No one knows exactly how many carved mice are hidden in the pulpit and pews at All Saints Church, Babworth. Or at least, if they do, they are not telling!
What is known, is that the carved oak mice are the trademark of Yorkshireman, Robert Thompson, born in 1876, who dedicated his life to the craft of carving and joinery in English Oak. It was he who carved the oak fittings in beautiful Babworth Church.
The famous mouse symbol, found on every item crafted by Robert Thompson’s has an uncertain history. The story told by Robert Thompson himself was that one of his craftsmen remarked that they; “were all as poor as church mice”, whereupon Robert carved a mouse on the church screen he was working on. That particular mouse has never been found but it has continued as a trade mark of quality and dedication to craftsman ever since.
Babworth Church is known as the spiritual home of the Mayflower Pilgrims as it was here that William Bradford of Austerfield and William Brewster of Scrooby came to hear Reverend Richard Clifton preach. When he lost his livelihood at Babworth, Clifton held secret meetings at Scrooby Manor, and the beginnings of the Separatist movement were born.
To commemorate the forthcoming 400th anniversary of the Mayflower journey in 2020, Bassetlaw District Council and Sally Outram, Director of Mayflower Pilgrims jointly commissioned a bespoke collection plate from Robert Thompson’s company, complete with mouse, to present to Reverend Cora Yarrien, of the Benefice of Idle and Sand, which includes Babworth Church.
Cllr Jo White, Deputy Leader of Bassetlaw District Council said; “We wanted to present this plate to Babworth as a symbol of our thanks to the Reverend and church wardens at All Saints Church who have gone out of their way to make visitors welcome.
“We have seen a marked increase in Mayflower descendants, tour operators and journalists coming to this area as interest in the 2020 anniversary builds, and we appreciate that Babworth is first and foremost a much loved place of worship with a very loyal congregation. This gift is as much to Babworth’s parishioners as it is to Reverend Yarrien.”
The church at Babworth is one of eight sites where new Pilgrims Trail interpretation boards are to be installed as part of the £750,000 Heritage Lottery supported Pilgrim Roots project led by Bassetlaw District Council. The trail complements a new Pilgrims Gallery at Bassetlaw Museum, scheduled to open in August 2019.
Article courtesy BDC Mediacentre