High Road, Chilwell (photo: A Nicholson, 2006).
High Road, Chilwell (photo: A Nicholson, 2006).

Schools. A School room was, about the middle of the last century, built by T. B. Charlton, Esq., with stone obtained in the parish. It served a useful purpose, but under the Education Act the premises did not satisfy the Department in regard to air, light, and with the absence of a playground. They are now used as a Sunday School and Church Institute.

A School Board was ordered in 1893, when Messrs. W. Charlton, G. Brentnall, W. Wood, E. J. Towlson, and J. Page were elected, and the latter was made chairman. They built the present Elementary School which was in 1896 declared open by W. J. Abel, Esq. In 1903 the school was taken over by the Education Committee of the Notts. County Council.

The stream crossing the road near to Chilwell house, was formerly open, and horses had to pass through it, but about 1860 a bridge, or culvert, was constructed.

Constables. Constables were formerly Chief Constables or petty ones, the former being over the latter. In 1684 Thomas Stansfield, of Chilwell, was appointed Chief Constable of the Hundred of Broxtowe. The Justices appointed the parish constables, and if suitable men they were compelled to serve, and were fined if they did not execute a warrant, or allowed a prisoner to escape, or for concealing cases, neglecting to be sworn in, refusing to join in the "hue and cry for taking a felon, etc.

Gipsies had a hard time, for in the reign of Henry VIII. they were banished from the realm, and in 1616 a warrant was issued against Gabriel Elston, of Chilwell, because "he procured two Egyptians to deliver from custody a man who had been arrested on a warrant." (C.E. 116).

There were a number of persons in Chilwell called "Popish Recusants," that is, persons who acknowledge the authority of the Pope, and refused communion with the Church of England, and were presented to the Sessions, and fined. Between 1621 and 1641 families of the names of Reeve, Attenborrowe, Dakyn, Pearson, and others appear (C.R. 150). Some of these, with others, were in the reigns of Charles II. and James II. fined for absence from church for one month.

The Manor House Golf Club was formed in 1906, controlling 50 acres, and having in 1915 200 members, paying a subscription of 42/-., Ladies 21/-. It has a pavilion, and the links consist of nine holes.

There was in 1675 one licensed victualler. There are now three fully licensed public houses, one beerhouse, and two beer offs; six licenses for 1359 people ; one for each 226.

The population was in 1801, 638; 1861, 910; 1901, 1176; 1911, 1:559; the area being 1317 acres. Bate-able value £11373.

Nottingham Gas was supplied to Chilwell in 1865.

The Parish Council appointed a Committee for "beating the bounds" of the parish, who reported that they had the letters "C.P. 1898" placed on the Trent pier head, where the waters of the Trent are turned aside into the canal. They noted that of the churchyard the eastern portion only was in Chilwell parish; that in Attenborough lane the houses occupied by Mr. Pritchett, and others, are in Toton, but their front gardens are in Chilwell, and Bedlam Lane was some years ago at the back of the Hop Pole Inn, etc.

Industries. The people of Chilwell originally sustained themselves almost entirely on the land, the number of small holdings was considerable, and the parish of old being occupied in three hamlets would be favourable to the cultivation of strips in a three years arrangement for succession of crops. The very form of the streets, roads, or passages, in each village suggests that roads, with bends at right angles, were the headlands of cultivated strips, which afterwards became crofts with hedges.

Probably in the seventeenth century stocking-making was introduced, and succeeded very well for a time. The stockingers windows may still be seen in the cottages, but there being little export trade the demand was limited, and the number of workers was greater than was necessary, for a vicious system of frame rents unduly increased the number of frames, and payment by goods instead of in coins—called "truck"— was common, the result being exceedingly bad. In the Luddite riots, in 1811, some frames were broken at Chilwell. A Commissioner was appointed in 1845 to hear evidence as to the condition of the frame-work population. Joseph Turney, of Chilwell, was deputed by his fellow-workmen to give evidence, according to which there were in Chilwell close upon one hundred frames (Mr. Felkin said seventy-two) ; in Attenborough about thirty, and in Bramcote about twenty-three. In four days he had earned five shillings, and charges had to come off. He ordinarily earned 7/3 a week, but generally 1/- more might be earned. A bagman had been fined £10, and costs, for paying wages in goods. Land could be obtained for gardens only at £4 an acre. Farmers usually paid £2 an acre. There were in Chilwell two male Benefit Societies, and two female ones, and an Odd Fellows Society belonging to the Manchester Order, and one at Attenborough belonging to the Druids. "I do not think there is a framework-knitter in Chilwell that is able to send his child to a day school." The reduction in the price paid from what it was in 1814 was great, about half upon the 42 gauge. Of course this evidence was only one side of the question, and might be exaggerated, but in any case the condition was terribly bad. To-day there is believed not to be a hand stocking frame in any of the parishes named. The trade has died, and the workers have died also.

For the establishment and development of the flower and fruit industry we must go back two generations. John Pearson, who was then in the Hosiery trade, was a very keen amateur florist, and being one day at Derby visiting a show, he purchased a pair of carnations in large pots, and desiring to take them home himself, and having no confidence in the florists from whom he had bought them, he feared they would be changed if he left them, so he left his horse at Derby, and walked to Chilwell, 11 miles, carrying a large pot under each arm, and then walked back to Derby to fetch his horse. His love for flowers led him to take up horticulture as a business. He was very successful with tulips, during the tulip mania, which swept over Holland and England, until it was said, "the price of tulips rose above that of the most precious metals." Mr. A. H. Pearson has a catalogue of his dated 1787, and in this there are many tulips at a guinea a bulb ; many at two guineas ; and a few at six and seven guineas a bulb. He was also the raiser of some of the best gold lace Polyanthus, and these were catalogued at 7/6, 10/6, 15/-, 18/-, and 21/- each. He also raised an apple called "Pearson's Plate." He inherited the old Chilwell Manor House, with an orchard attached, which still exists, though some of the trees must be one hundred and fifty years old. Later on, he purchased land wherever he could, and planted about one hundred acres of orchards which in those days were the largest orchards of sweet apples— as distinct from cider orchards—in England. Subsequently the members of the Pearson family largely developed the growth of roses, of chrysanthemums, and other flowers in glasshouses. The Directory of 1832 names "the extensive nurseries kept by Mr. John Pearson." It is needless to say that all this work was of great advantage to the labour market, and developed a superior class of workmen. Messrs. Pearson removed from Chilwell to Lowdham; but now there are in Chilwell several persons carrying on the flower and fruitgrowing industry, and others who are market gardeners.

There were in 1881 a number of what were called bobbin net, or lace makers, who had small machines turned by hand, and fixed in upper rooms of their houses. About 1844 James Chambers had a few machines in Chilwell, and here the threader youth was John Clifford, whose after acquired University titles would fill some lines. "Dr. Clifford's career," said Mr. Lloyd George, on the occasion of the presentation of a tribute of respect to Dr. Clifford in recognition of his 82nd birthday, his diamond jubilee of Ministerial service, etc.—"is a great romance, and very few men have ever obtained such distinction against such difficulties." (See "Beeston," p. 51). The Wilmotts had in 1840 a small factory at the eastern boundary of the parish, which was, about 1880, bought, rebuilt, and enlarged by Messrs. W. & C. Neville. Shetland scarves, falls, and motor veils are now made, as are surgical stockings. The brick-making business has been extended, and Messrs. Barton have established a motor garage, with motor   omnibuses running to Nottingham hourly.

Charities. Among the benevolent men and women who have given or bequeathed money or property for the poor, may be mentioned the following: Thomas Charlton (according to the Report of the Charities of the County printed in 1815-1839) in 1681 charged the Ashfield Close with £8 6s. 0d. to the poor, and Catherine, Mary, Elizabeth, and Nicholas Charlton at sundry times made small bequests. The Rev. Wm. Drury in 1697 gave two almshouses, and endowed them with 10 - yearly out of Townend close. Another account says, "each have yearly a cartload of coals "and repairs. Henry Garton, Wm. Bostock, Matthew" Hallam,—Jeffreys,—Roulston, left small charities. Thomas Newton in 1751 left the rent of a house and croft called Howgate. This has been sold by the Overseers for £278 6s. 1d., and is invested in 3% Consols. Samuel Garton in 1754 left a charge of £1 a year on Hall Croft. This has been redeemed by £33 12s. 6d. invested in 8% Consols. Henry Hanley of Bramcote left a charge on land there of 25/- a year for Chilwell and 15/- for Toton—which is a charge on the Sherwin Gregory estates. (The Will as given in Deering, p. 323, says 20/- to Chilwell, and 20/- to Attenborough). See a picture of his almshouses in Deering's History, p. 152 There are several lapsed charities. The annual income in 1914 was from the Chilwell estate £5 4s. 0d.; Bramcote £1 5s. 0d.; Consols £7 15s. 8d.; Interest on £40 in Savings Bank, £1; total £15 4s. 8d., distributed on S. Thomas's Day to 52 poor and old people, in sums of 2/6 to 10/- each, by the Overseers and Parish Councillors.

The Chilwell Ghost.  The  Chilwell  Ghost must be referred to,  not as being one  of the notables of the parish, for no one ever saw the ghost, yet the impression produced upon the public mind was so profound, the crowds of people that went to see and hear "something" were so great, the mystery was so intricate, and remained unexplained, that some notice is required. The difficulty is that the stories told at the time were wild, and the printed accounts then published were incorrect, it is therefore necessary to fall back upon more sober judgment, and the following statement is according to the report repeatedly given by Mr. J. R. Pearson to his sons, and to friends, and may be relied on, for Mr. Pearson was a sensible, thoughtful, business man, and a large employer of labour in the parish.

The Ashflat house, commonly called the Ghost house, is a small cottage in the lane leading to Stapleford, at the foot of a hill covered by an orchard, both belonging to Mr. Pearson, but the cottage had for a number of years been occupied by a workman, whom we will call "X," together with his family. About 1843 strange noises began to be heard at nights in this house, for something which sounded like a heavy mangold wurzel, or swede turnip, apparently was banged against the shutter with such force that it sometimes shook the glass out of the leaded window, but no trace of any missile could ever be found, nor of any marks on newly fallen snow, nor of footsteps, nor of anything having been dragged away. No amount of watching detected what caused the noise. Mr. Pearson was determined to clear up the mystery, and he held the latch of the door below, ready to rush out, while his brother looked out of the window above. Quite a number of different plans for detection were formed, and carried out, without avail. One was that Mr. Pearson had made, secretly, a frame the size of the window, with short legs at the four corners, in each of which was a spike. This he took up after dark, and driving out the visitors, of which the cottage was full, he removed the outside shutter, and placed the frame, which was covered with brown paper coated with lamp black and oil, in its place. At a yard or two distant it was impossible to tell this from the wooden shutter, but as the resisting power of brown paper soaked in oil is not great, they took care to stand clear of the window, and let whatever came have a clear course inside. They had not long to wait, for the blow came as usual, the window panes rattled, but nothing came inside, nor could a mark be found on the brown paper. Mr. Pearson, being an amateur chemist, endeavoured to trace the matter to explosives, but every idea failed, and his repl\ to all questions as to what the thing was, always took the same form—"I have given you the facts; you must draw your own conclusions."

Such was the fame of the Chilwell Ghost that on Sundays the village resembled Goose Fair, special extra trains being run, and two publicans retired with fortunes. Doubtless many of the wild stories that were told emanated from their fertile brains, for, of course, the more dreadful the stories, the more people came, and the more liquor was consumed at the "Charlton Arms," and the "Cadlands Inn."

At length the nuisance became so intolerable that the house was closed, and so remained for a long time. Afterwards an old cobbler who was badly off, begged that he might live there, and pay a small annual acknowledgment. It was pointed out to him that the house was lonely, being a long way from the village, but he persisted in his request, which was granted on the understanding that if anything more was heard about ghosts he would be turned out at once. His reply was that he had no fear of ghosts, and that "the Lord would take care of him." He lived in the house some twelve months, and then took back the key, and being questioned he said that "while he did not believe in ghosts, it kept knocking, and knocking, and knocking, till he got tired," in other words, it got upon his nerves. The house was thereupon closed, and has so remained ever since.

Here the historian must stop, and now comes the conjectural part of the story, for there was no police investigation. A certain pedlar, who did a considerable business amongst the cottagers, was missing. Many of them owed him money, and he never called for it. They made an enquiry as to who had seen him last, and a man named "S," who lived in a cottage attached to another orchard, said the pedlar called upon him some time in March, and on leaving asked permission to walk across the orchard, the lane being deep in mud, and saying that he was going to pass the night at the Ashflat house. Upon this, a man named "L," who was for many years a parish constable, but who then lived at a house connected with another orchard on the Toton road, nearly a mile away, said that somewhere about that time he had a terrible dream, and was sure that something was wrong. He therefore got up and walked round his orchard, but found nothing, and went back to bed, but he could not sleep and after tossing about he got up again, and walked right over the hill, and down the next to the Ashflat orchard, and, hearing sounds, he walked quickly, and leaning over the gate he saw in the garden the occupier, "X," and his son, digging by the light of a lantern. He called out, and the men, who appeared very frightened, abused him for startling them at that hour of the morning, being about five o'clock. They said that as the wife had been up all night washing (she could be heard scrubbing in the house) they had got up early to make an onion bed, as the days were short. "L" was satisfied with the explanation and returned home.

One day during the apple harvest, when the workmen picnic out of doors, the man "X" was dining with the rest, when his wife came for him, and after some altercation he threatened to kick her if she did not go home. She replied, "You dare not, I could hang you any day. I have your coat of arms in the bedroom!" When "X" was gone the others asked each other the meaning of the words the woman had spoken, and they came to the conclusion that they had reference to the pedlar.

Amongst other things it was stated that the daughter of "X" gave away to friends print stuff, which she said her aunt had given to her, but no one knew of her aunt, and they wondered how people could afford to be so generous. Eventually the family removed. Mrs. "X" died, and in her last illness either "X" or his son were always with her, and it was said that she was not allowed to see either doctor or parson alone. After a lapse of time "X," being left by his family, married again. His second wife was said to have had a very uneasy time, and when he was on his deathbed, she fled to the nearest cottage, some quarter of a mile distant, and said she could stay with him no longer; that night after night he sat up in bed, and pointing to the corner of the room, cried out, "There he is! I murdered him, and buried the axe in the brook." The neighbour returned with the terrified wife, and found the man dead. The axe was found years afterwards in the brook, by a man named "S," who showed it to persons now living, but the body of the pedlar was never found.

Such were the common reports and belief. No police investigation was ever made, and therefore rumours remained untested, and the people who were acquainted with the circumstances settled down to the belief that the noises were caused by a disembodied spirit endeavouring to call attention to a crime.