St Michael


It is claimed that there was a church in Hoveringham from around 950 AD. This is based on the date of the Tympanum removed from the original church on the site and now sited over the door of the present building. However, if it accepted that this is in the Urnes style, then a date of the second half of the 11th century would be more accurate.

Domesday Book records a ‘priest with a church’, and 16 dwellings, a total of about 60-70 people.

Sometime around 1140 the church with all its property was given by Ralph of Hoveringham to Thurgarton Priory, which retained it until the suppression of 1538, when Trinity College Cambridge ‘received it’ from Henry VIII. Ralph was the son of Walter de Aincourt  the founder of the Priory. In the Taxatio assessment of 1291-2, the church is described as ‘Ecclesia De Hoveringham Monasterio De Thurgarton Appropriata’ and annual income was valued at £6 13s 4d. Fifty years later, at the tax assessment of Edward III in 1341 known as the Nonarum Inquisitiones the effective value of the tithe income was exactly the same. Thurgarton Priory also held land in Hoveringham to the value of 20 s in 1351 when it was to be used: ‘to find a secular chaplain to celebrate divine service daily at the altar of St Thomas the Martyr in the conventual church of Thurgarton, for the good estate of Thomas de Hotot, for his soul when he is dead, and for the souls of his ancestors, as he shall ordain’.

In the 14th century the early church was replaced with a larger building of stone with transepts. A square tower to house three bells was added later. In the 1790s  a lead covered spire was added. There are photographs of this building in the present church. The alabaster tomb of one of the  church’s 14th century patrons, Sir Robert Goushill, who  died 1403, and his wife, the former Duchess of Norfolk was set against the west wall inside the church.  Other tombs were known to have existed in the old church but they no longer exist. One such missing tomb is the altar tomb of Sir Nicholas Goushill, who died in 1393.

A note in 1559, reported that the church ‘has long been without a curate’. The churchwarden’s presentment in 1587 records that ‘Our curate serves two cures; our chancel glass windows are in decay in Sir Thomas Stanhopp's default as we think, but we are not certain of it; Christopher Swyfte is the farmer of the tithes’. Two years later, in 1589, the churchwarden again reports that ‘We want a standing curate; we have service sometimes by the curate of Kneeton’ - which is interesting as Kneeton, though very close in distance to Hoveringham, is separated from it by the River Trent. However, in John Leland’s Itinerary, when travelling from Thurgarton  around the year 1540, he states: ‘…to Oringgam [Hoveringham] feri, where my horsys passed over Trent per vadum, [a ford] and I per cymbam’ [a small boat], so evidently passage between Kneeton and Hoveringham was commonplace.

In 1596, the churchwardens and swornman declare that ‘our curate preaches within his own cure and is diligent in reading and expounding God's word, and says service according to the Book of Common Prayer; a little piece of our church wall has been beaten down with the weather, which shall be amended as soon as the weather will allow; we have both lime and stone ready; William Cooper the younger, gent., was excommunicated last Easter for fornication, and is not absolved to our knowledge’ ['Eleanor Tayler Day is her name' written in another hand].

The churchwardens’ presentments record little during the 17th century apart from some minor cases of fornication and misconduct.  However, in 1635 the sum of £4 10s is recorded as expenditure on the parish church, signed 'J T' [John Tibberd], and the following year it was noted that ‘we had no prayers in our church for two Sundays together last November due to the last great flood’, and a further £8 is recorded as being spent on the church. In 1637 the churchwardens present that ‘the communion table and the rail before it are not yet finished; £5 bestowed this year on our church’.

There is then little further information regarding the church until the 18th century. In 1718 a parochial visitation order and certificate stated that the following work was to be carried out by curate and churchwardens: outer walls to be repaired; roofs windows and pavements to be repaired where wanting; walls to be repaired with lime and hair inside; porch to be repaired; old seat to be repaired or pulled down; roof, windows, pavement and outer walls of the chancel to be repaired, especially the east wall which is to be repaired with lime and hair; chancel to be whitewashed. In 1743 the vicar recorded that there were thirty families in the village, none of them dissenters. A service was held every Sunday, and Holy Communion three times a year when 40-50 people attended.

We know a little about the village at this time. In March 1785 the parochial officers paid local residents 2s 8d for trapping and killing 16 dozen sparrows. In February 1795, flooding in the area saw the River Trent rise by sixteen feet. The whole village, including the church, was flooded to a depth of several feet.

In 1795 farm labourers earned 2s a week at harvest time and 1s a week through the rest of the year if work was available, and in 1817 local framework knitters earned 9s a week but had to find 2s 6d from that for their frame rent, as well as buying coal for heating and candles for lighting, leaving little spare for house rent, food and clothing.

At the time of the 1851 religious census the old church had seating for 206, 102 seats were listed as ‘free’ – at that time approximately half the village population. The Congregation in 1851 was: afternoon service 95 with 80 children attending the Sunday school at the same time. There was no morning service on the census day, but average attendance was stated as: morning 50, afternoon 90, with the Sunday school 90 and 80 respectively. The same census also identified the existence of a 129-seat Independent Primitive  Methodist Chapel (opened 1834) in the village with congregations of 50 in the afternoon and 100 in the evening. 100 of the seats were free. 

The old church before
demolition in 1865.

By the early 1860s the church was in poor condition leading to the decision to demolish it and build the present 200-seat building.

Much of the stone removed from the demolished church was in 1903 recorded as being used for ornamental work in the gardens of surrounding houses. 

The walls may not have been completely removed: the north wall in particular is said to have been reduced only to the sill level of the present windows and then faced externally with brick, but there is no visible evidence for this.

The architect of the new church was William Knight of Nottingham, who completed the building between 1865/67. There is no evidence of major external changes since the opening. In 1905 a hall was built adjoining the church, largely due to the efforts of the Rev. Glasford. The hall was used as a library, a boys club and for whist drives, dances, wedding parties and social events. At about the same time a choir of seventeen boys and men supported the church services.

In 1912, 23 children were enrolled in Sunday School, and there had been one baptism and nine confirmations over the previous year.

In the period between the two World Wars the church remained an active and vibrant part of the village. In 1934 it was supported by a choir of ten, with attendance at the Easter day service of 71. Four Sunday School teachers took care of the junior church and eight infants plus three women and girls were baptised.

The congregation declined after the Second World War. In 1965 the incumbent, the Rev Phillip New, considered it necessary to pen a missive for inclusion in the Parish Magazine recording his disappointment with congregation numbers. He noted that only one family totalling four parishioners had attended a recent Family Service. In 2012 St. Michael’s held two or three services a month on variable Sundays with Communion at 10 a.m., Family Service at 10.30 a.m. and Evening Prayer at 6 p.m. It was part of the united benefice with Bleasby, Halloughton, Hoveringham, Morton and Thurgarton.

The Parish Registers are in Nottinghamshire Archives, and record baptisms from 1553, marriages from 1560, and burials from 1567.