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No.17                    WINTER 2019/20          



 On Thursday 26th September, our oldest member, Ron Cruxon was presented with the Legion D’Honeur by the Honorary Consul of France M. Jean-Claude Lafontaine, in the presence of the Lord Mayor, Councillor Rosemary Healy, and many of Ron’s family and friends. Present also was Col. David Sneath D.L. who read out Ron’s military citation giving details of his service in the Royal Artillery after his call-up, at the age of 19, in 1941. Ron served in Normandy in 1944 and took part in the subsequent battles to liberate France, then Belgium and Holland and in due course the occupation of Germany.

A few years ago, the Government of France decided, that all veterans that had taken part in their liberation of their country should be awarded this medal.

During WWII the Cruxon Family were truly a family at war. His father Leonard, who had fought in Palestine and France in WWI, served as a Sergeant in the Home Guard based in Radford, whilst Ron and his two brothers served in the Army. His eldest brother, Harold, fought in Italy and his younger brother, Arthur, also served in Normandy with Ron. Sadly, Arthur died in the 1960s; otherwise he too would have received this honour. After the war, Ron returned to Wollaton and lived with his wife Florence, first in the Square and then in the house in which he was born on Trowell Road. He worked at the Co-op in Wollaton and later at Beechdale, before he retired.



Ron was born in Wollaton in 1922, into a family that had already lived in the village for over 100 years, his great grandmother having been christened in St Leonard’s  in 1818.

In 1922 Wollaton was still a small village of about 120 cottages, where everyone knew everyone else. All the cottages were owned by Lord Middleton, who owned the Hall, the Park , in fact the whole of Wollaton Parish. It was still an almost feudal system which had survived for hundreds of years, but which was soon to come to an end with the sale of the whole Estate in 1925.

Ron is now the only person who was born into those times and has lived all his life in Wollaton. He now lives only a few hundred yards from where he was born. As a member of this Society he has used his amazing recall of life in Wollaton when he was young to assist us in our historical research.

The medal was presented to him on Thursday 26 September at Wollaton Hall, in what was formerly Lady Middleton’s Bedroom. It is possible that Lady Middleton might have been sleeping there the night Ron was born not far away! The Hall was a very fitting venue to show this important historic link between Ron and Wollaton. Ron will be 97 in December, we wish him a very happy birthday.



  In March, the contractors Bonsers replaced 3,000 bricks into the eastern wall and rebuilt the partially collapsed east Gateway (above). They also trained some of our volunteers to do some additional pointing. During their work, Bonsers, had to replace over 100 bricks that simply fell out as they were doing the work, demonstrating how urgently the work had been needed. Whilst on site, they offered to do additional work in order to repair the most damaged parts of the wall. The additional £4,000 was paid for by the Nottingham Civic Society, and we are very grateful for their help. They, like us, realise the importance of this project.

   This year Pete Foster and the Friends of Wollaton Park, together with volunteers from this Society and from various organisations, have made amazing progress clearing the brambles and ivy from the Walled Garden.

In April the Lord Mayor came to insert the last brick in the eastern wall and Sarah Teale from BBC East Midlands Today covered the event, which gave us some much needed publicity.

  We have produced a new booklet “Wollaton’s Secret Walled Garden” which is kindly sponsored by Rotheras Solicitors, so that all the proceeds will now go towards further work. The Society has already committed a further £2,000 to restore the wall adjoining the central pillar. This will be done in such a way as to allow us to show the flues within the wall, which formed the basis of the heating system (see right). It is important that the system should be visible, so that visitors can understand how it worked. It is intended that Phase II of the building work will include the rebuilding the corner section of the south west wall, which will cost approximately £35,000. However, we have yet to raise this money.

 The blocked gateway from the Walled Garden to the adjoining western slip garden has been reopened (left) and ground clearance has continued there and in the adjoining Head Gardeners Cottage. The lawn has been cleared and reseeded and a new pathway, avoiding the badger set, now leads to the gate which gives access directly into the Park. A new sign will soon be erected near this gate advising people that this is the entrance to the Walled Garden. We now use this entrance for all our tours.


The west slip garden, between the Head Gardeners Cottage and the Walled Garden, has also been cleared to reveal the walls and interior of the only surviving frame (that is a greenhouse with walls), though without its roof! It is believed this was formerly used to grow cucumbers. We have also found the location of the boiler house which would have been the source of heating the glasshouses that formerly stood here.

This year we have been providing tours. These have proved very popular, we had over 80 on the Society’s August walk and well over 100 when we opened for a Sunday in August.  Some guides have been trained, but we need more volunteers so that we can run tours on a regular basis. If you could help, please let us know.

 One of the problems is that we do not have a qualified gardener to supervise and advise us. In addition, during most of the summer we were unable to get into the Walled Garden because it was being used for school camps. When we returned the weeds, ivy and brambles had done their best to make up much lost ground. The volunteers will continue clearing the ivy from the walls and potting sheds during the winter months, now the nesting season has ended. We hope to extend the hours when we have access so that we can make even greater progress. We have acquired a lawn mower, donated by a lady who had no further use for it, and we are planning on mowing the paths that were shown on the 1881 OS map. If you have gardening equipment that you could donate please let us know. If you would like to help, you would be most welcome, every Thursday from 10.00 to 12.30, meet in the Communities Car Park, off the driveway to Mr Mans.

 We have made some interesting discoveries concerning the former glasshouses in the Walled Garden. We found the floor level and this will assist us with rebuilding or replacing these greenhouses in the future. We have also been assisted by visits from Alan Mather, the former head gardener, and Frank Lloyd who was the deputy superintendent of the Park until the 1990’s when the Garden was closed. They were able to tell us how the garden was used in its last few years, and to commiserate with us as to the state it has been allowed to fall into! In addition Daryl Greaves showed us some photographs of the Walled Garden when her father used to work there up to 1937. One of them shows the glasshouses with a small ornamental tree in front of them at the end of the path. It was a cedar tree that has now grown into a massive tree, the only surviving tree from the days when this was a thriving garden. It will be retained, but the saplings and more recent trees surrounding it will be removed.

So what happens next? How is the garden to arise once again in all its glory? We plan to open up the quarter nearest the recently restored east wall and do some planting. It will only be modest, but it will be a start. What we really need is to find a partner who can support us with expertise and finance.

We have many supporters who do what they can to support this community project. The lovely ladies from theWollaton WI voted for the Restoration of the Secret Walled Garden at Wollaton Park as their charity of the year. They have rightly chosen to support this most important historical and conservation project in Wollaton which can become a place where visitors can learn about history, restoration, growing vegetables and fruit, along with enjoying activities held within these historic walls.  Thank you Ladies! Thanks too to Alison Ratner who had a birthday party and induced her guest to put £195 into a box, painted as part of a wall with a sprig of ivy over it! What a great idea, thank you so much.

We should also thank Alan Gardner, who originally brought this project to the Committee’s attention in 2012. Unfortunately he has undergone a serious operation earlier this year, but is making good progress. We look forward to his complete recovery and his ability to play, once again, a leading role in this important project.

Date for your diary:

*Wednesday 20 May 2020 at 7.00pm  at Wollaton Hall, Julian Richards*, best known for his TV programme “Meet the Ancestors”, who grew up in Wollaton, has kindly agree to give us a talk to assist in our fund raising. Tickets £12.50 will be on sale in the New Year. The price will include drinks before the talk and a free copy of the Booklet.


Ninya Mikhaila did the honours and formally declared the Dovecote open in May for the 2019 season. Despite opening less frequently than in 2018 and a reduction in the number of group visits, we still welcomed nearly 400 visitors. Donations and book sales were higher than in 2018 and all the money raised will be donated to the Walled Garden. The guided walk on the Heritage Open day was especially popular and we can thank Chris Walton for making these monthly Village walks so interesting and informative.

The WI market in August was a great success for WI ladies, who raised over £200 for their charity of the year. At the time, that charity had not been ascertained, but following a vote at the September WI meeting the ladies, as referred to above, voted for the Restoration of the Walled Garden as their charity of the year.

The 2019 exhibitions have been very popular.

Daryle’s costumes and in-depth knowledge about aspects of Tudor life and local history keeps visitors well entertained. The map display is again of great interest. The guided walks are popular and some visitors come along just for the walk.

 The garden has been transformed this year from pretty ordinary to something very special, thanks to over £160 worth of vouchers from the “Green Flag Award” and the “It’s Your Neighbourhood Scheme”. The new diversity of plants is attracting more butterflies and pollinators to the garden and the FW initials in the lawn create long grass which is perfect habitat for insects and beetles. You can imagine how much work it took digging out the snowberry from the front border before the new plants went in! For this and for all the maintenance this year we can be very grateful to Andrew, Keith and Ralph for being the backbone of the gardening team and to everyone else who has got their hands dirty to make the garden so attractive and helped keep it maintained. There are more berries on the holly than we recall in previous years and these will provide an important food source for birds, particularly Redwings and Blackbirds.

We are delighted to have been awarded a Green Flag award again this year and your committee decided we needed a flagpole from which to fly it.

This was purchased and installed by Ian Mackerell for the sum of £35. We can now actually fly the flag, with great pride.

 In early August, we the welcomed Steve, the RHS Britain in Bloom assessor for this year’s “It’s Your Neighbourhood” assessment.  He studied at Brackenhurst College and is a professional horticulturalist who is very clued up about environmental issues, as well as planting. He was full of admiration for the garden. He spent almost two hours at the Dovecote and indoors confirmed that the droppings inside were, indeed, bat droppings. We hoped that as a result of all the extra work we had done in the garden, we might achieve an outstanding award. The results, announced in October confirmed that we had indeed achieved that, and got the highest award. Well done everybody. Angela Gilbert


After several very successful years running the Dovecote, Angela has decided to take something of back seat and has handed over to Sue Smith, who has been a volunteer for some years. She has some exciting ideas about how we might use the Dovecote, stressing its Tudor origins in a number of ways, including having themed events with a Tudor twist, such as lute playing, Tudor crafts, food and drink and herbs. This will complement Daryle’s costumes (left) and make a real “visitor experience” as well as being educational. So, thank you Angela and best of luck to Sue.  The Dovecote will open again on Sunday 10 May 2020 at 2.15


In principle, we are happy for any organisation or group within our community to use the garden by arrangement and at no charge. You could have a table top sale for your funds, or a charity, or just to encourage new members. Bring your tables, bring your wares, and we will open the museum too. At the same time we can put on tea and cake and make a bit of money for the Dovecote funds. If your group might be interested in this, or you know of one that could be, let us know and we can discuss it. But, please, strictly no commercial business.


The Council are pressing ahead with their policy of transforming Wollaton Hall. In the summer we had a meeting of the advisory group and were told of changes to the bird room. This will now be redesigned to be a museum within a museum. In other words you will be asked to look at it as an historic Victorian display, not as a modern exhibition. There will also be various changes displaying some birds better and removing others.

 We were told that The Great Hall will have just one free standing display about natural history and the plan to paint the walls with butterflies and birds has, it appears, been abandoned.

The entrance hall however, will have a makeover, the walls being painted as a jungle (see right) with signs directing people to various parts of the museum.

The shop, which moved into the 19th century salon, with the arrival of the dinosaurs in 2016, will be relocated to the dining room (Willoughby Room).

Meanwhile the salon, with its expensive carpet, will become an upmarket Tea Room, which could prove popular if properly managed.

The project is subtitled “A Would of Wonder” and aims “to increase the objects on display from 1500 to 15,000 and to double the gallery space to 735 square metres”.

When asked recently where this additional space was coming from and to give a rough list of the additional 13,500 items to be exhibited, the response was: “The additional square footage includes the Great Hall, passageway, balcony, and Willoughby Room. (This is despite what we had been told at the last advisory group.) As to the lost: I’m afraid I can’t send you the list of 13,500 objects as these will be chosen at each stage of the process over the next 3 years. It’s a long and complicated task as each object needs to be documented and measured prior to a case placement exercise, prior to case manufacture.”

How can the Council justify this project? How do they know there are 13,500 additional items that need to be displayed? And where is the extra space?  Some “Would of Wonder”! Meanwhile the history of the Willoughby family, such as it is, will be removed!


Volunteering gives you the chance to:· be part of a friendly and dedicated team· meet people from all walks of life· share skills and gain new ones· have fun and enjoy new experiences. As the Society becomes much more “hands on”,  in the sense that more members are getting involved in our various projects, we would  encourage more of you to join in. A number are helping at the Walled Garden, some clearing the undergrowth, others doing guided tours.

Several help at the Dovecote, which is a special place, and a large part of what makes it so is the fantastic team of volunteers, who dedicate their time, skills and passion to helping a terrific cause. No two days are the same – there are always new experiences to be had, new facts to learn and new friends to be made. Volunteers can play an invaluable role behind the scenes too. Caring for our collection, minor repairs and maintenance, gardening, publicity, fund raising, there are many things to get involved with. Volunteers bring a huge variety of skills that are so important in helping us.

There are many opportunities for you to get involved in the Walled Garden, the Dovecote and in our new project, the Wollaton War Memorial, giving as much or as little time as you can.  Guidance is always provided and you will have plenty of help to find your feet.

We also need more volunteers to serve on the Committee or to assist in various tasks, such as delivering the Newsletter, and we also need Sunday Guides for the short Village Walk. So please VOLUNTEER!

. Dovecote:  Sue Smith on 0115 9285563 > sue.m.smith@ntlworld.com: Walled Garden Ralph Buckingham>thebuckingham@ntlworld.com :Guides: Andrew Hamilton>anrhamilton@hot mail .co.uk Committee Angela Gilbert >angela.gilbert@live.co.uk


At our October meeting a new member complained that our membership fee was too low. She said that to effectively charge 83p per meeting was wrong. The audience agreed and an over whelming show of hands supported the proposition that the annual sum of £10 would be more acceptable.

However it has to be born in mind that we do not need the additional funds to run the Society and, with our current membership of over 300 members, we make a profit after the payment of all expenses of over £1.00 per member!

The reason our subscription is so low is because we wish as many people as possible to join. We should not forget that: The Society exists to protect and enhance the principal Conservation Areas which include the Village core and Wollaton Park. In order to do that, the Society encourages historic research and seeks to encourage people living in all parts of Wollaton and Wollaton Park to learn more about the history of the area and thereby to help ensure its survival and conservation. So the more members the better, so that we can spread the message.

If we need addition sums as we do, for the Walled Garden and The War Memorial, then we should raise money from our members and others, as the need arises.

So, for the moment you the members will have to suffer our low subscription. However what you could do is to get your neighbours to join, or as one of our members does, give them a free membership for Christmas!



The tranquil, historic atmosphere of Middleton Hall & Gardens was very welcome on 25th July when 16 WHaCS members enjoyed a very interesting tour around Middleton Hall and gardens, on what turned out to be the hottest day on record! This was the Societies second visit, the last being in 2016.

 The Hall had been in the possession of the Willoughby’s since the 1500s. After Wollaton Hall had been damaged by fire in 1643, and subsequently locked up, it was to be the home of, the famous naturalist, Francis Willughby, and also his friend and former tutor John Ray.  Francis tragically died in 1672 aged only 36, before he had finished any of the works which bear his name. (See article below).  He left Ray £60 pa to complete his work and tutr his three infant children.

The Hall and gardens are now run by Middleton Hall Trust, a charitable trust established in 1980 by a group of intrepid volunteers who were determined to save the Hall, which was at the time in a ruinous state after 20 years of neglect. The Hall is kept open to the public by the Trust’s volunteers and a small number of staff. In March 2019 the Trust were fortunate to receive a National Lottery grant of £135,500.

 They also have a Walled Garden, though only a quarter the size of our garden in Wollaton. Here again, the volunteers have cleared and replanted the whole garden, which was a blaze of colour. It just shows what can be achieved by volunteers and what we might do here in our Walled Garden.

The Hall is approximately a mile from the village and church of St John the Baptist.. In the chancel the whole of one wall is covered by the massive black and white Willoughby Monument. It was installed at the end of the 17th century and is of great architectural importance. It is over 5 meters high and was so large that the north chancel window had to be blocked up to accommodate it. The monument was erected by Francis Willughby’s son, Thomas, who, in 1710 became the First Lord Middleton. Despite the fact that he was now living in the newly restored Wollaton Hall, he no doubt chose the name Middleton, having been born in there and also in tribute to his famous father. Other members of his family are also commemorated on the memorial.


Willughby and Ray were not the first to write a book on birds, but they were the first to bring to their research the spirit of objective enquiry, characteristic to this new scientific age. Previous books had simply listed birds some of which were entirely mythological and had never actually existed, such as the phoenix and the verminous bird, or tuputa, a bird whose flesh was said to be composed entirely of tiny writhing worms!

 So, they decided to start afresh, seeing and describing every species for themselves, and, crucially, doing so in a careful standardised way. As far as possible, these descriptions were based on direct examination, typically of freshly shot specimens, there being no other way to get a close look at most birds in the days before field glasses. The aim of their Ornithology was to accurately name and describe all known bird species, and – a crucial innovation – a systematic attempt to comprehend the ordering principles of the divine creation, by arranging them in a classificatory system that was based on observation and logic.

This classification was entirely new and was based first on anatomy and second of habitat and habit: so Book I was “Of Birds in general”, Book II covered “Land-Fowl”, and Book III was “Of Water-Fowl”. Beyond these, a system of mostly anatomical criteria – size, beak shape, feet and claws- was used to sort birds into smaller and smaller groups. At the start of each book the classification was presented as a branching table, intending to aid identification. So the reader would be able to direct himself to the appropriate chapter to identify a particular bird.

The Ornithology is a very large book, it was never intended as a field guide, but its template – identification of natural species through detailed descriptions and accurate illustrations - remains standard to this day. It was published four years after Francis Willughby’s death from pleurisy in 1672 at the age of 36, Ray having organized the extensive papers into publishable form. (Ray later went on to publish the “History of Fishes” in 1686 and finally, under his own name, the “History of Insects” in 1710.)

Sadly, this remarkable man, despite his ground-breaking ornithological achievements and his discovery and description of numerous species, has no bird named after him, nor does he receive the appropriate recognition in his family home, the Natural History Museum at Wollaton Hall.(Adapted from an article by Francis Gooding)


 The Friends of Wollaton Local Nature Reserves and Nottingham City Council have been successful in applying for a grant of £52,000 from the FCC which awards grants for community, biodiversity and heritage projects from funds donated by the Landfill Communities Fund. The grant is subject to the FWLNR raising the balance of the £60,000, which they have been successful in doing. Hopefully work will be commencing in 2020 on the proposals which is to update Martin’s Pond, which comprises a mosaic of semi-natural habitats including fen and marsh, open water, wet woodland and hedgerows. There is a circular public right of way accessed from an entrance gate on Russell Avenue. It is intended that this will be replaced with a very contemporary new gate.

The old wooded boardwalk (see left) closed in 2018, will be replaced by a new recycled plastic structure that will be longer lasting and will provide access into the marsh area for wildlife spotting including bird watching and dragonfly and plant identification. A new feature is a viewing platform with a bird hide that will be constructed near the entrance to the site, at the pond edge, and which will incorporate a new bird identification display. The steps from Martin's Pond, down to the neighbouring Harrison's Plantation, will be replaced and a new hand rail added to help those who are less steady on their feet. The interpretation panels will be replaced and new benches will be installed, so that visitors can better enjoy the tranquillity of this amazing “oasis”. Anyone interested in joining the FWLNR or helping on their task days, should contact the group by e-mail fwlnr@yahoo.com.



In the Spring Newsletter we floated the idea, raised by Arthur Walder, of having a proper War Memorial in Wollaton. There are currently three memorial plaques in St Leonards: one listing the fallen in WWI and another for WWII. (Interestingly this was not erected until the 1960s, twenty years after the end of the War.) The third plaque lists the names of all those who served in WWI and is outside the church, below the window, to the left of the entrance.

We circulated the Newsletter amongst those we felt might be interested in supporting this project and on 6 May we met as a “working party” at the British Legion on Bramcote Lane.

Those able to attend included members of this Society, Wollaton Park Rotary, Wollaton WI, St Leonard’s and the Wollaton Branch of the British Legion. Various ideas were discussed and the idea of a new outdoor memorial in the Village was broadly welcomed. It was felt that it should cover all conflicts, with no individual names, in memory of not just the fallen, but all who suffered due to the conflicts of war.

 Timothy Hodkinson, on behalf of the Legion, suggested that the space in front of their building might be a suitable location. The working party agreed, so he said he would go back to his Committee to get their views and suggestions.

They have now produced the very interesting designs (left) drawn by Steve Rawson. The proposal is for a three sided sandstone wall at the front of the car park. The top plan shows the location with the road sign for Dovecote Drive on the right, with the existing wooden fence and sign to the left. The second plan shows the memorial itself with room for three plaques. This could include names, if required, on the two side panels with a general description in the centre, perhaps “In Memory of those who died and for all who suffer as a result of war”. Obviously this will need to be agreed by the working party.

We shall be calling a meeting of the working party in the next few weeks  to discuss how we should progress the project. We need to agree that we do actually need this memorial and if so whether the Legion’s scheme is appropriate Then, we shall have to agree the layout and the wording that will eventually go on the three plaques. Next, we will need to raise the £350 fee for planning permission and also obtain estimates for its construction.  Finally, will come the greatest challenge, appealing to all residents of Wollaton to support the scheme financially. It is vital that this is seen as a community project and so anyone, or organisation, interested in helping should please contact Arthur Walder: arthurwalder@hotmail.com



Please note that it has not been possible to download all the images which appeared in this newsletter. Not sure why but we're working on it.                                                


Progress at last!

Last year the Council at last agreed to start work to preserve the Walled Garden in the Park. The Garden, built between 1783 and1788 had 12 foot high heated walls. They enclosed a 4 acre garden, which was used to grow a large variety of fruit and vegetables for the Middleton family and their staff. Next to it was the 75 foot long, Large Conservatory, and in front of that was an Herbaceous Garden, where the flowers for the Hall were grown. After the sale of the Hall and Park in 1924 the Walled Garden continued to be used by the Parks Department for growing plants for their flowerbeds around the City. In 1991 this process was moved to Woodthorpe and the Walled Garden was abandoned. Since then vegetation and vandals have taken their toll.

Phase I of this emergence project, costing £20,000, has now started and over six weeks the contractors will replace 3,000 bricks into various holes in the walls. They will also rebuild the Eastern Gateway, so a new gate can then be installed. The bricks they will be using have all been recovered from the Garden by volunteers, led by Pete Foster of the Friends of Wollaton Park. These have had to be cleaned and stacked. Unfortunately many of the bricks have been damaged and in due course we are going to need some new bricks, which will have to be fired specially at a cost of £25 per brick!

Apart from recovering bricks, they have been attacking 30 years of growth that have in part overwhelmed the walls and brought down one wall altogether. It is an enormous task as the ivy has grown up both sides of the 12 foot high walls.

Top: The 1863 plan of the Walled Garden, with the Head Gardener’s Cottage left of centre in pink. Below: The Eastern wall as the ivy was being cleared in January. Centre: the masons fill the holes in March and right Ralph Buckingham cutting back on the outer side of the wall.                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Above: The Gateway in the Eastern Wall with the heating ducts in the wall clearly exposed. Top left covered in ivy in 2018, cleared in February, partly rebuilt in March.

Below:  The path in the Park leading to the black gate and thence into the Garden complex (see 1863 plan). Right: The blocked up entrance to the Walled Garden from the Large Conservatory which we hope to reopen.

Not only had the ivy attached itself with a vice like hold to the walls, it had also got under the coping stones at the top and in some cases forced them off. Once inside the wall, it has made its way along the old heating ducts and caused damage to the brick work. If our volunteers had not acted in time the walls would all have been reduced to rubble, just like the central wall. 

Interestingly we have uncovered more potting sheds and also the bricked up doorway that gave access to the Large Conservatory. Years ago, when Lord and Lady Middleton visited the Garden complex, they would use the black door in the surrounding wall, located where the old adventure playground used to be. From there they would have walked past the Head Gardener’s Cottage (pink on the 1863 Plan, above, which survives), and then into the Large Conservatory. From here they could either go into the Herbaceous Garden or through this rediscovered doorway into the Walled Garden. Sadly the Herbaceous Garden and the Conservatory have long gone, though we hope to mark out its footprint in the grass. In June, during the Wollaton Festival, we, with FOWP, hope to provide Guided Tours of the Walled Garden and the surrounding area. We aim to use that black gate, so that the walks can start directly from the Park.

The plan is then to reopen the doorway into the Walled Garden so giving us direct access. We shall ask The Lord Mayor to formally assist in this reopening and also to launch our new Booklet, the “History of the Walled Garden”. This has been sponsored by Rotheras Solicitors, to whom we give our grateful thanks. You will be informed by email when this is to happen. You are welcome to come along; those who are able could join the working party!

We desperately need to raise further money to finance the continuing work of preservation and restoration, which is estimated at over £1,000,000. Once we have done that the aim is to use half the Garden for horticulture and half for community use. There could be new glasshouses and possibly a farm shop, with the potting sheds (right) restored and possibly used as craft shops.


The work of clearing the ivy, brambles and trees will continue for several months. Thanks to all who have already helped. To those who would like to help please come and join one of the workdays. You can bring your own cutters or you will be provided with tools. You will be covered by the Council’s insurance. On Thursdays we are supported by the Wollaton Park Team who look after the Park.

Regular work days are on Thursdays at 9.30 and also the second Sunday of the month from 10.30 to 12.30, Meet at the Communities Car Park first left off the entrance to Mr Man’s car park, and you will be given a car parking permit. All will be allocated tasks within their capabilities!

We also need guides for the Tours in the Summer. Can you help?

In February we had a Volunteer Week and people from all over the country came to help, whilst others just came to look at this amazing area. One of them was so impressed that he reached into his pocket and produced a large donation in cash! We need a lot more people like Mr Bob Elkin from Nailstone! Thank you.


On 28 January at Wollaton Hall, the City Council launched its “Transforming Wollaton Project” called “A World of Wonder”.  I and David Gilbert attended on behalf of the Society. The Great Hall was filled with displays of how this project was intended to proceed. There were displays about the Walled Garden (David is seen, right, looking at one of the displays showing the Large Conservatory), but no mention of any future money being forthcoming!

Then Rachael Evans, the Museum’s Development Officer, told us how Wollaton Hall was to be transformed over the next four years. The natural history section was to be greatly expanded and was to take back most of the rooms, including the Great Hall that it had occupied 30 years ago.

 She told us that the “project has benefited to date from support from Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation grant funded programme. Further funding of £95,000 had just been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and additional fundraising is ongoing. The overall costs for the project will be tested in this first phase but the current estimation is around the £1.3 million mark.”

When questions were invited I stood up and objected and pointed out that the policy of this Society and, probably more important, the City Council over the last 30 years had been to clear several rooms of natural history displays and use them to interpret the history of the Willoughby family and the Hall. The scheme to paint butterflies on one wall of the Great Hall (above) and have natural history displays on the others (see below) was completely inappropriate.

Subsequently I, and Pete Foster of the Friends of Wollaton Park, wrote objecting and pointing out there has been no public consultation whatsoever. We were invited to meet Rachael, which we did and expressed our concerns and the lack of consultation. It appears there has now been something of a rethink and the policy is now:

 “Wollaton Hall will undergo a transformation over the next four years to meet the needs of the growing audience. Since 2007 annual visitor figures have leapt from 48,000 to over 300,000, but many are repeat visitors and dwell time is low. The footfall has taken its toll on the galleries and after an initial stage of consultation a Transformation Project has launched to redevelop the internal galleries encompassing both the Hall’s history and natural history collections. The first step is further consultation with visitors and partners including the establishment of an advisory panel whereupon representatives of local groups and organisations will sit at the heart of the decision making process”

Hopefully our joint input with FoWP, will result in a more balanced, much needed, improvement to the Hall. It should also allow us all to reconsider how natural history should be displayed. The collection was placed in the Hall after the City acquired the then empty building in 1924. It had formerly been in the Central Library on Shakespeare Street and, I suspect that the librarian was keen to get rid of it! It has absolutely no connection to the Willoughby Family at all.

It includes some very fine stuffed birds in cleverly designed cabinets and a large number of similarly stuffed animals. It would have been the only way then for Edwardians to see these animals. However, one wonders if in this day and age people, particularly young people, want to see stuffed animals, when they can see them alive and running around on TV programmes such as Blue Planet. Showing rare or extinct animals likely produces the retort, “well they wouldn’t be extinct if this one hadn’t been shot!”

If the City is serious we perhaps need to rethink what a natural history museum should contain, and putting what is not needed in store, for in the future tastes may change again. We also need to find ways of linking the history of the Hall with the displays. We should make more of Francis Willoughby (great grandson of the builder of the Hall) who was one of our greatest naturalists, and Sir Hugh Willoughby the navigator. His expedition could be used to explain the dangers of global warming and loss of the ice shelf. We should relate more to our local natural environment, the deer and birds in the Park and birds and animals to be found in our own country.  Wollaton Hall was built on the proceeds of coal, Wollaton then being one of the three most important areas for mining in the country, so this could form part of a geology gallery.  

A recent survey has found that most visitors only stay for 29 minutes, which is not surprising. It also showed that one of the things most requested was a cafe, though there are two cafes in the Courtyard only a hundred yards away!

The location of the shop is a problem. Originally it was in the Great Hall, but during the dinosaur exhibitions when extra space was needed, it was moved into the Salon after all the furniture had been removed. Thirty years ago this room had been cleared of natural history exhibits, redecorated, furnished and carpeted (at a cost of £12,000) as a 19th century Regency salon. Now it must be the most expensively carpeted shop in the country! The furniture should be reinstated and the shop moved.

In fairness it has to be pointed out that the Council has been making efforts to open previously closed rooms for guided tours, including the Tudor Kitchen (top), Lady Middleton’s Bedroom (bottom), Lord Middleton’s Study and The Groom’s Room. Reorganisation of staff has also allowed for the appointment of Rachel James as Chief Operations Officer for the Hall and Park has proved very positive.

Please let me have your views. If you disagree with my comments please email me, anrhamilton@hotmail.co.uk otherwise I will assume you are generally in agreement with the views I have expressed.


Another part of the Transformation (World of Wonder) project involves the formal garden immediately to the south of the Hall. It is sometimes called Cassandra’s garden since she was responsible for setting it out. She was the daughter of Sir Francis Willoughby, the famous naturalist who had died in 1672 at Middleton Hall, when she was just a baby. In 1686 her brother Francis came of age and came to Wollaton to claim his inheritance. The following year he invited Cassandra, then 17, to join him at Wollaton. They then set about restoring the fire damaged Hall which had lain abandoned for 44 years. They also revived and enlarged the gardens. Cassandra became the housekeeper to Francis, and after he died at the age of 20, to her younger brother Thomas who succeeded him and in 1712 was created the first Lord Middleton.

The Formal Garden is shown on this picture, by Jan Siberechts  in 1697, with the circular pond and fountain in the centre. The fountain was still working into the 1990s before the lead piping was stolen. Since then it has been rebuilt. Unfortunately it leaks and for the last 20 years has remained empty and unsightly.

The scheme is to repair it, replace the fountain and reinstate the formal pathway layout with two addition pathways to the east and west. A project the Society is happy to support. These east and west pathways were probably removed in the 19th century to make maintenance easier. The original green areas would probably have been camomile lawns that did not need cutting, or grass, that would have had to be cut by hand. With the invention of the cylinder mower in the middle of the 19th century larger formal lawns could be maintained more easily.

This was achieved by using a horse drawn mower, which would not have been suitable for small areas of grass, and I suspect that was when the east and west paths were removed. In Old Nottingham Remembered by K. Taylor, I found this account and, in our archive, I found this picture to go with it!

“The grass cutting machine, although called simply ‘the mower’, was a horse-drawn contraption which mowed a yard’s width and had razor-sharp cutter blades.  The professional name for this necessary piece of equipment was called ‘The Greens Machine’ since it had been designed by someone of that name.

Attached to the front was a box which collected all the cut grass and any tufts that were missed were trimmed down by a second set of blades which were positioned so that the cut grass blades were immediately heaped into the box at the rear.

When both mowing boxes were full, the grass was either dumped into the hollow of a tree or taken by wheelbarrow to a piece of spare land alongside the courtyard filter beds.

 There were two men working The Greens Machine; one guiding the machine at the rear, the other gently leading a blinkered estate horse by the bridle, along and across each section of lawn as it needed to be mown.

Accompanying the two men was a boy,  known as ‘the side man’.  His job was to walk in front of the horse pulling The Greens Machine and pick up any twigs or stones that may have been scattered upon the turf.  Before mowing commenced, the horse’s feet were each fitted into a baggy type of boot which was strapped around the hocks.  To put such a boot onto the horse’s foot, the man had only to gently tap one leg and it would lift back the hoof in readiness for strapping. All four feet were booted in this manner to prevent the prints of horse shoes becoming engraved upon the turf.  Another of the side men’s duties was to have a can or bucket of water standing in a nearby patch of shrubbery for, if the horse urinated on the turf, water would have to be thrown upon the spot otherwise large brown patches would appear because the urine had not scaled quickly into the ground. Towards the end of a working day, the men would sweep the gravel wall with besoms (witch’s broom), clean and oil their tools and utensils; then cart all the cuttings and debris in wheelbarrows to the rubbish heap.”


 We have had two gardening sessions at the Dovecote, one in November and another at the end of February, when about a dozen members turned up to dig out the weeds and the snowberry which had almost taken over the whole garden.

We have also planted £160 of new plants. These were paid for by our winnings, £100 from Green Flag award and £60 from the RHS “It’s Your Neighbourhood scheme.” Hopefully the garden will look at its best this summer and we may also add to our winnings!

 Having analysed visitor numbers and activity in 2018, it has been agreed that we open on April 28th for Radio Nottingham Big Day Out, then on 2nd Sunday of each month, being May 12th, June 9th, July 14th, August 11th (WI Market), and September 8th (Heritage Weekend). We have decided not to open on Open Churches Weekend or the Wollaton Festival due to very low visitor numbers in the last two years for these events. This year the theme will be the “Maps of Wollaton” which was so successful in 2017 and Darryl Greaves will also once again kindly display some of her Tudor costumes.

Five bird nesting boxes have been donated and these are now in place as you can see from the photograph. In the meantime many members and visitors will not have seen the garden in springtime so here are two photos taken on 20th March.

The Grand Opening will be performed by Ninya Mikhaila   the star of the TV programme “A Stich in Time” currently on BBC4 at 7.00pm on Monday evenings. She lives in Dairy Cottage on Trowell Road and has agreed to open the Dovecote for us at 2.15pm on Sunday 12th May. Come and join us for drinks and nibbles and to meet Ninya.



The only memorials to those who fell in the two World Wars are to be found in St Leonard’s Church. It has been suggested that there should be a memorial outside. Of course we have the City memorial on the embankment, but many towns and villages have their own memorials in prominent positions. The Society has decided to float this suggestion to test the view of the residents.

If there is a desire for such a memorial then it will be necessary to decide where it will go and whether it should be a simple monument or one that contains the name of all the fallen who lived in Wollaton.

That may provide a problem as two of those named on the existing WWI do not appear to have any links to Wollaton. Why they were included is a mystery, though the policy in 1919 seems to have been to put a name on the memorial of any family who asked to have their loved one included. There is a list of those who died in WWII which includes names that are not on the church memorial. That may be as a result of changes to the Parish boundary which has been more tightly drawn over the years as the Village became a suburb and as the population of the suburb increased. We do not know if any Wollaton resident died in any subsequent war for example Korea, the Falklands or Afghanistan.

The second problem is where a memorial should be located. The Village Square is the nearest thing we have to a centre for Wollaton and somewhere nearby would seem to be the most suitable. Dovecote Drive with its splayed entrance would seem to offer a possible location either on the corner of the British Legion or the Bulwell stone wall of the Community Hall (see above).

If the matter is to proceed we need to have a Memorial Committee made up of interested parties, including a member of this Society, to decide the issues and to raise the necessary funds.

Arthur Walder (arthurwalder@hotmail.com) as one of the proposers of this scheme is happy to act as the Society’s representative and he would be happy to hear your views. He would be particularly like to hear from anyone who is related to anyone named on the existing memorials.


The Council have recently cut back the ivy on Church Hill, Wollaton Road, so allowing a clear view of the stone wall.This will give us an opportunity to look at the individual stones more clearly. Some people believe that they came from the old Wollaton Hall that stood close by the Church and was finally

demolished in about 1670. However the stones that previously had the ivy removed from them, 25 years ago, have clearly suffered from “road splash” and been badly damaged, as they have dissolved away. Let us hope the same fate does not now occur to the newly revealed stones.


I give formal Notice of the Annual General Meeting of WHaCS at 7.30 on Wednesday 24 April 2019 followed by a talk by John Taylor “The History of Bolsover Castle”. 

The Agenda will be available at the meeting together with the Annual Reports. If you would like to nominate any member to any office or to the Committee, please give Notice to the Secretary Angela Gilbert. Alternatively have a word with her before the meeting or simply volunteer! There are two vacancies on the Committee that need filling so please don’t hold back if you feel you could help.


RON CRUXON’S MEMORIES OF WOLLATON - Autumn 2018 newsletter

A very special Birthday Celebration July 2018

It is not often that one celebrates the 200th  anniversary of someone's birth. Perhaps it occurs with Kings and Queens, but this was a celebration of the birth of Elizabeth Chambers a "lace mender" who was born in Wollaton in 1818, just 3 years after the Battle of Waterloo. Since then the family has continued to live in Wollaton and her great grandson Ron Cruxon was born here and has lived here all his life. Ron at 95 is also our oldest member and so the Society decided to commemorate this long connection with Wollaton with a special celebration at the Dovecote. We also invited members of Ron’s family and some other “senior” members who were near or over 90 to join us on what turned out to be a beautiful Sunday in July.

Ron addressed his fellow guests and kept us enthralled for nearly 20 minutes, outlining his family history and his recollections of Wollaton in the 1920s. This is part of what he said:

"It was only a village then, there were only 80 or so cottages all of them tied to estate workers of Lord Middleton. The postal address was simply “Wollaton" as everyone knew each other, and in any event my uncle was the postman!

My great grandfather James Davis (see next article) was a collier until he was paralysed as a result of an accident in the pit. My grandfather was originally a farm labourer, each time they moved farm they had to move cottages, which is why they had so many different cottages. Each cottage was tied to a certain job.

In later years my grandfather worked down the pit. My mother was born in Wollaton in 1890. She entered domestic service as was customary and in 1913 was working as a laundry maid at Chatsworth for the Duke of Devonshire. It was there she met my Father who was the "boots". He was also in the Territorial Army and in 1913, after a training camp in Nottingham, at Clifton Pastures, he was called up and sent to Palestine. By 1917 the Army was that short of infantry that they called for volunteers for France. Volunteers were told they would be given 10 days leave, so my Dad came to Wollaton where he lodged with my Grandparents. On the first morning home my Father and Mother walked to St Leonard's Church at 8.30 in the morning and got married by the Rector, the Rev. Russell!

What was Wollaton like in 1922 when I was born? It was part of Basford Rural District Council, outside the City boundary. There were no cars only horse and cart, or a horse drawn carriage if you lived at the Hall. Drinking water was drawn from wells. Water for all other purposes was rain that ran off the roofs and was caught in tubs. Lighting was by paraffin lamps or candles. There were no street lights.

In 1920 a cottage on the Main Road (Trowell Road) came empty and from the Estate Office my Father learnt that this was let to the Landlady at The Admiral Rodney. My Father went to see Mrs Hogkinson at the Rodney. Can I have your empty cottage?  Yes, ‘course you can, but you will have to work for me! So Mum and Dad moved into the cottage (which survives to this day and it was here Ron was born, only a few hundred metres from where he now lives!)

Dad worked at the Rodney, brewing the beer.

The first Co-op Shop came to Wollaton in 1918 and became No 5 Branch of the Stapleford and Sandiacre Co-op Society.” (The shops awning can be seen behind the cart in the picture. The shop moved in 1925 to new premises opposite the Rodney’s car park. Ron worked for the Co-op all his life, apart from when he was in the Army during the Second Would War, as a Gunner, fighting from Normandy, through France and Belgium, into Germany.)

He continued: “The Doctor lived in Stapleford and came by pony and trap to the first surgery which was held in the coal house at the King's Head at the top of Colliers Row (now Bridge Road). Before patients came the coal was taken out and the place whitewashed! Dr Kingsbury paid one of the Allen boys 3d to hold his pony whilst surgery was held."

It was a most enjoyable afternoon. Special thanks to Ron who is a mine of information. He and our fellow quests exchanged recollections and sometimes argued, such as who was the teacher at the school in 1935. Ron invariably came up with the right answer! Not bad at 95!

One of the guests who would have been invited was another 95 year old Harry Bland  

Unfortunately Harry died earlier this year before he could be told that he and Ron, who had known each other all their lives, were in fact related, being distant cousins. This information was uncovered in research being done by Steph Johnstone, one of our members researching the family histories of those who lived in Wollaton Village before 1925.

Harry’s father bought Moss Cottage, 338 Trowell Road, in 1925 and Harry lived there all his life, except when he was in the forces in India during WWII. His daughter Pamela, who now lives in Oxfordshire with her family, kindly showed me around his cottage. It solved a mystery about the bricked up doorway, referred to in the last newsletter. We know that sometime before 1848 James Taylor the Colliery Agent (or manager) moved in and, presumably to make it a suitable residence for him the two cottages had been knocked together. A new front doorway was built between the two former doors which became windows and the second staircase was removed to form a hall and extra bedroom. It just shows how important it is to examine the interior of these cottages to establish their history.


1.    Children at work


Because of the public concern in the 1840s about the use of child labour, particularly in the mining industry, the Government in 1843 appointed Commissioners to enquire into the “moral and physical condition of the young persons and children” so employed. Evidence was taken not only from those responsible for the management of the individual mines, but also the local vicar and some miners. Amazingly, one of those miners to give evidence to the Commission we have now discovered was James Davis, Ron Cruxon’s great grandfather!

The Colliery was then located, just to the south of Balloon Houses, on the Nottingham Canal (at what is now the junction of Grangewood Road and Latimer Drive). The Manager was then Henry Taylor (see above and Spring Newsletter). His evidence was that “the pit is 100 yards deep, the headway 3ft 6 in and the bank 150 yards. They employ five under 13 and 12 under 18 – the youngest being 12. They go down at seven to half past eight, an hour is allowed for dinner. He thinks that boys of 12 could not do the work necessary at the pit and that 12 hours is quite long enough for man or boy to be underground. He has worked for Lord Middleton for 35 years and his Lordship has never allowed very young boys or females to be employed.”

James Davis (who then lived in the Square with his family) stated: “He is 27 years old and has worked in pits since he was eight: he first opened and shut the door for a month for 1s. per day(see illustration below). He helped to wagon (see above, waggons are drawn by a man and the boy pushes behind). When he was 15 he came to Wollaton and had 2s. 6d. per day, but it was much harder. He then holed and had 3s 9d. The youngest in the pit is 10 or 11. There is not good ventilation; he never uses the Davy lamp. The pit is always tried by a man going down with a naked candle. They allow four men or six boys to go down at once. It is not an unpleasant heat, excepting when the black damp is coming. Nearly two years since two men were killed by a fall; not aware of any other accident. He believes that the pits might properly be worked by children above 12, but parents are mostly glad to send them before then, his brother went before he was 7, it was his own doing; he does not know that it did him any harm. Some of the children do not know a letter; some can read a little; some attend Sunday schools, but many do not; He thinks it is due to the neglect of the parent.”

Evidence was also taken from William Mather who said that he “was rather more than nine when he first worked in a pit,” Joseph Pedley, who was 12, and John Levern. “12 years old; they work from half past six until eight o’clock (all have about a mile to walk to the pit); they are obliged to work at night every five weeks, for a week, but then they do nothing during the day.”

Charles Chouler, Lord Middleton’s Agent, stated that “there is no sick fund, but in case of serious accident, Lord Middleton allows 2s 6d a week at least, and finds medical aid.”

One can only hope that James Davis was to receive such help when he received the injuries that paralysed him in an accident at the pit over 35  years later.

To us today, it is quite amazing that none of the people giving evidence thought that children should not be sent down the pit at all!  However, 1s. a day was quite a very substantial sum, bearing in mind that an adult farm labourer would earn about 12s a week and the rent on a cottage was £2. 10s. a year! No wonder parents wanted to get their children down the mine as early as possible!

2.    Children’s Education.

The Commission was also required to consider the moral condition of the children, which would include their education, or lack of it. So we read that: “William Mather learns to read and write, reads the Testament and is in small hand. Before he worked in the pit attended the free school. Joseph Pedley reads in the Testament, but does not write. He has been at Sunday school since he was five: Mather and Pedley do not go to play, but are glad to go to bed, - Levern likes a bit of play: does not know his letters.”

The Commission refers to the “free school that is open to 15 children from Wollaton, 10 from Trowell and 5 from Cossall. They used not to allow children who did not attend regularly to remain in the school, but within these few months the master has rather relaxed, and if there is a vacancy teaches Lord Middleton’s collier children on the days they are not employed in the pit”

We know more of this free school from a rather flowery article in the Nottingham Mercury, three years later, in 1846: “There is a free school founded by the munificence of the noble proprietors of Wollaton Hall for the education of those children whose opportunities allow them to devote a longer time to their studies.   Children of all the different classes of society in the village together; farmers, cottagers, labours, colliers, all send their children to the same foundation for instruction, and all sit as one family side by side, without any distinction other than what merit confers; and as all are obliged to attend equally clean and neat in their persons and apparel and all are equally restrained in the use of vulgar and offensive language.  About 20 children from Wollaton attend the free school, which is situated mid-way between the three villages, so as to be convenient for all” Unfortunately the site of this school is not shown on any map, but we suspect it shared the premises of the Workhouse on Trowell Moor, just beyond Balloon Houses (see photo and 1835 map above).

The other school, the Day School, met in the barn of The Admiral Rodney (see below).

It then had 80 pupils from 3 to 11 years “and there were two or three somewhat older, who served in the capacity of monitors”. The reporter was much impressed; “by the excellent preceptress, through whose zeal and unremitting industry in the discharge of her duties, it has  seldom been my good fortune to witness, as on my visit to the schoolroom at Wollaton, for a school-house there is not yet, though it is impossible but that the excellent clergyman,  whose exertions, I understand, the present school is mainly owing for its establishment, can allow his good work to rest where it does not, or that Lord Middleton should be satisfied to have so excellent an institution carried on in the old Banqueting Room of an inn. There is likewise a Sunday School attached to this establishment for the benefit of those children who have been necessitated, through the circumstances of their families or otherwise, to be removed from the day school.”


Despite this prompting, it would be nearly nineteen years before Lord Middleton would finally build the new school on Bramcote Lane (left) which opened in 1865 and was extended in 1894.

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