St Michael


Domesday book has no entry for Rossington, but the large and important village of Tickhill a short distance to the south has no entry either and it seems highly unlikely that these settlements did not exist in 1086, especially as much smaller villages in the vicinity, including nearby Littleworth, are mentioned. That Rossington did exist earlier can be implied from the origin of the place name which means 'farmstead at the moor' in Anglo-Saxon, and Roman remains have also been found in the area. It is conjectured that the place name at the time of Domesday may have been Scitelesworde which identifies with Littleworth, in which case only a fleeting mention is afforded, it being in the sokeland of Doncaster and amounting to 4 carucates of land.

The church, dedicated to St Michael, was also, historically, referred to as St Stephen. It contains clear archaeological evidence of 12th century fabric but no documentary sources have yet been located of this date. The parish lay within the medieval archdeaconry of Nottingham, although it appears to have always been in Yorkshire. The reason for this was the subject of speculation by the Reverend Joseph Hunter of Doncaster who postulated that, at an early date post-Conquest, the boundary line between Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire must have changed and cites the existence of 'God's Cross', a point exactly 5 miles due north-east of Rossington, on the River Torne which, he felt, had been a boundary point between the shires of Lincoln, Nottingham, and York. If his theory is correct then the River Torne may have marked the original county boundary in the 11th century thus putting Rossington just within Nottinghamshire. This would also explain why Finningley, Bawtry, and Austerfield all came under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Nottingham archdeaconry. A further clue may be derived from the Placitia de quo warranto returns of Edward III where the prior of Blyth, through his attorney, Robert of Beckingham, described the priory's toll and passage rights boundary, from 'time immemorial' as running from Frodestan (a place now lost), through Laughton-en-le-Morthen, to Field, Malpas, and Rossington to the River Torne, this would clearly place Rossington village within the rights boundary of Blyth priory which was, and still is, in Nottinghamshire.

The earliest historical mention of Rossington appears to be in 1207 when Robert de Turneham and his wife Joan settled a suit with the abbot of York, releasing to the monks their right in the advowson of the church of Doncaster and all the chapels belonging to it, except those of Rossington and Loversall. The River Torne is mentioned slightly earlier, in 1187, as '... in aquam magnam que vocatur Thorn'.

The next reference is in 1220 when Peter de Maulay II succeeded to the manor of Hexthorpe, and Rossington was said to be held by Maulay of the fee of Peverel in 1279.

In 1249 Archbishop Walter Gray instituted John Silvestre, clerk, to the church of Rossington. Interestingly this was at the presentation of the king who, we are told, did so as keeper of the hand and heir of Peter de Malo Lacu (Maulay). In 1268 the vicar of Rossington was present at an inquisition held by Archbishop Walter Giffard in Retford; Giffard's register clearly states 'vicarius de... Rosinton' which implies the living was not a rectory at this time.

The Taxatio of Pope Nicholas IV in 1291 documents the church with a clear annual valuation of 12 marks (£8). The patronage was secular and probably in the hands of the de Maulay family, though this is not confirmed until the early 14th century.

One John de Rossington was valet to Archbishop Thomas of Corbridge and was granted a house and land at Goverton in Nottinghamshire by the archbishop in 1303 as a reward for his service.

The priest in 1309, John de Bovington, was granted licence that year by Archbishop William Greenfield to study for two years or to stay with Sir Peter de Mauley.

In June 1331 King Edward III granted Robert, son of Robert de Maulay (de Malo Lacu), the manors of Hexthorpe and Rossington to be held of the king by virtue of military service.

The rector of Rossington, Edmund le Broun, was given extended powers as a penitentiary (i.e. who could administer the sacrament of penance) in the Retford deanery by Archbishop William Melton in May 1336. By this date we are certain that the living was a rectory as Melton's register says '... pro rectore de Rosyngton'.

The taxation returns in the Nonae Rolls of 1341, under the West Riding of Yorkshire section, state that: 'From this parish, namely Henry le Warner, Nicholas Jay, John Uttyng, Roger son of Richard of the parish of Finningley, Thomas Roger, John Cutt, John Cowhird, Richard Gilbert, Thomas son of Roger Thomas of Sandal, William Roger, and Thomas Blegham of the parish church of Rossington swore to this on their oaths and presented an indenture between themselves and the Prior of St Oswald’s and his brethren, made and alternately sealed, [stating] that the ninths of sheaves, fleeces and lambs of the whole parish of Rossington were this year worth £6 and no more and that the oblations and other small tithes were worth 40s.' The reference to the Prior of St Oswald refers to him in his capacity as assessor of the tax, and this was in all probability the Prior of St Oswald Nostell who was Thomas of Darfield in 1341. There is an additional entry in the Nottinghamshire section of the return that simply states: 'They say that the church of Rossington is all in the county of York'; this interestingly illustrates the dichotomy of having a church in one county under the jurisdiction of another, even as early as the 14th century.

In the Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem for 1310, Peter de Mauley was recorded as holding the advowson of Rossington, and a later Peter de Mauley again in 1348. When yet another Peter de Mauley died in 1414 his will bequeathed the advowson to several churches, including Rossington, thus indicating that the de Mauley family still retained patronage at this date.

Archbishop Bowet made a visitation to Rossington church on 26 June 1409; it was not listed as a vicarage at that time. Archbishop Kempe made a visitation on 9 May 1441 and also did not list the church as having a vicarage.

At the 1428 subsidy of Henry VI Rossington was taxed at 16s. thus equating to a clear annual valuation of £8, the same amount as recorded in 1291.

In the will of Ralph Wentworth of Heslay (just south of Rossington), dated 2 April 1486, he directed his body to be buried at Harworth and left the sum of 2s. to the fabric of Rossington church.

On 23 November 1488 King Henry VII granted Thomas Bevercotes, serjeant at arms, the next presentation to Rossington rectory.

At an assessment in 1523 for clergy taxation, Rossington stands out as unique in the Nottingham archdeaconry in the returns for having, as well as the rectory, a heading for 'Rossington pensioner'. We know this assessment highlighted the wealthier clergy and it would appear that the Rector, most probably Richard Oliver, was of considerable wealth. The living is described as a 'parochial chaplaincy'.

The Valor Ecclesiaticus of 1534 records the value of the rectory as £11 1s. 4d. after payments to the archbishop and archdeacon of 4s. and 6s. 8d. respectively.

John Leland passed through the village when travelling to Doncaster around the year 1535, he noted: 'Rosington chirch and village is a quarter of a mile of apon an hillet.'

The earliest surviving churchwardens' presentments date from 1587, though in that year they said they had nothing to present. The parson was John Lyndson, and the churchwardens were William Keppe and Barnard Ingle. In April 1608 they wrote that 'one of our bells for being out of repair in the default of the parish' and in a different hand below is written: 'habent ad reparand citra festum Mich'lis et ad certificandum &c die Sabati tunc sequen' and the payment of 6d. recorded. In 1635 they reported that they had spent the sum of £4 on repairing the church in the previous year, and the following year a further 50s. was spent.

Most unusually, in 1718 the churchwardens reported the 'want of a new carpet'. In the parochial visitation for the Retford deanery, carried out between June 1718 and April 1719, Rossington was required to carry out the following work: 'walls to be repaired; walls to be whitewashed inside; roof to be repaired; windows to be repaired; pavement to be repaired. Rector to repair chancel. The following printed items to be supplied: the Book of Homilies to be bound. The following fittings to be supplied: carpet for communion table; lock for poor man's box; font cover.'

In the valuation records of 1742 Rossington was described as being in the County of Yorkshire but within Nottinghamshire for ecclesiastical purposes. The value in the King's Books was given as £11 1s. 5½d. (though this differs from the Valor which gave £11 1s. 4d.) The tithes were £1 2s. 1¼d. and the patrons were the Mayor and Burgesses of Doncaster. In fact the same patrons were also recorded in 1690, 1706, and 1710.

At the time of Archbishop Herring’s Visitation in 1743, John Jackson, the incumbent, gave a very full and in many ways rather verbose response, particularly as this was a village with 34 families, all of them Church of England. Typical of his style was his account of why he did not live in Rossington, ‘having been forced to remove from it on account of the dangerous and very melancholy state of my wife’s health attested under the hand of a physician who attended her during a long illness and signed a certificate (which I sent as I remember to the archdeacon) that it was not consistent with her health to live in this parish. My wife is still living and enjoys better health at Leicester where for the most part I live with her and my family, but I come and reside once a year at my parsonage house and perform the duties of my parish: and heartily wish I could always reside in it’. In his absence, the services were taken by a curate who lived in Doncaster and to whom he gave £28 per year. At least one service held each Sunday and the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was administered five times a year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jackson (and his sick wife) were no longer at Rossington when Archbishop Drummond held his Visitation in 1764. The new rector, Capel Berrow, had obtained the living of Rossington the previous year, and he was almost as quirky in his return as Jackson. There were, Berrow recorded, just 15 families in the parish of whom one, the schoolmaster, was a dissenter, but ‘it is hard to know under which denomination to rank him for he was first of all of the established church, then Methodist preacher and now Quaker.’ Berrow was clearly not impressed with his parishioners: ‘preaching at Rossington church’, he told the archbishop, was ‘like reading Wall lectures at Oxford it is vox demantis in deserto’, i.e. a voice crying in the wilderness. This, presumably, accounts for his failure to conduct any services. The church itself was in a mess: ‘it resembles Hogarth’s description of a country church where the poor box is covered over with cobwebs’. He thought Doncaster corporation ought to provide some funding, but they were too busy doing other things, including Alderman France who ‘has had the misfortune to get his maid with child tho’ to all appearances he seems as grave as an old cat’. Berrow did not live at Rossington, and chose not to reveal where he did reside. All the services at Rossington were taken by his curate, Mr Crockley, while Berrow himself performed divine service ‘in no church at all’. The sacrament was administered five times a year with no more than twelve, and certainly not more than twenty attendees. Berrow’s return, liberally sprinkled as it was with Latin quotations may, or may not, have impressed the archbishop!

Rossington was mentioned by Throsby in his revision of Thoroton, because it was in the archdeaconry of Nottingham despite being, physically, in Yorkshire. He made no comment about the church.

Writing in 1829, John Wainwright stated that the church, 'before it underwent the process of improvement, was a venerable and highly interesting piece of architecture' and went on to say 'but it now exhibits an aspect difficult to bring within the pale of technical description'. Although we have no record of exactly what work was done or in which year, Joseph Hunter writing the year before considered the medieval fabric little altered except by the addition of a tower.

In 1833 the population of the parish was 325 and the living was described as a rectory in the archdeaconry of Nottingham. It is difficult to be certain of the exact date for Rossington's move out of the Archdeaconry of Nottingham. However, we know in 1833 it was in Nottingham and by 1842, in a description of the Doncaster deanery, the parish was 'considered to be within the Archdeaconry and Diocese of York, but Austerfield and Bawtry are not so considered.' It is most likely that the parish transferred at the time the Archdeaconry of Nottingham was transferred from York to Lincoln in 1837 when a number of realignments were made, probably including Rossington.

James Brown

Major alterations to the church were made 1840-4, funded by James Brown who was, at that time, owner of the Rossington estate. He found the church to be in a poor state of repair and 'almost unfit for public worship'.

Mr Brown’s plan was to repair the existing building, and add transepts on the north and south sides of the nave, and a vestry in the north-east corner. When it was found that the foundations were not suitable, Brown decided to rebuild the whole church, except for the 14th century tower. The Norman chancel arch and tower were also retained, and the Norman south doorway was restored. He appointed the Leeds architect John Clarke to undertake the work. On completion there was a gallery at the west end and box pews, as well as a raised floor level with heating system below.

In 1851 an entry was made under the Yorkshire returns of the 1851 Census of Religious Worship for the West Riding. Rossington was classed as a distinct parish with an endowment tithe of £600, 64 acres of glebe, 50 free sittings, and 200 other sittings. The population of the parish was 402.

The return for Archbishop William Thomson's visitation of 1865 was made by the incumbent George Henry Bower. He stated that could not give his date of induction as he did not have the necessary documents and was writing from his sick bed. To question 2 'Has he last year been resident in the parish for 275 days as prescribed by law?', Bower replied 'O Yes'. He said that he performed the whole duty and had no assistant curate. Asked about how often the duty was performed he answered that it was morning and afternoon services with two sermons. The average number of Communicants at great festivals was only 18 or 19 and asked whether the congregation represented a fair proportion of the population Bower replied 'Not to the labouring part of it. To [sic] many  being employed in feeding the cattle and tending sheep.' He reported that the church was in good repair and had no alterations since the last visitation. To the final question, 'Any other business', the rector replied 'I think not. I am exhausted.'

On 28 January 1873 Sir Stephen Glynne visited Rossington St Michael and made the following observations, though it is obvious from his remarks that he didn't actually go inside: 'This church has been wholly rebuilt except the tower, but retains a good original doorway on the south of the nave. It has been said that a Norman chancel-arch has been retained. The style of the nave is ambitious and expensive, probably dating about 1840,but not satisfactory for a village church, nor up to the mark of the present day as to ecclesiastical management. There are nave and chancel without aisles, and north and south transepts, all in a highly-finished and somewhat rich Early English style, with corbel table and large triplet windows having fine mouldings and shafts. The south doorway within the porch is very good Norman, and has been carefully restored. It has two courses of moulding, with billet and beak-head ornaments, and a cylindrical one forming the inner member. The shafts have been restored. The tower at the west end is of ordinary and late Perpendicular, not unlike some others in the West Riding. It has corner buttresses and embattled parapet with eight small crocketed pinnacles. The belfry windows are shallow, of two lights. The west window looks at first rather like an Early English one, having three lancet lights under a general arch, but its mouldings and general character mark it as belonging to the same date as the tower. The tower is of very white limestone. The exterior of the church has much ivy'.

Further restoration work was carried out to the church in 1897. The west gallery was removed and the organ was moved to the south transept, new pews were introduced, and the vestry was enlarged. The dado panelling behind the altar was created using wood from the earlier pews.

The church was not visited or recorded in Hoskyns Visitation of 1911-15.

Modern oak doors, hymn book case and north transept screen were made in 1968 by Martin Dutton and are fine works of craftsmanship.

In 1989/90 mezzanine floors were added in the north and south transepts and the vestry. A kitchen was added over the vestry. The Bishop of Doncaster dedicated the new works on 30 March 1990. The north transept room is a meeting room with modern tables and chairs dating from 1989, whilst the south transept upper room combines an office, a meeting area, and children’s play items.