Sunday, 9 August 2015


Wolsey car
Sibthorpe has the feeling of being a place people drive through to get to somewhere else ... but it was an important community in the past.  It was the home of a wonderfully charitable clergyman who was brutally murdered for his trouble.  It was home to a boy who would grow up to crown a King of England and a man who would snub another King's Chancellor.   Its old buildings included a "very large mansion" and a college chantry ...but in their place today there is a dovecote and a horse.

There are traces of old buildings and the fish ponds in these fields.
Sibthorpe village with a church are mentioned in the Domesday Book.  Around 1185 Robert de Sibthorpe gave the church to the Knights Templar.  It passed to the Knights Hospitallers after 1312 when the Templars were disbanded.  A few years later Thomas de Sibthorpe acquired it.

Street view: Sibthorpe

Thomas de Sibthorpe,  Parson of Beckingham, was an important man; he was a Parliamentary Clerk. a Justice of Assize as well as a Justice of the Peace and during the course of his early life he inherited, or acquired, portions of lands in Sibthorpe. In 1326 he established a chantry there and expanded this into a college chantry over the years.  A warden was appointed as a secular priest who conducted services every day in the newly built church of St Peter and prayed for the souls of Thomas de Sibthorpe's family (and other important people) in a special Mass once a year.  There were eight or nine chaplains to help him, as well as at least three clerks and a few choir boys.  One poor, or weak, man from the village was employed as gate-keeper and one poor woman helped to clean.  These were fed every day with the others and provided with a new garment of clothing every year.  The warden was responsible for distributing money to the poor of the village once a year and sharing out seven loaves of bread every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They had land and fish ponds to provide food.  The chaplains were expected to be sober, chaste men of learning (one was appointed to be a school teacher paid by his pupils) all in Holy Orders but not bound by rules like in a monastery.   It sounds like a wonderful set up (ignoring the threat of the Black Death .... the second Warden probably died of the plague .... and the possibility of leprosy .... once appointed chaplains kept their position for life unless they misbehaved or contracted leprosy).  The system seemed to ensure no-one starved and everyone lived in peace and harmony with Thomas de Sibthorpe picking up the bills!  What a great guy!

Church stone work

King Edward III visited Nottinghamshire in 1345 and was so impressed with the college he told "the sheriffs, bailiffs, ministers and all purveyors and takers of victuals and other things for the King’s household that the King had taken under his special protection the chapel of St Mary, Sibthorpe, with the warden and chaplains thereof and their lands and possessions, and nothing was to be taken of their crops, hay, horses, carts, carriages, victuals and other goods against their will."

 To ensure his money was spent wisely Thomas routinely checked the accounts.  In 1351 the third warden must have had something to hide.  This was Robert of Kneeton who, along with a group of accomplices, murdered Thomas in order to avoid the audit. They were tried and convicted of  seditious killing.  Their victim being a Royal Clerk and JP their actions were deemed to be treasonous so the punishment was to be drawn and hanged as traitors.  The first Great Statute of Treasons, which is still part of present day law, was drawn up a few months after this event and it is thought the Sibthorpe murder had an impact on the content of the Act.

Sibthorpe Dovecote

The college chantry continued after Thomas de Sibthorpe's death but a famine hit the county and this is thought to have led the monks to build the impressively large Sibthorpe Dovecote in 1370.  There are 1334 nest holes inside .... plenty of tasty pigeon pies! There is an interesting metal gate next to the church, it leads to the path to the dovecote.  We expected it to be locked and bolted but we were wrong.  The inside is dark but it is easy to see the nest holes and the size of the structure.  The door is tiny .... we didn't want to climb inside.  Hard to imagine having to go in there with 2,000 pigeons flapping about!

The college didn't survive Henry VIII's reforms.  It passed into the hands of Thomas Magnus, the very wealthy Warden of Sibthorpe, in 1545 and Richard Whalley of Screveton.

In 1530 Cardinal Wolsey came to Southwell to escape the stress of Henry VIII's court.  He had
displeased the king by failing to persuade the Pope to
annul Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon.  Wolsey was a man used to a life of luxury in Hampton Court Palace: the Southwell residence did not meet with his approval.  He wrote to Thomas Magnus asking to stay with him at the Hall in Sibthorpe.  Magnus didn't exactly say no but his reply was enough to put Wolsey off by describing his "poor house [having] not above three chambers to be occupied for lodgings, the residue are applied for corn and husbandry, which maynteynneth and kepeth my priests and servants there…… Surely my said house is not the thing as it is reported to your Grace. If it shall please your said Grace to repair hither ye shall have the haull, kechynne, buttrye and pantrye, all in one, the seller, a little dyning chamber, two chambers, one withynne another, and a chapel; and the other ende of the haull to be reserved for myself agenst my coming. There are other things not easfull for your Grace, there is noe lodging to be had in the village, about the house, neither mete nor drinke, the people be soe poor, nor fewell withynne 10 or 12 miles. And for baking and brewing but only straw.’  The poor house described was in fact a "very large mansion" that stood near the church. Magnus was looking out for his own career as he knew Wolsey was out of favour at court. 

Old yew trees in the church yard.

Another influential family with connections to Sibthorpe village were the Burnells. King Henry VIII gave Thomas Burnell the Manor of Winkburn, near Southwell.  Thomas's eldest son, William, was auditor to Henry VIII and  inside the village church is an impressive alabaster monument to Thomas's younger son, Edward.

Tomb of Edward Burnell

It was commissioned by his wife, Barbara.  Sound familiar?  Yes, we have come across her before .... this is Barbara (step-mother to twenty five kids) who married Edward after the death of her first husband ... Richard Whalley, whose impressive alabaster memorial sits in Screveton's church! This one is very ornate but I think she spent more on Whalley's tomb.  This gruesome skull is part of the carving!

St Peter's Church, Sibthorpe

Near the altar inside the church is a beautiful Easter Sepulchre.

Easter Sepulchre Sibthorpe

There are very few of these structures left.  On Good Friday the crucifix, wrapped in linen cloth, would be placed in the sepulchre and candles lit around it.  Parishioners stood guard until Easter morning Mass when the cross was removed.  This represented Christ being placed in the tomb then rising again on Easter morning.  Obviously this ceremony, being closely connected with Catholicism, was frowned upon after the Reformation.  Many of the Easter Sepulchres were destroyed during the 16th and 17th centuries.  It is thought this one survived because it was covered in straw, plastered over and the Burnell tomb placed in front of it.

 There is only one stained glass window ... to the memory of the college founder.


Yew trees and church yard

This is the church Thomas Secker would have attended as a child.  Secker was born in Sibthorpe in 1693.  He took Holy Orders and rose to become Archbishop of Canterbury in 1758. He was a favourite of King George III: Secker had played a major part in some important moments during the King's life .... Secker had baptised, confirmed, crowned and married him!  Strange that Aslockton makes so much of Archbishop Cranmer but there isn't any thing to say Archbishop Secker was connected to this village.

Records show that in 1880s there was a baker, a blacksmith, a shoemaker, shopkeepers, a school mistress, carriers and farmers living here.  Sounds like a prosperous, thriving place.  By 1922 there was an agricultural engineer, a cycle agent, a motor garage and a threshing machine owner.  Today it is a very quite place even on week days.

Well, one old Wolsey may have been put off coming here but along the main road are a few more old Wolseys that appear to have found a good home.

I'm pleased we took the time to stop on the way through here ... we didn't meet any of the residents but we got to know about some interesting people.

Map of Sibthorpe: click here

No comments:

Post a Comment