For this church:
St Chad’s church is a small church built of brick in the Early English style.
The church was built in 1876 by Joseph Paget, a local businessman and the senior partner in the William Hollins Company, owners of the textile mills in Pleasley Vale. Paget lived at Stuffynwood Hall a short distance to the north of Pleasley Vale.
Paget’s father and stepmother had accidentally drowned at Filey in 1873 leaving the bulk of their estate to their heir. He also owned the 400 acre Ruddington Grange estate near Nottingham which he sold to Sir Thomas Isaac Birkin, owner of the famous Birkin Lace Company, sometime after 1882.
Paget was very wealthy and decided that the people of Pleasley Vale needed a place of worship of their own to avoid the journey to Pleasley or Shirebrook. He built St Chad’s on his estate in Stuffynwood in an elevated position above the River Meden on the Derbyshire (north) side of the river. Access to the church was via the lower part of his carriage drive and then up a designated footpath.
The church was originally built from timber and painted white. It followed a design by Cox and Sons of the Strand, London. It was lit by gaslight, gas having been installed on the estate and throughout the nearby mills in the previous year.
The chapel was under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Lichfield and was attached to the parish church of Shirebrook. Indeed, the dedication to St Chad references the first Bishop of Lichfield (or Mercia as it was known in the Anglo-Saxon period).
The church was formally opened on 10 November 1876 by the Bishop of Lichfield, the Right Rev George Augustus Selwyn. The newly appointed Vicar of Shirebrook, the Rev Dr Frederic William Quilter, was to hold morning service and evening services at St Chad’s every Sunday.
Mr Linney of Mansfield donated a harmonium to the church.
On 29 April 1880 the marriage of Paget’s daughter, Elsie Maud Abney Paget, and Hubert Hodson, Registrar of the Diocese of Lichfield, took place at the church.
The following year Paget had the church dismantled and moved from its location in the park around Stuffynwood Hall to a site on the other side of the River Meden. The new site was in Nottinghamshire and, significantly, a different diocese (Lincoln). The Derbyshire Times, reporting on the opening ceremony on 9 October 1881, provides a reason for the decision:
‘[the original church] was under the spiritual supervision of the Bishop of Lichfield. The nature of the services conducted within the church was not, however, in unison with the conscientious scruples of some, and finally open dissatisfaction was expressed. In consequence of this feeling it was decided to remove the church bodily out of the diocese of Lichfield into that of the Bishop of Lincoln and accordingly it was pulled down and erected on the other side of the Meden, in the parish of Mansfield Woodhouse. The church, therefore, still stands in the private grounds of Mr. Paget, but is under different ecclesiastical supervision, and, as yet, the Rev. C. Webb of Mansfield Woodhouse, has expressed no dissatisfaction with regard to the services conducted there.’
While the church was being rebuilt on the new site services were conducted in Paget’s large photographic room at Stuffynwood Hall.
The new church was designed to look more imposing by encasing the original wooden building in brick and stone. A small bell tower was also added and a pipe organ installed. This was built by Lloyd and Co of Nottingham and replaced the harmonium. The fittings were transferred over from the original chapel including pews to the designs of E. W. Pugin. Some of these still remain in the church.
The interior woodwork remained the same as before, a highly polished contrast of pitch pine and mahogany. The sanctuary is decorated with paintings of plants and flowers in the Arts and Crafts style.
Paget paid for the church to have its own vicar and a sizeable vicarage was built to the south. This is no longer used as a vicarage owing to the fact that the vicar of Mansfield Woodhouse St Edmund is now also responsible for the church.
After Paget’s death in 1896, his will provided a trust containing a substantial holding of Midland Railway stock from which the company dividends were allotted to provide an income for the vicar, including provision for maintenance for the upkeep of the church and livery.
Stuffynwood Hall was demolished in 1979.
Despite the fact that the population of Pleasley Vale has now declined since the closing of the mills, the church is well maintained and holds occasional services.