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Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, an ancient Sherwood Forest Village recorded in Domesday

These three photographs are thought to date around 1896 and could have been taken to record the completion of the repairs and renovations. Also finished at that time by Mansfield Parkyns and Richard Ward. would be the carving of the choir stalls, the pulpit, the organ screen and the ceiling bosses.  

Introduction: Repairs and Restoration - For over 100 years now, the people of Woodborough both past and present, have owed a huge debt of gratitude to the Rev'd W E Buckland and Mansfield Parkyns Esq. (of Woodborough Hall) for doing so much, in such difficult circumstances, both financially and logistically. In a three to four year period they appear to have 'saved' the Church from further major deterioration by undertaking a scheme of repairs. At the same time they were responsible for significant internal additions. Much of the following detailed information came from the Parish Magazine, an institution that was also created in 1896 by Rev'd Buckland.

From 1885: The following reports confirm that the fabric of the Church in the late 1800's was in a very poor state of repair and there was much that was needed to be done, a great deal of time was spent deciding what was required and then fund-raising to enable work to commence. [This section is long and detailed, but it is important to know what actions were taken to save the Church at that time, thus for the parishioners to enjoy now in the 21st century - Ed 2006]


In 1887 the Bishop of the diocese in a Visitation described St. Swithun's as 'a deplorable ruin'. This was not the first critical report - in 1578 and 1580 the Churchwardens had been fined for not repairing the church and the historian Throsby, writing in the 18th century, described the Chancel windows as being 'filthy, broken and patched'. In the 1830's the Curate sold the lead on the aisle roofs to pay for them to be covered with blue Bangor slates to replace old clay tiles. Village tradition as reported at the time describes the church as 'awful cold and damp, not fit for a pig to live in'. Guildfords Little Guide states that 'in the time of Rev’d Samuel Lealand Oldacres the old loft was taken down and a gallery placed at the west end'. Guildfords continues 'this was entirely renewed in 1872 and an organ put in'. This gallery or loft was under the tower for a choir, which consisted of four violins, two bass violas, one cornet, one flute, two trombones and about twenty singers who were capable of performing an annual Oratorio. This may well have been the origin of the Woodborough Village Band, which continued as a lively force until the advent of the Second World War.

Due to the efforts of the first resident priest, Samuel Oldacres, plans had been made in 1845 for restorations, although funds were not available for work to start for a few more years. Then at least the chancel ceiling of fir-logs was replaced with a rush and plaster ceiling coloured blue, and the oak screen near the altar was removed. The east window was in a poor state of repair and most of the stained glass had to be replaced. Only the six-winged seraph and bits of tracery in the north-west and south-east chancel windows were left. The clock was put in the tower in 1856 by Messrs Cope of Radford, Nottingham and the organ, built by Brinsley & Foster was installed in the north side of the chancel in 1875. By the time of Rev’d. S L Oldacres' death in 1876 it was noted that the church has been re-seated, thoroughly cleaned and generally made fairly warm and comfortable. However, by 1891 it was again in a bad state as noted below!


In 1886 under the Rev’d F G Slight the second bell was recast and the others re-hung. Repairs were also carried out in the tower with removal of the gallery, and plans were made for a complete restoration by Naylor & Sale of Derby, although work did not start until the arrival of the Rev’d Walter Buckland in 1891. At this time, a Bishop had again been critical, describing St. Swithun's as ‘one of the churches in the Diocese most in need of restoration' and 'one of the ruins of Southwell'. Clearly it was in a bad state with 'rain flowing freely through the roof, plaster peeling off the walls and ivy, grass and nettles growing in some masonry joints'.


A Restoration Appeal was made for £2000 and work started in August 1891. Major repairs were then undertaken, walls carefully repaired, the floor taken up and repaved with levels lowered in the Sanctuary and raised between the Choir stalls, the organ removed to the west end and much work undertaken in the nave roof to replace rotting rafters. The building estimates make interesting reading today - work on the nave and aisles, masonry, floors, roof, oak seats and heating were £973, chancel masonry, concrete floor, encaustic tiles, nave roof, oak stalls £556, tower - pulled down to the string course and rebuild £220! Most of the work was done immediately but the tower and porch had to be deferred to 1896 when the tower restoration was approved at £300 and a window estimate obtained from C E. Kempe for £300. Clearly the restoration work was carried out with considerable care and the builders' specification called for 'objects of interest, all fragments of ancient wood and stonework to be carefully preserved....'


At the Easter Vestry during May 1895, it was reported that for the Restoration of the Church the Vicar received nearly £45 from various sources during 1894, which has been chiefly expended on the internal fittings of the Church, which were not completed at the re-opening. In addition to this the daughters of the late Mr Mansfield Parkyns have repaid £45 to the Chancel Fund in order to make the Chancel Stalls a memorial to their father and mother. It was hoped to raise further subscriptions for the repairs of the Nave, Tower and Porch. The Tower in particular was in very bad state and ought to be rebuilt from the clock upwards.


By November 1895, the restoration of the Church was advancing another stage by the expenditure of the balance of the £500 given for the Chancel by Colonel Seely. The whole of the external stonework is being carefully repaired: the broken stones and gargoyles are being replaced and all the open joints carefully raked out and pointed.


"When this is done there will remain the Tower, of which the upper portion must be rebuilt, the Porch which must also be rebuilt and the external masonry of the Nave walls, which wants careful repair and pointing. The upper part of the Tower is reported to be in a very bad state; the joints will in places admit a man’s arm and the Jackdaws and other birds make bad, worse. The whole of the masonry has been disintegrated by the action of the weather and the vibration of the bells. Indeed we should not be surprised if a fall occurred at any time, and if once any part begins to fall, there will be no telling what may be brought down with it. The probable cost of rebuilding the Tower will be about £250 and another £100 would be wanted for the Porch and the walls. I am prepared to start a fresh subscription by giving £20, and if I can get a few more names to head the list, I see no reason why the money should not be obtained and a start made next spring".


In January 1896 the Vicar, Rev'd W E Buckland reported "The Church Restoration Fund has been increased by two generous promises from Mr W. Bradshaw and Mr T. Potter. I propose shortly to print a circular and make a systematic appeal for money for the tower, porch and walls. But of all unpleasant work, begging is the most unpleasant, while few things give more pleasure than the offer of voluntary help. It is with no light heart that I enter upon this appeal: having begged £1300 for Breedon Church and £1800 for Woodborough Church, it is weary work to begin again. Truly I should be encouraged if this notice should bring some promises of help from parishioners and friends to whom I have made no personal appeal (“One volunteer is worth two pressed men”). Promises of donations came from Rev’d W E Buckland £20, The Bishop of Southwell £25, Mrs E C Buckland £5, The Misses Walter £5, Mr W. Hogg £1, W. Bradshaw Esq. £50, T. Potter Esq. £50, anonymous £1".


The Church restoration was discussed at a public meeting held on January 17th 1896. There was only a small attendance. A Committee was appointed consisting of the Vicar and Churchwardens with Messrs J. Pollard, Roby Thorpe, M. Richardson, C H Hill and A. Burnett. It had since been suggested that Mr W. Bradshaw should be invited to join the Committee. The Vicar stated that the cost according to the lowest tender received in 1891 would be:-

Tower £270,

Nave walls £50,

Porch £60,

Tenor bell £30

"The Church Restoration Fund progresses slowly but steadily and we hope to make a start at the Tower in the course of the summer. It is always more difficult to collect the last £200 than to collect all the rest, and Mr Hill has kindly offered to help by allowing a Bazaar to be held at Woodborough Hall on July 16th and 17th 1896, to be opened on the Thursday by the Honourable Mrs Murray-Smith and on the Friday by the Honourable Mrs Francklin. On Thursday the Nottingham Police Band will play and on Friday the Nottingham Sax-Tuba Military Band.


About £200 will be paid into the Restoration Fund as a result of the Bazaar. On the first day about 60 sat down to a 2/6 lunch in the tent and we hope the fare was satisfactory, for there were chickens and ducks, lamb and beef, tongues and hams, jellies and creams and tarts in profusion, not to mention salmon, claret and champagne. But one stranger after drinking two glasses of champagne refused all offers of food and declined to pay because there was “nothing fit to eat.” Others, however, had different ideas for they partook freely of all the good things on the tables. The stalls included China, Fancy, Jumble, Japanese, Flower and Sweet, Art, Basket, Toy, Parish and Refreshment.


The restoration, or rather the demolition of the Tower has been going on well. The erection of the scaffold was a big job, but the upper part of the Tower came to pieces in the hands of the workmen. The masonry had never been properly bonded and the mortar, composed largely of sand and Trent gravel, had been chucked in anyhow. The vibration of the bells and the action of the weather had so loosened the hole that the stones only held together by their own weight and the mortar came away like running sand. But the masonry below the bells is as firm as ever. The pinnacles, battlements and tracery of the Tower windows are so broken and weathered that they must all be reproduced in new stone at an extra cost of £30" .[These old pinnacles and Tower windows were taken to the Vicarage garden and are still there—at least they were in 1955].


Major restoration works in St. Swithun’s having been completed, the vicar, the Rev’d. W E Buckland, announced at a restoration Committee meeting on November 12th 1896 that Sir Charles Seely and Mrs Oldacres had each paid £60 and the Parkyns family £66 for the proposed East window to be executed by Mr C E Kemp. The light representing the Virgin Mary was to be in memory of Mrs Seely, that representing Our Lord in memory of Mr & Mrs Mansfield Parkyns and their daughter Mrs Walker; and that representing St. John in memory of the Revs. Richard, Samuel and Samuel Lealand Oldacres, three generations who had served Woodborough Church from 1771 to 1876. Money for the lights representing St. Swithun and St. Paulinus would be raised by the parish. The total cost of the window, excluding fitting was £300. £114 must have been a daunting sum to raise in those days, but they got off to a good start with £30. 3. 4d from the Restoration Fund. In 1897, the new vicar, the Rev’d S Bond, agreed to take photographs on request, with 6d going to the Window Fund for each photograph printed, this produced £7. 0. 5d.


The window, having been unveiled by the Rev’ds. Buckland and Bond, was dedicated by the Bishop of Derby at the Thanksgiving Service for the restoration of the Church on September 2nd 1897.The Rev’d Bond was able to announce on February 6th 1898 that the debt on the window had been wiped out. Apart from the major contributors, the accounts show sums of £15 from a rummage sale in 1896, £10.18. 11d from one in 1897; £4. 6. 9d from an Entertainment in 1897 and £3. 8. 8d. from entertainments in 1898; offertories varying from 7s. 4d on St. Swithun’s day to £14. 0. 7d at the unveiling of the window and the following Sunday, and £7.14. 6d from the Harvest Thanksgiving. The Rev’d Buckland donated the difference between the cost and the retail price of copies of his ‘History of Woodborough’ totalling the princely sum of 6s. Rev’d Bond must have been delighted to have raised such a large sum in such a short time.

 

From the mid 1900's
Church Heating: "The excuse for absences from Church in the winter because the Church is too cold will not hold any longer", so wrote the Rev'd Charles Harrington in 1959. Our own heating apparatus is admittedly antiquated. It cannot be changed all at once. We shall continue to use the old system but we are introducing the new electric infrared system into the centre of the Church. It will no longer be true that the warmest place in the Church is where the pipes are at the side. The warmest place will now be where there are most empty seats, in front of the pulpit".

 

It is not known if any further restoration was undertaken between 1897 and 1959, because Parish Magazines covering this period have not been located. In 1968 there was a Church Fabric Appeal: stating that "in a short time you will be receiving an appeal on behalf of the Church Fabric. As you will have noticed work has already started on the Tower and this will cost us about £2000. When the Tower has been finished there will still be a very considerable amount of work to be done to the rest of the stonework in order to repair the ravages of time and weather".

 

It was reported to the Parochial Church Council in 1969 that the wiring was unsafe. In fact, it was positively dangerous, as when certain cables were touched sparks flew in all directions whether the lights were switched on or not. In addition there was the fire danger. As the wiring was the original installation in the church and was about forty years old it was decided by the Parochial Church Council that the whole installation be re-wired and new fittings obtained.

Tenders were received from electrical contractors and the scheme that was accepted cost approximately £650. The majority of the work was completed and payment made by the use of an interest free loan of £456 from the Southwell Diocesan Board of Finance which had to be repaid over 7 years. The balance came from the Restoration Fund.

 

Another report in May 1971 stated that a considerable amount of restoration work needs to be undertaken at the Church, particularly the heating apparatus, stonework around the porch and chancel. In addition quinquennial survey was due to take place during this year which may reveal other items that require attention. "The restoration work now in progress (1975) is being undertaken at a cost of £3000, of which we still need to find £800. We could not have contemplated this work without the generosity of the regular contributors to the restoration fund.

The replacement of the church heating, at a cost of £3,150, is proceeding smoothly and the new heating should be working in time for Sunday December 11th 1977 all being well. A failure in the old system caused an overflow which has damaged the organ severely. Work cannot begin on the repair until after Christmas, and it is hoped to use it in time for Easter although the damage is so extensive this cannot be guaranteed. The estimated cost of repair is around £4,350, most of which will be covered by insurance.

During the past 100 years a considerable amount of restoration work has been completed both inside and outside the church. The present work on the exterior will arrest the signs of rapid decay by a thorough re-pointing and the replacing of the worst eroded stones. This should avoid a costly project in the future, which will be more than welcome for, in the future; the church must concentrate its financial resources of paying the clergy a living wage.

Whilst this general work is being carried out, a new feature is being added to the church. A new pair of external doors is being fitted to the porch archway and the inferior doors taken out. These doors are being provided from the legacies of Sir Frank & Lady Small, and no doubt will serve as a fitting memorial to their life in the village.

In 1976, Rentokil carried out a swift and thorough Preservation treatment of the affected timbers of the church which had been ravaged by woodworm or death-watch beetle. Fortunately, only one badly eaten timber had to be replaced. P.S. No dry rot was found in the pulpit!

The foundations have been dug for a Vestry and Toilet, the drains have been put in, and brick walls are beginning to rise up.

“Buy a stone” campaign. As I write this article (December 1981) the amount received from “Be a brick and buy a stone” is £583. That is a very large pile of stones. However, to complete the plans financially, we require now another £5,000. When you consider that just a few months ago I was appealing on behalf of the PCC for £10,000 that shows a great deal of progress".

 

A new fibre-glass flag pole was installed in 1984 replacing the old wooden one, the cost was £500 which also included a smaller amount for re-gilding the clock face.

 

The nave windows, also the work of C E Kemp and Co., were dedicated by the Bishop of Southwell at Evensong on Sunday 16th August 1980. The window in the south aisle representing St. Cecilia and St. Agnes were the gift of Miss Oldacres in memory of her mother. The window at the west of the north aisle representing St. Aidan and St. Columba was the gift of Mrs Eden and Mrs Paulson in memory of their parents and brother. The adjacent window representing St. Chad and St. Hugh of Lincoln is the memorial of parishioners to Mr Edward Brett and Mr Richard Ward, Churchwardens for many years. It is noted in the Parish Magazine for April 1899 that Mr Brett was entering his 35th year of office and Mr Ward his 23rd.

 

Acknowledgements:


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St Swithun’s Church - Restorations



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