Last month, I referred to the mysteries concerning Wing village that I encountered during the reading and research that I undertook for the book ‘A History of Wing Village and Its Setting 1066-2018’. These mysteries concerned; people, places and situations, things that puzzled me, the biggest mystery of course being the precise origin and meaning of Wing’s enigmatic maze – a puzzle I promised to return to in a later article – but not this month!
Last month I wrote about the Sheild family.
This month I’m covering just one of two significant mysteries connected to Wing’s Church, St. Peter and St. Paul.
You may have vital information in your family histories, paperwork, photographs, knowledge, or attics, to unlock this puzzle. If you do, I’d like to hear from you!
You may or may not know that historically three separate residents of Wing successively gathered information and kept a contemporary Parish record with occasional historic reflections for a period of around eighty years from the close of the 19th Century to the middle of the 20th Century. The book containing this record, accompanied by one or two letters and photographs, is in the present custodianship of Charles Gallimore and he kindly loaned it to me during my research as well as providing me with his own transcription of that material.
This Parish diary refers to a wooden plaque found in the church tower during alteration work in 1875 but is reported as being lost because of its poor condition sometime around 1885.
The record of the Plaque’s inscription, which carried the dates 1335 and 1833, refers to the building of the church in 1335. This probably meant the substantive re-building of an enlarged church with the tower and steeple added, which are considered to date to the early 14th century. The plaque carried the names of those who placed the plaque by way of dedication, the Church Wardens; Thomas Reeve and Samuel Barsby, in 1833, and of the person who commissioned the building work in 1335, “The Lord Henry of Clipstone in ye Forest of Sherwood, in the County of Nottingham built this church and dedicated it to St. Peter the Apostle”.
Where did this church warden knowledge come from?
Intriguingly, James Wright in ‘The History and Antiquities of the County of Rutland’, written in 1684, states; “In the Church of Winge. Painted on the wall. ‘Templum Sancti Petri. Dominus Henricus de Clipstoe in Forestia de Shirwood in Comitatu Nottinghamiae me fecit.’” Later commentators make no reference to this observation by Wright, partly because the wall inscription was no longer there and presumably because they either missed Wright’s observation or believed it to simply verify the known Parish record.
The sequencing of all these dates suggests that the installation of three church bells cast by Robert Taylor of St. Neots, in 1789, and carrying the Church Warden’s name, George Paddy, was the reason for the alteration to the bell tower. The other two bells were cast by Robert Newcombe, bell-founder of Leicester, who died in 1520, so any building works related to that period and the bell tower are too early for the subsequent obliteration of the wall inscription that was referred to by James Wright in 1684.
In fact, Wright’s record suggests that the creation of the Plaque may have followed on from either the ‘painting out’ of the original wall inscription (a common activity during the Protectorate and thereafter) or more likely its destruction during the alteration work to the church tower to enable the bells to be installed in or around 1789, such work in turn leading to the tower’s instability. The latter was reported in the Vestry Minutes to the Parochial Church Council on the 10th April 1841, accompanied by an Architect’s Report (Mr Flint of Leicester) and a request from the Revd. Charles Boys, to take down the spire at his own expense “and that the tower remain alone.”
This means that the content of the wooden plaque, if accurately recorded, may have been ‘a copy’ of the wall inscription created prior to or immediately after that wall inscription’s obliteration, around 1833.
The information, reputedly from the plaque, is repeated in William White’s ‘History Gazetteer’ of 1877 and is likely based on the Parish record rather than the actual plaque and after 1885 the accuracy of the recorded information was incapable of verification. Modern local historians have hence followed this same line, taken from the Parish record of the plaques contents.
Turning to the main substance of the recorded inscriptions (that of both the plaque/Parish record, and of Wright’s record of the wall), namely “The Lord Henry of Clipstone in ye Forest of Sherwood …” Who does this refer to? Who commissioned the substantial extension and rebuilding of the Church in 1335?
Once again intrigued, I diverted from writing the village history and investigated.
A castle/palace and paled (deer-fenced with dyke allowing deer to jump in but not out) hunting ground had been established at Clipstone and had been used by seven Plantagenet Kings between 1181 and 1393. The hunting ground sat within Sherwood Forest and was subject to Forest Law – the preserve of the King.
Edward III held court there twice in 1328, twice in 1329/30, twice in 1330/31, once in 1335, and again in 1339/40. Previous Kings must have likewise held court. There is no record of a ‘Lord Henry’ being a ‘Keeper of the Pale of Clipstone’ during this period and the ‘Lord of the Pale at Clipstone’ was the King. Had the reputed 1333 plaque date related to earlier decisions to re-build and extend the Wing church, say between 1216 and 1272, then Lord Henry of Clipstone would have referred to King John’s son, Henry III, who is known to have built a large chapel at Clipstone in 1246/1247.
Intriguingly, James Wright’s ‘The History and Antiquities of the County of Rutland’ and quoted above, also refers to the King being the Patron of the Rectory of Wing in the seventh year of John’s reign. Later commentators make no reference to this observation by Wright. This raises the slim possibility that the King sponsored the rebuilding and extension of Wing Church.
Henry IV didn’t become King until 1399 and so is an unlikely candidate as ‘The Lord Henry of Clipstow’.
The church booklet ‘A History of the Parish and Church of Wing Rutland’ produced by David Tew, M.A. in 1971, revised in 1996, suggests that the tablet’s inscription referred to the Rector of Wing 1340 till 1348. This booklet contains a list of Rectors from 1217 to 1939 seemingly compiled by David Tew (with additions after 1939 added by D. G. and D. Whight) but there is a discrepancy between the text referring to 1340 and the list referring to 1304 and there is no source attribution. Intriguingly, once again however, the list cites Joh (presumably John) de Clipston for 1296 and Henr (presumably Henry) de Clipston for 1304.
Neither of these individuals named as Rectors of Wing would have been ‘Lord’ of Clipstow/Clipston/Clipstowe/Clipstone for the reasons given above but they might have been Wing Rectors. So, do the two sequentially listed references refer to King John (Lord of Clipston) and his son King Henry III (Lord of Clipston) but with incorrect dates, or do they refer to two rectors of Wing who coincidentally had the same names as those respective Kings and who in addition and coincidentally came from inside the Royal Pale of Clipston? The latter seems unlikely.
David Tew’s source attribution would be useful.
If Wing Church had been the subject of direct Royal sponsorship in its substantive re-construction and extension, then from an historical perspective its Historic England Grade II Heritage Assets Listing might very well warrant regrading.
Do you have any further information to add to this mystery? Do you know David Tew’s sources? Who was Lord Henry of Clipston?
David Seviour 1/3/19