Sunday, 13 March 2016

Cropwell Butler

A painterly view of the village from the Village Hall

This is a really attractive village filled with lovely red brick houses, flower filled gardens, grass verges and mature trees.

Cropwell Butler: Village sign
The village was originally named Crophill Botiller.  Crophill because of the hill we now call Hoe Hill, and Botiller came from the name of the Lord of the Manor in the 1150s, Richard le Boteler (we met him previously at Tythby .... Richard was butler to the Earl of Chester.  He obviously did a great job because the Earl acquired the land here and gave it to Richard who then married Beatrix de Villiers in 1154.  He became the fourth Baron of Warrington once Beatrix's father had died).

Cropwell Butler: Street view
 At the beginning of the 17th century a plot of land in the village was purchased by Thomas Smith.  His son (also Thomas) became a successful mercer (he dealt in cloth) and bought a house in Nottingham. He arranged for local traders to safely keep cash at these premises for a fee.  This was the beginnings of Smith's Bank, the first bank to be formed outside of London.  The Nat West Bank in Old Market Square, Nottingham, still has the name of Smith's Bank on its nameplate.  Over the years the Smiths would grow in wealth and influence before becoming the Bromley baronets (we came across these at East Stoke).

Cropwell Butler: Village green

Cropwell Butler: The Court
This beautiful listed building is called The Court.  It was built in the 19th century and has a dovecote and stables in the grounds.  Some of the extensive gardens have been sold for development in recent years but the new houses have been designed to blend in very well.

I was particularly taken with the ring for tethering your horse attached to the wall at The Court .... very Victorian!

Cropwell Butler: The Court
Cropwell Butler: Street view
This is the first village we have visited that does not have an old church. This is rather surprising given the age of the place (it began in the 1st century as a spinal village off the Fosse Way).   Well, there was a medieval chuch here at one time .... it was dedicated to St Nicholas but it was destroyed at the time of the Dissolution.

Cropwell Butler: Methodist Chapel

The village has a Methodist Chapel.  The building is dated 1903 but the congregation dates their history back much further .... it began in 1773 when Thomas Innocent applied to register his home as a dissenting meeting house.

Cropwell Butler: Chapel House
Cropwell Butler: Street view
 Unlike an awful lot of the other villages we have visited this one actually has a pub!

Cropwell Butler: The Plough
The Plough has a warm, cosy interior, friendly staff and good beer.  There seems to be lots going on at the pub if the notice board outside is anything to go by and it is certainly a place we will be visiting again.
Cropwell Butler: Pub sign
A little further down the road is the Village Hall which was converted from the old school building in 1970.  Here residents meet up for clubs and activities all adding to the community spirit of the place. 

Cropwell Butler: Village Hall
Behind the Village Hall, just beyond the children's play area, is the Sheldon Field. This is a brilliant village amenity.  The notice board tells you all about it but basically in 1995 a teenage boy wanted to set up a football team so his father rented a field from a local farmer so the dream could become a reality. The field was eventually purchased and, following the early death of the boy's father (David Shaw ) the villagers have taken it over.  A great, if somewhat sad, story of how a good community can work.
Cropwell Butler:  Sheldon Field notice board
Cropwell Butler: Street view
A lot of people in Nottingham during the Second World War might have been extremely grateful to this good community if they had known what the village had done.

After the bombing of Coventry Colonel John Turner was given the task of trying to prevent other cities being hit in the same way.  He came up with the idea of setting up fires and lights to look like cities from the air.  These were called Starfish Sites.  There were over 200 of them across the country designed to protect 81 cities and one was located very near to Cropwell Butler.

Just after midnight on May 8th/9th 1941 ninety-five German bombers set off to destroy targets in Nottingham and Derby.  The first wave hit a few sites in Nottingham but the fires were very quickly dealt with by the fire brigade while a few miles away the Starfish site was ignited.  The following waves of bombers believed this brightly lit area was the target as in the dark tanks of burning oil looked like bombed buildings.  The intended targets had included the Royal Ordinance Factory, Raleigh and the Rolls Royce Works.  Many lives were saved as the bombs landed on fields.

Cropwell Butler

Cropwell Butler

 Map of Cropwell Butler: click here.

*  History of Cropwell Butler's Methodist Chapel:  click here.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Tythby (or Tithby)

Picture a small group of farms surrounding a church, place them on a crossroad in the middle of Nottinghamshire fields and you have Tythby.

Tythby street view
It seems to be a place that modern developers have passed by and yet this is the final resting place of a man who was knighted for building literally thousands of new houses and improving the lives of the Nottinghamshire working classes.

Sir William Crane was elected as Chairman of the Notts Housing Committee in 1919.  Over the next 38 years he pushed forward with plans to demolish old slum housing and move the inhabitants into brand new council houses in Aspley, Bilborough, Broxtowe and Strelley. People were overjoyed to have spacious homes with indoor bathrooms in a more salubrious environment. He didn't just give them a new house: he gave them a healthier life.

There is a window dedicated to the memory of Crane's mother inside the church.

The only other stained glass in the church is behind the altar:

This one has a strange mark in the corner.  It is similar to the Belvoir Angel engravings found on 18th century slate gravestones but this is in fact the maker's signature ... Pope & Parr of Nottingham.

The window was erected in 1955 to the memory of the parents of James and Mary Butler Smith.  Now this has echoes of a connection to one of Tythby's earliest patrons:  Matthew de Villiers, the Baron of Warrington, who gave Tithby Church to Thurgaton Priory in the 12th century.  Matthew Villiers's daughter and heir was Beatrix de Villiers who married Richard le Boteler in 1155 when she was about 15 years of age.  Her husband held the post of Butler to the Earl of Chester (this was a very powerful position at the time, not a servant's post as we tend to regard it today).  Beatrix and Richard's heirs would rule the region of Warrington for many generations and took the surname 'le Boteler' or Butler.

Beatrix cousin was also called Beatrix de Villiers but her marriage was far from happy right from the beginning.  It has been reported that she was the 'Morganatic wife' of King John (a marriage where the wife and offspring have no rights to the higher ranking person's title or property), however this could be an over-exaggeration ... King John was a bit of a lech by all accounts*.  In any case,  Beatrix was in love with the King but the feeling was not reciprocated as he gave her away in marriage to Sir Robert Molyneux. The Molyneux family history books record that " She bitterly cursed the House of Molyneux and all that bore the name, calling down maledictions of misery, blasting their loves with tragedy."  

Now there is a small problem with this family history .... this Beatrix de Villiers was the daughter of Robert de Villiers, grand daughter of Paganus de Villiers; she was born in 1138; she married Robert Molyneux in 1158, she had fours sons to Robert and died in 1165 at the age of 27).  All well and good so far .... the problem lies in the fact that King John wasn't born until 1166!  I spent ages searching for a younger Beatrix de Villiers (or Beatrice de Villiers) but found nothing.

Holy Trinity Church, Tythby

At the centre of Tythby is the rather plain looking Church of the Holy Trinity.  It is an odd mix of stone and red brick and plain and ornate windows. The roof of the tower is nick-named the Tythby Dovecote. Inside it is packed with shining dark wood box pews.

Church box pews

The oldest memorial inside the church is dedicated to Thomas Chaworth (1452 - 1485), grandson of the Sir Thomas Chaworth we wrote about at Wiverton Hall (he was the wealthiest man in Nottinghamshire and died at the Hall in 1459).

A more recent memorial is to the memory of 23 year old Flight Lieutenant Graham, son of Major General Sir Miles Graham who was also a resident of Wiverton Hall. This young man was part of the 617 Dambusters Squadron who took off from Woodhall Spa on 23rd September 1944 to breach the Dortmund Ems Kanal near Munster.  They failed to bomb the target and were returning home when they were attacked by a German fighter plane.  They lost three engines and had to bail out when a fire broke out in the fully loaded bomb bay.

The Latin Dulce et Decorum est pro patria Mori is recognisable to most Post First World War readers because of Wilfred Owen's famous poem.  Owen was using the phrase to show it was definitely not sweet and glorious to die for one's country.  Knowing Major Graham's military record I think he would disagree with the poet.

Georgian Royal Coat of Arms

Outside the church are a goodly number of slate gravestones by Wood of Bingham (who I recently discovered lived in the house that is now the Pizza place in Union Street, Bingham) and Sparrow.  I read about one of the old grave inscriptions recorded in Arthur Mee's The King's England: Nottinghamshire so I went all round the graves looking for it.  It relates to a 94 year old man called John Marriott who died in 1866.  His wife, Mary, also 94, died a year later and the inscription is on her tomb:

" He first deceased her, she a little tried
To live without him, liked it not, and died."

It made me smile ... in a sort of sad way of course!  I looked all over but failed to find the right grave although there were quite a few belonging to the Marriott family.  Some were badly weathered though.
Marriott charity sign

And here we have a John Marriott giving bread money for the poor.  Members of the Fillingham family had set up a similar arrangement at the end of the 1700s (we met the Fillinghams at Syerston). According to the church entry in the Southwell Church Project website the bread is still distributed every Christmas morning as stipulated.

The church fittings include this beautiful large heavy key ( ten inches in length and weighing 1lb 6oz) and iron candle holders made by Jesse Goodband, the last Tythby blacksmith.

Church key
Wall candle holders

We were really surprised at the large number of cars travelling through here.  It is a tiny place, not on a main road, with no shops and no pub so we had imagined there would be quiet roads.  How wrong we were.

One of the land marks of the village is this wonderful AA road sign at the central cross roads:

AA street sign

 I think it is this, and the lovely old fashioned street lamps dotted around the village, that add to the 1930s feel of the place!

Cross roads street sign

* Well back to King John. As evidence for my statement that he was lecherous I give you the following quotation: "John is given a great taste for lechery by the chroniclers of his age, and even allowing some embellishment, he did have many illegitimate children. Matthew Paris accuses him of being envious of many of his barons and kinsfolk, and seducing their more attractive daughters and sisters. Roger of Wendover describes an incident that occurred when John became enamoured of Margaret, the wife of Eustace de Vesci and an illegitimate daughter of King William I of Scotland . Eustace substituted a prostitute in her place when the king came to Margaret's bed in the dark of night; the next morning, when John boasted to Vesci of how good his wife was in bed, Vesci confessed and fled." Source

The article goes on to list twelve illegitimate children (ten of whom went by the name of 'Fitz Roy' which is Norman-French for Son of the King.)   
Victorian post box

Map of Tythby: click here.