Saturday, 20 June 2015


Scarrington chickens - hanging around!

Scarrington is a quiet village surrounded by meadows and overgrown hedgerows. I say ‘Quiet’ but wherever you go you can hear a loud cockerel calling constantly.  The residents (less than 200) live in an interesting mix of detached houses, cottages and farm houses mostly dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries with some modern housing designed to blend in very well with the rest of the village.  In total there are sixty five houses, three farms and two livery yards. It looks to all the world like nothing has changed here for years but that isn’t the case .... at one time the village had an inn, a butcher, a wheelwright, a carpenter, a joiner, a shoemaker, a blacksmith and a school.  Not anymore.  Today the ‘amenities’ consist of a church, a chapel and a WI hut. 

Road sign
Scarrington was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Scarintone.  There is archaeological evidence that a community has lived here since pre-Roman times.  The spelling of the name has changed many times over the years:  Skerynton, Scherington, Skarynton are just a few. Whatever the spelling they all have a similar pronunciation to Scearning-tun .... Anglo-Saxon for 'dirty farm'!
A more complimentary theory suggests it was originally a Scandinavian 'ton' and it was just the Head of the settlement who was unwashed!  Whatever the origin of the name, the village today is much more salubrious than it sounded to be in the past! 
Main Street Scarrington
This is Main Street.  I love the idea of well maintained lawns on each side of the road instead of concrete paving slabs. Very rural.  Oriental Cherry trees line the road ....... it always looks good but in Spring  the trees are filled with pink blossoms .... spectacular!

Main Street Scarrington

The parish church of St John of Beverley, a Grade I listed building, sits in the heart of the village.
Propped against the church wall you can't fail to notice this warning to drivers ....

A sign worth paying attention to!

.... and here, standing proudly on the church wall, is the loud cockerel!

Ready to jump into the road.

The church only holds one service a month so, unsurprisingly when we tried the door it was locked. One of the key holders, Mr J Howard, lived nearby. He very kindly fetched a massive ornate key and accompanied us back to the building.   It turns out he owns all the chickens that wander quite freely all over the place …. and a lovely brown dog who ferrets around locating eggs, gently picking them up in his mouth and taking them home to Mr Howard.
More chickens hanging about.

The church is dedicated to St John of Beverley, a Bishop of York who built a monastery at Beverley and died in 721AD.  There are only two churches in England named after him..... the other one is two miles away in Whatton! There are no records of St John ever visiting Notts, so why him? It must be more than a coincidence that two communities so close together chose the same patron.  York and Beverley were very powerful religious centres in the 13th and 14th centuries when Scarrington and Whatton churches were being built so perhaps someone was trying to curry favour.

Three bells still hanging in the tower date back to 1450. One of them is inscribed with the badge of the Kempe family. Cardinal John Kempe was another Archbishop of York (so perhaps the name paid off!).  All the old bells are beautifully decorated with Latin phrases in adoration of the Virgin Mary: "Sancta Maria ora pro nobis" and "Ave Maria" reflecting the Roman Catholic origins of the church. Strange to think the future Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer (born a few miles away in Aslockton in 1489), who was instrumental in setting up the Church of England and the split from Rome, could have heard these bells as a boy.

The Church of St John of Beverley

We passed a carved stone font at the doorway.  It dates back to the 1662 and bears a resemblance to the Southwell Minster font (created in 1661 by William Balme of Mansfield) Possibly made by the same craftsman.

An older font stands inside the church. This one was the original one but was thrown out by Cromwell's troops during the Civil War.  Apparently a Scarrington man heard one of the soldiers swearing so attacked and killed him then hid himself in the church roof for a while.  When restoration work was carried out in 1867 they found a cup, saucer, plate and a bundle of hay. The original font was returned to the church in 1900 having been used all those years as a pump trough.

The stone masons had done a wonderful job on the pillars which were decorated with faces, leaves and flowers.  Before pews were placed in churches it was common for the old and infirm to use the pillars as seats … these were wide enough to accommodate quite a few. 
We were also impressed with the stained glass windows.

This was erected by Thomas Vincent Ludlow in memory of his father, Robert Vincent Ludlow.  His mother's window is here:

His mother was Mary Blagg ..... this is a large important family with connections to Screveton and Car Colston.

Outside the gravestones told us stories of people who had lived and died there.
Near the gate is the grave of Francis Rowarth who passed away April 1786 aged 53.  He was buried with his wife, Mary. She died 32 years later in June 1818 aged 77. She was remarried after Francis's death to a much younger man, William Trevit.  He died 6 months after Mary - December 1818 aged 61.  Francis and Mary's children (John and Mary) were also buried there. Sadly, Mary was only 19 when she died in 1796 from "a CASUAL stroke by a horse."
Nearby is Reverend John Standish (vicar of Scarrington for 33 years from 1885 until his death in 1918 and father of 12 children). As a founding member (and Secretary) of the Thoroton Society he took part in their 'Summer Excursions' one of which (to Welbeck Abbey in 1899) is described here.    Mr Howard showed us a collection of historical documents appertaining to the village.  Amongst them was the story of a school master appointed by Rev Standish in October 1892. 
At the time Rev Standish had some doubts about the man’s sobriety so the school master, Mr S Wilkinson, had pledged to abstain from all intoxicating drink in future.  His wage was set at £60 per annum with furnished accommodation in the schoolhouse.
Unfortunately, he had to repeat the pledge in July 1893 but was forced to hand in his resignation on 2nd January 1894 after failing to keep it again. He had obviously enjoyed Christmas way too much!
Another notable resident, Robert Vincent Fisher,  and his wife Mary,  are buried next to their 17 year old son.  Robert Vincent was born in Scarrington House in 1827, a member of the gentry, he served with the South Notts Yeomanry for 20 years.  He would have been in his twenties when the Chartist riots were taking place in Nottingham.  Perhaps he was one of the Yeomen quelling the masses in Old Market Square on their ‘Great Day’ in April 1848 …. who knows?

Amongst the grave stones were signs of a much more recent death.  A pile of feathers and one wing were all that remained of a fox's breakfast. Yet another of Mr Howard's hens.  We left him expressing concern for his own future breakfasts ... the fox is leaving him with a yard full of roosters!

Across the road is The Old Forge (Grade II listed building).  The Blacksmith, George Flinders, has long gone but he left a reminder behind:

The Old Forge (Grade II listed) .... and the horseshoes.

17ft of horseshoes!
Standing at 17 feet in height, composed of 50,000 horseshoes it would weigh around 10 tons.  Constructed by the village Blacksmith, over a period of 20 years between 1945 and 1965, it is thought to be the largest stack of used horse shoes in the world.  In 1973 an American offered to purchase it to ship back home.  The residents were not impressed! Luckily Notts. County Council found the money and saved the day. 
They might have regretted that decision fifteen years later when the unsupported pile began to lean quite dangerously.  You wouldn't have wanted to stand too close if a large tractor trundled by! A combination of souvenir hunters and the bottom of the stack disintegrating meant urgent remedial work was necessary.  Thirty years on it is still standing and looking fine.
Next to the Forge is the Pinfold (Grade II listed building) - a circular brick-built pound for stray animals.  A noticeboard explains that the Pinfold dates back to medieval times.  A Pinder was employed to capture any stray animal that might damage the farmers' crops. In 1789 the Pinder was paid 10d by every cottager and 2d by every farmer at Christmas time. Why the poor old cottagers paid more than the farmers is beyond me!  Once the animals were caught the owners had to pay to get them back: 1d for a horse; 2d for a score of sheep or 4d for a sow or pig.  I wonder if he was ever tempted to kidnap a couple of pigs from the Old Hall on a dark night??
The Old Hall,  Grade II listed.
 Well, I am pleased the Pinfold is no longer in use meaning Mr Howard's roosters are free to roam. I think the fox probably agrees with me!

The WI cat.

Little Lunnon

Little Lunnon no longer exists.  It was a small hamlet of 16 cottages just to the South of Scarrington. 
They were probably built around the middle of the 1700s as homes for labourers or "impotent poor" (people who through age, illness or infirmity could not provide for themselves). 

Little Lunnon   early 1900s
The cottages were built from mud and straw with thatched roofs.  The walls were quite substantial being 18 inches thick.  Inside there was one room downstairs and a bedroom above accessed by a ladder.  There was no sanitation ... a ditch encircled the cottages on three sides to dispose of 'waste'.  Water came from a 7ft well.
Little Lunnon   early 1900s

 By 1834 the poor were sent to the workhouse in Bingham but the cottages remained occupied by other families until 1914 when 7 were demolished (deemed unfit for human occupation).  The hamlet itself was a bit of a tourist attraction at this time as it appealed to the romantic notion of rural life.   
Fire destroyed another cottage, families began to move out and by 1945 only two derelict cottages remained which the council demolished.
Little Lunnon   early 1900s
In 'The Place Names of Nottinghamshire' J E B Glover suggests the name Little Lunnon was a play on "Little London" highlighting the desperate poverty of Lunnon in comparison to the big city.

Link to Google map

Scarrington church window

Scarrington church window

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