The Brenda Parker Section
A brief history by Brenda Parker, nee Hunt, 1978. Updated 1990
The Parish Church of West Hallam—dedicated to St Wilfrid built around 1275 by the De Cromwell family who also built the original manor house where the Foxholes Plantation now stands (Midland Storage). St Wilfrid, the patron saint of West Hallam Church was born in AD634. Wilfrid was a pupil of the great Abbess Hilda at Whitby and among his contemporaries were such men as Cuthbert, Chad and Bede. As a young man he could equate world-wide events very easily and factually. He had travelled to Rome from Canterbury his outlook was much wider and more in touch with Europeans (at that time Roman) than northern England.
He played a leading part in the Synod of Whitby with the result that the English Church accepted the Roman calendar and by doing so they became in line with the rest of western Christendom. At 30 years old, Wilfrid had become a famous man and became Bishop of York, later Bishop of Litchfield and finally restored to Bishop of York again.
Where-ever he went, he became a teacher and a leader of men, he built great abbeys including Rippon, Stamford, Oundle, Hexham and Evesham also beautifully furnishing them. He was a great musician and had a great capacity for friendship. His wish was to see the English Church linked with Rome and the European mainland. In his day he served his Church nobly and appeared to be gifted with tireless energies.
In the 1850’s an advertisement appeared in the Ilkeston Pioneer 27 April 1854 asking for donations toward the cost of a spire to be added to the tower but this caused much consternation among the villagers and it was never erected.
The square-headed windows of the aisles were rebuilt during the alterations of the last century as was the north porch, but the hood mould of the south door is old and of the decorated period.
The north aisle at one time continued east-wards to form a chapel into which it opened by a decorated arch resting on corbels. In the south east comer of the chapel was a small piscine niche. This chapel now houses the organ which was added to the Church on the 200th anniversary of John Scargill’s death. Until the 1950’s the organ had to be pumped by hand. It is now electrically operated (the chapel is now the vestry of Prayer Partners Creche—the new organ now installed) the old bucket oak seats now have made way for modem day chairs still in keeping with the light oak decor of the Church.
The Chancel had much work done on it during the alterations but the two light square headed window on the south side is of the decorated era as are the buttresses at its east end.
Above the nave are three clerestory windows of two lights on each side which have been deprived of the tracery that they no doubt possessed when first erected in the perpendicular period. It is thought that originally all the clerestory windows contained the figures of the 12 apostles with clauses from the Creed written over them. Only one now depicts the head and figure of a bearded man with a book in his left hand and over his right shoulder a curiously-shaped club. The legend over the figure reads: ‘Sanctum Ecclesiam Catholicam Sanctorum Communionem’ and the figure is of St James the Less, martyred in 62 AD by a blow from a fullers bat It is said the window came from Dale Abbey. The pointed East Window’s tracery was erected during the alterations and reads ‘In Dei Gloriam, Francescus Newdigate 1855’ but the hood and mould and terminals are originals.
The two-light north Chancel Window with cinquefoil heads correspond exactly with the architecture of the tower and its deeply recessed west window. It is generally believed that the old stained-glass window, that bears the arms of the Powtrell and Newdigate families, was moved here when the Hall was demolished prior to the last Hall being built.
On the south Chancel Windows the glass is old and the yellow in quaint attitude may also have come from the Hall.
The Chancel floor has an alabaster slab incised with the figure of a man in plate armour to the memory of Thomas Powtrell who died in 1484. This slab used to stand on a raised altar tomb in the north-west angle of the Chancel within the altar rails. There is also a large stone from which the brasses have been tom. This shows a man in civilian dress between two women. This is a monument to Thomas Powtrell and his two wives.
Along the north chancel wall there is a monument and upon it rest the effigies of a man and wife with their hands held in prayer. They are: Cassandra Powtrell (who is in Elizabethan costume) and Walter Powtrell (who is in plate armour). At the head of the tomb are the arms of Powtrell and Shirley (Cassandra’s family). At the foot of the tombe a chained and quilled hedgehog (the Powtrell family crest) and a Saracen’s head (the Shirley family crest). In front of the tomb are the seven children of the marriage with their family shields above them. (One of the daughters is shown in grave clothes—as she died in infancy)—the names are:
Beneath the choir-stalls on the south side of the Chancel there is a slab to the memory of John Scargill, the founder of the free school who died in 1662 aged 74. This stone over his grave was disturbed in a strange way as is shown by an entry in the parish register—1787 Rev Wm Clark, Rector of this parish buried in the Chancel of this Church under the Rev John Scargill.
Another memorial to John Scargill in the Church is the window in the Bapistry which was added on the 200th anniversary of his death. The coats of arms shown in this window was adapted to form the badge of the Scargill School. The inscription over Scargill’s grave reads ‘Here lieth the body of John Scargill. Gent., Rector of this Church. He died a Batchelor January 17th 1662. He built the schools here for vii children poore, vi of this towne and vi of ii townes more. To whom he gave beside their learning fee ix d. a weeke to each boy paid to bee. Aged 74.’
At the west end of the Church is an inscription to the Rev Wm Derbyshire who died in 1684. He was curate of Stanley Chapel and his name is on one of the bells of that Chapel with the dates 1661.
There are 8 bells in the tower and six are inscribed as follows:
There is also a further inscription in the body of the Church against the tower wall relative to the three bells in memory of Rev C Newdigate.
The seventh and eighth bells are two treble bells added to complete the octave dedicated to the Lord Bishop of Derby 20th January 1929. The quarter chimes were added to the clock by the parishioners on the completion of the 60 years reign of Queen Victoria, 20th June 1897 and the Cambridge Quarter Chimes were added to the memory of the men of the parish who gave their lives in the 1914-1918 war, F Bancroft, W Flint, D Baber, E Hartley, T Brown, T Petit, R Elliott, H J Preece and W Toplis.
The west window originally high above the vestry door, now in the ringing chamber, is dedicated to Robert Evarts more than fifty years the faithful friend and agent of Frances Newdigate, also beloved father of Robert Francis, Christiana, Isaac and Marianne d. May mdccxlix. Robert Evans was the father of the celebrated authoress who wrote under the nom- de-plume George Eliot. Her real name being Marianne Evans.
The window in the north aisle is dedicated to Thomas Williamson of the Firs, West Hallam, who died 22nd September 1916 aged 72years.
The window by the entrance door is in memory of Col Beaumont Henry Checkland MC, TD, JP, late 5th Battn. Sherwood Foresters d7.8.1929 aged 49years.
The font stands on the west side of the south aisle and is octagonal in shape rising from a square base, believed to have been the base of the old village cross.
The book rest for the pulpit was given by Rev Ratcliffe and the pulpit lamp is in memory of Phyllis Bancroft Sept 1927.
The Women’s Guild paid for a new altar before disbanding in 1963—a stone reredos, the stone of which was dug from the Chancel floor during the 1850 alterations, was built to the memory of Francis Newdigate who died in 1866, but this was destroyed when the new altar was put in. The Guild also paid for the gas supply to be altered to ‘switch-on’ gas and they generally repaired the hassocks, cassocks and other Church fabric. (Now the Sewing Group do these tasks).
In 1962 new choir stalls were made and presented by the boys of Scargill School and a wooden scroll bearing the names of past rectors of the church was made by Mr Alan Burton. In the crypt which is now the vestry/ creche for prayer partners the new wooden panelling and the doors from inside the Church into the organ vestry was also made by Mr Alan Burton—which is all in keeping with the rest of the light oak woodwork, inside the church.
The bellringers waived their fees, paid and built a screen and floor above the Choir Vestry to avoid congestion, for both choir and clergy, (as the clergy were robing, the choir too, whilst the bells were being rung). Also in the early 70’s the graves were flattened, except those with headstones to facilitate the mowing of the churchyard by Mr Eric Garton and Mr Harold Sims who spend many backbreaking hours at this task each week.
New door curtains were made by Mrs Ivy Hickson of the then Housewives Club which ran in the 1950’s, they also made many new kneelers.
A separate building in the churchyard to house a toilet was built in 1967/8 mainly by Mr Alan Burton.
The tower was pointed-up during 1960 and anew Rectory was built in 1973 to replace the familiar old white Rectory that had graced the skyline since 1820.
The Church lighting was added in 1951 in memory of Edward Geo Hall. A small lectern was given by Joseph Hobson in 1911. This gentleman was 81 years of age then and had completed 70 years in the choir. Other plaques and memorials in the Church are to Frederick mathew Brown, William Barber, Elizabeth and Henry Greatorex and William Simpson.
Two wrought iron flower-stands were given by the late Mrs Joan Heathcote and Mrs Cicely Sims. These two ladies decorated the Church with flowers from their own gardens each week, saved the money for flowers and had purchased the stands for the Church.
Today in the 1990’s The West Hallam Flower Club meet on the 1st Tuesday in the month, (in memory of the late Mrs Joan Heathcote) and will decorate the Church for all special occasions and services. The Bell-Ringers still ring the bells on Friday evenings—their practice night ready for the Sunday Services. The Choir still meet—on Monday evenings now in the Church. There are now so many various activities and happenings in West Hallam that a Who’s Who has been printed so that one can see at a glance just what is going on in and around the parish. Latterly, the magazine, (West Hallam and Mapperley) gives notice on its back page of its Services/ Themes/Feast Days and Reading Rota amongst its other items. As one delightful gentleman wrote of West Hallam in the Ilkeston Pioneer—an extract as follows, dated 6 July 1854:
‘neither geranium nor root, nor pansy nor those living and moving flowers to which we have alluded would keep us from a peep at the dear old Church.
“No admittance, except to those on business”, greeted us at our entrance. Well, we had business there and if any Cerbus had barked “stop” we would have walked on to Smalley. We saw the desolation the workman’s hammer has effected and we afterwards saw the plans. It matters little perhaps what an old man may think of them and it is perhaps unfair to pronounce on the work in its present state—but—we will say of one portion of the plan, that it did not look well, even on paper. We mean the proposed spire. Hallam tower never had a spire—never was intended for one—never needed one—and we heartily wish it may never get one, least of all such a one as proposed be placed upon it. That would be no restoration. With the other portions of the plans, we were however, such pleased.’
It is often easy to live for a number of years in a location without realising the historical heritage which is all around. West Hallam is a rapidly growing residential area based on a Village whose recorded history goes back to the Domesday Book.
Brenda Hunt has provided the reader with a book which is rich in historical facts covering personalities and places associated with "The West Hallam Heritage” reaching down to the present day.
BRENDAJHUNT©1978 ISBN 0 860710491
Rectors of West Hallam: