The Domesday survey mentions a church and a priest at Greasley in the time of Edward the Confessor, so there is a long history of a church in this parish. Domesday also mentions a chapel at Hempshill which was in Greasley parish. The parish was in the honour of Peverell and Aylric held of Peverell. The first person to carry the de Greasley title was William who is mentioned in 1139. Ralph de Greasley married Isabella de Muskham in 1212 and their daughter Agnes married Hugh fitz Ralph, son of the Lord of Selston, who became the first Patron of Greasley church. Eustache, daughter of Agnes and Hugh married Nicholas de Cantelupe and later Sir William de Roos and it is these two who are recorded in Archbishop Greenfield's register for February 26, 1294 as presenting Hugh de Cressy as Rector of Greasley church. The first rector was also named Hugh de Cressy, the second another de Cressy whose first name is not recorded. Hugh was described as incorrigible in 1312 when the church was sequestrated for the second time due to his absence from the parish.
The Barony of Canteloupe was created in 1299 and this family held the advowson of the church until Nicholas de Canteloupe founded Beauvale Priory in 1343 and gave the advowson to it at that time. The Priory was situated on land less than a mile to the north of the church. The Priory ruins are on private property but can be seen from a public road running from the side of the Horse and Groom Inn, Moorgreen. The church contains some floor tiles and two roundels of glass, in a window called the 'Beauvale Window', which are from the Priory. The Canteloupe Barony expired c1375 on the death of William, both of whose sons pre deceased him. The Watnall part of the parish was held partly by the Canteloupes and partly by the Chaworth family and this is still reflected in the parts of that village called Watnall Canteloupe and Watnall Chaworth. Following the dissolution of Beavale Priory in 1540 the advowson passed through marriages and land purchases to the Rutland, Melbourne, Palmerston, Sutton and Cowper families until in 1917 Lord Desborough and Lady Lucas requested the Diocese of Southwell take it over.
The parish is unusual in the Midlands for its church being so isolated from the settlements it serves, but there is no readily apparent reason for this apart, perhaps, from the number of farms in the adjacent areas. There is a suggestion that Moorgreen was the Home Farm of Greasley Castle. The church at Kimberley is first mentioned in the Torre manuscript in 1298 when Robert de Kynemarley was patron and John de Kynemarley its first Rector. In 1336 John de Kimmerley passed the manor and advowson to Sir John de Monte, Rector of Greasley, who, in turn, passed it to Nicholas de Canteloupe.
Coal had been extracted from the parish from its very early days and Beauvale Priory owned coal rights in the parish as is shown from leases of mining rights. Later, the church undoubtedly benefited from coal money through the support given by the Barber Walker Company which traces its foundation to 1680. The Barber family were in occupation of Greasley Castle in 1737, they moved to Lamb Close after the then Company Chairman bought Beauvale House and Lamb Close from the Cowper Estate and the Company bought 800 acres of land, including Newthorpe Grange from the estate at the same time which was 1916. The Walker family appears in 1790 in a lease from the Earl of Stamford to Thomas Barber and Thomas Walker. The Walkers lived at Eastwood Hall from 1843 to 1871. Barber Walker Company bought the Brinsley estate from the Duke of Newcastle in 1897 and the advowson of St. Mary's passed thereby to the Company, which was finally liquidated in 1954. The Barber Walker Company and its owning families had a close connection with the church at Greasley and the company supported the employment of a curate for several years.
There were many collieries in Greasley Parish and the surrounding areas, including Newthorpe, Awsworth, High Park, Watnall, Moorgreen, Hilltop, Moorgreen and Brinsley. High Park, sunk in 1856 had work suspended when water from the Great Northern Railway's Moorgreen reservoir burst up into No. 1 shaft. Work was recommenced in 1858, the colliery opened in October 1861 and became the first Nottinghamshire colliery to produce 1,000 tons of coal in a day. Engine Lane at Moorgreen lead to the Barber Walker engine houses, stables and workshops. The population of the parish increased as a result of the employment provided by the coal mines. A piece of land at the end of Occupation Lane, Beauvale, by the footpath to the Beauvale Engine yard became known as 'Dead Mans Land', because coffin bearers on their way from Brinsley to the burial ground at St. Mary's would take a rest there.
There are no working collieries in the parish or surrounding areas today, but headstocks from Brinsley can be seen in the village and at Moorgreen, behind the Garden Centre, a public park area has been built on land which was derelict for many years after the demise of the collieries. The slag heap from Brinsley remains as a pleasantly grassed hill passed by the A610 road. A reminder of the coal industry is seen in the 'Harrison' window in the church. This is dedicated to the memory of John Robert Harrison (1868-1948) who was a local colliery manager.
The parish boundary of Greasley is difficult to walk due to it being mainly rural. A lot of the boundary lies on private land, and nearly all of the eastern side is cut off by the M1. Only part of its boundary with Hucknall can be walked. The fields here are enclosed by trees or large hedges and the area is high up on a hill, yet Hucknall appears higher still. The views from this boundary are quite breathtaking. From here you can see Haggs Farm, the home of D H Lawrences childhood love, Felley Priory, another old monastery and the towers of Beauvale House, jutting out like a fairytale castle from High Park Woods.
The boundary to the south, in Kimberley, shows no signs of any boundary markers as the area is given up to a housing estate. But the south-eastern part of the boundary now forms part of a nature reserve, the land here is quite mystical. Hidden by hedgerows, lies a serene copse, where a small pond with overhanging trees, forms the most perfect swimming place for a summers day. It also has an abundance of footpaths, lined by hedgerows and raspberry and blackberry bushes. Two old quarries have now been filled with water and are used for private fishing. It is only to the north of the parish that public access is easier.
Felley Mill lies next to the north-east parish boundary, all that remains of the mill is the water chute that runs down before disappearing underground to join a small brook. Above the chute lies Felley Mill Pond, sparse reeds and dead trees spring up out of this still water giving it a ghostly appearance. Stones lay in piles on the floor below, covered by moss. At the side of these lay the remains of the mill wall. Such a striking place stays in ones mind forever, just as it did with D H Lawrence, he used it in some of his stories, and Felley Pond was reputed to have been the pond used in his book 'The Rainbow'.
Above the ruins of Felley Mill June 2005, below Felley Pond 2001.
Felley Mill Pond June 2005 now sadly dried up
This long white farmhouse, with its ramshackle appearance, has an eerie look about it, but it is, in fact a working farm. It is situated north of the parish, near to the boundary and the tragic ruins of Felley Mill.