Churches of Annesley
The first reference to a church at Annesley was in 1156, when the "tithes of Annesley Church" were given to Felly Priory. The early 12th century church - dedicated to All Saints - would have been a simple rectangular stone building, but it was altered in the 13th century to replace the apse. A new south aisle was built in the second half of the 14th century and a square tower was added to the west end of the church at about the same time. The church was sited only a few yards from Annesley Hall.
Following the opening of the Annesley Colliery in 1868, in an area some distance from the original village known as New Annesley, the decision was taken to build a new church closer to the main population of the village. Squire John Musters gave the land on which the new church and a public cemetery would be built, and work began in 1872. It was consecrated at Easter 1874. A spire was added in 1876. The total cost of the new church was £4,975.
The new All Saints Church
The new church was also dedicated to All Saints, and to avoid confusion while they were both in use they were often referred to as the 'Old Church' and the 'Parish Church'. There was a period of at least 25 years where the two churches were both in use, but by the 1930's the 'Old Church' had stopped being used and was now "almost ruined beyond repair".
Sometime on the 7th January 1907 the new church was badly damaged by fire. The roof and interior fittings of the church were destroyed, along with the bells and organ. The cost of the repairs was around £4,750 and the church was reopened on 20th February 1909.
Remains of the new All Saints church following the fire in 1907
In the late 1970's the Old Church was scheduled for demolition. Luckily, the church was scheduled as an Ancient Monument in January 1978, and has since been listed as a Grade II building. The Kirkby and District Conservation Society negotiated with the owners, and in 1981 Ashfield District Council took over the site of the derelict church and graveyard. One of the conditions of the sale was that the church walls should be lowered to a safe height, the roof having long since gone, and the upper portion of the tower was to be removed.
Ruins of the Old Church
The parish registers begin in 1599. The first register was a slim book containing christenings, marriages and buurials, although the first page is difficult to read and some words have completely faded.
Many people from Newstead Village and the surrounding area, which was at some time extra-parochial, chose to worship at Annesley. There are a number of burials of Newstead residents found in the registers.
Further details of the parish registers can be found in the Reference section
Churchyard and Cemetery
The churchyard surrounding the Old Parish Church was in use for many years. The oldest legible headstone commemorates a local villager named Richard Barrat, who died in 1718 aged 35. The last burial in the churchyard was for Thomas Gelsthorpe of Annesley Woodhouse in 1881.
A new cemetery was sited near to the new church in 1872, at a cost of £1,500, and included a mortuary chapel.
Views of Annesley Cemetery and its Mortuary Chapel
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. In 1818, a further chapel was built at Kirkby, and the chapel at Kirkby Woodhouse was enlarged.
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.
The 1912 Kelly's Directory recorded that by that year there were "Wesleyan, Baptist and United Methodist Chapels" in the village.
Page created 2nd May 1999 by Webmaster - updated 3rd May 2004