Features and History
The Architecture of the Parish Church of St. Mark
The Church is built in the geometrical early decorated style. The nave is 22m. (72 ft.) by 7.3m. (24 ft.) The North and South Aisles are each 3.67m. (12 ft.) wide. The height of the nave from floor to roof ridge is 15.9m. (52 ft.) and from the floor to the top of the wall plate is 8.85m. (29 ft.) The tower occupying the West end bay of the South Aisle is 19.83m. (65 ft.) high and the spur is 22.88m. (75 ft.) high. The total height of tower, spire and vane is 45.75m. (150 ft.) The chancel is 9.15m. (30 ft.) by 6.4m. (21 ft.) and the chancel arch opens 9.8m. (32 ft.) The walls are of brick, plastered internally and faced externally with Hollington stone. The internal dressing of the nave and the lining of the Chancel are in Bath Stone. The Nave arches are of Hollington stone with voussoirs of red Mansfield stone which was also used for the shafts in the doorways. The Nave and Aisle passages are lined with Hopton Wood stone and the Chancel floor is lined with encaustic tiles. The Chancel Arch is supported by four shafts of Devonshire marble with an inner lining of Derbyshire alabaster. The Chancel is lighted by a 7-light East Window and two 1-light windows. One of these bears a stained glass tribute to St. Mark. The Nave is lit by a large West window called the Rose Window. This is a copy of a window in Turin Cathedral. Also in the Nave are seven three-light windows and two two-light windows. The Tomlinson window in the North Aisle was installed in 1960 in memory of Mr. Henry George Tomlinson, who was the first organist at St. Mark’s (1869—1899). A window in the South Aisle was placed in memory of Clara Gretton, sister of the patron.
The clock and chimes were installed on 19th November, 1880, and the minute reading, “By John Smith, Derby for a clock and full Cambridge Chimes – £120. Cost of installation by H. Leedham & Sons £145.” The bells were struck by Taylors of Loughborough and range from D – 71/2 cwt. to F – 181/2 cwt. These bells have always been rung by hand except during a dispute by the bellringers in 1924, which resulted in the bells being rung mechanically on a device which could also produce hymn tunes. The organ is a 3-manual instrument by Walker with 24 speaking stops, 5 couplers and 6 composition pedals.
The History of the Parish Church of St. Mark
The Parish Church of Saint Mark, Winshill, was built at the request of its patron, John Gretton, Esq., on land supplied by the Marquis of Anglesey. The site of the church was “Wheadley Nob” and a more recent name was “Gorby’s Nob.” This latter slang expression refers to the fact that some mentally handicapped local people often sat on the hill when the weather was fine. The church was completed in 1869 at a cost of £6,000. The patron later paid for the addition of the vestries in 1890 at a cost of £2,000. The consecration of St. Mark’s Church took place on 13th September, 1869. Although it is now in the diocese of Derby, the church, when built, was in the diocese of Lichfield, and the service was performed on behalf of the Bishop of Lichfield by William Garden, the Lord Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand. The present patron is Lady Gretton who still takes an interest in St. Mark’s.
The Village of Winshill
When most people could not read or write, the name of a place varied with pronunciation. So it was that the piece of land given by Wulfric to Burton Abbey in 1004 was called Winsel, Wynnshull, and Wineshull amongst other names. It is suggested that the name has some connection with gorse which still abounds in the area. An old name for gorse was Wyn, or Whyn, and Bearwood Hill was probably called Whyn (Gorse) Hill.
Early tenants of Winshill Manor were Elwin, Tedric and Godric. The name Ward(e) has always existed in Winshill and a curious agreement dated 15th April, 1292, testifies to this. By this contract, Dom. John Stafford, the Abbot of Burton, asked Richard, son of Robert of Winshill to reclaim for him a bovate of land which Ralph of Winshill “named Warde” was holding back from the Abbot. By way of reward, Richard would receive an “abbot’s loaf instead of a servant’s loaf” and among other things, a gallon and a half of beer extra on a Sunday making Richard’s allowance 3 gallons in all. The title of Winshill Manor passed to the Paget (Anglesey) family in 1546 when the farm rental was 50/- p.a.
Milling was Winshill’s only industry. There have been mills in the Newton Road area since Saxon times but have now been sold for residential flats. They were given to the Abbot by Wulfric in 1004 and they were recorded in the Doomsday survey of 1114 which referred to them as “The Lower Mills.” The mills have also been called “The Mills below the bridge” and “Burton Mills.” Early recorded owners were Lepsi, Bristwi and Peter Bunne. These mills were valuable because they were situated near some of the best corn growing lands in Staffordshire. Besides flour, which had always been milled here, the mills have at different times produced cotton and tape (Taverners & Sharpes), flint and steel (Lloyds). The flour mills have been owned by Messrs. Evans & Wilson (1798), J. & B. Wilson (1851) and by Messrs. T. C. Greensmith & Sons Ltd. Who were operating the mill in 1969.
Winshill’s population in 185l was 403 persons, and by 1931 this had risen to 4,000 persons. Today, the parish has upwards of 10,000 residents and 2,570 dwellings. Streets have changed their shape and some have changed their name. Hollow Lane was once called Ditch Lane, Church Hill Street was called VVinshill Lane and Ashby Road as we know it only came into being in 1833. Previously the Ashby-Tutbury Turnpike Road passed through the village by means of Ticket Lane (High Bank Road) and Bearwood Hill (or Gorse Hill) Road. The tollgates were situated at the top of Bearwood Hill and Fletcher’s Hill. The gallows of Winshill Manor stood on the site of Ashfield House at the bottom of Ashby Road, which was called Hanging Hill.
Fletcher’s Hill was the piece of Ashby Road running from High Bank Road to Kingston Road. This whole area including the Manners Estate was covered by Winshill Wood, which dates to Saxon times. Brizlincote Hill ran down to the Golf Course and the hill from the Golf Course to the Stanhope was called Etherington’s Hill. In 1830, soil was taken from Brizlincote Hillacross to Etherington’s Hill to make the latter less steep.
Old Winshill is the centre of the old hamlet of Winshill. Wheatley or Wheadley Lane is probably the oldest street name and it bears testimony to the fine quality wheat produced in the surrounding fields. Berry Hedge Lane, Ditch Lane, Brough Road and Old Hall Field Lane formed the greater part of Old Winshill. Some authorities doubt whether there was ever a manor here at Winshill. However, documentary evidence, informed oral tradition and reasoning probably show differently. The Manor (later called the Old Hall) stood at the end of Old Hall Field Lane or Hawfleld Lane. The house, as it stands today, is occupied by Mrs. K. Lewis and it stands on Church Hill Street, below the new Petrol Station. The Old Hall field, bounded by the lane and Hall frontage, covered the Bladon-Nelson Streets area and this was later a recreation ground. On Berry Hedge Lane, the Church Rooms occupied the site on which Berry Hedge Lane School stands. Vestry meetings were held here for many years, the last recorded meeting being in 1888. The Church Lads’ Brigade also met here, and before St. Mark’s Church was built, divine worship was conducted in these rooms. The curates of Holy Trinity parish conducted these services and they lived in the Old Parsonage across the cutting from the school. The Old Parsonage still stands and it is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Freeman. Some of the beams in this house date back for 400 years. The Old Gate Inn (owned by Allsopps Brewery) stood next to the Parsonage and served its last pint of beer in 1903. This delightful house is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Pitcher. Another public house was situated at Cherry Lees on Brough Road. The old Hall Field Lane stopped short at Kents Farm and fields, Immediately before this house and near to the Nelson Stores stands a house which was owned by the Cotterill family. On this site, “extra fine cricket bats” were manufactured. The village green or Winshill Green still stands between what is now Nelson Street and Brough Road, although it is obscured by recent building.
The first vicar was Richard George Davis F. Frampton, M.A. Oxon., and he held the benefice for 41 years. He was a curate of Stapenhill before being offered the living of Winshill. He was installed at the Consecration of the Church on 13th September, 1869, the service being conducted by the Lord Bishop of Auckland. He was described in the Burton Daily Mail report of his funeral as “of a reserved temperament” but he had “a gentleness of nature qualifled by grit, firmness, and a steadfast will.” He was “prepared to sacrifice his own interests and even friendship itself in the interests of truth.” His first organist, Mr. Tomlinson, remarked that “he had never heard his vicar say an unkind word about anyone.”
Mr. Frampton was “Low Church,” but never narrow, as shown by his introduction of the surplice in 1891. This act was considered by an opponent as “the height of Popery.” In 1892, the church was beautified by the addition of the brass lectern which is still used today and the following year saw the introduction of the parish magazine with the Revd. Lake S. Noble as Editor. This curate served from 1893 – 1906 and was known for his work amongst the menfolk and the Church Lads’ Brigade. Miss Noble, daughter of our former curate, still teaches at the Hawfield Lane school. The first Curate of Winshill was the much loved Thomas Beardsmore (1878—1888). He is remembered in the window surmounting the Lady Chapel Altar and his remains are interred near the South Door of the Church. His successor was the Revd. Halls (1887—1893). In 1903, the vicar gladly announced that his son, Edward, was to join Lake S. Noble as the second curate on the staff. It was the Rev’d. Edward Frampton who first lived in St. Mark’s Lodge as curate. The Rev’d. D. Adamson (1895 – 99) was a vigorous priest who organised a petition to parliament in support of Sir James Pease’s Bill to curtail the opium trade. Indeed the clergy of Winshill have never been shy of publicity, nor mealy mouthed. An extant Frampton sermon argued strongly against disestablishment. The Rev’d.
A. H. Price sent a letter of protest to Parliament at the disestablishment of the Church of Wales (1916) and on a lighter note he also protested in 1925 that machine gun and rifle fire was interrupting the course of divine worship! The Rev’d. J.T.W. Claridge, M.A., (1908 – 1912) was the last curate to assist the long Frampton ministry (1869 – 1910).
The Revd. Alfred H. Price, M.A., was inducted as Vicar in 1910. This priest was a tall, athletic Irishman who had gained his Bachelor’s Degree at Trinity College, Dublin, and he took his Master’s Degree later. He was previously a curate at Bath, where he played Rugby Union football for Bath and also gained international caps for Ireland. One of Mr. Price’s early curates was the Revd. W.E.C.Sternberg (1912 – 1917). This priest was of Dutch descent and his accent was mistaken at first for German, which was a considerable drawback in the early years of the First World War. Mr. Price served this parish well. He maintained the church fabric in good order and mellowed the evangelical tendencies of the Frampton era. It was Mr. Price who raised the money for the First World War Memorial and adorned the Communion table with Cross and Candlesticks for the first time. A minute of 1930 shows that Winshill Church adopted the 1928 prayer book, which was a very brave step as this prayer book was the cause of much controversy at the time. Mr. Price was instrumental in building the East Street Sunday School in 1913 (demolished 1950) and also the Church Rooms (now called the Old Church Hall) in 1916. These were extended in 1962 by the addition of a New Church Hall built by Messrs. Caulton of Winshill at a cost of over £6,000.
The long Price ministry was enriched by the work of the following curates. Rev’d. G. Knowlson (1918 – 1921), Rev’d. J. B. Onions (1921 – 1924), Revd. S. A. Dawson (1928 – 1932), Revd. E. P. Hiscock (1933 – 1935), Revd. A. L. M. J. Davies (1938 – 1941) and the Revd. G. R. 0. Jones (1941 – 1944). It was to be 14 years before Winshill again had a curate after Revd. Jones’ departure. Mr. Price retired in 1945 having made the Churchmanship “Moderate High Church,” to quote a minute of 5th March, 1946.
Ernest Reginald Redfern (1946 – 1954) came to Winshill from Beighton in North-East Derbyshire. By coincidence, this was the former cure of the a another previous vicar, the Revd. William Gilbert Potts. Mr. Redfern was intent on beautifying the Church’s worship. In 1947 he placed a sanctuary lamp and reserved Sacrament in the church for the first time, and this year saw the introduction of the first priests’ vestments. In 1948, Mr. Redfern instituted St. Mark’s Mothers’ Union, with Mrs. Ludgater as first Enrolling Member. Previously, in 1947, the Church Free Will Offering Scheme was introduced under the leadership of Mr. Stenson. Father Redfern is remembered as a faithful visitor and the minutes of the 1952 Annual Meeting testify this. “There are now over 50 houses on the Manners Estate and the Vicar has called at each one.” The social life of the church also improved around this time and an Entertainments Committee was formed. This committee organised a series of dances at Burton Town Hall, one of which was attended by Mr. Peter Brough, the ventriloquist, who is a relative of Mrs. Redfern. The Rev’d. Ernest Reginald Redfern died a tragic death in the summer of 1954. Shortly before his death the minutes record that he had been overworking and his duties had been increased when he was made Rural Dean for a short time. He died in the middle of an operation at Burton Hospital aged 50 years. The loss to the church was trebled because both Wardens, Mr. R. H. Stenson and Mr. S. Wellings, died within days of their vicar.
The next incumbent, the Revd. Gilbert Vigar, M.A., B.D. (1955 – 57), was of a scholarly nature and also a good preacher. In his short term of office he did much to restore the fabric of the church. During this time a £5,000 Restoration Appeal Fund was launched. The ambitious programme included the replacing of roof tiles with slates; new ceilings in the nave and aisles; redecorating the walls; a new entrance for the choir into the nave from the rear of the organ after removal of front pews; overhauling of lighting in the chancel; partial or complete removal of the reredos; and provision of a new Lady Chapel and furnishings. The majority of these improvements were carried out, but in June 1957, it came as a sad shock when this priest announced that he was to become assistant Director of Education for the Ely Diocese.
Mr. Vigar is also remembered with affection for his flair for “social activity linked with a worshipping life,” to quote one of his earliest speeches in the parish.
The interregnum was not a long one and in 1958 the Revd. Edward Rowlands came to the parish. Soon after his arrival he was joined by the Revd. Thomas Williamson, (1958 – 1961.) Other assistants to ‘‘ Father Ted “, as he was sometimes affectionately called, were the Revd. Bryan Law, B.A. (1961 – 1964) and the Rev’d. John Marshall (1962 – 1964). Both these curates served the parish well. Mr. Law is remembered for his fruitful work with the Young Church (started 1961) and Mr. Marshall was a popular priest and assistant Scoutmaster. This period of our church’s life, 1958—64, was marked by enthusiasm and imagination it was early in 1961 that the Revd. Edward Rowlands introduced the regular Sunday-by-Sunday Family Communion, now the most vigorous part of our worship, and a year later the vicar asked the Revd. Bryan Law to start Young Church, a concept of a Sunday School for eleven-plus children. This Mr. Law did with remarkable zeal and efficiency, and although it has had some ups and downs, Young Church continues to hold the interest of a good number of our young people, and it is fortunate to have an adequate staff of mature people.
Material additions to our church during Mr. Rowlands’s ministry included the War Memorial tablet; a tablet recording the vicars of Winshill the screen given by Laurence Churchill in memory of his wife the St. Cecilia window in memory of Mr. Henry George Tomlinson; a new pathway with steps leading through the front graveyard; the macadaming of the drive up to church; lighting in the nave given by Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Arnold in thanksgiving for their longevity; a changeover in the church heating from coke to oil firing; the new church hall; and new communion rails given by Mrs. Oldham, who died before they were installed – which, in the event, was after the departure of the Revd. E. Rowlands.
Also introduced during Mr. Rowlands’ ministry were the regular Wednesday evening prayers and intercessions for the sick, following evensong, and the Maundy Thursday watch throughout the night. In October, 1962, Father Edward, of the Society of S. Francis, conducted a successful parish mission.
During this time, too, the clergy and people of St. Mark’s were proud when two of their number were ordained into the sacred ministry, John Lownds and Raymond Gilbert.
William Gilbert Potts, the vicar at the time of the centenary celebrations, was ordained deacon in 1949, serving his title at Christ Church, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, and other curacies at West Bromwich and Ashbourne before being appointed to the living of Beighton, near Sheffield, from whence he came to Winshill on July 2nd, 1964. His insistence on careful administration was soon apparent, and inspired much confidence. Under his leadership, substantial funds were raised to enable the new church hall to be fully paid for in 1968; the parish magazine finances were put on a sound basis a Fabric Fund was started; and a Finance Committee appointed to prepare annual budgets of income and expenditure, so that all the church’s finances were soon in a satisfactory state. This incumbent was the first occupant of the newly-built vicarage in Mill Hill Lane, erected on part of the grounds of the original vicarage. His assistant priest was the Reverend David Broome, B.A. (1965 – 1969).
Affectionately known as “David’’ throughout the Parish, the Revd. D. C. Broome endeared himself to both Church and non- Church people alike. His pastoral care and love for people and willingness to help those in trouble and difficulty is something for which so many will remember him.
Mr. Potts indicated early in his ministry that he did not intend to introduce sudden or significant changes in the pattern of worship in the parish, and his first two or three years could perhaps be described as consolidation, daily offices and celebrations being maintained, with the Family Communion continuing to be attended by an exceptionally large and growing number of young people. He also took a great interest in the welfare of the elderly, so that visiting and communion of the sick had a secure place in his ministry.
Soon after his arrival, and before he had the assistance of a curate, Mr. Potts arranged for assistance with the chalice to be given by two lay members of the congregation, and this has continued. The Series II communion service was introduced experimentally immediately it was available, and this is favourably received by the majority, and subsequent minor changes have been the institution of an offertory procession with simple ceremonial, and the reading of the epistle by younger members of the congregation at the Family Communion.
Winshill Institute was sold during 1968, thus ending a trust of which the incumbent for the time being was chairman.
The church was re-decorated early in 1969, and plans are in hand which will improve the churchyard and the church hall forecourt. Arrangements are also in hand to beautify the Lady Chapel.
After six vicars and seventeen curates and one hundred years, St. Mark’s still stands as a witness to the presence of God in this place of Winshill.
Thanks be to God.
List of Vicars of Winshill.
The Revd. R.G.D.F. Frampton …………. 1869
The Revd. Alfred H. Price, M.A ……… 1910
The Revd. Ernest R. Redfern …………… 1947
The Revd. Gilbert Vigar, M.A., B.D ……. 1955
The Revd. Edward Rowlands …………… 1958
The Revd. William G. Potts ……………… 1964