Farnsfield St Michael


North elevation of the
church before 1859

The present building is almost entirely a rebuilding of a former church which was affected by a fire in 1859. The original form was a simple nave and tower without spire, with a south porch and east extension. A photograph of the north elevation prior to the fire indicates a very simple chancel perhaps of 18th century date without defining dating evidence; a nave of coursed rubble stone with two 'Y-bar' traceried windows of unclear date, but perhaps c.1300, and a blocked doorway of similar date. The tower was of coursed ashlar stone with double lancet belfry windows, perhaps of the 13th century, though the general construction appears later, and there was a crenellated parapet and large buttresses almost certainly of 15th century date. A former roof line, steeply pitched, is visible on the east face of the tower above the nave roof.

The church from
the south-east

The present much larger church with nave, side aisles and chancel is on a larger footprint and retains only the lower part of the original tower of the older church, which includes corner buttresses. It is broadly in the 14th century style externally with fenestration echoing early Geometric style, and internally it is of 13th century form with circular aisle piers and chamfered arcades.

There are a number of interesting timbers that appear to pre-date the 19th century in the lower part of the tower but their date of felling is unknown. Dendrochronology may help confirm the date of the original timbers.

Inspection of old plans indicate some former buildings on the north side in the present churchyard alongside the highway.

Technical Summary

Timbers and roofs

Main Massive arched braces supported on side brackets and columns with double Hammerbeam detail above between braces and principal rafters. Ties at apex of braces with king posts above. All 1859/60. Apsidal with open rafters and double feet, culminating in a common apex. All 1859/60. Spire. Timber construction, heavy cross braces at mid-height with wind braces and struts above. All 1859/60.
S.Aisle Lean-to with cross rafters, 1859/60 n/a  
N.Aisle Lean-to with cross rafters, 1859/60    
Other principal      
Other timbers     Tower 1st floor ceiling has heavy ties and clearly pre-C19th planking above. Floor and related struts have heavy, chamfered timbers also. Probably medieval.


Timber bellframe, Elphick 'W' type, Pickford Group 6.D. but with double braces in places, probably 1859-60 and perhaps 1933. Additional cast iron frame to west for single bell Pickford Group 8.3.A.h. by Taylors of Loughborough, 1974.

Not scheduled for preservation Grade 4.


Plaster covering & date Plastered and painted, C19th and C20th. Plastered and painted, C19th and C20th Open stonework.
Potential for wall paintings No visible evidence. No visible evidence. None.

Excavations and potential for survival of below-ground archaeology

There have been no known archaeological excavations.

The fabric of the body dates entirely from a rebuilding of 1859-60 with the exception of the lower part of the tower which is probably C15th. It is expected that below-ground stratigraphy will be very heavily disturbed throughout, although remnants of medieval deposits may remain at depth and may survive better in and around the tower. Apparently medieval timbers survive at first floor level in the tower; above this height the structure is heavily restored and partially rebuilt in 1859-60 though evidently reusing medieval masonry in part.

The churchyard is rectangular with the church positioned towards the northern end. It was extended in 1869 and again in 1916. Marked burials are present on all but the west side but with majority to the south. There may formerly have been buildings fronting the highway on the north side.

The overall potential for the survival of below-ground archaeology in the churchyard, is considered to be MODERATE, comprising burials and much evidence of rebuilding in the C19th, perhaps with evidence of buildings on the north side. Below the present interior floors of the rebuilt church it is considered to be LOW-MODERATE. The standing fabric of the church is all C19th rebuilding with the exception of the lower part of the tower and the potential for surviving medieval archaeology in the standing fabric of nave and chancel is considered to be LOW and in the tower HIGH-VERY HIGH.

Exterior: Burial numbers expected to be average with early burials clustered around the south and east sides. Perhaps evidence of domestic buildings to the north.

Interior: Stratigraphy under the church is likely to be very heavily disturbed mid-C19th rebuilding layers but with the possibility of some survival of medieval deposits beneath. Earlier stratigraphy may be better preserved in and around the tower.