St Martin


The first Church of England premises in the Nottingham suburb of Sherwood was a Mission Room of St John’s, Carrington, erected on Mansfield Street in 1883. Rapid population growth took place in this area after the First World War, especially with the development of the Sherwood Estate, which added about 2,000 people to the local population. On 6th August 1922, the Feast of the Transfiguration, a few people met at a site on Joyce Avenue just behind the Cedars Hospital to hold a service proclaiming the presence of the Church in Sherwood. This was the first in the chain of events leading to the establishment of St Martin’s. The initiative had been taken by Revd A R Browne-Wilkinson of St Paul’s in the parish of Daybrook, which then included the new Sherwood estate.

Clearly another church and a new parish were needed, but Nottingham Corporation turned down a request for a church site on the estate. However, Colonel F L Seely was able to secure a plot of land behind the Cedars for a temporary church, and enough money was raised to provide a stipend for Mr P S Abraham to serve as Deacon and for the building of the Church of the Transfiguration. This was on Joyce Avenue. It cost almost £1,000 and it opened in 1923. It was affectionately known as the ‘Tin Tabernacle’ although clearly not made of tin or any other metal. It was used until November 1927 when another temporary church (later used as the church hall) was built on Trevose Gardens. Edward Lysons began his ministry in Sherwood in 1926 and dedicated himself to the task of providing a permanent church for Sherwood. Meantime the ‘Tin Tabernacle’ continued in use for Sunday Schools, until it was sold in 1944 to the Nottingham General Hospital to be used as a rehabilitation centre. It was demolished in 1982.

The new temporary church cost £4,500, much of it provided by the Diocesan Church Extension Committee, and was dedicated on 10th November 1927, one day before the Armistice Day services which coincide with St Martin’s Day. Services were held there for almost ten years until the new church of St Martin opened in February 1937.

Edward Lysons began his ministry in Sherwood on 6th February 1926 and exactly eleven years later to the day the new church was consecrated by the Bishop of Southwell. It is a monument to the enthusiasm, drive and hard work of the then Revd Mr Lysons and his helpers. The dedication to St Martin, the great soldier-saint of the 4th century, was appropriate. Not only had Lysons himself served as a combatant officer in the First World War but many men living on the Sherwood Estate had fought in that conflict. Lysons was made an Honorary Canon of Southwell in 1946. He was also Chaplain of Nottingham Prison and of the Firs Maternity Hospital, both in his parish. But, above all, he was dedicated to the building of the church in Sherwood, both literally and spiritually.

In 1926 Sherwood, with a population of c9000, was made a Conventional District, and on 13th November 1936 St Martin’s became an Ecclesiastical District. It was taken partly from the parish (sometime Consolidated Chapelry) of St Paul, Daybrook, partly from the parish (sometime Particular District) of St John the Evangelist, Carrington, and partly from the parish (sometime District Chapelry) of St Jude, Nottingham. The latter was a small area near the Suburban Railway station, but St Paul’s conceded a large area from Thackeray’s Lane and the Daybrook across the Sherwood Estate. South of Edwards Lane and Woodthorpe Drive had been part of St John’s parish. (The boundaries can still be seen on a map in the Diocesan archives.)

The Diocese conveyed a site on Trevose Gardens, a pleasant cul-de-sac off Mansfield Road, for the church and parsonage. Following the clearance of the debt incurred in building the temporary church, a new Building Fund was started with the aim of raising £20,000 by December 1932. In March 1934 the Diocese promised £2,000. At last, on 14th December 1935 the foundation stone was laid by Brigadier General Sir Edward Le Marchant. Edward H Heazell, a local man, could now proceed with the erection of the church he had designed. The Bishop of Southwell, the Rt Revd Henry Mosley, performed the consecration ceremony on 6th February 1937. The following day the first Eucharist was marred by the death in church of John Bradley, the verger.

Sherwood now had a permanent church although the building was as yet unfinished, and the debt would not be paid off for another twenty years. Not until 1956 was a vicarage completed adjacent to the church. Canon Lysons lived in a large house at the corner of Elmswood Gardens and Mansfield Road.

Revd William Willatt continued the traditions established by Canon Lysons. After him, in 1960, came Revd Timothy Tyndall who insisted that the church building be completed, which it was in 1966. He was also a great believer in ‘the building of God’s Kingdom ... by the churches in partnership’. Thus a Sherwood and Carrington Christian Council was set up to co-ordinate joint ventures, and in 1971 a joint church office was opened in the Congregational Church premises on Edwards Lane. Good Friday Pilgrimages were started by Tyndall and carried on by his successor Revd Ian Gatford, who played a leading part in the programme Who Cares? on Radio Nottingham. Ian was succeeded by Revd Christopher Gale in 1984. One of his innovations was a monthly magazine, The Sherwood Messenger, which is still distributed free to all houses in the parish. The first female incumbent, the Revd Sylvia Griffiths, was appointed in 1999.

Methodists were active in Sherwood long before the Church of England. As early as 1827 one of them opened his house for preaching, and in 1833 Samuel Skevington, a local preacher, did the same. But two years later a single storey brick building in a cul-de-sac off Marshall Street was being well used for services and Sunday School. Skevington’s fund-raising efforts led to the first Wesleyan Chapel being built in 1855 on Mansfield Road, opposite the junction with Haydn Road. It was a small brick edifice with a schoolroom underneath. In 1887 it was superseded by a much more substantial church of Bulwell stone at the comer of Mansfield Road and Devon Drive, known fondly as ‘Top Chapel’. Meanwhile the United Methodists had built a small chapel on Drayton Street in 1884 which was demolished 106 years later, after a long period in use as classrooms, clinic and library. Today all Methodists in Sherwood attend Devon Drive Church which was built in 1981 on the site of the old ‘Top Chapel’, demolished in 1980.