Points of Special Interest

in the church

The Parish Church of North Wingfield:
For nearly a thousand years a church has stood on Church Hill bearing silent witness to God. We have inherited a goodly heritage. Let us reverence it but let us use it and hand on the Treasure we have inherited from our forefathers to succeeding generations in North Wingfield.

NORTH WINGFIELD - earlier known as Hallewynefeld, and later as Northwynefeld, was still refered to as North Winfeld as recently as 1875, by J. C. Cox (Churches of Derbyshire).

The village was situated in the Hundred of Scarsdale, and prior to the Norman Conquest, lay in the vast estates of the Danish prince, Sweyn.

At the time of the Domesday Survey (1086), North Wingfield is mentioned as possessing a priest ana a church, implying the possible existence of a Saxon fabric.

The following is an extract from Domesday Book which refers to North Wingfield.

Manor    In Pinneslie (Pilsley) and Caldecotes (believed to be Oldcoates?) and Williamthorpe, Swain Cilt (Prince) had half an oxgang less than 2 carucates to be taxed Land for  4 ploughs. Walter has now three 2 ploughs in the demesne and 12 villeins and 3 bordars having six ploughs. To this manor belong 2 ox-gangs of land, soke in Wingfield (Winnefelt) and there are5 sokeman there a priest and a church; and in Topetune (Tupton) one ox-gang of land and a third part of one ox-gang to be taxed; and thereis one sokeman there and 8 villeins and 1 bordar with 3 ploughs and a half. There are three acres of meadow, Wood pasture 1 1/2 miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide, in time of Edward II asserted this claim. It is a solid piece of Derbyshire gritstone.

The old parish of North Wingfield comprise the townships of Clay Lane, Pilsley, Tupton, and part of Sttetton, together with the villages of Ford, Hanley, Aynmoor, Williamthorp, and Woodthorp. The Norman Conquest gave possession of this manor, along with others, in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and elsewhere, to Walter de Ayncurt (later known as Deincourt). The family built a large mansion here, probably on the prominence to the South Eat of the Church, across the valley, now occupied by the defunct Parkhouse Collierry.

Dr Pegge, the historian, mentions a field in the parish "near the dam" which was called Deincourt in his day. On that spot he assumed the original mansion stood and the family title of Baron de Ayncutt, or Deincourt, was taken from this place name, Aynmoor, i.e., a water or marshy moor,lay beneath the prominence, and the present name of Danesmoor - a fairly recent spelling - could conceivably, be a confused corruption of the family and the place-names. When the sinking of the pit-shaft took place on the site of the old Parkhouse or Park Hall mansion, Dr Pegge obtained permission to investigate the excavations, and found evidence of heavy stone foundations; in addition, to the south of the site he found traces of a large kitchen-midden, containing the bones of animals such as a stag and the wild boar; this was typical of the waste heap accumulated by a large, and wealthy household.

Ralph Deincourt, the son and heir of the first baron, Walter, founded Thurgarton Priory in Nottinghamshire, but it appears that the church was left by Walter to a second son Roger, for in the time of Henry II, when a charter confirmed the grants of the founder, the Priory records the gift of the church as, by "Ralph the son of Roger de Ayncurt". From this date the benefice remained in the hands of the Priory of Thurgarton until the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII.

The manor fell into ecclesiastical hands about the same period, for Roger Deincourt gave to Welbeck Abbey, the whole of the manor, except the advowson of the church and the bovate of Parkhouse, where the family mansion was situated. John Deincourt, his brother, was rector of the church, and confirmed the grant to the abbey, "for his own soul and the souls of his wife Alice, and Roger." The last court held at North Wingfield, by the Abbot of Welbeck, was in 1518.

In 1442, the male line of the Deincourt family, became extinct on the death of the two sons of John Deincourt. The surviving children, Alicia and Margaret, married and the name disappeared. A descendant through the female line is Sir Gervais Tennyson d'Eyncourt, who visited the parish a short while ago.

In the reign of Henry VII, the Abbey and the Priory had leased or sold the manor and the church to Sir Nicholas Longford and Sir John Bussey, jointly. After the dissolution, the manor passed to the Leake family, the Earls of Scarsdale.

A charter, for the foundation of a chantry, was granted in 1488, to Sir John Babington and Ralph Savage, to be called "the chauntrie of blessed Marie Virgyn in the Church of Seynt Elyn (Helen) of Northwynfeld." The words of the charter contained the following injunction 'That these ordinances be not forgotten they shall on ye feast of St. George afore ye Begining of high masse and on Wednesday in Whisson weke be read openly in mother tongue by ye priest of ye chantry in ye parish church or churchyard'. The chantry house was later purchased by the Savages, and an entry in the parish register shows that they were still in residence in 1650. The Savage coat of arms (three fusilly in pale) can be seen on the windows on the outside of the south aisle. This chantry house later became known as the "Blue Bell Inn", and many of its ancient features were ruined by modernisation. However, the most recent activities of the builders, did reveal a hidden arch, which probably formed part of the original refectory, and, to the credit of brewery company, this has been preserved and can easily be seen on the north wall of the building.

 Sir John Babyngton, joint founder of the chantry, was an important officer of the Knights of Malta, and may have introduced into the church the memorial slabs depioting the "Maltese cross", or badge of the knightly order, although the design of the slabs places them at a much earlier date. More will be said of these slabs at a later stage.

The Church is dedicated to St. Lawrence, It consists of a chancel, nave, side aisles, and two side chapels (one now a vestry) on the northern side; whilst at the western end is a lofty embattled tower, It was rebuilt in the Norman period, but several restorations have almost entirley changed the character of the architecture. Decorated and perpendicular styles predominate. Note the masons' marks on the ashlar blocks of the tower.

The vestry wall in the north aisle has a Norman window or possibly, a door) with the typical dog-tooth pattern. This may have been a doorway, moved when the Lady Chapel was built in the 14th Century or when the church was enlarged after the granting of the Charter. A curious feature is that, the supporting capitals, taken by themselves, could be Saxon in origin. If they are, it could be further evidence for the theory of a previous Saxon church.

The tower is a massive construction of about 1450, being approximately 83 feet in height. As late as 1875, Cox, the historian , was recording that the lofty arch leading from the tower to the nave was blocked by an ugly wooden gallery errected in 1718. Now, we can see the beautiful west window, with its figure of a monk holding a book and a rosary.

At the time of the building of the tower, the arches and pillars at the west end of the nave seem to have been rebuilt, as they differ from the others, the capitals being ornamented with inverted plain shields, The tower itself contains a lovely peal of 8 bells. The treble bell is 2' 4". in diameter and weighs 5 cwt, 3 qrs, 7lbs. This bell was dated 1661, but in 1922 the Jackson family had it recast in memory of Capt. Geoffrey Laid Jackson, killed in the 1st World War. The Jacksons have long had associations with North Wingfield.

In the west wall of the bell chamber is what appears to be a Norman child's grave cover. It is only 24" long - 9" at the head and 7" at the foot.

On one of the bells is a cross and in the middle a small coin, now much weathered. The reverse side of the coin is presented and Cox tells us the words "Civitas Dureme" could be discerned. It was a coin minted in Durham in the 14th Century. The Bishop of Durham being also Prince Palatine had his own mint.

The chancel (restored by the rector of 1850) has three upper or clerestory windows, and a large east window of about the year 1320, which contains some remains of very old glass. One of the lights contains the arms of the Bingham or Bugge family, who held land in Senor (Seanor, Lower Pilsley?) of this parish. Notice the three water pouchers on the fesse of the shield. One branch of the Bingham family had the name 'Bugge' and as the French word for a water pouch is 'Bouget' they adopted this device as part of their arms. The second coat was of the Paveley family, who held land in both the Wingfields during the 14th Century, and were connected by marriage to the Binghams.

A large archway of 1310 in the north wall of the chancel, is now filled by an organ built in 1892 by Lloyd and Company of Nottingham and an ogee-arched recess has been opened out to hold the recumbent figure of a knight believed to be the monument of Oliver de Ayencourt (Deincourt), grandson of the bfounder Thurgarton Priory, who was killed at the battle of Lincoln, in the third year of the reign of King John (1202). This effigy was probably transferred from the vestry, where it had been damaged by the scholars of the church school held in the vestry.

Another figure of a knight is to be found in a recess in the exterior of the south wall of the chancel. This is of a later date than the one in the interior of the church, probably about the middle of the 13th Century, in the reign of Henry II. This is accepted as another member of the Deincourt family, but there is some mystery as to its origin; one tradition takes it to be a monument removed here from Park Hall (Parkhouse), whilst other sources believe it to be one of those originaly installed in Chesterfield Church, and missing after the 16th Century. To the right of this recess, on the buttress can be found traces of a Mass dial of pre-Reformation days, used to indicate the times of the services.

A further interesting point concerning the earliest of these effigies is that the collection of memorial slabs in the South porch were probably connected - some, at least, if not all - with the Lord Deincourt as one who had vowed to join a crusade. Several other slabs can be found inside the church, in positions which suggest that they had been used as fragments during the several restorations of the building. One slab, now well worn, can be found on the floor just inside the doorway, and the other is used as a window lintel immediately above the arch near the doorway. This has been variously described as a pair of scissors, shears, a knife, or a crusader's sword; close personal inspection inclines me to the acceptance of the latter theory, as I could find no division in the blade, and it was very similar to the short stabbing sword used for fighting at close quarters, when the long sword had to be abandoned.

Memorial slabs used as seats in the porch might recall this, or some other lord, for one depicts a "cross patee" of the hearlds, and the Maltese cross, or badge of the Knight Hospitallers of Jerusalem, otherwise known as Knights of Malta, ("Temple Normanton" recalls for us a connection with the Knights Templar.) This is sometimes known as a "wheel=-cross", and commemorates the Third Crusade on the Holy Land, 1188-90. The stone is Mansfield, which town must have been an important school for such objects for two centuries or more, and about whose church there remains an unusual number. 

Another slab bears an Early English foliated cross, probably 1230. The stone is a portion only of an original. It could be the memorial stone of the lord of Wingfield, who here built the first stone church, the nave of which, in part, survives, and which possibly replaced a "timber church". The effigies followed soon after as a new type of memorial. There is evidence in the east window tracery, and the high pitch of the roof that the chancel, with the exception of the Early English round-headed priest's door was rebuilt, so the effigies may commemorate the lords of Wingfield as church builders.

As a further early, but allied note, we have the fact that part of the two slides of a square or oblong wet-moat existed in the (old) rectory grounds adjoining, in which earlier buildings than the present one must have stood; whether it ever extended west to enclose the church cannot now be certain, but the north-east one is still evident. Awet-moat on such an evevation would only be practical on a clay subsoil, and that is exaxtly what obtains in this coal-measure district.

The large old Rectory (sold in 1957) is an interesting Elizabethan house. A plaque over the main entrance has on it the words "1690 Nummo Deficiente Ne Plus Ultra". A free translation of these Latin words would be "Shortage of money, couldn't make it any bigger"!

In 1860, the south side aisle was restored, again giving differences in pillars and irregular joints. During the rebuilding a wall-sculpture depiciting the mattydom of St. Lawrence was revealed, and at its foot is a slab bearing a pre-Reformation mark in the yop right-hand corner, suggesting that it was probably a stone altar table. The mark is a pre-Reformation consecration cross. The figure of a man's face on the east wall of the south side aisle was found when the plaster was moved from the chancel walls. The face was in the wall.

In 1872, the north side of the church was restored, and several incised slabs were discovered, along with fragments of a much earlier building than that of the 12th Century. Aremarkable discovery made during the demolition of the wall, was the presence of a live toad in an enclosed recess of the wall. Cox believes that, far from processing supernatural qualities, the creature climbed through a small fissure, when very small, and had sufficient air to keep it alive. It was later exhibited in the South Kesington Exhibition of that year and is beleived to have lived for sometime afterwards!

As a continuation of this work the roof of the nave was stripped of an ugly lath and plaster ceiling, which had been nailed indiscriminately to the beautiful timber roof of the 14th Century, and many of the finely carved bosses in the centre of the tie-beams had been multilated. You can see on the boss in the centre of the beam west of the chancel arch, the face of a man, but only his eyes and nose can be seen. His mouth was cut off when the false roof was made.

At the same time the plaster on the wall above the chancel arch and roof showed an inscribed table of the Ten Commandments (following an injunction of Queen Elizabeth I) and a fragment of these can still be seen.

The restoratioin of 1872 did not include the chantry or chapel at the eastern end of the aisle, but the winding stairs in the northern pier, which separates the nave from the chancel, were cleared out, having fallen into disuse after the demolition of the original stone rood screen. At the bottom of the staircase underneath the steps, was a recess,  which was probably constructed in 1488 to hold valuable chattels of the Savage chantry. A new oak rood screen and loft were provided in 1918, by the patron of the living, Mr F. W. Darby.

The north chapel (vestry) has two reredos or altar pieces, One is a four-figure subject, in the east wall, which William Stevenson (Derbyshire Archaelogical Society) describes as the Coronation or Glorification of the Virgin Mary. The art work suggests it to be of the last quarter of the 14th Century, with no doubt, a stone altar of the period below it. Stevenson, bases his identification on identical on identical tabula in the Louvre, Paris; on a 14th Century panel in the British Museum, and a broken altar piece in Preston Church (Hull), probably from the alabaster carvers of Chellaston, Notts. In every case the two figures are seated and crowned, the Virgin on the left, the Messiah on the right, his right hand and arm upraised and his attribute, 2the orb" *world), in his left hand. The figures in tge side niches are angels censing the divine pair, their censers depicted in the instant of being overhead. A similar portrayal can be found on a broken tomb in Laxton Church, Notts.

The figures on the noirth wall are generally considered to portray the Annunciation of the Virgin - probably originally secondary to the four-figure reredos.The two standing figures, with the earthware vessel between them, represents the scene in which the angel announced to the Virgin  that she would be the mother of the Messiah. The figure on the left is clearly defined as the angel by the shoulders of the wings, while the one of the right has a wimple draped about the neck and breast, which in the Middle Ages marked the distinction of the matron from the maid. The central object on the ground, which gave offence to the 16th or 17th Century iconoclasts, bears record of a hole in which must have stood some metal or carved object to complete the symbol of the virgin - possibly the lily and lily-pot, which latter is given with an arched handle. Apart from the socket or dowel-hole, there is no evidence of this lily plant portion of the scene. In a similar tabula of an albaster tomb in the north transept of St. Mary's Church, Nottingham, the lily carries three blooms to signify the cross of Holy Writ, showing Christ crucified, the head by the central flower, the arms expanded by the other two.

The vestry was used for many years as a school, until the provision of industrial and state schools, and apart from the mutilation of the afore-mentioned Deincourt effigy, when used as a footrest and a pencil and penknife sharpener, Cox bemoans the desecration of the old font by the scholars, who used it outside the church as a  bandwashing basin! They also damaged the Jacobean altar table which had been used as a school table. This English oak altar was restored in 1959, a new altar top of Japanese oak being added. It was replacedin its original position at the east end of the church.

The south porch appears to have been an afterthought, following the original design of the perpendicular, and to be largely constructed of the fragments left after major restorations. However, the outer doorway is framed by a very fine ogee arch of unusual width, and retaining some traces of open-work tracery. Above the doorway, there is a niche, which contains a mutilated stone figure, variously described as the Virgin Mary or an angel, although Cox beleives that it may be a representation of St. Lawrence prepared for his martyrdom.

Two exterior faces of the tower have clock faces with illuminated dials which were installed in 1893, at a cost of £200, subscribed by the parishioners in memory of the rector.