St Giles


The village is mentioned in Domesday Book as being part of the sokelands of Newark-on-Trent belonging to the Bishop of Lincoln.  The entry reads, ‘In Balderton are 6.5 bovates of land to the geld. There is land for 3 ploughs. There 26 sokemen and 3 bordars have 9 ploughs.’ The fact that a priest is not mentioned does not mean that there was not a church in the village at the time, as Newark with its ‘outliers’ of Balderton and Farndon had 10 churches and 8 priests; Balderton may have been included in this calculation.

St Giles is a Grade I listed building which was first listed in 1967.

The Parish church has been built piecemeal over the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries and then restored in c.1880 with 20th century additions. At the Pope Nicholas IV taxation in 1291, Balderton and Farndon were together valued at £53 6s 8d annually, and were described ‘…que sunt prebende in dicta ecclesia Lincoln'. The church was thus shown as belonging to the Lincoln Prebend, giving the earliest date by which there is historical mention of a church present in the village.  It was also noted during this period that the son of the chaplain at Balderton had hanged himself. Francesco Orsini, in 1306, is the first prebendary that we have documented. There is also in existence a copy of the deed whereby the vicarage was formed in 1318 by the Archbishop of York – the joint parishes of Balderton and Farndon constituting a prebend of Lincoln with a common vicar. The church is described as being much beautified in the early 14th Century, although there are no details of the form of these improvements.

At the 1428 Henry VI subsidy, Balderton and Farndon are again grouped together as a prebend of Lincoln, and were taxed at £5 0s 8d, showing that nothing had significantly changed in terms of income, since 1291. At the end of Bishop Langland’s register of memoranda is a copy of an indenture dated April 20 1543, granting a lease for 40 years of the parsonage of Farndon and Balderton, excepting presentations to the vicarages of these two places.  In in this document it is set out that the Prebendary, Richard Benes, let to John Pickering the parsonage of Farndon and Balderton with all the glebe lands tithes, this included amongst other things the right to dig for ‘stone, chalk, playster and earth’ for the making of bricks.  The Prebendary for his part under took to keep in good order the chancel of the churches as well as other buildings belonging to the church in these parishes.

In 1559 the church commissioners reported that the parson was not resident and that the fabric was thought to be in a general state of decay due to lack of repairs.  This was still the case in 1587 when the chancel was reported to be still in a state of decay and that there were absentees from the church.  The church was not well administered in this period, as in 1573 it was noted that the curate was not licensed to administer the sacraments, and then in 1584 the vicar (John Mytton) was charged with failing to administer the sacraments on Christmas Day in the preceding year.

In 1603 the Churchwardens and swornmen presented the following: ‘our chancel is greatly decayed, but whether the default is in Mr Archdeacon Pratt, prebendary, or Oliver Bellamy, the farmer [of the tithes], we do not know’. However, in 1608, they presented ‘Oliuer Bellime for the default of the chancel being unrepaired’.

In 1646 129 people were buried in the churchyard having died of the plague, this is in contrast to the 19 who had died the year before. This large increase in numbers was blamed on the final stages of the Civil War being fought in the area.

In 1676 the vicar, James Alt, returned that there were in the parish 256 inhabitants of age to take the sacraments; there were none suspected of recusancy, but 6 persons either distinctly refused to partake of the Cup or wholly absented themselves on such days as required by law to communicate.

In 1680 the Wigglesworth Charity produced £3 a year which was distributed in bread and coals. 

In Archbishop Herring’s returns in 1743, there are 60 families shown in the parish with one of those being Quakers.  There were no meeting houses, schools, almshouses, hospitals or other charitable endowments.  The vicar who was responsible for two churches did not live in the village due to ill-health and administered both parishes from Newark without the aid of a curate.  All of those who attended the church were baptised although a few had not been confirmed.  Despite the Act of Conformity the public service was not read twice on Sundays as the incumbent had 2 parishes to attend (Balderton and Farndon), due to their poverty and so did not have time to perform 4 services in one day. The catechism was taught once a year to all of those of an age to learn who had not been catechised.  Communication was held four times a year, but of the hundred people entitled to communicate only about 50 did so. The communion was announced the week before but names were not submitted, although it was reported that if they had been then none would have been refused. All this information was given to the Archbishop by William Brodhurst who was the current incumbent.

Despite the assertion in the Archbishops’ returns that there were no endowments or a school in the village Bailey’s Annals of Nottinghamshire mentions Alvey’s Sunday Bread Charity (1723) and also records that Alvey founded and endowed a school in 1726.  In 1727 Gibson left property for the poor, and a Sunday school was built. This school (which became a weekday school) was later housed in a building built in 1873 and enlarged in 1893, during which restoration the clerestory was removed.

In the returns made to Archbishop Drummond the then vicar indicates that there are about 90 families in the parish with one Quaker; the school has 6 boys and 6 girls attending and taught by the Master and Mistress. There is a note about benefactions of bread and coal. There were about 30 communicants, a number which rose to 45 at Easter. In the 1790s, Throsby wrote of Balderton:

‘The village consists of 100 dwellings; but no Meeting-house therein. The chapel which is dedicated to St. Giles, has a nave and two side aisles, with a spire and 4 bells. Here is a good Saxon arch in the north porch. Rev. Wm. Broadhurst, Vicar died in 1763. Daniel Gash, Esq. died in 1765, aged 73; William Ellis, Esq. died in 1767, aged 61.—Under an inscription for Ann Leek, who died in 1660, are these lines, "To deathe a tyrant, or when virgin's dye, To it a crosse, increase and multiply. The tyrant fails, the better parte survives. And still God's kingdom by depriving  threives. Death hath not slain, or soyled a soul but sent, In virgin coyne to pay Dame Nature's rent, Before the day so swift is heavenly race, The next to th' Martires is the virgin's place."

In 1806 the vicar was given license to live away from the parish due to ill health. It seems to have been the pattern for the vicars of this parish.

There is evidence that some restoration work on the church was undertaken in the mid-1850s by the Nottingham architect, G. G. Place. The Nottinghamshire Guardian for 5 June 1856 reported that he had presented plans for the restoration of Balderton church to the committee for the Lincoln Diocesan Architectural Society. Pevsner states that Place was responsible for the triple lancet east window of the chancel in the same year.

A thorough restoration of the church fabric took place 1882-3 under the architect James Fowler of Louth. The walls of the aisles and tower were found to be in such poor condition that the facing stones were removed and replaced by new ones in Ancaster stone. The work also involved the rebuilding of the roofs, the removal of the clerestory, the addition of a chancel arch in place of the old timber gable, and the raising of the east chancel window by several feet. In addition, the old pulpit was cleaned and restored, the chancel screen partly restored and encaustic tiles laid throughout the building.

The Bishop of Sherwood dedicated the new chapel which had been formed in one of the side aisles in 1978. This was intended to hold smaller services, especially during mid-week.

In 1980 the 157 year old cockerel which formed part of the weather vane was removed from the church tower in order for it to be restored for the first time in its existence. Mr D. Avey of Kingsway, Balderton, regilded it; it was originally made out of copper which was then gilded by Bousfields of Newark.

The clock-face was repainted in 1989 by Mr. J. Lee.