Hall Farm, Kirton, was built in the 1630s – probably by William Clarkson (photo: A Nicholson, 2006).
Hall Farm, Kirton, was built in the 1630s – probably by William Clarkson (photo: A Nicholson, 2006).

Sir Robert Markham, who died in 1495, took an active part in the Wars of the Roses, but after serving Richard III, he turned against him, and in 1487 led out his retainers to fight for Henry VII at East Stoke. Sir Edward Stanhope died deeply in debt to that monarch, who took his Willoughby lands, and in 1506 farmed them out to extinguish the outstanding balance on £600, but only £200 had accrued at Stanhope's death in 1511.

Local owners of that period included Humphrey Hercy and the woolstapler Thurland, but all the proprietors were eclipsed in 1537 when Rufford Abbey, with its possessions, were granted by Henry VIII to the Earl of Shrewsbury.

The abbey was then receiving £2 14s. 1d. yearly from its property at Kirton out of which it was paying 13s. 4d. to Newstead Priory as of old, and its grange was yielding an income of £2 8s.


In 1540, the Earl of Shrewsbury's son, then aged about 12, was betrothed to the little daughter of the Earl of Rutland, lands in "Kyrketon" and elsewhere being settled by Shrewsbury upon his son, but the project was held up by the reluctance of the lady's father to bear law-charges for making this estate.

The marriage took place, however, and after his wife's death the widower became the unhappy fourth husband of "Bess of Hardwick," and gaoler of the Queen of Scots.

Edward VI gave the. Tuxford chantry and all that pertained to it as part of the endowment of the free grammar school he refounded in 1551, several farms at Kirton being thus granted, but in 1656 the bailiffs of Retford improperly demised them for £300 to the Marquis of Dorchester to raise funds for the repair of their church.


It was not until the 19th century that the properties were restored to the use of the school and then at only the old rental, after the Charity Commissioners had protested against the malversation. At the same time the Commissioners secured the return to proper use, of the Sykes and South Legacies, and that of John Ambler, of £20 which also had been misapplied.

By exchange of lands in 1591. the "Good Sir William Holles" of Haughton became one of Kirton's owners.

In 1600, when the rector sued John Clerkson for tithes, it was found that he was an unnaturalised Scotsman and therefore incapable of holding an English living, but he held the benefice at his death in 1603.

In that year Kirton had 81 adult inhabitants with a total population of about 129 inclusive of children. In 1675 there were only 68 adults and in 1743 their number was about 76.”


In 1636 a parishioner of substance was charged with resorting to sooth-sayers “to aske councell for thinges loste or stolen,” but whether their divination was deemed satisfactory or not, and how the ecclesiastical court dealt with him is not recorded.

The overseers of 1637 reported that they had £10 worth of material upon which to set the poor to work, and that they had built two new “howses” for them. Rector Herborne, who was ejected, in 1662, was noted for his benevolence, and he would be missed by his needy parishioners.

The Clerksons were prominent landowners here in the time of Charles II, when John Clerkson wedded Esther Knight and, Mary Clerkson was married to John Knight. These Knights were respectively the son and daughter of Sir Ralph of Firbeck, Langold and Warsop who, after fighting against Charles I. espoused the Stuart cause upon the death of Cromwell, and aided Monk in forwarding the Restoration, for which he received the honour of knighthood. John's orphan daughter, heiress to £5,000, was at the age of ten, married under false pretences to the son of the scheming family lawyer, and when the latter was summoned to produce the hidden daughter and account for his conduct before a judge, he spirited her away again.

Hue and cry was raised, but some time elapsed ere the maiden was found, and it required a special Act of Parliament to nullify the marriage.

In 1727 the Sykes and South bequests were in the hands of John Clerkson, who, with £37 15s. of income and accrued interest, bought land at Willoughby producing £2 4s. a year for charity.


Sir Ralph's granddaughter, who in 1768 succeeded to the family estates, espoused the Rev. Henry Gaily and their son, the well-known Henry Gaily Knight, was the principal owner at Kirton at his death in 1846.

During the 18th century hop-growing became common, poles for the hops being provided by the neighbouring woods and the produce going to the markets of Tuxford and Ollerton. One grower who turned out of doors his wife who thus became chargeable to the parish, was brought to book in exemplary fashion by the Justices who caused his hops to be seized to the value of 60s., and the money applied to her maintenance.

The Hall charity at Warsop owned a hop-garden with a kiln here which in 1827 was yielding £15 10s. to its funds.

Kirton church perched above the sunken road from which it is approached by 40 steps, was repaired about 1835, when its old fittings were removed, and it was thoroughly restored in 1865. Its sole Norman relic is a font, which, after lying long in the churchyard, now reposes in the porch.

The chancel arch and arcading of the nave are Early English of the 13th Century, and the piers have stone seats. The north doorway and a two-light window to the west date from about 1275. The tower was built about 1425, and its set of eight tubes superseded its venerable bells in 1887.

In 1891 an ancient doorway in the aisle was unblocked when traces of mediaeval mural painting were disclosed. The most notable features of its surviving old furniture are a 14th century parish chest with iron hinges and hasps of that time, and a pillared alms-box 400 years old.


The village opened the 19th century with a population of 172. In 1821 the enclosure was made and Jasper Manuel, a churchwarden, advanced £23 13s. 3d. to defray the charges for fencing-in the land awarded to the Sykes-South charities, recouping him-self by annual instalments and interest at 5 per cent, on the outstanding balance until the debt to him was cleared.

In 1827 the Charity Commissioners discovered that the overseer was diverting charity funds to the poor rate after paying 25s. yearly to a schoolmistress and 11s. in small pittances to the poor, and a readjustment had to be made. In 1843 occurred two instances of sacrilege, thieves on the first occasion taking the communion plate, and on the second a bell taken down for recasting, and leaving only the two hung up beyond their reach.

At that time, there were 17 hop-plantations at Kirton, and poverty was rampant. In 1844 the old Hall described by Curtis as "an antique spacious brick building, with stone quoins at the angles and stone mullions in the windows," had been "divided into tenements inhabited by pauper families." Two years later Mr. Gally Knight died and his property descended to his cousin, Sir H. Fitz-herbert, bart.

The census of 1901 revealed that the village population had declined to 123, that being 49 less than a century earlier, but by 1931 it had risen to 201. Lord Savile was then lord of the manor, but his ownership ceased with the Rufford sale in 1938, and in that year, the parishioners were perturbed by the project of uniting the parish ecclesiastically with that of Egmanton.