Mansfield’s oldest church is marking a 900-year milestone this month, but is looking to the future to secure much-needed funding.
St Peter and St Paul Church, on Church Side, launched a celebration after evidence was unearthed to suggest that a significant section of the church was finished at this time of year in 1113.
A special ceremony was held recently with special guest, Bishop Colin Buchanan, and a corner of the church has been designated to a display full of photos, booklets, leaflets and stories from years gone by.
Rev David Fudger, who is the vicar at the town-centre church, said: “We’ve found some evidence that the church tower was finished in 1113, about this time of year so we thought we’d have a celebration.
“We’ve found a lot of historical stuff that pint points it to this time of year, and we had some archeological people come in to the church and found that one of the bases of the main pillar dates back to Norman times.
“The church is a beautiful building, and it is great to offer a celebration on reaching such a milestone.”
And while the stone building that stands today can be traced back to the 1100s, the Domesday Book of 1086 suggests a timber and wattle-and-daub Saxon church stood on the site as early as the 7th century.
It is thought that work on the tower began around the time the Domesday Book was put together, and the grade-I listed church, as it stands today, was in place by the end of the 14th century.
It was the first church in Mansfield, followed by St John’s Church in the mid-1800s, then St Mark’s.
But despite its fascinating heritage and history, those involved with the church today are continually responsible for its upkeep, costing around £2,000 a week to survive.
Like all churches in Britain, it receives no subsidy and relies heavily on the generosity of its congregation.
However St Peter and St Paul’s requires even more money, employing six people - more than any other church in the area.
Among those they have staff to man a charity shop, an administrator to deal with the community facilities available for hire in the town centre and a children’s worker.
As a result, the church runs a campaign every four years to cover the costs - the Promise Programme - with the next to be launched this coming January.
Rev Fudger said: “We aimed to raise £90,000 last time and we got £80,000, so this time we aiming for £100,000.
“It would be nice to get it but we know that Mansfield is not the most prosperous town. But if we can reach this total it will keep us going for the next four years.
“The sums are simple, if the money can’t be found there will be cuts. It is our firm belief that all these posts are crucial and should continue.
“It’s all from donations and my concern is that people think that the church has loads of money, but without the generosity of people we can’t pay to employ these people.”
Rev Fudger, who is originally from Nottingham, will mark his tenth anniversary at the church next June.
“It’s a great place, there’s so much going on and it’s so inspirational.”