Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Perlethorpe Floods, Summer 2022.


 No, this is not the Louisiana USA swamplands. This is the flooding on the North side of Perlethorpe Village, alongside the A614. As reported in a previous post from February 2014. (See THIS LINK). I am told the cause is subsidence from the mines beneath.

The River Meden continues to flow without obstruction from Budby, past Thoresby Hall, and under Seven Ton Bridge (a.k.a. today as “Thoresby Bridge”). The problem only becomes manifest between Perlethorpe Bridge and this point.

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Thursday, December 09, 2021

Perlethorpe Environmental Education Centre (Primary School).


When I attended Perlethorpe Church of England Primary School as a small child, the toilets were army-style stagnant tin “buckets”, and I seem to remember the urinal was a drain in front of a brick wall. Heating involved an iron stove in the centre of the room. In the late 1950s we were all temporarily moved into the nearby Village Hall whilst the “new wing” was built, with its large plate glass windows illuminating the rooms, and a small drinking fountain, the latter novelty attracting a queue.

Now an Environmental Educational Centre its only right the building is updating its carbon footprint. Seen here (December 2021) is the early stage of installing solar panels on the roof.

More information about the past history of Perlethorpe Educational Environmental Centre can be found on THIS LINK, THIS LINK, & THIS LINK.

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Monday, August 23, 2021

St John's Church, Perlethorpe, and Reverend "Pa" Barton.


Above: Water colour painting of Church of St John the Evangelist, Perlethorpe, by Reverend “Pa” Barton. This was done on the inside cover of a prayer book he gave to my elder sister in the early 1950s. You can read more about Perlethorpe Church and Reverend Barton on THIS LINK.

Below: "The Dukes' Graves" (2017). Oil painting by site author Ian Gordon Craig.

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Monday, May 31, 2021

Bank Holiday 2021.


Sixty-four years after Thoresby Hall first opened to the general public (see THIS LINK), a wide variety of events and entertainment across its grounds see it once again becoming a very popular attraction in the Dukeries area. Everything form nature trails, theatrical events, food fayres, arts & crafts, carriage driving, simulated game shooting, - it’s a very long list!

These photographs show the fairground set up in front of the Hall, bank holiday 31st May, 2021. Also depicted here is a “picnic area” just across Stone Bridge on the banks of the River Meden, and the children's woodlands play area..

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Thursday, April 01, 2021

Thoresby Estate (Thoresby Park), 31st March 2021

 Camera pans from Thoresby Hall, to Perlethorpe Church, to Perlethorpe Environmental Education Centre ( the school).

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Saturday, December 19, 2020

Steam engine railway returns to Thoresby.


The winter of 2020 saw the welcome return to Thoresby Park of a new steam railway ride for children. Positioned opposite the entrance to the courtyard, it was able to operate over three weekends, proving a most welcome and popular attraction during an ongoing corona-virus pandemic, and the constant threat of lockdown.

Operated by the 'There and Back Light Railway' company it is the largest portable steam railway in the Midlands, authentically powered by real steam, along a track over 450ft long, with rides costing just £2.

Thoresby Park had another steam railway attraction from 1966 to 1988, which I wrote about some years ago on THIS LINK. That one was operated by the late Bill Kirkland and, as I pointed out in my article of 2006, the sleepers are still visible sunk into the grass parallel to the River Meden. I do know 'There and Back Light Railway' have hopes of the current train being moved in the future to that original location. Time will tell.

Above: Steve Purves at the wheel.

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Greyhounds at Clumber Park. Why?

The Greyhound was originally “designed” and bred as a hunting dog for the rich and privileged. Anyone from the “lower classes” owning such a dog would be prosecuted by law, perhaps because it was taken as evidence of an intention to poach game on the King’s land.

In the 15th century a white greyhound was seen as a symbol of status, and there are records of such dogs being gifted to Knights in appreciation of services rendered. The White Greyhound became associated in particular with the Tudors, and indeed appears on the Henry 7th coat of arms.

From John Holles, the 1st Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1715, to the 8th Duke of Newcastle under Lyme, Clumber House was a ducal seat. (The House was demolished in 1938). Hence those greyhounds on the Drayton Gates opposite Clumber Park Hotel, are referred to as Newcastle Greyhounds, carved in the 18th century. There are other similar examples throughout Clumber Park. Pictured here, at the junction of Limetree Avenue and the A614, is the Apleyhead Lodge entrance to Clumber Park, designed by Stephen Wright (1770).

Where the Duke’s greyhounds were bred, I don’t know. There were once kennels at Clumber, famous for breeding the Clumber Spaniel, another hunting dog but an entirely different animal.

In the 20th century, greyhound racing was so popular in nearby Worksop that it had its own stadium from 1939 to 1969. I assume that interest in the sport was passed down over centuries, from the hunting habits of the Dukes to the racing dogs of the working classes.

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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Sherwood Forest NEW Visitors Centre.

In 2015 the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was granted permission to build a new visitor centre, plus take over the management of Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, bringing the total area in their care up to almost 1,000 acres. Building was completed by 2018. The new visitor centre is designed to complement the surrounding landscape, complete with gift shop, café, and amphitheatre. More than this they are committed to preserve Sherwood Forest’s ancient trees, and ultimately allow the forest to spread so as to connect with other small woodlands. The emphasis here is on the preservation of wildlife and the environment. So, what will visitors to Sherwood Forest find to be different than before?

Firstly, the previous car park and related buildings are gone. The plan is to let these areas “grow over” and return to nature. Parking (for which a fee is required) is now situated some distance from the previous site, at the bottom of the hill and on the opposite side of the road. (A pedestrian crossing is provided). Similarly, the new visitor’s centre and café are also now at the base of the uphill path, which leads to the Major Oak. Mobility buggies are available to hire, although people familiar with the terrain will already know the paths can be challenging in places for those unsteady on their feet.

Whilst the changes might take a little adjusting to for persons like myself whose visits here span generations, I do applaud the RSPB’s plans. Well worth a visit. (I had not seen Jay birds in years!)

For Sherwood Forest OLD Visitors Centre see THIS LINK.

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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Thoresby Park / Thoresby Estate various photographs part 3.

Above: Strong winds bring down a tree in Perlethorpe Church graveyard. (2020). Below: Beautifully overgrown during the “lockdown” summer of 2020. Thoresby employs an excellent ecosystem for trimming the grass: sheep, which are yet to be deployed.

Above: The Cricket Pavilion. Thoresby had a long history of participating in cricket matches against local teams such as Ollerton, Worksop, Welbeck, Nottingham, etc. The earliest known reference to the team comes from a Church Newsletter dated 1890, which mentions a concert being held in April of that year in order to raise funds. Certainly, in the 1950s / early 1960s, the game still thrived here.

Above: Seemingly used today to house farm machinery, the Deer Hutt was originally intended to shelter and feed the park’s deer during the winter months.

 Thoresby photos 1 on THIS LINK.

Thoresby photos 2 on THIS LINK.
Below: Perlethorpe lockdown during the pandemic of 2020.

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River Meden, Perlethorpe, Pt 2.

Old maps of Perlethorpe depict the location of a cotton mill just north of, but close by, Home Farm. Although most items you see here are from a later date, one can see clear evidence from this point and eastward across the field, how at least some portion of the River Meden was once diverted to bypass the site of Perlethorpe Village and run closer to the Kennels.

In 1862 this mill was described as having two grey millstones, two French buhr stones (said to produce a superior wheat product), and a Gorse Bruising Machine, the latter of which rendered a gorse bush into a palatable thorn-free food supplement for horses and cows when mixed with chopped hay or straw during those months when green forage might be thin on the ground. Dairymen were also of the opinion it made the milk richer and tastier.

 More about the River Meden on THIS LINK.

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

The NEW Thoresby House, Thoresby Park.

Lady Rozelle Raynes was the only surviving child of Lady Manvers, so when she passed away in 2015, she (to use an old legal phrase) died “without issue”. In other words, no children of her own to inherit Thoresby Estate. Persons studying the history of the Pierrepont family line as it applies to Thoresby will be aware this situation had happened several times in the past. For example, between 1680 and 1773 there had been no less than four Pierrepont Earls and one Duke who died without a son to take over the estate, and so which had to be passed on to other family members. This time it was a situation well prepared for.

In the late 1960s, Thoresby Estate had been divided between Lady Rozelle and the Trustees of the Thoresby Settlement. Her estate in Kneesall was called the “Lady Rozelle Raynes' Pierrepont Estate”. In the early 1970s, she decided to leave her property to Nottinghamshire-based cousins. Her Kneesall estate went to I.D.P. Thorne, a descendant of the 3rd Earl Manvers, while she and her husband lived in Newham and Devon before retiring back to Thoresby in the early 2000s.

Thoresby Estate was eventually inherited by Hugh Matheson, another descendant of the 3rd Earl Manvers, who had managed the farming and forestry enterprises there since 1975, not to mention being Sheriff of Nottingham in 1997. However, amongst his many outstanding achievements, one in particular must have caught the eye of Lady Rozelle (she being a lifelong yachting enthusiast), should any interview / application process have been necessary: Hugh Matheson was a keen rower since his university days, had coached several winning Oxford boat race crews, and gone on to coach Olympic winners in that sport. One can be sure they had much to chat about.

The new Thoresby House, home to the Matheson family, began construction in 1994. It looks out onto Thoresby Lake, its grounds partly extending on to the site once known as the Pleasure Grounds. In September 2019 I took advantage of their Heritage Tour of the property, guided by Mr Matheson, and was able to view artwork and furniture from the original Thoresby Hall. A highly recommended seasonal event should it come around again.

Please note: This is a private residence. Publishing photographs taken inside this house is quite rightly strictly forbidden.

Above: The "waif and stray" sculpture which used to stand at Lady Rozelle's residence now stands in the grounds of the new Thoresby House. It's theme reflects her charitable activities.

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The Woodyard, Thoresby Estate. One last look around.


 The above painting by Leslie A Miles (1943) depicts Three Gables, Thoresby Park, as it was when Clerk of Works Noel Whitworth lived there 1940 – 50. My thanks to James Whitworth for allowing me to post it here to illustrate comparisons with the building as it appeared in 2019 (below).
During the Heritage Open Day tour of 2019, I gained permission from the owner of Thoresby Estate to take a few photographs of The Woodyard. Please be advised that security throughout the estate has to be a prime issue these days, and the public road that once linked this complex of building to Perlethorpe in one direction and Edwinstowe in the other, no longer exists.

Times change, as change they must. The “industry” once so active behind these walls is much diminished, and there has been speculation that what still exists could perhaps be more profitably moved to the farm building in Perlethorpe Village. Time will tell.

 Above: One time home to the Williamson family, and later the Dews.

Above: Once the office of the Clerk of Works.

 Above and below: Three Gables. Gone is the once so well established Victorian garden.
For more information about The Woodyard see also the following links:

Three Gables, the Woodyard

the Woodyard, Thoresby Park, Nr Ollerton

Thoresby Estate workers c.1962

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Perlethorpe Primary School class of 1964 / 65.

I am thankful to ex-pupil Eric Fretwell for this school photograph, one I hadn’t come across before, it being from a time just after I had left the estate. The teachers are of course Mrs Morgan and Mr Bollans. We are neither of us exactly sure of all the pupils’ names involved, so If anyone can help do leave a comment.

Left to Right: Yvonne Graham, Gordon Hodgkinson, Valerie Johnson, Unknown, Unknown, John Dew, Unknown, Unknown, Simon Morgan, Eric Fretwell (Back), Nicholas Almond, John Wignall, Unknown (Front), Alan Wignall (Back),
Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, David Dewhurst, Nigel Dew, Brian George, Brian Lupton, Unknown, Janet Carter (Back), Unknown, Michael Roberson, Dawn Johnson, Jonathan Bollans, Unknown.

For more about Perlethorpe School, now the Perlethorpe Environmental Education Centre, see the following links:

 Perlethorpe School

 Perlethorpe School teachers

Perlethorpe School c.1953 / 54

 Perlethorpe Environmental Education Centre / former Perlethorpe Primary School.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Walled Garden, Thoresby Estate. SEE UPDATE BELOW.

At the time of writing (June 2018), a rather significant event is taking place on Thoresby Estate: The renovation and restoration of the Walled Garden (now known as the Echium Garden). What makes this site of particular historical importance is that its construction was completed even as the present 3rd Thoresby Hall was still being built.

The Walled Garden was designed to provide for the needs not just of the Duke’s family and guests, but for the staff and servants associated with the Hall. Indeed, such would be the hustle and bustle of this year round task, the garden was deliberately situated at a distance east of the Hall in order to minimize disturbance. Ordinance Survey maps of 1906 show it already semi-secluded by trees.

Believed to have been built c.1765, the earliest reference to the Walled Garden I have found comes from the estate’s 1860 Directory:

“A new Hall is about being erected on a commanding eminence near the rockery and in line with the Gardens, the latter of which have been newly formed and enclosed by a neat brick wall. The gardens, including the orchard and kitchen grounds, cover about 10 acres of land. There is a neat residence for the gardener on the grounds”.

The Head Gardener is listed in all the estate’s directories from 1864 – 1900 as Archibald Henderson. Directories from 1904 – 1930s list this position as being taken over by Arthur Simmons. (Simmons is also listed as making a 10 shilling contribution towards the World War 1 Memorial gated entrance to Perlethorpe Church. THIS LINK).

A reliable description of the Walled Garden can be found in Robert White’s “Worksop, The Dukery, and Sherwood Forest” (1875):

“To the East of the Hall are the gardens, which cost £4,000, covering 8.5 acres; 5.5 acres of which are enclosed by brick walls. The rest is in slips on the East, North and West sides, with an orchard on the North. The kitchen garden is intersected by two fine broad walks 550 feet long which from North to South pass out through a pair of very splendid iron gates into the park. The lofty conservatory occupies a central position in the long range of 20 well-stocked forcing houses which are about 560 feet in length”.

The World Wars of 1914/18 and 1939/45, both of which saw a military presence on Thoresby Estate, would have a negative impact. The former mostly from the enlistment and loss of life of young male workers, the latter due to the Estate being requisitioned by the military. Evidence of their activity here is still present today in the “tank dip”, the brick vehicle maintenance ramp, and perhaps most significantly the concrete roads in close proximity to the Walled garden itself.

The Walled Garden never really recovered from those times, being abandoned altogether upon the death of Gervas Pierrepont, 6th Earl Manvers, in 1955. The news that this site is being restored, when so much history risks being lost, is welcome news indeed.

Above: Walled Garden as viewed from the river Meden.

UPDATE AUGUST 2020: Sadly this garden, variously known as the Echium Garden and the Walled Garden, closed down at the very beginning of August 2020, citing the cause as the lease expiring. A sad loss to those of us who value the history of Thoresby Estate and the wish to see it preserved.

For more about Thoresby Estate during the war years see THIS LINK, THIS LINK, and THIS LINK.

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Thoresby Estate Historical Bazaar. 20th May 2018.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Dukeries and Fox Hunting.

Above: Charles William Sydney Pierrepont, 4th Earl Manvers (1854 – 1926) was Master of the Rufford Hounds. Pictured here with his huntsman outside Thoresby Hall as everyone indulges in a well-fuelled hunt breakfast.

Fox hunting, as one would recognise it today, really began in the 18th century. Previous to that, deer had been the hunter’s choice of animal, but this started to change after the first of the Inclosure Acts in 1750 which resulted in open lands being sectioned into farmable fields and the deer population going into decline. At that point foxes and hare became the target. Fox hunting was never truly about the cull. As any gamekeeper will tell you a fox is a creature of exacting habits, taking the same routes every night at almost exactly the same times. So, if you do have a problem with a fox, it would be very easy to locate and shoot. No indeed, fox hunting was all about pomp and circumstance, an excuse for the Dukes and Lords to don their bright red finery, mount their thoroughbred horses, and follow their equally well bred packs of hounds across their vast estates, exhibiting as they did so just how wealthy and powerful they were. In the evening there would be an equally lavish ball, a banquet with tables well stocked with game from the Duke’s estate.

It is for this very reason, wanting to impress and display one’s wealth and social position, that the hunt became a favoured subject when commissioning artworks. Such paintings would have pride of place within the great halls, and on occasion hung in notable galleries in London. To reach an even wider audience, engravings would be made from the original artwork and mass produced for circulation. One such example is the above print from Tilleman’s painting of 1725, depicting the 2nd Duke of Kingston, with the original Thoresby Hall and his impressive estate in the background. (See the painting itself on THIS LINK).

Another fine painting (below) which was shown in the Academy of 1789, is F. Wheatley’s “Portrait of a Nobleman returning from Shooting". It depicts Henry Pelham Clinton, 2nd Duke of Newcastle, and his shooting party, with the Clumber spaniels and, beyond the bridge, Clumber House in the background. Painted in 1788 it received the mass-produced engraving treatment in 1803.

Above: The Guy Marson painting of a 1959 hunt gathering outside Thoresby Hall, also received the mass-production treatment. I well remember a colour print of this hanging in our family home when I lived on Thoresby Estate. The original hangs today (2017) in Perlethorpe Social Club. (For more on Guy Marson see THIS LINK).

Above: “Black Prince”, inside the stables at Thoresby Courtyard, Thoresby Hall. This was a favoured horse of Sydney William Herbert Pierrepont, 3rd Earl Manvers (1826 - 1900), himself a onetime Captain in the South Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Cavalry.

Today: In November 2004 a free vote in the House of Commons made "hunting wild mammals with a dog" unlawful in England and Wales from February 2005. Since The Hunting Act 2004 was passed several previous hunt organizations have gone on to perform displays of jumping and cross country riding with hounds within the Dukeries area. It remains a controversial subject.

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