People have worshipped God on our site at the centre of Ruddington for over 700 years. The first reference to a church here is in correspondence from 1294 when a manorial chapel called St Mary’s was attached to the nearby medieval manor house which is now the Hermitage, St Peter’s Church Rooms.
In 1294 the main church for the village was at Flawforth (also known as Flawford) over a mile away from this site. St Peter’s Church at Flawforth had Saxon origins and had already served the villages of Ruddington, Edwalton, Plumtree and Bradmore for more than 600 years, having existed at least since 663AD
Gradually, as Ruddington grew, people became weary of the walk to Flawforth and in 1479 a licence was granted for a new font to be provided at the chapel of St Mary’s and for baptism and other sacraments to be performed here. There was, however, no graveyard at the time and coffins would still be carried up Kirk Lane (Kirk being Viking for church) and Flawford Lane for funerals at the ancient church of St Peter.
However, other villages also built their own churches and gradually the church at Flawforth became derelict. In 1718 four of its bells were transferred to St Mary’s and the chapel was enlarged. In 1773 it was decided to demolish Flawforth church, the stone being taken to further enlarge St Mary’s and to enclose the ground for the graveyard that you see today.
On a memorable day for the village, 9th October 1773, the Archbishop of York visited Ruddington and led a service through which the chapel at Ruddington became the Parish Church in place of the Flawforth church and it also took the dedication of that church being known henceforward as St Peter’s Church.
Another significant milestone in the life of St Peter’s was in 1822 when the patronage for the church (the right to appoint the vicar) was purchased by the famous Cambridge evangelical preacher Charles Simeon who was purchasing such patronages around the country to ensure “that they elect no one who is not a truly pious and devoted man, a man of God in deed and in truth, who with his piety combines a solid judgment and a perfectly independent mind.” Patronage can no longer be sold, but Simeon’s Trustees remain patrons, working with parish and bishop in appointments, and Charles Simeon’s evangelical tradition is maintained.
Simeon installed an energetic young vicar called Edward Selwyn who quickly secured funds for a substantial enlargement of the church in 1824 and in 1826 built a large Georgian vicarage, now St Peter’s Care Home, on Red Lion Street, which then became known as Vicarage Lane.
Piecemeal improvements to the church were made over the following 50 years but in 1884 the radical decision was made to rebuild the church, as the existing building was described as “an unsightly structure in a very decayed state and inadequate to the parish”. The new church was dedicated in November 1888.
The Hermitage was purchased for use as church rooms in the 1960’s and the Vicarage which completes the campus was built on a spare piece of lawn owned by the church in 2005.
<a href=”http://www.stuffynwood.com/Ellen%20Paget/index.htm”><img class=”” src=”http://www.stuffynwood.com/Ellen%20Paget/images/Ruddington%20Church_JPG.jpg” alt=”Ruddington St. Peter’s in 1860 – © Peter Vernon Paget Mellor” width=”1068″ height=”675″ /></a> Ruddington St. Peter’s in 1860 – © Peter Vernon Paget Mellor
The decision to rebuild St Peter’s Church as it is today was taken in 1884. Donations were received from many people including from wealthy village families including Philo Mills of Ruddington Hall, an American industrialist, and from the sisters Lucy and Ann Paget, from the influential local Paget family at Ruddington Grange.
When the money for the new church had been substantially raised, building work commenced in 1887, the foundation stone can be seen on the north wall of the sanctuary. The eventual cost of building was around £12,000
Despite the Evangelical tradition of St Peter’s the architecture is in the Gothic Revival style favoured by the Anglo Catholic Oxford Movement that was influential in Victorian England. In the new architecture, the cluttered box pews of the previous church were abandoned and in a style reminiscent of a medieval cathedral, a large uncomplicated nave accommodates the worshipping people who are separated from the clergy by an ornate wooden screen through to the chancel. The pilgrimage of faith is symbolised by a rising journey from nave, through chancel to sanctuary, where a distant and richly carved high altar is positioned.
<img class=”wp-image-434″ src=”http://126.96.36.199/~stpet241/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Lifetyme-St-Peters112.jpg” alt=”Lifetyme St-Peters112″ width=”384″ height=”256″ /> Ruddington St. Peter’s as it is today
The interior of St Peter’s was not all Anglo Catholic symbolism however. A prominent pulpit and a fine brass eagle lectern were designed to emphasise the importance of the preached Word of God.
The building has served the community well over the years but changes continue to enhance the practicality of the building. Lighting and heating has been regularly updated and in 1995 a light oak vestibule, acting as a crèche during services, was created beyond the south door with glass panels allowing a clear view into the church, and toilet facilities were constructed behind the original panelling on the west side. A small kitchen and store cupboard was added in 1996 behind light oak doors in the baptistery and the ornate font dating from 1885 was moved from the baptistery to a position nearer the West door.
In 2009 the church community decided that better use could be made of the large church nave by the replacement of pews with chairs. This not only makes for more comfortable seating arrangements but also allows the space to be used to hold church events for the whole family. It also gives the opportunity on occasion to break from the constraints of the Gothic Revival architecture to worship God in more intimate or vibrant ways.
More information on St Peter’s Church Buildings can be found at <a href=”http://southwellchurches.nottingham.ac.uk/ruddington/hintro.php” target=”_blank”>http://southwellchurches.nottingham.ac.uk/ruddington/hintro.php →
The Hermitage is probably the oldest building in Ruddington. As a result of substantial Grant Aid 2007/08, the building was refurbished and is now available for hire as a community resource for small groups (up to 70), celebrations and parties etc., together with courtyard and garden for summer events.
Current use includes:
- Independent Nursery 09.00 to 12.00 weekdays, term-time
- Slimming World
- Ruddington Gardening Association
- Friday Evening youth groups
- Small toddler groups, craft or language based
- Tuesday Afternoon Group TAG
- Adult Craft groups
- Birthday and other life events
- Wedding Receptions and Men’s Breakfasts
Making Contact and Hiring the Hermitage
For enquiries, contact:
Sue Rivington (Administrator)
To check availability and book the Hermitage, contact:
St Peter’s is keen for the village community to see the churchyard as a space in the centre of the village in which they can enjoy for walking and sitting at their leisure.
The churchyard at St Peter’s was consecrated for use in 1773 with the closure of the old church at Flawforth. It is no longer used for burials with village burials now taking place at the cemetery on Vicarage Lane. Notable graves in the churchyard include the memorial to village benefactor Philo Mills and a memorial stone at the West Door of the church to local MP Charles Paget and his wife who drowned after being swept off Filey Brigg.
St. Peter’s Churchyard was declared a ‘closed churchyard’ in 1999 and at that time responsibility for maintenance was passed to the Parish Council. In practice church members continue to play a major role in care of the churchyard. In 2013, working with Nottinghamshire County Council who provided grant funding and project management, the church instigated a major programme of improvement to make the churchyard more welcoming for visitors. This involved the replacement of major church paths, improvement of lighting, management of trees and the provision of seating and of information boards. The Parish Council supported the project with the restoration of a number of headstones which had previously been laid down.
Church members continue to work in partnership with the Parish Council on maintenance, particularly working with ‘community payback’ teams to keep the churchyard in good order.
More information on the churchyard can be found at http://southwellchurches.nottingham.ac.uk/ruddington/hchyard.php