St Peter


As the name denotes, Habblesthorpe (Apesthorpe/Applesthorpe) is of Danish origins being a settlement established just outside the Anglo-Saxon village of North Leverton. The area is  close to the River Trent and to the port of Gainsborough which was a centre of resistance for the Anglo-Saxons, in the time of King Swein in 1013 and King Canute, his son, from 1014 against Viking raiders and settlers.

The date of settlement in Habblesthorpe is unknown but Viking raids were a threat to this area throughout the 9th and 10th century. In that period, in 957, a charter of King Eadwig (that is disputed) gave lands along this part of the river to Oskatel, Archbishop of York, a gift confirmed, with additions, by King Edgar (959-75).

Domesday describes Leverton (which presumably included Habblesthorpe) as “outliers” to the Soke of Laneham and in the possession of Thomas, Archbishop of York. During the reign of Henry 1(1100-35) North Leverton was included with Beckingham to form a prebend of Southwell Minster and it may have been in this period that Habblesthorpe was designated a prebend of York Minster as Apesthorpe. In documents relating to the prebends of St Peter's York, Habblesthorpe was held in 1153-1154 by Thomas Becket. Two charters relating to its possession by Mr Stephen of Ecclesfield around 1240 survive. On 5 April, 1320, the Dean and Chapter of York Minster ordained a vicarage for the parish but retained the powers of patronage and appropriation.

At the 1291 taxatio of Pope Nicholas IV the prebend of Habblesthorpe (Prebenda de Apesthorp) had a clear annual value of £10 and was appropriated to the Dean and Chapter of York Minster.

In October 1334 Robert de Tanton, prebendary of Habblesthorpe, in the church of St. Peter, York, acknowledged that he owed to William, archbishop of York, 100 marks; to be levied, in default of payment, of his lands and chattels and ecclesiastical goods in the county of York.

Kind Edward III, in August 1340, made a grant to Master Geoffrey Lescrope, king's clerk, of the prebend of 'Apelthorpe' in the church of St. Peter, York, in the king's gift by reason of the voidance of the archbishop of York (William Melton had died and his successor, William le Zouche, was not appointed until 1342).

In the Nonarum Inquisitiones taxation of 1341, 'Harpelthorpe' is described as a prebend, not taxed, but that the ninths of sheaves, lambs, and wool were worth five marks (£3 6s 8d) annually at true value.

In the accounts of the poll tax granted to Richard II by the clergy of the northern province, meeting in convocation on 10 January 1381, Habblesthorpe prebend is listed under the heading of St. Peter, York cathedral prebendaries, along with many others all in the county of Yorkshire.

By 1428 there is no mention of the church in the subsidy of Henry VI that year.

A single churchwardens' presentment from Habblesthorpe survives, dated May 1596. Unfortunately it simply records that there was nothing to present.

Thoroton records that in 1612 the owners of Habblesthorpe lands were said to be Michael Bland, gentleman, and  John Hewitt, gentleman, of London. The Bland name recurred in the 18th century when, in 1740, Penelope Bryan, sister of another Michael Bland endowed a charity for the poor of Habblesthorpe.

Given the comparative remoteness of the parish of Habblesthorpe it is not surprising that the Act Books of Nottinghamshire Archdeacons (published in Transactions of the Thoroton Society, XXIX (1925)) for 1613-23 reveal that many clandestine marriages were solemnized in St Peters, Habblesthorpe. The incumbent, John Lincolne, vicar since 1602, was imprisoned on 22 November, 1632 “for making divers clandestine marriages” A similar practice of secret marriages, in a different era, is also recorded at nearby Fledborough, another Trentside village.

Churchwardens' presentments from other local churches confirm that the church served well as a venue for illicit marriages. For example, at Weston in 1624 one Richard Atkin and Elizabeth his wife lived together as man and wife but were presented for not being married at Weston church; the parishioners were not satisfied that they were married at all; also Richard Futtit and Alles his wife for the like; Thomas Yarwood and Margret his wife for the like; all the above said parties said they were married at Habblesthorpe. At Tuxford in 1625 Thomas Foskins and his wife were presented for bearing a child within a quarter of a year after their marriage, and for marrying at Habblesthorpe church without any banns or licence. In October the following year at Marnham the churchwardens presented Henry Lily for being married at 'Habbelsthorpe, 'a lawless church, unlawfully'. Again, at Warsop in September 1628 it is noted that Edmond Thorpe and Elline Codging were married at 'Haplestrope' [Hablesthorpe].

In the 1620s a William Helwyn, cousin to Thomas Helwyn of Bilborough (a Baptist Pilgrim Father), settled in Habblesthorpe allegedly close to a house owned by John Robinson a pastor to the Pilgrim Fathers and, at that time, vicar of Sturton-le-Steeple a mile or two away. This gives strong evidence of the presence of dissent in the area at that time.

Habblesthorpe prebend (of St Peter's York) is listed in a certificate of assessment dated 1634 sent to the treasurer and barons of the Exchequer by Richard, archbishop of York, stating that he has assessed the clergy of his diocese for the first payment of the fourth of five subsidies (i.e., the seventh payment) granted to Charles I by the clergy of both provinces in 1628, due to have been paid on 1 December 1633, The churches and parishes being so inter-mingled and, no doubt, with the church of St Peter neglected by its small congregation, the Parliamentary Commissioners, in their 1650 survey, recommended that Habblesthorpe should be united with North Leverton. Although it became increasingly the practice for parishioners from St Peter's to attend St Martin's in North Leverton, it was not formally sanctioned. In 1663, there was no vicar recorded and only a non-resident curate. Eventually the living became a perpetual curacy with other local parishes increasingly supplying the clergy.

Penelope Bryan’s will in 1740 demonstrates the use of St Martin's in North Leverton as the church for both parishes. In leaving the returns from land in North Leverton to be distributed by the vicar of North Leverton she stipulated that “40 shillings” was to be distributed to the poor of 'Apethorpe' who were required to come to North Leverton church on the Feast of St Michael to receive alms. Those who failed to do so would have their share re-distributed among the “poor and necessitous.” In addition 40 shillings was to be laid out in bread for the poor of Apethorpe yearly. Amongst the priorities for help from the bequest were to be needy relatives of her brother, Michael Bland. As previously mentioned, Penelope and Michael were descendants of “Michael Bland, gentleman” recorded as a land-owner in Habblesthorpe in 1612.

At Archbishop Herring’s visitation in 1743 the church at Habblesthorpe was completely in ruins and it was reported that 'ye people have time out of mind resorted to ye church at North Leverton'. The two parishes were 'in effect but one cure though they be two distinct parishes.' There was no longer land to support St Peter's. At that time one curate, Thomas Edwards served the three Leverton parishes and Littleborough as his predecessor, Savile Howson had done for twenty years before him. He shared the same punishing work schedule as the poor curate referred to by Throsby (who deplored the terrible roads on his visit).

Throsby mentioned a curate who had to perform Sunday duties and other parish work for several parishes which involved travel between churches each Sunday whilst coping with the dreadful travelling conditions. Despite this deplorable state of affairs in local Church of England provision, it was recorded in the 1743 report for Archbishop Herring that of the twenty families in Habblesthorpe, none were dissenters, neither was there a meeting house for dissenters. No return was made to Archbishop Drummond’s visitation in 1764.

In 1851 a return was made for Applethorpe of Habblesthorpe parish, which was recorded as having 103 people, and a Wesleyan Methodist chapel built in 1810.

In November 1866 Habblesthorpe was united to North Leverton by Orders in Council and in 1884 it ceased to function at all as a separate parish being annexed to North Leverton in March 1884 under the Divided Parishes Act.