Churches of Kirkby-in-Ashfield

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St Wilfrids Church

Church History

Kirkby's parish church is dedicated to St. Wilfrid, although occasionally in the past it has been referred to as St Luke's. In 1900 the church was described as partly norman and partly early english.

At the end of the 18th century, the spire was struck by lightning, and the fabric of the church began to decay. In 1866, the tower and spire were rebuilt and other parts of the church renovated at a cost of 1,200.

Any remnant of the original church, mentioned in the Domesday Book, was destroyed in a fire on 16th January 1907, only nine days after All Saints church at Annesley suffered a similar fate. The only parts left standing were some later outer walls and the tower and spire. Fortunately, the parish chest was dragged to safety and the ancient registers saved.

Remains from the fire at St Wilfred's Church

The church was rebuilt at a cost of 10,000, reproducing many of the features of the ancient church, and it was ready for worship by November 1908. The oldest stonework now left is the 13th century wall and buttress at the north east corner of the chancel. A statue of St Wilfrid is over the porch entrance.

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Rear of St Wilfrid's Church, seen from Castle Hill

The church of St Thomas was built at East Kirkby, and consecrated by Dr Ridding, Bishop of Southwell on 23rd May 1903. It replaced an Iron mission church which had been in East Kirkby since before 1897. The replacement church had a seating capacity of 400.

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St Thomas' Church, Kirkby

The mission church of St Andrew was built on Marlborough Street, East Kirkby, in 1932. The foundation stone was laid by the Bishop of Southwell, the Rt. Rev. Henry Mosley in June of that year, with the dedication service being conducted by the same gentleman in October 1932. This church was closed in 1961.

The church of St John the Evangelist was built at Kirkby Woodhouse in about 1863, at a cost of 1,200, on a site which was given by the Duke of Portland.

St John the Evangelist, Kirkby Woodhouse

Parish Records

The parish registers start from 1620, although Bishops Transcripts survive from 1600, and the baptisms and marriages are indexed on the International Genealogical Index for the period 1600 to 1864.

The marriage registers from 1620 to 1812 were transcribed for publication by Philimore's. It is available from the Nottinghamshire FHS.



 The rector of Kirkby in 1743, John Brailsford, sent in a return to the Archbishop of York dated 2nd May that year which confirms the existance of various non-conformists at this time:

"I have about six score families in my parish, seven of them are Protestant Dissenters - Presbyterians or Independents. There is besides one family of Quakers, and there are uncertain number of persons that run up and down after the Methodist preachers."

A Baptist meeting was held in a house in Kirkby Woodhouse as early as 1749, and by 1754 the community had developed enough to build a chapel. In 1773, the congregation joined the New Connection of General Baptists, with 24 members constituting the church meeting. The chapel at Kirkby Woodhouse was enlarged in 1818.

In 1816, another Baptist chapel was built at Kirkby on Chapel Street. This continued in use until April 1974, when it was closed.

A further Baptist Chapel was built on Forest Street, East Kirkby in 1889.

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Forest Street Baptist Chapel

  The foundation stones laid in the wall of the Baptist Chapel have been recorded, and can be viewed here.

There is little evidence of the first Methodist chapel in Kirkby. The Chronological History of the Methodists, published by Revd William Myles quotes that a chapel at Kirkby was built in 1790, and he gives the membership in 1803 as 7. Where the first chapel was located is a mystery, but it is thought that the first group was short lived and Methodism was 'revived' after a short interval.

In about 1820, the Methodists are recorded as meeting in the cottage of Reuben Lee. Later it was held in the club room of the Green Man, which was not opened on Sundays by the then landlord, who joined the Methodists in worship. On the death of the publican, the new licencee would not permit the Methodists to use the room, so Thomas Davenport offered the use of a room in his house on Church Street.

A Methodist chapel was eventually built on Town Street, (now called Chapel Street) in 1834. A new gallery was added in 1865, and a school building was added at the back. By the turn of the century, the chapel was considered too small, and in 1902 land was purchased for a new chapel at The Hill at a cost of 226. The new chapel was opened in April 1910.

There were also Methodists at Annesley Woodhouse, where a congregation met in Mr Wightmans cottage until 1815 when a chapel was built on Skegby Road.

A split in the membership occurred in 1849, when the Reformers broke away, and in 1850 they built a chapel which was known as the Wesleyan Free Church on Skegby Road, only twenty yards away from the existing chapel. At the time is was said that the new chapel was 'built without faith' as it was designed so that it could be transformed into three cottages - which is exactly what happened.

In 1888, the Wesleyan Reformers built a new chapel on Forest Road. There was also a corrugated iron building known as the Wesleyan Reform Chapel on Victoria Road in Kirkby. This was later moved to Sutton-in-Ashfield. 

Methodists also bought a wooden structure - known as 'Noah's Ark' - and erected it in New Street, East Kirkby, in 1876. However, a permanent building was soon required, and land was purchased near the crossroads at East Kirkby, where a new chapel was opened in September 1879. The chapel was later enlarged and reopened in 1897. It has only recently been deolished and rebuilt again in 2000, and is known as the Trinity Methodist Chapel.

A chapel of the United Methodist Free Church was built at Nuncargate in 1878. It was the only place of worship in Nuncargate. It was replaced with a new building on Chapel Street in 1905.

There was a Primitive Methodist society at Kirkby Folly as early as 1859. Cottage Meetings were probably held in members houses on Byron Street and Club Row. In 1876 the Bourne Chapel was built on Lowmoor Road and was missioned from Sutton-in-Ashfield.

Created 26th June 1998, by Webmaster - updated 3rd May 2004
All photographs taken by Webmaster, except for the ruins of Kirkby church after the fire
which comes from an old postcard in my possession.