Monday, 9 November 2015

East Bridgford

College Street
East Bridgford is the twenty-second village we have visited. The previous twenty-one held just six pubs between them; East Bridgford has two, thereby increasing the number of pubs by thirty-three percent. It is a sad reflection of the current times that so many pubs have, and are continuing to disappear. In our brief travels around the south-eastern corner of Notts. we have encountered at least five pubs that have closed their doors forever during the last few years: The Royal Oak in Screveton; The Old Greyhound in Aslockton; The Griffon's Head in Whaton; The Pauncefote Arms in East Stoke and The Red House or Lodge in Screveton. East Bridgford is a large village and that probably accounts for the fact that it can support two pubs. Let's hope it can continue to do so.
The Reindeer on Kneeton Road has taken its name from the reigns used to control deer as they pulled a sledge but why I don't know. It is a late eighteenth century boozer but it has had numerous makeovers since.  The most recent one was a couple of years ago when the new owners made it rather minimalistic in order to attract a younger clientelle.
Would you credit it? I wrote this opening paragraph in the morning then grabbed my camera bag and set off to East Bridgford to photograph the Reindeer...and it's closed...permanently. The owners have sold it for redevelopment. Another one bites the dust! That's now six pubs permanently closed and seven still standing. Roughly 50-50. Shocking!
To honour the passing of yet another Notts. boozer we post three photos to help you remember it.

The defunct Reindeer Inn East Bridgford

Not any more it isn't!
A gloomy day in more than one way: the pub is closed!

The other pub is still in business.  The Royal Oak is in the centre of the village near the church.  It has a warm and friendly atmosphere: serves good, locally sourced food at affordable prices with a selection of real ales and adds to the community spirit of the village by running a number of clubs  .... football, darts, pool and skittles.

The Royal Oak - Still open when this post was written!

That community spirit reveals itself every year with the popular Village Show.  People flock to Butt Field where the day is filled with marching bands, fancy dress competitions, falconry shows, acrobatic displays, dog shows, a
Butt Field: thought to be the site of the medieval archery butts.
tug-of-war and rodeo sheep!  Plant stalls, book stalls, toy stalls, food stalls .... burger vans, ice cream vans .... animal pens and interesting old tractors fill the rest of the field .... they even get aeroplanes to fly over ......but the part people are really interested in is inside the marque where the flower and vegetable judges award the prizes.  The show has been going for more than 150 years!  This place really is a cross between the village near 'Downton Abbey' and 'Larkrise to Candleford'!  This year (2015) disaster struck when the sports pavilion burnt down on the eve of the event but it wasn't cancelled ... in true British fashion the show went on just an hour later than advertised!

View of Trent Lane:  this leads to the Wharf and Pancake Hill (on left at bottom) where a Motte & Bailey castle once stood overlooking the Trent crossing.

East Bridgford gets a mention in the Domesday Book but it was here much further back than that.  The Roman town of Margidunum was just down the road on the Fosse Way (now the A46) and the main road that connects the A46 with Gunthorpe Bridge is called Bridgford Street.  This road bypasses the village to the south west but from Roman times, and for many generations after, the track came up the present road then followed what is now a footpath towards the river. Today narrow boats and cruisers are moored up where once the banks were filled with cargo boats ... the inhabitants of Margidunum made full use of this supply route and East Bridgford residents still relied on it for heavy goods like coal until quite recent times.

Next to the wharf are the remains of the iron toll bridge that spanned the river before Gunthorpe Bridge was built.  The Toll House is on the Gunthorpe side of the water.

The Wharf  - this used to be a busy 'port' for transporting heavy goods to this area.
Margidunum was first excavated between 1910 and 1936 by Felix Oswald. His dedication to the site was impressive as he was working almost singlehandedly.  A farmer refused to allow him access to part of the area so a friend kindly bought the field to allow Oswald to continue.  He discovered buildings, wells, bronze ornaments and jewellery, an iron sword, keys, coins and thousands of pots.  When the pottery was in pieces he stuck it back together again as far as he could.  He recorded over 20,000 Roman potters' stamps which he catalogued in alphabetical order - it became so extensive publishers refused to print it so he set to work and printed it himself.  Nowadays we would just use a computer to log it alphabetically and press print .... Oswald was working by hand then and every single letter had to be placed into a printing press! Such patience and determination!

In 'The King's England: Nottinghamshire'  (1938) Arthur Mee informs us that the church was "burned by the Danes."  Such a simple statement! What else did they destroy? How many lives were lost along with the church? Archaeologists have measured the burnt remains and found the chancel was only eight feet wide .... which I saw as a bit of a blessing  .... there couldn't have been that many people trapped inside!

  When William the Conqueror arrived in England he gave East Bridgford to Roger de Busli (along with 85 other manors in Nottinghamshire and 46 in Yorkshire .... not to mention the others in Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire ... oh and one in Devon!).  Roger's wife was a favourite of the Queen and Roger had accompanied King William from the beginning of the Conquest so he was richly rewarded.  Unfortunately, Roger's only son died in infancy so there was no heir when Roger's time was up.

 At various times Blyth Priory, the Earl of Chesterfield and the wealthy Henry de Lacy all held some interest in the village but Thoroton (in 'The History of Nottinghamshire') has the Biset family as the next definite owners.  It was passed down through birth and marriages through the years until 1317 when John Biset's two daughters inherited so the land was divided between their sons: Thomas de Multon and Philip de Caltoft.  Thomas's share passed to the Deyncourt family then it was given to Magdalen College Oxford.  Philip's share passed to his son John Caltoft.  A rather battered stone effigy of a cross-legged knight was discovered in the garden of East Bridgford Hall and it is thought to be Sir John.  A cross-legged knight is a sign they crossed the sea to take part in a Crusade.

In 1375 John Caltoft's daughter, Alice, inherited from her father and married Sir William Chaworth so the property passed to the Chaworth family.

The Haycroft: oldest house in the village
In January 1765 William's descendant was attending a meeting of the Nottinghamshire Club.  It sounds rather official but it was a social gathering for a group of wealthy young men ( the Hon. Thomas Willoughby - of Wollaton Hall -  Frederick Montagu, Francis Molyneux, Esqrs.,  Lord Byron, William Chaworth and Charles Mellish, junior, Esq. were amongst those present .... we have come across some of these names before).  They met in the Star and Garter, Pall Mall, London.  It was probably an excuse to eat, drink and gamble at a popular gentlemen's club! The evening was progressing in the usual way until a discussion concerning the management of game birds began.  Mr Chaworth insisted landowners needed to deal with poachers most severely while Lord Byron (Great Uncle of the famous poet) believed you could leave game stock to look after itself.  The argument became a little heated when Mr Chaworth told Lord Byron he wouldn't have any game left on his estate if Mr Chaworth and Byron's other neighbour, Sir Charles Sedley, didn't do all the work for him.  Byron enquired where Sir Sedley's lands were to which Mr Chaworth replied, "If you want information as to Sir Charles Sedley's manors, he lives at Mr. Cooper's, in Dean Street, and, I doubt not, will be ready to give you satisfaction; and, as to myself, your Lordship knows where to find me, in Berkeley Row."

"Mad, bad and dangerous to know" described Byron the poet but his Great Uncle obviously had the same trait. He had been challenged in public and could not let it pass. When the bill was paid Mr Chaworth attempted to leave but Lord Byron followed.  They were shown into a dark room with only a small candle for illumination.  A few minutes later a surgeon had to be called to attend to Mr Chaworth's stab wound.  He died the next day.

Lord Byron was taken to the Tower and sent to trial on 16th April 1765.  He was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder but claimed the benefit of an Edward VI Statute that gave peers the privilege of being acquitted of a felony for which a commoner might be found guilty! He was released on paying his expenses.

Teapot Row 1835 Main Street

The Babingtons were another wealthy family who took up residency in East Bridgford.  Their property passed to Lord Sheffield who sold it to Mr John Hacker in 1590.  The present house on the site was built in 1690 but the Hacker family lived here for generations. Their monument in St Peter's Church shows Mr John Hacker had four sons and two daughters.

Brunt's Farm: this 18th century house stands on the site of the Brunts' family home.
Francis, the eldest son was married to Isabella Brunts in the church in 1632.  Francis fought on the side of the Parliamentarians during the Civil War, rising to the rank of Colonel. His two brothers were both Royalists.  Rowland lost his right hand during one skirmish while defending the royalist fort at Trent Bridge.  Thomas was in Rowland's company and was killed in action in 1643. Thomas was buried in East Bridgford.

Statuary above the church door. Possibly St Peter judging by the bunch of keys.

Francis was a firm follower of Cromwell.  His signature is on King Charles I's death warrant.  He was in charge of the King on the day of the execution.  Apparently Francis was so courteous towards his prisoner King Charles wrote him a thank you letter!

Things didn't work out so well for Francis once Charles II was crowned though.  Hacker was arrested for his part in the regicide.  During his trial he claimed he was just a soldier obeying orders.  His wife, in a desperate attempt to save him, travelled all the way home to East Bridgford to collect the King's death warrant which Hacker had kept.  She hoped to prove her husband's innocence by showing the judges that Francis's name was one of the last signatories and he was, in fact, just doing what he had been told.  Poor woman! Her actions gave the judges the evidence they needed to convict him.  Francis was spared the horrible deaths experienced by the other regicides (hang, drawing and quartering) they just hanged him in 1660 and his body was given to his friends for burial.  As a traitor his land was confiscated ... but his brother Rowland bought it back.

Dovecote Cottage - 16th century wattle and daub construction.  Originally a dovecote.
 Quite a famous guest stayed at the Old Hall during the 1650s.   Gilbert Sheldon (warden of All Souls, Oxford) took up residence when the Parliamentarians ejected him from his living in Oxford.  Sheldon had been a close friend of King Charles I and after the Reformation would become Archbishop of Canterbury. He never married but Samuel Pepes recorded in his diary that Gilbert "do keep a wench, and that he is a very wencher as can be!"  He must have found East Bridgford very quiet after Oxford ..... but what do I know!

Kneeton Hill Mill
Today East Bridgford is a very popular place to live.  Lots of the lovely old houses are still here and the old labourers' cottages have all been modernised and don't stay on the market for long. Even the old dovecote and the two old mills have been converted into prestigeous family homes.

There were two mills: one at each end of the village.  According to old maps Kneeton Hill Mill is the oldest built in the late 1700s - it was four storey tower with four sails.  In 1841 another two stories were added and the new building had six sails. This was its hayday ... it ceased working in 1891.
Stokes Mill
 The second mill belonged to the Stoke family.  Built in 1828, this is located on Millgate near to the church.  Whites' Directory of 1858 lists Henry Stokes as the miller and shopkeeper.  The mill had a six storey tower and four double-shuttered sails. There is a photograph of it on Main Street dated 1900. It continued working until 1912. The sails were struck by lightning in 1928 and it became a house in the 1960s.

Both mills have been beautifully converted but it must be really difficult to find curved furniture to fit against the walls!

Main Street

Whites' Directory (the Yellow Pages of 1858!) gives the impression of a bustling village.  The Post Office belonged to Charles Challand.  Letters arrived at 9am and dispatched at 6pm.

The Old Post Office
 The Directory also lists wheelwrights, harness makers, florists, seedsmen, bricklayers, joiners, teachers, framework knitters, surgeons, a police officer, blacksmiths, butchers, bakers and pub landlords.  Three carriers operated services to Nottingham, nine shoemakers were on the list, eight dressmakers and eight gentlemen. By far the longest list was farmers: 23 were listed. It makes me imagine smartly dressed Victorians going about their daily affairs on Main Street and all knowing each other's names and business!

Street view
 As you walk around the place today you can see the old farm buildings still standing long after the farm has stopped operating.

Old barn
Street view

Beautiful individual homes have been created by converting old buildings.  The Malthouse was originally used for malting until the 1890s when it became a pea packing factory; in 1959 Telcan took over (they invented a video cassette); by 1963 workers were producing laboratory equipment in there until the 80s when it was converted into housing.

The old cottages and the larger properties have been updated and well maintained.  The residents take a great pride in their village.

Cedar Vale now an independent hospital for men with autism

It was lovely to walk down a residential road and find the old village horse trough ....

.... a few minutes later we were amused to find a horse with a great moustache!


Map of East Bridgford: click here.

1 comment:

  1. The pub in Elston closed, and was re-opened by the villagers themselves. It is very sad. What are village folk supposed to do?