New project to research history of our churches

10-2245-2'St Johns Church
10-2245-2'St Johns Church
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A SMALL team has begun the challenging task of researching the history of Hucknall’s Anglican churches.

The members have been recruited by Professor John Beckett, of Nottingham University. The ultimate aim of the project is for details of all churches in the Southwell and Nottingham Diocese to be included on the diocesan website, freely available to interested researchers and tourists.

Hucknall’s local historian Maureen Newton, who has been appointed as team leader, said: “This is a pioneering project because, so far, no-one has really worked on the churches in Hucknall.

“We are looking at the history of the buildings, any alterations, stained-glass windows, monuments, bells, organs, fonts and gravestones or, in fact, anything that might be of interest.

“We will be taking photographs and notes of anything we deem is important evidence around and inside the buildings. So if you see any of us crawling, climbing or wandering round your church like lost sheep, please come and have a chat since you might know of something we are unlikely to find.

“We are starting with the newest, St Peter and St Paul’s Church on Ruffs Drive, and we will also take in the former St Peter’s, which hsd been converted into Watnall Road Community Centre.

“We will next deal with St John’s Church, which has played an integral part in the life of the Butlers Hill community for many years. Of course, there is also the parish church on the Market Place, which is dedicated to St Mary Magdalene.

“The parish church is obviously world-famous as the last resting place of the poet Lord Byron but there is much more to it than that.”

The church is grade-two listed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and has been described by many experts as a “particularly significant building of more than local interest”.

The church was built on the site of an old Saxon church and the tower, which stands high above the town, was built in stages between the 12th and 14th centuries.

The Lady Chapel has been praised as a “beautiful example of 19th-century craftsmanship” and the Victorian baptistry, which used to contain the 14th-century font, has now been converted into a popular visitor-centre.

The parish church is also notable for having the largest collection of stained-glass windows by Charles Eamer Kempe, a key figure in 19th-century decorative art, of any building in the country.

Anyone able to help with the survey is asked to contact Maureen by writing to her at 64 Bestwood Road, Hucknall, Nottingham, NG15 7PQ or by phoning her on 0115 9631705.

“We would appreciate any information anyone is able to offer about any of these churches,” said Maureen.

“For instance, there is not a lot of documentary evidence about the old St Peter’s Church, so any details about its history would be gratefully received.”