·Origins and History
Origins and History
There was probably a settlement of people at this site from very early times. The rock houses - dwellings carved out of the sandstone - and Druidic remains found locally support this, while Roman coins have also been found in the area, no doubt connected to the remains of a Roman Villa near to Mansfield Woodhouse.
The name 'Mansfield' has been attributed with different origins. One source quotes the fact that it is found on the river Maun - therefore Mauns-field. However, the entry found in the Domesday Book is spelled 'Mamesfield', and the prefix 'mamm' is Celtic for 'hill', so others consider it to mean 'a hill by a field'.
Mansfield was certainly an important place in Saxon times, as it was the personal property of the King of England, and remained so until it was sold to the Cavendish family in 1602.
It was known as "The King's great Manor in the Forest of Sherwood", and was supplied by a number of surrounding small settlements, including Sutton-in-Ashfield. In 1227, King Henry III issued a Charter "to the Men of Maunesfeild, that they and their heirs should have a Market to be held on Mondays", and in 1377, King Richard II granted a Fair to the Men of Mansfield "to last four days; the two days preceding the Feast of the Blessed Peter and Paul, and the day and the morrow of the same Feast". The Feast of St Peter and St Paul was celebrated on June 29th.
The title of Viscount Mansfield became extinct in 1691, on the death of the 4th and last Duke of Newcastle, of the Cavendish Family.
Stone cut from Quarries at Mansfield was used to build the Chapter at Southwell Minster in 1337, and for improvements to Nottingham Castle twenty years later.
Prior to the middle of the 18th Century Mansfield was an isolated town, being surrounded by Sherwood Forest which was still populated with footpads and outlaws. In 1700, almost the entire route between Mansfield and Nottingham ran through woodland. However, from the mid 18th century improved roads meant that industries prospered and in the 1780's the Industrial Revolution came to Mansfield.
The Parish Church, originally dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul but now commonly known as St Peters Church, was built over 800 years ago. In 1304 it was partly burnt down, but soon rebuilt, and now comprises a nave with clerestory, north and south aisles and north and south porches. The tower is topped by a small spire.
The church of St Peter & St Paul
In 1800, the gravestones and monuments which were in the churchyard at the time were recorded by author W. Harrod. A transcript of those entries are available to view here.
In 1905, part of St Peter's churchyard was acquired by the local council for road widening. There is a list of some of the bodies moved from 136 graves which were removed at the time.
During the 19th century, Mansfield's population grew considerably, and another church was required. St. John's Church was built in the Early Decorated Style in 1855-6, at a cost of £8,000, and comprises a nave, chancel and two side aisles, plus a tower and spire. It was consecrated by the Bishop of Lincoln on 29 July 1856.
The church of St John
In 1870, a mission church was opened on Stockwell Gate. St Mark's parish was created in 1889, and the mission church building continued to serve, until the current church was built in 1896. At that time, the old Stockwell Gate Mission continued as a Sunday School.
The church of St Mark
There was also St Lawrence's small mission church, which was in Quarry Lane. It was replaced in 1908 with a stone built church, and consecrated by the Bishop of Southwell the following year.
St Phillip's Roman Catholic Church is situated in Ratcliffe Gate.
The register of St Peter's dates from 1559. The oldest of the registers (covering 1559-1653) was lost for quite a long time, but was eventually found by the Vicar, T. L. Cursham, in 1813. "The History of Mansfield" by W. Horner Groves states: '... the ornamental flourishes, together with the curious contractions, render it in some places most difficult to decipher. In other places, the writing is almost illegible by the action of a damp atmosphere; and again, in others the handwriting is very bad.'
The marriage registers covering 1559-1812 and 1813-1837 have been transcribed by Phillimores and is available from Nottinghamshire FHS.
It should also be noted that between 1858 and 1900 very few burials occur in the St Peters registers. This is due to the opening of Mansfield cemetery. (see below)
The register of St John's dates from 1857. A marriage index covering 1857-1900 has been published by Nottinghamshire FHS.
The register of St Mark's dates from 1897. A marriage index covering 1897-1900 has been published by Nottinghamshire FHS.
The registers of St Phillip's Roman Catholic Church date from 1877 for baptisms and 1879 for marriages and burials. A marriage index covering 1879-1900 has been published by Nottinghamshire FHS.
An Index of Mansfield Apprentices (1720-1848), and an Index of Mansfield Settlement Certificates are among the publications of the Mansfield and District FHS.
Cemetery entrance, with War Memorial
Mansfield Cemetery is situated about a mile out of the town, on the Nottingham Road. A 10-acre plot of land was allocated on 1st December 1857. An area just over 4 acres was reserved for the 'Dissenters' burials, while the remainder was for the use of Church of England members. The total initial cost of cemetery and buildings was £3,500. A further 10 acres of land was added in 1898, to bring the total cost of land and buildings up to £7,250.
The two mortuary chapels are joined by a tower gateway, topped by an octagonal tower.
The records for Mansfield Cemetery are held at the Crematorium Office. No personal
searches are allowed, but the staff will provide details of a burial if name and date
and/or year of death is provided. Their address is:
Mansfield & District Crematorium, Derby Road, Mansfield, Notts, NG18 5BJ.
The crematorium in Mansfield was not opened until the 1960's.
The Quakers have been present in Mansfield from at least the 17th century, with the earliest minute book dating from 1671. The oldest memorial stone in the adjoining burial ground is dated 1778, but a plan of the burial ground shows at least five interments before this date. The present Friends Meeting House was built in 1800, on the site of a previous Meeting House, and is situated in Quaker Lane, off Queen Street.
During the 19th century, there were four different Methodist denominations worshipping in Mansfield.
The Wesleyan Methodists had a chapel in Stockwell Gate from 1791. In 1797 some of its members 'defected' to the Methodist New Connexion, and seized the chapel for themselves. In 1839 the New Connexion built a new chapel on what shortly became St John's Street. The chapel had closed by 1870.
The replacement Wesleyan Chapel, at the end of Ratcliffe Gate, was originally a family mansion, where one of the Earls of Chesterfield was said to be born. It was bought by the Methodists in 1812, who demolished the centre part of the building and replaced it with a chapel, while leaving the two outer wings of the original property to form accommodation for the ministers. By the 1870's, a new chapel in Bridge Street had been established. It was well known as having the best church music in Mansfield. A mission room was also built in Newgate Lane in 1885, and remained until the 1950's when the membership there had dropped to twelve, and it was closed.
The Primitive Methodists built their first chapel in Queen Street in 1842, although their registers began in 1826. In 1882 it had become too small and they set about raising money to build a replacement. In April 1886, the foundation stone was laid on the corner of Leeming Street and Terrace Road. This chapel was the Head of the Mansfield Primitive Methodist circuit until Methodist union in 1932.
The United Methodist Free Church, in Clerkson Street, was built in 1850-1 at a cost of £1,000.
The chapel of the Unitarians was built in 1701, and was approached via a passage from Stockwell Gate.
The Baptists were in Mansfield from at least 1806. In 1815 the Stockwell Gate chapel - previously used by the Methodist New Connexion - was bought by the Baptists for £280, and it was in use until 1912 when they built a replacement chapel on Rosemary Street.
There was also an Independent Chapel serving Mansfield. It's registers start in 1802.
The Congregational Chapel at the end of Westgate was a stone building which cost £4000, including the land, when it was built in 1878. Its opening ceremony was slightly premature, as the windows were still unglazed, and the congregation had to use their umbrellas frequently during the service.
The Plymouth Brethren had a meeting house on Radford Street.
Back to top
Page created 24th March 1998 Webmaster - updated 9th January 2003