St Helen


Stapleford has more than a passing interest in its geological location. A fault passes WNW-ESE through the churchyard and may, in part, explain some of the problems that the church has experienced over the years.

The church was originally constructed of Triassic sandstone possibly from the local Sneinton Formation – small quarries were known near Hill Farm for example – or perhaps brought in from the larger quarries at Castle Donington and Weston upon Trent. This is of a reddish and greenish in colour, fine grained and, in places, quite soft and friable. Some stones are pockmarked as a result of the erosion of the soft clay clasts that occur in the sandstone. This sandstone has not weathered well. Major rebuilding projects have taken place over the years and even a casual scrutiny of the church exterior reveals the haphazard nature and variable nature of the replacement stonework. Clearly there has never been enough money to do what was required. All the original window mullions have been replaced except for one high on the north side of the tower where the original Triassic sandstone survives, with the bedding planes vertical and now showing signs of splitting. The east window appears to have one section of original Triassic sandstone but most of the remainder has been replaced with White Mansfield Stone a sandy dolomitic limestone, with green clay laminae, from the Permian Cadeby Formation, probably from the Gregory quarries in Mansfield.

In the walls and spire new stone blocks have been used to replace the decayed, soft Triassic sandstone in many locations. The new stone has come from two main sources, hard cross-bedded Carboniferous, Millstone Grit, sandstone probably in part from the Birchover Quarry in Derbyshire and paler, cream coloured shelly and oolitic limestone from the Lincolnshire Limestone Formation (Middle Jurassic) probably came from the Gregory quarries at Ancaster. Stapleford has historically been a poor parish and the constant struggle to maintain the building has meant that functionality rather than aesthetics has usually ruled the day.

The battlements are of Millstone Grit blocks. The chancel and nave roof is of smooth, regular-sized Welsh Penrhyn slate.

The roof of the porch on the east side is, however, unusually constructed of small rough, slates from the Swithland Slate quarries of Charnwood in Leicestershire, and is rare survivor in buildings in the Nottingham area. The west side of the porch roof is of Welsh slate.

Gravestones are usually of either purple or grey, perfectly cleaved, Welsh Slate or local Swithland Slate with its distinctive, polished and finely carved face and rough, unpolished, undulating back .

With thanks to Dr Graham Lott of the British Geological Survey for help with this section