Religion and Churches
This section will look at the growth and development of religion and the various churches of Wickersley.
St Alban's Church
Wickersley's Parish Church, which is part of the Church of England diocese of Sheffield, is dedicated to St Alban and it is one of the oldest buildings in Wickersley.
Little remains of Wickersley's medieval church apart from the tower, the lower part of which dates from the 15th century. The upper part of the tower dates from the 18th century and the top from the 1950s. Hunter speaks of a church at Wickersley c1150. The earliest recorded clergyman was Guydo who was rector in 1240. This church seems to have been rebuilt in the late 15th century possibly by Roger de Wickersley who died in 1472. His tombstone lies in the centre aisle. The late medieval church, apart from the tower, was demolished by Rev. John Foster, who erected the present nave in 1834-6. The chancel was added in 1886 by Rev. Frederick Freeman who was also responsible for all the stained glass. The east window is said to be a replica of its 15th century predecessor. A document of 1419 refers to "the lamp of St Nicholas in Wickersley Church." This seems to have been a light in the tower to guide travelers at night. There is a ring of three bells in the tower. The tenor bell dates from the rectory of John Elcock (1438-91). The others date from 1781 and 1799 and were re-cast in 1952.
A choir was instituted by the curate, Rev. Gladwyn Jebb, in 1861. This did not meet with universal approval and Dr. Holt Vates felt so strongly that he threatened the quarry masters who leased land from him with eviction if they allowed their children to sing in the choir. The choir supporters solved the problem by moving to quarries held from more lenient landlords. See the entry for the Christian Institute to find out more about this 'difference of opinion'.
The Christian Institute
One result of the dissension over the choir was the foundation of the Christian Institute on Morthen Road by Dr. William Holt Yates. Opened in 1862 at a cost of £1.500, the Institute comprised a lecture hall, small museum, library, reading room, kitchen, billiard room, savings bank and Secretary's residence. Its purpose was "the diffusion of general and useful knowledge, thereby to increase the respectability, happiness and welfare of Society, also to encourage the real interests of the inhabitants of Wickersley and its vicinity." This modern 'social' church was never consecrated for worship and was non-denominational. We understand that the discussion of politics was forbidden.
The clock was added to the Tower / Turret at a later date.
The Church Hall was converted in 1930 from the tithe barn, erected in the early 19th century.
The family ownership passed to Trustees in 1923. Today it is converted into a series of Apartments.
There is a book with full details in the Wickersley Library. The plaque below is inside the building and although there is one outside the writing is now illegible.
Illegible plaque on the external wall of the Christian Institute
Inauguration plaque inside the Christian Institute
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel - showing the stone on the house wall
Personal memories of Wickersley Christian Institute from Deborah Williams
Wickersley Christian Institute and the Pearces
Some of my earliest memories are of my Grandparents, Cyril and Mary Pearce and the WCI and its bowling green.
My Grandad Cyril Pearce was born on the 3rd January 1916 on Nelson Road in Maltby. His father had been an apprentice saddler but spent most of his life as an above ground worker in mines. The family moved around a lot, presumably to where the work was. There were quite a few mouths to feed, he being the fifth of ten children. The family eventually settled in Bramley following their father's death in 1925.Cyril worked as an above ground worker in both Silverwood and Thurcroft Collieries. During the war he served in the Civil Defence and it was during this time that he married my Grandmother Mary Jackson. They lived first on Lings Lane before moving to Gillott Lane in the late fifties. Cyril retired from the pit following a heart attack after which he spent some time in the NUM convalescence home at Scalby. This was in the seventies. I can remember him still working as, as a very small child, I was allowed to await his homecoming from the gate and get a ride down the drive on his motorbike.
Cyril was one of the founder members of WCI bowling team in the sixties. The others being Stan Hasnip and Brian Hall. The Christian Institute was a hive of activity then. As well as the bowling green there was an ash tennis court and inside a snooker table and table tennis. The rooms were let for meetings, groups and parties. There was a library with some incredibly dry but worthy books which I always found incredibly disappointing. I remember at one time the Wickersley Model Railway group had one of the upstairs rooms.Retirement did not slow him down at all. As a trustee of the Institute he was there every day, rain or shine along with my Gran. The money collected from all the activities did not go very far and he lived his life in his blue dungarees, mending, cleaning, painting and stoking the boiler. He kept the green to an incredibly short length making it fast and tricky!
He was an incredibly handyman who could turn his hand to seemingly everything. There was an allotment sized piece of land at the bottom of his garden where he grew our veg. While he was teaching my brother to bowl on his immaculate lawn he was teaching me to grow things and I still think of him every time I dig my bean trenches. I still have his old tools - they built them to last in those days! He was a very competent wood worker and even turned his hand to cabinet making. I still have the bedside cabinet he made from a wooden banana box AND the book with the instructions he followed to make it. When his house needed new windows, he knocked them up in his shed. He learned bricklaying so that he could knock through the coal house and so turned the outdoor to an indoor loo. Meanwhile, Gran would be processing all that veg, making her own bread everyday and finding time to teach her granddaughter to knit, crochet and sew.
In the summer months my brother and I spent so much time at the Institute. Me and my friend took every opportunity that the tennis court was free for a knock around. I thought the Institute a very exciting place. It was very good for games of hide and seek (we were not actually supposed to mess around in there but we did!)
As I got older I was allowed to help out too. One of my earliest jobs was putting the flags out before a match. Gran made red, white and blue striped ones for the Silver Jubilee year. I occasionally helped get the coal in and once I was old enough to be trusted with hot water in heavy kettles, was apprentice tea maker to Gran and her friend Winnie Aldham on match days. There was no pavilion in those days and at tea time the teams would troop into the little kitchen at the back of the Stute for a cup and a custard cream. It was my job to go round the green collecting the empty mugs afterwards and I never got out of the washing up. In those days all the club competitions took place throughout the year and the finals were held on a Sunday in September. This was a special day. No mugs of tea! I was despatched upstairs to the "China room" to pop matching cups and saucers from a vast array of mismatched crockery into the dumb waiter so that it could be brought down for washing. Then back up again and onto long tables in the long upstairs room (I think we called it the concert room) along with plates and plates of sandwiches, pork pie, sausage rolls and cakes. The Advertiser always sent a photographer to take a pic of the winners holding their trophies and the sun always shone (or at least, that's the way i remember it).
Grandad collapsed in the upstairs room of the institute in 1983 while doing some painting. He was rushed to hospital but sadly died. He loved that place and so did I.
Methodism in Wickersley
There must have been nonconformists in the parish by the beginning of the 19th century but they probably worshipped at the Methodist chapel at Bramley.
In 1806 John Styring's house at Wickersley (35 Morthen Rd, one of the 'Round Houses) was licensed as a place of worship for "protestant dissenters" and a Methodist chapel was built on Wood Lane in 1828.
A Primitive Methodist chapel was erected on Bawtry Road in 1842 and re-placed with a larger building in 1876. The two congregations remained separate after the Methodist Union of 1932 until the present chapel was built in 1967.
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel - close up of stone
John Styring's house on Morthen Rd
Blessed Trinity Catholic Church
The land on which Blessed Trinity stands was purchased by Father Mullan, and it was built as a multipurpose church. Opened in 1961, initially, screens separated the altar and the body of the church, which was used as the hall on social and church business occasions, until a purpose-built hall was added during Fr White's time as parish priest.
Priests of the parish
- 1961 - Father Hannon.
- 1966 - July 1977 - Father CJ Kelleher. Father O'Shea was temporary priest after Father Kelleher's passing.
- 1977 - 1984 - Father Gerry White. The church hall was added during Father White's time at Blessed Trinity.
- 1985 - Monsignor Keegan.
- 1985 - August 1988 - Father Terrence Clifford.
- August 1988 - July 1989 - Holy Ghost Fathers De Leis and Godfrey covered.
- 1989 - 1996 - Father Shaun Smith. The memorial garden and car park were both built during Father Shaun's time.
- 1996 - 2002 - Father AG Attree. During this time, Father Michael Killeen also lived in the presbytery and assisted the parish.
- 2003 - Father Anthony Hayne. Blessed Trinity was twinned with St Mary's Herringthorpe and their priest, Father Hayne became parish priest of Blessed Trinity.