For this church:
Stapleford St Helen
List of Incumbents
A priest is mentioned in Domesday in 1086, but nothing is known about him.
The Prior and Canons of Newstead Abbey.
We have a record of two of those who served Stapleford. First, in 1308, when young Richard Heriz was baptised, an Inquisition taken when he became of full age, records that he was lifted from the sacred font by Sir Richard, Prior of Newstead, and William de Cobbeleye, then chaplain of the parish. We also read that when Richard’s father was baptised in 1282 he was lifted from the font by Richard de Normanton, abbot of Dale, brother William de Jorz, friar of the order of preachers, and Helen, who was the wife of Benedict of Stapleford. Maybe William was the local chaplain but we cannot be sure. Secondly, Thoroton records a gravestone in the church that says: “John, chaplain of this church for 48 years who died on the 7th November 1438.”
Vicars of Stapleford
The Priests of the Palmer Chantry
The Palmer Chantry was founded in 1322. Its priests were separate from the above succession but, since they were not so restricted by the daily routines of the church, they were often able to contribute to the life of the community in other ways. As such their names are listed here:
Some brief biographies.
The incumbents of Stapleford were a varied group of men. Some were assiduous in their duties. Others held other responsibilities and only gave to Stapleford what time they could spare.
William Isaac Salmon Tapper (1885-1888)
He was a non-conformist minister until, at the age of 56, he was ordained into the Anglican church. He went to Jersey after the departure of the Dean of Jersey as the result of a scandal. Whilst in Jersey, William’s wife of 40 years died. One of the members of his congregation was a young 31 years old spinster, Lydia Hope Aldersey, living with her grandmother. Quite how it happened is not known but when he came to Stapleford in 1885 Lydia was the patron of the living. They were married in 1885 and stayed in Stapleford for three years. At the age of seventy he moved to St Andrew’s in Battersea where he stayed for twelve years. Still soldiering on at the age of 82 he moved to Little Stoneham in Sussex where he worked for a further eight years. After 26 years of married life with Lydia, he died at the age of 92.
Thomas Ratcliffe (1878-1885)
Thomas Ratcliffe did not have a very happy time in Stapleford. He was assaulted at a funeral when he was so drunk that he had to be assisted with the service. He brought a case against the assailants but the magistrates did not find in his favour and dismissed it. He was involved in second case where he had an altercation with a lady trimming the grass on her child’s grave after he had closed the churchyard. He asserted that she attacked him with the shears but the magistrates came down on her side and fined him a guinea.
John Branfill Harrison (1848)
One of Stapleford’s shortest serving incumbents. He only lasted from the 15th June to the 21st October. The reason for this short stay is not known. However, in the same year he got married to the grand-daughter of Lady Maria Jane Bowes-Lyon. One might surmise that she did not share his calling to Stapleford.
George Bettison (1728-1772)
He was one of Stapleford’s longest serving incumbents. His main living was at Risley, where he was also the school master, but he also held the livings of Swarkeston and Breaston throughout most of this period. He preached at Stapleford two Sundays out of three and administered the Sacraments four times a year. At that time there were 120 families in the village and, in answer to the question “Does the church have a curate?”, he states that “Stapleford cannot afford a curate since the whole income is less than £10 per annum.” This is roughly equivalent to £1400 in 2010.