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The church of St Giles Holme is one of those buildings that once visited, much is remembered for a long time afterwards. The small band of us that care for this wonderful place are still making new discoveries and marvel that this church as been virtually untouched since circa 1550. Therefore we want others to come and explore enjoy this special place.
St Giles is certainly remote, reached down a dead end road and very close to the mighty river Trent. Many of the visitors to this place are fishermen who make a welcome donation each year to church funds. The village of Holme itself is a small hamlet bounded to the west by the river and on the other sides by mixed farmland. The church is by far the most important building in the village and is the only place that could by considered a ‘public building’. The church can be seen from several miles away as the land is almost flat. The broach-spire and twin pan tile roofed gables stand out and as one draws closer to the church the two-storey south porch becomes apparent with its frieze of shields above the doorway. Maybe the fact that this church is off the beaten track is why the Victorian restorers have left things alone.
The room over the porch is well known in the area as Nan Scott’s Chamber, as it is said that Nan Scott left her house in 1666 to escape the Great Plague but after several weeks returned to the village to find that everyone had died. She returned to the room where she also eventually died.
The church we see today is very much down to a John Barton, a rich wool merchant who, to show his wealth, rebuilt the south aisle of the church with a Lady Chapel at the east end in the perpendicular style. He also made provision in the chapel for his tomb which can be seen exactly as it was left on his death in 1491. A particular feature of the chapel is the woodwork. If you should decide to visit this church do please touch and run your fingers over the early Tudor carved poppy heads of birds, animals and angels. Indeed Simon Jenkins included St Giles Holme in his book England's Thousand Best Churches and remarked ‘to touch the carvings in Holme church is like touching time itself’.
The visitor will be impressed as to how bright this building is with large windows down the whole length of the south aisle and two large east end windows, each of which contain a very important collection of medieval glass. Amazingly the windows at Holme include glass of every century from the 13th to the 17th which is why specialist groups come to visit from far and wide.
We love to have visitors and especially at our services; there is always a service of Holy Communion at 9am on the first Sunday of the month. Christmas and Easter are always very special times at Holme and also of course the Harvest Festival. We are also planning to make greater use of the building with the village for secular gatherings and events.
There is always much to be done on an ancient building and at Holme we need to attend to the crumbling stonework on the porch and the peeling rendering on the steeple. A village charity has recently assisted us with the repair of the churchyard wall to the north, so watch this space.
Sadly we feel the need to keep the church locked but visitors are most welcome and the key can be readily obtained for Mrs Joyce Brumpton at the cottage across the road from the church. Otherwise please contact Nigel Priestley on 01636 892020.
Finally, this church is highly suited as a superb wedding venue in the Newark area. There is plenty of floor space and the whole ambience of the building makes for an extra special occasion.
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