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St Michael’s Church Sutton Bonington

Sutton Bonington is very unusual in that it has two medieval churches, dating from the time when it was two separate villages. St Michael’s was the parish church for Bonington. The South aisle is the oldest part of the church dating from around 1150. The Nave is 1200. The church was probably reconstructed under the patronage of Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester and Lord of Sutton Bonington. He rebuilt much of the village in the 1220s after it had been destroyed in the Baronial Wars following Magna Carta.

The North aisle and Clerestory are 14th century. The tower and spire are 14th century but much restored by the Victorians. The roof throughout is Victorian. The chancel was completely rebuilt by the Victorians around 1870.

The font is particularly interesting. It is 14th century and has 3 ledges for the Parson’s book, salt and candle. Next to it, to the left of the tower, there is a brass plaque, dated 1634, in memory of Elizabeth Dormer, formerly Every, from Eggington, Derby, who died in childbirth at the age of 29. The verse is in the style of a riddle and very touching.

St Michael’s has some fine windows, four are by the famous Victorian artist Kempe or his workshop. These are:- Saints George and Michael with their dragons on the north wall, the Nativity at the head of the north aisle, Mary Magdalene in the north wall of the chancel and the Crucifixion in the East window. The Te Deum window in the tower, is by Reginald Bell of Clayton & Bell, and shows a beautiful garden. The Harvest window to the right of the tower is also by Bell.

There were originally three bells, which were confiscated by Henry VIII but given back in 1553. These were recast over the next thirty years. The third bell was hung to celebrate Queen Elizabeth 1st’s Silver Jubilee in 1583 but recast in 1599. The fourth, dated 1602, carries an inscription to Queen Elizabeth I and is known as the Armada Bell. The fifth bell, dated 1579, is the oldest in the tower and the second oldest dated bell in Nottinghamshire, being definitely attributed to Henry Oldfield the 1st. Two more bells were added in 1849 and finally the Treble was added in 1977 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee, bringing the peal to a total of six bells.

The fine organ was built by Joseph Porrit of Syston in 1878 and the corner posts are topped with partly gilded winged angels holding trumpets. The case is oak and the high quality metal pipes are mostly made from a form of pewter which is rich in tin, giving them a spotted appearance.

Outside there are some medieval gargoyles and grotesques, the one on the north side of the tower being particularly notable for its vulgarity.

St. Michael’s Church is home to a small colony of pipistrelle bats which we welcome and are keen to conserve.

September 2023