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.


  1. Wow, I had no idea of The Starfish sites. Very smart thinking!

  2. A land girl from Beeston was killed by 'enemy action' in Cropwell Butler, so this must have been during the raid on the Starfish site. Anyone know where it was?