You need a car if you live in Flawborough .... or a horse. There are no shops, no schools ... in fact there are no amenities at all ...and the bus service is dreadful: it goes to Newark once on Wednesdays and Fridays. I don't imagine many people here use it anyway. This is a small but affluent place tucked away in the middle of nowhere.
It is rather popular with cyclists, precisely because it has the feeling of a traffic-free area. In fact a friendly resident told us the cyclists were becoming a bit of a problem. The Flawborough residents have had to make a stand because nearly every summer weekend a cycle race was being planned through their village. Great for the cyclists but rather inconvenient when you were trying to drive home. You can't hear them coming: her dog was ran over by a bike a few weeks ago so she is not a great fan.
The day we visited the road was far
from traffic-free. A surprising number of lorries kept trundling through
the narrow lanes. It is a farming community and this time of year
there's lots of produce to move about. They use trucks instead of
tractors to cut the number of journeys.
|St Peter's Church|
Our visit began at St Peter's Church, the only building in the village that isn't a house. A notice on the gate told us it is up for sale. I hadn't even walked through the gate before my mind was converting it into a house.
It has stood empty since 2009 so it needs some work. A couple of glass panes need replacing but the front door is amazing ...
I was just beginning to wonder about a garden full of graves when the gravestones took my attention. They are old and fabulous:
Lots of Swithland slate dating back to the early 1700s but the inscriptions have hardly weathered. The backs of the slabs are not smooth so you can see how much work had to go into producing these headstones: with no help from machinery they had to cut the stone to size, polish the front then carve the inscription. On some of them the stonemason hadn't quite got the spacing right or he made the odd spelling mistake so words or letters were added above the line! There is an example in the penultimate line on the one below.
These stones all have a motif called the Belvoir Angel - a round angel face with wings at the side. The Belvoir Angel is only found in this area of the country. You can see how it developed from the naive design above to a more rounded figure in later years.
The terrible infant mortality rate is also shown in the very sad inscription above.
This one is particulary special - the stonemason didn't carve it - the letters are all raised! How long would that have taken him with just a hammer and chisel!! Amazing work.
While we were in the church yard a village resident came to chat. Apparently the church, when sold, can't be converted into anything ... a business could move in but the graveyard will continue to be used so my dream house will never be. This friendly resident was baptised in the church and plans to be buried there. Her family, the Hawthornes, have lived here for years.
Flawborough Equine is a World Class Equine Rehabilitation Centre based in Flawborough and Flawborough Farms cultivates the land around the village and nearby Alverton. Both are owned by members of the Hawthorne family. Prior to 1955 Flawborough Hall and the estate belonged to Major Edward Harold Spalding but he never had children of his own so on his death he left the property to his farm manager ... Mr Hawthorne. Obviously this was big news at the time. It was equivalent to a huge Lottery win today. The Hawthornes were the Golden Couple of Flawborough for a time! It is his son and grandson who run the farm business today.
Major Spalding had been in the retail trade during his lifetime. Back in1878 his father was part of a partnership .... Griffin & Spalding ... who purchased a small corner shop across the road from Old Market Square in Nottingham. Ten years later they bought the shops on either side. Their sons ... our Major Spalding ... took over during the 1920s when a remodelling of the building underlined its importance as a retail centre for the city. (That must have taken some thought as the amalgamation of different shops meant there were 37 different floor levels in the building! No wonder I always get lost when I go in there!) The Mikado Cafe, on the ground floor, was described in a magazine of the time as being part of “a fashionable store in town noted for high fashion and furs and has something of a reputation of the seafront at Brighton as a place where people liked to be seen in the latest fashions.” The store sold those fashions and furs, furniture and household goods all at competitive prices; they had a 'never knowingly undersold' scheme and the customer was always right. Sounds like my kind of shop! As a side line they also provided upholstered seats and carpeting for cinema (a growth market in the 1930s). In 1944 they accepted an offer for the business and Debenhams took over.
There is a monument to the Spalding family in St Peter's Church, Nottingham:
dark grey marble oval with gold lettering commemorating John Tricks
Spalding (1844-1924) and his sons William Arthur (1872-1963) and Edward
Harold (1873-1955). John Tricks Spalding was Mayor of Nottingham
and churchwarden of St Thomas’ Church. Edward Harold Spalding
served as High Sherriff of Nottinghamshire in 1951."