For this church:
The village of Langford has perhaps had a church since before the Norman Invasion. Domesday Book mentions ‘a priest and a church’ at Langford as part of the land of Ranulf, Geoffrey of La Guerche’s man. Geoffrey de La Guerche was a prominent supporter of William the Conqueror during the Invasion and had been rewarded with extensive lands across the midlands.
This possible Saxon church has not survived to the modern day, however – the current church dates to between AD 1190 and AD 1254 during the Early English period of Gothic architecture. The church tower is the only significant part of the building to have survived from this period, with the rest of the building being variously dated to the 14th and 15th centuries.
During the reign of Henry III the rector of the church, Walter de Grey, seems to have sided with Simon de Montfort and other barons in their rebellion against the king. An inquisition of 1265, shortly after the Battle of Evesham, found him and his reeve, William Bapster, guilty of being ‘in word and deed against the King and Prince Edward’. Despite this the de Grey family seem to have remained important landowners in the area, and represented it in parliament, until the 14th century when they merged with the Leek family.
There is no mention of Langford in the 1291 taxatio, probably because its income value was too low; similarly there are no records in the 1341 Nonae Rolls, or in the 1428 Henry VI subsidy.
During the 14th century an effigy was set up in the church depicting a mailed knight bearing the coat of arms of the Pierrepont family, who owned Langford manor house. The effigy still survives to this day in the chancel, although it is believed to have originally been sited near the south door. Sadly, the inscription on it has long since become illegible. For a long time the locals believed it to be in memory of an officer killed in the churchyard during the English Civil War today.
In 1471 an indenture was agreed upon between representatives of the Guild of the Holy Trinity in Newark and several landowners for 32 acres of land and meadow to be given to the Guild in return for an annual obituary and anniversary day to be given by the parish priest at Langford for John and Emiline Gray (Lady of Langford), William More, a clerk, and Robert Edenham. The indenture also committed the Guild to giving 12d to the church for funeral rites.
The church seems to have fallen on hard times from the 15th century onwards. In 1575 heavy floods diverted the River Trent, which had previously flowed next to the church, westward to closer to its current position on the other side of the village of Holme.
In the mid-16th century a dispute over land and tithes in the parish arose between Sir Francis Leeke, the manorial lord, and William Phyllypott, a Newark merchant who held the parsonage. According to Mr Stringer, the curate of Langford who reported on the state of the parsonage in 1593, Leake made the land of so little value ‘by dispeopling the town’ that Phyllypott was ‘glad to yield it up to his opponent.’ The village was later rebuilt 0.8 km to the south of the church, along the road between Collingham and Winthorpe. Earthworks in the fields between the church and the current village mark the site of the original settlement.
At some point after the depopulation of the village the north aisle and north chapel of the church were demolished and the north arcade blocked up.
In the reign of Henry VIII the church was placed in the patronage of the newly founded Trinity College, Cambridge. The college remained patrons until the early 20th century and continue to hold much land in the area in 2013.
The churchwardens’ presentment bills of the 17th century reveal that St Bartholomew’s had gained a reputation as ‘a lawless church’, where couples could marry without obtaining a licence or publishing banns. For example, in 1624 the churchwardens of Epperstone presented ‘Thomas Brunts and Olive his now wife for fornication before marriage; as it is reported, they were unlawfully married at Lanford [Langford], he being contracted with another woman by whom he had already begotten a bastard, as she affirmed to the minister of Epperston’ and in 1639 the churchwardens of Kilvington presented ‘Matthew Barney and Ann Horner his wife for being clandestinely married together by Mr Patchet, minister of Langford, without either licence or banns.’
By the 1680s the church was in a poor state. In 1684 the minister, churchwardens and inhabitants of Langford and Hockerton petitioned King Charles II for timber to repair the church roof:
‘Minster, church wardens and inhabitants of Langford and Hockerton having petitioned the Crown for 100 Oaks for repair of roof of their churches, which were almost demolished in the late wars. The parishoners are rebuilding the walls but they are too poor to purchase the timber. The matter is referred [6 August 1684] to Thos Corbym, Surveyor General of Woods for report .... Corbym having reported that “Langford Church is exceedingly ruinous, the cover thereof, formerly leaded, being all gone, and the timber of the roof, as well as all the seats, almost rotten, and the stonework, very much decayed”’ [Hockerton being somewhat similarly reported upon].
A Royal Warrant was issued on 18 December 1684 for the felling of 100 oaks, ‘being red wood and not fit for service in the Navy in such places in Sherwood Forest where they can be best spared in regard to vert and venison.’
However, attending to the restoration of the church appears to have been delayed as the churchwardens reported in May 1686 that ‘our church is very much out of repair in the walls, roof and windows; our chancel is fallen down’ due to the neglect of John Moore of Kirklington, the farmer of the impropriation of Langford who was responsible for church repairs. They were still complaining about Moore four years later.
In 1722 the perpetual curate of Langford (and Holme) was Matthew Bradford, LL.B., who that year also became the rector of nearby South Collingham. In 1726 William Tomlinson was admitted as curate and remained in that position till at least 1764. During his incumbency he gave two reports on the state of his parish requested by Archbishop Herring in 1743 and Archbishop Drummond in 1764. From these we know that services were performed in the church once every other week, but that before him they had been performed only once a month – another indication of the neglect the church had suffered but also of the reinvigoration the churches of England began to see in the 18th and 19th centuries. The 1743 report lists sixteen families in Langford but that one of these were Quakers.
By 1764 this had increased to nineteen families but no dissenters are listed – either the Quaker family converted or moved away. Sacrament was given in the church four times a year – the official minimum at the time – with about 18 to 20 communicants each time. In 1764 William Tomlinson was paid £10 per annum for his service at Langford, while the curacy as a whole was worth £14 per annum. These are not very high figures for a parish, even in the 18th century. As there seems to have been no residence in Langford itself, Mr Tomlinson was forced to reside at Newark about 2½ miles away.
In 1802 Thomas Blades became perpetual curate and remained so for several decades. In 1835 his overall benefice revenue was £40, a relatively low sum for such a position. In this same year Langford is recorded as not having a glebe house (that is, a house on land owned by the church for the use of the resident priest).
A terrier dated 28 July 1817 includes the following information:
In 1841 the church was repaired and refurnished with new pews at a cost of £150. The money was raised by subscription with Lord Middleton being a notable contributor. The Middleton family appears to have been particularly supportive of the church - Lady Middleton donated church plate in 1841 and in 1867, when the Reverend W Brown was vicar, Lord Middleton donated some of his lands to the church. The Duncombe family were another notable 19th century sponsor of the church, including donating the font of Sicilian marble in 1867, donated by Captain George T Peirse-Duncombe. Several monuments can be found in the church dedicated to various members of the Duncombe family from this period.
Either during the repairs of 1841 or further repairs a few years later the workmen discovered a fresco painting on the wall of the nave depicting the arms of the Pierrepont family just as on the effigy of the knight.
In 1844 the church was a perpetual curacy worth £40 per annum and in the patronage of Trinity College, Cambridge (as were a number of other churches in the diocese). It had 30 acres of glebe land purchased with Queen Anne’s Bounty (a fund set up by her in 1703 to assist poorer churches and continued throughout the 18th and 19th centuries). By 1864 this had increased to 35 acres.
In 1851 the perpetual curate, Joseph Mayor, gave similar figures for the religious census of that year – land worth £40, the Bounty providing another £15 and fees worth 10s. The census states that the average congregation was 40 in the morning and 60. There was still no school at the village though and the children had to go to South Collingham, about two miles away, for Sunday School and service.
In 1854 the parish was formally united with the nearby chapelry of Holme to become Langford-with-Holme, although there is some indication that the two were being jointly served as early as the 18th century, as in 1722 Matthew Bradford is recorded as serving Langford-with-Holme.
In 1862 the church was further restored. This included an enlarging of the churchyard, which was then enclosed with an iron palisade, and the erection of a parsonage near the church. The Reverend J Henry Brown was the curate at the time of the repairs.
Sir Stephen Glynne visited Langford in April 1866, and wrote an account of the church as it then was:
This Church has a short nave with S. aisle – Chancel – Western Tower and S. porch – The nave is embattled and has a Clerestory on the N, though no aisle and the features are mostly Perpendr. The aisle is tiled without parapet. The arcade of the nave has 3 pointed arches, on octagonal pillars with embattled capitals – The windows of the aisle are of 3 lights – one square headed.
The Clerestory windows on the N are Perpr, of 2 lights, as also those below. The Tower arch is pointed and very narrow, on octagonal shafts. The Chancel arch is pointed, on embattled capitals. The Chancel is of better masonry than the nave and had once a chapel on the N , opening by an enriched arch having fine flowered mouldings now walled up. The E window is Perpr of 5 lights – other windows are squareheaded of 3 lights – that to the S E has the cill extended for a seat – There is a piscin with ogee canopy and square basin. On the N of the Sacrarium is a mutilated sepulcral effigy with inscription in very large letters of 15th century, yet not legible. The Font is small and poor – The nave has a flat pitched roof of late character carried on brackets – the Chancel is ceiled. The nave has been partly fitted with benches and poppy heads, much too high and heavy. The tower is plain with battlement and 4 pinnacles and very shallow buttresses – divided by one string course – On the W side is a single lancet – the belfry windows of 2 lights unfoliated –
In 1878, the chancel was reroofed, the work paid for by the church’s patrons, Trinity College, Cambridge.
Despite these repairs Cox (1912) described the chancel and the tower exterior as being in poor condition in 1911 when he visited the church. By this time the vicar was the Reverend Charles William Hamilton Aitchinson who remained vicar from 1908 through the early 20th century. By 1912 the vicarage was worth £176 per annum and by 1922 this had risen to £202. In that same year the church had 88 acres of glebe land. Trinity College remained the patrons of the parish. Later in that decade, however, the patronage was transferred to the Bishop of Southwell.
In the 1950s plans were drawn up to have the church moved, stone by stone, to the Ladybrook estate in Mansfield. The estimated cost of £17,000 was lower than the £25,000 estimated for building a new church. The plans were never completed and St Bartholomew’s remains at its original site at Langford.
In recent years extensive restoration efforts have been made, including the repair of the nave roof in 1994, the repair of the south aisle roof in 1996-7 and the extensive rebuilding of the east chancel wall in 2004. In 2007 a grant of £8,500 was awarded to the church by the Nottinghamshire Historic Churches Trust to assist with the stripping and re-plastering of the chancel, nave, south aisle and vestry.