Wednesday, 21 June 2017


The Generous Briton
The pub is a good place to start in Costock.  The staff in The Generous Briton gave us a warm welcome and a tasty lunch .... the beer was good too.  Worth a visit.

The present pub sign shows a corpulent John Brown type figure wearing a Union Jack waistcoat and holding out a flagon of frothy ale. The name comes from a poem written in 1780 by Phillip Freneau.  Entitled A British Prison Ship it describes the appalling conditions American prisoners endured on these death ships.  The American War of Independence raged from 1775 until 1783.  The British viewed their prisoners of war as terrorists and confined them in sweltering ships with little food or fresh weater.  The death tolls were around the 70% mark.  The poem details the awful treatment the "generous Britons" meted out.

"Here generous Briton, generous, as you say,
To my parched tongue one cooling drop convey,
Hell has no miscief like a thirsty throat,
Nor one tormentor like your David Sproat." 

[David Sproat was a British supervisor on the prison ship].

An appropriate quotation for a pub name I suppose even if the original source is a bit grim!

Street view

Well, we left the pub and wandered up a lane that was a perfect setting for a Miss Marple TV set.  We turned right at the end of the lane and that took us passed a small graveyard and on to Hall Farm, a lovely old farm house that is no longer a farm.  Obviously we couldn't go in but according to the WI Nottinghamshire Village Book it has 3 feet thick walls, stone mullioned windows and a ten feet long fireplace very similar to the one in Hampton Court kitchen.  It did look idyllic.

We retraced our steps back to the graves, passed  Dead End Cottage (!) and found the church yard.

St Giles Church
The tiny window underneath the middle one in the photo above has been described as a Leper Window but the altar can not be seen from that angle: an alternative explanation suggests it was a Confessional Window dating back to its Roman Catholic years.

Towards the back of the church was this gravestone on the right.  I take it to be two brothers as they share the name of Chapman and were born four years apart.  Edward, the youngest, died in Calcutta, India in 1875 at the age of 21 but is remembered here. A silver 16th century Indian coin was found in the church yard ... perhaps it was buried with this young man.

In prime position at the front of the church is a large plot with a row of stones belonging to one family.  Many generations of the Woodroffe or Woodruff family are buried here.  Interestingly the older grave stones show different spellings of the name. One stone tells us that Solomon Woodroffe died in 1735 and next to him is his 14 year old son.  Solomon's wife, Mary, died in 1741 leaving three other children.  Elizabeth Woodroffe, the youngest was only 10 when she was orphaned.  She also died young at the age of 29. There are about 19 stones in memory of this family ... so many they have their own web page

 Descendents of the family still live in the Woodroffe family home ... right across the road from the church.  The building has SW 1778 designed into the old brickwork (Solomon Woodroffe II).

St Giles Church
  This is the 14th century Church of St Giles but it is mainly 19th century now after the rebuilds. 

Part of a Norman pillar found in 1978

 There is some beautiful stonework inside ...


 ... and the pews have been carved with poppy heads depicting plants and animals.


Six of these carving date to the 13th century but over 60 of them were created by Rev Charles Sutton Millard the Victorian vicar.

Memorial to 9 men who fought and died in the World War 1

Window designed by Burleston & Gryllis

Outside there is a tomb to another incumbent of the church. 

The effigy is minus a head having been badly damaged by soldiers in the Civil War.  The marks in the sandstone at the back look like fingernail scatchings but we were told they were made by the same soldiers as they sharpened their arrowheads in preparation for a battle.

Bailey's Annals of Nottinghamshire tells us: 'At the latter end of the summer the Royalists having placed an ambuscade on the road near Costock, to intercept a convoy, passing under protection of a body of Leicester troops, were defeated with the loss of eight men killed and sixty taken prisoners.' The loss of the Parliamentary forces is not mentioned.

A document from the Thoroton Society states: "We know from information given by Mr. Carver, farmer, of Costock, that in 1857, on a road being made outside the churchyard, five skulls, together with other bones, were found buried at the depth only of 2½ feet from the surface, and that in Dr. Chapman's opinion, they were the bones of men, and that one skull had a round hole, which might have been caused by a bullet."  

At the back of the church they have almost copied the tomb design from the church front for another respected vicar ... Edward Wilson Clerk MA who died in 1859.

St Giles Church
Continuing down the lane we passed the large Rectory but it is hardly visible from the road.  There is a real feeling of being back in time down this lane.  Round the corner and behind a huge brick wall is the old Manor House.  Apparently the land and money for this place was given to Queen Elizabeth I's chef when he retired!  He must have been the Alain Passard of his day!

Manor House
It is still standing and has been converted into a fabulous modern home with  immaculate gardens, a heated swimming pool, six bedrooms, four bathrooms, stable block, garage block and at least three additional buildings to use as holiday lets. It was up for sale recently for £1.8 million.  I'd buy it!

We explored Mill Lane but the mill was long gone ... There was a miller recorded as living in Costock in 1609 and the last mill was built in 1774 but it was pulled down in 1937 when it became too dangerous.  The old mill barn, where the wheat was threshed, dates back to 1763 but it is now a house.

At one time the village had three shops (including a butcher and a sub-post office) and two pubs.  There were two blacksmiths and a saddler supporting the local agricultural community; a small brick yard; a bake house; a shoemaker; a taylor and dressmakers. This was also the centre of a stocking framework knitting industry with finished products being taken to Nottingham by horse and cart.  In 1871 there were 29 machines giving employment to about 40 people but by 1901 all production had ceased.

Street view
In 2011 the Community of the Holy Cross built a small convent for nuns on a 26 acre site just outside the village. It is a place where people can go for a quiet religious retreat.  There is another business with a church connection ... Ellis Ropes Ltd makes colourful chime ropes for church bells under the Ellis and Pritchard brand name.

There seems to be a trend connected to 'higher things' here because another modern day establishment in the area is East Midlands Helicopters.

old water pump
Eglantine Vineyard covers 4 acres of land on Ash Lane and produces award winning wines and meads. 
Ornamental pump from Glenfield & Kennedy of Kilmarnock designed to disapence exactly 1 gallon of water.

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