A History of Hickling to 1860
and of all its Clergy.
by Christopher Granger
Additional Paragraphs from Chris’s Notes:
Appendix 7: Additional Paragraphs from Chris’s Notes (including:)
Roman Coins Found in a Field & Early History (including village name).
In the 1770s a Hickling farmer unearthed a hoard of Roman coins in a field. He must have passed them on to the then rector, Henry Morris, who in his capacity as rector was entitled to the fruits of the glebe lands. He was knowledgeable about roman coins and after his death his listing of them was published by Thomas Merry, a Nottingham printer.
The Fosse, a Roman road, lies only two or three miles from Hickling and there was a roman settlement called Cernum which has been identified with it. It is not known whether people continued to live there during the dark ages but in the middle of the tenth century Hekela, an Anglo Saxon chieftain or warlord, settled there with his people.
In the 1820s an Anglo Saxon sarcophagus or coffin lid was found buried in the churchyard. It has both Christian and pagan symbols on it, indicating that the dead man was hedging his bets on which God was going to take care of him in the afterlife.
Hickling was spelt with an e rather than an i in several Hickling wills from the 16th century and -ing is a suffix meaning place which was used as a patronymic in 10th century Anglo Saxon. The spelling changed from Hekeling or Heckling and its variants with a vowel change in the course of the 16th century from e to i.
The earliest record of the existence of Hickling is in 971AD, when Aernkitel granted some land in Hickling to Ramsey Abbey.
Thoroton’s History 1677
Dr Robert Thoroton in his History of Nottinghamshire of 1677 wrote that, “Immediately prior to the Norman Conquest, the whole parish consisted of two manors, which belonged to Torchill and Godwin. They must have taken up arms against the Normans and William the Conqueror deprived them of their lands and bestowed them on Ilbert de Lacy, forebear of the Earls of Lincoln and Walter de Eyncourt, whose grandson, another Walter, restored it to Elias, or Elisius de Fanecourt, held three parts of the land in Hickling and Kinoulton, of which his father, Gerard de Fanecourt, held of him one Knight’s Fee. The village was then part of the larger parish of Cropwell which also included Kinoulton and Granby. Gerald was a great benefactor of Thurgarton Priory and he gave his Manor in Hickling to it. Ilbert de Lacy leased two parts of the “Town of Hickling” by free farm to Robert de Hareston for nine marks a year. This long lease passed by inheritance successively to the de Grey and Leake families and with it the advowson or patronage of the benefice of Hickling. Small parcels of land were given to daughters as dowries and others were sold off so that there were some twenty freeholders and many husbandmen or tenant farmers in the village. The last traces of these families were William Stapleton who was church warden in 1552 and William Vaux, 3rd Baron Vaux of Harrowden whose tombstone now lies in the chancel of Hickling church. He owned property in other parts of the country and in particular the family seat at Harrowden in Northamptonshire, which he transferred to Sir Thomas Tresham, his second wife’s grandfather. He was a Roman Catholic and as such was convicted of recusancy several times. He was committed to the Fleet Prison by the Privy Council and tried in the Star Chamber together with his brother in law, another Sir Thomas Tresham for harbouring the Jesuit priest, Edmund Campion for which he was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment in the Fleet Prison and fined (…)”
The Church Building
The church was dedicated in 1321 according to Archbishop Melton’s diary and the nave, south aisle and church door appear to date from this time as do the backs and arms of two benches in the chancel. There must have been some form of church prior to this, perhaps a wooden structure because an Anglo Saxon sarcophagus was unearthed in the churchyard in 1829 and because of the fact that the parish had its own rector from 1227 or earlier. No records remain of additions or alterations to the church before what is recorded in the parish register by John Thomas Jordan, rector from 1797 to 1820, though Thomas Deacon the rector who died in 1484 ordered his executors to cause the ground of the church to be covered with square stones.
Orton’s Thesaurus of 1763 says that “it (the church) comprises a nave, north and south aisles, south porch, chancel and western tower. The fabric measures internally 21ft 2″, in length of nave 47ft 8″, width of nave 21ft 2\’92\’94, width of north aisle 10ft, width of south aisle 18ft 9”, length of chancel 41ft 3, “width 15ft 2”. The tower is 10ft 9″ square inside.
Harold Bailey of Newark, an architect commissioned to write a report giving suggestions for further restoration of the church in 1904 wrote that the pitch of the roof of the nave was probably lowered in the early sixteenth century when the pointed roof was removed and the walls raised with the clerestory windows added to give more light. The East end of the South aisle has caused problems over the years. An inscription on the outside gable on the East of the South aisle indicates that it was restored in 1736 with the initials of the then church wardens, JD and TS (John Daft and Thomas Skellinton). In 1809 John Collishaw reported a hole in the same wall. Harold Bailey’s 1904 report states that its roof is in a dangerous condition. The chancel was pulled down and rebuilt in Victorian Gothic style in 1840 with a few pieces of the original glass included in the Victorian stained glass window. In the same year the Briceson organ was installed.
In 1829 an Anglo Saxon sarcophagus was unearthed in the church yard and brought into the church. In 1871 the tower was pulled down and rebuilt stone by stone with a view to making it a faithful copy of the original, though it is clear to see that new stone was used to replace the old and a photograph taken before it was rebuilt shows that the old stone was worn with age. The faculty authorising the tower to be rebuilt also provided for the general restoration of the church and this is presumably when the floor was tiled with red and black geometric quarry tiles and new pews were installed in the nave and the aisles, replacing the box pews which had previously been there.
A parishioner remembered an occasion, when the old pews were still there, when a swarm of bees flew into the church and settled on a maiden lady’s hat. She merely took it off, laid it beside her and carried on singing.
On 1st November 1887 a strong southerly gale blew the lead off the roof which had to be put back again. In 1890 a new church clock was installed by Smiths of Derby at a cost of (…), replacing one which was about two hundred years old which had a single wooden hand. In 1894 the stone pulpit was completed with the addition of the staircase. In 1907 Francis Ashmall, the then rector, described the roof as like a moth eaten umbrella. The repair of the roofs of the nave and south aisle was expected to cost some (…) with another (…) needed to rehang the bells with only (…) in hand. An architect’s report of that year described the roof of the South aisle as dangerous.
On 23 August 1915 the East end of that roof collapsed. The cause was dry rot. It was not until 1924 when the necessary repair work could be carried out. In 1931 the bells were judged unfit to be rung and in 1935 a faculty was granted for the repair of the bells and the same year estimates were requested for the overhaul of the organ. In 1949 the chancel floor and window were found to be in need of attention and were repaired and the east end of the south aisle was relaid with concrete flags in place of the existing red and black quarry tiles. In 1983 the war memorial of the Methodist Chapel was installed in the north aisle of the church. In 1990 the paving in the churchyard was repaired and in the 1990s the bell frame was renewed and the bells rehung. A new number 7 bell was installed having been cast by Taylors of Loughborough and a treble number 1 bell was purchased from Kinoulton church.
Cdr and Mrs Cadogan Rawlinson had the paintings of Royal Coats of Arms in the tower restored. The Vaux tombstone and the Anglo Saxon sarcophagus were restored by the Skillington Workshop of Grantham on the advice of Hanna Consultancy of York. The sarcophagus was lain on its back to prevent any further cracks and it and the Vaux tombstone moved into the chancel. In 1998 death watch beetle was discovered in the rafters but fortunately the guarantee from the previous treatment was still valid. Shortly afterwards a toilet and a new kitchen were installed in the South West corner of the church.
It is not known to which saint the church was dedicated in 1321 but in 1529 the patron saint was St Wilfred as mentioned in the wills of Ralph Hopkinson in 1529, Roger Howitt in 1540 and other wills of the 1540s. The village is called Hickling in the Vale in Robert Mann’s will of 1598 as also in the Inventory of Richard Daft in 1654. In Thoroton and Deering it is said to be dedicated to St Mary. It is now dedicated to St Luke as also are the nearby churches of Kinoulton and Upper Broughton. It has not been ascertained why or when these changes in dedication occurred.
The churchyard is full of graves to the south and west of the church. It is reputed that the ground to the east of the church on some raised ground with no graves upon it was burial pit for victims of the plague which it is believed hit Hickling in the early years of the 17th century. Equally there are no graves stones in the south east corner of the graveyard. In Colston Bassett eighty three people died of the plague in 1603 and it is likely to have taken a proportionate toll in Hickling whenever it struck. Superstition has deterred people ever since from using it for burials.
In the part of the churchyard South of the South aisle there are several slate gravestones of the style known as the Belvoir Angels with an angel at the top of the headstone. They date back to the late 17th century and early 18th century. That of John Smith of Cropwell Bishop has this verse carved on it:
“This world’s a city full of crooked streets
Death is ye market place where all men meets
If life were merchandise yt men col’d buy
The rich would often live and the poor men die”
John Smith died on 23 December 1725 and was buried in Hickling where he had been born some 73 years earlier and was of a prominent yeoman family. His great nephew would become an attorney in Nottingham.
Opposite the porch near the edge of the churchyard is a cherry tree, a Prunus Yedoensis, which was planted by an American lady in the 1980s in memory of her ancestor Frederick Maltby, who had been taken to America at a very young age and orphaned at three months and then adopted taking the surname of Warner and risen to become Governor of Michigan, serving three terms.
Built into the west wall of the tower is a 13th century tree of life sarcophagus or coffin lid. The tree of life derives from the old Christian legend that the cross used in the crucifixion was made from the wood of the tree of knowledge and immortality, from which Adam and Eve are said to have picked the forbidden fruit.
Beside the porch there is a ring for tethering a horse. The porch dates back to the early 14th century and has some ugly doors with wire mesh at the front. It leads to the main South door on which the wrought ironwork dates back to the 14th century and may have been the original door. There is a similar but larger church door in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which has similar wrought iron work. There are several patched up holes in this door through which those defending themselves in the civil war fired their muskets. In the eighteenth century the village youth must have idled their time in the church yard and occupied themselves on occasion carving their initials on this door. Some of the miscreants were from leading yeoman families in the village.
On your left as you enter the door is the new kitchen and toilet area. Further on is the large stone font which dates back to the early 14th century though it was altered in the reformation period probably in Edward VI’s reign (1547 to 1553). It is octagonal and has a shield on each side panel. The knob on the font cover is dated to 1665.
In front of you at the corner of a pews is the poor box. on which is carved “HF RB REMEMBER THE POORE 1685” HF was Henry Faulks, church warden, and RB was Richard Blower, the carpenter who made it. The pews are Victorian and have wooden kneelers, designed like their seats to make you uncomfortable and to keep you awake during sermons, though there are a few padded kneelers if you know where to look.
On your right as you enter the church is a stand supported by two legs from a four poster bed topped by some ornamental Victorian woodwork. To the left of this on the wall is the war memorial for village men killed in the two world wars. This is of marble and was made by Tom Drake stonemason of Melton Mowbray who had been a fellow student with some of the fallen. He also made the war memorial outside the village hall which was then the church hall. On the opposite wall in the smaller north aisle is the war memorial which once graced the Methodist chapel on the corner of Main Street and Bridegate Lane. This has a brass plaque with the names of the fallen on a wooden panel made by Burnett’s, wheelwrights of Hickling.
In the north west corner of the church is a small room panelled off to form the vestry.
At the back of the church between the pews is a door with a step up into the tower. In the south west corner there is a doorway opening up on a spiral staircase leading up to the bell frame and the roof of the tower where there is a weather vane with a cockerel painted gold. In the north west corner there is a small window beside which is the shield from Nicholas Penny’s coat of arms. He was rector from 1720 to 1730 when he was appointed Dean of Lichfield. It was in his time that the oil pantings of the royal coats of arms on the north wall were commissioned, presumably by Queens’ College, Cambridge, to make it clear that they held the advowson. The arms are those of the two queens and foundresses of that college, Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI and Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV.
On the south wall of the room there is a list of charitable benefactors. Sadly, none of these charities still exist. A number of them ended up in the pocket of a sole trustee who died insolvent. Westby chose different trustees and his charity survived until the 1980s, interest being received on the capital sum, but as the village no longer had a school it could not be added to the salary of a schoolmaster. The only other charity to survive into the 1980s was (…) collected by subscription by Edward Anderson, the then rector, to provide bread for the poor. The charity minute books details regular gifts of bread to less well off villagers, who on one occasion included the rector’s wife but by the 1980s there was a strong risk that recipients might take offence at being thought of as poor and inflation had substantially reduced the amount of bread which could be bought with the interest. The Charity Commissioners gave permission for the two charities to be wound up and the capital to be applied in such suitable manner as was thought appropriate. Westby’s (…) purchased books for the Sunday School and Anderson’s (…) was paid to a charity for the poor in Nottingham. As is noted on a brass plaque Betsy Collishaw’s (…) bequest in 1921 was expended on installing electric lighting in the church. Her husband, William’s, bequest of (…) for general church maintenance on condition that the church wardens should maintain the graves of himself, his wife and members of their families fell in to the general funds of the PCC when these conditions could no longer be complied with because no one could remember which graves were referred to. It should be understood that these Collishaws were only distantly related to the family still living and farming in the village. The list of charities only lists endowments and omits any mention of large numbers of bequests to the poor, the church and the mending of the causey (causeway or Main Street) in the 16th and early 17th centuries.
The nave is 25ft (750 centimetres) in width and on each side of it is an arcade of four arches supported on octagonal piers dating back to the early 14th century. The walls over the arcades were raised in the 15th century with four small square clerestory windows on each side to provide more light when the present flat roof replaced the steeper pitched roof vestiges of which can be seen on the side of the tower. In mediaeval days the church would have been painted brightly with biblical scenes and there would have been statues of and paintings from the lives of saints. The gargoyles, used to drain off the rain from the roof had grotesque faces on order to scare off the evil one, were defaced either during the reformation or the civil war period. The puritans disapproved of jollity in church.
On either side of the central aisle of the church and attached to two pews are the church wardens’ wands introduced in the 1980s by Peter Harrison, the then rector, The rector’s church warden’s one has a brass mitre on the top and the people’s a crown. Originally such wands or staves had sharp ends and were used for prodding people who had fallen asleep in sermons and before that when fights broke out on church premises. In 1620 George Greene, the then curate, had Richard Knutton of Hickling presented before the Ecclesiastical court for disturbing him during his sermon. In January 1624 the curate and other church warden presented Thomas Dafte, church warden for, “his railing and slanderous speeches and for his reviling, scornful and reproachful wordes with the church, and for other misdemeanours.” On another occasion a parishioner tried to pull a church warden out of his seat. In those days there were no pews and the wealthier folk provided their own seats.
Filling up the east end of the north aisle is the Briceson organ installed in 1840.
The chancel was completely rebuilt in 1845 using new materials. Monuments commemorating former rectors Henry Morris and J Thomas Jordan which grace opposite walls in the present chancel and the gravestones of Francis Bedford another rector and Richard Coke, one time curate of the parish, on the floor near the altar rails were transferred from the old building. There are smaller plaques on the walls in memory of other more recent rectors.
In the middle of the bridal path is the memorial brass of Ralph Babbington, the rector who died in 1525. This is one of the finest examples in the East Midlands. Rory Naismith in his St Luke’s Church Hickling – A Description – 3rd edition 2009 wrote:
“The inscription in the small scroll reads: Calicem salutaris accipia [et] nome[n] d[omi]ni invocabo (Psalm cxv.13: I will receive the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord; that in the larger scroll reads Orate p[ro] a[nim]a mag[ist]ri Radi Babyngton filii Thome Babyngton de Dethyk in com[itatu] Derb armig[e]r in decretis bacularii quondam rector de Hyklyng qui mansu[m] rectorie ejusdem de novo re[staur]arauit et plura edificia de novo construxit, et obiit xxix die Augusti a[nno] d[omi]ni M xxj post Septimum annum regiminis sui cuius anime propicietur deus. Amen (Pray for the soul of Master Ralph Babington, son of Thomas Babington of Dethick in county Derby, knight, bachelor and sometime rector of Hickling, who restored anew the house of that same rectory, and built many more new buildings, and died on 29 August in the year of our lord 1521 after the seventh year of rule of he [Ralph] to whose soul God may show mercy. Amen”
The bosses in the shape of faces on the backs and arms of the mediaeval benches in the chancel have largely been defaced either in the reformation or the civil war period by iconoclasts but may date back to when the church was built.
The reredos dates back to Victorian days and is reputed to have been carved by a local craftsman. It has the Supper at Emmaus painted on it.
The East window is of stained glass and is mainly Victorian but includes a few pieces of mediaeval glass saved from an earlier window. These include heads and heraldic devices together with the badge of Henry VII who reigned form 1485 to 1509.
List of Clergy and Rectors.
CURATES so far as known: