Friends of Woodthorpe Grange Park 2018
History of St. Martin’s Church,
Trevose Garden’s. Sherwood, Nottingham
Adapted from the book
A Jubilee History - 1937 - 1987
By Kathleen Reddish
The Church of Transfiguration
On the afternoon of Sunday, August 6th 1922, the Feast of Transfiguration, a small group of People gathered on Joyce Avenue at a site behind the former Cedars Hospital and held a short service with the help of St. Jude's Church’s band to proclaim the presence of a church in Sherwood.
The previous autumn the first houses on the new Sherwood Housing Estate, built for ex-servicemen after the First World War, had begun to be occupied. The Estate was in the parish of Daybrook, but it was clear that when it was fully developed with a population of over 2,000 it could no longer be catered for by Daybrook Church. Accordingly the vicar of Daybrook, the Rev. A. R. Browne-Wilkinson, formed a committee of half a dozen of the newcomers to the estate to discuss the provision of a Mission Church. The Corporation had been approached with a view to set aside a site for a church on the Estate, but the application was turned down. Then it appeared that a strip of ground behind the Cedars had not been conveyed to the Corporation but was reserved for the Nottingham General Hospital. Colonel Frank Seely undertook to try to secure the use of part of the land from the hospital and plans for the church went ahead. With the help of a personal donation of £50 by the Bishop of Southwell, The Right Rev. Sir Edwyn Hoskyns together with grants from the Daybrook PCC, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the Diocese, enough money was raised to provide a stipend for Mr. P. S. Abraham to serve as Deacon.
Money for the actual building was a problem. The administrators of the Bishop’s Lenton Appeal Fund of 1922 granted £200 (£50 of which had been raised by Daybrook parish) and Colonel Seely not only gave £100 (1/8 of the required amount) but also guaranteed the whole amount at his bank so that the building could be begin at once. So the Church of the Transfiguration, affectionately known as “the tin tabernacle” came into being.
Most of the furnishings for the church and the alter were gifts from members of St. Paul’s, Daybrook. This building was used as the church in Sherwood until the building of the temporary church (later the church hall) on Trevose Gardens, when it became the church hall used for Sunday Schools, Brownies, Guides and other organisations. In 1944 it was sold to the General Hospital to be used as a temporary rehabilitation centre. In 1982 the building was demolished when a new replacement wing of the Cedars Medical Rehabilitation Unit was built. The Rev. P. S. Abraham was priest-in-charge until the appointment of the Rev. Edward Lysons in 1926. Rev. P. S. Abraham shortly after Rev. Edward Lysons took over as vicar, took up work in Canada wherein 1937 he became Bishop Co-adjutor of Newfoundland.
St. John’s Carrington had a Mission Hall on Mansfield Street and this catered for the congregation of Sherwood until the opening of the church hall on Trevose Gardens.
Church of the Transfiguration, Joyce Avenue, Sherwood
Mission Hall on Mansfield Street
Nothing But The Best: Edward Lysons, St. Martin’s First Vicar
February 6th 1926, Edward Lysons began his ministry in Sherwood. Ten years to the date before St. Martin’s Church was consecrated. Consequently, those years between Rev. Lysons beginning his ministry were years of tremendous enthusiasm, activity and hard work on the part of the vicar and his people, determined to build a church in Sherwood truly worthy of the glory of God,
St. Martin was a great soldier-saint of the 4 century A.D. who was responsible for the conversion of western Gaul (France) to Christianity. It was partly appropriate therefore to dedicate the new church to St. Martin, for not only had Edwards Lysons himself served in France as a combatant infantry officer in the Worcester Regiment in the First World War, but many men of the new Sherwood Estate were ex-servicemen also. St. Martin’s Day, November 11th, also being Armistice Day, would every year bring a fresh opportunity for remembrance and rededication. Edward Lysons' life was to be dedicated to building the church (both literally and spiritually) in Sherwood. It is to his vision and his vigour in following that vision that we owe our church in which we today worship.
Rev. Edward Lysons.
The first project that Rev. Lyson’s was to oversee was the building of a church hall, to be used for services until the completion of a permanent church. As fund raising efforts got underway, the total cost was to come to £4,400. To obtain the required amount, a grant of £2,400 was made from the Jessop Bequest
A sale of work raised over £300 to which Edward Lysons in March 1927 wrote in the St. Martin’s Magazine: “Things are stirring in Trevose Gardens. The site has been fenced in …we hope to have the foundation stone laid in May and to be using the hall by the end of the year.”
The foundation stone was laid by the Lord Bishop of Southwell the Rev. Bernard O. F. Heywood on Wednesday 25th May, 1927. The following Saturday a garden party was held on the grounds of Woodthorpe House (now the Sherwood Community Centre) by kind permission of Lady Tomasson. Attractions included the Band of the Robin Hood Rifles, a display by the Nicholson School of Dancing, a Royal punch and Judy Show, croquet and tennis tournaments, clock golf together and tea and refreshments. The event raised £75. Other efforts, including a Baby Show, all helped to swell the funds and also to foster fellowship along with the social life of the Sherwood Community.
On November 10th 1927 the new church was dedicated by the Venerable William James Conybeare, Archdeacon of Nottingham, and on November 11th services were held to celebrate St. Martin’s Day and Armistice Day.
The Bishop of Southwell. Rev. Sir Edwyn Hoskyns
Lord Bishop of Southwell the Rev. Bernard O. F. Heywood
Venerable William James Conybeare, Archdeacon of Nottingham,
In the meantime, the life of the church and parish was being built up in other ways. The church was to be outward-looking and so to make people missionary conscious Mission of Service was conducted in March 1927 by the Rev. W. A. Uthwatt who had been Edward Lysons’ vicar at St. Luke’s Derby where he served his curacy and who was an ex-Archdeacon of the Solomon Islands in the Melanesian Mission. This was to bear fruit in a long connection between St. Martin’s and Malanesia, for in 1928 the church adopted Martin Fiia aged 13 to pay for his education and subsequent training as a priest. Margaret Piers, a member of St. Martin’s at the time, went as a missionary to Malenesia. In 1953 there is a record that the Rev. Martin Fiia had been appointed chaplain to the Bishop of Melanesia.
On 15th May, 1927 a new oak altar was dedicated later to be used in the church hall and finally in the chapel of the Transfiguration in the permanent church. It was given by Mrs. F. E. Boot in memory of her husband killed in the 1914-18 war. It was beautifully constructed, being fitted together with wooden pegs without a single nail being used. During the service the colours of the Guide Company which were founded in March 1926 were dedicated. This was was the first organisation to receive the name of St. Martin. In July five Guides attended a camp at Wolverton, Norfolk, with the 4th Nottingham Guide Pack. A scout troop had also been formed for worship and on January 19th 1927 the Mother’s Union held its first meeting. In 1928 the Men’s Company was founded for worship, fellowship, study and service. The officers wore a blue St. Martin’s cloak with the sword slash marked in red.
The Church Hall
The most remarkable event of 1927 must have been the great Tudor Bazaar held in the Albert Hall on December 8th, 9th and 10th. Stall holders were dressed in Tudor costume and the stalls were decorated as follows:-
Stalls No. 1 and 2: The Old Pack Horse, Leeds (King Charles’ Historical Inn)
Stalls No. 3,4, & 5: King William’s College, York.
Stalls No. 9 & 10: Shakespeare’s House.
Platform Scene: Haddon Hall.
Historical Gateways: The Founder’s Tower, Magdalen College, Oxford.
Micklegate Bar, York.
Bridgenorth Town Hall Gate.
Jerusalem was sung at the opening ceremony at 3pm each day and there were concert party entertainments and organ recitals. No raffles or lotteries were allowed. Refreshments were on sale in the Oak Room Cafe, with a wide variety of items being offered. A cup of tea cost 2d (1p), a plate of ham and tongue or ham and beef 1/- (5p), fruit salad 6d (2.5p) and cream 2d (1p). The Bazaar raised approximately £1,000. To appreciate the greatness of this achievement we to remember that in terms of today’s building costs this would represent £63,235.74 in today’s money (2021).
Even before the debt on the church hall had been paid off the vicar wrote in the parish magazine about preparing to build a permanent church which “ought to be the best ‘house’ in the parish.” This principle, “the best for God,” held good in some matters as in great. After the Easter services in 1929 he wrote “The Easter decorations were lovely, but jam jars, even skilfully camouflaged, are not good enough! “Only the best is good enough for God.” By Whitsun, some black pottery vases had been donated.
This webpage will be altered as more historical and up to date information becomes available.
For Edward Lysons “the Best” meant that the money should be raised by direct giving, and so he determined that there should be no more efforts bazaars and whist drives. Social functions should be for the social life of the community, not for fundraising, A Free Will Offering scheme was started to encourage regular giving and on St. Martin’s day every year, the vicar sat in church to receive “birthday” gifts. In March 1934 the promise of a grant of £2,000 from the diocese gave hope that building work might soon begin. The ceremony of cutting the first turf was performed by Mr. A. C. Adams at 11.45 on Sunday 1 September, 1935.
For Edward Lysons “the Best” meant that the money should be raised by direct giving, and so he determined that there should be no more efforts bazaars and whist drives. Social functions should be for the social life of the community, not for fundraising, A Free Will Offering scheme was started to encourage regular giving and on St. Martin’s day every year, the vicar sat in church to receive “birthday” gifts. In March 1934 the promise of a grant of £2,000 from the diocese gave hope that building work might soon begin. The ceremony of cutting the first turf was performed by Mr. A. C. Adams at 11.45 on Sunday 1st September, 1935.
St. Martin’s Way - The Direct Way, St. Martin’s Parish Magazine cover for December, 1937
Nottingham Guardian, 2nd September, 1935
On a very cold day on the 14th December, 1935 the foundation stone was laid by Brigadier-General Sir Edward Le Marchant, Baronet. The Band of the Robin Hood Rifles played to accompany hymns which included “Christ is made the sure foundation” and Psalm 84 “How amiable are thy dwellings”, which was sung unaccompanied.
Brigadier General Sir Edward Le Marchant, Bart
Foundation Laying Ceremony 14 December, 1935
The following year it was hoped to open the church in November on St. Martin’s Day the 11, but severe frosts and a wet summer held up the work. However, in November the King by Order in Council created out of the parishes of St. John, Carrington, St. Paul’s, Daybrook and St. Jude, Mapperley, the separate ecclesiastical district of St. Martin, Sherwood. Therefore on 6 February, 1937 the Lord Bishop of Southwell, the Rt. Rev. Henry Mosely performed the consecration ceremony. For the Guides and others for whom there was no room inside the church not even for local and visiting clergy or civic dignitaries and many other friends as well as members of the congregation as well. As a consequence, they watched as the Bishop proceeded to the west door of the church and knock three times with his staff to gain access. This ceremony symbolises the patience and persistence of God who thus knocks at the door of the human soul until it is ready to receive him.
The Bishop then received the keys from the churchwardens, then entered and made the sign of Alpha Omega on the pavement symbolising the hallowing of all art, science and learning, and then proceeded up the nave to the alter where he placed the keys. He then moved around the building to hallow in turn the font, lectern, pulpit, chancel and finally the chapel of the Transfiguration and the alter from the original church on Joyce Avenue. Finally, he returned to the sanctuary to make the mark of consecration on the south wall with the words: “This dwelling is God’s habitation. It is possession above all price which may be spoken.” He then signed the sentence of consecration to be preserved in the muniments of the registry of the Diocese and pronounced “By virtue of our sacred office in the Church of God, we do now declare to be consecrate and forever set apart from all profane and common uses this House of God, under the dedication of St. Martin in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
The following day the first Eucharist was celebrated with great joy, the day being saddened with the death in church of John Bradley, the verger, whose wife had died the day before. He had served St. Martin’s with devotion and had just realised his ambition to be the first verger of the new church.
The architect for the church was Mr. Edward H. Heazell who apart from using coloured Stamford bricks of an unusual size of 11” x 2” designed the church in the Byzantine style similar to the Basilique St. Martin’s in Tours, which gave a feeling of strength and vitality.
Canon Lysons envisaged having a mosaic in the apse, but this ambition was never realised. The altar and chancel wall were of light and dark green marble from Sweden and Greece respectively, where as the clergy and choir stalls were of Columbian pine. The floor of the chancel was constructed using fine teak wooden blocks. Finally in the sedilia in the south side of the sanctuary, when the church was opened was a piece of the golden carpet from Westminster Abbey on which King George VI was crowned in the same year as the consecration of the church.
Rt. Rev. Henry Mosely Bishop of Southwell
The consecration of St. Martin’s Church. To download a copy of the ceremony, click on the above illustration
Edward Heazell L.R.I.B.A.
Cover of the Parish Magazine, February, 1937. To download, click on the above illustration.
Parochial Church Council Meeting 21 June, 1935
The detailed plans for the new Church were exhibited for the inspection of the Council and the Chairman read the Architects estimate. After discussion of various points the following resolution that the plans be accepted and sent to the Architects with instructions to submit them to the Bishop.
Parochial Church Council Meeting, 18 October 1935
The Architects note of the specifications of the new Church was read. The following resolution adopted that the Architects report be accepted with the following modifications.
1. That the exteriors be of all brick 2. That the vestry walls be plastered. 3. That the final selection of type and tone of brick be left to the Chairman and Architect.
Basilique St. Martin, Tours, France
1931: Architects drawing of the inside of St. Martin’s Church. To view a larger version, click on the above illustration.
June 1936: St. Martin’s Church Under Construction
To view an enlarged illustration, click on either of the above images
1936: St. Martin’s Church nearing completion
1937: Church Interior
1937: St. Martin’s Church
Parochial Church Council Meeting, 16th April, 1936
Formation of a new Parish: The Chairman Rev. E. Lysons, read a letter from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners declaring with the formation of the new parish of St. Martin, Sherwood. A map was later shown at a later meeting held on the 16th December, 1936 to members of the PCC showing the parish boundaries.
Parochial Church Council Meeting, 16th December, 1936
As regards to the provision of an organ, the Chairman Rev. E. Lysons,reported that he had made enquiries of Messrs Harrison and Harrison who had furnished an estimate for the supply of an reconditioned organ at a cost of £725. It would not be possible to have an organ at the outset, but if the estimate were accepted it was likely that the work could be completed by Whitsuntide. It was proposed that the Chairman be authorised to close with the offer of an organ by Messrs Harrison and Harrison ; the question of erection to be left to the Chairman and Messrs Harrison and Harrison.
To read the Vicar Edward Lysons letter in the Parish Magazine for March 1937 click on the above illustration
The Church Organ
The organ was built by Harrison and Harrison of Durham who also built the organ in Westminster Abbey for the coronation of King George VI. It was consecrated on the 13 June, 1938. It was originally built as a temporary organ for St. Luke’s, Chelsea as their organ was becoming decrepit and needed replacement. It was there from 1907 to 1932 and was returned to its makers and so was available for St. Martin’s.
The church was yet unfinished, the west end being a temporarily wooden porch presided over many years by Mr. Arthur Whittle, who as Churchwarden gave a warm welcome to all comers. A plant trough in the new porch is a reminder of him. However as war clouds gathered over Europe during the next two years St. Martin’s people must have felt very thankful that their church was built and consecrated just in time.
St. Martin’s Church Organ. To read two transcripts of newspaper reports of the dedication of the organ, click on the above photograph.
1938: Dedication of the of the organ L/R: Mr. L.H. Gluckstein M.P,The Lord Mayor, The Lady Mayoress, Rev. Lysons, Rev Dunnicliffe, the Bishop of Southwell, the Provost of Southwell, Mrs. W. Halls, the Sheriff and Councillor L. Mitson.
St Martin’s Church Interior
The Chapel of Transfiguration (Side Chapel)
Rev. Edward Lysons
St. Martin’s Church Hall
The western end of St. Martin’s Church without the porch
Parish Life in the 1920's and 1930's
The Communicants’ Fellowship flourished, involving its members in commitment to worship and service to the church. They also enjoyed dances, hikes and outings. The Mothers’s Union and the Men’s Company provided a very firm basis for the vigorous parish life of this time. Both organisations, having worship at their heart, offered fellowship and mutual support to their members and lively programmes of talks discussions and outings.
The needs of the wider church were not forgotten. St. Martin’s supported USPG and the Melanesian Mission. There was a children’s Missionary Exhibition in 1938 with talks by the children. Mr. Bernard Chick was ordained in 1933 and started his ministry in Skipton. In 1936 Miss Lucy Adams went to Selly Oak in Birmingham to train as a missionary and the following year went to Zululand, South Africa. After her return in 1947, she entered the Convent of the Incarnation in Oxford.
Above all Edward Lysons worked to build the real church, the people of St. Martin’s and to inspire in them a deep and lasting love of God and for the church and the seasons and festivals of the church year. He was a very forceful teacher with a great sense of drama. In his sermons, his letters in the parish magazine and his talks to the at Catechism (Sunday morning service for children) he taught the Christian’s duty and privilege to worship God in his house on his day. No child who had to repeat Sunday by Sunday, “I must not speak in church unless it is absolutely necessary,” could grow up without a strong sense that the church was a special place. Every year in lent there was a programme of weekly services for children and for adults. He would grow a hyacinth bulb in a glass jar and the children would recite:
“Lent means Spring.
Spring means growth.
Growth means goodness.
Goodness means Godlikeness.
Godlikeness means like Jesus.”
St. Martin’s Mother’s Union
Wall mounted tablet denoting the Consecration of St. Martin’s Church in 1937
To download a copy of the 1939 appeal for funds click on the above illustration
Storm Clouds of War Begin to Gather
Beginning in 1935 with the cutting of the turf and the foundation stone was being laid for the new Church of St. Martin, in other parts of Europe and indeed the world the storm clouds of war were beginning to gather. Beginning in on the 16th March Germany announced military conscription. This was later followed on the 15th September when the Reichstag passed the “Nuremberg Laws” against Jews and adopted the Swastika flag as sole emblem of the Reich and on the 3rd October, under Mussolini, Italy declared war on Abyssinia.
1936, which saw the construction of St. Martin’s Church, in that same year on the 7th March German forces marched into the demilitarised zone of the Rhineland. This was followed on the 5th May when Mussolini announced the occupation of Addis Ababa by Italian forces and the end of the Abyssinian War, which was followed by signing of the German-Japanese Anti-Comintern Pact on the 24 November which was an anti-Communist pact concluded between Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan.
With 1937 being a cause for celebration with the consecration of St. Martin’s Church, in that same year saw Neville Chamberlain succeed Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister on the 18th May. However, as 1937 was drawing to a close, on the 12th December Fascist Italy withdrew from the League of Nations and on the 13th December, Japanese troops capture and sack the Chinese city of Nanjing.
1938 was to be another momentous year for St. Martin’s Church with the consecration of the church organ. However, against further darkening of the clouds of war, 1938 saw the German occupation of Austria on the 11th of March followed on the 13th of March with Germany Annexing Austria. This was followed just 8 days later on the 21st of March when Austria withdrew from the League of Nations. Later, on the 13th of September Martial Law was declared in Czechoslovakia, which was followed on the 15th of September when Neville Chamberlain visited Hitler at Berchtesgaden.
In an attempt to appease and to avoid war between Britain and Germany the Munich Peace Conference was held on the 29th September when Hitler and Chamberlain signed the Munich Peace Agreement, This was followed on the 30 September when Chamberlain returned to London following the Munich Peace agreement with a peace of paper with his and Hitler’s signature as proof of Britain and Germany never to go to war with one another again. Finally, on the 1st of October German Troops begin the occupation of the Sudetenland.
Countdown to War
(6 Days to the Declaration of War) PCC Meeting 28th August, 1939: Owing to the present political crisis, the Chairman stated that he was unable to announce any definite plans for the winter programme. He hoped, however to concentrate on the work amongst young people and various other organisations. There was to be a United Missionary Exhibition held in Nottingham in November, a “Religion and Life” Week from January 29th to February 3rd 1940 and a visit of Overseas Bishops in June.
Referring to the international situation, the Chairman hoped that hostilities would be averted. In the event of war, the times of the services might have to be altered so that they were confined to the hours of daylight, whilst provision would have to be made for the effective darkening in the event of the church buildings being used after dusk.
It was proposed and seconded that the Vicar be empowered to make any arrangements for the effective darkening of the church and buildings in the event of war.
The chairman also mentioned that the Parish Room might be requisitioned as an annexe for the “Cedars Hospital” and the Church Hall used by the A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions) authorities.
(3 Days to the Declaration of War) 31st of August: At 4pm Hitler orders the invasion of Poland to commence at dawn the following day.
(2 Days to the Declaration of War) 1st September: German forces invade Poland.
3rd September 1939: Britain and France declare war on Germany. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announces to the nation that war has been declared.
To hear the Prime Minister’s speech to the nation, click on the speaker icon.
To read a selection of minutes from PCC meetings from 29th November, 1939 to 29th May 1941, click on the book icon.
The War Years
Two years after the consecration of the church came the outbreak of the Second World War folowed by six years of anxiety and sorrow for many of St. Martin’s families. The Rev. Harry Smith who had been appointed Borstal Chaplain went to become a Chaplain to the Forces. Many young men and women of St. Martin’s congregation served in all three branches of His Majesty’s forces except for one one who became a Bevin Boy, and who later after the war became the architect to St. Martin’s Church. It was also during the war that the Knitting Guild set about making blankets for those in the services whilst all Sunday Schools were held at the Seely School on Perry Road.
March 1941 brought the dreaded news of St. Martin’s first war casualty that of Royal Air Force sergeant pilot Roland Severn who was killed in action, who before the war had been a choir boy in the Mansfield Street Mission Church and later in St. Martin’s.
Two moths later saw the death of another member of St. Martin’s that of Leslie Mitchell also a sergeant pilot in the Royal Air Force. The following year, 1942 saw the deaths of Constance Carter of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, Maurice Cooper Royal Navy, Owen Rickard Royal Air Force and the death of Dennis Appleby of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves was posted as missing presumed dead.
1943 brought the deaths of Anthony Keeton, Royal Air Force and Richard Goldston Royal Artillery and in the following year, 1944 saw the death of Peter Abbot, Royal Air Force. Later in the year, just two months after DDay on the 15th August, the Rev. Harry Smith was killed in action in Normandy. It was reported that he went out in a jeep to try to rescue two wounded soldiers but was killed when the vehicle he was driving hit a land mine. He is commemorated in the church by a crucifix of brown wood given to him by a Belgian refugee women fleeing from the Nazis in gratitude for his great kindness to her and her family.
Although the date is not known Richard Mason of the Royal Air Force was to pay the supreme sacrifice during World War Two.
Edward Lysons had hoped to build a tower as a war memorial, but this ambitious plan had to give way and eventually a stone slab engraved with St. Martin’s symbol and the names of the dead was put up in the church and dedicated in February, 1954.
Thanksgiving services were held on VE Day in May 1945 and St. Martin’s young people who returned from war service were able to take up normal life again.
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
Excerpt from the Parochial Church Council Meeting 19th December 1952: The Chairman reported that the architects had now received a further quotation from The Hopton Wood Stone Company for a memorial tablet with a plain border for £40 or a carved border for £74, and the former figure corresponded with quotations of £93 from a Cambridge firm, and £35 from a local firm. The estimate from the Hopton Wood Stone Company did not include the cost of carving the shield.
It was proposed and seconded that either of the two lower estimates be accepted following consultation by the Vicar with the architects regarding an incised shield, and the the Vicar be authorised to decide which estimates to accept.
Lest We Forget
On the 12 September 1948, Evensong was broadcast from St. Martin’s, which was to be the church’s first broadcast service. The next occasion came on the BBC’s Sunday Half Hour programme, which was broadcast on 19 November, 1978.
Previous to the broadcast, in 1946 Edward Lysons was appointed an Honorary Canon of Southwell. In 1951 he married Miss Doris Boot a long-standing member of the congregation. Sadly, because of failing health, he resigned from his extra-parochial duties. Plans were made to build a vicarage to complete the church buildings and on 31 July, 1954 the foundation stone was laid. Unfortunately Canon Lysons never lived in the completed vicarage, for in December, the same year as the vicarage stone was laid he decided to retire on health grounds. Finally, and after fourteen years of retirement Canon Lysons passed away on the 12th November, 1968 the day after St. Martin’s Day was celebrated as well as those who gave their lives in two World Wars on Armistice Day.
To read Canon Lysons funeral eulogy, click on the underlined link above.
After the retirement of Canon Lysons, Canon Marin was the priest-in-charge until the appointment of the Rev. William Donald Willatt, an Old Boy of Nottingham High School and Vicar of Edwalton, who was induced on the 11th July, 1955. He continued and maintain the traditions of St. Martin’s under his leadership. The idea was revived of having social events to raise funds and in 1956 and 1957 Summer Fairs were held to raise money for redecorating the church hall and for a new boiler. Cubs and Scouts were re-formed and the vicar’s wife, Mrs. Willat, who loved the company of children, introduced a Young Mother’s Group, which was very successful.
Mothers met with their babies and toddlers in the church hall and everyone enjoyed themselves greatly. The Mothers Union continued to flourish, and to their pride, acquired a banner which was dedicated on 18 September, 1955. A Leisure Hour Fellowship was formed for social activities. This proved to be the most lively and active organisation, and for twenty-one years the members enjoyed very varied leisure activities that raised over £600 for various charities. Another welcomed factor was that by 1957 the dept accrued through the building of the church was finally paid off. This was followed in 1960 after five years as vicar, the Rev. Donald Willatt moved to the less demanding parish of Edwalton leaving a flourishing church for his successor, the Rev. Timothy G. Tyndall.
Post World War Two - Life Returns to Normal
Circa 1950's: St. Martin’s Church Choir
Completing the Church
The Rev. Timothy G. Tyndall and his wife, Ruth, and their family moved to Sherwood from St. Leonard’s Church, Newark in 1960. At the end of his first PCC meeting, Timothy produced a roll of architects drawings and quietly said: “This is what we must do - finish building the church.” So the next six years were building years. To ensure adequate finances for the project a Stewardship Scheme was introduced where members of St. Martin’s congregation were encouraged to re-think their giving in terms of money, time and talents. A parish dinner was held to explain the scheme, to which the guests gave their whole-hearted response for the plans to proceed and to the raising of a loan so that the work could begin.
To read how the St. Martin’s Stewardship plan was formulated, click on the above illustration.
Rev. Timothy G. Tyndall
Artists Impression of the proposed interior looking west
Inside looking towards the proposed western extension
Architects drawing of the proposed bay extension to the western side of St. Martin’s complete with a tower
Artists impression of the proposed exterior
To read how the building work was achieved, click on the above illustration.
Church Porch Under Construction
Originally it was intended to build an extra bay to the church and a tower but this proved impracticable. A rose window with brilliant coloured glass in the form of a cross was instead inserted into the wall and a porch was added with cloakroom facilities and large windows.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?
For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,
saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.
Glass doors engraved with symbols of St. Martin led from the porch into the church, making it possible to look right through to the altar from outside the building. The world and the church were to be seen as interacting. Those who worshipped were to “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” in daily living in the world. The church was also redecorated and new lighting was installed. The grounds were cleared and a car park was installed. While all the work was in progress the church hall was once again used for services.
1966: The completed building extension
A service of dedication was held on 14th December, 1966 on the same date 31 years ago on 14th December 1935 the foundation stone was laid. The Bishop of Southwell, the Right Reverend Gordon Savage knocked at the door three times, as Bishop Mosley had done 31 years previously. He was welcomed in by the Churchwardens, the architect Mr. D. Rosillo, the builder, Mr. E. Harrop, and the foreman of works, Mr. H. Allcock. The Bishop then dedicated the church with the words, “In the faith of Jesus Christ we dedicate this completed building to the glory of God.”
The sermon was preached by the Bishop of Bradford, the Right Reverend Michael Parker, Timothy Tyndall’s uncle, who said that the church, like David’s ark, symbolised God’s presence in his people. “This completed temple offers you that which you rejoice to receive. Accept it joyfully, and through sincere use thereof may God make you to become living stones in that spiritual temple, which through the service of earthly temples he is ever raising in our midst.”
Rt. Rev. Gordon Savage, Bishop of Southwell
Service of dedication, 1966. To download. Click on the above illustration.
It was a week of celebration and rejoicing. The following evening a service was held to which members of the neighbouring churches were invited, for Timothy Tyndall had a very strong belief “that the building of God’s Kingdom is not undertaken by each church alone but by the churches in partnership.”
Lessons were read by ministers of the local churches and the service ended with the hymn “Now thank we all our God.” The next day there was a carol service for Seely School and Evensong with the choir of St. Peter’s Church, Nottingham and an organ recital by Kendrick Partington, former organist of St. Martin’s.
Serving the Community
The completion of the church signalled the beginning of a new era in the church’s life. Just as the church does today, to foster fellowship and to provide an opportunity for the congregation to get to know each other better, after Sunday morning services coffee was served in the porch
One of Timothy Tyndall ambitions was to encourage greater lay participation in church life, with the introduction of the new liturgy, first with the introduction of series two and later in 1974 series three that provided scope for lay people to read the gospel and epistle, to lead the prayers of intercessions and to take part in the offertory procession. A new magazine, “Viewpoint”, edited by a lay committee contained contributions on many varied topics of Christian interest and concern by church members and others.
St. Martin’s has always sought to serve the community. In 1964 Sherwood Community Centre opened to which St. Martin’s became involved with other local churches, statutory social workers and volunteer groups. Contributing to the needs of the local community, St. Martin’s helped run a lunch club and a care group for the elderly.
In October 1967 a flower festival was organised in St. Martin’s by the Nottingham Horticultural Society in aid of the Nottingham Society for Mentally Handicapped Children, who had at that time a special service in the church.
Viewpoint front cover for July 1969. To download, click on the above illustration.
St. Martin’s Church before modernisation
The ecumenical cause was very close to Timothy Tyndall’s heart to which hen did a great deal to encourage closer cooperation between the churches in Sherwood. A Sherwood and Carrington Christian Council was set up to co-ordinate joint endeavours. Of those endeavours joint services were held each year in a week of prayer for Christian unity. Christian Aid Week activities were held in common, as well as joint lent discussions, which helped to understand and get to know members of other churches. In 1971 a joint Church Office was opened in the Congregational Church premises on Edwards Lane under the direction of the Rev. Paul Watts, the curate of St. Martin’s.
In 1974 an entirely new experiment was made in the appointment of the Rev. Ben Hopkinson as Priest-Missioner for the parishes of St. Martin and St. John together, to reach out especially to those in the area interested in the Christian faith but not committed to church membership. This experiment made possible a closer connection between our parishes but was found to be too difficult for it to continue beyond three years.
During Rev. Timothy Tyndall’s fifteen years at St. Martin’s, the people of St. Martin’s enjoyed some very happy social occasions, especially Christmas pantomimes, new year dances and harvest suppers. In 1970 the Mothers’ Union organised a hobbies exhibition in aid of Shelter whilst the younger members enjoyed weekends away at Morley in Derbyshire. Also, a popular innovation was the Good Friday Pilgrimage. Originally designed for the children as an alternative to the three hours devotion but was extended to anyone who wished to take part.
In 1975 Timothy was invited to become Rural Dean to Wearmouth and Priest-in-Charge of St. Michael’s, Bishopwearmouth. This post entailed the leadership of the leadership in Sunderland and where a new experiment in working as a team had been introduced. By working as a team, it was hoped that barriers between parishes would be broken down and the church enabled to minister to the whole town. This challenge appealed to Rev. Timothy Tyndall so he decided to accept it. So it was in September St. Martin’s said goodbye to Timothy and his wife Ruth. As noted, Rev. Tyndall’s wife Ruth was no conventional vicars wife as she worked as a doctor.
St Martin’s owed much to Rev. Tyndall’s gentle leadership by accepting a welcoming change in worship and church life, which brought with it growth in the church’s congregation. By his teaching, he gave pastoral care to individuals and consequently a deeper insight into Gods love for us all and what this should mean in response.
In December 1975 the Rev. Ian Gatford, his wife Anne and their children moved to Sherwood from Holy Trinity Church, Clifton. St. Martin’s was in for more change, new ideas and new ventures. Ian brought a keen sense of social concern and making the gospel relevant to modern man in a urban situation. Like Chaucer’s priest “first he wrought and afterwards he taught,” for he played a prominent part in BBC Radio Nottingham’s “Who Cares” programme, which he saw as an outreach of the church’s ministry, to which he and his wife Anne fostered two girls, giving to them their own family and security that came from a loving home.
His concern for the children of the church led to new developments. In May 1976 a weekend course, “Teaching Faith”, led by the Rev. Robin Protheroe of Trent Polytechnic explored the needs of children and how they could be nurtured in the faith. This was followed by a decision that children should join in the worship of the Eucharist and should receive a blessing at the altar rails and so feel part of the church’s family. They were to have their own teaching session first in the church hall and then join the congregation at the Peace. It was felt that this emphasis on families worshipping together was a vital one, and to make it easier to achieve this the time of the service was changed from 9.00am to 9.30am.
The Good Friday Pilgrimages, introduced by Timothy Tyndall was continued with an interesting visit to Bingham, Newark and Southwell, which was following in 1978 with a joint pilgrimage of the local churches to Coventry where the hymn “Lord of the Dance” was sung in the Chapel of Unity. The following year a visit was made to Chelmsley Wood, a suburb on the outskirts of Birmingham.
A new Easter celebration was introduced by Ian, the Service of Light on Easter Eve, when the paschal candle is lit in the dark church to symbolise the Risen Christ and the light is passed around as candles held by all worshippers are lit from it. During Rev. Gatford’s time, the candlelit Christingle Service during Advent also became a popular annual event.
A new alter table of polished wood was dedicated on the 8 April, 1979, to which the inscription reads: “The lives of Bill Pitt and Mowbray Reddish, sometime Churchwardens of St. Martin’s prompted the congregation to have this table made in memory of all who have served the Lord here.” Mowbray Reddish had made the carved wooden figure of St. Martin which hung on the north wall of the church and also fine clay nativity figures of Mary and Joseph.
Parish outings to York and Chester were enjoyed during the time of Ian Gatford, which was followed in 1983 with an experiment when a group of people St. Martin’s and St. Peter’s Church shared a weekend in Scargill in Yorkshire for discussions and worship on the theme of “Christ the Light of the World.” Those who took part greatly enjoyed the fellowship and fun, the marvellous scenery and the services in the simple chapel.
There were some memorable concerts in the church including which included in 1978 Passiontide music by the Ponoco Boys Singers from America with readings by Angela Piper, performances from the Emma Dance Company, and the Leibnizschule Orchestra and the playing of the Handle’s Messiah on gramophone records, whilst the St. Martin’s choir continued to give an excellent lead to Sunday worships.
The youth group took on a new lease of life by becoming a branch of the Anglican Young People’s Association with the encouragement and help of Alan Scrivener, curate at St. Martin’s from 1980 to 1983. In October 1981 the group went on a training holiday for three days to Warsop Parish Centre which was very rewarding. Sadly this group disbanded after only a brief existence since most of the members Left Sherwood to go to University or for other training or employment.
A Human Rights Group came into existence in 1982 and worked with Amnesty International to help prisoners of conscience throughout the world. Christmas cards were sent to prisoners and members of the congregation were allowed to join in.
St. Martin’s was represented abroad by Brian and Angela Savage who went out to Zambia from 1980 to 1983, and in between 1978 to 1980 St. Martin’s had a missionary link with Lynn and Elaine Falling working in Ibadan, Nigeria. Mike McCoy, a student of St. John’s College, Bramcote, who did Parish placement between 1978/79 returned to his native South Africa to serve as a priest in Grahamstown. This was followed in 1986 when Mike Roberts offered himself for ordination, which he began training for in the autumn of the same year.
Great changes were made to the church’s building when it was decided the chapel would be more useful if it were screened off from the choir by a glass partition and made into a separate room. It was carpeted and the alter hangings were removed so that a modern, simple, functional look was obtained and the room could be used equally as a chapel or a meeting place as required. It was dedicated by Bishop Denis Wakeling on 25 May, 1980.
A radical new departure was made when it became obvious that the cost of repairing and maintaining the church hall was beyond the church’s means and Ian put forward to the PCC a proposal that the church hall should be demolished and the church sell part of the site to the Abbeyfield Society so that a purpose-built home could be erected. It was felt that this was a positive contribution that the church could make to the community and that the church could be adapted to meet the needs of the congregation. Accordingly, plans were drawn up in order to be able to screen off an area at the back of the church when needed for meetings and social functions. The porch could be used by our organisations. The former vestry was to be made available for the Sunday school and the north entrance turned into a new vestry.
Circa early 2000’s
The people of St. Martin’s were encouraged to help with the Abbeyfield Home. A small committee involved themselves in fundraising for extras for the residents. After the church hall had been demolished, the first turf before the construction of the new building was cut by Mrs. Gertrude Whittaker, one of the oldest members of the church, whose daughter, Barbara was chairman and whose husband is commemorated by a reading stand in the church. The house was opened on 14th July, 1984 by Mr. Noel Burdett, the chairman of the Abbeyfield Society. Bishop Denis Wakeling blessed the house.
Before Abbeyfield home was completed, in the summer of 1983 Ian Gatford was given a sabbatical leave for three months to study “Bias to the Poor.” Accordingly, he travelled both in the UK and in France and Switzerland, experiencing Christianity in action in different situations. However, on his return to St. Martin’s, he was invited to become a residentiary canon of Derby Cathedral and he decided to accept this invitation. So it was in December that Ian and his wife Anne left St. Martin’s, the last service being Christmas day.
Those who remember Ian will always remember him for his kindness, his interest in people and his concern for the underprivileged in our society. However, after a period of nine months it was announced Christopher Gale of St. Peter’s Church, Radford had been appointed as the new Vicar of St. Martin’s, to which he was welcomed along with his wife Jessica and their children on the 3 October, 1984 who was with St. Martin’s until 1999.
One of Christopher Gale’s innovations was the re-launch of the parish magazine to which it was given the title “The Sherwood Messenger.” The Sherwood Messenger continued until May 2018 when it was finally given over to digitalisation through the internet with a website, www.stmartinsherwood.org and accompanying Facebook page
To view photographs of a trip to Tours in France by St. Martin’s in February 1997, click on the Illustration.
Rev. Sylvia Griffiths
In 1999 St. Martin’s was to see its first female vicar the Rev. Sylvia Griffiths. Silvia Griffiths was largely responsible for several changes to the interior design of the church, making it the modern, open and welcoming space it is today.
Church Modernisation led by the Rev. Syliva Griffiths
Sylvia retired in the autumn of 2016, and the diocese found an excellent successor in 2017 in the Rev. Bridget Baguley, who not only came to St. Martin’s as a vicar but also with her husband David as Associate Minister.
Bridget moved to Nottingham in 2017 to become vicar at St Martin's. Before that she served in churches in Cambridge, having previously been a neurophysiotherapist. She has a passion for enabling people to connect with God and to grow as followers of Jesus Christ.
Dave has been ordained since 2011, and is especially interested in collaborative eschatology, which he understands as people working together to deliver God's purposes for the lives of all his people. He is a Professor of Hearing Sciences at the University of Nottingham, where he researches tinnitus, and hearing problems after chemotherapy, and a clinical audiologist at QMC. Dave loves to cook (less keen on the washing up!), walk in the hills with Bridget, watch films, and listen to indie music: you might spot him at the back of gigs at Rock City if bands he likes come to Nottingham.
Revd Bridget Baguley
Revd Dave Baguley
The Porch of St. Martin’s Church in the Fading Light of Evening
To read a transcribed version of the article from the Nottingham Guardian from the 02.09.1935, click on the above illustration.
To read a transcription of the above article, click on the unlined Nottingham Guardian heading
To read a transcript of the full report of the Foundation Stone Laying published in the Southwell Diocesan Magazine, February 1936, click on the above underlined title.
To read a transcript of the full report of the Consecration of St. Martin’s Church published in Southwell Diocesan Magazine in 1937, Click on the underlined title.