Church of the Month

Categories: Church of the Month

St Mary’s church, Clifton, from the south-west

The featured church for November 2016 is St Mary, Clifton, on the south-western side of the City of Nottingham.

The church has a cruciform plan and consists of chancel, transepts, nave, north and south aisles and a tall embattled central tower containing a clock. The oldest part is the 3-bay north arcade which dates from the late 12th century but with two Norman-looking corbel heads. The 14th century south arcade has octagonal piers.

The chancel was enlarged in 1476 when Sir Robert Clifton founded a chantry college. It has a good flat timber roof with bosses, plain triple sedilia, a piscina and a south door (leading to the Clifton family burial vault) dated 1632.

There were three phases of restoration in the 19th century and two in the second half of the 20th century when the church was re-ordered with the sanctuary under the tower and the chancel arch glazed to form a separate chapel.

The north transept contains many fine monuments to the Clifton family. There are several alabaster tomb chests: one with an effigy of a knight, another with the effigy of a late medieval lady and a further splendid example to Sir Gervase Clifton (d1587) and his two wives. Another large and ornate monument celebrates the first 3 wives of a later Sir Gervase Clifton (d1666) who had 7 wives in total. The monument also shows a well carved representation of a grating containing six skulls and some broken bones.

In the south transept is a flagstone for Joseph, ‘The Black Prince’, a black family servant who died in 1685.

In the chancel is ‘a very rare device’, the coat of arms of Christ surmounted by a spitting Jew.

Further information on the church is available on the Southwell & Nottingham Church History Project website: