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There is a popular impression that the Church of England began at the Reformation and was established by Henry VIII.  The Church, of course, is much older than that, it is the oldest establishment in England, older than the English Bible, which was translated in 1535 and revised in 1611, older than the State and Parliament, older than the language we speak.

In the year 590 AD, St. Augustine came from Rome to be the first Archbishop of Canterbury.  Soon after, he created three bishops in England, including the first Bishop of Lichfield, St Chad.  The monks in those days taught the people, not only religion, but farming as well.

The Church of Rome had tried to gain undue power over the Church of England, but the Church had always resisted the attempts.  For centuries the strife continued and when King John pretended to give up his kingdom to the Pope, and to receive it back again at his hands, the Churchmen of England, led by Stephen, Archbishop of Canterbury, compelled him to sign Magna Carta.  This document is the foundation of English liberties - in it is written 'the Church of England shall be free'.

The Catholic Church is the established Church of England.  The Church has reformed itself but has not changed - the Creeds, the Sacraments and the Ministry remain the same.  The Church has established itself and the State upholds it in that true position.

Nor has the State endowed the Church.  All endowments are voluntary and private.  Parishes at first were coextensive with the Manors.  The Lords of the Manors built churches and devoted lathes or glebe for the support of the clergy.  No payment to clergy was made out of the rates or taxes.

Thus the Church existed before England had any national life.  It civilised and consolidated the country.  It produced law and order, and moulded the great institutions including Parliament, Trial by Jury, Testamentary and Probate matters.

Down the centuries the Church has maintained its influence both at national and parish level - there are many references to church influence in other chapters of this book.  At the same time, the Church has also had a history of division and unification.  Each of the churches in the Parish of Whitwell are described separately in the following pages.


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There was a church in Whitwell before the present Parish Church.  Domesday Book tells us that an earlier church served both Barlborough and Whitwell.  The site of that building is open to conjecture for no documentary evidence, giving an exact position, has yet been revealed.

The present church was begun in the 12th century, a few years after Steetley Chapel; the nave, tower, west door and chancel arch of that building remain, whereas the side aisles have been rebuilt with the addition of north and south transepts, while the present chancel replaces the original apsidal (rounded) sanctuary.

The nave retains its Norman simplicity, with rounded arches supported on plain capitals and clerestory windows above.  A piece of stone protrudes from the west wall of the north aisle, about 18 inches above ground level - this is all that remains of the stone seat around the perimeter of the nave which was used by the old and infirm, the weak and the sick.

The square tower originally had no buttresses and contains many fine Norman features, including the tower arch and the west doorway with its chevron-pattern, ornamented door surround.  The tower was buttressed in 1931. The upper story of the tower and bell chamber were 14th century perpendicular additions and are distinctly visible on the exterior, consisting of the section above the parish clock.  'Synthetic' chimes provide a substitute for the three traditional bells in the tower - one has no inscription; the second is inscribed 'WIL ROWBOTHAM and B STARKEY, Churchwardens'; the third 'GLORIA IN EXCELSIS'.

The parish clock is a much used feature of the church and was commissioned on 27th October 1890, at a cost of £110; in charge of the project were S. Guirdham, Samuel Thompson and T. Rotherham.  The clock face was repainted in 1957 at a cost of £10.

The great chancel arch is a fine example of Norman architecture, which was restored to its original splendour, when the rood screen was removed.  Nearby, at the top of the pillar are the remains of the stone stairway, which formerly gave access to the old rood loft.

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A Norman window, visible only from the outside, was revealed on the south side of the chancel, when rendering was removed in 1966.  The chancel roof was raised in 1950 and, in 1960, the altar reredos was lowered to give an uninterrupted view of the East Window.

As previously mentioned, the original sanctuary was apsidal until the rebuilding of the 14th century.  On the north side of the sanctuary, a door leads to the 'Sacrament Chapel', incorporated in the 14th century and now used as a Priest's Vestry – the 'Reserved Sacrament' is now kept in the Lady Chapel.  On the south side of the sanctuary is a 14th century piscina, where the communion vessels were cleaned, and two sedilia or canopied seats finely carved in stone.

The font is probably older than the church and, being of Saxon or Norman origin, may have been transferred from the original church.  The pulpit is an example of fine, hand carving in oak by local joiner Jacob J. Sapsford in 1898.  Close examination fails to detect any joint in the timbers, which were seasoned for three years in the farmhouse kitchen.  Commenting on his finished pulpit, Jacob said, 'only fire or water can destroy that'.

On the west wall of the north transept is the tomb of Sir Roger Manners, who died in 1623; he was the son of Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall.  To the right of the tomb, on the north wall, is an ‘ogee’ shaped recess, which possibly was the tomb of the donors of the transept.  The windows on the east wall of the north transept contain fragments of 16th century glass, which had been used originally in a heraldic display.  They are referred to as the 'Monkey Windows', because monkey-like creatures are incorporated in the design, which is 14th century Decorative style.

Outside the building on the south wall is a sundial and on the left-hand pillar of the porch are the markings of a dial without the metal indicator, said to be a Mass dial for telling times of services before the days of clocks and watches.

As with all buildings, which have to withstand the ravages of time and weather, occasional restoration is a necessity.  We have already noted the 14th century extensions, which were followed by the lowering of the high pitched roof in the 16th century.

The 1885 restoration by the celebrated architect J.L. Pearson, RA besides attending to the releading of the roof and outside drainage, included work on the tower, nave, side aisles and transepts.  The old family pews were also replaced by open benches of pitch pine in the nave and by chairs in the transepts: a change not welcomed by all churchgoers at the time.  One story tells of a feeble old lady entering an unoccupied family stall to say her prayers - there being no seats for ordinary people; unfortunately the stall-owner's wife arrived to find her there and thrashed the old lady out of the stall with her umbrella.

During the 1969 restoration, two vaults were accidentally opened under the chancel floor, which contained the mortal remains of William Clayton, who died in 1666, and members of his family, including his daughter Mary, wife of Richard Bacon of Sheffield.  The vaults were resealed and left undisturbed: two brasses from the graves are exhibited on the north wall of the chancel.

On 8th October, 1987 a dedication service marked the completion of a totally rebuilt church organ at a projected cost of £20,000.  The new organ incorporates 27 miles of wiring with over 10,000 soldered joints and features 1,000 speaking pipes between the Swell, Great and Pedal Organs.

Parish records date from 1672 AD.  They include Registers of Holy Baptism, Marriage, Burials, Collections and Services.  A list of Rectors from 1315 onwards is displayed in the north transept.

The building was listed by the Minister of Housing and Local Government, in 1965, as of Architectural and Historical Interest.

Rectors of Whitwell


James Paynel


Hugo Bonham


George King


John de Chesterfield


Benjamin Campfield


George Mason


William de Sutton


John Greabes


Evelyn Boothby


John de Barley  


John Breadmore


George Edward Mason


John de Bynkley


Ludovicus Griffin


Edward Henry


John Newark


Henry Felton




Henry Redych


William Smith


Edmond Francis Crosse


John Harrison


Richard Sutton


William Kay


Tomas Pierpoint


Charles Manner Sutton


William Ernest Charles


John Mafeld


(Left Whitwell to




Robert Holme


become Dean of


Frederick James Brabyn


Brian Sandford


Windsor and was


Wilfred Clayton


Tobias Waterhouse


Archbishop of


William James Hill


Joseph Rowlandson


Canterbury 1805-1826)


John Featherstone


John Bertram


William Thomas


Christopher Antony Rogers



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Steetley Chapel stands in marked contrast to the Parish Church, which was built a few years later.  Whitwell is a cruciform church, standing high on an eminence, dominating the village, its masonry is the rough stonework of the early Norman period - very much a church of the people.  Steetley Chapel sits demurely, screened from the everyday world, its structure gives an immediate impression of great square stones, skillfully cut and finely bonded – much more a private chapel.

Built in the middle of the 12th century, less than 100 years after the Norman invasion, the builders were probably Saxon rather than Norman.  Certainly the carving is chisel work, as most Saxon ornamentation was, rather than the axe work of the early Norman period: the window balusters are distinctly Saxon in style, as is the pilaster work of the apse exterior.  R.L. Pearson RA (Surveyor of Westminster Abbey) introduced the triangular facing over the south doorway - a Saxon/Romanesque feature - in his 19th century restoration, thus adding strength to the supposition.

The chapel was probably built by Gley le Breton, when Stephen was seated on the royal throne of Westminster, and Roger de Clinton, thirty-third successor of St. Chad, on the Episcopal throne of Coventry.  Steetley Chapel, then, is older than Welbeck Abbey.  Gley le Breton built it, perhaps, for his own convenience, as a private chapel to stand near his house, and no doubt, Parson Hugh or Parson Walter used sometimes to walk down here from Whitwell, early in the morning, to say mass for the benefit of Gley, or Gley's son John, with his four sons and their sister Matilda, and the Gurths and Wambas of his day.  These four young men, if they married, left no children, and Matilda, becoming heiress, brought the property by marriage to the Vavasours, who held it till the year 1360.  Thenceforward, and all through the Reformation period, it was held by the Frechevilles.  From them it passed to the Wentworths, to the Howards, and to the Pelham Clintons.  Although for some two hundred years this building remained as a ‘capella’ in Whitwell parish yet in the fourteenth century, while Roger Northburgh and Robert Stretton were Bishops of Lichfield, nine separate institutions are known to have been made, and the priest is called, 'Rector of Steetley Church.' This brief independence of forty years lapsed as mysteriously as it arose, and Steetley Chapel serves once more the purpose for which Guy le Breton built it.

The Chapel is 56 feet long.  It is divided into three parts - a nave, a chancel, and an apse (a rectangle, a square, and a semi-circle).  The nave is 15 feet 9 inches broad and the chancel measures 13 feet 9 inches across.  Mr J.C. Cox, whose name needs no comment, has pronounced Steetley Chapel to be 'the most perfect and elaborate specimen of Norman architecture to be found anywhere in Europe.' The chief features of interest are the porch, the chancel, and the apse.  Observe the porch.  It is composed of a triple arch resting on three pillars.  The inmost member of the arch is plain, the second and third are ornamented with the beakhead and with the zigzag design.  On the pillars the sculptor had lavished his art, but time has worn them.  The inmost one is simply moulded; the next is very rich with deeply cut interlacing foliage; the third is ornamented with picturesque medallions, and on the capital, a siren or mermaid and two fish.  It is not extravagantly fanciful to suppose that these three pillars represent the works of Creation, three steps in the progress of life.  The inmost is inanimate; the second displays the wealth of vegetable growth; the third the activity of animal life - the sea monster and the fish; the wild beast, the lamb of the flock, the man; and the flying eagle - that is, things ‘in heaven above, in the earth beneath, and in the water under the earth.’ This idea is visible on both sides of the porch.  There is, no doubt, a further meaning in the medallions.  Thus, on the left side is the Good Shepherd delivering the lamb out of the paw of the bear, on the right the figure of the pelican in her piety.  Two new pillars have been added by Mr Pearson on the old basement discovered.

Outside the porch, right across the entrance, was found a priest's tombstone, now housed inside the Chapel, and beneath the stone a skull.  On the stone is carved an altar with three legs, and on the altar a chalice and paten, and a hand extended in blessing.  At the head and foot is a sort of cross in a circle.  There are two other stones: one plain, the other with a cross rudely scratched on it.  Perhaps that unearthed skull beneath the carved stone was part of the skeleton of Lawrence le Leche, who was instituted to Steetley the year before the great plague of 1349, during which seventy-seven priests in Derbyshire died and twenty-two resigned.  It is not difficult to imagine him, like Mr Mompesson, at Eyam, in 1666, refusing to quit his post, comforting the sick and dying or restoring them to health by that medical skill, which had earned for him the title of ‘le Leche.’ Then, after seven years' service he died, and, in the humility of his self-devotion, chose, like St Swithun, at Winchester, to be buried before the porch, so that the people, whom he had so faithfully served during his life, might tread upon his bones as they passed within to pray.  Dying, he left no name, no epitaph on his tomb, only a hand stretched out eternally to bless.  When they began to restore, it was a happy omen to find the holy hand that blessed them from the grave.

The chancel arch forms a kind of frame, through which the second arch and the lovely apse are seen.  It gives an effect of solemn depth and rich beauty.  The arch is triple.  The inmost design is the zigzag, the next the battlement, and the third is ‘an escalloped border over reticulated cones.’  The two pillars on the north side are richly carved, one with a double-bodied lion, the other with a St George and the Dragon.  The winged dragon, his long sweeping tail curled round the next capital and terminating in foliage, tramples on a prostrate lady.  The warrior, in a complete suit of armour, strides to the rescue.  His left hand thrusts a kite-shaped shield against the monster's mouth, and his right hand, grasping a long broadsword, is stretched out behind him to deal a deathblow.  The chancel is paved with stone, as it was anciently.

The aumbry in the north wall contains a specimen of the stone tiles with which the chapel was once roofed.  An old copper key, a piece of wrought iron, and a silver penny of the reign of Richard 11 are the only other things found here.  In Lyson's Magna Britannia (vol. v., pp.ccxxii-iii) are shown two doors opposite each other, in the chancel, evidently cut for the convenience of the pigs or sheep that once lived inside.  The decorated window in the south side is the only feature later than the Norman period.

The apse has a stone vaulted roof, supported by four ribs resting on engaged pillars.  In the centre, where the ribs meet, immediately over the altar, is a medallion containing the 'Lamb as it had been slain.' The capitals of the pillars are elaborately carved.  On the left is represented the tree of knowledge, loaded with fruit.  Round it curls the serpent, and on either side stand Adam and Eve: an emblem of temptation and defeat.  On the right are seen two doves; a symbol of peace after resisted temptation.  The two together suggest and teach the text, 'Be ye as wise as serpents and harmless as doves.' Some remains of the colour can still be seen on the capital of the south pillar of the arch.

Notable features outside the building are the grotesque heads that surround the chapel immediately beneath the roof and the string-course of carved foliage that girdles the apse just below the three exquisite narrow windows.

The chapel was reconciled by the Lord Bishop of Lichfield on the 2nd November, 1880 and services have been held there regularly up to the present time.  A tradition began in the early 1970's of holding a service outside the church, each year on a Sunday in June.

Now, just over a century after the last major restoration, a new project is in progress to save the Norman porch from the ravages of acid rain.  Once again a prominent architect has been engaged and teams from the Victoria and Albert Museum, English Heritage and the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings are also assisting.


The closing services of the Welbeck Street Methodist Church were held on 6th October, 1963 exactly 62 years after its opening, thus ending a period of Christian witness that had lasted for 126 years.

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Methodism in Whitwell dates back to 1837, the year Queen Victoria was enthroned.  That year the Whitwell Wesleyan Association Church registered with the Worksop Potter Street Circuit.  Pioneers of the United Methodists in the village were Mr and Mrs W. Loude who lived at No. 1 East Parade.  The early services were held at their home until premises were acquired in Chapel Yard on High Causeway (now High Street).  The Causeway was just a footpath, in those days, leading from the Square to the main Chesterfield to Worksop Road, which passed by the George Inn and Sunnyside.  The upper storey of the Old Chapel was obtained on lease at a nominal rent of one shilling per annum.  Lt was approached by a passage at the side and a flight of steps at the rear.  The lower room was in use as a tallow-chandler's shop.

In 1857 the Wesleyan Association joined with the Wesleyan Reformed Church, another group that had broken away from the original Wesleyan Church, and formed the United Methodist Free Church.

There was widespread enthusiasm for the Welbeck Street Church; among those who laid engraved stones were H. Preston, S. Clarke (both of Worksop), H.A. Lewis, Dr. Whiteside, W. Malthouse (Sheffield), J. Minkley, E.C. Tinker, W. Haywood and E. & A. Bottom.  Men of the congregation, many of them miners, worked voluntarily to dig the foundations and cellar, some of them bricklayers such as Mr Ashley and Arthur Weaver, while Frank Clarke assisted with the brickwork and boundary wall.

The official opening was on 12th October, 1901.  Mrs Heartley, the oldest church member, was driven to the new building in a coach and pair - she opened the locked door with a golden key.  The original lighting was by paraffin lamps, later by gas and finally by electricity.

In 1907 there was a merger; the Methodist Bible Christians (formed in 1815), the Methodist New Connection (inaugurated in 1797) and the United Free Church.  This brought into being the United Methodist Church, a name retained until 1932, when the three remaining sections in Methodism united to form the Methodist Church.  The Whitwell United Methodist Church then became known as the Central Methodist Church, since it was situated between the one in Hodthorpe and the one in Portland Street.

Mr Reg Gee, trustee and joiner, panelled the interior, fitted the communion rails and built the choir stalls.  A new pipe organ was installed in 1946 costing £670.  William James Cooper was the first to be baptised there and the first wedding was solemnised between Mr. Harry Ward and Miss Mabel Gee.

The building became redundant in 1963 and was put up for auction. its first use being as a Parish Hall.


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There were great rejoicings in Whitwell on Whit-Monday, 1892, on the occasion of the opening of the Portland Street Chapel.  It was the culmination of long and sustained efforts by the members of the Society to provide an adequate house of worship.  The preacher on that occasion was the Rev.  Dr. H.J. Pope, who gave an impetus to the cause of Methodism, which was to endure for many years.

Those who strove so eagerly to provide a worthy house for the continuation of worship and witness were not to know of the tribulations in store.  Twice during the intervening 69 years, the building has suffered damage by mining subsidence.  So serious was the second onset of subsidence that, in 1959, it was decreed that the edifice would need almost complete reconstruction to ensure the safety of the worshippers.  Experts pronounced that the extreme measure of rebuilding three walls, supported by a vast grid system of steel and concrete, was the only remedy.

The plan was to remove the damaged walls by sections, replacing them with new walls on the special foundations, which progressed accordingly, without disturbing the roof or the one sound wall.  Great posts were used to support the roof during the whole manoeuvre, the roof being gently lowered onto the new walls at the appropriate stage.

The Trustees decided upon a number of improvements and additions to the building, to be done in conjunction with the major work.  A brick-built porch has been erected at the front entrance, being more convenient and relieving pressure on space within the Chapel.  The vestry has also been enlarged to permit fuller use.  A smaller room for the preacher and stewards has been ingeniously contrived within the main walls.  The memorial organ needed to be dismantled and removed for safe keeping during the building operations, it was later resited in the former choir transept.  The space previously occupied by the organ and the pulpit has been transformed into a semi-circular apse.  The pulpit is now at the side of the Chapel, opposite to the organ, with the choir seated centrally.

The National Coal Board bore the cost of subsidence work, and the cost of improvements and additions was funded by the Trustees.  Much devoted labour was generously given towards the restoration, but Mr. Robert Milnes is specially mentioned for his work in decorating the new apse, for his valuable experience at all stages of planning and for his fund-raising to recover the organ keys.

Additional to the improvements already described, the windows in the front elevation have been replaced with stained glass.  The chief of these is a scene, in three parts, depicting the theme of 'The Good Shepherd' provided by Mr Stephen Hall as a family memorial.


The Roman Catholics used to walk from Whitwell to Southgate House Chapel to celebrate their mass.  The chapel was built in 1901 by Lady Petre, the second wife of Colonel Butler Bowden.  This chapel is now the dining room of the Van Dyk Hotel.

The small group would make their way over Whitwell Common in all weathers, often calling on Mr. and Mrs. Liddy, who would always greet them with a welcome cup of tea; no one was ever turned away.  Well-known among the group was Mr. E. P. Gallagher, who has lived in the village since 1921.

The Southgate Chapel continued in use until 1950, when Fr. Whittet of Spinkhill, together with Mrs. Bamber of Barlborough Hall and Colonel Gollway of The Cottage, High Street joined in trying to establish a centre for mass in Whitwell.

The first place suggested was The Cottage; Mrs. Lye then offered her upper room at the George Inn.  This room was first used on a monthly basis, then twice monthly and finally every Sunday, when a priest from Mount St. Mary's, Spinkhill came to celebrate the mass.  The priest was often assisted by William Staples, who also made and donated the wooden kneelers for the church.

In March 1969, the ceiling in the 'Upper Room' collapsed and the local council and Civic Centre officials were approached for help.  Fortunately the Salvation Army were just terminating their tenancy at this time and so the Catholics were made welcome.  Among the first parish priests, who came from Clowne, were Frs. Corbett, Carrick and Jordan.

When the Community Centre opened in 1986, the weekly service each Sunday was held there and Fr. Liam Martin, Parish Priest of Clowne now officiates.


Text Box: ST. MARTIN'S CHURCH, HODTHORPE Before the Extension in 1906. St. Martin's Church was built in 1897 on a site purchased from Henry Sweet Hodding, towards the cost of which the Duke of Portland donated £50.  At that time the price of land on 'that villainous thoroughfare', Larpit Lane was 1s:3d per square yard.  The original church building was much smaller than the present one, extending only as far as the vestry; the vestry and chancel were added in 1906.  An old pulpit, taken from the Parish Church, was installed first where the organ now stands and later in its present position.  A curtain hanging at the rear of the church, served as a repository for choir vestments and the entrance to the building was through the same rear door.  A wire fence surrounded the churchyard before the stone wall was built.

Text Box: The church bells have changed over the years; originally a simple handbell was rung, followed by a more illustrious triple bell and finally the single bell, which is there today.  The cowbells were once used at Birks Farm, the home of their donor, Miss Barron.  The belfry suffered damage during the air raid of 17th August 1940 and was repaired and replaced with the assistance of the National Coal Board.  The interior of the church was also damaged and services were held in the Church School by The Rev. Paul Tuckwell until the building was ready for use again.

The organ was installed in 1920 having been bought from a city church in Sheffield and carried to Hodthorpe on a horse-drawn cart.  Many will recall the hours spent 'pumping the organ' with the long wooden handle.  The organ was rebuilt in 1962 and was electrified at the same time.

The Sunday School has enjoyed unbroken service throughout the life of the church and was inaugurated by the Misses Barron: the St Martin's banner was dedicated to these two illustrious ladies.  A photograph of 1921 shows a Sunday School membership of 110, taught by nine teachers.  Mr. Squires was the Superintendent of the first Sunday School in 1905, which was opened by the Rev.  Polehampton.  Other teachers have included Miss Jackson (as Guild Leader), Mr. Pigott Thompson, Mrs. Fowle (then Miss Spouge), Mr. Bill Drury, Mrs. Kinder, Miss Haslam, Miss Wordley, Miss Richardson, Miss Round, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Parker, Miss S. Buckingham and Mrs. Hollingsworth; many others have also served on occasions.

The church, which was built to cater for the 'mushroom' growth in the village ninety years ago, is still in use every Sunday.


The Worksop circuit was formed in 1906, after having previously been part of the Retford circuit since 1863.  The membership consisted of Worksop Zion (75), Hodthorpe (40), Eastgate Mission (12) and Creswell (6).  Development at Hodthorpe owed much to John Harrop, Adin Davis, William Snell, Tom Harris and John Smith among others.

A souvenir handbook of the Primitive Methodists published in 1928 states that:

'Hodthorpe was canvassed from door to door by the Rev. Thomas Vaughan and Henry Hartland.  Land was secured and Thomas Flamwell bought the “tin Tabernacle” and in this the ministry of Primitive Methodism began.  An old witness box from the superseded Worksop Police Court found a new use, as from it, witness was borne to the saving and keeping power of Christ.'

Among quotations, one for each day of the year, are those from Oswald Mosley MP; Lady Cynthia Mosley, Westminster; J.A. Cooper, Bakestone Moor; Benjamin Jones, Hodthorpe; Mrs. W.H. Sales, Creswell; Mary Middleton and Alf Middleton, Hodthorpe; F. Godley, Whitwell; Sam Cottam and W. Hall, Hodthorpe.'

One report shows that the annual anniversary parade was led by the Whitwell British Legion Band, under their conductor Bandmaster West.  The St John's Ambulance Brigade were also in attendance.  There was a crowded congregation in the chapel afterwards.

The Chapel was once used to hold a Coroner's inquest following the death of Samuel Lawson, aged 40 and a deputy at Steetley Colliery, who lived at 122 King Street.  He was killed on Mansfield Road following a collision with a Wigfall's lorry, while cycling to work.  The jury consisted of six men with Mr. Sam Cottam as foreman.

Other uses of the Chapel have been as a soup kitchen in the difficult times of the 1920's, as a garage for coal carter, Charlie Crofts, during the 1939-45 war and afterwards by Alf Middleton.  So the tin tabernacle has been used for a variety of activities - the Hodthorpe Boys Brigade also held their meetings there.

The brick building, erected in 1904, closed for services in the early 1950's.  Bachelor's Foods Ltd. took over the building some time before 5th November, 1953 and the building is now used by Mr. Barrie Wheatley and Sons for the manufacture of ornamental wrought iron products.

The Chapel was sold for £400 on Wednesday, 10th September, 1952.


This was a private church, established in the middle of the 19th century by Billy Loude, whose background is described in the chapter on ‘Personalities’.  He was a druggist and lived in the end house on East Parade, opposite the old Vaults Hotel.

He is reputed to have organised an annual gala near the corner of the cricket field to raise funds for his private chapel, situated in Chapel Yard, High Street.

One of Mrs Bell's memories was of Billy Loude announcing from the pulpit -'next week his grand-daughter would play the harmonium and those who don't like it mun (must) lump it - like dog did dumplin'.

In June 1875, he organised a huge 'Whitwell Free Church Sabbath School Gad, on the Common by the newly-opened railway station, to which the train from Worksop brought 1200 passengers - teachers, friends and Sunday School scholars.

A local newspaper at that time reports on a complaint which Billy Loude made to the Bishop of Lichfield, when the Rev. Mason refused to conduct a full funeral service for a man found dead from excessive drinking.  Certainly he must have been a forceful character.


The Plymouth Brethren used to meet weekly in a room, which they rented on Station Road.


The Salvation Army has met periodically in Whitwell, notably at the Civic Centre.  Although closely aligned with Clowne, their records were vested in the Citadel at Worksop.  The Salvation Army Band has played on many occasions in the parish, while regular visits are made to sell 'The Young Soldier' and 'The War Cry'.


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