Church of the Month

Categories: Church of the Month

The featured church for April 2020 is the Priory Church of Our Lady and St Cuthbert in Worksop.

The imposing church is all that remains from a much larger structure that served an Augustinian priory founded in the early 12th century. Excavations in the 19th century revealed that the original monastic church was 110 m long; the surviving building is 41 m long.

The church consists of two west towers, 10-bay nave, north meeting room, length of cloister wall, north aisle, north transept, crossing tower, sanctuary, east end (containing organ and choir with vestries and offices below), lady chapel, south transept, south aisle, and a south porch.

The Romanesque crossing, transepts and eastern bay were built in the 1130s possibly by a master mason from Southwell Minster. The rest of the nave has been dated to c.1160-80 and the Lady Chapel was erected c.1249-64. Pevsner describes the chapel as ‘of exquisite C13 design, closely connected with contemporary Southwell and Yorkshire: tall, slim, nobly erect forms, and an almost complete absence of ornament.’

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 the nave and towers survived because they formed the parish church, whereas the monastic buildings and east end of the church (apart from the Lady Chapel) were demolished. The 14th century monastic gatehouse to the south of the church also avoided demolition.

The church underwent a major restoration in 1845-49 under the Worksop-born architect Richard Nicholson of Lincoln. The Lady Chapel was restored in 1922 as a memorial to the men of Worksop who fell in the First World War.

The south transept was added in 1929 by Sir Harold Breakspear and he also  designed the north transept which followed in 1935.

The crossing tower (with its distinctive fleche or spirelet) and east end (including a two-storeyed sacristy and vestries) are by Laurence King and were built over the period 1966-74.

The south transept contains medieval monuments of the Furnival and Neville families.

Over the altar is a fine corona of cast iron and brass; behind it a dramatic east window by John Hayward (1968).