This is a story of how a terrible tragedy later ignited the idea that led to the creation of a building. One which within four years saw its own turbulent times but is one that now lies set peacefully in the midst of tranquil woodland and beside the burblings of the River Meden.
ST CHAD’S CHURCH, PLEASLEY VALE
I am of course writing about St Chad’s Church and its founder Joseph Paget.
First let me tell you a little about the Paget family background. Joseph was born on the 2nd November 1825 to parents Charles and Eliza Paget at Ruddington, just south of Nottingham, a little over two years after their marriage on 20th August 1823. Charles’ connection with the little hamlet of Pleasley Vale was the cotton spinning mills of William Hollins & Co. His family had long been partners in the company and held shares. Charles himself entered the company in 1834 when he purchased a share from George Wragg the grandson of John Paulson, a founding member of the company. Sadly it was the same year that Charles’ first wife Eliza died. Charles had built Ruddington Grange in 1828 and the Censuses from 1841 onwards show that he and his second wife Ellen lived there. In 1856 he was elected as the Liberal MP for Nottingham, a position he held until 1865. Defeated that year, he rekindled an interest in more local events and became a member of the first School Board in Nottingham. He had also served as a magistrate, and as High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire in 1844.
PHOTO OF STUFFYNWOOD HALL TAKEN IN 1924 BY FLORENCE SHEPPARD
The partners in the William Hollins Company had built some fine houses in the Vale. Records show that Stuffynwood Hall, where Charles’ son Joseph and family lived, was built in 1857. Joseph had married his sweetheart Helen Elizabeth Abney, the daughter of the Dean of Derby, on 2nd June 1858 at St Alkmund’s Church, Derby, where four years later their only daughter Elsie Maud Abney Paget was baptised on 20th April 1862.
tragedy strikes …
Charles took his wife Ellen and her sister on a trip to Filey on the Yorkshire coast. The sea there that fateful day was wild, the waves crashing onto the rocks. They stood watching them for several minutes, at a point where they thought they were in relative safety. Suddenly one enormous wave reared up, engulfed them all, and swept them under the water, for them never to be seen again. That day the 13th October 1873 would be etched on their family’s memory for ever.
CHARLES PAGET MEMORIAL STONE
The family had a memorial to the disaster erected at Agony Point on Filey Brigg, but in later years it was transferred to Filey Museum. To this day, the area is considered a view point and is noted as such on ordnance survey maps, but as the inscription on the monument infers – beware the forces of nature.
NB. Please note there are many sources showing that Dr Quilter was the Vicar of Shirebrook at the time of the disagreement with the Paget family, but other sources show the Rev Samuel Briddon Booker as Vicar of Shirebrook. Crockford’s Clerical Directory from the time shows that Dr Quilter had left the area by 1878 to serve as Rector of North Piddle, Kempsey, in Worcestershire from 1878 through to 1885. Strangely the same directory shows the Rector of North Piddle prior to Dr Quilter was the Rev Samuel Briddon Booker. Did they swap places? Who was the Vicar of Shirebrook at the time in question and why did he object
Distraught as Joseph must have been at the news of his father’s and stepmother’s deaths, he knew that from that moment on more responsibility within the Hollins Company would lay on his shoulders. He had in effect inherited his father’s shares in the company.
Joseph did not seem to take much of an interest in the day to day company business but he did have an inherent desire to help the community that lived and worked in the Vale.
The nearest church to them was at Shirebrook, still a tedious and tiring distance to travel each Sunday. Joseph had an idea…
…He would build his own church on his own land at Stuffynwood and welcome everyone to join with him in worship.
AMONG THE FAR TREES IS THE ORIGINAL SITE OF ST CHAD’S CHURCH
The church of St Chad’s, so named after the first Bishop of Lichfield, was set to take a commanding position high up on the hill on the Derbyshire side of the county boundary in the diocese of Lichfield, overlooking the River Meden and near to Joseph’s house. It would be seen from quite a distance away. It was constructed of wood, its walls were painted white and it was said that the church was of a handsome design, elegantly proportioned and soundly built. Anyone in the area was welcome to attend the services.
The church featured a chancel, nave and porch, and a recess each side the chancel, one for a vestry and the other to house a harmonium which was supplied by Mansfield stationer William Linney.
Its fine windows, although plain, featured small diamond shaped panes of glass. The fittings were made of pitch pine and the seats were plain but considered comfortable. The whole building was to be gas lit. The work had been done by the firm of Messrs Cox & Son, church furniture manufacturers, of London.
St Chad’s Church was opened on Friday 10th November 1876 by the Bishop of Lichfield, the Right Rev George Augustus Selwyn. The newly appointed Vicar of Shirebrook, the Rev Dr Frederic William Quilter, was then to hold a morning service and an evening service at St Chad’s each Sunday.
In 1880 Joseph and Helen’s daughter Elsie was betrothed to Hubert Courtney Hodson, the registrar to the Diocese of Lichfield. Joseph wanted his father-in-law the Rural Dean of Derby, the Rev Edward Abney to perform the marriage ceremony at St Chad’s Church, but the then Vicar of Shirebrook was against it. There is also conjecture that the style of service conducted at the church did not lie well with the Church of England’s teachings. Why we will never know and although the marriage did go ahead as planned on 29th April 1880 and was conducted by the Dean as arranged, the whole sorry business caused an irreconcilable rift between the Pagets and the Vicar. So much so that Joseph decided to take the church down and rebuild it still on his land a short distance of no more than 200 yards away, but importantly, on the Nottinghamshire side of the River Meden, hence then lying within the Diocese of Lincoln. While the church was being rebuilt, with the same measurements of 56 feet by 22 feet, but this time clad in brick and stone, services were held in Joseph’s photographic room at Stuffynwood Hall. The bell tower was a new addition.
The rebuilding of the church cost £1,000 and the first service was conducted on Friday, 14th October 1881. An organ built by Messrs Lloyd & Co of Nottingham was installed that autumn.
ST CHAD’S CHURCH, STAINED GLASS WINDOW.
MEMORIAL PLAQUE UNDERNEATH THE STAINED GLASS WINDOW
In the centre of the memorial stained glass window to Joseph and his wife Helen is a full length picture of St Chad.
The priest in charge was the Rev William Heighway Kirby. He lived in the Parsonage situated at the rear of the church called ‘Meden Bank.’
In 1884 The Diocese of Southwell was created and St Chad’s became part of that.
JOSEPH PAGET’S GRAVESTONE, SHIREBROOK PARISH CHURCHYARD
St Chad’s is without a churchyard of its own so when its founder Joseph Paget died on 21st October 1896 he was buried in the church yard at Shirebrook Parish Church. The grave stone is inscribed: ‘Here rests the body of Joseph Paget Esq. JP DL of Stuffynwood born Nov 2nd 1825. After he had served his own generation by the will of God he fell on sleep Oct 21 1896. Acts 13 38’
Joseph had stipulated in his will that after his death the profits of his Midland Railway shares should pay for the upkeep of St Chad’s Church and its priest’s stipend.
From 1902 the clergy from St Edmund’s Church, Mansfield Woodhouse conducted services there.
An electric pump for the organ was installed in the mid-1940s. Until then it had been hand pumped, generally by one of the choir boys.
The Royce family who lived at The Uplands, a large house set high up behind Top Row, donated a new brass bell for the church in 1955.
Today, the little church in the Vale is still there, is still in regular use and stands testament to one man’s vision of his church being a central part of the community there.
GENERAL VIEW OF THE INTERIOR OF ST CHAD’S CHURCH
This photo shows the interior of the church. The walls are beautifully lined with wood and the screen is intricately carved. The lectern and altar rail supports are made of wrought iron.
VIEW FROM THE SCREEN TOWARDS THE MEMORIAL WINDOW
Here the view is taken from the screen looking towards the stained glass memorial window.
ST CHAD’S CHURCH ALTAR
To the sides of the altar can be seen panels of hand-painted flowers. The arch decorated for a wedding (below).
THE ARCH DECORATED FOR A WEDDING
The octagonal font is made from stone and wood and stands on a plinth and is carved with the letters ‘ihs’.
CLOSE UP IMAGE SHOWING JESUS CHRIST ON THE CROSS
This image of Jesus Christ on the cross, takes centre stage on the wooden screen in front of the altar.
ONE OF THE PICTURES SHOWING CHRIST’S JOURNEY.
There are 14 such pictures in a series around the church which illustrates the journey Christ took to his crucifixion.
FIRST WORLD WAR ROLL OF HONOUR
The roll of honour for the soldiers from the village who served their country and died in the First World War shows the names:
Albert White, Lionel Herbert Flint, Alfred Peat, Alec Marchant, Edgar Sanderson, William Edward Wilson, George Marchant, John Wilfred Sissons, William Madox Flint, Bernard Sanderson and Samuel Robertson.
A SNOWY SCENE AT ST CHAD’S CHURCH IN WINTER TIME.
Listed Building details:
SK 56 NWMANSFIELD WOODHOUSECHURCH LANE
1/19 Church of St Chad
Parish church, 1881. For Joseph Paget. Coursed squared rubble and brick, with slate roof. Ashlar dressings. Chamfered plinth, sill band, bargeboards, gables with crosses. Windows are leaded chamfered lancets. Nave, chancel, north porch, north and south transepts. Bell turret. Buttressed nave, 5 bays, has to north 4 lancets and above, 3 gabled trefoiled dormers. West end has C13 style triple lancet with timber tracery and hood mould. South side has 5 lancets and above 3 plain dormers. Bell turret, to west, octagonal, has patterned leaded base, pointed bell openings, conical leaded and slated roof with weathercock. Single bay chancel has to east, triple lancet with hood mould, and above, a blind lancet. On each side, a trefoiled gable. Buttressed north porch has to north a pointed doorway with hood mould. Single bay north transept has a lancet to north. Similar south transept has a lancet to south and above, a blind lancet. Outside, linked ashlar steps with 6 ashlar piers with square domed caps. Saddleback coped balustrade. Porch interior has wooden benches, fitted wardrobe and common rafter roof. Nave has matchboarded dado and scissor braced crown post roof. Matchboard lining and moulded wall plate. West window has stained glass inscribed ‘To the Glory of God and in thankful remembrance of March 19 1861.’ Chancel has timber screen, with traceried panels and rood. Roof similar to nave. East end has elaborate C14 style timber panelling with moulded crest, framing large painted canvas panels. Above, crest and panels with painted text. 3 icons in C14 style surrounds. Vestry in north transept has no architectural features. Organ chamber in south transept has 2 framed painted canvas panels. Fittings include octagonal font on chamfered base, with inscribed panel. Wooden cover with flying buttressed and cross finial.
Bracketed wrought iron lectern. Wrought iron skeleton pulpit with C20 infill panels. Altar rail with wrought iron stands. Framed pitch pine seats with trefoiled ends. Matching stalls with bookstands on wrought iron legs. Memorials include Roll of Honour, 1914. Brass referring to bell 1955. Brass plaque inscribed ‘In memory of the servants of God, Joseph Paget of Stuffynwood Hall and Helen Elizabeth, his wife builders of this church.’
Inscribed on the stained glass window are the words ‘To the Glory of God and in thankful remembrance of March 19 1861.’ As yet I haven’t found any explanation to why that date had some special significance to the Paget family. Again, perhaps we will never know.
Article by: Ann Sewell, archivist for the Old Mansfield Woodhouse Society and Heritage Link.
Sources and credits
Book entitled ‘Hollins, A study of Industry’ by Stanley Piggott.
Book, ‘Tales From The Vale,’ by Ralph Stone.
Landranger OS Map 101 for the Filey and Scarborough area.
Booklet , ‘Parish of Mansfield Woodhouse 1949-50.’
St Edmund’s Parish Church Magazines.
Newspaper articles 1876 and 1881.