Ilkeston St Mary’s Parish Church

Ilkeston St Mary’s Parish Church

The parish church of St Mary the Virgin has stood on its present site since the mid 12th century and until 1848 served the whole town of Ilkeston. Since 1848 three new parishes were formed to serve the spiritual needs of the rapidly expanding town. The building contains many features of interest and architectural importance. Of the original 12th century building, only the three Norman pillars and arches still remain. These form part of the south nave arcade.

In or around the year 1200, a tower was erected at the west end and approximately fifty years later a north aisle was added to the nave. A few years after, an entirely new and enlarged chancel was founded by the then Lord of the Manor, Nicholas de Cantelupe, whose tomb can still be seen today beneath the east window of the church.

Nicholas de Cantelupe

The tomb of Nicholas de Cantelupe

St Mary’s circa 1842 minus the chancel roof

In 1386 a chantry chapel dedicated to St Peter was erected on the north side of the chancel by Joan, the wife of a later Nicholas de Cantelupe. This chapel collapsed during the leaving the east end of St Mary’s open to the elements. The former site of the chapel was eventually used as an extension to the burial ground until its restoration in 1855.

Other features of architectural and historical importance include the stone screen which, though much restored, does include some of its original stonework. The parish chest which dates from the 16th century, once stored the parish registers which themselves date from 1588. The Sedilia, which features the heads of King Henry the Third and his Queen, Eleanor of Provence, along with the Piscina, featuring the carved heads of a priest and a monk, are dated to the late 13th century. The organ was purchased from St John’s church in Paddington, London in 1866 and is believed to have been used by Mendelssohn. The organ has occupied its present position since 1990.

An illustration of St Mary’s at the end of the 18th Century

The tower once featured a spire and, although no precise date can be found regarding its erection, was certainly in existence by the late 16th century, being featured on the earliest known map of the town dated 1598. The spire collapsed one stormy night in 1714 and was never replaced. A new tower was erected in 1731 but just ten years later a new disaster struck when the roof of the chancel fell in. This exposed the insides of the church to yet more damage and by the early 19th century, St Mary’s was in a state of near complete collapse.

In 1855, Reverend George Searle Ebsworth (Vicar of Ilkeston 1842-1863) undertook a campaign to raise the necessary funds to have St Mary’s restored to some resemblance of its former glory. This restoration, though rescuing the church from inevitable destruction, necessitated the destruction of some of the oldest parts of the church. Parts of the east window had already fallen in while fragments of the ancient chapel of St Peter’s lay scattered around the church yard. The tomb of William de Cantelupe (died (c) 1308) was dismantled and removed from the church while the tomb of his father Nicholas, was moved from the centre of the chancel aisle to its present position beneath the east window. Though lost for over 150 years, fragments of William’s tomb were found during excavations in the grounds of the former vicarage of St Mary’s (see Ilkeston’s Archaeology).

The church tower being dismantled in 1910
(photo courtesy of Erewash Museum)

In 1910, the tower and the west end of the church was dismantled and an extension consisting of a further three bays was added to the church, thus almost doubling its capacity. This work was undertaken during the incumbency of Reverend Mollan Williams (Vicar of Ilkeston 1907-1915).

Further restoration work took place in the 1960s during which much work was carried out on the exterior of the church. The replacement of stonework, pointing and the cleaning of the windows was later followed by a complete redecoration of the interior.



Rectors of St Mary’s

1220 William de Muskham

1290 William de Ilkeston

1322 William de Loscoe

1334 John de Kendale

1341 Thomas de Saxeby

1349 William de Broydeston

1351 William de Lenton

1375 Stephen de Gundale

1377 Richard de Braundeston

Vicars of St Mary’s

1401 Hugh de Thurgaton

1402 John de Ilkeston

1418 Richard de Ilkeston

1446 Robert Edmund
Richard de Nottingham

1497 Robert Brownlow

1510 Robert Aston

1536 William Carter

1568 John Wyttor
Thomas Howell

1573 Richard Durdan

1588 Thomas Lowe

1592 George Mellor

1629 Thomas Lowe

1633 William Fox

1680 John Wilson

1695 Henry Courtman

1710 Humphrey Courtman

1736 Matthew Birch

1748 George Allen

1802 Jervase Brown

1842 George Searle Ebsworth

1863 James Horseburgh

1873 James Francis Nash Eyre

1887 Edward Muirhead Evans

1907 Charles Mollan Williams

1915 Archibald William Bell

1932 Linsan Alfred William Graves

1948 Reginald Foskett

1957 James George Brooks Ashworth

1962 Arthur Charles Robertson

1985 John Michael Roff

1991 John Richard Henson

2000 Allan James Brown

2010 Michael D Ptitt

Church Wardens of St Mary’s

Though incomplete, this list contains the names of those known to have served as church wardens during the years shown.

1553 John Day and John Batchelor

1599 William Walker and Edward Smalley

1600 John Flamstead (Snr) and Robert Gregory

1601 Robert Gregory and John Carrington

1602 William Harvie and Francis Fullwood

1603 Percival Norwell and Robert Parr

1604 … Rossell and William Brentnall

1605 John England and John Flamstead

1606 Richard Trueman and William Gregory

1607 William Parr and John Gregory

1608 John Fullwood and Thomas Cooke

1609 Joseph Handford and William Loccall

1610 Richard Savage and Humphrey Willimote

1611 William Parr and …

1612 John Walkden and Humphrey Hutchinson

1613 John Walkden and William Straw

1614 Thomas Taylor and Edward Tarrett

1615 Robert Cowpe and George Flamstead

1616 Robert Cowpe and George Flamstead

1617 Robert Hardie and Michael Holt

1618 John Hardware and Thomas Hunt

1619 Robert Cowpe and Robert Day

1620 Robert Cowpe and Robert Day

1621 Thomas Flamstead, Richard Webster,
John Boote and William Gregory

1622 Robert Day and Anthony Fullwood

1623 Bartholomew Boote and Thomas Cooke

1624 Francis Beardsley and John Dawson

1625 Francis Beardsley and John Dawson

1626 Nicholas Skevington, John Dawson,
Anthony Flamstead and William Straw

1627 Robert Allestry and William Harrison

1628 Lawrence Bruxby and Robert Corden

1629 Lawrence Bruxby and Robert Corden

1630 … … … … …

1631 Richard Day and Edward Bannister

1632 … … … … …

1633 John Dawson and … …

1634 John Dawson and … …

1635 William Flamstead and Richard Wood

1636 Robert Day and Anchor Taylor

1637 Francis Cooke and William Dennis

1638 Francis Cooke and William Dennis

1639 Robert Cowpe, Ralph Chapman
William Redgate and John Saxton

1640 John Hellott and William Straw

1641 John Hellott and William Straw

1642 Robert Allestry and Richard Day

1643 Richard Peacocke and William Hayes

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