St Stephen


Most of the paths surrounding the church are made from concrete or concrete slabs. The main driveway into the churchyard was concreted recently. The southern section of the old footpath is laid with compacted limestone. Some small areas are still covered by the York stone paving, which for many years was used for all the minor walkways.

The churchyard of St Stephen’s is a unique piece of land in the city. It is about one and a half acres in size and has not been used for anything other than church buildings and a burial ground for at least eight hundred years and possibly longer. Pevsner refers to it as ‘a countrified churchyard’.

The present church sits more or less in the centre of the site surrounded by weathered headstones and other memorials enclosed by walls on all four sides. The north and west walls are built of three inch red bricks with saddleback brick copings. The south and east walls are built in stone, some of which are said to have been reclaimed from the medieval church, demolished in 1810. This building was located in the southeast corner of the site close to the street so it was likely that they were used to close the gap in the wall formed by the old entrance. Stone from the 1810 church, demolished in 1839 was also used to repair the walls.

A footpath dissects the site running from north (Sneinton Road) to south (Newark Street), giving access to the west door of the church, with a smaller path leading off to the north door and the north vestries. Currently the north entrance is un-gated, but until a few years ago supported a pair of wrought iron gates. The south entrance still has iron gates. For many years the pathway was closed and the gates blocked by vegetation. The pathway is clearly visible on the 1796 Nottingham Enclosure map, which also shows the church of the day located in the southeast corner of the site.

At the side of the path a large oak Calvary rises from a stepped plinth of Ancaster stone, supporting a bronze figure of Christ.

Burials ceased in the early 1890s although a few interments were allowed in family graves. In recent years the City council have taken responsibility for the upkeep of the churchyard. Some older trees remain and a few young ones have been planted by the Sneinton Environmental Society. The site is within the Sneinton Conservation Area.

Plan of the churchyard
produced in 1987 by
Family First Trust

In 1987 The Family First Trust, working as part of the Manpower Services Commission’s Community Programme, conducted a survey of the headstones and memorials. At that time 301 records were listed. Many of the stones had already been re-sited to rest against the west and north boundary walls. The plan they produced shows 14 marked graves on the west side of the main pathway. In 2004 only 10 of these 14 remain in place. The oldest memorial recorded in 1987 was dated 1756, most of the inscriptions are from the 19th century. Truman (1946) recorded the details of a stone near the east end of the church dated July 1656 in memory of John Kirkbee.

During a German air raid on the night of May 9th 1941 two bombs landed in the churchyard. One penetrated the ground just inside the west boundary wall to a depth of 12 feet, but did not detonate so it had to be removed. The other fell and exploded near the south wall of the church damaging the windows and starting a fire on the transept roof.

A small Garden of Remembrance has been created near the north door, for the internment of cremated remains. Flat memorial stones can also be placed there. On the wall adjacent this site a plaque has been fixed recording the names of those remembered.

Notable burials and memorials:

In the non-conformist section of the churchyards northeast corner:

George Green, Mathematician and local miller, Died 1841

Several of his family are also buried nearby.

Some views across the Churchyard
The northern part,
looking east

The eastern section,
looking north

The southern part,
looking west
The southern part,
looking east