Church of St Mary Magdalene, Newark-on-Trent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Coordinates: 53°04′36″N 00°48′30″W / 53.07667°N 0.80833°W / 53.07667; -0.80833

St Mary Magdalene's Church
St Marys Newark.JPG
Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene
Denomination Church of England
Dedication St Mary Magdalene
Bells 10
Parish Newark-on-Trent
Deanery Newark and Southwell
Archdeaconry Newark
Diocese Southwell and Nottingham
Province York
Rector Revd Stephen Morris
(Priest in charge)
Vicar(s) Revd Sam Tredwell (Team Vicar of Christ Church)

The Church of St Mary Magadalene, Newark-on-Trent is a parish church in the Church of England in Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire.

The church is Grade I listed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as a building of outstanding architectural or historic interest.


The present church is the third on this site. The Saxon church that stood on the site was in the manor of the Earl of Mercia and his wife Lady Godiva, but nothing of that structure now remains. Newark had been granted by the Earl to the monks of Stow.[1]

The church[edit]


It is notable for the tower and the octagonal spire (236 feet (72 m) high), the highest in Nottinghamshire[2] and reputed to be the fifth tallest in the UK.[3] The central piers remain from the previous church, dating from the 11th or 12th century. The upper parts of the tower and spire were completed about 1350; the nave dates from between 1384 and 1393, and the chancel from 1489.

The sanctuary is bounded on the south and north by two chantry chapels, the former of which has on one of its panels a remarkable painting from the Dance of Death. There are a few old monuments, and an exceedingly fine brass of the 14th century. There is a hole in the spire which was supposedly made by a musket ball during the Civil War, although there is doubt locally as to the truth of the story. This hole is visible from some parts of the town centre.

The interior[edit]

Interior view of the church

On the north wall hangs the oil painting The Raising of Lazarus by William Hilton RA. It was previously used as an altarpiece for the High Altar.

It was heavily restored in the mid nineteenth century by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The reredos was added by Sir Ninian Comper.

The reredos, given in 1937 in memory of William Bradley and his wife Elizabeth, was designed by Sir Ninian Comper.

The Magnus Bequest[edit]

The church is supported by the Magnus Bequest, a charitable foundation created in the early 1530s by Thomas Magnus, who gave farms and lands in south Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire for a fourfold purpose:

  • The establishment and endowment of a free grammar school;[4]
  • The provision and endowment of a song school to ensure the maintenance of a high standard of worship in the parish;[5]
  • the provision of a sufficient sum to guarantee the efficient administration of the bequest and proper upkeep of the farms and lands from which the income was to be derived;
  • the provision of occasional sums to be used for the general well-being of the church or the town (if there be any surplus after the first three objects had been fully accomplished).



The organ

At the beginning of the 19th century a new organ, by George Pike England, with three manuals, was provided by the trustees of the Magnus, Brown's and Phyllypott's charities at a cost of £1,300. It was opened on 11 November 1804 by Thomas Spofforth.[6]

It was placed on the west gallery from where the choir sang services. In 1814 the organ was re-located on the chancel screen and the choir returned to the chancel. In the 1850s the organ was rebuilt by Forster and Andrews of Hull, provided with a new case and again re-located, this time to its present position in the south choir aisle.

In 1866 the organ was rebuilt and enlarged by Henry Willis. Willis virtually doubled the size of the instrument and its case, creating a large Romantic four-manual organ. The organ was again rebuilt by William Hill & Sons in 1910 at the expense of Mrs Becher Tidd Pratt and family, and subsequently by Hill, Norman and Beard in 1924, 1938, 1964 and 1978 when it was rebuilt and more voices added.

It is now electrically operated by the Ellen Dynamic Transmission system which allows much greater mobility of the organ console, providing more direct contact with the congregation and the choir; it is the first four-manual instrument in the country to be so equipped, enabling a live performance to be electronically recorded and replayed automatically.[7]

The Choir[edit]

The choir stalls and high altar

The Choral Foundation was set up by Thomas Magnus in 1532[4][5] and was said to be the only existing pre-reformation choir outside cathedrals and Oxbridge colleges. Girl choristers were admitted into the main choir from 2008.

In February 2012 choral services stopped following the dismissal of the Master of the Song School.[8] The choir was refounded in 2015. It has an emphasis on the training of young people, supported by the Magnus Bequest.

Masters of the Song School[edit]

Masters of the Song School, the Magnus Foundation, Newark

There have been appointments since at least 1532.

Tower and south of the church


The church hosts several concerts, including a "Music for Market" series at lunchtime on Saturdays.[14]

Assistant organists[edit]

Vicars of Newark[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pask, B. M. (1995), The Parish Church of St, Mary Magdalene, The District Church Council of The Parish Church of St, Mary Magdalene, Newark, ISBN 0-9516888-8-X
  2. ^ Britain Express. "Newark on Trent, St Mary Magdalene church". Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  3. ^ "Newark St Mary Magdalene - Introduction". Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Home page". Newark-upon-Trent, United Kingdom: Magnus Church of England School. Retrieved 28 April 2012. Magnus Church of England School was formed from the amalgamation of two schools: the Magdalene High School, which was named after Newark's Parish Church, St. Mary Magdalene, and the Thomas Magnus School. Thomas Magnus was Chaplain to King Henry VIII and gave money to start a Grammar School and a Song School. 
  5. ^ a b "Sing a Song for Newark". Lincolnshire Echo. Lincoln, England: Northcliffe Media. 21 February 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2012. The Song School or music department at Newark Parish Church has a rich history. Established by Thomas Magnus in 1532, at a time when many choral foundations were being destroyed by King Henry VIII, the original choir consisted of just six men and six boys to sing the daily services. 
  6. ^ "N13568 Version 3.1". National Pipe Organ Register (NPOR). Reigate, United Kingdom: The British Institute of Organ Studies. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "D06241 Version 3.1". National Pipe Organ Register (NPOR). Reigate, United Kingdom: The British Institute of Organ Studies. Retrieved 28 April 2012. 
  8. ^ "Choristers fall silent". Newark Advertiser. Newark-on-Trent, United Kingdom: Advertiser Group Newspapers. 16 February 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2012. 
  9. ^ Warner, Tim. "Hamlet lay outside the town walls". Newark Advertiser. Newark-on-Trent, United Kingdom: Advertiser Group Newspapers). Retrieved 28 April 2012. A deed from May, 1507, (quoted by N. G. Jackson in his history of the Magnus) makes reference to a Robert Kyrkbye of Osmundthorpe who was described as a 'singing man' (presumably a music teacher). This is thought to be the same Kyrkbye who became first master of the Magnus Song School from 1532 to 1574. 
  10. ^ "John Alcock (Jun): Eight Easy Voluntaries for the Organ (London 1775)". Greg Lewin Music: New Titles. Bridgnorth, United Kingdom: Greg Lewin Music. Retrieved 28 April 2012. John Alcock jun (1740–1791) was a chorister under his father at Lichfield Cathedral. He took his BMus degree at Oxford in 1766. He was Organist and Master of the Song School at Newark from 1758 to 1768 and organist of St Matthew's church, Walsall from 1773. 
  11. ^ Who's Who in Music. Shaw Publishing Co. Ltd. London. First Post-war Edition. 1949/50
  12. ^ "Newark Parish Church's new director looks to musical future". Newark Advertiser. Newark on Trent. 22 June 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  13. ^ "New director of music for Newark Parish Church". Newark Advertiser. Newark on Trent. 16 November 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "Music for Market – Saturday lunchtime concerts in Newark – Royal School of Church Music: Southwell & Nottingham". Retrieved 2016-06-09. 
  15. ^ Lincolnshire Chronicle - Friday 11 March 1864
  16. ^ "Warm Welcome for Priest". Newark Advertiser. Newark upon Trent. 22 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014. The Rev Stephen Morris was welcomed to the town by members of the church and the community. 

External links[edit]