Clipstone, Osberton Hall and Shireoaks

The ruins of Clipstone Palace in 2003.
The ruins of Clipstone Palace in 2003.

A few miles away, on the road from Edwinstowe to Mansfield, is the little village of Clipstone and some remains of an old castle, popularly known as ‘King John’s Palace.’ The Close Rolls show that royalty was often at Clipstone, and that many gay parties issued from the palace to hunt the deer with which the forest abounded. Almost a mile distant is the Parliament Oak, under which King John is said to have taken counsel with his advisers, and in other parts of the district are famous trees, patriarchs of the forest, for at almost every turn we meet with—

‘A huge oak, dry and dead,
Still clad with reliques of its trophies old,
Lifting to heaven its aged hoary head,
Whose foot on earth hath got but feeble hold,
And, half disbowell’d, stands above the ground,
With wreathed roots and naked arms,
And trunk all rotten and unsound!’

Shireoaks Hall
Shireoaks Hall was built by the Hewitt family around 1600.

Shireoaks, as the name implies, is a village where once stood a grove of trees, on the boundaries of the counties of Nottingham, York, and Derby. The Hall is the residence of Mr. George Eddison, J.P., and about a mile distant, in a richly-wooded park, on Gateford Hill, is the handsome house of Mr. Henry Vessey Machin, J.P. Osberton Hall is another commanding country mansion, rich in archaeological treasures, belonging to Mr. Francis John Savile Foljambe, J.P.—a worthy and honoured representative of some of the most ancient of our Nottinghamshire families— and, like Serlby Hall, the seat of Viscount Galway, is erected in the midst of charming scenery.

A large volume might be written on this part of our county, its forest, its mansions, its traditions, and historical reminiscences. There are scenes, we admit, more picturesque, and there are spots on which great national events have been decided, or where the possessors of ‘heaven-born genius,’ first saw the light of day, more classic and more historic. Sherwood cannot offer to the delighted gaze the lakes, cascades, and murmuring rivulets which amid the rugged hills of Westmoreland and Cumberland constitute the lovely scenery of the English lakes; it cannot rival in some respects the rustic beauties of Devonshire, or unfold so pretty a panorama as may be seen on a trip down the Wye; nor can it compare in historic importance with some of the ruined castles, around whose walls warriors have fought and bled, or in classic interest with the places sacred to the memories of Shakespeare or Milton, Pope or Wordsworth. But in the blending of the great sources of perennial attraction, in the grandeur of its natural adornments, and in the beauty of its palatial abodes, with all the associations aroused by the historic names of Robin Hood, the Pierreponts, the Clintons, the Bentincks, the Saviles, and, we may also add, the Byrons, the domain of Sherwood may be fairly said to rival, if not to transcend, many other scenes which possess a wider popularity.