The Angles came around 600 BC and settled above the river crossing and marsh on an ancient loam and flood free gravel terrace (a strand). This was on one of the Erewash delta’s many good, clear, fishing streams. Today the brook and marshes to the south of the village are remnants of the stream. Local Angle chiefs led small communities – Attenborough was known as Addensburgh and was on the Saxon and Viking kingdom’s boundary. The earliest part of Adden’s settlement developed around what is now Church Lane.
The Angles accepted Christianity, and by 964AD a thatched timber, wattle and clay church was built and recorded in the Domesday Book. The Normans replaced it in the 12th century but most of the present building was constructed from the 13th century over 300 years using Derbyshire Millstone grit. The tower and its tenor bell are 14th century, further bells were added and there are now eight including two from 1953 to celebrate the coronation. During the 15th century, the tower had an octagonal spire which was replaced in 1848 by a slimmer and taller spire. In December 2000 the Millennium clock was dedicated.
Internally there is much to see:
• 12th century: blocked up doorway arch in the north wall; old oak door with medieval iron
scrollwork in the south porch; a large slab incised with a cross – an impressive coffin lid • 13th century: nave arcades – the northern column capitals have carvings of ‘gentle faces and foliage’, whilst those on the south side have ‘hideous’, ‘grotesque’ and ‘fanciful heads and monsters’ • 14th century: octagonal font; carved bench ends • Early Jacobean: carved wood panels of a belted nude horn-player charming a great dragon and another portraying a merman • 15th century: the chancel was given fine perpendicular style windows. • 20th century: the interior was ”beautified” in the early 1900s and a fine organ was installed; stained glass windows were installed • There are several interesting memorials and hatchments including the Charltons of Chilwell Hall, Foljambes, Admiral BorlaceWarren, Miss Day and Powtrells
The Honorary Assistant minister to the parish prior to 1993 was the Rev George Carey before he served as Archbishop of Canterbury.
St Mary’s continues to serve the community as a place of worship, prayer and reflection. Its peaceful surroundings, beauty and long history still providing stability and peace.
Jim Crabtree, Rev. Jonathan Smithson, Gill Linton-Smith