For this church:
Domesday Book contains a single reference to Feniglei. It was part of the estate of Gilbert Tison and here Swein had 6 bovates of land taxable. Gilbert had ½ plough and 15 villagers and 4 smallholders have 5½ ploughs. There is no mention of either a church or priest.
Traditionally the church was dedicated to St Oswald but appears in the York records as Holy Trinity. It now bears both dedications.
From 1171, the village sent £12 yearly at Whitsuntide as its Pentecostal offering to Southwell Minster.
In 1291 the taxation of Pope Nicholas IV valued the benefice of Finningley at £12 annuall ; the patronage was secular, being in the hands of Nicholas de Sancta Elena.
In 1229 Archbishop Gray confirmed a grant of 20s. per annum out of the church of Finningley, made to the church of St. Leonard at Torksey (Lincs) by Richard, son of Roger de Finningley.
In 1282 Archbishop William Wickwane directed his official to inform the parish that a recent complaint by Richard de Stanford, that the fruits of the church had been wickedly withheld from him. The official continued that, notwithstanding that the sequestration had been lifted, they were not to allow de Stanford to interfere with the fruits. The implications were that the rector had a weakness in administration and the parish were instructed to see this. Four years later, in 1286, Archbishop John le Romeyne had once more to intervene for similar reasons. By 1290 the archbishop had to remove the rector due to his old age and committed the cure to Robert de Teuelby.
In 1291, Archbishop John le Romeyne issued granted the custody of the sequestration in the church of Finningley to William de Sancta Elena, on the presentation of Sir Nicholas de Sancta Elena. The admission and institution of William to the church took place in October 1293.
King Edward I granted, on March 27 1299, licence in mortmain by William de Gameleston, vicar of the church of Little Markham, to the abbot and convent of Begeham [Bayham, Sussex], of a messuage, a carucate of land and 7s. in rent in 'Alkelay, Fyningelay and Blackstan'.
On 4 August 1302 Archbishop Thomas of Corbridge instructed the dean of Retford and the archbishop's sequestrator in the Nottingham archdeaconry to sequestrate the autumn fruits of both Finningley and a mediety of Treswell. However on 7 August a note appears in the archbishop's register to say that the sequestration of Finningley had been superseded; no further explanation is given.
In 1307 archbishop William Greenfield issued a mandate for an inquiry into Mr. William de Sancta Elena who was the rector of Finningley and also the rector of St Fagan's in Llandaff diocese (near Cardiff). The enquiry concerned the sequestration of the fruits of the church and indicated the rector should benefit from only one of his parishes as he had 'pluralitate beneficiorum fructuumque collocacione extra solum ecclesie'. The following year a mandate was issued to require Mr. William de Sancta Elena to appear before the archbishop to show dispensations, if any, which he held of both his churches. Clearly he incurred the archbishop's displeasure but he gave full account later that year when he appeared in the church of Frodingham, Lincolnshire, and produced letters of institution issued by archbishop John le Romeyn for Finningley, and John de Monmouth, bishop of Llandaff, for St Fagan's. In 1310 the rector was granted leave to study for three years.
In 1316 one Gilbert de Sancta Elena was inducted to Finningley church, on the presentation of William de sancta Elena. The relationship is unknown but they have been father and son as this was not uncommon.
In July 1337 an order was made by Archbishop William Melton and his court issued an order to the rector of Babworth (following a royal order) to raise the revenues owing to Gilbert de Sancta Elena and take charge of ecclesiastical goods belonging to him (i.e. he was presumably deemed to be incompetent, perhaps through old age or sickness, to look after his revenues and the archbishop was seizing what assets he could - or he was already bankrupt). Probably to avoid the rector being reduced to begging, the rector of Babworth was instructed to pay 18d. a week from the income and assets of Finningley for Gilbert de Sancta Elena's upkeep, providing all the while that the terms of the royal order should be executed without any fraud. This episode reveals the sum that was thought to be an appropriate level of maintenance, 18d. a week which would equate to £3 12s. per year, the sort of sum thought suitable for a vicar choral or chantry priest in 13th century but on the low side for this date; parish vicars could, by the 14th century, usually expect £4-£5 p.a.
Archbishop Melton granted Mr Adam de Hazelbech, the rector of Finningley and a subdeacon, licence for leave of absence for seven years in 1338. This was issued cum ex eo, a decretal of Pope Boniface VIII in 1298, that allowed non-priest rectors of parish churches to absent themselves for up to seven years to attend university.
The Nonae Rolls of 1341 record that Finningley, which they said was in the county of Nottingham, was taxed at 18 marks (£12) and that the ninth of sheaves, lambs, and their fleeces were worth 40 s. a year at true value. They said that the altar fees of the same church which was in the county of York were worth 9 marks (£6) per annum and no more, and that the value of hay and glebe were valued at 20 s., and mortuary oblations and other small tithes were worth 60 s. annually.
On the death of William de North, rector, in 1402, archbishop Richard Scrope noted that although the administration of goods in probate was granted to (another) William de North, he reserved the right to grant this administration to William Brode if he desired. Archbishop Henry Bowet made a visitation to Finningley on 26 June 1409, where, it is noted, that a portion of the parish lay in Yorkshire. No details of the archbishop's findings have survived.
In the 1428 subsidy of Henry VI the church of Finningley was valued for a subsidy of 23 s., i.e. it had a clear annual valuation of £12, the same as in 1291.
In 1477 Pope Sixtus IV granted the rector of Finningley, William Kirkham, dispensation to receive and retain for life with the said church one other benefice, or if he resign that church any two other benefices, with cure or otherwise incompatible, even if they were two parish churches.
At the Reformation, Mattersey Priory held lands in Finningley parish, but had no interests in the church. The parsonage was valued in the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 at £13 4s. 8d. pr annum, and was described as being in the cure of John Houghson and 'Havinge manfion glebe and medowe of the yerely value of xxvjs. viijd. tiethe corne and haye comunibus annis v li woole and lambe comunibus annis iiii li. Eaftor booke coibz. annis xxxvi s. viii d. offerynges coibus annis xii s. hempe and lyne x s. goyfe pigge and chekens wt other tithes x s. Suma valoris xiii li. xv s. iiii d. Wherof paied to the archebufhope yerely for fynage iiii s. and to the archedeacon for pcuracons vi s. viii d.'
In 1544 Thomas Fairfax of Finningley, sergeant at law, died, and in his will bequeathed: 'for my tithes forgotten or necligentelie withdrawne' the sum of £1. He also left to the parishioners a cope of green damask for use in the church.
On 2 September 1556 John Richardson was presented by the Crown to the rectory of Finningley.
The earliest surviving churchwardens' presentments for Finningley date from 1587, though there was nothing to present that year. The parson was Richard Hindley, and the churchwardens were William Sampe and John Houghe. In April 1620 Mr William Frubesher [Frobisher] was presented for ‘detaining in his handes 10s due to our parish church’ and Widow Millnes and Joane Lawe were reported for not repairing their parts of the churchyard fence.
In October 1665, however, there was a lot more to present: Nicholas Mawson for doing harvest work on the Lord’s Day; Margaret Wood, wife of Richard Wood, for drunkenness and lasciviousness; Roger Leger and Lois his wife, William Dobson and Margaret his wife, and William Dobson his son, for not coming to their parish church.
In April 1673 the churchwardens reported that Edward Mayson, tailor, had disturbed them in the collecting of a brief and had taken the money from them by violence in the church. In October 1704 they presented the minister, George Bernardiston for removing and taking away the 'yates or gates' of the churchyard.
The Tanner MSS at the Bodleian Library records that in 1676 there were 220 inhabitants of an age to receive communion, there were no Roman Catholics and no Dissenters. Nicholas Hacksupp was the rector.
The response of rector George Favell to Archbishop Herring’s Visitation enquiries in 1743 showed a parish of about 90 families that was free of Dissenters. He reported that there was ‘a Publick School House erected on one side of the Church-Yard in which the Clerk of the Parish teaches children to read, write, and accompt and instructs them Carefully in the Church Catechihism’.
On 1 August 1821 William Stretton visited Finningley and wrote a detailed account of the church:
'The most northern parish in the county. The church is of ashlar stone, and consists of a nave, a north side aisle, and a low tower steeple. The roof is leaded, but has been shingled. The south porch is tiled, the door being of early Norman or Saxon architecture. The north aisle is separated [from the nave] by four pointed and chamfered arches supported by octangular pillars. The inside is neatly and newly pewed. The east end of the aisle is still parted’ off by a Gothic cancelli, and has been an oratory, but is now used as a vestry. There has been a second oratory in the north aisle, a nich for the Virgin, and a corbel for the patron saint, still remaining. The floor [of the church] is of brick. The north door is bricked up, but the water stock, or basin for holy water, is still in its place on the east side of the doorway within the church. The font is of one cylindrical stone mounted on two steps, and quite plain. King’s Arms 1707. The roof is the original one, put on when the roof was first. leaded, and is curiously ornamented with roses, Gothic mouldings, and ornaments. The chancel seems to be coeval with the church, and has a neat painted altar piece, with the Commandments, Creed, and Lord’s Prayer, and a marble table, given by Miss Harvey, sister of the rector. In the south wall is a double piscina under a pointed arch, and a triple seat, on the same level, adjoining. There is a south door also. There are floor stones within the altar rails to the memory of Nicholas Hackesud who was rector of this church for thirty years and died in September 1684, also of John Taylor who was rector and died in 1699, also of James Shephard who died in 1699, also the Rev. Levitt Pearson, M.A., who was rector, and died in 1723, aged 39, and the Rev. . . . . . . . . rector, who died in 1764, The present rector, Edmund Harvey, commenced in 1765, having been rector 56 years. There are three old bells in the tower, but my legs would not carry me to them, being so very weak and poorly.'
White’s Directory of Nottinghamshire of 1832 commented that ‘the church … has lately been repaired, and ornamented with a handsome stained glass window.’ Cox (1907) states that c.1825 the church had been ‘repaired and ornamented in a somewhat incongruous style.’
On 10 November 1835 the rector of Finningley, the Rev John Harvey, died in shocking circumstances while visiting an exhibition in Regent’s Street, London. He left his family at the exhibition and entered a nearby yard to attend to ‘a necessary business’ whereupon he was violently attacked and pushed to the ground. He sustained serious injuries to his hip and thigh and died a few hours later. At the Coroner’s Inquest it was revealed that the owner of the courtyard had hired men to ‘knock down all men that came into the yard to commit a nuisance.’
According to the 1851 census of religious worship, the Parish of Finningley comprised the townships of Finningley and Auckley, and covered an area of 2,360 acres. The population of the parish was 404 persons. The rector, G. H. Woodhouse, reported that the average congregation in the morning was 150 and in the evening it was 100. In addition, there were usually around 40 children at Sunday School.
A report in The Lincolnshire Chronicle newspaper of 4 March 1884, just before Hodgson Fowler started work on restoring the church, observed that ‘nothing seems to have been done to arrest the decay of years … the late owner of the advowson of the living seems late in life to have recognized his own neglect, and left by will some £500 towards the restoration of the church.’
Kelly’s Directory of Nottinghamshire (1900) noted that during 1884-5 ‘the church was completely restored, re-floored, new roofed and reseated at the cost of £1,358: the porch was built in 1885 by Mrs Howey and Miss Oldfield at a cost of £60, to the memory of their aunt, Mrs Mary Ann Oldfield, of The Lawns, Bawtry.’ The Yorkshire Post approvingly commented: ‘many points of interest have been retained, and the restoration is a great improvement in every respect.’
In 1892 the churchyard was enlarged by the addition of a portion of the glebe, presented by the Rev. N. B. Whitby, who was rector from 1887 to 1904. He was also responsible for the lych gate which was erected as a memorial to his mother.
From 1905-1915 the rector, the Rev Dr L Elwyn Lewis, organised special services for cyclists on Sundays during the summer months. The service ran for half an hour and included a five minute sermon. It was followed by tea in the grounds of the rectory. In July 1913 the occasion was enlivened by ‘gramophone selections with an organ accompaniment by the rector.’ The services were discontinued in 1915.
The east window, commemorating parishioners who died and served in the First World War, was dedicated by the Bishop of Southwell on 10 November 1929. It depicts battlefield scenes and was designed by the rector, the Rev J. M. Eland.
In 1931 the Rev M. J. Eland launched an appeal for £200 to repair the church roof. The whole roof needed retiling.
An unusual situation arose in February 1939 when the Bishop of Southwell announced he was proposing to institute the Rev E. M. Mulliken to the vacant rectory of Finningley despite representations from the Finningley Parochial Church Council sent to him a few days earlier in response to the proposal. The appointment caused a degree of surprise as Mulliken had been ordained less than three years earlier after having served in the Army with the rank of Major. The Sheffield Daily Telegraph reported a parishioner saying ‘it seems somewhat strange that the wishes of the parishioners have not been ascertained before such a decisive and immediate action has been taken.’ Nevertheless, Mulliken was instituted and inducted at a service on 6 March 1939. In addition to his duties at Finningley and Auckley he had also been appointed chaplain to the R.A.F. airfield at Finningley by the Air Ministry.
A reordering project in 2017 led to the removal of the pews, stalls and desks from the church and the installation of a kitchen in the west end of the north aisle, new toilets in the tower and underfloor heating.