Church of the Month

Categories: Church of the Month

The featured church for August 2019 is the ruined chapel of St James the Great in Haughton, 8 km south-west of Retford.

The chapel ruins consist of nave, chancel and a mortuary or chantry chapel on the north side of the chancel. Photographs taken before the early 1970s show a bell turret on the west of the nave and a south door with early 12th century chevron and cable moulding: both have since collapsed. There are sections of counterpitched (‘herringbone’) walling in the south wall of the nave and chancel.

The north wall includes a blocked 14th century 3-bay arcade, indicating that there was once a north aisle. There are traces of painted decoration of foliate design on the arcade.

The chapel was originally built to serve a village that was probably removed in the early 16th century to make way for a hunting park for nearby Haughton Hall. Afterwards, the chapel became the domestic chapel of the Stanhopes and Holles families. The mansion was abandoned in the 18th century and the chapel had become roofless by the 1790s.

Several monuments have been uncovered here. At Walesby church is the recumbent effigy of a woman (her head ‘resting on a lozenge-shaped cushion, superposed on a square one with tasselled corners’) that used to lie in the mortuary chapel. It is possibly the effigy of Elizabeth Stanhope who died in 1459. Two semi-effigial slabs (of a man and a woman) were recorded in 1930: one slab remains buried at the chapel the other has disappeared.

The 14th century tub font has been moved to Walesby parish church.

Further information on the chapel is available on the Southwell & Nottingham Church History Project website.