17 July 2012

Writers in Churches in Nottinghamshire #6: Thomas Cranmer in Aslockton and Whatton-in-the-Vale

This east window by Michael Stokes at St Thomas, Aslockton, with Christ showing the nail marks on his hands, is dedicated to Thomas Cranmer, who was born in the village.

At the bottom of the left light is the name Thomas Cranmer, with his date of birth (1489), and the year of his death (1556).

Cranmer is particularly noted for his work on The Book of Common Prayer.

Admidst a little controversy, the Thomas Cranmer Centre in Aslockton was recently built as an extension to the church itself, involving the partial demolition of the north wall. This painting in the Centre of Cranmer is a copy of Gerlach Flicke's portrait of 1545.

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The north aisle of St John of Beverley church in Whatton-in-the-Vale (less than one mile from Aslockton) is the oldest part of the church, and the east end – once a lady chapel – was re-dedicated to Thomas Cranmer in 1957.

 'IN PROUD AND
THANKFUL MEMORY OF
THOMAS CRANMER
ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY 1533–1556
TO WHOSE PIETY, LEARNING, SKILL IN LETTERS
THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER
GIVES ABIDING WITNESS.
THIS CHAPEL
IN THE CHURCH WHERE HE WORSHIPPED
AS A BOY WAS RESTORED TO THE
BEAUTY OF HOLINESS
A. D. 1957'


A note in the chapel says that the stone above this close-up is a lifesize memorial to Thomas Cranmer's father, and shows a squire resting and praying, his head on a cushion between the family arms. On the right is a chevron with three cranes: '[a]n heraldic pun for Crane Mer. The lake that provided the habitat for these fine birds gave its name to the Cranmer family village, Aslockton'. Around the figure is the inscription:

'HIC JACET THOMAS CORNMER ARMIGER QUI OBIIT VICESIMO SEPTIMO DIE MENSIS INUII DINI D MILLISIMO M QUINCEN PRIMO CUIUS ANIME PROPICIETUR DEUS. AMEN'

The translation is given:

'Here lies Thomas Cranmer, gentleman, who died on the 27th day of the month of May in the year of Our Lord 1501. May God have mercy on his soul. Amen.'

'In the adjoining hamlet of
ASLACKTON was born, on the
second of July, 1489, the ever-
memorable DOCTOR THOMAS
CRANMER, sometime RECTOR
of this church, ARCHBISHOP of
CANTERBURY in the reigns of
HENRY the eight, EDWARD the
sixth, and the former part of
that of Queen MARY, and the
most eminent Prelate who ever
filled the metropolitan see.
HE was one of the principal
promoters of the REFORMATION,
and had a leading hand in the
compilation of the RUBRIC, the
ARTICLES and HOMILIES of
the established protestant-
church, and, during the pers-
ecutions in the reign of MARY
the first, he suffered Martyr-
dom, by being burnt at a stake,
opposite BALIOL-COLLEGE,
OXFORD, on the 20th. of March
1556, 7 [sic], and died triumphing
his REDEEMER JESUS CHRIST!

                                                  G.P.'

The Cranmer chapel is in front of the window to the left of the photo.

(I visited this church because of the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham's Open Churches Weekends (Saturday and Sunday 14 and 15 July and 21 and 22 July 2012). Details of participating churches and opening times are listed here.)

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