Historic Mansfield church celebrates 125-year 'rock of ages' milestone
A historic Mansfield church will be marking a special ‘milestone’ later this month – the 125th anniversary of the laying of its first foundation stone.
The first stone placed at the site of St Mark’s Church on Nottingham Road was laid by the Duke of Portland on May 26, 1896.
Located near to the entrance of the vestry, at the eastern end of the church, the huge 3ft by 4ft block can be easily spotted with an ornate cross carved into its surface.
The stone had originally been hewn from a quarry at nearby Mansfield Woodhouse which had been owned by the local squire and benefactor, the Duke of Portland.
And according to St Mark’s church warden, 75-year-old Lyndon Shearman, a church had already been established in around 1889 to serve the then expanding Victorian town of Mansfield.
Initially established as a sister church to St Peter’s and St Paul’s in the town centre, a congregation had previously met at the mission rooms on Stockwell Gate and Quarry Lane as a temporary metal church.
However, as the numbers of parishioners increased, the demand for much a larger church at the corner of Nottingham Road and Portland Street grew.
The Duke of Portland donated the land, funds and cash was raised by local working people, many of whom turned out to watch the foundation stone laying ceremony.
According to the Southwell and Church History Project, ‘the church cost around £6,500 to build and was designed by Temple Moore of London who used stone in the neo-Perpendicular style’.
Church warden Mr Shearman, who is a retired health safety officer, said: “At the time, it was reported that thousands of people attended the laying of the foundation stone. During the ceremony, prayers were said and hymns sung including, somewhat appropriately, The Church’s One Foundation!
“We would have loved to have organised some sort of celebration to mark the anniversary and even maybe done some sort of re-enactment with local school children in Victorian costumes, but sadly that wasn’t possible do to the difficulties of the pandemic.
"But we thought, instead, we could share and highlight with the people of Mansfield a little bit of the church’s history through the pages of the Chad.”