St John


In Saxon times the local land belonged to two worthies, Thurston and Ulmer, but the Domesday Book indicates Turesbi belonging to the King, and neighbouring Torp held jointly by the King and Roger de Busli.

Torp is now the village of Perlethorpe, a development of Peureltorp, as noted in the 1159 Pipe Commission Rolls, and later in 1167 as Peuerelestorp in the Chancellor’s copy of the same rolls. It is suggested this was because in the reign of Henry III, William de Peverel the younger had some interest in the land, and Thoresby was really a part of the manor of Torp, which passed to the Viponts, descendants of the de Buslis.

Further scholars consider Þorp, an old Norse name meaning ‘dependant settlement’, (Perlethorpe) did not form part of the honour of Peverel and there seems to be no evidence as to the way in which the name Peverel came to be prefixed to the original Thorp. The form Peuerellingethorp ought perhaps therefore, to be regarded as eccentric rather than archaic.

Turesbi, as noted in the Domesday Book, 1086, reappears in the Calendar of Close Rolls, in 1234, as Thuresby; and several times over the period 1276 - 1317, in Select Pleas of the Forest, as Thouresby. Our own Parlethorpe register gives the spelling in 1528 as Throw’sbye and in 1592, Thowarsbie.

In the succeeding centuries, the land passed through a number of different hands, including the Beauchamps, Nevilles, George Duke of Clarence, Richard Duke of Gloucester, the Crown, Sir John Byron, Lord Clinton and Saye, the Earls and Dukes of Kingston-upon-Hull and latterly the Earls Manvers.

Domesday Book also indicates Perlethorpe with Thoresby was a village in the Medieval Parish forming part of the Berewick in Edenstow which had one Caricute of land to be taxed, land to two ploughs, there is a church and a priest, being in an outlying part of the Royal Manor of Mansfield. The Medieval parish also consisted of the villages of Budby, Carburton, Ollerton, and Wellow.

Thoresby with Perlethorpe as chapelries of Edwinstowe were given by William II to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln and are listed in the earliest charter of 1146.

In 1422 the parishioners of the Chapelries, including Thoresby, Perlethorpe and Budby, led by men of Wellow, caused to appear before the Dean and Chapter, Robert Gomondely, vicar of Edwinstowe, where a petition was made against the vicar, concerning the annuity of 11 nobles given by the Dean and Chapter part for the Vicar and part to be divided amongst the poor. Each claimed a larger portion for their parish including Perlethorpe and Thoresby, which together had one chapel.

From 1528 a register was established for recording baptisms, marriages and deaths. Along with Carburton, an adjoining chapelry, and Elsworth, near St. Ives, in Cambridgeshire, Perlethorpe has the oldest parish registers in England.

In 1587 a memorandum written in the parish register, by George Ormerod, Dean of Retford and Laneham, instructs, the churchwardens of Peverilthorpe to “buy one quyre of paper and cause it to bee writen againe. P me Georiu Ormarod decanu de Retford et Lanehame.”

After the Civil War Thomas Bowes, Vicar of Edwinstowe, petitioned the Dean and Chapter on behalf of poor of parishes including Parlethorpe and Thoresbye for a resumption of the ‘Lincoln Dole’ , “11 nobles, 5 nobles for the vicar and 40s to the poor...relating neere to 30 families”. And he would like the arrears since the Restoration. Unfortunately this letter is not dated, however as this petition, was made by Thomas Bowes, Vicar of Edwinstowe, we have a time span from 1647, as Bowes signed the churchwardens accounts on 3rd July 1647, and remained until his death in 1679/80 (he was buried on the 2nd February). He was also active on 22nd November 1659 as he married Tho. Millner and Eliza. Stock, both of Budby, in his house, presumably because “balliffs was in Towne to arrest ye vica’.”

In 1744, the foundation stone from a previous church building was laid by Prince Evelyn, Duke of Kingston, commemorating its rebuilding. This church in turn was taken down in 1879, but a remnant can be seen at the eastern end of the churchyard, the memorial to Charles Alphonso Pierrepont. It is reached by heading east from the present church building, along the central pathway through the churchyard. It stood with its High Altar positioned at the apex of the Ionic cross shape of the pathway. To the right is where the foundation stone (now missing) was found. It read

The Church of Peverelthorpe
The Noble and Generous Prince Evelyn
Duke of Kingston Knight of the Garter
Rebuilt in the year 1744

The 1764 Perlethorpe chapel terrier recorded “... a new building and the whole furniture thereof in good order and repair.”

This 1764 terrier gives clarification of the tithe involved at that time is stated:

The Vicar is intitled to the Small Tythes of the Hamlett of Palethorpe in the same manner as at Edwinstowe. The Duke of Kingston usually presents the Vicar about Martinmass with a sum of money (about Fifteen Pounds) in lieu of the small Tythes of certain Crofts & Tofts and other Lands. But this is a Gratuity or payment that depends upon his Grace’s pleasure it far exceeding the value for the Tythes of these lands. There is an ancient Composition or payment of Three pounds and five shillings for the farm called Whitemoor Farm. And there is no Modus or other tythes belonging to the Vicar of Edwinstowe in Palethorpe but what are included in these two Annual payments above mentioned.

In 1836 Earl Manvers by Act of Parliament, was allowed to endow the chapelry of Perlethorpe, with Thoresby included, and it was created a separate benefice. The right of nomination of the incumbent according to the Act of Parliament was vested upon the Earl and his heirs.

In 1837 an endowment was made by Charles Herbert Earl Manvers of an annuity of £100 a year, this being the only source of income for the Vicar (Perpetual Curate) of Perlethorpe, and is chargeable upon Whitemoor Farm.

On the back of the same deed there is a schedule of all the lands and buildings belonging to Whitemoor Farm. Also in the same deed an annuity of £5 is also conveyed to the trustees, which is also chargeable on Whitemoor Farm, for the Maintenance of the Church.

In 1844 the tithe for Perlethorpe was commuted, viz., the Great Tithe for £460, and the Vicarial Tithe for £160, Earl Manvers being the lessee under the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln, who were the Lord of the Manor and the principal owner.

At the religious census of 1851 the church was described as having 88 free and 12 other seats, but the local population was given as only 80. At the morning congregation on census Sunday 60 people were in the general congregation and there were 12 Sunday Scholars.

White’s Directory of 1853 recorded that the church was situated in Thoresby Park and was of an elegant stone fabric, having some beautiful stained glass in the windows. In the niches at the west end are carved figures of Hope and Meekness, and at the east end was a neat monument in memory of Charles Alphonso Pierrepont.

The Present Church Building

The present church building of St John the Evangelist, was built just after the third Thoresby Hall (1865-75). The third Earl Manvers commissioned the designs from Anthony Salvin (1779-1881), champion of early and mid-Victorian neo-Tudor design in England ever since his design of Harlaxton Manor, Lincolnshire.

An early photograph -
the chimney is visible in the
nave roof near the tower

The present churchyard incorporating the church building is a little over one and a half acres in size, and is set within the rural and otherwise mature landscape of Thoresby Park. The building is a solid Victorian Gothic structure, with a four pinnacle tower with a tall spire being some 128 feet overall, which can be seen above the tree tops of the park. The chimney on the north side, planned by Salvin and shown in an early photograph, has subsequently been demolished. The faces on the pillars within the Nave represent Christ’s twelve Apostles. John, the beardless one and patron saint of the church, is clearly positioned over the pulpit. Carved stone foliage capitals on some of the columns are also of great interest.

Access to the tower is from a small locked door that leads to the tower and belfry. Ringing the changes was a strong tradition, which unfortunately had to finish, when five of the principal bells had to be removed because of the instability of the tower, owing to mining subsidence in the 1950s, and insufficient funds to execute the repairs.

The church was consecrated on 21 November 1876, by Christopher Wordsworth, the Bishop of Lincoln, nephew of William Wordsworth the poet. He preached that day on St Paul’s First Letter to Timothy, chapter 3 verses 15-16 with ‘The Great Secret’ as the theme. The service lasted for some three hours.

Pevsner describes the new church as an example of a Victorian nobleman who ‘feels it his duty to build a goodly church for his tenants after having built a magnificent mansion for himself’.

On 1 February 1877 the Ecclesiastical Commissions constituted the new church as the parish church, and the wardens obtained a faculty to have the old building demolished. The materials were to be sold to raise money which be used for making good the site of the demolished building.

In 1887, Rev’d Henry Telford Hayman had dispensation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to hold priest with Edwinstowe; the curate was WB Cardew. The Reverend, later Canon, Hayman played cricket for Kent in 1874 and was no doubt welcomed by both Thoresby and Edwinstowe clubs. He was a prominent Freemason and appointed Grand Superintendent of Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter in and over the Province of Nottinghamshire in 1905. In April 1912, became the first Master of the Notts. Installed Masters Lodge No 3595, and in 1933 Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Nottinghamshire, following the death of the Duke of Portland.

In 1904 it was found that the walls had not been built correctly, and most of the north nave wall, porch and the clerestory windows had to be repaired; large elements of the south wall in both the nave and chancel had to be taken down to repair them. No bonding stones linking the inner and outer walls had been provided and rubbish had been placed into the cavity. The outer ashlar facings were very thin in places, thus enabling the weather to penetrate and causing excessive decay.

This work was completed in 1904 under the direction of the Thoresby Estate Agent, Robert Walter Wordsworth, who also organised at the same time, the manufacture of the additional pews, west of the cross aisle. These are very similar to those at the front of the nave, but with less detail. They brought the seating capacity of the church to 168.

In 1918, the Rev Frank Cecil Day-Lewis, father of Cecil Day-Lewis, the famous poet and novelist was licensed at Edwinstowe. From 1887 to 1918 the vicars of Edwinstowe had held Perlethorpe by dispensation, but the Rev Frank Cecil Day-Lewis, claimed to be perpetual curate of Perlethorpe although no record of a licence exists.

From 1925 to 1950 the chaplain to Earl Manvers also officiated at Perlethorpe and from 1951 a chaplain to Perlethorpe was appointed.

In 1969 Perlethorpe was became independent with the appointment of its first Priest in Charge, Robert Spenser Canning Baily, a Director of Education.

The priest’s vestry in the northwest corner was constructed in the old choir vestry area and was provided following a donation from Lord Hanson, on behalf of his sister and brother in law, for which the church gives grateful thanks.

A memorial plaque records:

This vestry was created at the wishes of Muriel & Teddie Lumb of East Markham to whose memory it is dedicated

The Church has a dwarf boundary wall built in 1861, which has gabled intermediate piers and larger cross-gabled corner piers, complete with patterned wrought iron railings with fleur de lys heads.

To the west, cross-gabled gate piers support a pair of matching wrought iron gates.

Gas street lamps c1861 were erected adjacent to these gates and one on the pathway through the wood down to the Thoresby Hall, however two have had to be taken down for safety reasons. Each unit is made from cast and sheet iron, having a ringed round stem and octagonal foot, with an open-work octagonal unglazed lantern, complete with finial.