Holy Trinity


There is no mention of a church at Besthorpe in Domesday Book.

In the 1291 taxatio of Pope Nicholas IV, South Scarle and Girton are both recorded as prebends of Lincoln, but there is no mention of Besthorpe. In 1316, the townships of South Scarle and Besthorpe are returned together in the feudal roll as belonging to the bishop of Lincoln, but once again without specific mention of a church at Besthorpe.

It may originally have been a chapel-of-ease built c.1535 for South Scarle St Helena.

Instructions to the churchwardens from the Archdeacon’s court in c1637 reveal information about the condition of the church. These instructions were part of a wider drive throughout the Church of England to make sure that church buildings were in good order and repair. The churchwardens of Besthorpe had presented their vicar to the Archdeacon’s court for not reading prayers in the chapel, the vicar ‘held that he was neither bound to do so nor to repair the chancel there’. The vicar was dismissed and the churchwardens were ordered to repair the chancel.

However, a written return to the Archdeaconry in 1638 also tells of the church being in very bad condition:

There is no Chappel yard fenced aboute, the Chancell is utterly ruinated & all fallen downe but the eastern wall, the Chappell altogether ruinous, a lattice is placed for the windowe in the East end & the other window is open … there is an ancient font but noe cover for it, the belfray is shamefully defiled with dirt & rubbish, there is neither books nor any ornaments at all for the Chappell & an old plough is laid in the Chappell.

In 1734 the remains of Besthorpe chapel were used to build a school house and a house for the master. This is mentioned in the records of the visitation of Archbishop Drummond in 1764. The vicar of South Scarle Parish reported that ‘There was a chapel at Besthorpe formerly and some remains when I came and we built a school house with what remains were left’.

The school taught 8 free scholars using legacies left by George Carver in 1709 and William Wilson in 1824.

View of the village hall
(formerly the schoolroom)
before 2014.

The school building was demolished in 1844 and the present red brick and slate chapel was erected on the site. £400 was raised by subscription to build it and it was consecrated by the Bishop of Lincoln on 11 September 1844. A new schoolroom was also built nearby to accommodate 80 children.

Besthorpe chapel is mentioned in the 1851 census. It was listed under the parish of South Scarle and was attached to the living. The parish had a population of 340 people. Holy Trinity had space for 195 people and a general congregation of 120 people was present in the evening. However, it was unendowed and no services were performed within the chapel because there were no funds to pay a curate with.

White’s Directory of 1864 recorded that in 1842 the large tithe of Besthorpe was commuted for £225 and the small tithe for £44.

Holy Trinity underwent restoration and enlargement in 1897. An apsidal chancel was added to the church, the original wooden window frames were replaced with stone and tinted glass, the floor was concreted and a new pulpit and altar rails installed. While the work was being carried out the parishioners worshipped in the adjoining disused schoolroom.

In the records of the visitation of Sir Edward Hoskyns, Bishop of Southwell, in 1912, Holy Trinity was listed as part of South Scarle with Besthorpe Chapelry and Girton. The vicar was W G Spearing and the curate was J W C Lavers. The value of the benefice was £210. The population of Besthorpe in 1911 was 493 and the church could accommodate 100 people. 25 children were on the Sunday School roll.

In 2009 the bellcote was refurbished and a new roof was erected.

In 2013-14 a building project to link the church to the adjacent village hall and create a 'a clean, modern and well equipped multi-functional space' was undertaken. Both buildings are now known as Trinity Hall: the church itself is called Trinity Room and the former schoolroom/village hall is called The Carver Room. At the same time the Victorian pews, pulpit and lectern were removed from the church, an oak floor laid and underfloor heating installed.

In 2015-6 the ornate Victorian railings and gates and churchyard walls were restored.