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All Saints Church

All Saints Church


The ancient and beautiful church of All Saints is situated in a prominent position towards the northern end of the village. For the last two years Beckingham has been part of a Benefice of four parishes with sister churches in Walkeringham, Misterton and West Stockwith. All four are the responsibility of the Vicar (Priest in Charge) whose Vicarage and office are located in Misterton. All Saints church holds at least one service every Sunday, at least two per month of which are services of Holy Communion, and there is also a mid week service of Holy Communion. Much importance is placed on meeting the particular needs of young people and families with children and the Benefice employs a licenced lay reader who specialises in promoting this type of ministry both in the four churches and in the village schools. Everyone is welcome to go along and join in the services.

For 2024 Church Services for April to June please click here

Vicar (Priest in Charge)
This position is currently vacant

Currently vacant

Currently vacant

Mrs J Gourley

A Tour Of The Church

The Tower

The tower is of a type common in east Nottinghamshire that is constructed in ashlar with diagonal buttresses, gargoyles many of which are now badly eroded, battlements and eight pinnacles. The clock in the ringing chamber faces the east and south sides only.

It was designed by Lord Grimthorpe and made by a John Smith & Son, Midland Steam Clock Works, Derby in 1903 and Strikes the hours and quarters using two of the three bells in the belfry. The mechanism is operated by three weights that descend almost to ground level in the base of the tower and requires winding up again once a week. A local man George Bee, a joiner and undertaker, made the case and also helped with the installation of the clock. He was Deputy Organist for many years as well as a bell ringer and sexton. A brass plate on the wall in the base of the tower records that the clock was erected by the Tong and reads: – “THIS CLOCK WAS ERECTED BY EMMA AND JULIA TONG WITH THE HELP OF RELATIONS AND FRIENDS TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF THEIR BELOVED PARENTS AND SISTER AUGUST 10TH 1903. Reverend C.R. Round Vicar. Messrs Fotherby and Harrison Church Wardens” It was refurbished and set to work again in 1978 by the residents of Rectory Gardens.

Access to the ringing and bell chambers is by a stone spiral stair on one corner of the tower. Masons marks may be seen on the stone newel post of the stair.Two types are repeated in the section up to the ringing chamber.

One resembling a clover leaf and the other similar to the Maltese cross with the top branch omitted. The belfry contains three bells hung in line one tenor and two treble. The Treble and 2nd were cast by Charles & George Mears of London. The 2nd is a recast of a bell by Johannes de Colsale in 1409, which was cracked during ringing on 26th July 1848. The Tenor is a bell by Henry II Oldfield of Nottingham, and carries the legend “God save the Church, our Queene and Realme, 1585. William Wilson, Thomas Tipping, Churchwardens”.

The bells are hung in a low-sided wooden frame, Elphick type V, which has NE 1655 incised on it. The belfry was renovated and the bells rehung on modern fittings, by Eayre & Smith Ltd. in 1990, enabling the bells to be rung for the first time since 1945.

A rededication ceremony was held attended by Bishop Patrick, Councillor Peter Mace vice Chairman of Bassetlaw District Council and his wife Betty, Richard Tuffley, George Millan, John Walker, Rev. Ian Turkington, Gerald Millard and Clifford Johnson.  The new fittings comprise of cast-iron canon-retaining headstocks on the 2nd and Tenor and a normal cast-iron headstock on the Treble. The bells are on ball bearings and have modern clappers. The first quarter peel on the bells was rung on 23rd October 1995.The bell ropes have been lengthened to pass through the floor of the ringing chamber so that they may be operated from the ground floor of the tower. A plate on the outside of the tower, below the east clock face, records that the roof of the nave was replaced in 1892.

The Nave

The nave has north and south aisles and ten rows of pews giving accommodation for about two hundred people. Both arcades have octagonal piers with moulded capitals exhibiting some nailhead ornamentation and double chamfered arches.

All dating from 13th century. The windows in the aisles are perpendicular in style (15th century). A higher tier of 15th century windows along the length of the nave constitutes the clerestory.

At the south east end stands the carved oak pulpit. The south aisle ends in a stained glass window and below is a side altar. Above this, in the corner, is an image bracket of a little old man armed with a sword, his crowned head stuck on at right angles to his body. Nearby in the south wall is a piscine, thought to be over 700 years old, which at one time would have been used when washing the chalice. Part of the bowl would have projected forwards but this is missing. The crude construction of the piscine suggest an early date and its present position is unlikely to have been its original one, which suggests that is comes from the early sanctuary, being removed during part of the rebuilding. Also on the south wall, between the windows is another bracket with a carved head wearing a crown. On the west wall is another bracket but any carving can no longer be made out. A corbel where the south arcade meets the west wall carries a carved face. In the tower archway stands the middle portion of what was once the rood screen consisting of the doorway and two bays with fine tracery dating from c 1500.

A brass plate on the west wall to the right of the tower arch is in memory of Mrs Marion Parkinson, one of the survivors of the troopship “Birkenhead”, which sank off the Cape in 1852. As the three years and eight month old Marion Darkin she was travelling with her mother to join her father, Drum Major John Robert Darkin who was serving in the Queen’s Regiment in South Africa. The Birkenhead had been specially modified for trooping which meant it was deprived of a number of watertight bulkheads. In December 1851, the ship sailed for South Africa with soldiers of eight different regiments as reinforcements for the Kaffir War. On February 26th 1852 the ship struck an uncharted rock in clear weather. Water flooded into the ship all the faster due to the missing bulkheads. Only three of the eight lifeboats could be launched which were used for the women and children, all of whom were saved. The soldiers and sailors stood in line to go down with the ship as it sank three miles off shore. Few could swim, 445 men were drowned or taken by sharks. The disaster caught the attention of the nation as an example of extreme bravery and heroism. It also resulted in the introduction of regular lifeboat drill.

The plate reads:-

“Sacred to the memory of Mrs Marion Parkinson, a survivor of the troopship “BIRKENHEAD”, wrecked off the Cape on 26 February 1852 under circumstances which evoked the admiration of all countries. She was the daughter of Drum-Major John R. Darkin of the Queen’s Regiment and died on 17th November 1904. Erected by the Officers and all Ranks of the 1st Battalion The Queen’s Regiment”.

Fifty years later an effort was made to trace all the survivors still living of whom there were then eighteen. Known endearingly as “A Daughter of the Regiment”, Marion enjoyed a close relationship with her father’s old regiment, who were represented at both her funeral and the unveiling ceremony of the memorial. She was in service to the vicar of Beckingham, David Hooke, for several years before she married. She lived in a cottage in Low Street and is believed to be buried in the old cemetery.

In the north-west corner of the nave is a lead lined Norman tub font,believed to be over 800 years old, no longer in use today having been superseded by the more modern one at the west end of the central aisle. In 2009 the latter was removed to be cleaned and renovated, the work carried out in memory of Cannon Frank Levick by his family. In this corner also rests a slab said to carry an inscription in memory of one Roger Nasone, and dated 1530. The inscription is now difficult to decipher.

A doorway leads from the north wall into a new extension built onto the church in 2007/08. This impressive ornate doorway which had remained blocked for many years is believed to be Saxon or Norman.

At the north east end of the nave is a fragment of 13th century archway which leads into the vestry. On this wall is the framed Roll of Honour dedicated to the men who gave their lives during the Great War. The carved oak lecturn also stands here.

Beneath the Roll of Honour stands a beautiful cabinet specially designed and made by Russell and Jayne Hanson in memory of their parents. This houses the Remembrance Book donated to the Church. There are many kneelers (hassocks) within the church, of various designs, worked by different members of the community, donated to the church often in memory of a loved one. These were the result of a Kneeler Project started in 2003 and a beautiful book put together by the Project leaders is on display within a cabinet. The carpet in the nave and pulpit was relaid in 2002. Its purchase made possible, in part, by Eileen and Stephen Norris whose generous donation was made to mark their Golden Wedding. It was also made possible by the generosity of the many people who visited the church for the Flower Festival commemorating the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Please click on any of the images in the gallery below to enlarge…

The Chancel

The north side of the chancel has two 13th century arcades dividing it from what was once a chapel or chantry dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The organ sits in one arcade and the other leads into what is now the vestry.

It is surprising that there is no window in the east wall of this, considering that it was once a chapel, perhaps one was removed at the time of the reformation.The stained glass in the east window was provided by the Duckle family which tells the story of the four Gospellers.

Matthew is represented by a Man/Angel, Mark by a Lion, Luke by an Ox and John by an Eagle. An inscription under the window reads:-

“This window erected in memory of the members of Duckle family was damaged by enemy action May 1941 and restored in 1947”

On this night one or more German aircraft dropped both incendiary and high explosive bombs in the vicinity of Beckingham but most fell on open fields and relatively little damage occurred.

Below the east window sits the wooden altar with its ornate carving above which the wording of the Reredos once proclaimed “I am the Bread of Life” but has long since disappeared. Carved into the wood above the altar are the letters IHS, the Greek monogram for Jesus. The altar rails also display some fine carving with coats of arms at each end, the date of the work is given in the inscription as 1855. There is also a plaque here inscribed “The Sanctuary and Chancel carpet was given in loving memory of GEOFFREY KEITH SELBY by his parents October 1972”. The beautiful kneelers in front of the altar were made by ladies in the village to commemorate the Millennium and were designed by Mary Johnson.

The litany desk is a memorial to those men of the village who served in the 1914-18 war. The south wall of the chancel has two late perpendicular (15th or 16th century) windows of which the more westerly was fitted with stained glass in 1873, another memorial to the Duckle family.

This reads:-  “This window is erected by the two daughters of Henry Charles and Mary Anne Jane Duckle to the Glory of God and in affectionate remembrance of their parents and of their uncle Samuel Edward Barker Duckle AD 1871”

Below the other window are a 13th century piscina and a sedilia with deeply moulded arches and detached shafts with unrestored stiff-leaf capitals, which provided seats for three priests. Nowadays, it is only at inductions that there is a superfluity of priests in the chancel and even then they prefer greater comfort than that given by the sedilia! The seats may appear low but it is probable that the floor was raised during alterations in 1892. Near to the sedilia is a doorway that is used occasionally.

There are several memorial tablets on the walls of the chancel and the outline of a missing one on the north wall, as well as some set into the floor. Further discussion of these is given in the section on the people of the church.

Please click on any image in the gallery below to enlarge …

The Exterior

Most of the building is constructed with blocks of dressed stone (ashlared), but the north aisle is rendered, the roof of which appears to have been raised at some time. All the doorways have been decorated with hoodmoulds and label stops consisting of carved faces.

Some are badly eroded others are in good condition, possibly having been restored. Water from the tower and nave roofs discharges through gargoyles, those on the tower and the south side of the nave are badly eroded but some on the north side are well preserved and are quite grotesque. One of the buttresses on the north side, fourth from the west end, carries the date 1691 or possibly 1621, it is quite well executed but it is not clear whether it carries any particular significance in relation to building work.

The original lead of the south aisle roof was decorated with punched outlines of hands and feet and marked with initials, ages and dated 1826. These marks were presumably made by plumbers who fitted the lead. The most elaborate of these markings have been displayed inside the church since 1980 when the old lead was replaced by stainless steel sheeting. A porch like extension on the north side of the church was added in 2007 to 2009.

There were originally two yew trees, which have since been removed, on the north side of the church and another at the west end.

There was an edict of King Edward I that yew trees should be planted to protect churches against wind and weather, there may also be some foundation in the story that yews were planted to supply bows for archers. In recent times some of the gravestones have been removed to the periphery of the churchyard to facilitate grass cutting. There are some unusual iron crosses, thought to be Victorian.

At the main entrance to the churchyard there are a pair of wrought iron gates with iron overthrow and lamp bracket. On the east side of the church graveyard, two seats have been placed near an old tree stump with spring bulbs planted in and around, a place for rest or quiet contemplation.

There is a further cemetery separated from the church by the road leading to Rectory Gardens. Here the Portland Stone War Memorial is situated surrounded by iron railings. It reads “Giving thanks to God and in memory of the Gallant men of Beckingham who gave their lives for their country in the Great War 1914-1918” “their name liveth for evermore”. It was erected in 1920 and unveiled at a service attended by many ex-servicemen when several wreaths were laid. Many of the headstones are now illegible and some have fallen over. It is a peaceful place, with a seat next to the Memorial for quiet reflection. Both graveyards are now closed for burials.

There is a cemetery in use within the village in Beecher Lane which is owned and run by Beckingham cum Saundby Parish Council.

Church Kneelers

Many people who have visited All Saints Church will have seen the beautiful altar kneeler made to commemorate the Millennium. Worked by several volunteers it was designed by Mary Johnson. As a result of this a Kneeler and Pew Cushion Project was started in September 2003 by two ladies of the church to extend the furnishing of kneelers (also known as Hassocks) into the choir and nave.

Appeals were made asking for help with the stitching, funding or supporting in any way and for donations of kneelers, the working of which was described as a pleasurable and relaxing hobby that may be carried out independently or in small groups. People were invited to a friendly informal meeting to discuss the setting up of the project. The meeting was well attended and the project successfully launched.

Regular support group meetings were held for those making kneelers, or who were involved in any way, to go along for help and advice with their work or just a friendly chat and a cuppa. The Group went on an organised outing, with lunch included, in February 2004 to visit three churches, Morton, Upton and Stow, who were doing or who had completed similar projects.

Fundraising has included a 3 course lunch held in the Recreation Room in April 2004 to which 35 people attended raising over £200. A dedicated team of ladies and three gentlemen spent many hours of their time making some beautiful kneelers of varying designs, either of their own, or have completed kneelers donated by other people. Most of them have a permanent label attached with details of who donated the kneeler, who stitched it and to whom it is dedicated, making them a lasting memorial to a loved one as well as a practical item.

A service of dedication for the finished kneelers was conducted by Reverend Derek Hollis in May 2004 and they were displayed in the Church for the Beckingham Church Fair in the summer of that year for all to see. A wonderful kneeler project book with a beautiful cover has been put together by the project leaders and a member of the church has made a wood and glass display case so that it may be exhibited in the church. The Kneeler Project Group has now ceased to exist