St Michael’s Church

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Stragglethorpe is a small hamlet just south of the A17 near Newark. There are a few houses and a large farm. It is set in a lovingly maintained churchyard amidst farm buildings which have been converted into housing. It is accessed from the second road off to the left and there is parking outside the church. The church was locked so we went to find the key in the black box outside Garden Cottage. This was empty so we rang the bell to learn that the key had ‘disappeared’ earlier this month. The lady hoped it had not been stolen and would be returned. We were told to try Brant Lodge opposite the church as they also had a key. We were in luck. It was a massive metal key, so we hope it hasn’t been sold for scrap….

St Michael’s is a delightful small stone building with a red tile roof and a small bell cote at the west end. This is unusual as there are the remains of carved heads on the top of it. There are two tall narrow Norman windows at the east end. The larger square windows in the nave are later as is the north aisle and south porch. This has tile work in the wall above the door and carved heads at the base of the door arch. Inside there is a wooden bench. There is a very old wooden door, much patched and with huge metal hinges. Round the top of the door is the remains of a ‘parapet’ design carved on the arch.

The west end has small buttresses at the corners with a massive central buttress. This has a delightful carving of Archangel Michael spearing the dragon (Satan) set in a tracery arch.

At the back of the church there is a small blocked Saxon doorway in the west wall. This has a triangular top made from two lintels resting on top of each other. To the side is a wooden board with the Lord’s Prayer.

A single hexagonal pillar supports two low and broad round topped arches which separate the north aisle from the nave. The church still has the Georgian box pews. These have a single candlestick in the centre of each pew, providing the only source of light. It is possible to see the tacks where the upholstery was in the large box pew opposite the pulpit. Behind it is a smaller box pew which has a carefully carved doorway. The owners must have wanted to impress. On the north side of the nave are some simple newer bench pews.

The double decker pulpit has a reading desk below it. Tucked away behind on the side of the arch is a delightful carving of an angel with curly hair holding a stone slab and wearing a flat head dress with a cross. opposite on the south wall is a small stone carved head of a queen with a crown.

On the south wall of the nave is a large painted royal coat of arms. Next to it is a painted board with the Creed. There is a simple brass memorial with four names from World War One.

On the north wall is a rather strange quote from Ecclesiastes “Keep they foot when thou goest to the house of God and be more ready to hear than to give sacrifice of foot: for they consider not that do evil”.

The flat plaster ceiling was added later makes the inside of the building feel very low. It only just clears the tops of the east windows and a special recess had to be made for the top of the memorial in the chancel. The north aisle still has its wooden ceiling.

At the back of the church is a massive stone font set on a plinth with a simple wooden cover. This has round Roman arches carved on the bowl. Behind is a small electric organ and another older one at the back of the church.

A step leads down to the chancel. There is a simple wooden communion rail. The altar is covered with a yellow cloth and there are yellow drapes hanging below the wooden boards with the Ten Commandments on either side of the two east windows. One has a small inset of coloured glass. There is a wooden crucifix and candle sticks on the altar and an old grave slab on the floor. On the south wall is an aumbry cupboard with carved linen fold doors.

On the north wall is an elaborate stone and marble memorial to Richard Earle who died 1697 aged 14. The monument was put here by his grieving mother and there is a verse recording her love and loss as well as his virtues. There are busts of her husband and richard at the bottom both in periwigs.

Above are carved drapes with cherub heads and crossed trumpets with a crown. Above two urns flank a crest with an eagles head above. A special recess had to be made in the later ceiling to accommodate it.

This is a delightful find.

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