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History of St Luke's Church

The church was originally dedicated to St Oswald and there is a stone carving in the church porch, reputedly said to be of Oswald. The parish is called Broughton Sulney which was a previous name for the village. The word Sulney relates to the family that owned the manor in the thirteenth century.

Southwell and Nottingham Diocesan Church History Project


Broughton Sulney, St Luke

The village was called Broughton Sulney in the thirteenth century and that has remained as the ecclesiastical name of the parish. The Church was originally dedicated to St Oswald.


Possible origin

The site of the church is next to what was at some time the manor house.  It shares an arcuate boundary with this, now split in two by a narrow track.  This site lies adjacent to an ancient well known as ‘The Stockwell’, though not in a way that suggests a holy well – more the water source for the centre of the original village.  The church contains the enigmatic carving traditionally of St Oswald, king and martyr, which has been dated at circa 1100AD, and a small patterned carving  (see Everson P and Stocker D  (2016).   Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture vol XII, Nottinghamshire.  Pub. OUP).  It seems likely that the site was used for Christian purposes before the construction of the present building, though there is no evidence of an earlier stone structure.  If there was an earlier church on the site it is likely that it was constructed of wood.


Present structure

One capital of the south arcade was exposed in the renovation of 1879, and from this a tentative date of construction of 1190 has been established.  The first record of the de Suleny family in England is circa 1172.  Though it is not certain when they gained the manor of Broughton, they certainly occupied it by 1200. It is probable that they had the present church built, along with extending the village westwards and trying, unsuccessfully, to set up a market.  Around 1300 the manor passed into the hands of the Clifton family, major Nottinghamshire landholders.  The Clifton family kept the lordship of the manor until 1623 and the advowson of the living until about 1728, shortly before they appeared on the ‘Declaration of Recusancy’.


There are, in all, four drum piers which are original, two in the south arcade and two in the tower arch,.  The stonework of the lower part of the nave walls (except that used for blocking the south arcade) and the lower two-thirds of the tower is of a piece with the drum piers.  It is of remarkably good quality, using large well-dressed ironstone blocks which are accurately coursed.  This is only seen inside the church, as the outside has been refaced, probably several times.  The chancel was replaced in 1855, and the original chancel appears to have been shorter than the new one, if Harding’s plan of the village of circa 1818 is to be believed. Recent cracking of the walls in the region of the altar rail may indicate the location of the original east wall. There is no record of the age or appearance of the original chancel.


The stone used is Upper Lias ironstone, presumably from the quarry at Wartnaby, which is within sight of the church.  This does not weather very well, and in recent times has been patched with Hornton Stone (Lr Jurassic ironstone from Oxfordshire), Bulwell Stone (Permian dolomite), Lincolnshire Limestone (Mid Jurassic) and probably other bits and pieces that came to hand.  Some Lincolnshire Limestone was stained to make it match the ironstone – until the stain faded.


The north aisle was added about 1240 (on the basis of the architectural style of the arcade).  This was narrow, and eventually rebuilt at twice the original width in 1879.  Everson and Stocker (2016)  (pp225-6) consider the knot carving on the third pillar from the front to be a graffito of the mid-thirteenth century, about contemporaneous with the construction of the arcade.  Though the knot makes reference to a pre-conquest style, it is cut into the same ironstone that was used for the entire arcade.  The ironstone does not weather well, yet the surface of the carved stone is unweathered, suggesting that this stone was not brought inside from a pre-existing structure.  The lower edge of the face of the stone has been chamfered quite roughly to make it fit with the stone beneath it, which is hard to explain.


The original roof sloped steeply, indicating that it had been thatched.  There is a gap on the drip-mould on the east side of the tower and a change in the quality of the stonework of the side walls of the nave above where the original wall plates had been.  The wall over the chancel arch extends above the present nave roof, and seems to be of a similar shape to the trace of the roof on the east side of the tower.  A similar feature is seen very well at St Mary’s Church, Colston Bassett, as it has been unroofed.  Two clerestory windows, probably of early in the 15th century, were added when the roof was replaced with one covered in lead.  The removal of the south aisle cannot be dated as no documentary evidence has been found, but is thought more likely to have taken place in the late middle-ages rather than in 1733, as Pevsner and Williamson (1979) assert.  Bishop Trollope writes in 1880 that ‘The porch was probably rebuilt in 1733’.


The friezes on the top of the tower and on the porch are probably contemporaneous, and their style suggests that the porch and the top third of the tower date from the latter part of the 13th century.  They are both carved out of Lincolnshire Limestone.  The tops of the crenulations around the top of the tower appear to be of Millstone Grit.  Parts of the cross, on Cross Green, which is of 13th century age, are also of Millstone Grit, so it is possible that the crenulations are original and not replacements.  The pinnacles at the corners of the tower top are missing, but their bases are seen clearly.  The crocketed pinnacles at the outer corners of the porch and the cross on the gable end are elegantly carved in Lincolnshire Limestone.  A photograph taken of the porch wall before its rebuilding in 1957, after a partial collapse, shows it to have been made of medium sized blocks of ironstone that were well-dressed and well-coursed. The inner skin of the upper part of the tower has similar stonework. After the collapse, the outer skin of the walls was rebuilt of Bulwell Stone and salvaged ironstone was used for the inner skin.  The previous rebuilding in 1733 involved the replacement of the inner and outer door cases with ones of Lincolnshire Limestone in a neo-classical style.  Above the inner door an incised mediaeval floorstone has been inserted which is of the upper portion of a cross, the limbs of which bear trefoil terminations. On the keystone of the outer door case is carved the date 1733.


Returning to the removal of the south aisle, if the date of the porch is 13th century as suggested by the style of the frieze, either the south aisle was removed before its construction or the porch was moved closer to the nave after the demolition.  The former date is unlikely, as the population was growing strongly until the Black Death.  The mixture of ironstone blocks used in blocking the south arcade (some large and some rubbly) are likely to have been taken from the south aisle wall.


On the east wall of the porch is a carved stone thought to bear the effigy of St Oswald.  The reader is referred to ‘The corpus of Romanesque sculpture’ web site (South Notts is still in press at the time of writing) for an authoritative account of this most unusual carving.  It appears to be uncompleted on the left-hand side.  The stone shows chisel-marks clearly.  There are patches of whitewash on its surface, which suggests that it was inside the church in 1548, and its pristine condition indicates that it was used internally rather than externally.  Pevsner’s suggestion that it was a tympanum is not tenable.  Everson and Stocker (2016)  p207 state that ‘the identification of this stone as a tympanum cannot be considered secure’.  The three vertical shafts suggest that it might have been a Calvary over the chancel arch, which was removed during the remodelling of the chancel arch in 1733.


Reordering of the church in 1733

The date of this is significant, as the Cliftons had just sold the advowson of the living, and as previously they were quietly recusant, they would not have minded ‘popish’ ornamentation, and appear to have appointed priests of similar sympathies (though nobody who would ‘rock the boat’ in such a political matter).  Under the new ownership of the advowson it seems that Protestantism came in with a vengeance.  In the archdeacon’s visitation of 1770 we learn that the Rector was taken to task for employing a curate who attended independent meetings in another town.


The documentary record of this work, which is found in the Quarter Sessions Records of 1729 (C/QSM/1/24) does not include a plan or specification.  It is as follows:

The inhabitants of Broughton Sulney in this county present a petition to this court for a certificate to the (?) chancellor in order to obtain a Brief for repairing and rebuilding this church.  The charge provides as follows on the oaths of the workmen:

James Brewer & John Jackson   / masons for masonry, stone, sand, carriage, lime etc.  / £630

John Smith & Edward Spencer / Carpenters for wood and workmanship                      /  £290

John Wilson                                 /  Plumber for the lead glazing of the windows etc.      /  £190


According to Meaby (1929) Nottinghamshire  Extracts from the county records of the eighteenth century Pub Nottingham.  the petition was signed by Thomas Hemsley and John Pilkington, Churchwardens, and nine others.


The re-ordering of the church in 1733 might well have been similar to that surviving nearby at Kings Norton, Leics. and Teigh, Rutland.  Subsequent records indicate that the chancel arch was bricked up except for three narrow openings, and the tower arch was also blocked.  Brick was used for this, and a small amount of brickwork survives at roof level above the chancel arch.  The bricks are 2¼ thick, which is what is known to have been produced by the village brickyard at that time.  A door was cut in the west side of the tower to admit the bell ringers.  New windows of Georgian style were inserted, the porch was altered as described above, and pews and a west gallery were constructed.  60% of the cost of the work was for masonry, but the amount of new building of the period does not account for this level of expenditure.  Historically, the cost of dealing with the weathering of the ironstone outer skin of the walls has been high, and these may have been refaced at this time, which may be the source of the expenditure.  Photographs of 1950 show a level of weathering that might have been experienced over 200 years, but not a lot more.  A wide gap in the mortar joints surrounding the south nave windows indicates that the latest general refacing of the wall predates the replacement of the windows in 1879.


Replacement of the Chancel in 1855


When Mr Eddy became Rector in 1853 he rapidly organised the rebuilding of the Rectory and the chancel of the church.  It is clear that he had hoped to take the parishioners with him in paying for the rebuilding of the nave and the tower in high Victorian gothic style.  A drawing of the design was published in the Ecclesiologist with a caption implying that it had been built.  Mercifully, only the chancel was replaced following a design by S. S. Teulon, who also designed the Rectory.


As Mr Eddy, being Rector, had the chancel repair liability, he could replace the chancel at will.  There is no record of any faculty for the work.  Mr Eddy came from a wealthy family from Barton on Humber.  He appears to have funded all this work himself, though being recipient of the Glebe Rents on 250 acres must have been some compensation.  According to the 1861 census he had six living-in servants in the new Rectory as well as a coachman living in the cottage next door.  It seems likely that he also had built a farmhouse (now demolished) on the part of the glebe land known as ‘High Holborn’.


Though the outside of the chancel is of stone, the greater part of the walls are of brick, with rendering on the inside scribed to make it look as if the window reveals were made of stone.  The stone which was used on the outside was, almost certainly, from a bed of micritic limestone that outcropped in the middle of the working face of the village brick pit.  This is relieved by occasional squares of ironstone.  Elsewhere in the village this limestone is only used for farm buildings, presumably because it weathers badly and was a cheap by-product. The building quality has been problematic ever since, and has required underpinning and strengthening with reinforced concrete beams to stop the east end moving outwards, pulling the roof with it.


There are small stained glass windows on either side of the sanctuary which are in the arts and crafts style.  The north one commemorates Mr Eddy’s father.  There are two corbels supporting a roof truss that are in the form of angels that are unmistakably Victorian in style (excessively angelic).


Reordering of the nave and North Aisle in 1879


The faculty application of 1879 states that the ‘church is out of repair and needs immediate restoration’.  The following items were listed:


It is proposed
to enlarge the north aisle by taking down the present north wall and building a new north wall 4’ 6” to the north of it.

To remove the present unsightly and dilapidated gallery at the west end of the church.

To open out the tower and chancel arches.

To provide new heating apparatus.

To generally restore the windows throughout the church, providing new ones where necessary.

To restore the defective masonry, iron and woodwork where necessary, throughout the church.

To clear out the whole of the present seats and reseat the church (increasing the capacity from 180 to 225).


The work was planned by R W Johnson, architect of Melton Mowbray, who estimated the cost at £486, and was carried out by Mr R J Bickmore of Bingham, builder.  The money was raised by the parishioners.  It was noted that certain monuments, tablets and tombs (and coffins) might have to be removed, but they would be put back ‘as nearly as may be in the same positions which they now occupy’.  The result of this work changed the church back from a pseudo-chapel to mostly what we see today.  A photograph exists of the tower and south side of the church taken before these alterations, showing Georgian windows on the south side of the nave, as well as the Georgian door case to the porch and to the tower.  The replacement south windows are either second-hand originals or good copies of a style of window associated with the first quarter of the 14th century.  It should be noted that their tops are higher than the roof would have been in the first quarter of the 14th century.


Bishop Trollope reported that ‘The piers on either side of the chancel arch have been renewed after the design of the original ones, of which a small portion was found’.  ‘The piers …. consist of clustered shafts, having long bell-shaped caps’.  The chancel arch and the tower arch are copies of arches of the Early English gothic style.  This suggests that the chancel arch was removed completely before being bricked up in 1733, only providing three small openings to the chancel.  This necessitated complete replacement of the pillars and the arch.  Sadly, the replacements did not copy the Romanesque originals.  There is evidence that the tower arch was Romanesque, because the drum pillars remain.  Additionally, inside the tower, set into the west wall, is a beam that is likely to have been part of an original floor of an upper chamber.  This beam is lower than the top of the present ‘gothic’ arch, but would have been just above a Romanesque arch.  The beam was cut by the west door to the tower that was installed in 1733, as the churchyard is much higher than the tower floor.


In 1889 an organ was installed at the east end of the north aisle. A new steel bell-frame was installed circa 1902 and the three bells were re-hung. After this, very little seems to have been done until after the second war.


In 1949, a fourth bell (treble) was made and hung by Taylors of Loughborough to commemorate the former Rector, Revd Archibald Pryor, who was killed while serving as an army chaplain.


In 1953, a new boiler was installed, together with new radiators to supplement the heating pipes at floor level.  In 1954, Canon John Knox became the Rector, and soon set about fund-raising for a major programme of repairs and alterations, which carried on until his death in 1966.  He was known for his Anglo-Catholic sympathies, which may have, in places, influenced the work done. In 1957 the nave was re-roofed in lead and the supporting timbers were repaired.  The nave floor was levelled and reset with slabs, replacing glazed tiles.  In 1960, the glazing of the east window was replaced, probably by Pope and Parr of Nottingham.  This was paid for by the churchwardens.


A Rector’s vestry was added to the north of the chancel, together with a toilet and an underground boiler house according to a design by Vernon Royle of Nottingham.  An arch was cut between the vestry and the chancel to accommodate the organ, which was moved there, possibly in 1962.  In 1960 a screen, designed by Broadhead and Royle, was erected across the tower arch, as the Rector complained that the curtain did not stop the drafts from the tower when he was performing baptisms. It is not known when the font was moved there from the centre of the nave (as shown on the 1879 plan).  In 1960, also, a vestry screen, across the end of the north aisle, was donated, and made by W Appleby of Nottingham. In 1962, a Lady Chapel was created there.


In 1964, a choir vestry was constructed in the angle between the tower and the north aisle.  The west wall of the aisle was removed and rebuilt in brick, and a space was cleared in the aisle to form a baptistry.  The choir vestry was designed by Broadhead and Royle, and was clad in Hornton stone (the local ironstone having become unavailable) but lined with brick.  Repair work was carried out to various buttresses.


In 1982 a fifth bell (treble) was added.  This bell, of great antiquity, had been rescued from the derelict church at South Weatley, Notts, and was found to be a good match for the other bells in the tower.  The bells were overhauled, having previously been unused for some while.  At about the same time electric radiant heating was installed and the old heating system abandoned.




The sanctuary

The communion table is of light oak, and appears to be of a post-war date.  It bears the inscription ‘   ‘  It lacks consecration marks.  There is a small credence table.  The bishop’s chair (19th century) and prayer desk have been removed to the chancel to give space for the altar to be moved out from the east wall.  The altar rail is not very old


The chancel

There are four choir stalls with thick oak seats and ends, but pine backs have been added at a later date, probably in 1879.  Two of these stalls have been moved to the choir vestry to provide more space in the chancel.  The organ console lies in an archway cut into the north wall of the chancel, with the bulk of the instrument being within the Rector’s vestry behind.  It was moved there from the north aisle in 1964.  Initially it was placed entirely within the vestry, but later moved forward when it was realised that the organist could not hear what the congregation was doing from its original position.


Memorials in the chancel

There is a small copper plate above the north end of the altar rail which commemorates Revd Richard Colbrand, whose incumbency lasted for all of the first half of the 17th century (see plate).  The parliamentary inspectors, in 1650, described him as ‘too old to reform’, which was confirmed after his death in 1653 by the use of Latin on his memorial.


Lambeth Palace Library  COMM/12A/13  Inquistion on lands held by bishop  (1650)


‘Also the rectory or parsonage of Broughton which is worth one hundred pounds per annum.  Sir Gervaise Clifton knight and baronet the now patron thereof.  Richard Colebrand sen(?) clerke the present incumbent who has the cure of souls there and receives(?) the p… (?) thereof to his own (use)? and being disabled through old age to reform the cure in his owne person doth have (?) Edward ??? clerke to officiate the said cure who has twentie(?) pounds a year and his diet(?) for his salary and preacheth twice every lords day.’


There is a small memorial on a brass plate to Revd Joseph Burrill (died 1853) and his wife, Lucinda, in the south window of the sanctuary.  There is also an epitaph to Lucinda Burrill on a marble plaque on the south wall of the chancel.  Mr Burrill had been a schoolmaster and registrar of the Peculiar of Masham, Yorks., at which time he employed a curate to look after the parish.  After his retirement from teaching he took on the living himself.

There is a plaque commemorating a benefaction to the parish by a Mrs Marston of London in ????.  Nothing is known of this benefaction or Mrs Marston’s connection with the parish.


The nave

There is a two-sided lectern of 19th century date, and a pulpit.  A quilt, made by village people in 1981 has been hung from the roof in the rear of the nave, for want of anywhere else in the village big enough to accommodate it.  There are panels reflecting village events for each month in the year, including the birth of twins in January, after a long period of there being no children born to village families.


Other memorials

There are various memorials to members of the Brett family, both on the walls and on the floor of the north aisle.  This family was prominent in village affairs from the 14th century until the end of the 19th century, when they emigrated to New Zealand.  On the charities board a benefaction by ‘Brett at the Corner’ is commemorated.  He lived at Corner House Farm.  Because many of the Bretts had the same Christian name they tended to be known by their place of residence.  There is also a plaque commemorating Col. Wright of the Loyal Bunny Volunteers, who lived for a while at a house then known as Overbank (previously the residence of ‘Brett on the hill’), now known as Sulney Fields on Colonel’s Lane.

Upcoming Events
Visit to the William Booth Birthplace Museum Jan 11, 2023 02:00 PM - 04:00 PM — Notintone Place, Sneinton
Honest Men but Destitute, the Plight of the Framework Knitters Mar 09, 2023 07:30 PM - 09:00 PM — Upper Broughton Village Hall
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