Papplewick church.
Papplewick church.

IN close proximity to the hall, once the seat of the Montagu family, the church or chapel of St. James, with its interesting relics of the period when ''Merrie Sherwood" rang with the sound of the hunter's horn, and when Kings repaired to Clipstone and neighbourhood to enjoy participation in the chase, is picturesquely situated. Without a doubt the church is the quaintest in the Deanery. With the exception of the tower, it was built in 1795 by the Hon. Frederick Montagu, who eight years earlier had erected the hall which Throsby describes as an elegant stone edifice in which taste and convenience had been equally considered. Let us glance at the early history of the parish for a moment.

Besides what lay to Lindeby, the Conqueror's great survey mentions in Papple-wick some of the land of the Saxon possessors and the value thereof. William Peverell gave what he had here to the Monastery of Lenton at the first foundation. Henry II. gave to the same priory four score acres of effarts in Curtenhale Northanteser and the mill of Blaccliff in exchange for the land of Papilwick, which he gave to the oanons of Newstede in Shirwode, which he there founded." The entry given by Thoroton is:—"King Henry the Second gave the Town of Papulwick with the church of the same, and the mill which the Canons of Newstede made, with the meadow of Beskewod, along the water, with all appurtenances, to God and St. Mary, together with the New Stede, or place, which he founded in Shirewod for Canons regular of the Order of St. Austine to whom he gave also long and large wastes lying about the said Monastery within the Forest; which wastes in ancient Charters are called Kygell and Ravenshede, and are described by their bounds and the particulars within them. He granted the monks also view of Frank pledge and many other privileges and freedom and a park of ten acres according to the measure of the foot of the forest, by the site of the said Monastery, to be inclosed as they should please, out of the view of the Verderers Regarders, Foresters and other officers of the Forest, and a Field of arable land called Abbey Field lying between the town of Papilwyke and the said Monastery, to hold, inclosed with hedge and ditch according to the Assize of the Forest, upon the head of which the Canons made a Grange nigh the Town of Papilwyke and ever kept the field out of covert of the Forest as their proper demesne. The King also gave them at the first foundation land in Shepewyke and Walkringham, to which belonged something in Misterton and Walcreth."

King John, and following kings confirmed and enlarged the territories and privileges of the Canons, and they had several benefactors in various places in the county.

Coming to the days of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, we learn that Henry VIII. by his letters patent dated May 28th, in the 32nd year of his reign granted Newstead with the manor of Papplewick and rectory of the name, of all the closes by their several names about the Priory and commons in the Forest, and all in "Newstede, Paplewyk, and Lindby, etc., to Sir John Byron, Knight, and his heirs." The Priory was surrendered 1st July, 1539.

It was in Cromwellian days that a committee recommended that Papplewicke was fit to be annexed to Lindby. In 1650 the church was without a vicar for we find on turning to the inquiry held that year "The impropriate rectory of Paplewicke worth £20, now under sequestration for the Delinquency of Sir John Byron and the promts thereof are reserved for the service of the State they having noe vicoar nor viccarage at there Towne, we  conceive the same fitt to be annexed unto Linby."

To-day the church consists of nave, chancel and tower at west end, and south porch. The plan naturally suggests an early origin and that the present body of the church was reared on the site of a Norman building. In the case of Papplewick this supposition is confirmed for it is known that a Norman church existed here. The only remaining relic of the church King Henry II. gave to the Canons and Priory of Newstead is a figure in the porch built over the inner door, and from the carving of this it is reasonable to suppose that Papplewick church was then first built or that alterations had been made in it. After this time no clue is forthcoming to throw light on the building of Papplewick, and our next date is in Edward the Third's reign, when the tower would be erected. The tower has no buttresses, and is surmounted by a battlement with four pinnacles. The belfry windows have curvilinear tracery of the same design as the west belfry window of St. Peter's Church, at Mansfield. As these country churches depended largely on builders travelling from place to place for their alterations and repairs it is quite possible that the same hand executed these windows at both places.

The old Gothic church of Papplewick, like its successor, was aisleless, and must have been largely altered in the 14th century. The east window was square-headed 14th century, and of two lights, while on the north side of the chancel, high up in the wall, was a plain two-light opening. The chancel was slightly narrower than the nave, but the nave wall was carried some three feet or more into the chancel on the north side as though for a rood staircase. There was a plain north door with pointed head, and on each side of it two square headed 14th century windows of two lights each. Further to the east in the nave north wall was a plain window devoid of mullions, apparently an alteration of the 17th century. The roof was of a fairly steep pitch, and slated.

In 1795 the body of the church as it then existed was pulled down, and the present one built. A church of this date is always interesting, for it shews, like the beginning of the Renaissance period, how difficult it is in a country to entirely leave our traces of old building styles. From Henry VIII.'s reign the general trend of building had been classic, and although here and there good Gothic windows had been inserted until as late as Charles I. reign, all sympathy with the spirit of Gothic was practically dead. Towards the end of the Eighteenth Century certain people began to look favourably on the Gothic style, and a revival took place. But they merely seized on the pointed arches, entirely missing the artistic beauties of proportion, fine moldings, and carving, substituting in place of the latter a kind of acanthus. This type of ornament may be seen in the crochets of the ogee hood mold of the outer porch door at Papplewick. The result of this mixture is a Gothic style entirely different from anything seen at any other period. It is seen in such churches like Papplewick and also in many country houses built about at the end of ine seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries. On the south side of Papplewick are five two-light windows and a three-light window at the east end, the north side of the church is a blank wall. The embattled parapet running round the church has no moldings; flat copings stones only form the finish.

Papplewick is rich in incised slabs of more than ordinary interest. Built into the east and west sides of the porch are two with a pair of bellows in each. These are in all probability the gravestones of men who had forges in the forest, for notwithstanding the harsh laws with which the early kings hedged in their forest hunting grounds, the supply of iron had to be kept equal to the demand, and for this purpose grants were made to the Faber or ironworker to enable him to set up a forge and fell the necessary timber for his work.

Various perambulations of the forest were made by Edward I.'s men as the King wished to keep the forest boundaries, as known by his father, but he was compelled to disafforest certain parts. It would have caused general disturbance to the industries of the country if the pursuits of special occupations pertaining to the soil had been prohibited within the very wide area of the forests. The most important of these industries was iron smelting. The Crown made grants of itinerant forges in forest districts, and these were worked at a profit for the Crown.

In the flooring of the church is a fine specimen of a Forester's slab with a cross, horn, and a bow and arrow upon it. The forester of old had similar duties to a keeper of to day, but his powers were great. He had to preserve the deer, and could arrest and imprison any man caught with bows and arrows, dogs or snares, within the forest limits, whether he had done damage or not. The strict laws extended to even the forester himself, for he could not carry a bow or hunt without a special licence. This stone marks the tomb of a chief forester, indicated by the bow upon it. The ordinary forester's symbol was a horn. The office of bow bearer in Sherwood Forest continued until the 18th century. Also in the flooring is a woodward's slab having incised upon it a cross, and the woodward's knife or small axe. The duties of the woodward overlapped somewhat those of the forester as to looking after the preservation of the King's deer. In all forests were private enclosures or woods, which were subject to inspection by the forest officers, and the owners were not allowed to fell timber or put up any building in them, furthermore, they had to keep woodwards to look after the King's deer. Possibly the small bill-hook or axe usually incised on the woodward's slab was used for marking such trees as were to be felled. Near to the door of the church is a fine slab with a floriated cross, and, in addition, three small consecration crosses have been incised upon it, such as were usually placed on stone altars, but whether this stone has ever been used as an altar is doubtful. In addition to the slabs above mentioned others are to be seen in the walls of the porch and fragments in the paving.

The interior we have described as quaint. It is a long narrow building, the width being but 15 feet. Fastened on to the wooden partition which shuts off the vestry and tower from the body of the church is a small shallow marble basin supported on wooden pillars forming part of the screen. This is the font! We are inclined to agree with the opinion expressed by the Rector, that this small Puritan-looking vessel displaced the handsome old Early English font, which lies at the west end of the churchyard, on account of the latter occupying too much of the church's limited space. We should not be surprised to find Mr. Weddall replacing the old font in the church before long. The Puritans threw out the large fonts formerly used for immersion and replaced them by smaller ones, sometimes a basin on a pedestal did duty. It is quite possible that the small one here is merely following the lines of the one in the church (dating back to Puritan days) when the rebuilding took place in 1795. Also on the screen which fills the tower arch may be noticed the Royal arms of the same period as those seen at Selston and Teversal. Royal arms were substituted in Elizabeth's reign for the rood, either on the top of the rood screens or chancel arch, sometimes painted, sometimes carved. It is not known by what authority they were first put in churches. It may have been an injunction of Edward VI., says Bloxam.

Along the blank north side and the west end is the gallery. Again, the adjective, quaint, is the most suitable word we can think of to describe it, particularly the Montagu pew at the east end. Here a large roomy pew will be found, one in which the occupants could peacefully sleep through the sermon, unobserved by the rector. There is in the pew a fire-place, the little chimney from which is seen on the exterior of the north wall. We passed along the gallery to the tower and climbed the steps to the belfry. From its appearance the belfry might have had no visitor for years, for half way up between the ringers' chamber and the top, in the centre of the steps, was a bird's nest containing eggs. This condition of things seemed quite in keeping with the old oak pewing, the apology for a font, the handsome piece of fourteenth century glass in the window on the south side, and other things which breathed of days gone long before. On the other hand it might be argued that this blackbird's nest was out of place amid such surroundings. But to continue our description: On the walls of the church are several tablets to the Montagu's and their relatives. One runs as follows:— "This tablet is sacred to the memory of Elizabeth Lady Wearg. She was the only daughter of Sir James Montagu, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, son of George Montagu, of Horton, in Northamptonshire, and grandson of Henry Montagu, first Earl of Manchester and widow of Sir Clement Wearg, Solicitor General to George the First. Here is another:—

"This tablet is sacred to the memory of Charles Montagu, Esq., of this parish, only son of Sir James Montagu, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and of Tuston AVray, his Lady Montagu. Sacred also to the memory of Anne Colladon, Mrs. Montagu, only daughter of Sir Theodore Colladon. They had three children, Charles, who died young; Annie Montagu, married to John Founteyne, of Melton, in the County of York, D.D., and Dean of York; and Frederick Montagu, who had the misfortune to survive his excellent sister. The tablet bears the Montagu and Colladon arms quartered on a shield.

Boutell, in his English Heraldry, in discussing the prevalence of the allusive quality in early arms, says it may be assumed to have been even more general than is now apparent, since so many of the original schools and allusions have become obscured or altogether lost in the lapse of time, and through the changes that nave taken place since the accession of Henry III., in the French language, and in our own. Who, for example, he asks, recognises instinctively in the name of Montagu, the original allusion to a mountain with its sharply peaked crests, and so discerns the probable allusive origin of the sharp triple points of the devices on the old Montacute shield.

On the east wall may be read:—Here are deposited the remains of Susan Mary Amycot, Lady Colladon, widow of Sir Theodore Colladon, Bart., great nephew of Sir Theodore Mayerne. They had one child, Ann Colladon, Mrs. Montagu.

There is also a mural tablet to the memory of Mr. Howitt, farmer of this parish, who died February 12th, 1843, aged 65 years.

The organ was presented to Papplewick Church, August 28th, 1864, by Henry Fraser Walter, Esq., J.P.. " an earnest active parishioner who died Nov. 18th, 1893. Deeply regretted by all."

There is a rather amusing instruction to the organist, written on carboard, and tacked on to the side of the instrument, as follows:—

"The organist is requested to brush the mud and dirt off his boots before commencing to play."

The glass already mentioned is certainly the finest in the Deanery. It is very old, being probably 14th century work. Mr. Walters, during his occupancy of the Hall, used to say (and he was somewhat of an authority) this was the finest glass he knew of. The glass in the east window is modern, and is said to be a copy of a college window at Cambridge.

There is little beyond the usual entries in the registers, which go back to 1661. On July 3rd, 1676, there is the entry of the marriage of two important county people, Sir William Stanhope and Catherine Byron, daughter of Richard, the second Lord Byron.

Another entry worth giving is this:—

18th Oct., 1661, William Byron, Esq., and Elizabeth Chaworth, married.

The bells are three in number. The first has Henry Oldfield's mark, and the well-known inscription:

Sweetly tolling men do call
To feaste on meats that feed the
soule. 1620.

The lettering is old English.

On the second bell, in old English lettering, is: "Xeteua," and on the other: Wm. Tagg, churchwarden, fecit. 1794.

This lettering is Roman in character.