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.

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