St. Michael's Church, Linby

St. Michael's church, Linby (photo: A Nicholson, 2005).

The Parish Church was probably built in the late part of the XII century, possibly on the site of the church hinted at in Domesday, the earlier building most likely of wattle and daub. The present church has traces of Norman work in the north and east walls which are two and a half feet thick. It is built of local limestone, with stones of handy sizes not laid in horizontal courses.

Originally it was a plain rectangular building consisting of chancel, nave and a small tower. At some time in the XIV century a south aisle was added, and in the next century the porch was built. At the same time as the porch another stage was added to the tower, which is square, pinnacled, and unbuttressed. At some later date the porch was moved from the south to the north side of the church, its old position still clearly marked on the outside of the south wall. Another alteration visible from the exterior, and also on the south, is the blocked up 'Priest's Doorway' in the south wall of the chancel.

The porch at St. Michael's church, Linby (photo: A Nicholson, 2005).
The porch at St. Michael's church, Linby (photo: A Nicholson, 2005).

The Porch is ornamented with three shields in stone, the one at the apex being of the Strelley family (a paly of six), while the ones on the buttresses are reputed by Gill and Stevenson to refer to the Hunt and Savage alliance, stating that James Savage married Elizabeth, grand-daughter and heiress of Thomas Hunt, and relict of John Strelley. However, there were two John Strelleys, father and son. The father married Joan Hickling, heiress and grand-daughter of Thos. Hunt; while the son married Elizabeth Mering, grand-daughter of Sir Thomas Neville of Rolleston, and she re-married to James Savage who was Nicholas Strelley's guardian during his minority. The east buttress shield bears the Neville saltire, with a fleur de lys for difference, while the west buttress shield, if a pale fusilly, is the Savage crest. Perhaps Nicholas Strelley built the porch to commemorate his own, his mother's and his step-father guardian's families. Guilford suggests the year 1548.

There is a small cusped squint in the wall of the porch, the purpose of which has been a matter of some speculation. It has been suggested that the line of vision was arranged to enable the bell-ringer to see the start of any procession from the village Cross. From a purely utilitarian standpoint, it is useful in allowing the priest to shelter in the porch in bad weather, and still keep a watch on the gateway for the arrival of funerals. The porch itself including the roof is constructed entirely of stone, the roof being supported on corbelled ribs, and leads to the north door. This doorway is a square headed opening, which has a transom of three stones surmounted by a rounded arch with the tympanum filled with a plain ashlar slab.

Shields, north porch, Linby
Shields, north porch, Linby

The interior walls of the church have recently been stripped of the old plaster, thereby revealing the rough work of the waller. This has been brought even more into prominence by the application of proud-pointing in black cement, lending a picturesque air to the interior even though it is not in keeping with the best tradition.

Like many other churches, Linby in successive generations has had many alterations, and as usually happens these have brought their losses with their gains. In the XIX century the old Musicians Gallery was removed, the church was re-pewed, an old tomb of the Stanhope family was removed and buried in the churchyard, an organ chamber formed in the north choir wall, and quite recently rew vestries built on at the west end of the south aisle. Prior to these alterations an old tomb of the Strelley family was turned out and left to the weather in the churchyard; and of this there only remains the description in Thoroton. He describes the tomb as follows:—

On the South side, Strelley impaling Mering. A bend and file of three labels impaling quarterly a chief cheque and a saltier, and three lozenges in fesse. A bend quartering a saltier engrailed: on an escutcheon a file of three labels. Strelley with a roundel, impaling a chief indented, quartering a bend and a file of three labels. On the North side. Strelley with a roundel, impaling a dragon erected, quartering a bend and a file of three labels.

Thoroton also speaks of a shield in a little North window. AZ, a fesse dancy and a billette D'or (Deincourt), and in a little window in the steeple, Strelley, a paly of six, ARG and AZ.

There remain no traces of these items of interest.

The second stage of the tower was probably added at the time of the Strelley alterations of the XV century, and now contains four bells. In the early part of the XVIII century a clock was placed in the tower, made by Richard Rowe of Epperstone. The bells bear the following inscriptions, in addition to the maker's name and date.

Thomas Mears of London fecit 1826.
i Andrew Montague, aged 11 years,
ii Thomas Hurt, Rector,
iii George Swinton, Churchwarden,
iv The maker's name.

Interior of St. Michael's church, Linby.

The earliest windows of the church are in the south wall of the chancel and date from about 1180; the westerly window of the south aisle is a two-light lancet in one frame, with the tympanum pierced by a circle with quatrefoil cusping. This is an example of plate tracery which preceded the bar tracery of the decorated period of the XIII century. The main east and west windows appear to be late XIII or early XIV century and are slightly more elaborate. With the exception of small fragments in the east window of the south aisle, representing a canopied shrine, and a crowned head probably of the Blessed Virgin, the stained glass is modern. This modern glass is fortunately of a period when the crude tints of the early Victorian glass had given place to more subdued and dignified colouring.

The chancel arch is of the plainest work, in the sides of which square holes have been cut, obviously to support a Rood beam, which may have been removed at the time of the Reformation. A squint has been pierced on the south giving the worshippers in the south aisle a view of the High Altar.

In the north wall of the chancel is a small cusped opening about six or seven inches wide in the base, probably the aumbrey.

The south aisle has been recently restored as the Lady Chapel; there is in its south wall a piscina with a small stone shelf, and a pyramidical drain in its floor. The pointed arches of the aisle are supported on

octagonal pillars with water mould bases and the caps ornamented: two with nail head decoration, the eastern respond quite plain, and the western respond ornamented with a billet mould alternating with roses, above a cable. The stops of one arch were originally carved heads or perhaps shields, but these have been destroyed.

The oldest remaining monument in the church is an alabaster tablet on the east wall of the south aisle commemorating George Chaworth and Mary his wife. The inscription reads:—

In this litle chappelle under the tow grave stones withe the crosses lyeth George Chaworth Esquire and Marye his wiffe, the daughter of Sir Henrie Sacheuerell Knight late farmers of this Mannor place and demesnes of Lynbye between home was issue three sonns and three daughters which George dyed the tow and twentithe of Auguste Anno DM 1557, and Marie his said wiffe died the XV of Ivne Anno DMI 1562 on whos sowells God hath mercie.

The next oldest tablet is to the memory of Dorothy, wife of William Seddon, who died in 1679 aged 73; and the next a tablet to William Seddon in 1684 which has interest in recording a period of church history when sectarianism was rife. The inscription reads:—

Iuxta hanc parietem iacet corpus Wilhelmi Seddon huius ecclesia plures annos ministeri qui anhelante ecclesia anglicana anhelus annimam deo per Christum reddidit vicessimo octavo die Februari Anno Domini 1684. Aetatis suae 50. Vita vitae mortalis est specimen immortale.

A rough translation is "Hard by this wall lies the body of William Seddon, for many years minister of this church, who at the sight of the Anglican Church gasping for breath, himself became breathless and rendered up his life to God through Christ on the 28 day of February 1684, aged 50. His mortal life a pattern of life immortal."

The font is modern and stands under the tower, by the west door; prior to this an older font stood by the pillar opposite the old south porch, the old drain hole being still visible in the flag stone.

During the building of the new vestries an old scratch dial was saved from destruction by Mr. Smedley, the Hucknall archaeologist, and has now been built into the south east corner of the new wall.

Linby church clock

The old clock in the tower of Linby Church, was removed over a hundred years ago; probably when the new bells were installed in 1826. The old name-plate has been preserved in the family of Mr. J. Stafford of Linby and has been restored by him to the Church, and is inscribed Rich. Roe in Eperston fecit 1700.

Little is known of Roe, but it is presumed he was an amateur rather than a professional clockmaker. One of his clocks was removed, from the church at Cropwell Bishop, and a description of this clock is given by Mr. Cope in Godfrey's "Churches of Notts. Hundred of Bingham." The details probably would apply to our own clock, and the following extracts are from this work.

The frame was made of oak baulks, four or five inches square mortised together and pegged with oak dowels. The two barrels, one for strike and the other for time were also of wood, with iron cross-pieces at one end to form winding handles. The wheels were of wrought iron with hand-cut teeth the arms or spokes being welded to the rims.

The pallets, of brass, were made to withdraw and so disengage to adjust the time if the clock was slow. If fast, the clock had to be stopped, since there was no other provision for setting the outer dial. The clock was about six feet high and four feet wide, the weights consisting of eyeletted stones. In all probablity the clock was provided with a single hand, and a simple hour dial.

In 1947 a clock, made by Messrs. Cope of Nottingham, was installed, the cost being defrayed by a legacy left for that purpose by the late Rector (1913-1941) the Rev. A. B. Reid.