Friday, 9 April 2021

An Exploration of Retford - Part 1

A detail of the Wesleyan Methodist Church
After finishing my very brief exploration of Ordsall and All Hallows church, I didn’t fancy heading into Retford by the same route that I had taken when walking from the railway station, which was a bit grim in places.
A modern house on London Road

Instead, after asking for directions, I decided to take a longer route down the London Road through Thrumpton, alongside which there are numerous large houses of various ages, with many of these being set in large plots of land; however, I walked for more than a kilometre before I found any historic building that particularly took my interest – the Grade II Listed church of St. Alban.
The south elevation of St. Aidan's church

Built 1902-1913 by Charles Hodgson Fowler of Durham and extended by Wood & Oakley of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1931, this church – built in Jurassic oolitic limestone stone from Weldon in Northamptonshire - was closed in 2003 and destroyed by a fire in 2008, with its ruins being left supported by scaffold ever since.

The north elevation of St. Aidan's church

Continuing past the red brick King Edward VI Grammar School, without being able to get near enough to examine the limestone used for the dressings, I crossed over the Chesterfield Canal and followed Carolgate into the town centre.
A view along Carolgate

Various Grade II Listed buildings are found here, dating back to the C18, but all are built with traditional red brick and pantile roofs. These materials are typical of most of the vernacular architecture that is found in Nottinghamshire, where the underlying Triassic strata generally do not produce good building stone.
The Wesleyan Methodist Church

Following the Retford Heritage Trail, which I had picked up at the railway station, I headed off to see the Grove Street Wesleyan Methodist Church, a large and very impressive red brick building with light buff coloured limestone dressings.
Ancaster stone dreesings at the Wesleyan Methodist Church

The limestone used for the dressings, as seen in the Victorian restoration at All Hallows church, is Ancaster stone from the Lincolnshire Limestone Formation, which has been used extensively in the East Midlands. In the Ancaster freestone, graded bedding is quite common and, when these are differentially weathered, ripples in the limestone can be clearly seen.
Scaglola and Italian marble at Bassetlaw Museum

Crossing over to the south side of Grove Street, I had quick look inside the brick built Bassetlaw Museum, dating to the mid C18, but the only architectural details that I recorded were a fine example of scagliola used for various column shafts and a fireplace, where the veined black marble is probably from Italy.
A door pivot stone

There were no geological specimens on display that I saw but, amongst the archaeological exhibits, there is an unusual example of a door pivot stone, which are commonly associated with Iron Age and Roman rural settlements.
St. Swithun's church
Cutting through St. John Street to Chapelgate, I was disappointed to find that all of the gates to St. Swithun’s churchyard were locked. I had to settle for taking a few long distance photographs of the Permian dolomitic limestone church, before stopping at the Sebastopol Cannon, which has a stepped plinth built in a similar limestone.
The Sebastapol Cannon

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