Thursday, 4 July 2013

St Nicholas' Church, Nottingham. Medieval Church and Sniper's Hideout...

St Nicholas' Church is one of Nottingham's three medieval religious foundations that survive to this day. 

The building which stands today however was built in the 17th century.

Picture: St Nicholas Church Nottingham by Mercian Archaeological Services CIC
The Church of St Nicholas' is first mentioned in the foundation charter of Lenton Priory from 1103-8 where an annual pension was confirmed to the prior and convent of 15 shillings annually.

It is therefore believed to have been founded before the Norman conquest, probably in the eleventh century.

The medieval church contained a Chantry dedicated to St Mary- possibly situated in the Lady chapel which is also mentioned in the records.

There was also a Guild or fraternity of St Mary associated with the church.

With the Norman conquest the church found itself in the French quarter of Nottingham outside the walls of the castle- this location would eventually lead to its downfall.

Speeds 1610 map suggests the medieval church had a nave and possibly one or two isles, along with a west tower complete with a spire. Stapleton in his 1903 book 'churches and monasteries of Old Nottingham' suggest the tower and spire were of Decorated Gothic architecture.

This medieval building has sadly been destroyed, but the story of its downfall is fantastic in itself.

It is well documented that Colonel Hutchinson Governor of Nottingham Castle ordered its destruction in 1643 during the English Civil Wars.

The church was garrisoned by Royalists who used it to fire on the Parliamentarians in the castle. 

The diary of Colonel Hutchinson's wife, Lucy states ' There was an old church called St Nicholas' Church, whose steeple so commanded the platform that the men could not play the ordnance without woolsacks before them. From this church the bullets played so thick into the outward Castle Yard that they could not pass from one gate to another, nor relieve the guards, but with great hazard' (Stapleton 1903).

Picutre: Lucy Hutchinson courtesy of

After the town was cleared of Royalists the Colonel had the church taken down so theat it could not be used against them again.

A fabulous tale rich in the history of Olde Nottingham Towne...

In 1678 a new church was erected in brick which exists to this day, and is the subject of the photograph above by Mercian Archaeological Services CIC.


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