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St Mark's Building and Dedication
by Reg Beardsley (1921-2013) sometime Churchwarden
Reproduced by kind permission of family

The story of St. Mark's has to start in 1870 - twenty seven years before a permanent church was built and a Parish was created.
In that year a building known as the 'Navvy Mission' was dedicated for the use and benefit of those employed in the erection of the railway viaduct which is still a feature of the centre of Mansfield.
The Mission stood to the southwest of the Stockwell Gate / Belvedere Street / Rosemary Street intersection.
In 1889 the 'Red Barn', as it had become known, was taken over to serve the new St. Mark's District created out of part of the Parish of St. Peter and St. Paul, with a population of about 3,500. In addition to the building being used for services, it served for the social and educational activities of the St. Mark's District.
There was also a small Schoolroom in Quarry Lane which is across the road from the present church and church hall.
The Revd. E.H.C. Stephenson was the first incumbent: he could not be called vicar until parish status was accorded on the building of a permanent church.
Fr. Stephenson made further provision for his flock by having a corrugated iron building erected on a site adjacent to the present church location.
The land given by the then Duke of Portland, and Lord of the Manor of Mansfield, was added to by purchase.
The 'Iron Room' was dedicated on St. Mark's Day (25th April) 1892 by the Suffragan Bishop of Derby.
When, in December 1893, Fr. Stephenson moved to another parish, the fund for a permanent church building stood at £2,000.
The Revd. A.G. Henley, who followed Fr. Stephenson, with considerable foresight engaged the services of
Mr. Temple Moore, a leading church architect of his day.

The new church was to be built on the promontory at the junction of Portland Street with the Nottingham Road.

Its south elevation would overlook Titchfield Park which was an area previously known as the Water Meadows.

The foundation stone was laid by the Duke of Portland on the 26th May 1896, with the first Bishop of Southwell, George Ridding, conducting the service.
The construction was carried out by a local builder, Thomas Fisher, using stone from a quarry at Mansfield Woodhouse made available by the Duke of Portland: Ancaster stone was used for the tracery of the windows.
The Bishop of Southwell consecrated the new church on the 24th November 1897.
People are puzzled by the fact that St. Mark's has a tower which is small in relation to the rest of the building.
The original scheme drawn up by the architect provided for a significant tower standing near where the south gateway now is, with cloisters connecting to the church. Though further money had been raised to add to the £2,000 the fund was by no means sufficient to meet the cost. In fact there was not
enough money to enable the spire, shown in a sketch published at the time of the laying of the foundation stone, to be added to the modest tower that had been accepted.
Nevertheless the building was acclaimed as a noteworthy example of church architecture in the East Midlands.
The Shell Guide to England, in a brief but pertinent note, does advocate St. Mark's Church, Nottingham Road, as being well worthy of a visit as "one of the best Victorian churches, built to the design of Temple Moore".

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