St Winifred


Holbeck is a small hamlet located across the A60 outside the main Welbeck buildings. It lies approximately five miles from Worksop on the south-west side of Welbeck Park. It is joined with Welbeck as a single parish with Holbeck Woodhouse. The hamlet is not recorded in Domesday Book nor is there any documentary evidence for an early church or chapel.

The estate originally formed part of forest land controlled by Welbeck Abbey but following the Reformation portions were dispersed and Holbeck ended up as the property of Earl Manvers. In 1810 ownership was transferred to the Duke of Portland, along with Bonbusk, by exchange for Bilhagh Wood adjacent to Thoresby Park.

Bonbusk is a hamlet in the parish of Holbeck and in 1329 had ecclesiastical connections elsewhere as John Hotham, Bishop of Ely, held free warren there as well as 114 acres. In the same year the bishop of Ely granted the whole manor of Cuckney and its hamlets, including Holbeck, to Welbeck Abbey.

In 1339, in the foundation deed for the Amyas chantry in St Mary's Nottingham, there is mention of a William de Holbeck chaplain, but it is unclear if this William came from this Holbeck or the Holbeck by Southwell which was at that time also a village.
The funeral certificate for Thomas Eyre, of Hassop (Derbyshire), who died in 1637 was taken at Holbeck Woodhouse in January the following year by John Newton, Deputy to the Office of Arms.

In 1844 it was noted that the Catholics had an oratory at Holbeck Woodhouse that had been converted into a Protestant chapel by the Duke of Portland.

The church of St Winifred is Grade II listed and was built between 1913 and 1916. It was originally a private chapel in the Church of England and was the traditional burial place for the dukes of Portland at Welbeck Abbey. The building is unusual in that it was erected entirely by labour from the estate.

The Duke remembered how he had arrived at Welbeck with his step-mother, Lady Bolsover, and her family at the end of December 1879. Upon finding that his predecessor had demolished the private chapel, and noting that Welbeck and its surroundings were extra-parochial, he quickly realised that there was no parish church to attend.

In 1883, following advice from Lady Bolsover, the Duke appointed the Reverend C. J. Butterwick, then curate at St Peter’s church, Mansfield, as resident chaplain. Butterwick lived in a vacant house which was known as the hermitage. In consultation with Lady Bolsover, Butterwick arranged for Sunday services to be held in the underground rooms at Welbeck. They afterwards moved to curtain off one end of the old riding school to form a temporary chapel, installing benches, an altar, table and harmonium alongside other accessories. Services were held every Sunday morning.

Several years later services moved to a small chapel in Holbeck Woodhouse but in early 1889 the Southwell Diocesan Magazine reported that the chapel had become inadequate and that the 6th Duke of Portland was to build a new church for the parish. The church was erected on a greenfield site halfway between Holbeck and Holbeck Woodhouse and opened on 10 May 1889. The ‘Holbeck Mission Church’ was a corrugated iron building lined with wood, built by Messrs Humphreys & Co. of London, and used for evening service. It could accommodate 140 people. In due course, Butterwick was appointed to Kirkby in Ashfield and the Reverend H. T. Hammersley installed to the living.

Within a few years it was clear that the iron church 'had become inadequate for its requirements' so the Duke of Portland asked his Clerk of Works, D. McIntyre, to prepare plans for a permanent stone church. Work began on 28 July 1913 and was completed on 25 July 1916. The Duke himself was a great devotee of Norman architecture and decided that the church should be completed in an appropriate style. The design was signed off by the architect Louis Ambler and was based loosely on the Norman chapel of Steetley nearby in Derbyshire. Some of the fittings were executed by Scottish artists whose work may have been known to the Duke through visits to his Scottish estates, e.g. Phyllis Bone, Alice Meredith Williams (both Sculptors), Herbert Hendrie (glass). It appears as if he had seen Hendrie’s work at Holy Trinity, St Andrews. The ceiling was copied from Cessnock Castle in Ayrshire which formed part of the Portland estate.

The last service in the temporary chapel was held on 15 June 1913 and the new structure was dedicated to St Winifred on 20 July 1916.

Stone from
Ypres cathedral

After the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the men of military age on the estate left to fight and only five or six of the older workmen remained to continue the project. Following the Armistice in November 1918, a small stone brought from the ruins of Ypres Cathedral was built into the south wall near the pulpit.

The stone altar in the church was made at Welbeck by Harry Stubbings. It was carved by George Walker Milburn of York and dedicated on Ascension Day 1926.

On 14 December 1928, the coffins containing the bodies of Lieutenant-General Arthur Cavendish-Bentinck, his first wife Elizabeth Sophia Hawkins-Witshed, his second wife Augusta Browne, and the 6th Duke’s cousin George Cavendish-Bentinck, were moved from the Welbeck burial ground to the churchyard at Holbeck.

The sanctuary lamp was presented by the Duke of Portland and is inscribed with a memorial inscription to Cicely Mary Cavendish Bentinck who died on 30 January 1936.

St George and
the dragon

There is an antique alabaster figure of St George and the Dragon in the church which was given to the Duke and Duchess of Portland for the silver wedding anniversary by the Prince and Princess Lowenstein.

The oak pews and organ were brought by the parish in the early 1920s and, the following decade, impressive tapestries placed in the chancel arch. The sundial was placed on the south side of the church in 1931. Its stone base is Early English and was found in one of the rooms in the bailey of Bolsover Castle.

The ironwork on the church door was given by Ivy Titchfield. It was copied from a door that formerly stood at St Alban’s Cathedral and is now in the Victoria & Albert museum in London.

In 1936 a new pulpit and bible bound in white vellum were gifted by the Duke. The pulpit was made from oak grown in Welbeck Park. The wood was originally used in the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral in 1695. During the restoration of St Paul’s in 1931, some of the wood was returned to Welbeck. It is moulded on a stone base similar in design to that of Dalmeny Church near Edinburgh. At the same time the Duke gifted a new gateway to the churchyard.