Friday, 26 June 2015

Thoroton



Thoroton is a small linear village that lies along the west bank of the River Smite. Around 140 people currently live in the village which is surrounded by typical south Notts agricultural scenery. Large arable fields, hedgerows and streams with a few small copses predominate. It is reasonable walking country , none too arduous, but none too inspiring!
Like Scarrington and Hawksworth, two neighbouring villages, there are no shops and more depressingly there are no pubs.
The village was granted conservation status in 1974. The Rushcliffe Borough website describes the village as: '...a traditional Nottinghamshire village in character, with the predominant building materials being red brick and pantiles. The buildings themselves closely define the street but wide grass verges edge the lanes on the main approaches."
The village is well known for its dovecote, one of only three circular ones in the county. Apparently it is 500 years old and was showing its age until it was restored at a cost of £24 000 in 2012.


500 year old dovecote
The restoration work was funded by Nottinghamshie County Council's Local Improvement Scheme. The work included rethatching, re-pointing and the erection of an interpretation panel detailing the history of the dovecote. It is now the only surviving thatched dovecote in Notts. It belonged to Thoroton Hall and stood in the stackyard of Ransom's farm and still had pigeons using the nest boxes as late as the 1960's

Restored dovecote
Approximately 600 nest boxes were built into the walls and the young pigeons, called squibs, were eaten before they fledged at about six weeks old and weighed around 12 ounces before their flight muscles developed. Pigeons can and often do breed all year round so there was a pretty consistent food supply...if you like that sort of thing!

Thoroton Hall stands just along the main road north of the dovecote. This was the village manor and is now a Grade II listed building.The Labour peer Baron Falconer of Thoroton used to live here.


Thoroton Hall. The front facade from the main street.
It dates from the early 18th century with some early 19th century alterations and extensions. In these pictures you can see the blue brick diaperwork (chequer-board pattern) which was a style particularly popular in the preceeding century... for those who could afford it. According to the interpretation panel back at the dovecote "The graduated slate roofs are probably local Swithland slate from Leicestershire, finished with high quality (This is where architect speak kicks in in earnest) stone coped gables and kneelers. It has a double range plan, a single flight return staircase some fielded panelling including window shutters, doors and fireplace and fine late 18th century fire grates."
Thoroton Hall...with gates.
Of course no village is complete without its church and Thoroton is no exception. The church is dedicated to Helen, the mother of the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine. She is reputed to have discovered the true cross when she visited the Holy Land in AD 326. Now called St. Helena, the church was earlier dedicated to the saint in the form St. Helen.


St. Helena church.
Domesday book mentions Thoroton as Torretune and says that it was one of five Nottinghamshire places to have a priest although there was no mention of a church. In 1093 William II Rufus gave the church to the See of Lincoln so it is possible that the original church was built between 1086 and 1093.. The earliest extant feature is the late 12th/early 13th century round-headed north aisle arcade so it must remain conjecture as to whether there was a building prior to this date.
I don't know the correct architectural term but half way up the steeple there is a balustrade type of affair and along the bottom edge are stone carvings of a variety of heads. They must have some significance but why they are all so grotesque or loopy is beyond me. Let's hope they were not modelled on local residents.








Loopy, grotesque and plain wierd head carvings around the spire.
Inside the church there are five stained glass windows with some fine and intricate details.

Stained Glass window St Helena's Thoroton

Stained Glass window St Helena's Thoroton


Stained Glass window St Helena's Thoroton

   
Details of one of the windows.





Ethel Gordon Fenwick was the most famous resident of Thoroton Hall. Ethel was a Scot, born on 26th January 1857. Ethel's doctor father died when she was young and her mother remarried to the MP George Storer and then moved to Thoroton Hall. In 1881, aged 24, Ethel was appointed Matron of St Bartholomew's Hospital after working in other hospitals Manchester and London. Ethel campaigned vigorously for the State Registration of Nurses (SRN) and became the first nurse to become SRN in 1921. Ethel died in 1947and there is an impressive monument to her in the churchyard. as well as an old newspaper clipping in the doorway of the church.

Ethel's monument in the churchyard.
There is an interpretation board in the church which gives some interesting historical information about Saint Helena. Born in 250 AD, she died aged 80 of natural causes. She was born of humble parents in the Roman province of Moesia on the western shore of the Black Sea. Constantin'e father, Constantius Chlorus, who had risen to the throne by military success, was also a native of that region and he had spotted Helena when she was working as an inn-keeper and he whisked her off to become his consort. Their son, Constantine, became emperor on the death of his father and in 312 AD, on the eve of battle, he dreamt of a flaming cross in the sky beneath which were the words 'In this sign conquer.'. He thereupon embraced Christianity, won his battle, got control of the Western Empire and converted his mother to Christianity. She built many churches and restored shrines and when aged 80 she helped clear the mound that covered the holy Sepulchre she, supposedly, uncovered the true cross.
Her patronage is given to Difficult Marriages, Archaeologists and Divorced People! Not much help to the first group then.


Link to Google map:  Thoroton

1 comment:

  1. Some fascinating quirks and facts here. I liked particularly like the images of the multiple grotesques on the exterior of St Helena church, but what a shame that one of Nottinghamshire's only three surviving dovecotes is now cheek by jowl with a modern housing estate.

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