Holy Trinity


It seems probable that a church of some sort existed here in Saxon times. Domesday Book of 1086 stated that at Rolleston there was a priest and a church, and when part of the present church was being restored in 1895 fragments of a Saxon cross-shaft were found. This area was left uncovered when the church was replastered during the late 19th century restoration, possibly because it was thought that these were fragments surviving from a pre-Conquest date.

The church is built mainly in the Early English style, though with earlier, Norman, evidence, and consists of chancel, clerestoried nave of four bays, north and south aisles, south porch, and a western tower with pinnacles containing four bells rehung in 1892; these are inscribed, one dated 1697 and two others respectively 1628 and 1778. The parish of Rolleston consisted of the townships of Rolleston and Fiskerton.

The White Book of Southwell records Henry, son of Thomas de Rolleston, giving the patronage and advowson of the church to the Prior and Convent of Thurgarton. The entry is undated, but the Augustinian Priory of Thurgarton was founded in 1119-39 by Ralph d' Eyncourt, so it must have been after that time. It was probably in the period 1200-1208. However, just prior to this date, Jollan de Neville also made a grant of the advowson of Rolleston church to Thurgarton so it would appear the advowson was jointly held at this time.

In 1221 the church was transferred by the Prior and Convent of Thurgarton to the Archbishop of York, Walter de Gray. The archbishop granted the church to Southwell 'for the augmentation of the common fund of the resident canons: reserving to the Prior and Convent of Thurgarton their portion out of the appurtenances of the said church, who are to pay annually to the church of Southwell two stones of wax for the augmentation of the lights'. In 1225 Walter de Gray made a confirmation and stated that: 'The ancient communia of the church and the church of Rolleston, which we have given them (the chapter) in augmentation of their communia, and all future accretions of the said communia, should be conjoined into one sum, to be divided among the canons by the hands of wardens (custodum) annually provided for this purpose by the canons'.

There was probably a house for the priest to live in, and attached to it a garden and glebe. The tithes of the parish would also be allotted to the priest. When the advowson was handed to Thurgarton, the Priory would have appointed themselves as rectors and collected the tithes, sending one of the Canons to take care of the parish, or else putting in a curate or vicar for the same purpose. When the advowson was transferred to Southwell the same arrangement would have been in place with one of their Vicars Choral to serve the church. This state of affairs continued until 1848 when the funds of Southwell were taken over by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the purpose of augmenting poor livings.

In 1291, at the taxatio of Pope Nicholas IV, the church of Rolleston had a clear annual value of £20 marks (£13 6s. 8d.); it was described as 'Ecclesia de Roldiston que pertinet ad communiam dicte ecclesie Suwell'.

In 1341 the Nonarum Inquisitiones, a taxation of ninths, reported that the church, which pertained to the community of canons of Southwell, was taxed at 20 marks and that the ninth of sheaves, lambs and their fleeces were worth 14 marks 3s. 4d. (£9 10s.) a year at true value and no more, and that the tithe of arable land and meadow there were worth 13s. 4d. a year, the tithe of hay was worth 40s. a year, and altar dues were worth 23s. 4d. a year.

At the 1428 subsidy of Henry VI, Rolleston is described as 'prebendal' (Ecclesia prebendalis de Rolston) and was taxed at 26s. 8d., i.e. it had the same value as previously in 1291.

The major architectural interest of the church lies in its two aisle arcades, which have a variety of 13th century pier shapes. Those on the south side were considerably rebuilt 1895-6 and are a simplified form of those found in Southwell Minster chancel.

In 1583 Robert Leband, B.A., was inducted on 16 April. He was 29 years old, and he served the parish until he was buried on 15 July 1626 having been drowned between Rolleston and Upton when he fell off a bridge into a ditch, which was then named after him, and probably since corrupted into the name of Long Bank. He was 72 years old and had been vicar of Rolleston for 43 years. What makes him particularly interesting is that he used the parish register as a commonplace book and continued it for several years after 1599 when a parchment transcript was made. We see the life of a Nottinghamshire parish in the late 16th century with comments on the weather, prices of corn, classical tags and peculiarities of the parishioners, through the eyes of a devout, learned, kindly, yet occasionally critical, parish priest. Much of it is about the weather, particularly extremes of weather but also a few comments about individuals, and about the state of the harvest.

In 1587 the churchwardens presented that 'our glass windows in the chancel are in decay, in default of the chapter of Southwell'. In 1601 they reported that: 'the church wants tiling and some glazing, but stuff and workmen are bespoken [already hired]; the chancel is not in repair and has not been for a long time, especially the door and windows; it has been presented [before] but not yet mended; there is a want of 'Paraphrases' through defect of the expropriators, the church of Sowthwell [Southwell]'. By 1614 there were still problems as they stated: 'our chancel is out of repair in the default of the Maisters of the Church of Southwell'; they repeated this in 1625. However, in 1635 the charge of the repairs of the church came to £3 6s. 8d. and the following year the sum of £20 was recorded as being spent on the church.

In 1743 the vicar reported 70 families living in the parish of which two were Presbyterians or Independents. Two services were held each Sunday and Communion was celebrated on the first Sunday of each month and on the greater festivals. There were no meeting houses, or charity schools or almshouses in the parish. John Abson, who made the return, was an absentee. He lived in Nottingham and paid a curate to take the services at Rolleston. The curate boarded in the village and was paid £30 a year.

The situation was similar when Archbishop Drummond visited in 1764. John Laverack, the vicar, was an absentee who sent his apologies: ‘I reside in my vicarage house in Southwell on account of my duty as parish priest and vicar choral of that church’. His curate, John Edwards, lived in the parsonage, and was allowed £30 a year to take the services, including administering the sacrament four times a year. The parish at that time had 62 families, all Church of England.

In 1796 Throsby wrote of Rolleston: ‘The church is dedicated to St. Wilfrid, has a nave and side aisles; but its tower is far superior to the rest of the building; it is pinnacled and has a bold appearance.’ Why Throsby got the dedication wrong is unknown.

In 1851 the vicar, the Rev. R.H. Fowler, reported that from a population of 252, plus 333 from the two townships, he had a general congregation of 46 in the morning and 85 in the afternoon, and 21 and 22 Sunday Scholars respectively at these services. No evening services were held. The Wesleyan Methodists in Fiskerton had a morning congregation of 75 (and 40 scholars) and an evening congregation of 76 (plus twenty scholars).

At a Visitation in 1855, Holy Trinity was described as ‘a nice old church, in tolerable repair’ with ‘a fine tower’. The chancel had been ‘lately well repaired’.

Two services were read each Sunday, and Communion was administered four times a year when about 20 people attended. The average Sunday attendance was about 120 ‘besides children’. The churchyard was ‘sufficient and in good order’. The glebe house was said to be ‘new and good’ and had been built by the incumbent.

Two or three marriages were celebrated annually, and an average of 12 baptisms and 8 burials. Sunday School was taught in the chancel for 30 boys and girls, but for day school purposes children went to Morton ‘which has been built partly for the convenience of both parishes’.

Sir Stephen Glynne visited the church on 9 November 1868, and left a long account, although one lacking his usual opinions on mid-Victorian churches.

The chancel was restored in 1878 at a cost of £600, and the tower in 1889-90 at a cost of £900.

However, when James John Trebeck, the rural dean, visited in 1892 the church was in a very dilapidated condition. The restoration of the nave and one aisle was carried out in 1895-6 and the restoration of the other aisle was completed in 1898 under the direction of Mr Hodgson Fowler, FSA. The church then had 200 sittings.

In 1912 the population was falling. It was 562 in 1901 and 531 in 1911. The church school had 39 on the roll, and a similar number were on the Sunday School roll. Five baptisms had taken places over the previous year and no one had been confirmed. The vicar was E.S. Longhurst who had responsibility also for a Mission church at Fiskerton opened in 1877, and the adjoining Morton, St Denis.

Parish register dates from 1559 for all entries.

In 1921 the living was a vicarage with that at Fiskerton annexed, joint net yearly value £420 including 25 acres of glebe and residence in the gift of the Lord Chancellor and held since 1898 by the Rev Edward Salter Longhurst of Jesus College, Cambridge, and BA, London University.

Since 1982, Holy Trinity has been part of a United Benefice with St Peter & St Paul, Upton and St Denis, Morton. Until 1989, its patron was the Lord Chancellor, but that year the living was suspended, supposedly as a temporary measure, but it has never been reinstated.