St Edwin’s Chapel and hermitage cross and plaque is a little off the ‘normal’ routes taken in Sherwood Forest but nevertheless is easy to find although can be just as easily walked past without noticing.
from Nottinghamshire History – On the edge of the Sarts area of Birklands, set back from the Ollerton-to-Mansfield road, a tall iron cross marks the site of a royal chapel, chantry, and hermitage dedicated to Edwin, King of Northumbria. A heap of old stones piled round the base of the cross is all that is left of the chapel where King John paid the hermit to pray for his soul.
Story says that the village itself owes its name to the Christian King Edwin, whose body perhaps had temporary burial here after he was slain in The Battle of Hafield Chase at Cuckney by Penda 633 AD thirteen centuries ago. It was afterwards carried to Whitby for burial in the abbey between the moors and the sea.
from Southwell and Nottingham Church History Project – The Revd. Edward V Bond, vicar of Edwinstowe who came there in 1907 rediscovered the site of St Edwin’s Chapel and hermitage in Birkland forest near to King’s Clipstone.
This had been founded by King John as a chantry to pray for the souls of his family and for all whom he had wronged. The Revd E V Bond persuaded the Duke of Portland to erect a metal cross and plaque to mark the site which originally read:
This cross erected by William Arthur 6th Duke of Portland KC in 1912, marks the site of the Royal Chapel Chantry and Hermitage dedicated to St. Edwin, King of Northumberland of which the few stones here collected are evidence. In 1201 King John paid the Hermit of Clipstone, who sang in St. Edwin’s Chapel in the Hay of Birkwade the annual stipend of 40 shillings to celebrate service for his soul and those of his ancestors. Similar payments by succeeding kings are recorded up to 1548. Survey maps show the chapel here in 1619, and 1630.
Details, edited by Colgrave, from the notes on the earliest life of Gregory the Great indicate Trimma lived for a while at Edwin’s temporary burial site and wished to establish a monastery there and the chapel site appears to have been the likely location of this abode.
This Hermitage is documented in 1201, from the accounts of William Brewer, Sheriff of Nottingham and Derby indicates 20s. 0d. was paid that year to the chaplain of Clipstone. Similarly in 1212 king John deemed a regular payment for, ‘there ministering for the soul of king Henry’, his father.
Like payments were made by succeeding kings to the chaplains up to the Dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.
The plaque was difficult to photograph – will have to re-visit.