Two churches on the Vale and the Hill

The story of the long quest for a New Church, by the Rev. Hildesley, starts way back in 1911 and was not achieved until after his death, when so many times during his years as Rector, the end appeared to be in sight. In September, 1911, the Bishop of Southwell, stated in his letter to the Gedling Deanery that a mission church was necessary at Colwick, and for it to be sited close to Netherfield, where most of the population lived, but this letter does not seem to have been followed up.

It is not until May 1921, that the next move is made. The Parish Council considered the immediate purchase of a site for a new church in the parish. Two sites were considered, one a triangle piece, which would take a Church, Rectory and Institute, with Bowling Greens and Tennis Lawns; the other, the corner piece opposite the former, which would only take a Church and Rectory. The former site would have to be saved for, but the latter could perhaps be bought at once. The larger site was priced at £750 and the other at £250, which was approved by the Bishop, and the Rector instructed to purchase it.

The New Church Building Fund was started in October 1921, and Mr. J. E. Littler, F.R.I.B.A, architect, engaged to draw up a substantial Parish Hall, which would also be used as temporary Parish Church. The building suggested was estimated to cost about £1,000 to erect and furnish. The Colwick Building Company’s estimate of £839 for erecting was accepted and the work was due to start on the 18th April 1922. The size of the Parish Hall in comparison with the main hall of the Old School (now demolished) on the Vale is as follows: —
School — Length - 49’ 10” Breadth - 20’ 0” Height to eaves - 11’ 0” Height to roof - 14’ 3”
Hall — Length - 54’ 0” Breadth - 29’ 4” Height to eaves - 9’ 3” Height to roof - 13’0”

Service marking the laying of the foundations of the new Colwick church.

The building was finished and used for the first time on the 29th August 1922 and officially declared open. Total cost of the Parish Hall and fittings as January 1923, was £1077. 9s. 0d., out of which £669. 11s. 8d was still to be found. The complete cost of everything was £1,454. 8s. 8d., which was collected in by 7p.m., on Thursday, May 7th, 1925, the final £12. 19s. 4d., coming in on the last day. Some of the services were being held in the Parish Hall, and on October 12th, 1926, the Bishop of Southwell, expressed that the services should be continued to be held there and not transferred back to the Parish Church.

In 1927, the Bishop of Southwell wrote to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in regard to the legal situation of Colwick Parish, who were breaking the law by not holding Divine Service in the Parish Church, each Sunday. In reply to the Bishop’s letter, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners wrote on the 30th May, 1927:

My Lord, I have honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordship’s letter of the 25th inst. with reference to the Parish Church of Colwick, and in reply I write to say that if a new Church were built and consecrated it could be substituted for the present parish Church by Instrument of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners under Act 8 and 9 Vict. c 70. S.I.

The site of the new Church should be conveyed to the Commissioners and the plans and specification submitted for the Commissioners’ approval before the building is begun.

When the substitution has been effected, the old Church may, if your Lordship thinks fit, be wholly or partly pulled down under the authority of a Faculty to be granted for the purpose.

Your Lordship’s Most Obedient Servant, Charles Hogg, Assistant Secretary.

On receipt of the above letter from the Bishop, an especial meeting of the Colwick Church Council was called and the following resolution was passed:

"That at a duly convened meeting of the Colwick Parish Church Council held in the Library at the Parish Hall on Sunday, 12th June, 1927, at 8 p.m., it was resolved to suggest to the parishioners that as the Parish Church is for all intents and purposes now useless as a place for Divine Worship for the parishioners, we agree to the resolution passed 4 the Vestry Meeting held on the 27th March, 1913, namely: —
"That this Meeting of the Vestry having at heart the best interests of Church Extension in the Parish feels that it would not be wise to spend more money than is absolutely necessary on repairing the old Parish Church, owing to its distance from the majority of the Parishioners, and resolve to proceed at once with raising the money to build a new Church, and that the old Church may be dealt with as indicated in the Bishop’s Letter to the Rector dated 31st May, 1927, viz: retain such parts as would serve as a Chapel for funerals and preserve any monuments of historical or other interest."

A full meeting of the parishioners was convened for the Sunday evening, July 3rd, at 8 p.m., which was very well attended and the ‘following resolution was passed by a two-thirds majority:

"That this meeting of the parishioners of Colwick resolves to proceed, as soon as the debt on the school and institute is paid, to raise money to build a new church, which shall be the parish church, and to deal with the old church as indicated in the Bishop’s letter to the Rector dated 31st May, 1927, etc."

In November 1927, the Rector invited Mr. Littler to prepare preliminary plans for a church, costing between £10,000 and £15,000. After the Easter Vestry, 1928, the Rector laid before the Councillors a plan, elevation and section of the proposed church, which had been approved by the Diocesan Council for Church Extension. The Church would be 140’ long by 50’ wide, Chancel. 40’ long by 24’ wide, Nave 90’ long by 50’ wide. Two entrances with porch, cloakrooms and toilets. Choir Vestry and Clergy Vestry, both with toilets. A room above the Choir Vestry arid a Lady Chapel on southeast. This Church was never taken beyond this stage.

On the 17th January 1935, the Rector and Churchwardens signed the deed of conveyance for a site for a Church on Oakdale Road, Colwick on the Hill. The site of 1.75 acres had been purchased by the Diocesan Finance Association for £650.

At a meeting held in October, 1925 the Bishop of Southwell said that he felt that the new parish church should be built on the hill and not on the site in the vale, but the P.C.C. unanimously expressed its opposition to this scheme and agreed that one of the following lines should be followed:

  1. Proceed with building the Church as originally intended on the site purchased in the Vale Road and encourage parishioners on the Hill to attend or
  2. To build the Church in the Vale and erect at once a Parish Hall on the site on the Hill, similar to the one in the Vale and apply for help to employ an assistant Priest.
  3. To form a new parish of Colwick on the Hill, and leaving a small parish of Colwick in the Vale. This would probably entail some of the income of the Benefice being used to pay the Priest on the Hill.
  4. To transfer Colwick on the Vale to Netherfield and retain Colwick on the Hill. This would also involve diminution of income for the Rector of Colwick.

When the Bishop of Southwell visited the Parish in January, 1936, he stated that after consideration he had decided to approve of a new church on the Vale and that there was a chance of getting a grant to pay for an Assistant Priest to reside on the Hill. In March of the same year, the Southwell Diocesan Council of Finance wrote to say that they would provide £1,000 towards a small permanent church, subject to plans being submitted and accepted by the committee.

On January 14th, 1937, Mr. C. Howitt, architect, exhibited and explained plans for a Church to hold about 200 people, at a cost of about £5,500, which were accepted to be carried out at a later date. On 23rd June, 1938, Mr. C. Howitt, presented completed drawings of the new church and stated that the estimated costs would be about £6,100 plus Architects fees of 6% and any extras, such as paths and boundary fences. The drawings were accepted and the Rector asked to submit them to the Diocesan Authorities and Mr. Howitt to the other authorities concerned.

On the 27th January, 1939, the P.C.C. were told that the Bishop was considering the union of the Colwick and Netherfield Parishes and at present the building of a new church could not be considered. The union of the Parish with that of Netherfield was opposed on many points and one was the religious phraseology of that Parish would not be acceptable to the people of Colwick.

After a long delay, on 20th January, 1944, a move was once again made to build a new Church on the Vale, but it is not until 5th January, 1948 that the council again discuss the matter and ask the Rector to approach Mr. Howitt to draw up a more modest building owing to the rise in costs since the last set of plans were prepared.

The weeks pass by and still the Church is not started in 1947, when the rector suggested buying a local building and adapting it, but this failed on two occasions, first owing to the owners deciding not to sell, and on another, where the Church Commissioners stated that it would cost £12,000 to adapt. The Commissioners at about this time examined the old Church and said that it could be repaired for £4,000 and a bus hired to take the congregation for services.

In 1948, the idea of dividing the parish was again brought up, but again did not succeed. The Vale was still to have a New Church and the Hill part of the parish was to be shared between, Carlton and St. Cyprians, until such time when it was able to run with its own Rector. On Sunday, 27th March, 1949, a temporary Church on the Hill was dedicated, and once more the whole of Colwick was under the care of one Rector, with a joint P.C.C. for general running, and a separate one for each Church.

In 1949, the idea of buying the Congregational Church, at the foot of Station hill, was again brought up and after a report on it by a Mr. Cooper, architect, the committee voted against the purchase and Mr. Cooper was asked to prepare a plan of a Church to seat 150 people. The Ministry of Works licence for £4,500 and a Timber licence were granted on the 27th January, 1950, for the new church, and the plans were passed to the planning authority on the 15th Feb., and the Bishop of Southwell laid the Foundation Stone on the 26th February. The contract, between the Church Committee and Messrs W. & J. Simons Ltd., of West Bridgford, for £4,248, was signed by the Secretary and both Churchwardens. It was hoped to be able to use the oak roof beams, stone slabs and the bell from the old church, but in the end, only the slabs were used for the sanctuary in the new building, which owing to the costs having to be kept down, is rather on the plain style of early post-war architecture. A memorial window to the late Rev. Hildesley and Mrs. Hildesley was included on the west wall, and the Church was opened on Sunday, 17th June, 1951, the final cost of building and fittings being £5,205.

Laying the foundation stone of the new church, Colwick on the Hill.
Laying the foundation stone of the new church, Colwick on the Hill.

The New Church, Colwick on the Hill, was built and consecrated on Saturday, February 15th, 1958, by the Bishop of Southwell, as the Church of the new parish of St. John the Baptist, Carlton, or the area of the ancient Parish of Colwick, north of the railway, which in its new capacity is now the senior church of the two. The position of the building, on the crest of what used to be called Stokes’s Hill, with the more striking style of modern design, and the tall cross surmounting the slender tower, is visible for many miles down the Trent valley on a clear day.