Church of St Mary the Virgin

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March, 2017

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The Church of St Mary the Virgin is set high above the road. Entry is through the south porch. The heavy black painted bronze doors were hung in 1905 and have panels showing scenes from the life of Christ. The arch above has a splendid stone Lion’s head.

Inside, there is a feeling of size with tall pillars with pointed arches and clerestory windows above. The walls of the side aisles are lined with the memorials of the many wealthy Nottingham citizens. The massive west window commemorates Thomas Adams, a lace manufacturer and philanthropist.

Standing proud in front of the west window are the lion and the Unicorn. dating from 1705, these had supported the Royal Coat of Arms and had been languishing in the church vestry for many years before being placed here in the 1930s. The Unicorn is holding the Arms of the City of Nottingham. The lion, the Arms of Queen Anne.

At the west end of the south aisle is the baptistry with a C15th stone font lined with lead. The oak lid dates from 1957.

This is a church that honours its dead and there are several monuments on the wall of the south aisle to those who died in South Africa in the Second Boer war between 1898-1902.

A late C18th vestry clock hangs high on the wall of the north aisle, above a small wooden door that would have lead to one of the chantry chapels.

Also in the north aisle is the very eroded stone effigy of Robert English who was a wealthy merchant who was Mayor of Nottingham. His tomb originally stood in the north transept which was the Chapel of All Saints. The effigy was mutilated by the Puritans. During the C19th refurbishment the effigy was sold and taken into the churchyard awaiting collection. It sat there for around 50 years before being brought back into the church.

On either side of the rood screen are the wooden pulpit designed by Gilbert Scott and a brass eagle lectern. On the pillar above the lectern is an Italian Renaissance painting of Mary holding the Baby Jesus. This was originally given to the church as an altar piece and was moved here during the 1867 restoration.

The south transept contains the canopy tomb of John Samon, who died in 1416. He was Bailiff and Mayor of Nottingham and a benefactor of the church. He left the church £10 along with his best horse and saddle. In the blind arches on either side are painted panels with flower motifs. The stained glass in the south window dates from 1867 and shows scenes from the parables.

The large canopy tomb in the north transept is a mish mash of three different monuments. The splendid stone canopy is thought to belong to Thomas Thurland, who died in 1473/4. He was Mayor and an Alderman and benefactor of the Trinity Guild which had a chapel in this transept. Below it is a rather tatty carved stone tomb thought to be that of Willaim de Amyas, a C14th merchant and Mayor. It is thought this was transferred from the earlier Norman church when the present church was built. It would originally have had a brass of William and his wife on the top. On top of this is a marble slab which is thought to be part of the tomb of John de Tannesley, Bailiff of Nottingham and Mayor and related by marriage to the Samon family. His tomb was probably situated on the west wall of the north transept. Sitting on top of this is a framed fragment of carved alabaster which came from the tomb chest of Robert English whose eroded effigy now sits in the north aisle.

On the east wall is the C17th Communion Table. The oak panelling was placed here in 1945 and the modern was added in 1993. This is now the small guild chapel.

The wooden screen separating the chancel and nave dates from 1885 and was designed by Bodley and Garner.

The east window contains the earliest Victorian stained glass and was made by John Hartman of Birmingham and was installed as a memorial to Prince Albert, Prince Consort. Much of it is now hidden behind the 1885 reredos designed by Bodley and Garner. The central panels have paintings of Christ in Majesty, the Crucifixion and the Annunciation. On either side are pictures of saints, including Paulinus, Paul, Peter and Augustine of Canterbury.

The choir stalls were part of the Gilbert Scott restoration. The medieval stalls were thrown out and bought in Sneniton Market for £10 and reinstalled in St Stephens Church in Sneinton, where they still are today. The singing desks and candle lights were added later. The panelled ceiling was painted in 1965.

On the north wall is the memorial to those in the Robin Hood Battalions of the Sherwood Foresters who gave their lives in the First World War.

On the south side of the Chancel is the Lady Chapel, which was designed by Temple Moore and was built between 1912-5. The bottom right hand panels of the east window have an image of a bride in a Nottingham lace gown.

On the south wall and protected by a glass front and impossible to photograph because of reflection, is a piece of a C15th alabaster panel still with trace of its original paint and gilding. This was found beneath the choir stalls during the C19th restorations and shows a Pope, seated in a canopied and elevated throne, inaugurating a bishop. Beside the Pope are two cardinals, wearing their hats. The bishop is attended by his servant, bearing the crozier. On the opposite wall is a Terracotta Maquette, a carving of the Prodigal son by George Tinworth from 1875. This was exhibited at the royal Academy in 1875 to great acclaim.

This is a large and splendid church which is well worth visiting. There are more pictures “here.”:


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