St John the Baptist


There is no mention of either church or priest in Domesday Book but the settlement was evidently large with Roger de Busli's lands worth 50s. and Count Alan's lands worth 40s. taxable.

A church existed by c.1130 when the endowment charter of William de Lovetot granted a portion of the church of Treswell to the canons of Worksop priory.

The dedication of the church was variously to St Wilfrid or St John the Baptist, the latter occurring in Yorkshire Wills and which is retained as the current dedication.

By the 13th century there were two rectories, and on 20 September 1267 John Musters, clerk, was presented to a moiety by his brother Robert. Archbishop Walter Giffard ordered the archdeacon to hold an inquisition, and on 3 October the full chapter of Retford deanery pronounced that the presentee was in every way qualified by birth, manners, and conduct, but was defective in age. On 24 October, John Musters was admitted, but the archbishop, on account of his age, knowledge, and orders, committed the custody of the moiety of Treswell to Edward de Welles, instructing the Dean of Retford to induct him.

In June 1280 two commissaries of the archbishop sanctioned the holding of the churches of Soulbury (Buckinghamshire) and a mediety of Treswell in this county by Edmund de Everley, who appeared before them in the church of Retford. The following year, 1281, Edmund de Everley obtained diocesan sanction to absent himself for three years on account of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Previous letters permitting Edmund de Everley to hold a mediety of Treswell together with another benefice were inspected and confirmed in May 1286. At the same time Archbishop Romayne granted Edmund three years' leave of absence to study in this country or across the sea 'wherever the solemn study of theology or canon law prevailed'. This was quite remarkable, for although Edmund had been a rector in two dioceses for fourteen years, he was still only in sub-deacon's orders. During his absence he was to let his Nottinghamshire church of Treswell and to make the usual provision.

In 1291, at the taxation of Pope Nicholas IV each mediety was valued as follows: William of Treswell, portion £10 0s. 0d. and Edmund of Treswell, portion £9 6s. 8d.

In 1299 Archbishop Henry of Newark issued a mandate to Sir Roger de Mar to relax a sequestration in the fruits of a mediety of Treswell which had been imposed for non-residence. The following year archbishop Thomas of Corbridge again commented on the non residence of a mediety at Treswell and by 1302 he reimposed the sequestration of the autumn fruits belonging to Sir Edmund de Everley. Whether it was relaxed and reimposed during the next ten years is not recorded, but in 1312 archbishop William Greenfield gave notice to Mr Thomas de Sancto Leonardo, the sequestrator, that the sequestration of a mediety of Treswell church had been relaxed; de Everley was still rector.

A licence for the alienation in mortmain by the prior and convent of Worksop was granted to the dean and chapter of St. Peter's, York, for the advowson of a moiety of Treswell in November 1304.

An inspection made on 14 Feb 1316 of a charter in favour of the prior and canons of Worksop confirmed that they held advowson for part of the church of Treswell (i.e. a moiety).

In June 1331 archbishop William Melton instructed a commission to settle a dispute between the rectors of Rampton and Treswell concerning the tithe from 60 selions (a selion was typically one furlong (660 ft) long and one chain (66 ft) wide) of arable land called 'Theveswelhill'. The rector concerned was Mr John de Malton.

An exciting incident was reported by Pope Benedict XII in 1337 when he issued a mandate to the bishop of Winchester 'to do justice touching the dean and chapter of York, who, having appointed Henry de Baghton [Raghton] to a moiety of the church or Tyreswell [Treswell], presented him to the archbishop, who refused the presentation and and gave the said moiety to John de Castesden [Chadesden], who, in spite of an appeal to the pope held it by violence, and cut off the tails of the horses of the chapter, and of those of Henry's proctor and notary, whom they so evilly entreated that they hardly escaped with life'.

There is no mention of Treswell in 1341 Nonae Rolls, a taxation of the ninths taken that year.

Roger de Wandesford of Treswell gave in his will, dated 1400, the sum of 13s. 4d. to the rector of the east moiety, Robert Fall, and four marks (£2 13s. 4d.) for the fabric of the church.

In May 1402, the rector of a mediety of Treswell, Robert Fyschlake, was also the dean of Retford, and was involved in an archiepiscopal commission to look into uniting the parishes of Kneesall and Boughton.

At the 1428 subsidy of Henry VI, Treswell is stated to be divided (Tyreswell divisa est): that part belonging to William was taxed at 20s. and the part belonging to Edmund was taxed at 18s. 8d.

We know that in 1523 the living was rated as one of the more wealthy as the assessment made of the archdeaconry of Nottingham and college of Southwell that year, for fifth and final payment of the subsidy granted to Henry VIII by the clergy of the northern province, listed Treswell rectory, and the moiety of the rectory, in the higher income bracket.

At the Reformation there is no mention of Treswell listed under holdings of Worksop Priory, implying that it had ceased to be appropriated by this time, but the sum of 2d. annually is noted as income from Treswell due to Rampton prebend as part of the jurisdiction of Southwell Minster.

In 1603 the minister and the churchwardens presented the following: '1. our minister is a preacher, being an Oxford man and a M'r of Artes; 2. he has no more benefices than that; 3. [not mentioned]; 4. we have no recusants within our parish; 5. we have 161 communicants and no non-communicants except those who are under age.' The five specific questions, intended to provide statistics relating to the clergy and the numbers of recusants and communicants, were sent out to each parish on the orders of King James:
1. How many preachers are within every diocese, and what degree does each beneficed minister have?
2. How many clergyman have more than one benefice, and what is the value of each benefice in the King's Books?
3. For those clergy who have more than one benefice, how far distant is each benefice from the other?
4. How many recusants are there in each parish (giving the total number, not individual names), and of them, how many are men and how many women?
5. How many communicants, and how many non-communicants are there in every parish?

The numbers of communicants in 1603 suggest a population of c.250.

In 1607 the churchwardens reported that: 'our chancel is not in sufficient repair, but it is in mending'. The incumbent, Henry Langley, newly promoted to the west moiety of Treswell was one of a very small number in the diocese of York who were exempt from the fourth payment of the clerical subsidy granted to James I in 1610.

In 1613 before the Archdeaconry Court:

Churchwardens presented the following: we cannot tell that the canons have been read according to the first article; we have no service on Wednesdays and Fridays; he [minister] does not ordinarily wear the surplice, but he does sometimes; he omits the litany because he preaches twice every Sunday; he uses the words of the sign of the cross; Willm Lincolne, parson, is not resident with us, but is in Lincolnshire; one Mr Edwardes preached on a workday, Mr Langley knew his name; he [minister] does not read christenings and burials in the church; our minister is a preacher; we have no Homilies or 'Jewells' ['Jewell's Works']; the 'palliter' [apparitor?] told us we should buy it from him, [but] we could not get it; we have a chest with only two locks and another with one, but we take order that one 'pore' [poor box] is provided by the overseers;

Originall Gilbie is our schoolmaster, he came from Worksope [Worksop] and has a licence to help Mr Langley to read; Johne Smith [is presented] for grinding corn on the Sabbath day in service time; Edmond Herdsone for grinding on the Sabbath day after evening prayer; Willm Herdmane, miller, for [working on] the Sabbath day; many in our parish put on their caps, I think for infirmity; I myself do it for infirmity; John Stirtiuant has entertained a separatist for one night or so, but he himself is a very honest man and comes duly to the church; our order of churchwardens has chosen plough day [for new elections] and so continue, but we enter [our presentments] now.

No date given; found in series of presentment bills from Easter 1613.

Written in another hand next to John Smith's presentment, 'emt in 27 Julij', and above Edmond Herdsone's name, 'dim'. Payment of 6d recorded.

In 1635 it was reported that the seats needed paving and boarding. The next year sum of £10 was recorded as having been spent on the church. In 1638 Treswell was in an extremely bad condition: ‘The roof of the church stands upon propes and the leades are in decay: the chancel floore is not even paved, there are disorderly seates placed in the chancel. The Communion table is set east and west and there is no Raile about it. The seats in the church are generally noe way uniforme being some higher, some lower than others. There are three rows of forms sette on the north side of the church, which stand East and West. The Isles of the belfry are uneven paved. The font wants a decent cover… The churchyard is not sufficiently fenced. There is much dust and rubbish in the belfry and there is trestles and forms set up in the great Ile.’ The following year the Communion rail had been made and was at Retford, awaiting collection, but the 'cloth and cushion for the pulpit' and the carpet for the Communion table had been stolen on the day after Palm Sunday.

In 1676 102 people could receive Holy Communion. In the parish were four ‘dissenters who obstinately refuse & absent themselves from the Communion of the Church of England’. Anthony Robinson and Francis Thorpe, rectors.

An audit memoranda book gives the following information.

‘In 1706 Susannah, relict of Mr Hugh Bromhead of this town deceased gave a fine linen cloth or carpet for the Communion.’

‘Martha Mashal, a maiden lady, aunt to Francis Hawksmore Gentleman, gave to the Church of Treswell one silver salver. She died in the year 1766.’

It also gave a list of churchyard fencing (1777) and how much length each person was responsible for mending, in yards.

In 1718 a parochial visitation order required the following work to be carried out: 'walls to be repaired; walls to be whitewashed inside; roof to be repaired; windows to be repaired; pavement to be repaired; churchyard fence to be repaired; 2 windows to be unstopped and glazed. Rector to repair chancel. The following printed items to be supplied: the Book of Homilies'.

The churchwardens had cause for complaint in 1727 when they stated 'we do not have [a] resident minister by which ministerial duties are neglected and no prayers are done on Holy Days and sometimes we cannot get a minister to Baptise infants and administer the sacraments to sick persons'. Further problems were evident in 1740 when they presented 'The Rev. Mr Heblethwaite, rector of the second mediety, for not repairing the Granary House belonging to his benefice and the said Rev. Mr Heblethwaite and the Rev. Mr Aide, rector of the first mediety, for not supplying the cure there themselves nor providing a curate duly licensed and qualified to take care of the cure there'.

In 1743 there were twenty families in the parish and there was neither a resident vicar nor a curate, but the vicar, who lived twenty miles away, celebrated Holy Communion four times a year. He estimated that there were about 45-50 Communicants in the parish but only thirteen had taken Communion the previous Easter.

In 1743 the vicar reported that he allowed his son £14 a year to conduct divine worship, that the son was willing to be ordained and when he had been would reside in the parish. Service most Sunday mornings – ‘the reason why it was not oftener was financial: the stipend was too small’.

In 1764 the church medieties were abolished, and since then the living has been a single rectory, and when the Stevensons became lords of the manor the living was sufficiently attractive for one of them to be its rector.

Also in 1764, the enquiries at the visitation of Archbishop Drummond revealed that there were 49 families amounting to 211 souls, of which 113 were Communicants.  There were no dissenters in the parish except '...a few deluded... Culamites', but there were 'well disposed people', who were 'very regular in their attendance on the services of the church...' The rector of the First Mediety, Seth Stephenson, answered the questions for the visitation and stated that he resided at Retford as a result of him being a master of the school there.

There was a faculty issued for alterations to the parsonage and barns in 1777.

Throsby noted of Treswell that the land was divided among a greater number of proprietors than any other lordship in the area, and that it was still chiefly in open fields. The village had about 60 dwellings.

He described the church as ornamented with a tower, ‘like the greater number of others in these parts’. He added that there was ‘nothing in it particularly worthy of notice’. The patron was the Dean and Chapter of York alternately with the Stevenson family.

Churchwardens’ Accounts for the years 1812-95 give an idea of the activities of the wardens, frequently buying Communion wine and new bell ropes, and spending money at Visitations. On 27 Oct 1814 they spent 1s. 6d. buying ‘coals for the church’. The fire place has now gone. On 27 Apr 1815 they bought three bell ropes, £1 4s., and paid glaziers’ bills of £1 19s. 6d.

In 1848 Treswell had a population of 228. ‘The parish consists of 1721 acres: the soil is a fertile clay, except at the east end, where it joins the Trent marsh and is sandy. The living is a rectory, formerly in two portions, which were united in 1764; the eastern is valued in the king's books at £8. 1. 4., and the western at £9. 15. 8.: net income, £254; patrons, the Dean and Chapter of York. The church is ancient, with a lofty embattled tower. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans.’

In 1851 the parish was of 1,561 acres with a population of 254 (135 males, 119 females). The church had 181 seats of which 112 were free. On census Sunday there were five present in the morning and 67 in the afternoon with 27 Sunday Scholars in the morning and 33 in the afternoon. H. Tewnby Daniel, the Rector, noted that the afternoon congregation was an average but, but ‘the morning one was not so, as the Methodists had a great gathering’. This seems to have reflected the fact that they did not normally have a morning meeting at the village chapel, erected 1825, but on Census Sunday did – the society steward returned a congregation of 44. Over the previous 12 months he returned averages of 50 in the afternoon and 60 in the evening.

The church was restored in 1855, and Sir Stephen Glynne commented approvingly when he visited in February 1868:

'This church has nave with North aisle, chancel, West Tower and new south porch. The whole is in good order recently restored.

The nave and aisle have embattled parapets – the walls have been much renovated and the Chancel has rather a modern appearance.

The doorway within the porch is Early English, resembling that at Rampton with toothed imposts and hood moulding on head corbels. The arcade of the nave has four pointed arches, on light octagonal pillars with capitals. The Tower work similar on octagonal corbals as also the Chancel arch. The windows of the nave are Perpendicular on the south with obtuse arches, on the north square headed. In the Chancel the side windows are of three lights. The eastern of five. The font has a painted octagonal bowl and seems to be new.

The tower is like that at Rampton; has cross buttresses and one string-embattled parapet. West window of three lights and no doorway, and belfry windows of two lights and fair base mouldings.

The Churchyard is very nicely kept.'

Maintenance costs remained considerable. On 23 October 1869 the churchwardens’ paid George Wood’s account for work at the church £2 5s., for 200 common bricks 4s 8d, Brick carrying from Sturton 2s. 6d., and half a ton of coal 6s.

Kelly’s 1881 Directory ‘an ancient structure with a lofty embattled tower. About 9 years ago it underwent a complete restoration. The interior is filled up with open seats’. Value of living £254. ‘The Rectory is a large handsome brick mansion near the church … erected about 7 years ago’. A small Methodist chapel of 1825.

The tower was restored in 1899 [plaque in church].  It had been in contemplation for some years. The churchwardens reported at Easter 1891 that they had ‘paid into Tower Restoration Fund £3 17s.’ raised by special collections on 5 October 1890, £3 2s. 9d., and 11 January1891, 14s. 3d. Further sums collected towards the restoration are recorded from 1892 until the end of the volume of accounts in 1895.

In 1912 W.H. Griffith was the rector, and the church had 196 seats. There was no church school, and just 10 on the Sunday School roll. Over the previous 12 months there had been 4 baptisms.

In 1930 it was noted that the church roof required attention.

Screen between
nave and north aisle

At some point the screen was moved from its traditional position across the chancel arch, to the north aisle where it separates the aisle from the nave. The reading desk and chair is also forward of the lectern. No date is known for this removal.

The registers, deposited at Nottinghamshire Archives, cover the following: Baptisms 1563-1987, Marriages 1557-1988, Burials 1569-1900, Bishop’s Transcripts 1602-1841.