Saturday, 25 July 2015


Driving through the corn fields towards Screveton you get a bit of a surprise .... these strange green giants dominate the skyline. They are wonderfully lifelike in a strange sort of way!  They may be made of green plastic leaves but looking up at this enormous topiary woman made me remember my grandmother's apron and her headscarf covering the curlers. Brilliant and well worth a look.

Topiary figure Screveton
They were made by Pirate Technics and first displayed at the Festival of Neighbourhood at the Southbank Centre, near Waterloo Bridge then they were moved to the Olympic Park for a time.  Now they are in the middle of a Notts field .... can't imagine the logistics involved in moving them ... let alone the looks of motorists if they came here by road!

Topiary figures by Pirate Technics
They are certainly causing a stir which is good news for Farmeco.  This is a community care farm that is working to reconnect people to food and farming. David Rose and his team are doing a fabulous job.  Farmeco is exactly what it says ... they are looking after the environment; working with the community and running a productive farm.  They organise a community yoga group; a bread-making group; an allotment group; they have a community care farm; every autumn people bring their own fruit to the farm presses; they sell pigs, hens, ducks and goats and they run a Saturday cafĂ© ... there is no end to the work they do! What a great addition to the community. You can read more about David Rose's work here.
In the meantime here is another giant that has appeared on the farm.  This one was at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show a few weeks ago.

Giant pilot made for RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015
He is rather aptly dressed for these parts because, sadly, another reason people visit this village is the war memorial to eleven young men who lost their lives here in 1944.

Screveton War Memorial
At 3.35pm on the 14th April, 1944, a young trainee pilot, 21 year old B H Dennis took off  from Wymeswold accompanied by his instructor, 22 year old J A Hawkins.  Fifteen minutes later a second plane, a Lancaster, took off from Syerston. There were two trainee pilots, an instructor and six other crew members on board (their ages ranged from 28 to just 19 years).  Both planes were on routine training flights.  At 4.30pm both were at 1000ft over Screveton as they collided in mid-air.  J A Hawkins was thrown from the plane by the collision and managed to parachute to the ground. Everyone else died on impact as the two planes fell to earth. According to eyewitnesses both young pilots had guided their planes away from the village before crashing. Hawkins was rushed to hospital but died from his injuries a few hours later. 

Screveton War Memorial
Another very impressive memorial can be found inside the Church of St Wilfrid.

Sir Richard Whalley (1499 - 1583)
Second wife ... Ursula .... + 13 kids
This is Richard Whalley who was married three times and lived in Kirketon Hall, which stood next to the Church, with his twenty five children!  The poor second wife, Ursula ... thirteen kids ....  must have been pregnant most of her married life. 

The Whalley family were very influential in Tudor times.  Richard's father was physician to Henry VII and Richard was a member of Henry VIII's  court.  He assisted Wolsey and Cromwell in the dissolution of the monasteries.  He was given Welbeck Abbey as a reward for his services.  After Henry VIII's death (1547) Richard became steward to Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (Lord Protector of England during the minority rule of King Edward VI). In 1552 Somerset was executed and Whalley was in trouble.  He had escaped the same fate as his boss by giving evidence against him but he didn't escape completely.  He had to sell Welbeck Abbey to pay the heavy fines for siding with the Duke.  It is surprising to report that despite the heavy debts; a decline in his social standing and twenty five children to keep in the state to which they were accustomed to live Richard still managed to die a very rich man in 1583 at the grand old age of 84.  His third wife Barbara obviously liked him .... she had the monument made.  It is very similar to the alabaster tomb of Archbishop Sandys in Southwell Minister who died in 1588, five years after Richard Whalley. I think the one at Screveton is the better of the two .... shame it is out of sight in a dark spidery place at the back of the church.
First wife
Third wife ... Barbara

Richard's eldest son and heir, Thomas, died in 1582 (a year before Richard) so Thomas's son - another Richard -  inherited the estate. This Richard was to become the Sheriff of Nottingham in 1595.  He married Frances Cromwell, daughter of Sir Henry Cromwell making her sister to Oliver.  They had seven children: one of whom was Major-General Edward Whalley.  During the Civil War Edward sided with his uncle, Oliver Cromwell, and took a leading role for the Parliamentarians (the only member of his family to do so). He was a zealous supporter of social reform: he tried to introduce a Parliamentary Bill to prevent land enclosure as he saw this as a major cause of unemployment. When Charles I was captured he was entrusted to Edward and his men at Hampton Court Palace. Before his execution Charles wrote a letter of thanks to Edward for the courteous manner in which he had imprisoned him! Edward's was the fourth signature on the King's death warrant.  After the Restoration of the Monarchy Edward, as a Regicide, was forced to flee to New England.  He arrived in Boston in 1660 and spent the next fourteen years hiding from Royalist agents sent to hunt for him.  He probably died in Hadley, Massachusetts, around 1674.

The Whalley family seemed to be very good at choosing the wrong side .... move  forwards to the reign of James I and The Gunpowder Plot.  One of those accused and executed was Henry Garnet ... otherwise known as WHALLEY! 

Their large house stood on land right next to St Wilfrid's Church.  Originally named Kirketon Hall .... it no longer exists.  The old building dated back to Medieval and Tudor times and was owned by the Kirketon family; the Leeks and then the Whalley family. In 1685 Thomas Thoroton (1636-1695) bought Kirketon Hall and the manor of Screveton from Peniston Whalley. (Yes, we have come across the Thorotons before in our post on Car Colston.). Early in the 18th century one wing of the building was demolished and replaced by a set of rooms; the name was changed to Screveton Hall and it became the Thoroton family's principal seat until they bought Flintham House in 1789. Colonel Thomas Blackborne Hildyard (son of Colonel Thomas Thoroton) had the house demolished in the 1820s and gave the land to the church in exchange for some land that belonged to the rector of Screveton.

Norman font
The quiet Church of St Wilfrid mainly dates back to the 13th century but there are traces of a church on the site at an earlier time.  The font dates back to 1170.

Above the font is a wooden carving of the Arms of Charles II. Displaying the Royal Coat of Arms was common practice in churches after the Restoration.  This was a time when your religious beliefs were a matter of importance.  Displaying the Royal Arms showed you were loyal to the King and the Church of England.

Arms of Charles II
 These are not the only treasures hidden away here.  The windows add to the charm.

Burlison & Grylls window

Amazingly, this is a Burlison & Grylls window right here in Screveton!  Burlison & Grylls were one of the most successful stained glass companies in Britain.  Their work includes the fabulous West Window, Exeter Cathedral and a number of windows in Bath Abbey.  The company began in 1868 when the architect G F Bodley wanted a window in keeping with his Gothic church design.  Morris & Co (see William Morris window at Whatton) designs were too modern for Bodley's taste so he encouraged two young artists - Burlison & Grylls - to start the company and they never looked back.  The company went out of business in 1945 when a bomb demolished their Oxford Street offices and all their records.

The stone masons decorated the inside ......

......and the outside:

St Wilfrid Church
There are some excellent examples of 18th century slate grave stones engraved by Brown, Sparrow and Wood.

A slate headstone by James Sparrow
I have seen quite a few by Sparrow ... then I looked him up and found there was James AND his son George working in this area.  At one time James worked with one of England's finest landscape engravers William Byrne so he must have been highly regarded. Apparently apprentice engravers used school children's calligraphy books to find fonts to copy for their work. 

The stone that I liked best sits just outside the main door and is ....

Engraved headstone by "Wood of Bingham".
.... an engraving of the church!  It even has the tree and a few of the other gravestones on ... in fact, isn't the one under the middle window this one?!

St Wilfrid Church (headstone mentioned above is the large one on the right under the window)
The Old Priest House sits just outside the church yard.

A 16th century timber framed house with lovely patterned brickwork.  It is now a smallholding with cute pigs in the garden, hens running about the place and three friendly alpacas out the back

Screveton is a lovely peaceful place, yet so far its residents have taken us to the heart of the Tudor court; into the battles of the Civil War; the intrigue of The Gunpowder Plot and the Second World War ..... but we don't stop there.  Meet the Sutton family from Screveton!.

 Sir Charles Manners Sutton (1780 - 1845) was Speaker of the House of Commons for 18 years.  His father was the Most Reverend Charles Manners Sutton, Archbishop of Canterbury who in his turn was the grandson of the 3rd Duke of Rutland. 

An illegitimate son of the 3rd Duke was Captain Evelyn Sutton, a naval officer during the Napoleonic wars who was court marshalled by his commanding officer for supposedly delaying his ship's entry into a sea battle.  This accusation cost Captain Sutton his reputation as well as his battle prize money.  The court marshal proved him innocent of the charge so he sued his commanding officer for £5,000 (ten times his yearly salary!). It took years to settle the case: Captain Sutton lost. Evelyn Sutton was married to Roosila Thoroton (yep, yet another Thoroton .... Roosila's sister Mary was married to Evelyn's legitimate brother, Charles Manners Sutton ....see above!).

The old village pinfold (where stray animals were impounded until their owners paid a fine for their recovery) has been restored and turned into a garden.

No picture of a pint this time.  There used to be a public house in the village ...  The Royal Oak (just like Car Colston) but this is now a private house called The Oaks.

Cheers anyway!

Map of Screveton: click here.


  1. Nice concise and potted history, a tribute to your research, just perfect for someone planning a quick visit. Excellent photographs and presentation, it puts my cycling log to shame.

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  3. I drove through Screveton a week or so ago on a leisurely drive around the villages outside Newark, with my little boy. We caught a glimpse of the woman with curlers and I was about to stop and have a look when my son got upset as he found the statue frightening! I finally remembered to search to find out what the statue was all about. Thanks! Maybe we'll go back when it's not dusk...