What to expect.

This story was first told as a commentary on the maps and pictures of the area, as an “event” on the weekend marking my 40th anniversary of priesting. It might be best, if you know the area at all, to go through the maps in the text and tell yourself what you know before you read the words.

It is not a story of a church building but of an area and the way people have used it over several centuries. It is an area with an uncertain focus and identity, except to those living in it, and the church provides one of the main focal points for community belonging, action and self help.

This story is best developed as an open book; if you have a paragraph or a section to add, please contact me atwattses@yahoo.co.uk and it can be added. It could not be told nearly as thoroughly were it not for the skill and knowledge of many contributors, in particular, Neville Hoskins, who lived in the area, was President of the Thoroton Society until his death and was churchwarden for many years, and Roger Smith, of what was then Trent Polytechnic, who led many local studies of the housing, planning and development of the area until his untimely death in a motorway accident.

SECTION ONE Start at the beginning.

Sketch map of area

Nottingham had a network of old track ways, originally footpaths or pack horse tracks between settlements, many of them Saxon in origin. These routes were shaped by the hills. Unless one went along the river bank or through Sneinton, there was always a hill to climb to travel in and out of the original Saxon settlement and the later twin towns of the Norman rule. This entailed climbing up to 200 feet to get over the sandstone ridge all around. The two chief ways out were what we now know as the Derby Road westwards to Canning Circus and the Mansfield Road northwards. On the westwards route, from the top of the hill [the present Canning Circus,] roads diverged to the ancient parishes of Lenton, Radford and Basford. In between the roads to Bobbers Mill, (now Alfreton Road), and Mansfield Road, one route was walked often enough to be a recognised route way on early maps. Its current names are Waverley Street, Burns Street, Southey Street and Radford Road. This gave a way over the ridge, taking a more direct route from the north of the town, to the next parish of Basford. The modern parish of All Saints covers the land between Alfreton Road and Mansfield Road, from the Nottingham Trent University site up to Bentinck Road, so the first mentions of the area are around this roadway. The first part of this description follows this route through time and then through the replanning of the 1840’s and 50’s, and again in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Three maps describe the general changes which happened in the area.


Butler’s map [Fig. 1] reconstructed in 1950, shows the likely field system of the area around 1480 when it was working to feed the town. Note that the route just described is shown, marked as Larkdale; Waverley Street is shown as Lingdale and appears always to have ended at the top of the hill, now Forest Road. These dales are shown following the line of modern Shakespeare Street, back to the road north out of the town.


A modern drawing of the map of Sherwood Forest of 1609, has been reconstructed for the Thoroton Society by Mastoris and Groves. Fig. 2 shows the Sandfield area. The building of a bowling alley at the top of the old Lingdale suggests a pleasure purpose already seen in the area called the Forest. By this date food was not the only purpose of the fields.


G. Sanderson “Twenty Miles around Mansfield” 1835 [Fig. 3] shows the area before it was built up. It is little changed in the Sandfield. Further out, the old parishes and their “New” urban namesakes are developing to meet the expanding population and industry. The Forest and its windmills are more clearly seen. The Forest runs from Alfreton Road across Mansfield Road along the bottom of Redcliffe Road, at the foot of the escarpment which separates it from the rest of the Clayfield. The line of Burns Street and the dead end road to Mount Vernon are clear.

There are also contemporary accounts of the area before the Inclosure Act of 1845:

“ In my younger days I have frequently stood on the south western side of the Alfreton Road and when looking toward Mansfield Road not more than one house could be observed until the eastern side of Sherwood Street was reached, and practically the whole space was composed of grass fields with quick set hedges.”
Mr. J. Granger The Old Streets of Nottingham V p.147, Transactions of the Thoroton Society Vol. 14 1910.

Or Mrs Gilbert, who gave a talk in 1901:

“From the town’s northern boundary Parliament Street and Wollaton Street, there stretched breezy fields to the windmill crowned Forest. Suppose we are at the top of the Forest and want to go to the market place. No Waverley Street, no Addison Street, only a small section of North Sherwood Street, so must use the footpath of Lark Dale, or Bowling Alley Lane – now Waverley Street or Mansfield Road, on the left no houses whatever until one comes to the point where York Street forked into the main road. All around was field and hedgerow.” Recollections of Old Nottingham 1904 p.17. Quoted by Chambers Victorian Nottingham Vol. 63 p.1-23.

Two items illustrate what the top of the high ground was like in this period.


A picture of the Forest area, including the windmills, in the 1840s is reproduced in Links with Old Nottingham 1924 [Fig. 4].


Fig. 5: Neville Hoskins researched and drew a map of the windmills on Forest Road as they were before the enclosure. His map of Forest Road windmills brings home the point that by this time the citizens had almost lost touch with the common ownership of the land.

The lead-up to enclosure

The early nineteenth century saw some strip fields remaining, some made into plots, some hedged around, some not, some owned by charities, some worked by owners, some rented out. All was legally open common land under the jurisdiction of the lord of the manor, which was the Town Corporation. Town freemen had grazing rights over all land for three months of the year, so there could not be permanent enclosures or structures. So the Enclosure Commission was set up, by Parliament, in 1844, following the report of the Parliamentary Committee. [see extract below]; three men plus solicitor secretary, Edwin Patchett, were given virtually unilateral powers to determine the future of the area.

As the surrounding parishes urbanised and the leisure use of the land continued, the routes through the area were coming under pressure.


The sketch map from The Nottingham Guardian [Fig. 6: Note that North is to the left] was a newspaper map of Feb. 27th 1848. It illustrates an article about possible outcomes of the coming enclosure. It probably shows what the readership thought of as the main roads of the area and the obvious new roads needed to improve communication with the spread of manufacturing in the villages outside the town, Carrington, Hyson Green etc. Note especially that the main route, (now known as Burns Street), is marked, labelled Hyson Green Road. Mount Vernon Road is shown as a dead end. In 1848 the Forest went right through to Alfreton Road and no one expected it to be cut back to the line of Mount Hooton Road. Radford Road cuts through the Forest separating racecourse from open space as a track always had from the bottom of Redcliffe Road, the original town boundary. A dispute with the proprietors of the Mansfield turnpike centred on whether the Radford Road cart route through The Forest needed to pay a toll to cross the main road.


Fig. 7 is a version of Staveley’s map 1831 which conceptualises the most necessary walking and traffic routes through the enclosure area. It appears to be a working document of the Enclosure Commissioners.


Meanwhile, Dearden’s map of 1844 [Fig. 8] continues to show the status quo, showing Larkdale and the route running down to Cross Street.

These two maps of route ways [Fig.s 6&7] show that from the beginning the preparations for the enclosure focussed strongly on creating links between places and repairing idiosyncrasies of Nottingham’s inherited pattern of streets. For example, the article in The Nottingham Review of 1848 assumes that important work has already been done: “the final result of their labours was anxiously awaited. The most important step being taken is the setting out of the lands and we have obtained permission to copy it.” But the Commissioners did not complete their work so quickly.

In the report to the Parliamentary Commission On the Sanitary Condition of Nottingham and Five Other Towns (March 1st 1844) J. R. Martin Esq. described “… One of the greatest evils that can affect a town. I mean the Lammas tenures, which have produced a most injurious effect on the town of Nottingham. There is no other circumstance in the history of this great town that has so materially interfered with its moral and physical prosperity, the proper regulation and construction of Streets and houses, as these antiquated tenures.”…“The lands north and south of the town are commonable pasture and meadow during certain portions of the year, and cannot be built on nor sanctified to any particular uses.”…”With Sneinton and the castle the town is surrounded by a cordon which can only be broken by Act of Parliament. The commoners have no rights whatever in the common lands until after the gathering of crops, and then only during certain limited terms established by local usage, but principally during the interval between 12th August and 12th November.”

And, maintaining this state of affairs, “the commoners of the sand and clay fields are, at the present time, the freemen and owners of ancient toftsteads; though there appears to be no doubt that at an earlier, and indeed until a comparatively recent period, the right was enjoyed by all the inhabitant householders, paying scot and bearing lot.”

In other words, powerful vested interests had taken over the control and the income from some 1070 acres of so called common land.

SECTION TWO What difference did the delay in enclosure make?

Why was the means to get the space required for good housing, new jobs and improved health so opposed by the ordinary citizens of the town? Thomis (Transactions of the Thoroton Society, Vol.71 1967) says, “From this time forward, (1787) candidates for any office fell over themselves to swear their opposition to enclosure and their determination to preserve the rights of the burgesses inviolate.”

The earlier enclosures of, say, Basford in 1780 were relatively crude land allocations by the rich for the rich under the umbrella of agricultural improvement.

By 1860, enclosure was a much more managed business, with public access rights guaranteed by Act of Parliament. (Thanks to June Perry’s determination, the legal opinion received but not welcomed by the City, is now public knowledge. It states clearly that no public body has the right to prevent the full free enjoyment of the whole open space by all residents.) Enclosure involved street plans, drainage, sewerage and water mains. It could determine the type of society which would live in each part. The landless still lost most of their rambling through open country, but did have access to managed recreation grounds, an arboretum, some cemeteries and a “green” walking route from the Meadows to the Forest, via St Ann’s.

A consensus emerged among the Commissioners that each of the areas to be enclosed, mostly known by their old field names, should have a particular role in the needs of Nottingham. The development of St Ann’s and the Meadows produced housing for rent for working people, but in the area around the Forest, all income levels were catered for. Above all, the area was used for space for the new institutions that a developing proud Victorian town, beginning to want to be a City, needed. A technical college, an art college, a women’s hospital, a nursing home for new mothers, a deaf institute, a blind institute, an arboretum, boys’ and girls’ high schools. So the houses came which the institutions needed for their staff. Burns Street was effectively Professors’ Row from the University College in the early C20.

Further away from the Forest, lower down the Arboretum, across to Alfreton Road, were houses for a superior sort of working man: managers of businesses, clerks, skilled designers, architects and those starting their way up to the top of businesses. Don’t forget that John Player’s first house was Walden House, 2A All Saints Street.

Commissioners had to sell land designated for open space to meet the costs of mains services. There must have been a great deal of public interest and concern about the impact of the changes on the roads and facilities of the city. The newspaper map [Fig. 6] is an example of how a commercial competitive newspaper found it worthwhile to publish extensive descriptions of what were then only conjectured decisions. The Commissioners had prepared a version of Jackson’s map to show the conceptual sweep of the routes required. Whereas the needs of water and drainage services on the Clayfield side of Mansfield Road were clear, those on the Sandfield side were not and were delayed by almost twenty years. The reservoir on Todehole Hill, the highest point on Mapperley Road, and the line of its pipe work under Mapperley Road, were established in the 1840’s and the housing land alongside them released by 1850. In 1861, the Commissioners still expected the Forest to continue west as far as the line of Southey Street, still seen as the main road through the area and called the Hyson Green Road. But by 1864, the line of Mount Hooton Road had been established and marked the west side of the final Forest area.


Fig. 9 shows the inherited pattern of ownership of land in the common field area, which the commissioners had to disentangle, as it formed the basis of property rights in the final settlement.


Fig. 10 is a simplified map of enclosure awards, prepared by Roger Smith.

Focus on All Saints site, its social role

One beneficiary of the enclosure was St Mary’s parish, which owned the glebe rights in the old fields. One block of land allocated to the parish was the area bounded by Raleigh Street, All Saints Street and Tennyson Street. The northern end became housing with a ground rent, including John Player’s house. The southern end became the church site and the St Mary’s Nursing Home, now a probation service base.

William Windley, Nottingham’s richest lace manufacturer, gave £40,000 to commemorate his first wife. For this, T C Hine, arguably the foremost Nottingham architect of this period, designed an 800-seat church, an eleven-bedroom vicarage, a three-bed semi-detached head teacher’s house and a school for the area.


Fig. 11 is T C Hine’s own drawing of his design on completion. Some roof tiles with the same pattern were there in the 1980’s.


Fig. 12 is an extract from the OS survey at 1:500 of 1881.

The social history of the area can be seen through what happened to the school /institute over the first hundred of the subsequent hundred and forty five years.

Take the school side of the site. I would like to thank Richard Barraclough for his work on the school rolls in the County Record Office. Three halls were designed; I saw them again, opened up in the renovations in 1982/3. They are sixty or eighty feet long, twenty wide, each with one fireplace. There was one master and one monitor, a lad of ten or eleven. The school was replaced by Tennyson Hall in 1906 (one of the last surviving pupils was invited to the reopening in 1983.) The school was fee paying, not free. It provided for five years education; year one paid 3d, years two & three paid 4d, years 4 & 5 paid 5d. The school opened in 1867. Free education, provided by the local government of the day, came in 1873.

The population of the town grew from 87,000 in 1871 to 214,000 in 1891, though this included expansion of boundaries. Classes expanded, older boys went to a building on the Raleigh Street school site, now flats; then on to Tennyson Hall. But it was too expensive. The 1954 history of All Saints describes this: “1905 saw the loss of the Windley School. The financial burden was so heavy that … it was plain that the school could only be maintained by crippling the church.”

The schools became The All Saints Institute; in effect a middle class men’s club. A snooker hall was built (the low building jutting into the car park), followed by a gym on the playground behind the Infants Hall. An extra hall, now called the Parlour, nearest the vicarage, was added. It was a social honour to be on the committee [see oral history project of Roger Smith].

In WW1 a canteen and rest centre was set up in the Parish Room; was this the whole institute or just the room called the Parlour?

J C Weller wrote an account of the first ninety years of the church for the 1954 event [All Saints Anniversary Booklet, 1864-1954]. He was then a curate here; his father had been vicar from 1929 to 1937. His underlying social comment is on WW1. He is still in touch with the oral history of that period. “The 1914-18 war brought to a tragic end the vigorous organisations (of the church, especially for men) and they have not been revived since.”

This “middle class working men’s club” was ended by WW2. Troops trained in it and at times, were billeted in the halls. It was handed back in a bad state of repair, then became an outpost teaching site for planners, architects etc. in the post war education expansion; an outpost of the Technical College down the road. When they left in the mid 60’s, the building was becoming derelict.

The church building in same period

J C Weller’s 1954 work is a classic Anglican account; church life is seen through the list of clergy who were here. Each is described by the pattern of services he followed. The main changes to the building lay in the chapel, screened, windowed, used for daily prayer, unchanged in 1980 from fifty years earlier. But so were expectations of people of the church, which stayed longer than any other social institution I can see in the area, maintained and designed for the middle class matins congregations of English prayer book church life until the middle of the C20th – I am not dismissive of the tradition; we know it has changed out of all recognition in a society where the church has no social status and few resources, and since the early 60’s has been struggling to find a new language for religious experience.

The end of the first 100 years

So the area served by All Saints is rather a case of the Humpty Dumpty principle in town planning. What has broken cannot always be put right again. It could have been a more select area today than the Park, and than Mapperley Park – it has some finer earlier housing, a central location, easy road access. But it isn’t such an area; why?

A range of reasons have been suggested; in practice it is all of them or a combination of some. The main suggestions are that it was a middle class area until:-

1. The University moved to its present campus in 1929, so it was no longer the intellectual quarter of the city.

2. 1930s suburbs and estates gave an attractive alternative to city centre living. (R. Smith, Trent Paper p14, describes the attraction of street and garage parking and gardens, in suburban living.)

3. WW2 powers gave the army control over all but two houses on Waterloo Promenade, and the school. All were badly neglected by the army.

4. Dereliction set in, in the austerity period after the war.

5. The land was sold by those inheriting an area in exchange for their grazing rights, but usually on 99 year leases. This may have been to hang on top the notion of having a second chance to replan the area; leases started in the 1860s meant that from the mid 1950’s onwards houses lost value and were not repaired. They were bought by landlords who wished to charge high rents for no repairs.
14_as136. Planning blight from a succession of civic and road schemes.

Fig. 13: The wartime plans for a new civic centre were published in 1943; they finished with the rejection of the proposals of 1963 [SMITH MAP 5],


but they were immediately replaced by new Road plans 1966 [Fig. 14 – SMITH MAP 7].

These ended in 1972 with Councillor Frank Higgins leading a revolt against urban motorways and in favour of limiting road access and prioritising buses. These would have seen All Saints lost under a spaghetti junction. But in turn, these were immediately followed by proposals for expansion of the Polytechnic; announced in 1971 as taking all the land virtually up to Forest Road between Mansfield Road and the Arboretum; the plans were reduced in 1973 to south of Peel Street, and again in 1977 to what has now eventually happened. When I was offered the post of Anglican chaplain in 1973, I was confidently shown a site just north of Peel Street and assured that next year my office would be just there. The same houses, now renovated, are standing on the spot today.

SECTION 3 Broken structures remade

The community, the congregation, church life and the church site.

We shall look at the last half century and what has happened to the wider community in the area, to the site and to the congregation and their clergy. The renewal of this part of the area is a microcosm of the changes in the social structure of the area.

1. The community.

The area was a classic case for redevelopment by wholesale demolition and new build, following St Ann’s and the Meadows. But the Poly on the doorstep made it a better resourced community, so the story worked out differently, as was seen in the story of the Cromwell Street Compulsory Purchase Order. Alan Simpson came to be ASRA community worker in the Nottingham Areas Project, from previously being the President of the Students Union at Trent. Using information from a survey of the area the year before by a local housing association wanting to renovate the properties, the residents’ group mounted a successful challenge to the City Compulsory Purchase scheme. It was the first time the City had lost a scheme. There is a good story told of the residents taking a half share of the officials’ tables at the enquiry. The result was the preservation of the remaining old properties in Cromwell Street and Portland Road; thus committing the new house building to a mix of new and renovated properties.

NBHA asked those leaving the area what housing pattern they wanted – the response was clear; they wanted their own “defensible” space, recognisable houses. These were built, but in the time taken to demolish and rebuild, the previous residents settled into new homes and mainly newcomers came back, from wherever was being renovated at the time. Nottingham tried out vast social experiments in the 60s and 70’s shifting people around wholesale; for example, many St Ann’s people came from an area on the other side of St Ann’s Well Road to Sherwood. An All Saints example was Francis Street, completed about 1983. It is a square of 40 houses. The schools reported that the children seemed a bit wild. There were 40 houses, 47 adults, 117 children. That works alright in some places, where extra adults can be brought in, like grandparents. These families had come mostly together at one time from 2 high rise blocks in Hyson Green when the Council introduced a policy not to permit children above a certain height in the flats. The result was like shaking a fizzy drink and taking the top off.

So there was social disorientation, loss of neighbourly knowledge and support, plus a second factor, poverty. Over 2/3rds of the households in most of the area had no source of income other than government controlled benefits or pensions. Like being in a one employer town, only one set of attitudes and policies determined the income of the majority and there was no way to earn more, or leave or change one’s chances.

That was the era of Mrs Thatcher; the Church Urban Fund and the determination to put clergy in such areas to rebuild community through social action. In the 80’s the church did welfare rights, accompanied people to tribunals, negotiated housing through the various housing associations, or rather the local people did, including the clergy: many of the local people had no church connection and wanted none, apart maybe from a Christmas play for the kids.

The social structure of the area has changed little in the time since I and my family lived and worked in All Saints, apart from the increase in the number of students living transiently. Looking at the figures for Arboretum Ward [Illustration 15] about 2001, reported 2004, the best approximation to the area, there are fewer retired people than in Nottingham as a whole, (5% not 12%) and fewer employed people, (32% not 49%) but a matching increase in students shows who has taken their places, (30% not 12%). So the local infants’ school closed in the 90’s and was replaced by flats for young professionals or students, and now Unity Primary School has closed. This means that there is no longer a publicly funded and freely accessible school in the parish, ending the line of local education started in the All Saints school in 1864, moving in 1906 to the old Windley school buildings, recently a youth centre, on the north side of Forest Road West, and moving in the 1960’s to become Raleigh Infants School and Windley Junior School. Schools need to be bigger these days, but the drop in the number of children is the most relevant factor. The 2001 census shows that whereas 27% of Nottingham households have dependent children, in this area only 20% do. An equivalent figure shows that 16% of the local population is below 16, (Nottingham 20%), whilst the 20 to 29 age group make up 38% of local people, against Nottingham average of 19%. Overall, the area is small; Arboretum ward contains only 5,987 residents at the census, 85% are in rented accommodation, 43% are students, 30% from various BME groups. The area is as transient as it always has been since the 60’s, only 20 % of pupils educated at Windley School in 2004 had stayed there for their whole primary school life.

So the Government remains the dominant determinant of local income levels and the local quality of life, whether from benefit levels, or by schemes for student finances. A few key housing management agencies determine who lives there and how well they feel integrated into the area. Only 15% live in self-owned property. There is very little “yuppification” through smart apartments or turning areas like the little cottages on Cromwell Street into smart set dwellings. The pattern of ownership is too mixed and ownership is mostly in the hands of housing associations who do not sell to tenants.

All this amounts to a picture of an area in an equilibrium of sorts; the people are very transient but the social structure, patterns of house ownership, expectations of the area, remain the same. The networks of community groups which flourished in the late 70’s and early 80’s, when the area was more mixed and there was more hopefulness for social improvement, were always thinly supported by local people. Now there is not the person power to maintain a Community Association, a local action group or even very many community facilities. The church, as just one local community group, has done better than many by surviving. But what has survived?

2. The congregation in the area. Personal recollection

When I was appointed in 1979, I described the situation in the church congregation as follows: “a vigorous remnant of about 20 to 30 remained, determined to keep the place open, by outlasting the Vicar, who had in turn been determined to outlast Archdeacon Brown. With 2 active full time clergy, a community house of active young graduates, and the optimism of the early 80’s in building a new community with the new housing and fighting Thatcher and all her works, the church congregation as well as the community activities built up. I had been appointed to test the hypothesis, “Does God want there to be an All Saints any more?” or in secular form, “Are there signs that the church should go on supporting a congregation in this place?” At the time, the answer seemed a clear “yes”, numbers in the congregation on a good Sunday went up to between 60 to 100 people in church, including children. An active Community Association bringing together church and non-church people to run the Institute as a community centre, built up youth work and a community care agency. The community house, John Perkins House, was continuing to recruit.

But all this was built on subsidy from outside; in reality the church nationally had taken on more employees than it could afford the pensions for, and Urban Priority Areas were no longer the fashion by the mid 90’s. Parishes in the suburbs could no longer afford to subsidise the inner city churches so much, some grants went, and therefore clergy posts disappeared. Across Nottingham, 27 clergy posts in the 1980’s have become 9 now. Two clergy became two on paper but one had another job, then became one, then a half, then one was not viable and the parish was merged with St Peter’s. The funding for the ordinand / community worker dried up and so the community living in the community house lost its leadership and ceased to be a centre of local work and gradually gave up altogether. The house remains but almost came to be seen as a burden rather than a resource. The Vicarage was no longer needed for a resident vicar but was until recently still lived in by a cleric who works in an inner-city project in Hyson Green: he had no links with the church next door. The subsidies had demonstrated what could be achieved, but the church decided to use its scarce resource differently. It held to a pragmatic theology of building up churches which might survive without subsidy, and were seen as strong enough to attract newcomers without social challenge. The cost has been the loss of leadership in inner city areas. (At the time of writing in mid 2010, it seems likely that an additional post, working in both University and parish will be appointed, to live in the Vicarage).

3. Church life and the adaptation of the site to suit.

My predecessor JNDP came in 1955 from Wiltshire. He had come to a middle class comfortable parish, matins, choir, a slightly further out St Peters, and saw no reason why it should stop. By the early 1960’s he was beleaguered in a world he found it hard to understand, and faced an impasse with those wanting to close it, waiting each other out.

His plan of the early 70’s to demolish the Institute and build town houses, led to the site being Listed Grade 2*. But because it was a closed school, legally the Diocesan Board of Education maintained that they owned it. There are no records of what was done legally in 1906 when the school closed and the Institute started. Did the parish or the diocese own it? Those were not real questions in those days. I know that when I was appointed in 1979 before institution in 1980, we were offered a grant of £5K by the Nat West bank, through David Lowe, then running “Business in the Community”. The whole place, from head teacher’s house through the area now managed by the YMCA was valued by Mitchells, who were also the Diocesan Valuers. They gave a recommendation that the liabilities about matched the assets and it should transfer to the parish for £2K. But this was not accepted by the Board of Education. So any money spent on the renovation would increase the value of the property and so the amount which would have to be paid to buy out the Board of Education’s claim. I am glad I don’t know how much the Board of Education received when it sold the property to the New Deal for Communities. My bit of the story is that in the end, over £100K was spent on materials for the Institute with free labour through the MSC scheme run by Family First, and after the closure of the ASRA community centre in 1981, it was the only community action base in the area.

The clearest conclusion is that the whole site is a unity; it ought to be under one management; if it is not, the different managers of the different areas must collaborate to earn grants or they will sink together.

4. Brief recent history of vicarage and church.


The Vicarage was built as an 11 bedroom house with 5 living-in servants. By comparison the Master’s house was a 3 bedroom semi, joined on to the school with no servants living in.

After the 2nd World War, the Vicarage was turned into upstairs and downstairs flats. The Vicarage used the whole first floor, leaving 2 flats on the ground floor and 1 on the second. The changes of 1980 made the old “family” side of the house, facing the church, into a large 4 bedroom vicarage, on 2 floors, [No 16] while the back half became a separate property, sold by the Commissioners to the parish and owned by the church to use as a resource [No 14].

The 70’s and 80’s were times when the extra dimension seen to be achievable through housing development was community living. The Trent chaplaincy, the counselling service and Poly staff had developed the Gill Street Housing Association (GSHA). This brought together students of different inherent strengths and characteristics to form more supportive communities. It was officially unpopular as it took boarded up Poly houses to house Poly students. While the institution waited in vain for capital through the HE budget, the GSHA used short life housing funding. Houses renovated for 4 years in 1977/8 remained in use until about 2000. Taking this thinking on into All Saints led to John Perkins House (JPH) and partnership with Toc H, then to the offer of 6 properties on Tennyson Street to form a larger “supportive community” on the Gill Street lines, which in turn led to the link with the CHN, Community of the Holy Name, who declined the offer of immersion in Tennyson Street, but did come to Nottingham. JPH gave an opportunity to young Christian graduates to extend their student lives or start their professional lives, sharing with each other. They experienced living in the area and had a simple “rule”. They expected to each join in the life of the local community in some way or another, to join in church life as was appropriate for them and to eat together at least once a week. They created opportunities for each other but many more for others in the locality and were a powerful resource in the redevelopment of the site and the activities.

The official answer to the conundrum of the house had been to sell it, but how without losing the unity of the site? So this became the first time Church Commissioners did not get rid of an old house but put funds into renovation for new life. Toc H supported the parish in buying the back of the house for JPH, friends on the staff of Trent Poly who had worked with me to set up student community housing schemes helped with building and surveying skills, PCC took out a mortgage which included a very basic set of materials for the building work and the MSC Family First scheme provided the labour.

Meanwhile, what about the church building? It has never needed to be this size: it was built for its proportions and acoustics. Apart from a few occasions in the early 20th C under Herbert Lovell Clarke (1909 – 1923), it has never been full for ordinary services. The changes made in the early 80’s, with the astute oversight of Neville Hoskins and Bernard Baines, were all temporary and remain so to this day. At the West end the font was moved and the baptistery became the Meeting Area; the choir vestry became the toilets, so the rudiments of a social space was created. The front 3 or 4 rows of pews came out to allow a temporary forward altar. Later in the 80’s and 90’s, the side chapel, screened off by Windley’s son for daily prayer, was cleared of pews, carpeted and became a very useful space for weekday services.

The big question is what is to be done long term: we now face the same questions as then. What design of a “space within a space” gives an opening for an activity which meets local need, is appropriate and pays for itself. A noted conservation architect gave his opinion in 1983 that this could be done using the concept of a glass box, rather like the Manchester Exchange Theatre: a separate heatable area for 150 – 200 people, free standing inside the larger space. The cost would be enormous, then as now, so would have to be used by some well funded arts use. The question remains, what does the City need, that could generate the funding and share this space?

In 1984, I wrote a booklet about the renovations, which highlighted the issues involved in continuing to preserve the buildings as living, self-financing activities.

I described 4 actions which seem to be the basic principles to preserve the integrity of the site: the question is how to do these, in ways in which each separate building will:

* enhance and sustain the architecture of T C Hine;

* use each part of the buildings for ways relevant to the development of the area;

* attract its own capital and generate its own revenue;

* encourage people to see Christian Hope int he area.

For example, in the Institute: The 1984 scheme made the workspaces cover their own costs and provide for the capital investment needs of whole institute. This was compatible with the gospel to work with people trying to start up community business. All brought activity onto the site and raised hopes for some cross trading between businesses.

But owners have long term responsibilities: in this case the integrity of the site would be helped if:

1. there were an overall agreement between all the users of the site, to consult and gain agreement before making changes; this would include changes of use which would affect others, and changes to the appearance of the site;

2. the Vicarage became a Parish clergy house again;

3. a “continuity organisation” were to be founded; whether a “Friends of All Saints” in the Civic Society, a local friends group or a set of Trustees of part of the site, but some way must be found to take the continuity and memory of the place out of the hands and minds of transient clergy, who have better things to do, anyway. It is revealing that there have in effect been about 7 changes of leadership over the 25 years from my time. In that time, there is no memory left of the agreements entered into to gain the money for renovation, no records kept of work done and and no agreement on the legal basis for some, at least, of the actions taken on ownership.

In hindsight, was I right in 1984 to say that the answer to the question, “Should there be an All Saints” was “Yes”? Logically, either the place is too weak or too small to be able to maintain the continuity, in which case the answer to my question is probably “No”. Or there has to be greater continuity of policy in the local Diocese, which has created the situation which could one day threaten the historic unity of the site. Whichever way it is, the local church members are the ones left with the job of working it out. They deserve our support and goodwill. The site is theirs more than anybody else’s and it is their sense of ownership and belonging which will protect it more than anything else. It remains an exceptional place in the City and one which deserves to have the Civic Society and its friends to keep an eye on it.

Maps and Illustrations.

1. R.M. Butler, The Common Lands of the Borough of Nottingham p. 45 Transactions of the Thoroton Society Vol. 54. 1950.

2. S. Mastoris, S Groves, Sherwood Forest in 1609: a Crown Survey by Richard Bankes, transcribed and edited, Thoroton Society Record Series Vol. XL 1997.

3. G. Sanderson, Twenty Miles around Mansfield 1835,

4. The picture Windmills, Old Nottingham Forest drawn by Mrs Enfield, is taken from Links with old Nottingham 1925.

5. The Windmills of Forest Road. Neville Hoskins. Researched and written in the late 1990s.

6. Possible Inclosure road plan, “Nottingham Guardian” Feb 27th 1848.

7. A conceptual map of public spaces and routes in the Sandfield area, drawn on Staveley’s map of 1831.

8. Dearden’s map of 1844.

9. Enclosure Commissioners’ map of inherited land pattern: note the Forest was first lost between Alfreton Road and Southey Street, then across to Mount Hooton.

10. Simplified map of enclosure awards, prepared by Roger Smith before his untimely death around 1990. Produced as Map 4 Enclosure Awards, 1845-1865, in Sandfield” in Growth, Decay and Revitalisation in an Inner City Parish; All Saints, Nottingham. Trent papers in Planning 20, 1984.

11. T C Hine’s own drawing of his design on completion. Some roof tiles with the same pattern were there in the 1980’s.

12. An extract from the OS survey at 1:500 of 1881.

13. 1963 Civic Centre Plan, Drawn by Roger Smith, as Map 5 from originals produced by Nottingham City Council, produced in Growth, Decay and Revitalisation in an Inner City Parish; All Saints, Nottingham. Trent papers in Planning 20, 1984.

14. 1966 Road Proposals for Nottingham. Map 7 in the work cited above.


Roger Smith also produced on the All Saints Area:

Smith, R., and D. Shaw, The Changing Character of Inner Nottingham 1800-1983 (Nottingham 1983).

Smith, R., Waterloo Promenade and its Environs (Trent Polytechnic 1983).

The Impact of Public and Private Capital on Inner City Residential Renewal – All Saints Parish, a micro study (C 1985).

Other publications used in addition to those quoted in the text.

Barraclough, R., All Saints School, 1867 – 1876.

Rickard, C., Thomas Windley and the Lady Chapel at All Saints Parish Church (1988).

All Saints Church Nottingham. A short history (2009).

Simpson, A., What jobs for the boys? (Report by Alan Simpson to ASRA, late 1970s).

Watts, P.G., The Renovation of buildings and people; All Saints Institute 1979 -1984 (Southwell Papers on Church and Society 1984).

Weller J.C., All Saints Anniversary Booklet. 1864-1954.

© Paul Watts