Holy Trinity


Dedicated to the Holy and Undivided Trinity, Lambley church is described by Pevsner as ‘one of the few entirely Perp. village churches in Notts, all of a piece and of felicitous proportions tall and narrow, all the windows high and spacious’.

There is no mention of either a church or priest in Domesday neither is there any record of when the church was built. One of the earliest records of a church is in the Taxatio of Pope Nicholas IV taken in 1291 to provide money for a crusade to the Holy Land. Lambley church was rated as worth £10. The lower two storeys of the tower date from the late 12th century whilst the upper storey and the north chancel wall are early 14th century. In 1340 Ralph de Cromwell founded a Chantry of St Mary at Lambley to which he gave one messuage and a hundred shillings yearly. The Chantry consisted of two storeys built onto the north side of the chancel. The doorway from the chancel into the chapel still survives. Today it leads into the Canon Pearson Memorial Sacristry. A hagioscope or squint giving a view of the altar from the upper storey still survives. The names of two chantry priests are known Robert de Gerveyse 1407 and Andrew Baynard 1409. The remains of the chantry walls and a piscina in the south-east corner are shown on a plan of 1847 by Bowman & Hadfield.

The church was rebuilt as a result of a bequest by Ralph, Lord Cromwell of Tattershall, Treasurer of England 1433-44. He was born in Lambley about 1394, Cromwell fought at Agincourt, came to the notice of Henry V, was present at the trial of Joan of Arc and became one of the wealthiest and most influential men of the period. Cromwell is best remembered for his passion for building, notably Tattershall castle and church, Colleyweston and Wingfield manors.

As Constable of Nottingham Castle and Keeper of Sherwood Forest Cromwell spent some time at Lambley. In 1423 he married Margaret d’Eincourt; the marriage was childless and in 1451 Cromwell made a will to supercede one made in 1431. A codicil was added to this will ordering the rebuilding of ‘the parish church of Lambley’. Lady Cromwell died on 16th September 1454 and at Michaelmas 1454 Cromwell made substantial changes to this will. He left most of his property to be used for charitable causes including the rebuilding of Lambley church and the placing of a ‘marble stone with two brazen immages shall be ordered and placed fittingly there above the tomb of my father and mother’.

Cromwell died on 4th January 1456. Protracted law suits and disputes regarding his will continued for at least the next ten years. These together with the problems caused by the ‘Wars of the Roses’ and the death of Thomas Neville at the Battle of Wakefield and Humphrey Bourchier at the Battle of Barnet, husbands of Cromwell’s heiresses Maud and Joan Stanhope, respectively probably delayed the rebuilding of the church. Sometime between 30th November 1466 and 23rd April 1469 an indenture states that amongst the outstanding charges to be met by Ralph Cromwell’s executors was an estimated cost for rebuilding Lambley church. On the 29th April 1480 the church was rededicated by William Bishop of Dromore, suffragan to the Archbishop of York. The Bishop also granted an indulgence or remission of 40 days ‘to all persons truly contrite and penitent who should keep the anniversary day of this dedication and consecration of the church’.

In the late Middle Ages the making of a will was a moral and religious obligation. Ralph Cromwell was not alone in making a will for the benefit of the church. In 1472 Agnes Leke of Lambley requests burial in church and gives 3s 4d to the fabric of the church (she also gives 3s 4d to the fabric of Halam church). In 1510 Margaret Meynell widow of Lambley requests ‘my body to be buried in the Trinity church at Lambley’ and ‘4lb of wax to be burned in torches round my body’ Margaret bequeathes 12d to the high altar for ‘tithes forgotten’ and ‘for the upholding of a light afore our lady a cow’. There were also bequests to the high altar at Burton, the ‘stepill’ at Shelford and a quarter of barley to the friars of Nottingham and the white friars. The wills indicate the close links which Lambley people had with Nottingham and the surrounding area. Agnes’ and Margaret’s wills are by no means unusual in their Catholic tone but by the end of the 16th and into the 17th century wills adopt a more Protestant style asking for forgiveness of sins through Christ’s passion. Bequests are more likely to be for the poor or for the mending of highways and bridges. In 1666 Samuel Martin left 40 shillings ‘to be put forth and the interest to be given to the ‘poore of Lamley forever’. By 1988 the interest was so small that the money was transferred to the Lambley Sick Fund, which had been formed in 1959, using money which had accumulated from money paid into the Lambley Nursing Association founded in 1900 to pay for a resident nurse.

The Cromwell family had been lords of the manor of Lambley since the 11th century and retained the advowson of the rector. In the disputes following Cromwell’s death the advowson passed to William, Lord Hastings. It is possible that he and William Waynflete Bishop of Winchester, one of Cromwell’s executors, had some part in the rebuilding of the church as it shows some architectural similarities to Tattershall church and Waynfleet school in Lincolnshire and to Hastings’ own castle at Kirkby Muxloe. It is interesting that the east end of Lambley church shows a striking resemblance to the church in the painting of St Jerome in the Hastings Book of Hours.

After the death of Sir Francis Willoughby in 1596 the descent of the advowson passed to his six co-heirs who took the presentation of the rector in turn. During the 18th century various claimants came forward to press their right of presentation. However by 1781 the Flamsteed family appear to have possessed the whole advowson.

The earliest known rector is Roger in 1268. Many rectors held Lambley in plurality. The career of Thomas Trayly installed 25th March 1330 is complicated. Having already exchanged a living from Northill Beds on 15th March 1332, letters from Archbishop Melton institute him to the church of Ribchester Lancs on presentation of Isabella the Queen Mother. Trayly is said to have exchanged livings with Robert de Brustrick of Ribchester but there is no record of Brustrick being at Lambley. Between 1333-36 Trayly is recorded as being given leave of absence from Lambley.

Not all rectors appear to have been law abiding, John de Crumbewell parson of Lambley was given a pardon for outlawry in 1360. In 1415 an Azzise of Novel Disseisin was taken as to whether Benedict Draper parson of Lambley and Robert Sybthorpe chaplain and others had unjustly disseised John Wollaton. Thomas Shipman was deprived during 1554 but was reinstated and remained rector until his death in 1568 when John Lund was installed, he remained rector until his death in 1608. Thomas Haies and Bartholomew Ashwood followed in quick succession. A cause paper in the Borthwick Institute records that Ashwood entered the church and parsonage illegally. He was replaced by Stephen Morland.

During the 17th century presentments at the Archdeaconry Consistory Court give an insight into the lives of the parishioners. Most offences are for not paying church dues, brawling and fighting in the churchyard, fornication and adultery but the churchwardens are also presented for leaving rubbish in the churchyard and for church and parsonage being out of repair. The excuse for not doing the repairs in May 1636 was that ‘they cannot get straw until after harvest’. From the presentments it would appear that there was a curate as well as a vicar, it is also recorded that there is an ‘able and honest schoolmaster’. In 1641 a total of 38 men signed the Protestation Return in the presence of John Wood Justice of the Peace, it was stated that these were ‘all the male inhabitants over 18' there were no recusants or dissenters.

During the Commonwealth the rectory was sequestered from the rector William Barwick to the State’s use and in 1650 the parishioners elected Jonathon Boole to officiate the cure. However by 1662 the patronage was back with the Wood family, the descendants of Sir Francis Willoughby, when John Wood presented Henry Callis. Callis had in fact been preacher at Lambley as early as 1660, he remained at Lambley 52 years and was buried there 14th April 1712 aged 75. He can be found paying for 3 hearths on the Hearth Tax return of 1644 when a total of 28 houses were assessed. By 1674 the village had increased to 46 houses and Henry Callis now had 4 hearths. The Hearth Tax shows how the framework knitting industry had developed in that time.

The earliest surviving Terrier is signed by Henry Callis on 16th August 1687 although it does not give a detailed description of the parsonage house it does detail the extent and position of the glebe land. Terriers survive for many years between 1687-1825. The 1770 terrier does give a good description of the Parsonage house, which at that time was very small.

During the early part of the 18th century the church suffered as a result of patronage disputes, and absent rectors who held more than one living and lived at an alternative living often some distance away. Henry Woods 1719-55 was also Chaplain to the Earl of Sunderland, in 1722 he successfully petitioned for dispensation to accept the living at Stanford on Soar claiming that the two parishes were about 10 miles apart. His presentation is strange considering that when examined by Archdeacon Marsden between 1722-24 he was found to be ‘sadly deficient in the Latine as well as the Greek tongue’. In answer to Archbishop Herring’s Visitation of 1743 he answered that he personally resided at the parsonage house. Between 1755-61 there was no rector because of patronage disputes. In 1781 Richard Dodsley, a relative of the Flamsteeds took over as rector. However by 1832 the state of both church and parsonage house appear to be in decline. The rector and holder of the advowson Alvery Dodsley Flamsteed records that the glebe house is unfit for residence because of its size and antiquity and that he pays £25 for a house (Lambley House on Bank Hill Woodborough) to reside within the parish. The glebe house is let to Thomas Tomlinson farmer who occupies the glebe land. Flamsteed comments on the poverty of the inhabitants ‘many of whom are stockingers or smallholders’.

The poverty of the parishioners, the frequent absence of the rector and the damp and ruinous state of the church together with the influence and appeal of nonconformity combined to help the rise of Methodism in Lambley.

The first chapel was built at the top of Chapel Lane by the Methodist New Connexion in 1807. In 1847 the Primitive Methodists bought a plot of land on Main Street on which the present Methodist Chapel stands. For a while the ‘Prims’ used the Chapel Lane building but in 1848 it was bought by the Wesleyans and the ‘Primitive’ Methodists had to find other accommodation. Until their own chapel was ready they held their services in a barn in the grounds of Primrose Cottage Main Street. The chapel opened in August 1849.

In 1847 Halstead Cobden became rector. Married to Emma daughter of Sir George Carroll, the patron, he set about improving both church and village. First he built a new rectory house adjoining the old parsonage so that he could live in the village. The rectory was demolished in 1973 and a smaller house built on the site of the old coach house and barn. In 1849 Rev.Cobden was chairman of a public meeting held to approve the building of a school ‘for the education of the children of the poor on the principles of the National Society’. The school was built on parish land north-west of the church between the stream and the road running parallel to it. The school was so successful that in 1874 it had to be enlarged to accommodate 40 children. When the new Council School was built in 1907, the Old Schoolroom was used as the village hall. Today it is a nursery school.

The Religious Census of 1851 confirms some of Cobden’s fears about the state of his church. Out of a population of 951 the congregation at evensong was 55 compared with 120 at the Wesleyan Methodist chapel 98 at the Primitive Methodist chapel and 25 at a service for Latter Day Saints. Perhaps as a result of this census and the survey of the church in 1847 Cobden applied to the Incorporated Church Building Society for a grant. The Archdeacon of Nottingham writing in his letter of recommendation states: ‘no place claims greater attention from the society. The church is internally in an unrepaired condition & until Mr Cobden became incumbent the population was fearfully bad - his residence and all that he has time and money spent upon it has reclaimed it. In 1813 it was a refuge for Luddites. One half of the subscription comes from Mr Cobden’

The ICBS agreed to make a grant of £50 on condition that seating for the poor was increased from 55 to 124 and a further 36 seats were provided for the children of the parochial school. George Gordon Place architect of Nottingham provided the plan, and the work was carried out by William Smith, builder. Repairs and restoration was also carried out and the church was officially reopened on 18th November 1855

The church is remarkable for its lack of memorials. Those to the Cromwell family have long since become worn and illegible; the alabaster slabs to Lord Cromwell’s parents and grandparents are hidden beneath the carpet of the nave and chancel. At the back of the church is a war memorial to the men who died in the 1914-18 and 1939-45 World Wars. Over the rood screen is hung a large wooden crucifix in memory of Isabella Wagstaff, grandmother of Canon H W Pearson. She died on 2nd May 1917. There are some interesting slate stones in the churchyard, these have all been recorded by the Nottinghamshire Family Society

The village was enclosed in 1794, and in 1841 the Tithe Award map was prepared for the purpose of enabling tithes in kind to be commuted into payments in cash. At this time there was 90 acres of glebe land and much land belonged to the Manvers Estate. In the late 19th and early 20th century the population of Lambley consisted of stockingers and smallholders. There was no resident squire or large landowner resident in the village. In 1883 Henry Pearson became rector; he was followed by John Taft in 1899 and then by his son Henry Wilkinson Pearson from 1912-1967. This continuity and the eventual development of the village as a commuter village for Nottingham has ensured that at the end of the 20th century the church is in a strong position to go forward into the new Millennium.