St James' church

The church lies to the west of the village, in a secluded site bordering the river Leen. The church is a Grade 1 listed building of great historical interest. Having said that, it is primarily a place of worship and is maintained to the glory of God. These notes are based on "Linby and Papplewick Notebook" by the late Reverend L. Illingworth-Butler, a former Rector.

St James church from the southThe church is thought to have been built in the 12th century. In the grant made by Henry II to Newstead Priory, part of the endowment was "The Town of Papplewick with the Church of the same name and the Mill.". Legend has it that Alan A'Dale, one of Robin Hood's men, was married here. The present tower dates from the 14th century. The nave and chancel were rebuilt by the Hon. Frederick Montagu in 1795 (after he had rebuilt the Hall.). In 1855, Papplewick was united with Linby. The Parish is now called 'the Parish of St. Michael, Linby cum St. James, Papplewick'. The building was further restored and repaired in 1938 in memory of John Chadburn, son of Mr. C. W. Chadburn, the then Patron of the Parish. The organ was moved from the west to the east of the north wall; the staircase used to be where the organ is now. The organ claims to be a Willis, but our tuners are not too sure !

There is a constant repair programme; In 1997, there was work on the tower and the bells were rehung. In 1999 the Westmoreland diminishing slate roof was replaced. Recently, the church has affected by a 1.7m drop caused by mining subsidence. During the repairs the oportunity was taken to renew the lighting in the church and carry out redecoration. The path was relaid and some work carried out on the east window. It  reopened at Easter 2000.

  1. The outstanding feature is the East Window by Francis Eginton. It is a copy of Reynolds's famous window in the chapel of New College Oxford - depicting only Faith and Hope! It is signed and dated 1796.
  2. In the window west of the porch, there are some fragments of really old stained glass, although obviously wrongly put together.
  3. Now look at the floor ! The church is noted for its incised tomb slabs. It would seem that in various alterations of the building, several have been removed from their original positions, while others have been cut to fit as floor stones. They are varied designs, some dating as early as the 13th century. Note should be made of the Foresters' slab marked with a bow and arrow, horn and baldric - a reminder that this is Robin Hood country ! Two slabs in the porch walls bear bellows, the insignia of officials at the Forge Mills.
  4. Just inside the door is the old Norman tub font. It was found in the Churchyard, and until its restoration , the tiny marble basin at the back of the church was used.
  5. On the partition is painted the Royal Arms, perhaps placed there when the Church was rebuilt.
  6. Another outstanding feature is the musician's gallery. At the east end is the old "squire's pew". In it was a private fireplace - marked now, by a replica, sadly. It is said that the squire rattled the fire irons to let the preacher know that his sermon was going on too long! (Access is not possible to this area) .
  7. Over the door is the Hatchment of Miss Catherine Judith Fontayne. She was the daughter of Anne Colladon (who married John Fontayne) and succeeded to the Papplewick estates after the death of the Hon. Frederick Montagu in 1800. She died in 1822
  8. In the Church are memorials to the Montagu and Colladon families, and one to William Howitt, a benefactor of the Parish. More recent are the War Memorials to the memory of John Chadburn and Alan Chadburn.
  9. In the belfry, there are five bells, each of which carries an inscription. One bears the trademark of the celebrated Nottingham bell-founder , Henry Oldfield, and also the date 1620. The inscription reads: "I sweetly tolling men do call, to feaste on meates that feed the soule". Another is simply marked with a cross, and the name of ELENA inscribed in old English. This bell may date back to the latter half of the 15th century.
  10. In the porch there are carved figures above the door. The one immediately above the door is late Saxon or early Norman probably representing St. James. The higher figure used to be set high up on the inner side of the archway, but it is uncertain whom it depicts.
  11. The Churchyard tells a story of its own. There are tombstones of the early 17th century which is a rarity. One near the path bears the date 17012 which has caused much speculation. From the registers, it is shown that the actual date is 1712.

The Churchyard is still in use. An area for the internment of Cremated Remains has been created at the foot of the tower and a Book of Remembrance relating to this to be found on the chest at the back of the Church.

In the Churchyard stands the magnificent yew which some say date back to the days of the royal decree that yews should be planted in every churchyard to maintain the supply for the famous English Longbow. The tree is about 350 years old. The oak seat surrounding it has recently been restored.

We hope that you will visit the church. It is located at the end of Church lane, accessible from Main Street. The 'meadows footpath' passes the building, and provides a pleasant stroll of about one hour. It is a fine building in a beautiful setting, with its own special tranquility. As a place of worship it is used each Sunday; full service details can be found on our community pages and are posted on the notice board at the end of Church lane. A version of this description the text can be downloaded here.

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