St Michael’s Church

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Cotham is well off the tourist beat and is a small hamlet of a few houses and large farms set in fertile farmland between the A1 and A46. The church is set back off the road and reached across a field with two friendly donkeys and a horse.

It is in a delightful setting and surrounded by a small graveyard with 19thC box tombs, violets, primroses and cowslips.

It is a small rough stone building with an integral chapel, buttressed walls, large perpendicular windows and a tile roof. There are no side aisles. There is a sun dial on the south wall dated 1643. Above the west end is a small bell cote with louvred walls which was added in 1890 when the church was restored. Before then, the bells had been hung in an internal loft on the west wall, like at Elston Chapel (see review). The south porch was added in 1830.

Immediately inside the door at the back of the church is a large octagonal stone font with a simple wooden cover. On the west wall are three carved corbels of a man with a beard, a lion and a green man which would have supported wood beams.

There is a timber roof and the remains of panels from the original box pews on the walls. Now there are just wooden eats. In the middle of the nave is an iron Romesse stove. These became popular as they were Florence Nightingale’s preferred brand in the Crimea War.

Next to the door is a recessed niche with a carved arch above. There are two 14thc stone tomb slabs set against the south wall. One is partially hidden behind the altar. These are thought to be members of the Leeke family who were Lords of the Manor.

There is an elaborate marble memorial on the south wall to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of John Fisher who died in 1844 and her husband Robert Millington who died 1852. Beside it is a stained glass window also dedicated to them. On the north wall is a simple memorial plate to Ann Booth 1833.

There is a carved wood pulpit and a carved priest’s reading desk opposite.

Two steps lead up to the wood communion rail with bannisters, Behind is a small altar with panelled retable. Above is a stained glass window with the crucifixion. On the south wall of the chancel is a small piscina and a stained glass window depicting three parables.

On the north wall of the chancel is a photograph of the highly carved Markham memorial to Ann Markham 1601 which used to be in the church but has since been removed to the Church of St Mary Magdalene in Newark.

There is no electricity in the church and it is lit by candles in candalabras hanging from the ceiling and also candlesticks on a ledge above the panelling.

Although the church is redundant and cared for by the Churches Conservation trust, occasional services are held in it. When we visited, it had been decorated with flowers for a Christening the previous weekend.

The church is open but if locked a key from the house opposite. They also have a key for the gate if the stile (which isn’t the easiest to climb over) defeats you. There is on road parking alongside Manor Farm next to the church.

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