Celebrating with an off-piste church

St Giles' Church, Holme, Nottinghamshire.

St Giles’ Church, Holme, Nottinghamshire.

It was my blog birthday this week (one whole year of waxing lyrical about a load of rubbish lol) and so man let me celebrate by accompanying me to a church. An off-piste church no less. And by that I mean a church that ISN’T on the Churches Conservation Trust list and NOT part of my Fifty before Fifty challenge.

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I have come across a couple of very interesting books (at least as far as I am concerned) that can teach me a little more about what I am seeing when I visit these churches and help me understand it. So I was having a cursory flick through the Church Explorers one and it is divided into many sections describing particular points of interest. Next to many of the sections are lists of churches with good examples of whatever it is talking about at the time. And one in particular caught my eye (and was remarkably close to a church that was on the CTC list) so off we popped.

St Giles’ Church in Holme near Newark is a fully-fuctioning church down a dead end road in the pretty little village of Holme.


I loved the mish mash of architecture and its lovely setting.

The porch (for local legend about Nan Scott’s Chamber see here) is two storey, which is quite unusual but also has seven coats of arms above the door.

075bThese are from the Barton family and its marital alliances. John Barton was a benefactor who enlarged the church (which was built between 1150 and 1200) in around 1485.

079bThere is a wide range of interesting carvings and grotesques on the outside of the building. I had nicked Man’s camera and he had taken his binoculars so we could have a good look.

The church was locked but there was a sign on the door saying where the key was held and we went and borrowed it from a very nice lady across the road because what I wanted to see was inside.

090bThis is the Barton tomb and was created during John Barton’s lifetime, representing him and his wife Isabella. It’s lovely but I have seen memorials like this before. What I hadn’t seen, and what I had gone to St Giles’ to see, was underneath these effigies.

087bThis is a gruesome effigy, otherwise known as a sepulchral monument. My Church Explorers’ Handbook says: “In many church monuments of the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries there is a representation of the dead person as a cadaver – often in quite a gruesome fashion – perhaps as a decaying corpse, even with worms at work, or certainly in an advance state of decay. The idea was to remind the living of the decay of the body, and so to prompt them to seek salvation.”



This one appeared to me to be a woman. She had a crown on her head and what looked like a veil coming down behind her.

089bAnd she was certainly lying under Isabella’s side of the tomb. I wonder what the poor woman did in her lifetime to deserve this. Or maybe it was a compliment? Who knows.

I think I need to try and find out a little more about John and Isabella Barton. There is a little guide book to the church, which I purchased for the princely sum of £1, but it doesn’t say much about the people, just the architecture … and I am interested in both. I like the stories.

095bElsewhere in the church there was plenty more of interest. The stained glass windows behind the altar were lovely but on closer inspection they didn’t match.

096bYou can see this is another mish mash. Glass from other windows has been taken and inserted randomly in these.

097bSome of the glass has come from Salisbury, more from Beauvais and more from an abandoned church at Annesley. It dates from the 10th century to the 19th century and contains the finest collection of medieval glass in the county.

094bThis headless statue and the canopy above, to the left of the altar, were discovered when the road outside the church was widened and they were restored to the church, and the statue of Our Lady given a new head :). There was meant to be a second statue representing St Gabriel, but that is still lost.

101bAnd you can still see the lovely carvings on the Barton stalls: a chameleon, dogs, winged angels and lions.

104bThe parishoners of St Giles are obviously a patriotic bunch.

There was so much to see in this tiny little out of the way place and I wondered, again, why a church was first built here and what the early community it served was like.

And now, of course, I also want to find a gruesome effigy with worms :).











  1. Love the pew ends, lovely interesting church :)

  2. Congratulations on your year of fascinating posts, Dory.
    Loved this one, what an amazing little church, so much detail, carvings inside and out.
    Re the stained glass windows, in all your travels, does anyone record the stained glass windows being smashed by Cromwell’s Roundheads?
    I seem to remember lots in Dorset when I was a child

    • Thank you Valerie :) I haven’t found any information about the Roundheads yet but I’ll look out for it. I have some new tools (books) that can help my unravel the clues in the fabric of the churches now, so who knows what I will find :)

  3. I’ve been here! I found the restored head of that statue quite hilarious though. It looks ridiculous, but at least it doesn’t do damage to the surviving object.

    • I know, it stood out like a sore thumb. I suppose the parishioners felt they couldn’t really have a headless Madonna in their church :)

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