Churches, graffiti and Darwin’s grandad

St Michael's Church Cotham, Nottinghamshire

St Michael’s Church Cotham, Nottinghamshire

I’m on holiday -YAY.

After the busiest, most ridiculously complicated week at work, I finished on Thursday evening and drove to Man’s and, for the first time in the three years I have been making this journey , there were NO ROADWORKS ON THE M1 ! Yes, I’m afraid I did need to shout that.

So first day off yesterday and what better way is there to fill the day than with a road trip?

We went to Mansfield. Just because it’s there and because we hadn’t been before. More on that another day.

Then we had a better idea and went off to find some more Churches Conservation Trust churches as part of my Fifty before Fifty challenge.

St Michael’s Church, Cotham, Nottinghamshire, can be seen from the road and you just jump over a stile, walk through a field with a couple of resident donkeys and unlock the gate.


The light was absolutely beautiful, which was great because it highlighted this amazing sundial from 1643 that still keeps accurate time.

088bAnd inside the church the reflections from the 19th century stained glass windows were gorgeous.

Both the churches we visited yesterday were mentioned in the Doomsday Book and both have been reduced in size over the years. Both also had interesting history leaflets available.

St Michael’s had several interesting features. The sundial, some medieval corbels inside the church that had been moved during a previous refurbishment, a medieval piscina, used by the priest to cleanse his hands for mass, hat pegs for the male parishioners to hang their hats during services and the remains of some Georgian box pews.

081bIt also has some amazing graffiti from the 17th century carved into the 12th century door frame – see, vandals are not a modern invention.

093bThis appears to be a church carved into the door frame, although, the literature is right, it could quite easily be a windmill or a different structure.

095bI found this slate gravestone in the graveyard. I’m guessing Old Joe and Nick are dogs and I think it’s lovely they have a place in the graveyard.

Elston Chapel, Elston, Nottinghamshire

Elston Chapel, Elston, Nottinghamshire

Just down the road is the little parish of Elston and Elston Chapel.

This is Darwin’s village. The Darwin family owned the estate from 1680. Charles Darwin’s grandad Erasmus was born here. Did you know he is credited with inventing the alarm clock? He was also a physician, he experimented with electricity and also set up a botanical garden, dabbled with vegetarianism and started developing theories on evolution … Charles was obviously a chip off the old block.


It’s a tiny little place, like St Michael’s it has been reduced in  size over the years and it has evidence of work over many centuries.

I loved this little place, although I was a bit disappointed. This is the first church I have been into where I could reach the bell ropes … and Man refused to let me pull them! I wanted to ring the 14th century bell but Man said I would have the Home Guard after me. No fun Man, no fun.

That aside, the box pews have been refurbished as has the gallery. There is evidence of wall paintings, a brick dated 1577, and a double-decker pulpit and reading desk from the 17th and 18th centuries.



And the light through the windows was fantastic.


So far, I think I’ve visited 25 of the 342 churches cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust and I have to say, I’m loving the viists.

Each one is so different and the quirky little historical facts I discover are keeping me very entertained. I’d never have discovered who invented jigsaw puzzles and alarm clocks if I hadn’t embarked on this journey and I’m looking forward to discovering even more randomness :)





  1. I Never tire of these churches, and your stories about them

    • Thanks Valerie, it’s so nice to see you :)

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