The parish of Laneham includes the two settlements of Laneham and Church Laneham. There is evidence of a prehistoric settlement. The Romans certainly had a settlement at ‘Lanum’ (though the place is unclear and may be located in Scotland). The name most likely comes from the Old English æt Lanum meaning ‘at the lanes’. A Roman coin has been found in the churchyard and Roman tiles have been used in the walls of the church. Other Roman and Anglo-Saxon artefacts have been found in the graveyard.
The Archbishops of York had an interest in Laneham from Anglo-Saxon times, maybe as early as the 10th Century when Oskytel, Archbishop of York in 959, was granted land at Southwell by King Eadwig. At some time between 1060 and 1065, King Edward the Confessor, as Lord of Oswaldbeck, issued a writ, that effected the removal of the Archbishop’s ‘Manor of Laneham’ from the Oswaldbecksoke, giving the Archbishop full control. In 1086, it is difficult to estimate the acreage of Laneham, as the information in Domesday Book includes that of the outliers of Laneham which were Ascam, Beckingham, Saundeby, Bolum (West Bole), Wateleg (Wheatley), and Legreton (Leverton). However, Archbishop Thomas of York had 4½ ploughs. Thirty five villagers and 6 bord (smallholders) had 16 ploughs, carucats, or plough-lands. There were 2 piscaries (fishing rights) yielding 8s, 1 mill yielding 16s, pasture wood 3 leagues long and 1½ broad, and one hundred acres of meadow. Two men-at-arms held further land and property on behalf of the Archbishop.
Domesday Book confirms the existence of a church with priest, but the current church appears to be largely 12th Century Norman. The North Aisle was added early in the 13th century. Diagonal buttresses and battlements were added to the tower in the 15th century. Most of the windows are 14th century.
In 1416, the church was declared to be in a ‘deplorable state of neglect’. The chancel of the church ‘de Lanom’ was restored in 1460. In 1510, there were complaints about ‘the leaky roof’. Local parish registers survive from 1538 for baptisms, and from 1566 for marriages and burials. In 1639, John Tym and Robert Draper, church wardens, certified that the defects in the church had been repaired and an inspection made of it. They paid 4s 4d fees.
The Archbishop of York, Geoffrey Fitzroy (Plantagenet) the illegitimate son of Henry II, gave the church to the Chapter of York. This gift was confirmed together with further endowments by Pope Celestine III in 1194.
Archbishop Walter Gray (1216-1255) was almost certainly the main benefactor for the building of the North aisle of St Peter’s. The moulded arches are ‘the closest we get in any local parish church to the arch profiles in the choir at Southwell’ built in 1234. Gray was well known for his financing of both cathedrals and parish churches and visited Laneham in 1221, 1228, and 1234.
Laneham was at the height of its importance in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. There were visits during every year by Archbishops Wickwane, Romeyn, and Corbridge. Numerous edicts and rulings were issued from Laneham. At the Pope Nicholas IV taxation in 1291 the church of Laneham was valued at £14 2s 8d, and the ‘Vicaria Ecclesie Lamun que est de Communia Ecclesie Ebor' at £5 6s 8d. There is no entry for Laneham in the Nonae Rolls of 1341, presumably because the parish was a peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of York, however in the subsidy of 1428, Laneham is listed as one of seven churches who, though apparently not taxed in antiquity declared they would pay 6s 8d (half a mark).
Edward I stayed in Laneham for the night of 16 April 1303 and issued a mandate ‘respecting grant of tenements to the queen’s minstrel (Chancery Warrants i173). Archbishop Thomas de Corbridge died in Laneham in 1304. Visits continued to at least 1340 and then became less frequent and the ‘palace’ fell into disrepair.
In 1472 Robert and Joan Mynet paid 7 marks (£4 13s 4d) for a priest to celebrate mass for one year for the soul of Thomas Bellamy and Joan once his wife.
In the Chancery Certificate Rolls for 1548 there is mention of a small association in Laneham that had limited funds to pay for the occasional mass.
Gervase Harrison of Laneham, a Quaker was prosecuted in the Ecclesiastical Court in 1689 for non-payment of tithes. He was committed to Nottingham Gaol. His house was registered as a meeting place for religious worship under the Toleration Act 1689. In 1707 John Parker was sued for non-payment of tithes. Although the suit was dropped, his expenses were many times the amount of tithes to be recovered.
The current layout of the parish was heavily influenced by the Laneham Internal Drainage Act and the Laneham Enclosure Award 1774. About 100 acres of the parish lay on the east side of the River Trent in what is now Lincolnshire and the land was allocated to Laneham farmers.
The population of Laneham, estimated at 174 in 1086, grew to 272 in 1793 and 302 at the time of the first census in 1801. By 1851 it was 410 (208 males, 202 females), a peak from which it subsequently declined. The general congregation on census Sunday was 100 with 55 in the Sunday School. The Wesleyan Chapel of 1834 had a general congregation of 56 in the afternoon and 100 in the evening. It was restored in 1894, but is now (2012) disused and in a poor state of repair.
In 1884, by order of the local Government Board, this land was transferred to the parish of Kettlethorpe. However, a small tract of land is still owned by Laneham parish being successor in title to the Surveyor of Highways to whom it was originally allocated. Annual rent is received from British Waterways.
In 1890/1 there were major repairs to the church roof of the nave and north aisle. The architect was Mr Somers-Clarke of Westminister and the builder was Mr Cawthorne of Tuxford. The cost was ‘a little over £600’. The was no money left to deal with the South Porch, ‘an ugly erection mostly of wood’ described further as ‘an unsightly barnacle’. The re-opening proceedings took place on 9th April 1891.
The archbishop of York still had interest in land in Laneham up to end of 19th century as evidenced by local property deeds.
In 1912 it had 45 children on the roll of the church school, and 24 on the roll of the Sunday School. There had been four baptisms and two confirmations in the course of twelve months,
The main purpose of Laneham ferry was to transport land owners and the beasts across the river. The ferry continued in existence until 1923.
The south porch was finally rebuilt in 1932 was using some of the original 14th century timbers. The new design was by Mr F E Howard of Oxford, an expert on medieval woodwork. There is a plaque inside the porch, in memory of Ben Walker, one of the workers on the porch, who, sadly, was the first person to be ‘carried through’ the porch.
In 2000 the original south door of c1200 was replaced with a new door of oak which was made in Laneham by Lee Sinclair a furniture maker: the earlier door is preserved inside the church.