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St Mary, Clifton, Nottinghamshire

(52°54′31″N, 1°11′49″W)
SK 541 349
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Nottinghamshire
now Nottingham
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • Simon Kirsop
  • Simon Kirsop
4 May 2005

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Feature Sets

Clifton is a large suburban village in the Cirty of Nottingham, 3 miles S of the city centre. The church is in the part of Clifton called Clifton village, which also includes Clifton Hall, on the site of the medieval manor, home of the Clifton family since the 13thc. St Mary's is a cruciform building consisting of a chancel, N and S transepts, central tower, clerestoried nave with aisles, a N porch and a modern extension beyond the S transept. The N arcade is the oldest part of the present church and the two most easterly bays would appear to date from around 1200. At a later date the church was extended westwards by one bay and the W respond of the arcade moved and an additional pier with a plain capital inserted. The S arcade, also of three bays, dates from the 14thc. The two lower stages of the crossing tower are also 14thc. while the upper stage is 15thc., as is the chancel.

The S transept contains a considerable number of tombs of the Clifton family who were Patrons of the church. Under a licence dated 24 October 1476 Sir Robert Clifton established a chantry. This was confirmed in the reign of Edward IV and consisted of a warden and two chaplains.

The church was restored in 1893-94 and again in the 1960-70s, this time with George Pace as architect. The only Romanesque feature, and that a late one, is the arcade between the nave and N aisle.


A manor of 2½ carucates was held by Countess Gode before the Conquest and by William Peverel in 1086. A priest and a church at were also recorded in the Domesday Survey. In the late 13thc the manor was purchased by Gervase de Clifton from the family of de Rodes, adopting the manor's name as his own. The manor remained in the Clifton family throughout the Middle Ages and beyond.


Interior Features



Pevsner notes that the arcade has a range of features not normally seen together; the heads on the label stops and the waterleaf capitals are unusual in combination with such transitional elements as the dogtooth moulding and the keeled rolls in the arches. The waterleaf of the E respond and capital on pier 1 is quite bold and well executed, certainly when compared to that on the W respond. The use on the N side of bay 2 of a somewhat truncated nailhead ornament instead of the dogtooth used elsewhere is somewhat unusual. Pevsner suggests a transitional date for the arcade and the List Description agrees with him, by which we may conclude that anywhere between c.1180 and c.1200 is possible.


Anon. St Mary the Virgin Clifton, n.d, n.p.

J C Cox, County Churches: Nottinghamshire. London 1912, 59-65.

H Gill, 'The Church of St Mary, Clifton', Transactions of the Thoroton Society, vol. 23 (1919), 23-32.

Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID: 457258

N Pevsner and E Williamson, The Buildings of England, Nottinghamshire, 2nd ed. London 1979, reprinted (with corrections)1997, 268-70.

R. Thoroton, Thoroton's History of Nottinghamshire, Nottingham 1796, 1, 102-117