Blog – Our Heritage, Your Heritage

An afternoon at Worksop Priory

Spend an afternoon enjoying a guided tour
of the church, its gatehouse and the site of the ancient Augustinian Priory.

Venue: Worksop Priory, Priorswell Rd, Worksop, Nottinghamshire S80 2LJ

An impressive restoration programme has just ended resulting in a breath-taking transformation of the town’s 12th century Norman Church.

A thousand year old wall carving…a 17th Century Fox’s Book of Martyrs hidden within its walls.. and much else to learn about. Find the 14th century Crusader Crosses and the 15th century skull from the battle of the War of the Roses.. a Gateford girl’s part in the execution of Henry Vlll’s fifth wife Catherine Howard.

No need to book – just come along and enjoy an afternoon here at the Priory. The Prioy don’t charge admission but will ask for a donation if you have enjoyed your time there, otherwise it’s free.

Enquiries: Tel 01909 475934

Next tours (all starting at 2pm):

  • Wednesday September 4th
  • Saturday September 14th
  • Wednesday October 9th
  • Wednesday November 6th

Pilgrims Festival in Retford and now also in Worksop!

Retford will see this year’s Pilgrims Festival Illuminate Lantern Parade walk along Carolgate to the Market Square, starting at 5.30pm on Friday 22nd November 2019. The parade will arrive at St Swithun’s Parish Church at around 6pm where there will be a service starting at 6.15pm, including performances, followed by the ever popular ‘400’ photograph in the churchyard and light refreshments afterwards. Everyone is welcome.

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Retford’s Illuminate parade (Credit: Electric Egg)

Discussions are currently taking place with local uniformed groups, schools and voluntary organisations about how they can take part and support this event. Further details about lantern-making workshops in October and November will be available on the BCH website soon.

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Illuminate 2018 lantern commissioned from artist Jess Kemp (Credit: Electric Egg)

This will be the fifth year that BCH will work with Retford to commemorate the sailing of the Mayflower Pilgrim Families’ journey to the ‘New World’, as part of the countdown to 2020, the 400th anniversary. There are also events planned at Gainsborough on 16th , and at Austerfield and Bawtry on 17th November 2019.

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Retford Illuminate 2018 (Credit: Electric Egg)

New for 2019! The Mayflower Pilgrims Story comes to Worksop!

There will be activities at The Crossing, on Newcastle Street, followed by a parade along Memorial Avenue to Worksop Priory where there will be activities telling the Mayflower Pilgrims’ Story and why it relates to Worksop. BCH is looking to engage with schools and uniformed groups from the Worksop area interested in actively participating in these events, and volunteers to help on the day are always welcome.

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Illuminate 2018, featuring Rhubarb Theatre (Credit: Electric Egg)

The very popular Arts Exhibition at Babworth Church returns on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th November featuring works inspired by the Pilgrims Story – all are welcome – for further information contact us. Refreshments will be available, and this year there will be some exciting new exhibits and a range of talks and performances throughout the weekend, and entry is free!

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Babworth Church Art Exhibition

Music events are currently being discussed and details will be available on the BCH website later in the year.

There will be a Thanksgiving Dinner, with entertainment, at Spencer’s on the Square in Retford, on Thursday 28th November, which really is Thanksgiving Day. If you are looking for an excuse for a good night out or a location for a work Christmas ‘Do’, contact 01777 800230.

BCH, working as part of the Pilgrim Roots consortium, is organising this year’s activities, supported by the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham and individual Bassetlaw District Councillors.

Visitor numbers to the area are already increasing, and are forecast to increase further, as 2020 grows closer. The story of the Mayflower Pilgrim families and their roots in the area in and around Bassetlaw, North Nottinghamshire, is becoming better known. It is hoped that more events and activities relating to this story will be developed throughout next year.

To find out more about the story, The Hub in Churchgate, Retford, has a Pilgrims Room that contains an overview of the Mayflower Pilgrims and their roots, and the Pilgrims Gallery in Bassetlaw Museum will be officially open from 19th September 2019.

BCH is looking for volunteers at all levels of engagement – whether you want to join in the planning or help with refreshments, we would love to hear from you.

BCH is grateful to the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham, Bassetlaw District Councillors, and Churches Together in Retford for their continuing support.

Austerfield’s Angel Festival this August

Austerfield Angel Festival flyer front A4

On Sunday 18th August, St Helena’s Church in Austerfield will be holding its second Angel Festival.

Come and join the celebrations of St Helena’s Day – see the amazing angel displays in the church, enjoy coffee and a slice of cake, browse and buy at the flower and plants, deli and craft stalls.

All funds raised will go towards the campaign to install a new toilet.

The church is open from 1-4pm, followed by a Songs of Praise service at 4pm – all welcome.

St Helena's Church, Austerfield
St Helena’s Church, Austerfield

Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, to visit Retford

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, will be telling “the Sentamu Story” at St Swithun’s Parish Church in Retford on Thursday 12th September 2019. This is his first public engagement as part of the One Life Mission to the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham.

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Archbishop John Sentamu

All are welcome to attend, the evening will be informal, and there will be an opportunity for questions from the public. The event will be announced by a quarter peal of bells from about 6.15pm, and from 7pm to 7.20pm tea and coffee will be served inside the church. The event will start at 7.30pm with a welcome from the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, followed by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, telling his story. There will then be a question-and-answer session followed by light refreshments in the church.
This is a great opportunity for everyone, not only churchgoers, to come and hear one of the most popular speakers of today. Most people have heard of John Sentamu, whether from playing drums, cutting up his dog collar on TV, or sky-diving with the Red Devils parachute team. Sentamu has spoken out on issues including young people, the family, slavery, injustice and conflict abroad.

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John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu was born into Uganda’s Buffalo clan on the 10th June 1949. Encouraged in his education by English missionaries and teachers, he graduated in law from Makerere University, Kampala and is an Advocate of the High Court of Uganda. He practised Law both at the Bar and at the Bench before he came to the UK in 1974.

He read theology at Selwyn College Cambridge where he gained a Masters Degree and a Doctorate. He trained for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. Dr John Sentamu was installed as the 97th Archbishop of York in November 2005 and has announced his retirement for June 2020, so for many people, this may be the last opportunity to see him in his current role.

Retford Mayor and BCH supports Retford at rail event in London

A team from North Nottinghamshire “let the train take the strain” on a trip to London to promote Retford and the surrounding area. Cllr Garry Clarkson, Retford’s Deputy Mayor, joined the team from North Notts & Lincs Community Rail Partnership (NNLCRP), the Poacher Line, and the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) at an event in Kings Cross Station in London on Friday 17th May 2019.

Dressed in his mayoral robes, Cllr Clarkson was a very popular subject for photographs with many of the visitors.

Throughout the day, the team handled a constant stream of enquiries about the Mayflower Pilgrims, and the areas being promoted – even a conversation about commuting from Retford to London. Through leaflets designed for the event, Retford Business Forum highlighted the many exciting events planned for the rest of 2019, including Summer on the Square, Heritage Day and Pilgrims Festival – led by BCH; Bassetlaw District Council provided information on Pilgrim Roots and the Mayflower Trail.

A range of leaflets, promoting Mayflower 400, Retford, Gainsborough, Lincoln, Boston and Skegness, were handed out to passengers and visitors by the teams from 5am to 6pm.

The focus of the display was the Mayflower 400 story and was part of a promotion with other community rail partnerships from Essex, Southampton, Devon and Cornwall which had also held Mayflower 400 events at a range of London mainline railway stations on Wednesday 15th May.

The groups took part in ‘Community Rail in the City’, a flagship annual celebration, now in its ninth year, aimed at developing tourism and travel for recreation on Britain’s community rail routes, encouraging thousands of people to explore epic landscapes, coastal scenes, and sites of historic interest.

This year’s event saw 36 community rail partnerships and tourism partners – up from 24 groups last year – hosting activities at 20 mainline railway stations, including those in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

Groups spoke to an estimated 75,000 people across the event, giving out information promoting the tourism opportunities accessible via Britain’s expanding community rail network.

Rick Brand, Vice Chair of NNLCRP, and Chair of the Bassetlaw Area Group, and also Chair of BCH, said “Community Rail in the City is a great opportunity to promote our railway lines to thousands of commuters and potential visitors. We highlight the fantastic things there are to see and explore and encourage people to visit by rail. As well as being a more relaxing and pleasurable way to travel, visiting the area by rail benefits the local economy, and means less traffic, noise and pollution in our communities.”

Community rail partnerships work at grassroots level to engage local communities, help people to get the most from their railways, and promote rail as a key part of sustainable, healthy travel.

The event was organised by ACoRP, the umbrella body for community rail groups across Britain, which supports its members to work with partners to integrate rail travel into their area’s local tourism offer.

From 20th May 2019, a significantly increased number of trains is being provided on the East-West line as the new service opens from Sheffield to Gainsborough Central, including Worksop and Retford. The new LNER Azuma trains were also introduced from 15th May 2019 bringing shorter journey times and greater travel comfort.

Retford Railway Station already counts over 500,000 passengers per year and this number will increase not only with larger numbers of tourists visiting Mayflower Pilgrims Country in the run-up to 2020, but also as the convenience of the connectivity of Retford becomes more widely known up and down the East Coast Mainline.

North Notts and Lincs Community Rail Partnership works towards integrating public and private service provision to offer travellers an effective and efficient range of transport choices. It works in partnership with transport operators, public and private organisations to serve the needs of the communities within which it operates.

Photographs courtesy of Rick Brand and Barry Coward, NNLCRP and Paul Webster, ACoRP.

Fourth Annual Heritage Conference held in Retford

Thirty heritage specialists travelled to Retford from across the UK to listen to fourteen presentations at this year’s national Christian Heritage Conference, held on Friday 8th March 2019 at The Well.

Organisations involved in the development and delivery of heritage-based activities met to exchange best practice and form future partnerships.

Because of the local story of the Mayflower Pilgrims, and the importance of that story to the area in and around Bassetlaw, North Nottinghamshire, Bassetlaw Christian Heritage started the annual conference in 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of local reformer Thomas Helwys. It is now firmly established on the national heritage calendar.

Local historian, and author of the book From Here We Changed The World, Adrian Gray, led the day, focusing on the importance of the local people. There then followed a series of presentations by the following organisations:

This event continues to attract national interest in Retford and the next event is being planned for Friday 6th March 2020.

Pilgrim Embroiderers receive funding boost

East Retford South Councillor, Helen Richards attended a recent meeting of the Pilgrim Churches at All Saints’ Parish Church in Babworth to announce her support for Bassetlaw Christian Heritage’s (BCH) appeal for the Pilgrim Embroiders’ embroidery project.

Cllr Richards has given £100 towards the embroidery framing costs and also provided a donation of £150 to BCH towards their Pilgrims Festival events in and around Retford in November.

Pictured are Rick Brand, Chair, BCH; Cllr Helen Richards; and Pilgrim Embroiders: Jenny King, Fay Evason, Beverley Naylor, and Lynn Hadland. One of the works in progress is also pictured – this one is Babworth Church.

The newly-named Pilgrim Embroiders, led by local artist Jenny King, are currently working on five embroideries relating to the Pilgrim Churches in Bassetlaw, North Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire (Austerfield, Babworth, Scrooby, Sturton-le-Steeple and St Swithun’s, Retford).

These artworks, when completed and framed, will hang in each of the churches for public view and will be available to come together as a feature for exhibitions around the area. They are hoped to be included in Bassetlaw Museum’s exhibition in 2020.

There has been a great deal of interest in the Pilgrim Embroiders’ work when they have attended events locally. They are looking forward to taking their work to other events across the summer to meet more people and show them what they are doing – they might even let you have a go!

Bassetlaw Christian Heritage is currently raising funds for this work, and anyone wishing to make a donation should initially contact BCH.

Religious Tolerance Forum 2019

Is Free Speech at risk? – Find out here

This year’s Retford Religious Tolerance Forum is on Saturday 9th March 2019, 10am-1pm at The Well, Hospital Road, Retford, DN22 7BD.

George Washington, First President of the United States, said:

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led like sheep to the slaughter”

The first Retford Religious Tolerance Forum was held in 2016 to commemorate the death of Thomas Helwys in 1616, the first Baptist martyr and original advocate of religious tolerance between Christians, Jews, Muslims, and those with no faith.

This year’s speakers include:

  • Dr Larry Kreitzer – “Pioneer of Freedom: New Light on Thomas Helwys of Nottinghamshire”

Dr Kreitzer is from Regent’s Park College at the University of Oxford and holds a Research Lectureship in the Faculty of Theology. He is a member of the Society of New Testament Studies and has served on the Editorial Board for several academic journals. He will provide new insights into the life of Thomas Helwys.

  • Dr Martin Parsons – “Religious Freedom in Britain since 1700 – and what it tells us about the World today”

Dr Parsons comes from the Barnabas Fund, the main ministry of which is to send financial support to projects which help Christians where they suffer discrimination, oppression and persecution as a consequence of their faith.

  • Dr Calum Miller – “Is Free Speech really under threat?”

Dr Miller is a medical doctor, philosopher, and ethicist who graduated from the University of Oxford in 2015 with degrees in Medical Sciences (Neuroscience) and Medicine & Surgery. Calum currently teaches Ethics and Philosophy of Religion at the University of Oxford.

  • Ben Huxtable of Release International

This event originated in 2016, commemorating the death of Nottinghamshire tolerance campaigner, Thomas Helwys, who was part of the English Puritan and Separatist movement that produced the Mayflower Pilgrims and led to the creation of the Congregational and Baptist Churches.

This will be the fourth annual Religious Tolerance Forum to be held in Retford. It provides a unique opportunity for the subject to be discussed in an open forum.

Previous speakers have included Baroness Elizabeth Berridge (member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief), John Mann MP, Professor John Coffey (University of Leicester), Rev Tony Peck (General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation), Imam Bakhtyar Pirzada (Eaton Hall), Dr David Appleby (University of Nottingham), and Mr Phil Lyons (CEO National Holocaust Centre).

The event is free and open to all, and everyone is welcome.

All Saints’ Babworth Snowdrops Weekend – better than ever!

All Saints’ Parish Church in Babworth, the Pilgrims’ Church known as “the Church in the Woodland”, recently provided the ideal setting for a delightful display of snowdrops.

On the weekend of Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th February 2018, a steady stream of visitors exceeded last year’s record attendance numbers.

Churchwarden, Peter Swinscoe stated “we must have had over 1,000 people across the weekend – there has been a steady stream of visitors – it has been a very enjoyable time for everyone”.

They came to Babworth to walk the Snowdrops Trail and call in to the church to enjoy the homemade refreshments and gifts on sale, see the embroiderers working and listen to the talk .

On Sunday 10th, a talk by tour guide, Maggy Watkins, which covered a wide range of connections with the Mayflower Pilgrims, was very well attended. The story of the Mayflower Pilgrims’ struggle to escape arrest and leave for Holland fascinated an attentive and appreciative audience.

Throughout the weekend, a group of embroiderers led by Jenny King worked on their representations of five of the Pilgrims Churches (Austerfield, Scrooby, Babworth, Sturton-le-Steeple and St Swithun’s Retford). These artworks, when completed will hang in each of the churches for public view and will be available to come together as a feature for exhibitions etc. Bassetlaw Christian Heritage is currently raising funds for this work (contact us).

The papers of Revd Edmund Jessup who played a major role in establishing the Pilgrims’ story at Babworth, during his time as Vicar of Babworth (1950-85), were on display, as was the ‘Separatists and Mayflower Pilgrims’ exhibition, which included a description of the role of Rev Richard Clifton, who was a prominent Separatist and Rector of Babworth from 1586 to 1605.

There were many other wonders to see in the church, including stained glass windows by Kempe, Eginton, and Wailes. Furniture by “Mousey” Thompson also provided an exceptional attraction, with many visitors of all ages enjoying the challenge of ‘finding the mice’.

Fresh air and heritage – it’s time for the Babworth snowdrops weekend!

All Saints’ Parish Church, Babworth

Babworth Road, Babworth, DN22 8HE

Saturday 9th February 2019 (10am – 4pm)

Sunday 10th February 2019 (12pm – 4pm)

The 2019 Snowdrops Weekend at All Saints’ Parish Church in Babworth, the ‘Church in the Woods’, is an annual pilgrimage made by many people, from a wide range of locations in and around Bassetlaw, and beyond!

As well as taking a stroll around the churchyards, there are walks through the woods, providing a great breath of fresh air as spring starts the journey back to summer. Inside the church there will be a warm welcome and an even warmer hot drink and a piece of cake! Early birds will also be able to buy local produce and cards. There is a car park and toilet facilities.

At 1pm on Sunday 10th, local tour guide Maggy Watkins, will host a question-and-answer session on the Mayflower Pilgrims and other members of the Separatist Movement. This will be an informal opportunity to find out everything you wanted to know about the Pilgrims but were afraid to ask!

Babworth Church is an outstanding location to visit (from May to September it is open every Saturday afternoon) as it is in many ways the ‘crucible’ of the Separatist movement where Richard Clifton preached, assisted by John Robinson, and where Mayflower Pilgrims William Bradford and William Brewster travelled to hear him, risking fines or imprisonment for doing so. Part of the Separatists Exhibition will also be on display in the church throughout the weekend.

As well as its historic and architectural interest, there are also several ‘Mousey Thompson’ mice to find, keeping younger visitors entertained. Refreshments will be available.

Artist credit: Elaine Nash