Welcome to the Parish Church of Saint Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, England.
St. Mary Magdalene Church is set in a peaceful churchyard overlooking the market place in the centre of the town. The building itself is of great architectural interest and is built on the site of an old saxon church. The church tower which stands high above Hucknall town was constructed in stages between the 12th and 14th century whilst the porch was built in 1320. The rest of the building is the result of extensive restoration work which began in 1872. In 1888 the Lady Chapel was re-built, a beautiful example of nineteenth century craftsmanship. The Victorian baptistery which used to contain the 14th century font has now been converted into a Visitor Centre where display boards and wall panels give visitors a chance to find out a little more about the Church. There are also many beautiful carvings and wall mosaics around the church.
The derivation of the name of the town is uncertain. It appears as Hochenale in the Doomesday Book (1086) but it may be derived from the Viking Hucca’s Halth. Until some fifty years ago it was Hucknall Torkard, the suffix “Torkard” going back to the family of that name who were Lords of the Manor from about 1180 to 1320.
It was probably towards the end of the Saxon era that a small hamlet came into being – there are believed to be Saxon remains beneath the Nave of the Church – and the manor house may have stood somewhere between the church tower and West Street.
Hucknall remained a small village until the industrial revolution. In 1801 the population was 1500. By 1881 it had risen to 10,000 and by 1901 to 15,000. Today it is around 30,000. Agriculture and, from the early 18th century, stocking frame knitting were the occupations of most inhabitants.
In the closing years of the 18th century it was said that the River Leen had along its banks more cotton and flour mills than any similar stretch of water in the country. The Luddites were active here in the early years of the 19th century but the hosiery and textile industry developed rapidly and several factories were built in the town. The first railway came through Hucknall in 1843 and coal mining began in 1861. Soon there were two collieries in the town and numerous others nearby.
Until rundown and closure in the 1980s these industries were the town’s major employers. Rolls Royce began operations in Hucknall at the RAF Station in 1934 and many famous aircraft engines have been developed and/or tested here, notably in the early 1950s the first vertical take-off flight of a test rig nicknamed the “Flying Bedstead” the ancestor of the modern jump-jet. The National School was founded by the Church in 1788, though it is recorded that village children were being taught in the Church Porch as early as 1647.