Perlethorpe St John

Further Information

The Perlethorpe Parish Registers

The Parish Registers, date from 1528, ten years before the injunction was made by Thomas, Lord Cromwell, Vicegerent or Vicar-general, in September 1538, ordering that parish registers are to be kept. Along with Carburton, an adjoining chapelry, and Elsworth, near St Ives, in Cambridgeshire, Perlethorpe has the oldest parish register in England.

The first register’s content has entries of births, marriages and deaths from 1528 until 1679. Whilst the parchment binding, which is of a size 30cm by 12.5cm, may be of a later date, the register consists of 32 pages, the last of which contains no entry. The last three leaves appear to have been added after the previous ones had been stitched together, thus making the book larger.

The second register was constituted in 1680 by William Silverton, Vicar, and incorporates similar elements as the former version. Although a little different in size, some 26cm by 18cm it has a similar binding.

Edward Otter, Curate, first used the third register in 1755. This paper paged volume is parchment bound, and whilst covering the same elements as the former, it has many blank pages and concludes in 1813.

From 1813 to 1835 a separate register for marriages was established, the layout is as per the Act of Parliament, passed 28 July 1812. The register measures 40cm by 26cm, and consists of 100 pages. Within the register, page one has no entries; pages two to ten, have details entered, although there are many blanks.

An additional register was established for marriages for the period 1837 until 1982. This is the standard register as issued to all parish churches in 1837. It is a bound paper book with board covers, 38cm by 24.75cm having 250 pages. Two entries per page, in the approved style of Registers of Marriages. This register was closed on 22nd April 1982 by direction of Registrar General, hence no entries are made on pages 75 to 250 inclusive.

A Grave register, recompiled in 1812, and restated in 1813, is available with sketch drawings of the churchyard, which are still in use.

A Banns of Marriage register, first published in 1842 continues to date. This is a calf bound paper book with board covers, 24cm by 12.5cm having 300 pages.

A single Confirmation register is in use in the parish for the period from 1943.

A further volume is currently in use at the St John’s church for marriage registrations after 1982. Similarly, but separately, current volumes have been in use since 1813 for both burials and baptisms.

It should be noted that early dates are recorded according to the Julian Calendar. Under the Act of 1750-51 the Gregorian Calendar was adopted in Britain in 1752, with (Wednesday) September 2, 1752, being followed immediately by (Thursday) September 14, 1752.

In consulting these registers, it should also be noted, prior to 1752 the year was, in some cases, calculated as beginning on the 25th of March (Lady Day) instead of the 1st of January, so that a burial taking place on, say, 25th February, 1747, would be on that date in 1748 according to our current convention; but, as the civil and ecclesiastical year were both used, this is sometimes expressed as 25th Feb., 174? when transcriptions have subsequently been made.

On inspection of the first three registers, there is over-writing of entries and other disfigurement. Dr George W Marshall gave his opinion on the cause, having been given access to the available Registers in 1886 by Rev Thomas Inglis Luard. His notes indicate that a Rev Stebbing Shaw was involved in certain research for his book “The History of Staffordshire”, and the reason for taking such particular notice of this “Parlthorp Register” was in relation to the pedigree of the Stanley family, connected with that of Wolferstan. The Stanleys flourished from the end of the reign of Henry VIII to that of Elizabeth I, and the registers contain several entries involving them. The pages which have been most galled (overwritten/disfigured) are one, two, three, five and six. This process has rendered page one very difficult to read. Page two has suffered to an almost equal extent, especially the two ‘Stanley’ christening entries in 1553 and 1554. The name “Alse Wylde” is also galled on page four. On page six the words “Seene pvsed & allowed,” etc., have been galled all over.

Was Mr Shaw trying to make clear all the Stanley entries? In so far as Dr. Marshall’s notes are of value, the galling of “Perlethorpe Register” had not taken place during the period, from 1860 until 1886, hence it is reasonable to assume the perpetrator of the act was the said Stebbing Shaw.

The St John the Evangelist Church Inventory and Terrier dated 1936 also lists a Register of Baptisms from 1900, belonging to the Budby Mission Church, being at one time held with the Perlethorpe documents, however this was transferred, according to the notes entered in the Inventory, into the custody of the Vicar of Edwinstowe in 1958.

Charles Alphonso Pierrepont

On a table tomb in the churchyard there is an inscription which reads:

Sacred be this spot
To the memory of
A Major in the British Service
Who lost his life so Gallantly
While storming an Outwork near Burgo

Of an Ancient and Respectable Family
On whom by his excellent Conduct
He conferred Honour
He was interred on the field where
He fought and fell
September 19th 1812.

By Foreign Hand die Humble grave ordered
Strangers Honoured and By strangers mourned

The reference to Burgo should read Burgos, a town in Spain, which lies on the road to France from Valladolid, at the junction of the road to Madrid, to the south. It was besieged, but not overtaken, by the Army of the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular Campaign from September to October 1812.

Charles Alphonso’s relationship to the Pierrepont and/or the Meadows family is still somewhat obscure. His name does not appear on any of the family genealogical tables researched thus far, nor in the exhaustive and detailed research carried out by Anne Grimshaw with Peter and Audrey Brown on this matter.

As a twenty-six page letter was written at Thoresby Park, Nottinghamshire, on the 20th February 1809 by Charles Alphonso Pierrepont to possibly Sir HE Bunbury, it can be assumed he was for a period residing there. The letter’s contents and grammatical structure appear to indicate he had a good education, and from the regimental records, his maps and sketches drawn by him, during the retreat from Corunna, giving much technical detail for the logistical side of the various operations, do much to confirm this. The document also invites Bunbury to reply to him ‘undercover of Earl Manvers, Portman Square’ (London), which would again indicate he had a reasonably close relationship with the 1st Earl Manvers, i.e. Charles Pierrepont (formally Meadows).

A young Coldstream Guards officer, John Mills, writing home to his family in England, on 20th or 21st September 1812, advised them Major Pierrepont, the Quartermaster General of his division, was killed in storming the fort (at Burgos in Spain). He notes that he was talking to him some three hours before the incident where he mentioned he had a very narrow escape two days before, a spent ball having hit him in the right breast without hurting him. He goes on to indicate that the Major was ‘killed by a ball entering that very place’.

From the Regimental records, it would appear a French garrison of 2,000 men, were at Burgos at the time under its governor, Brigade General Dubreton, who had placed guns in the ruins of the old castle keep overlooking the bridges over the River Arlanzon, with a further battery on the hornwork of St Michael. The height of this battery, from the contour lines, is similar to that of the castle, but some 300 metres from it, to the north-east. Around this hornwork, a further 200 metres away, were three defence fléche or outworks, one to the north-west, another to the north-east and a latter one to the east. Charles Alphonso Pierrepont was killed storming one of these outworks, during the attack on the 19th September 1812 by troops of the British 1st and 6th Divisions. Considering the early progress of the troops, which was mainly on the north-western side, it may be this was the area whence he met his demise.

The list of Charles Alphonso Pierrepont’s promotions from the Public Records Office detail indicates he was an Ensign in the Minorca Regiment on 31st January 1799, and made Lieutenant in the 20th Regiment of Foot on 31st August 1799; gazetted to Captain on the 11th September 1806; appointed Assistant Quartermaster General in Iberian Peninsular on 10th April 1811 and Major on Staff of Quartermaster General’s Department on the 26th September 1811.

No detail of Charles Alphonso’s parentage or place of birth is noted on these documents.

The Tudsbury Family

The Tudsbury family has had a long connection with this Church and it is possible to trace the family back to 1627 using the Perlethorpe parish registers which record: “Richard Tudsbury and Mary were married on 16th August 1627”.

At that date they were working on the farm but during the nineteenth century the family became involved in working with wood and produced an outstanding woodcarver, Richard Tudsbury, who exhibited at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. His gravestone is to be seen in Edwinstowe churchyard, south-east from the main door.

Richard John Tudsbury, is reported as the carver of the magnificent chimney-piece, which is of Birkland oak, and can be seen in the library at the Thoresby Hall, and is of a style adopted in the original wood carving to be found in the church. (Other key references, including some of the old guide books for the Hall indicate a Robert Tudsbury, and others a Robinson of Retford and also one from Newark, executed the work. These are now however thought to be incorrect.) A trade-card with an illustration of the chimney-piece, was used by a Garrard Robinson of Newcastle, and a report by a local Newcastle journalist, at the time, expounding its excellence after seeing the piece in the carver’s workshop, would appear to confirm its origin. However, Tudsbury was commissioned to provide the carving on the pendants for the roof of the Great Hall at Thoresby, and a pair of sideboards within the dining room.

His youngest son, Walter Albert, became a well-known local artist, painting mainly woodland scenes. There are still members of this family living in Nottinghamshire, but alas, none remain locally. The local artist WA Tudsbury carved the oak lectern, which can be seen in St Mary’s church in the adjoining parish of Edwinstowe.

Whites Directory, dated 1853, notes Richard Tudsbury sen., joiner; Richard Tudsbury jun., joiner; and William Tudsbury, cabinet maker, carver and joiner, as residents of Edwinstowe. Similarly the 1851 Census also lists; Richard Tudsbury 38yrs and Richard John Tudsbury 31 yrs. The 1922 edition, Kelly’s Directory, lists: Tudsbury Bros., Bullivant Row - Carvers in wood.

These latter facts may be seen to confirm the possibility of the Tudsbury brothers executing much of the original carving work in St John’s Church, as they were operating during the period when they were produced.

Problems with Conserving the Pews

The light coloured deposit on the timber of the pews has an aggressive nature and is generally composed of magnesium sulphate and particles of stone, which constantly fall from the walls.

Many of the pew ends, are constructed of several pieces of timber, slip jointed together. On close examination some of the joints appear to have failed owing to the deterioration of the adhesive. This adhesive is what you would expect to find for the furniture’s age and construction, animal glue. Animal glue consists of gelatine made from boiling down hoofs, skins and horns, when added to water and heated until a consistency of smooth cream before use. This glue is particularly good for restoration work as it has an amazing ability to amalgamate with itself but deteriorates rapidly in damp conditions. The pew seats have in many cases split above the now redundant under-seat heaters. These splits were obviously caused by the high temperatures shrinking, and subsequently cracking, the timbers. Considerable water damage has also been occasioned over the years causing a complete breakdown of the sealing polish finish on the pews to the south-east of the Nave with other fluid spills and water marks elsewhere. Vandyke brown crystals or powder had been used originally, to ‘tone in’ or stain sections of timber. Dependent on the strength of the mix, an extraordinary range of colours has been achieved, from pale walnut brown to almost black ebony. Spirit-soluble aniline dyes may also have been used for staining small sections. These are dissolved with spirit and fixed with French polish, but the subtle effect tends to fade over long periods when used on larger areas and it has been impossible to ascertain the full extent of their use. Some additional colouring has been used on the pews west of the cross aisle, as noted earlier, which may have been applied incorrectly and later attempts made to remove it, causing their streaky appearance.