These notes are based on my informal talk at the Mapperley ‘Very Local History Group’ in September 2007, intended to help us to place our local Anglican churches and parishes (St Andrew’s, St Jude’s, St John’s Carrington) in a wider historical and geographical context, prior to a detailed illustrated talk about St Andrew’s by Megan. Some additional information (which time did not permit including in the talk) and a few illustrations have been added.

The information is not based on any systematic research; most of it has been gleaned in passing while studying other topics. It is therefore far from comprehensive and other VLHG members may be able to add detail about some of the churches mentioned. Some brief information about the Roman Catholic church in Nottingham is included but time and space do not permit any reference to the numerous NonConformist churches and chapels. The brief summary of the 1851 Religious Census shows their importance.

The information is set out roughly chronologically, from Anglo-Saxon times to World War II. After World War II, and particularly from the 1960s, church attendance declined. The population of the inner city fell as the City Council cleared many of the neighbourhoods of Victorian working class housing. As congregations declined parishes were combined or adjusted and churches closed, some given over to other uses and others demolished. To help readers locate the parishes referred to, click here to see a coloured map showing parish boundaries in 1935 (then click the back arrow on the toolbar above to return to this paper).

AngloSaxon Period

St Mary’s Nottingham was the original church in the centre of the AngloSaxon town. The date of the first church on the site is not known. The present building was mainly developed between 1370 and 1470.

Originally the parish of St Mary’s Nottingham extended out to the northern boundary of Nottingham Borough, which, prior to the 1877 extension, ran along Red Lane (now Redcliffe Road), Mapperley Hills Road (now Woodborough Road) and Porchester Road.

Prior to the 1877 extension, the land to the north of Redcliffe Road and west of Woodborough Road was in the separate borough and parish of Basford. The land to the east of Woodborough Road and northeast of Porchester Road was In Gedling parish and the separate Gedling borough.

St Mary’s Church from the east, c1940
Unattributed photograph reproduced from N Truman & J R J Kerruish, Nottingham And Its Churches 1449-1949 (1949).

Norman Conquest & Medieval Period

Between 1068 and 1109 the Normans established St Nicholas (Maid Marion Way) and St Peter’s (Wheeler Gate) churches to serve the French community between St Mary’s and the Norman Nottingham Castle. (The Saxon and Norman Boroughs were originally administered entirely separately. There was even a wall dividing the Market Square with separate courts for offences on either side! This distinction gradually eroded and was formally abolished in 1741.)

St Nicholas church originally served a small satellite community against the castle rock. It is best known for its role in the Civil War. Colonel John Hutchinson (and Henry Ireton who later married Oliver Cromwell’s daughter) led the support for Parliament in Nottingham. Hutchinson became governor of Nottingham Castle in June 1643 and prepared for siege conditions. Royalist forces from Newark attacked and established themselves at the top of the tower of St Nicholas church from where they fired canons at the nearby castle. When he dislodged them, Hutchinson destroyed the church to avoid repetition. During all this the homeless congregation used a room above the chancel at St Peter’s. In 1678 a start was made on a new church on the St Nicholas site. It is architecturally simple and the only church in Nottingham from this period. (see drawing)

St Nicholas Church
Copyright W A Lewitt. Reproduced from: Nevil Truman & 3 R 3 Kerruish, Nottingham And Its Churches 14491949 (1949)

St Peter’s Church (in Wheeler Gate next to M&S) still has traces of C12th Norman stonework but the building was largely refashioned in the C13th & C14th and heavily restored since. In the Middle Ages the church had educational and welfare (as well as religious) functions, carried out through its Guilds. (There were also merchant guilds and craft guilds.) St Peter’s has the Guild Books for its two C15th guilds, dedicated to St George and St Mary, founded about 1440. The last entry from the Guild of St George dates from 1545, after which all guilds and chantries, along with the monasteries, were swept away by Henry VIII.

The earliest reference to a religious guild in Nottingham borough records is 1375. Until very recently the St Peter’s Guild Books were thought to be the oldest surviving church documents in Nottingham. In December 2006 the 1371 Guild Roll of the Guild of St Mary’s Nottingham, which had been in private possession, came to light. Intervention by the Culture Minister prevented this going to an American collector and grants from various bodies enabled Nottinghamshire Archives to acquire it earlier this year.

St Peter’s originally had a large churchyard that was unfenced until 1641. In the C16th there were tenanted houses in the churchyard.

St Peter’s parish had a workhouse from 1601. A new workhouse was built in the Broad Marsh area in 1788 but Abigail Gawthern recorded in her diary that her husband paid £20 to have it demolished in 1789 because it obscured the view of the Meadows from their house in Low Pavement.

St Peter’s had a close association with the Bluecoat School (founded in 1706 by Revd Peter Fenton) and Nottingham General Hospital (founded in 1781).

There were several medieval monastic houses in Nottingham:

1. Franciscan Grey Friars in Grey Friar Gate, south of Broad Marsh. Later the friary was rebuilt as a mansion with a large walled garden stretching down to the River Leen.

2. White Friary, between Friar Lane and St James’s Lane. (Following the Dissolution it passed to the Manners family and in 1574 John Manners of Haddon Hall built a small mansion out of the friary building)

3. Hospital of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (on site later occupied by Palais de Dance). Later converted into a House of Correction.

4. Lenton Priory, a Cluniac Order monastery, was built between 1103 and 1108 by William Peveril, the Norman baron who built Nottingham Castle. (It was located on a loop in the River Leen, near the junction of the present Abbey Street and Gregory Street.) Lenton Priory achieved great wealth and influence and entertained the monarch on several occasions before abolition by Henry VIII in 1539. (Lenton Priory Church embodies the remains of a chapel of a hospital of the Priory. Lenton Parish Church still has a Norman font  see below).

Some of the village churches now incorporated into Nottingham city are also of early origin; for example, there was an AngloSaxon church on the site of St Stephen’s. Sneinton, although the present building is largely 1912. Evidence of a Norman church was found at St Leodegarius, Basford, and the present building includes C13th& C14th stonework, the C13th tower being replaced in 185961. St Leonard’s, Wollaton, dates from the early C13th and the tower and nave are C14th.

The growth of NonConformist churches is not the subject of this paper but it is interesting to note that the Unitarian Chapel on High Pavement was established by three Anglican clergymen (1 Barratt, John Whitlock and William Reynolds) who were expelled from St Mary’s and St Peter’s under the 1662 Text Act but allowed to renew their ministry with the passing of the 1686 Act of Toleration.

The Nineteenth Century

By the end of the C18th Nottingham was rapidly industrialising and the population starting to escalate with migration in from rural areas. Extreme overcrowding and squalor developed because the burgesses on the corporation would not agree to enclosure or release land for building in the common fields around the old town where they held lucrative grazing rights. Church building had not kept pace with population growth. In 1800 the three churches of St Mary’s, St Peter’s and St Nicholas together had only 2,500 seats for a population of 20,000. As late as 1805 St Mary’s blocked plans for a new church, fearing loss of income and not wanting the Evangelists to gain a foothold. (By 1800 Anglican Evangelicalism had become very popular with the middle classes but perceived by highchurch Anglicans as almost as threatening as the nonconformists.)

Despite strong opposition from St Mary’s, St Peter’s and St Nicholas’s, In 1809 St James’s (on Standard Hill at the top of St James’s Street) was established as an independent church, privately promoted by Act of Parliament and funded by private subscriptions of nearly £13,000, on extraparochial land sold by the Duke of Newcastle. It was an evangelical church and initially popular amongst the middle class people settling on the west of the town but the congregation dwindled after the evangelical Holy Trinity opened in 1839. It closed in 1933 and was demolished in 1936 to make way for extending the then General Hospital. The congregation joined St Peter’s and most of the parish (The Park) came into the combined parish of St Peter’s and St James.

Other churches followed to meet the growing population:

In 1812 St Peter’s. Old Radford was built on the site of the demolished earlier church.

In 1821 St Paul’s., Broad Street opened as a Chapel of Ease of St Mary’s, the first Anglican church specifically designed to serve a working class area. Possibly became an independent parish in 1825. This was the period of early Gothic revival and St Paul’s was unique in being built in Classical style with Doric pillars and a bell turret. It closed 1924 and demolished 1925.

Pastel by Tom Hammond of St Paul’s. Broad Street. in 1922.

1834 St Paul’s., Hyson Green.

By 1830 there were still only 6,200 seats in C of E churches for a population of 50,000.

In 1841 Holy Trinity (Trinity Square) was built on land in Burton Leys enclosed in 1839. It cost £10,000. By 1851 Holy Trinity had the largest congregation in Nottingham (1150). The original congregation was drawn from the Charlotte Street area, one of the poorest districts in the town, demolished at the end of the nineteenth century to make way for Victoria Station. The site of the day schools provided by the church was compulsorily purchased and the money sent on a parish hall in Colville Street. The 177 ft church spire became unsafe after it was damaged by air raids in 1940 and it was removed in 1942. The church closed in 1956 and was demolished in 1958.

Holy Trinity Church.
Reproduced from: Michael Payne, Victorian Nottingham in Old Photographs (1992)

In 1842 Holy Trinity, Lenton (Church Street, Lenton) was built as a new parish church, (halffunded by Francis Wright of Lenton House, brother of Ichabod Wright of Mapperley Hall) because the previously used Priory Church (corner of Abbey Bridge and Gregory Street) had become too small. After the dissolution of Lenton Priory the infirmary chapel was taken over to serve as the parish church; the original chancel walls remain and a larger nave was added. This Priory Church was party demolished when the new Holy Trinity parish church was built in 1842.

Forty years after the new Holy Trinity Church was built, the partly demolished Priory Church (now known as St Anthony & Priory Church) was rebuilt as a district chapel. In recent years the two Lenton churches function as one with services on alternating Sundays. The Priory church has a piscina and a scratch dial. Holy Trinity has a famous Norman font, square with carvings all over, dating from about 1100. After the dissolution of the priory, it stood in the Priory parish church. It was then discarded and used as a garden ornament by the Stretton family who returned it to the new Holy Trinity Church in 1842.

Holy Trinity Church School is now used as a Sikh temple.

Norman Font in Holy Trinity Lenton.

In 1841 or 1844 St John’s, Leenside, was built by Sir Gilbert Scott for Dean Gregory of St Paul’s for the exposition of the ideals of the Tractarians (also known as the Oxford Movement). It was bombed on the night of 8/9 May 1941 and demolished in 1951. The Tractarian Movement was launched in Oxford in 1833 by John Henry Newman, Edward Pusey & John Keeble who advocated returning to the religious practices of the middle ages and freeing the church from secular interference which they feared would lead to disestablishment. They wanted to make church services more attractive by reviving the traditions, ceremonies and rituals that had been excluded since the Reformation and the introduction of the Book of Common Prayer. This caused heated debate, demonstrations and litigation that culminated in the 1874 Public Worship Act to curb ritualism. (An 1841 tract, which appeared to advocate teaching Roman Catholic doctrines in Anglican churches, resulted in Oxford University challenging Newman, who resigned, joined the RC church and in 1879 became a Cardinal.)

There was a lull in church building in Nottingham until the mid 1850s but building continued in the surrounding villages:

St John’s Carrington was consecrated on 6 April 1843. Originally St Leodegarius, Basford served all of Basford parish, which stretched eastwards to what is now Woodborough Road prior to 1877. In the 1972 Basford Enclosure, the triangle of land at the junction of Hucknall Road and Mansfield Road was awarded to Robert Smith, a banker and financial adviser to Prime Minister Pitt, who subsequently became Lord Carrington. In 1825 Ichabod Wright of Mapperley Hall bought this land from his friend Smith as an investment and sold it on for the development of Carrington village, which he named after his friend. Carrington developed rapidly and within a decade had a population of 6,500. Ichabod Wright provided £700 for a National Church School and a Rev. Dr Bosworth started services in the school. Ichabod Wright provided the land, funds of £1,000 and the furnishings for St John’s. He laid the foundation stone in 1841 and it was consecrated two years later. His wife Mary took a lively interest but died (failed operation for deafness) just before it opened and was the first burial there. The chancel was added between 1866 and 1877, reusing the east window. The north aisle with chapel was added in 1922.

Anonymous drawing of
St Johns Carrington before the chancel was added in 1866.
Reproduced from N Truman & 3 R 3 Kerruish, Nottingham And Its Churches14491949 (1949)

1845 Christ Church. New Radford (small triangle between Ilkeston Road and Alfreton Road just west of Canning Circus).

In 1850 St Mary’s and All Souls, Bulwell was built. There had been a church on the site since 1134. It was replaced in the C15th with a building about 60 yards north of the present church, but this had become too small with the rapid industrialisation of the area. The lord of the manor and patron, Rev Alfred Padley, provided half the £3000 costs. The Hardy family, who took over as lord of the manor and patron, gave an alabaster reredos (said to be one of the finest in the country) and alabaster panelling in the sanctuary. This work is Italian and was exhibited in the Paris Salon on its way from Italy to England.

In 1855 St Mark’s (just below present Hopewell’s Huntingdon Street site) was built. For all or part of its life, St Marks was combined with Holy Trinity parish. St Marks disappeared before World War II.

In 1856 Christ Church, Cinderhill was built by Thomas North of Basford Hall for the miners in his newly developed Cinderhill Colliery. It was designed by T C Hine on a site donated by the Duke of Newcastle. (Thomas North also provided cottages and allotments for the miners). The church design is described as C14th Decorated with a roof of collarbeamed rafters and arced braces.

In 1858/60 the north aisle and tower of St Leodegarius, Basford were rebuilt. The original church was consecrated before 1086 and Robert de Basford gave it to Catesby Priory, which he founded in Northamptonshire in 1176. (Dedications to St Leodegarius are extremely rare. He was the Bishop of Autun in central France who was canonised because he gave his life to save Autun from being sacked in 678.) The windows in the east end and either side of the choir date from 1225. The Early English nave and chancel, and the fourteenth century south aisle remain. There is a stone slab commemorating John Clark who died in Basford in 1669. He was a nonconforming minister installed at Cotgrave by the Parliamentarians and ejected again in 1662 when the monarchy and the highchurch clergy were restored.

The parish of New Basford was formed in 1847. The church began in a rented room in Olives Square (no longer existing) with the school in the room next door. Fifteen years later St Augustine’s church and school were built, the original church building becoming the south chapel as the church grew, The nave was added in 1877, the north aisle in 1884 and the chancel in 1895.

The St Ann’s area developed rapidly post Nottingham Enclosure and in September 1864 St Ann’s church opened. St Ann’s parish boundary originally stretched from Mansfield Road to Carlton Road and out to the borough boundary (Redcliffe, Woodborough and Porchester Roads) although this northern part of the parish was then only sparsely populated.

The foundation stone of St Ann’s Church was laid on 6 September 1863, the same day as that of St Saviour’s, Arkwright Street. The first Vicar at St Ann’s was Rev. H J Tebbutt (who had been Curate at St Mary’s since 1860). He promoted the building of St Andrew’s Mansfield Road, which opened in 1871, and he went to be the first Vicar there.

The first Church Wardens at St Ann’s were a Mr Taylor and Dr W B Tate, the first Medical Superintendent at the Coppice Hospital (private lunatic asylum which had opened in 1858). The second Vicar at St Ann’s was Rev. James Dawson Lewis, also formerly a Curate at St Mary’s and the Chaplain at the Coppice Hospital (and at Mapperley Hospital when it opened in 1880). Dr Tate and Rev. Lewis forged a close bond between St Ann’s Church and the Coppice Hospital, both holding important positions at both institutions. Dr Tate remained in post until his death at age 86 in 1913. It is reported (R. Mellors, Old Nottingham Suburbs: Then & Now, 1912, p178) that he cherished the close relationship between the Church and the Hospital, and his two prestigious roles, and insisted that the Hospital remain in St Ann’s parish even though geographically closer to St Jude’s when it opened in 1877. The eastern boundary of St Jude’s parish, fixed in 1930 and unchanged since, suddenly turns north, to skirt the grounds of the Coppice Hospital as Tate insisted, before continuing eastwards. (Coppice Hospital closed in 1984 and is now Hine Hall, luxury apartments.)

St Saviour’s began as a mission from St Mary’s Nottingham which met over a boot shop next to Mellors factory in Arkwright Street. The decorated Gothic church opened in 1864 and miraculously still stands despite the City Council late C20th redevelopment of the whole Meadows area.

All Saints Church (in All Saints Street near the Arboretum) was built in 1864 along with the adjoining school, headmaster’s house and vicarage. The architect was T C Hine and the church and adjoining complex are now Grade II listed. The sole benefactor was William Windley (18211877) wealthy silk merchant with factories in Alfred Street and a JP. The Gothic revival style church has a spire of 175 feet.

The school closed in 1905 and the buildings later put to alternative community uses (currently occupied by various NDC and YMCA projects and the Jericho Road dropin).

The vicarage was said to be the largest in Nottingham with ten bedrooms and servants quarters. (This was possibly intentional because it was occupied by two members of the Windley family (Revd Thomas W Windley and Rev H M Lonsdale) in the early years!) The life of Thomas Windley is depicted in the stained glass window in the Lady Chapel. In 1980 the vicarage was divided in two with the eastern side retained as the vicarage.

On 1 December 2002 parish boundaries were rationalised. The eastern edge of All Saints was added to St Andrew’s parish and the rest of All Saints combined with the parish of St Peter and St James creating the parish of St Peter and All Saints. This year (2007) the parish has combined with St Mary’s Nottingham.

Also in 1864. St Mathew’s Church. with adjoining vicarage and parish institute, in Talbot Street, now demolished.

By 1866 all or most of the Nottingham churches seem to have been under the control of the Evangelists. The vicar of St Stephen’s Sneinton , Canon Vernon Wollaston Hutton, is recorded as wanting to break this monopoly and assert his own Tractarian ideas. He divided St Stephen’s into four parts. The three new parishes created were:

1867 St Matthias (St Matthias Road, off Carlton Road just north of the Coop).

1887 St Alban’s built on land thought to have been gifted by Father Mackonochie, an AngloCatholic vicar in Holborn, who wanted to see Catholic practices enhanced. A very ornate building by the famous Victorian architect, G F Bodley, it became the centre of AngloCatholicism in Nottingham attracting criticism for superstition and idolatry.

St Christopher’s (Not to be confused with St Christopher’s in Colwick Road founded in 1902  see below)

Two other late C19th C of E churches described as having Anglo-Catholic sentiments and practices are:

1. 1887 St George’s (Kirk White Street, just off Wilford Road in the Meadows). The main benefactor was Henry Gee who promoted the Oxford Movement. It became a monastic foundation in the early C20th when Sir Edwyn Hoskins gave it to the Kelham Fathers. As a conventual church, before WWII the parish benefited from a large clerical staff including lay brothers and nuns.

2. 1896 St Paul’s Daybrook founded by Sir Charles Seeley and designed by J L Pearson, who designed Truro Cathedral.

1871 St Andrew’s. Mansfield Road. Described as an Evangelical church from the start: Attended by John Player who, in 1918, donated the sanctuary panelling with a plaque “For 25 years of Happy Married Life”. Always renowned for missionary zeal. A fine organ and high musical standard (regular broadcasting of choir).

On 9 January 1877, eight clergy and four laymen met at St Andrew’s Vicarage to discuss the growing population and pressure in St Ann’s, St Mark’s and St Saviour’s parishes. This was the foundation of the original Nottingham Church Extension Society. This led to the creation of St Catherine’s (1896), St George’s (1887 see above) and Emmanuel, which was a daughter church of St Ann’s, opening in 1885. It was designed by Watson Fothergill but demolished in 1972 in the St Ann’s clearance.

William Windley (silk manufacturer / merchant) was present at the January 1877 meeting. He was a powerful mover in establishing St Jude’s Mapperley, which opened in 1877, originally as a chapel of ease of St Ann’s Church, achieving independent parish status in 1926. In the 1850s Mapperley was nothing more than a tiny hamlet at the northern extreme of St Mary’s parish and a lay reader from St Mary’s held services in the offices of Nottingham Patent Brick Company until St Jude’s Church Day School opened in 1860 and was used for services. In the 1870s the hamlet started to grow and a church building became necessary. The land was given by Ichabod Wright of Mapperley Hall, who had previously provided the land and funds for St John’s Carrington on the other side of his estate. The original St Jude’s consisted of the nave only, built with a disproportionately high roof and huge arch anticipating enlargement and the addition of a chancel when population necessitated and funds permitted; the chancel was added in 1892.

In the C19th the Porchester Gardens Estate part of Mapperley was farmland belonging to the fourth Earl of Caernarfon, in Gedling parish. In 1886 he sold it to a selfhelpsociety of Nottingham working men who wanted an allotment or house with garden. The plots were only built on very gradually over several decades. At some stage it was decided to include this area in St Jude’s parish (although it remains outside Nottingham Borough/City in Gedling Borough for administrative purposes). At a later date the part of this area northeast of Whittingham Road and southeast of Moore Road became part of St James Porchester.

St Augustine’s, New Basford church also opened in 1877. The parish of New Basford was formed in 1847 with two rented rooms in Olives Square used as a school and church. In 1862 a church and school were built, the church later becoming the south chapel and vestry when the nave was added in 1877. In 1884 the north aisle was added and the chancel in 1895.

1879 St Philip’s (in Penny Foot Street originally serving a geographically small parish now known as the Island Street area.) This church was a memorial to Thomas Adams, lace manufacturer, who provided a chapel in his Stoney Street warehouse for daily services for his work force. Ten thousand people are said to have attended his funeral. He is also commemorated in the name Adams Hill, the transept window in St Mary’s, and another in Lenton.) The parish originally had 5,000 population but this was much reduced by interwar slumclearance and the parish combined with St Luke’s when the church was demolished.

1885 Emmanuel. Wood borough Road (just below St Augustine’s RC Church). Designed was Watson Fothergill. Demolished in 1972 (see above). One of the vicars, Rev Llewellyn Gwynne, was previously curate at St Andrew’s and went on to become Bishop of Khartoum and later Bishop of Egypt and Sudan.

1887 St George’s (on Kirk White Street, just off Wilford Road in the Meadows) and St Albans (small parish in Sneinton between Manvers Street and King Edward Park on Carlton Road). Architect famous G F Bodley.

1889 St Michael’s, Radford (on corner of Alfreton Road and Hartley Road with a geographically small parish stretching south to Denman Street). An offshoot of the original Old Radford parish. Possibly never completed.

1894 All Souls, Radford (corner of Ilkeston Road and Lenton Boulevard). Formed out of the large parish of Old Radford. Just after World War II it took over the parish of Christ Church, New Radford.

1896 St Catherine’s (bottom of St Ann’s Well Road, opposite the Mosque. Built to replace an older elongated iron church known as “The Shooting Gallery”. Unused and on the market for nearly 30 years. Recently sold for redevelopment. Site said to be problematic because the beck which runs under the church is not adequately ducted.)

1898 St Stephen’s, Hyson Green, built on land given by the Pearson Gregory family, by a mission church called St Simon’s at the back of the site. Funded with money from the sate of St Stephen’s Church and glebe lands on Bunker’s Hill that had to be demolished to make way for the new railway into the Victoria Station, taking over the name and the church furnishings.

The Twentieth Century

1902 St Christopher’s (formed out of the original Sneinton parish, church on Colwick Road with parish stretching south to the river Trent.) Badly damaged in an air raid in May 1941 and replaced by a temporary building in October 1948.

1903 St Bartholomew’s (church on west side of Blue Bell Hill but most of the parish to the east of the church towards Gordon Road).

1905 St Aiden’s, Basford, built by the Spiritual Aid Society with a legacy from George Waterall, a Nottingham chemist.

1912 St Stephen’s. Sneinton, rebuilt by H T Hare.

1914 St Faith’s, partly funded by Lord Henry Bentinck. In the Meadows within the city boundary but formed out of the ancient parish of Wilford and therefore known as the parish of North Wilford.

Post World War 1

1932 St Barnabas, Lenton Abbey. Architect Cecil Howitt.

St Margaret’s. Aspley, became a parish in 1933, carved out of parts of Old Radford, Old Basford, Wollaton, Basford and Cinderhill. The original temporary church (now the church hall), the 1934 permanent building (designed by Heazell) and the vicarage were the gift of Mr & Mrs J D Player.

1935 St Cyprian’s (top of Carlton Hill) designed by Claude Howitt.

1937 St Martin’s. Sherwood. (Trevose Gardens) Designed by Heazell.

1938 St Mary’s, Wollaton Park, designed by Cecil Howitt who designed the Council House.

St Martin’s Sherwood in 1945.

1851 Census of Religious Worship

This survey took place in England and Wales on Sunday 30 March 1851. It has many methodological flaws (which possibly inflate the numbers attending worship) but the overall picture of the state of religious worship is very clear. Of the total population of 17.9 million, only 40.5% attended a place of worship on census Sunday. Of these 40.5%, only just over half attended an Anglican parish church. Protestant nonconformists were almost as numerous as Anglicans.

Nottingham had a population of 57,407 with 57.7% attending a place of worship.

Of the Nottingham population:

  • 17.8% attended a C of E church (30.8% of all worshippers)
  • 15.5% Methodist (26.8%)
  • 6.3% Independent (11.0%)
  • 8.9% Baptist (15.5%)
  • 4.1% Roman Catholic (7.0%)

Roman Catholic Church

After the Reformation Roman Catholics had to practice in secret. In Nottingham small group(s) of Catholics survived and there was a revival in the C18th with a small group meeting at Aspley Hall in the 1760s and occasionally at the Willoughby family home in the 1770s.

In 1778 the Catholic Relief Act legalised Catholic priests. A 1791 Act legalised the erection of RC chapels and early in the C19th a tiny RC chapel, with a French priest, started in King’s Place (off Stoney Street in Lace Market). In 1828 they moved to larger premises. St George the Evangelist in George Street (Doric façade). The 1800 Act of Union with Ireland and the 1829 Roman Catholic Relief Act (which restored Catholics’ right to vote, to sit in Parliament and to hold public office) were seen as undermining the constitution (the coronation oath requires the monarch to “protect the country from incursion by the church of Rome”) and caused demonstrations.

In 1841 Nottingham Catholics purchased the Derby Road site to build St Barnabas. The Earl of Shrewsbury gave £7,000 and £2,000 was given by Rev Richard Sibthorpe, a Lincolnshire convert. They feared violent protest demonstrations and the foundation stone was laid at 8.00 am to avoid this. The architect was A W Pugin, a convert to Catholicism and a Gothic Revivalist. On 30 August 1844 Nottingham Journal described the consecration services as ” … puerile and ridiculous, superstitious, disgusting, blasphemous and idolatrous”.

In the first half of the C19th the number of Catholics in England increased because of European immigrants such as those who fled the French Revolution, labourers fleeing the Irish famines, Irish girls coming as domestic servants to the expanding middle class, and Anglican converts influenced by the mid C19th Oxford Movement (mentioned above)

In 1850 the Catholic Church reestablished its hierarchy in England and St Barnabas Cathedral became the seat of the new diocese and bishop. This caused rioting in Nottingham.

Pugin’s interior has been altered. In the 1880s the third Bishop Bagshaw influenced by the Ultramontane Movement towards Italianate design and ritual, removed Pugin’s gates from the rood screen and had marble altar rails installed.

St Barnabas RC Cathedral in 1880, from Wellington Circus.
(The houses in the foreground were replaced by Nottingham Playhouse, which opened in 1963.)

Our local Catholic Church, St Augustine’s on Woodborough Road was built in 1923. It was designed by John Sidney Brocklesby (see article by lan Wells in the September 2007 edition of Mapperley Park News). In 1924 he also designed the chapel for the Sisters of St Joseph Convent, on the corner of Mapperley Road and Park Avenue. The Convent was built in 1870 by T C Hine and originally called Leahurst. The Sisters moved into the building in 1910; they had previously occupied the building in Elm Avenue that is now Hollygirt School. Later, when the sisters moved to smaller premises in Lucknow Avenue, the building became Marlborough Hall, residence of Nottingham Trent University.

St Augustine’s Church was never completed (because the estimated price doubled and Brocklesby was sacked) leaving it with a slightly odd appearance with one round tower and one square.

St Augustine’s School opened in 1880, originally in Northville Street adjacent to the site of the present church, The Sisters established a separate Sacred Heart School (private, girls) at the Convent, When Northville Street was demolished in the 1960s clearance of St Ann’s, St Augustine’s School squeezed onto the Convent site prior to the new building at the end of Park Avenue being completed.

St Augustine’s RC Church built 1923.

Leahurst, built by T C Hine in 1870. later Sisters of St Joseph Convent, Sacred Heart School and Marlborough Hall.

© Christine Drew