History of the parish & building
Twentieth century St Nicholas' is an attractive city centre church standing in the heart of Nottingham's commercial area. The building backs onto a modern shopping centre and lies alongside busy Maid Marian Way - the main dual-carriageway through the centre of the city.
Around the church itself is an historical graveyard with many ancient tombstones - many of which are attributed to Swithland, the slate headstones and lettering type having been famous in the eighteenth century. No burials have actually taken place in the churchyard since 1881.
The present building dates from the seventeenth century but it is known that there has been a church called 'St Nicholas' since medieval times, though historians think that it is probable that it was actually sited a little to the north of the present building. This medieval church was first mentioned as a parish church in the deeds of Lenton Priory, founded in either 1103-1108 or in 1109-1114. The Priory was founded by William Peverel who, in 1068, was ordered to build a castle at Nottingham by William the Conqueror following his famous battle in 1066.
In 1643, during the civil war between Charles I and his Cavaliers and the Parliamentarians, supporters loyal to the King launched an attack on the predominantly parliamentarian Nottingham. They entered Nottingham and headed for St Nicholas' - sited as it was opposite the castle, thereby providing an excellent position to attack the castle garrison under its leader, Colonel Hutchinson. Eventually the Kings supporters were routed but Colonel Hutchinson felt that the castle was so vulnerable that he ordered St Nicholas' church to be destroyed.
Following the destruction of the building, the congregation at St Nicholas' worshipped in St Peter's Church until this too was destroyed in 1644.
It's not clear what happened to the congregation at this time but we know that they started work on building a new church in 1671. This was completed in 1678 (some authorities believe completion may have been in 1682 - the year the first baptism service in the new building was recorded).
In 1863 the interior of the church was remodelled. Pews were installed and all the galleries removed except for the remaining one in the south west corner.
In 1953 the church was designated a listed building (grade II*) and in 1979 the chancel was redesigned with the choir pews being removed and a carpeted platform built. In 1982 a kitchen and toilets were added under the remaining gallery.
In more recent times, major renovation was carried out in 1991 with the removal of the pews and replacement with comfortable chairs, carpeting, effective heating and sound systems and a new platform at the front of the church. During this redesign, 27 graves and tombs were discovered under the floor and work had to be suspended while archaeologists examined and recorded the findings. Around 300 tons of sand were then used to fill in the tombs before a new concrete floor could be laid.
A further re-ordering was started in April, 2011 and will finish in November. we will cover this further on completion of the project. If you wish to find out more, please download our "imagine" document.
The window at the front of church (see below) was installed in 1913 and depicts St Nicholas' the patron saint of the church. Little is know about why his name was given to this particular church!
The only other stained glass window is in the south aisle. This was donated by J Frances Townend after the First World War as a thanksgiving for the safe return of his two sons; it depicts the Risen Christ in all his glory.
Latest photos from the church
Photos from the re-ordering as we enter the final weeks before handover.