Holy Trinity


Wysall has had, through the years, a number of variations on its modern name: Wisoc, Wisho, Wisou, Wishou, Wisue, Wishouwe, Wishowe, Wisowe, Wissall and Wysowe being most of the examples. The village is situated on the southern border of Nottinghamshire and ‘has been accounted an obscure village’. Its name, according to Thoroton, probably means ‘a Hill of Plants or a Custom Hill’, though Ekwall has the two Old English forms hoh meaning ‘spur of hill’ and weoh meaning ‘of a heathen temple’. 

According to Domesday Book, the ownership of the village before the Norman Conquest principally took the form of three portions of land owned by Æstan, Alsige and Glædwin. There was a Church. The value in the Confessor’s time of this was 45s, in the Conqueror’s 48s.

In the time of King Henry I, William de Lovetot ...

... who held a Barony in Huntingdonshire, and was also Lord of Sheffield, in Yorkshire, founded a Priory at Radford near Wirksop, his principal Residence in this County, to which he gave, amongst other Things, all his Churches, which he held of the Honor of Blyth, the Seat of Roger de Busli, whereof on this South Side of the River Trent, were only the Churches of Coleston, Wilgeby and Wishou.

A church at Wysall, dates back to before 1066 during which time England was nominally Christian. A pre-Norman building probably took the form of a typical Anglo-Saxon ‘wooden box’, probably situated where the church stands today.

The north wall with
norman doorway

The Anglo-Saxon structure was demolished and replaced with a Norman stone church in around the late 11th Century or 12th Century. The new building, though, lasted for only a couple of centuries or so and remains of this building are still to be seen in the form of a Norman doorway in the north wall of the church.

The Taxation Roll of Pope Nicholas IV, 1291, gives the ‘annual value of the church at Wyshouwe … at £10.’ This remained the value for tax purposes in 1341 in the Nona Roll by which time the present building had been erected.

The original roof-
line visible on
the east side
of the tower

The church had a tower, and a spire was added before the end of the 15th Century. The church had a high-pitched roof of which the outline is still clearly visible. In the fifteenth century this roof was lowered using a ‘new’ building technique (the nature of which is not described) thus allowing the addition of clerestory windows to provide more light to the interior.

By 1535 the financial situation had deteriorated since, according to the Valor Ecclesiasticus, the church at Wyshawe, which was still appropriated to the Priory at Worksop, was valued at the clear yearly sum of £4 10s 11d. when Robert Holte was the Vicar.

In 1540 the form of service was changed to incorporate the Six Articles of Henry VIII. The great rood (or cross) had to be destroyed and ‘the blaze of murals disappeared under the whiteness of whitewash.’ Glass windows that depicted the lives of the Saints had to be removed and destroyed, as was the holy water stoup since the use of this water was no longer permissible. ‘Out went the images; out went the stone altar; the Piscina remained … but with the outlet blocked; candles and processions were banned.’

Simple Communion bottles were introduced, donated to the church by local farmers, and a communal chalice, large enough for all the worshippers, took the place of its smaller predecessor, used only by the priests.

Thoroton records that:

The Church or Rectory of Wissall, alias Wishawe, late belonging to the Priory of Wirksop; and all the Lands and Tenements belonging to it, King EDWARD the sixth, Jan. 2nd, in the sixth Year of his Reign (1553), among other Things, granted to Thomas Reve and George Cotton.

In 1553, Mary ascended to the throne. Many of the earlier reforms were reversed. In Wysall, a new crucifix was installed, the stone altar replaced and services reverted to the use of Latin. Additionally, priests who, under Henry had been allowed to marry, were expelled from office. In Wysall, however, the priest (possibly Henry Gasken) had remained a bachelor and thus was unaffected by this action.

1558 saw the enthronement of Elizabeth I. The actions of Mary were revoked, the main benefit to Wysall being the reintroduction of the English Prayer book a year later. The ecclesiastical courts were actively concerned with church discipline and in 1623 a case was brought to the Michaelmas visitation concerning a number of people who resorted to the ‘Stroking Boy of Wysall.’ This boy was credited with the power to effect cures of ailments by the action of stroking the affected area and some twenty people were presented who admitted the charge.

On 8th November:

Ellen Backhous and three other women of Wollaton, ‘for going to the wise boye’ Agnes, the wife of William Greasley senr. And three other women of Lenton ‘for goinge to the childe at Wisall’. Elizabeth Hardinge and Anne Wrighte of West Bridgeford, ‘for goinge to the boy at Wisall.

On 22 November:

Richard Garton, of West Bridgeford, ‘for carryinge his childe to Wysall to be cured by the stroaking boye.’ Gabriel Eaton of Trowell, ‘for resortinge to the boye at Wysall.’

The Parish Register commences in 1601. Written in Latin, the documents record, to various degrees of clarity, the births, marriages and burials in Wysall. They reveal some interesting entries such as the fact that, on 12 January 1604, the daughter of George Widmerpool, (Yana) was baptised. The earliest register is a small parchment book without covers, and contains baptisms, marriages and burials from 1654 to 1734. On the first page is the appointment of the parish register.

Mr. William Sharpe of the parish of Wysall sworne and approved Register for the said parish the xxth day of April 1654 by me, HEN: SACHAVERELL.

Several civil marriages occur about this time:

May ye 25th 1654. Richard Borrowes and Joane fflower was married before me HEN: SACHAVERELL.

Robert Robinson & Elizabeth Howlett were married before justice Sachaverell on the 12th day of Decemb. In ye year 1655

The entries were written in English and the book was, at the time of Godfrey, in good condition

The second register, also of parchment without covers, contains baptisms from 1735 to 1778, marriages from 1735 to 1763, and burials from 1735 to 1779.

A paper book contains marriages from 1754 to 1811.

Another book contains baptisms from 1779 to 1812, and burials from 1780 to 1812.

The subsequent registers are in conformity with the Acts of 1812 and 1836.

On 10 January 1774 an agreement was produced concerning the singers of the church. This Agreement or Article was

made for the socity (sic) of the Singers of Wysall till January ye 1 1775. We do agree to meet one night a week on Sunday night at the toll of the Bell or a Quarter of an hour after unless very throng about necessary business and if any cannot stay when they come we do agree to have them excused and if any miss coming on Sunday night shall forfeit one penny unless one mile out of Town if any curse or sware (sic) when assembled together shall forfeit one penny if any come to Church drunk shall forfeit one penny and if any miss coming to attend in time of Divine Service shall forfeit one penny no excuse but sickness. John Shaw (?) is to toll the Bell on Sunday night and if he does not toll the Bell or cause it to be tolled shall forfeit one penny and if fly of (off) after they have handed these Articles shall pay one shilling to the socity unless they leave the Town.

The singers’

This document is signed by: John Boldock, Isaac Boldock, Thomas Boldock, Jamie Glover, Tho Wright, Stephen Vivey, Christopher Derrick, John Faux, Samwell Youman, Thomas Elliott, Thomas Chamberlain., Edward Marson, William Brown, , Richard Spencer, John Chamberlain, Wootton Bryans and Samuel Ganer, all but the final two making their mark.

Around 1790, John Throsby, adding to the work of Robert Thoroton, recorded that:

The Church is dedicated to the Holy Trinity; it has two aisles, a spire steeple, with three bells. It ranks with the indifferent; the floor is intolerable.

He gives no indication as to why the floor should be in this condition but, in 1872/73 during a period of extensive restoration, much of the work was recorded by the Rev John Parker, the Vicar. In this record, Parker states that a second floor had been installed above the original floor, the substructure of which was made up of ‘plaster … upon which was mural paintings and delineation. That plaster must have been on the wall which was superseded by the one now taken down.’ There seems to be strong evidence that this “second” floor is some 12 inches higher than the original flooring.

Meanwhile, the village saw the introduction and growth of nonconformity in the 17th and 18th Centuries. From a 1676 return, there were 10 dissenters in Wysall compared with 9 in Widmerpool and 2 in Plumtree.

In Wysall preaching by the Wesleyans began around 1786 ‘in a cottage occupied by a Mary Harrison.’ In 1808, following the death of Mary, preaching moved to ‘Cox’s cottage in Baldock’s Yard, remaining there until 1815 when it moved to a house in Smalley’s Yard’ In 1825, a chapel was built in Widmerpool Road and this was replaced in 1881 adjacent to the original building on land given by Major Robertson of Widmerpool Hall. The cost was £500, paid off within a year of the chapel opening.

Records identify the members of the Baptist church in Wimeswould (sic) on 12th March 1793, and locations from which they come. Three are described as being from Whysal (sic) – Thomas Heart, Thomas Baldock (received 1792) and Mary Powdril.

The Baptist followers were derived from meetings held in the neighbouring East Leake chapel. After some delay due to difficulties in finding suitable land, the Baptists were provided with their own building by Mr White of Costock who consented to ‘let the Friends have the old chapel on a lease of 99 years and some ground at the East and West end of the chapel to enlarge it seven feet’. The Friends finally commenced worship in their own chapel in Wysall in 1860.

There appear to have been unspecified problems for the church, probably due to the fact that the village was split by the growth of nonconformist worship. Enquiries were made into the financial position of the Baptists, the result indicating that there was no cause for concern. Further problems were raised in 1881 when the Deacons were instructed ‘to ensure that decisions were carried out.’

In July 1817 the following Terrier was issued by the then Vicar, the Rev. L. Chapman:

of all Messuages, Glebe Lands, Portions of Tithes and other Rights belonging to the Vicarage of Wysall in the Archdeaconry of Nottingham and Diocese of York; and now in the Use and Profession of the Reverend Leonard Chapman Vicar there, or his Tenant or Tenants; taken and made according to the best Evidences and Knowledge of the ancient Inhabitants this seventh Day of July in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventeen and to be exhibited at the ordinary Visitation of the Most Reverends Father in God, Edward, Lord archbishop of York, held at Nottingham on Wednesday the ninth day of July in the aforesaid year One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventeen. –

This Terrier recorded that

there are in the Church three Bells, a large Bible, two Common Prayer Books, a Silver Cup and Salver, a Pewter Plate and Flagon and other necessary utensils

It also records that

the Clerks yearly wages are now three Pounds three Shillings as by Contract – he is paid by the Parish and appointed by the Minister.

The Terrier was signed by:

L. Chapman (Vicar)
George Bowley
Robt. Burrows – Churchwardens
Willm. Burrows
Thos Bowley
Thos Brown
Thomas Annabell

A further Terrier was produced concerning

the Vicarage House, and Glebe Lands, belonging to the Vicarage of Wysall in the County of Nottingham, and Diocese of Lincoln, made the 13th day of July 1840 and also includes reference to the ‘three bells, a large Bible, two Books of Common Prayer, a silver cup and salver, a Pewter Plate and Flagon and other necessary utensils.

This Terrier was delivered

by Primary Visitation of the Right Revd. Father in God John Lord Bishop of Lincoln holden at the Parish Church of St. Mary, Nottingham, in the Diocese of Lincoln, Friday July 31st 1840

And was witnessed by:

J Parkyns Dodson, Vicar
George Bowley
Robert Bowley – Churchwardens

In 1842, at the time when the benefice had been annexed to that of Willoughby-on-the-Wolds, the rebuilding of a considerable portion of Wysall church had become a necessity. ‘In a parish containing a population of only 250 and few of these abounding in any superfluity of wealth, the finding (of) funds for this imperative duty’ would have been a great difficulty. The late vicar (the Rev Leonard Chapman) had long felt the need to take steps to remedy the defects, particularly since neighbouring restorations, such as at Willoughby Church held by the same incumbent, had been accomplished, albeit somewhat unsatisfactorily, in 1831. He was, however, faced with a distinct lack of funds, having already erected a very much-needed vicarage.

The Rev Thomas Parkyns Dodson, who was instituted as incumbent on 12th May 1840, felt that because of the ‘ruinous and even dangerous state of Wysall church’, it was time for more efforts to be made towards rebuilding the defective areas. The school, which had to date been a part of the tower, had been rebuilt on a separate site for the unprecedented low sum of £163 10 0d. Encouraged by this, the Vicar believed that the assistance of the benevolent people in the neighbourhood could be called upon to raise the five hundred pounds required to carry out the work. His optimism proved to be well-founded and the necessary funds were donated to allow the work to proceed.

The work consisted of the rebuilding of the aisle and porch, covering the same with pitch pine roofs and Westmorland states, laying the floors of the church and chancel with stone slabs, restoring the ancient screen and Miserere, hanging three doors made of very old oak, seating the church with chairs, filling the windows with tinted glass, and erecting a reredos in the chancel and the new stone pulpit. The western gallery, formerly used by the singers, and the Royal Arms (of George II) were removed.

In 1851 the church was said to have 230 places of which 160 were free. There was an afternoon service on census Sunday attended by 50 people, but the vicar, Rev Thomas Parkyns Dodson, estimated that the general congregation over the previous twelve months had been 35 in the morning and 60 in the afternoon.

On 1st October 1872 the work of pulling down the ruinous portions of the church began. ‘Proof that it had been deferred till the last moment was soon apparent in the falling of the damaged beam and crumbling stones.’ During this work, John Parker recorded frequent discoveries of remnants of plaster that had previously been decorated. He records that he made a number of drawings of these discoveries and kept these together with some of the remnants but, unfortunately, these appear not to have survived.

In 1909, Cox records that further restoration work was carried out ‘with much care’ but no indication of the work done is recorded, except for his reference to the replacement of the old (c1400) panelled pulpit that was taken out in 1872. He records that ‘when cleaned it was found to have had painted figures on panels, but they could not be preserved.’ Bishop Hoskyns also referred to restoration work underway at Wysall in 1912. In his visitation the bishop recorded 33 children on the roll of the church school, and 25 attending Sunday Schools. There had been five baptisms and seven confirmations in the previous year.

Further restoration work was found to be necessary in 1924 when a faculty was issued by the Bishop of Southwell, Aubrey Trevor Lawrence to Rev Millard:

To restore the Parish Church of Wysall in the County of Nottingham and Diocese of Southwell by putting into thorough repair the roof of the nave and chancel, the clerestory, the Tower and Spire, and the East wall of the Chancel, and also the water courses, repointing and making good any defects that may be necessary.

Electricity was installed in 1934 but only for lighting; heating by this means did not take place for another fifteen years.

Yet more remedial work was needed to the Chancel roof in 1955 and, despite some acrimonious feelings between the Vicar, the Rev Victor Dixon, and others, the work appears to have been eventually carried out. The problem appears to have arisen, not over the fact that the repairs need to be done, but about the procedure of who might be employed to carry out the work. The Vicar considered that an estimate from a well-tried and trusted firm would be sufficient; the other faction believed that a further estimate should be sought. Both parties were criticised by the firm of architects for not obtaining an independent report identifying the work to be done in order that a specification could be drawn up on which common estimates could be based. Following appeals to both parties to consider the well-being of the church, an agreement was reached and the work was ultimately carried out.

In May 1956, the Church spire was damaged by lightning and a conductor was fitted. At the same time wire guards were fitted to holes in the spire to deter the pigeons from nesting there.

In October 1966, the church obtained listed status.

Early in 1972, a questionnaire was sent out by the three parishes in order to determine the future of the churches. One result showed that most people viewed the church, not only as a place of worship, but also as an historic building that needed to be preserved for future generations.

In July 1973 the Vicar moved into the new Vicarage. Coincidentally, the land on which the new Vicarage was built approximately coincided with a piece of land taken over by the War Department on 9th February 1945. The purpose for this action is unknown, but the Parish received the sum of 5s per annum for the privilege.

During the 1970s, there was a growing co-operation between the three Anglican churches and the Methodist congregations. Joint services were held as well as social events.

The Quinquennial Survey of 1982 showed that in addition to the work required on the east window (mentioned above) work was also required on part of the masonry of the church; this involved pointing in various areas, the replacement of some specific stones and, more significantly, the repair of a structural crack on the east end of the south wall of the chancel. This would appear to be a section that was restored in the major restoration of 1872/3. In addition, rising damp was found to be a serious problem in several areas, the solution to which involved the excavation of a trench around the external walls affected and the provision of appropriate drainage.

On 1st August 1985 the parish of Widmerpool was joined to those of Willoughby and Wysall and the incumbent of the benefice of Willoughby on the Wolds with Wysall, the Rev John Guy Bookless became the first incumbent of the new benefice.