitted for re-roofing works to the church.


Faculty approval for new organ chamber, including removing and re-erecting stained glass window. Cost £240 by parishioners and friends.


J J Binns organ dedicated. Organ cost £450, the gift of Misses Wilkins in memory of Mrs. Sarah Wilkins.


A further addition was made to the graveyard.


The chiming apparatus for the bells was added, the gift of Mrs. Cash and her son.


Plan for churchyard extension.


Oak reredos, carved and given by Mrs Alice Wilkins.


The churchyard was extended behind Church House, the cost of £245 18s 0d raised by subscription. Contractor for paths and walls was Mr. T. Talbot of Farnsfield. Breedon stone footpath. About 700 grave spaces.


Faculty - War memorial erected.


The church was redecorated at a cost of about £230.


Faculty - Cash Family reserve 3 spaces in the graveyard.


Faculty - Hodgson-Wilson family reserve 4 spaces in the graveyard.


Faculty - memorial tablet to the Rev R A McKee.


Faculty - east window to Hodgson-Wilson and others.


Faculty - electric light introduced to the church.

1933 or 1935?

Bells re-hung by Taylors of Loughborough. Bells restored in memory of Lawrence Naylor Hodgson-Wilson esq.


Electricity installed by J. Harwood Cash.


Faculty - tablet to L.N. Hodgson-Wilson.


Terrier includes 'a harmonium'.


Drawings completed for weather vane.


Church roof repaired, clock gilded but 'interior needs replastering'.


Church cleaned by the people and painted cream colour.


Alterations to Church House. Converted into a dwelling house for the use of an assistant teacher at the Church Day School.


Faculty - Lady Chapel formed, choir vestry formed, pews removed, screens added, pulpit resited, steps in church altered. Work done 1957.


Clock reconditioned by Village Subscriptions.


Bell ropes renewed.


Old font, found in the churchyard, was set up on the old stone pedestal near the tower door in place of the new.


Bill of quantities for new vicarage. Architect Broadhead and Royle of Nottingham.


Choir vestry modified. Part screen from Grimsby. C.G. Rhodes.


Faculty - alteration to pews and new heating system.


Mr. J.H.C. Linney paid for the levelling and resealing of the old churchyard and undertook to keep it in good order, paying for this from funds in the Rhoda Linney Memorial Trust.


Clock electrified by Wm. Potts &  Sons Limited.


Treble bell added, the gift of Mrs. Murdoch. The chancel was redecorated.


The organ was dismantled, cleaned and repaired. £625 + vat.


Choir vestry converted and extended to form covered room known as the west end room, with kitchen and toilet added with new access doorway through the west wall. West end room dedicated by the Bishop of Southwell (14 March 1976).


Faculty - Garden of Rest. 15' x 15' to side of main path at rear of churchyard.


The clock was serviced and clockfaces regilded.


Restoration Appeal launched, raising over £60,000.  Repairs to leaking roof, redecoration, provide carpets, new heating system, etc.


Faculty - removal of rear pew.


Faculty - replacement of inscription stone and change of position.


War memorial restored, tablets added.


Halifax Bomber Memorial Stone erected on the edge of Farnsfield.


Faculty – cupboards and storage area in west end room


Faculty – lightning conductor.


Restoration and Repairs Church House. C.G. Rhodes. £69,649.


Faculty - restoration of clock and 2 new faces. S. Michlmayr & Co Ltd. £5,260.


Faculty - floodlighting added. Ken Burrows Ltd. £6,051.


Faculty – new wood floor in tower above bell camber. C.G. Rhodes.


New lighting in church tower. Ken Gill.


Parish Council take responsibility for clock.


Retrospective Faculties for Millennium Quilt and new pew runners.


Faculty – time capsule to mark millennium.


Faculty – pew runners fitted on all pews and choir stalls. Covercraft Upholstery of Long Eaton: £3,452.92.


Faculty – plaques for millennium to north wall and tower. CG Rhodes. Paid by Millennium Committee.


Faculty – interior walls redecorations.


Faculty – removeable oak posts at nave.


Faculty – seat in churchyard.