Church of the Month

Categories: Church of the Month

St Mary’s Church, Colston Bassett, is the featured church for September 2021. Colston Bassett is in the far south of Nottinghamshire, near the border with Leicestershire.

In 1892 the landowner had a new church (St John the Divine) built in the village in memory of his wife and son and was given permission by the Church Commissioners to unroof St Mary’s and convert it to a ruin. The fate of the church was deplored by the Rev J C Cox who called it ‘a most astounding decision, surely unparalleled in the history of church demolition’ and after several visits in the early years of the 20th century observed how badly the condition of the fabric had deteriorated since 1892.

The church ruins comprise a west tower, four-bay nave, south aisle and south transept, and chancel. The north aisle was demolished in the late 18th century; a north transept may well have taken down at the same time. The ruins stand on a low hill, 0.75 km from the current village site.

The tower has two-light bell-chamber openings, a quatrefoil frieze with corner gargoyles and a crenellated parapet with corner pinnacles.

The blocked north arcade contains two 12th century circular piers with scalloped capitals but pointed arches from a later date. The windows were inserted in the wall in the late 18th century.

The south arcade was pulled down in 1892 and was, according to Cox, partly Transitional (c.1200) and partly 14th century.

The late medieval traceried wooden chancel screen and the two screens that enclosed the south transept were removed to the parish church of Long Whatton in Leicestershire in 1894.

The medieval castellated font spent some time in the pleasure grounds of Colston Bassett Hall before finding a permanent home in the new church in the village. Several wall monuments were also moved here from the ruined church.

The five bells were also transferred to St John the Divine. The oldest was cast in the 15th or 16th century by Richard Mellers, the noted Nottingham bell-founder, but regrettably it was found to be cracked and was recast by Taylor & Sons of Loughborough.