Mapperley and Carrington: then and now

Boundaries. The boundaries of the old parish of Basford, which include the places named, and some adjoining districts, are described at the commencement of No. 4 paper of "Then and Now " series, as are also a number of items relating to both the eastern and western parts of the parish, and in order to obviate repetition reference must be made to that paper as to the geology, ancient history, the inclosure, annexation, railways, tramways, population, etc.

Geology. The Bunter Sandstone, on which the greater part of the district rests, dips in an easterly direction, and at Mapperley is covered by the Keuper Waterstones and Marls. The Waterstones cause the steep slope which leads up from Carrington to Mapperley. A large portion of the Keuper deposit has been washed away, and it is curious to note as Professor Swinnerton does, how a cap of this clay has been let down by wedge-shaped faults to form Loscoe Hill. In the Cambridge Geographies, "Nottinghamshire," by Dr. Swinnerton, price 1/-, well-illustrated, several views are given of the formations in the district, and much useful information. The line of the clay overlapping the sand may be seen at the southern end of Carisbrooke Drive, and on the north side of Loscoe Hill. Mapperley is 418 feet above sea level.

The North Road. Which is the oldest road in Nottinghamshire ? No man knows. It was probably a wild beast tract, then the earliest traveller used it, and so there came gradual development until modern times, but one of the earliest recorded roads passes through Carrington, and was anciently called the road towards York, or the North road, or the King's road. In the northern part of the county it is regarded as a Roman road, and it is the the boundary of many parishes. When, in 852, the Danes came and settled in Nottingham, they came either by this road or by the Trent. In Domesday book (1086) it is stated that the road towards York is so guarded that if any one ploughs or makes a ditch within two perches of the King's road he has to pay a fine of 8 pounds. Money is now thirty times the value it then was, so the fine was a ruinous one, and it shows the importance that was attached to keeping the road clear from encroachment and ambush.

For twenty-five miles this road lay through the forest, lonely, difficult, and dangerous, nearly all the villages being located away from it. It is not therefore to be wondered at that later on the road to the north went by Hucknall Road, over Bulwell Forest, by Papplewick, and Mansfield, on which route there were a number of villages before reaching Rufford, and Blyth, on the way to Doncaster and York.

A perambulation or view of Sherwood Forest was made on May 21st, 1218, by the Knights and Free Tenants of Notts., whose description starts from Trent Bridge, and proceeds by Stanstrete, (Stoney St.), Hwitstan (White Stone) afterwards called Whitstone, a lost hamlet, near to the Gallows Hill, and to where St. Andrew's Church now stands, and by the "rubeam rodam," or Bed Hill, etc.

Under the Mansfield Turnpike Act, 1787, the first five miles from Nottingham on the Rufford road became a part of the turnpike road, which thence, a little beyond the five mile houses, diverged by the eastern side of Bestwood and Newstead. A toll bar was thereupon fixed on the Nottingham Forest, a chain on Hucknall Road end, and a bar near the Day-brook, and side bars at Scout Lane, and Red Hill, etc., which continued until 1877, when by Act of Parliament they were removed.

When a good road was made the character of the traffic soon changed; the coach and four became a welcome sight, and the coachman's horn a welcome sound. The "Royal Hope." the "Champion," the "Old Robin Hood," the "Royal Mail," the "Express," the "Brilliant," or the "Rapid," and the Fly Waggons kept up a lively procession, so that seven Inns or beer houses at Red Hill competed for fortifying the travellers who had to cross, or who had crossed the great forest; but when in 1848 the railway was opened to Mansfield, the scene again changed, until cycles arrived, the tramways came, and the motors followed.

The Moor. Let us goback, and in imagination try to realize how the district we now call Carrington and Sherwood looked when the Basford Inclosure Act was passed in 1792. We will start from the Market place, leaving its beautiful Malt Cross, the Butter Cross, and the Hen Cross, and the big trees growing on Timber Hill (South Parade), and going by old Cow Lane (Clumber Street), and Boot Lane (Milton Street), we perceive that all the land to the left hand from where Holy Trinity Church now stands is grass fields. At Dog Kennel Hill there are caves on each side of the road, and a footpath turns off to Mapperley, the cart road being up Red Lane (Redcliffe Road). At the top of Gallows Hill are the great caves on both sides, called Robin Hood caves, and we enter the wild forest. "The Map of Notts," as surveyed by John Chapman in 1774, and published in 1785, 50 inches by 38, will help us. From the Gallows to Scout Lane there are no fields or hedges, and the like from Hucknall Road to Bestwood, and on Sherwood Rise to North Gate there is one continuous moor or common, a large part of which was called the Lings, for there grew heather, gorse, brambles, thorn bushes, mingled with the wild grass, and on this common all the people in Basford who owned land, and houses—called tofts, or toftsteads, that is houses with the rights of common, turned their horses, cattle, and sheep to pasture, and the number of animals so pastured was regulated by a scale according to their rights, and the land could not be ploughed, or grow corn, or roots, nor be divided into separate holdings.

There were however two exceptions—Mapperley and Bagthorpe, for both of them were old enclosures. With the former we will now deal.


William la Corner, about 1265, for the salvation of his soul, gave to God, and the Church of the Blessed Mary of Shelford, his assart in the fields of Basford, near to the wood of Algarthorpe, and to the Coppice, subject to payment to the King of 4s. 7d., and to the lords of the manor a pound of pepper each. All the land in Sherwood Forest, of which this formed part, then belonged to the King, and the sum named would be equal to about £6 now, and the pepper was a nominal acknowledgment of manorial rights. This land retained the name of the grantor—Cornerwong, or Corner's field, for nearly 200 years.

The word assart was used with regard to a field enclosed from the forest, by leave of the King. For some reason when the land was given to Shelford Priory the burgesses of Nottingham put forward a claim to the right of pasturage on the land, which being resisted by the prior, violence was resorted to, and in the quarrel a lay brother was slain. The dispute was referred to the Archbishop of York, who was not only the principal authority in ecclesiastical matters in the province, but was also Constable of Nottingham Castle, and he in 1270, awarded that the land should remain for common pasture- not arable—for the benefit of the burgesses, who were to pay the prior thirty marks of silver (£20). All parties agreed to the award, and to be "helpfull friends" of each other.

The land called Cornerwong is described as having Algerthorpe wood on the north, Baceford Wong on the south, "hit abutteth upon the hie way called Lamley Gate toward the Est, and apon Baceford Lynges toward the west,'' Borough Records, 49.

This description indicates the upper southern portion of Mapperley Park, and if as appears probable, Bagthorpe was connected with Algarthorpe, then the wood seems to have occupied the land from Bagthorpe to Scout Lane, and the Plains.

The Wood of Baseford, wherever it was, in 1287 was found wholly wasted, and had been so of old. For 25 years John de Orreby and John Cokfeld had appropriated the wood to themselves, without warrant, and were therefore very properly fined.

In 1324 Alice la Palmere leased a piece of cultivated land called Basefordwong to John Bully, B.R. 384. It is worthy of note here, that Alice Palmer, whose husband was Mayor, devoted 20 years of her life to the rebuilding of Trent Bridge. This land was mentioned again in 1357—8, as being 20 acres, and Wm. Eland was tenant.

Black Death. In 1349 that awful scourge of humanity called the Black Death occurred, in which from one third to one half of the people of England perished, and in Nottinghamshire out of 126 benefices in the county, the incumbent died in sixty-five (see "The Black Death" by Father Gasquet). The land was uncultivated, crops unreaped, cattle unfed, ownerships of land confused, monies uncollected, justice unadministered, everything upset, and there was a great outburst of vice, while men cursed God because of the plague which had been brought about by the neglect of sanitary precautions.

What had this to do with Mapperley? We cannot tell, but eight or nine years afterwards we find John Montgomery, hen died, and is stated to have made one assart of old called Cornerwong containing thirty acres, and it was sown and in cultivation. Yet 90 years before the men of Nottingham had fought to the death for their rights, and the award had given them their claim, and declared it should remain common pasture. There were two agreements in 1352 and 1356 admitting the claim of the Mayor, Burgesses, and community of Nottingham to common pasture in the Wood and the Lings of Basford, not Cornerwong.

The Mapperley Family. Dr. Thoroton in his history says "In the time of Richard the second (1377-99), Thomas Mapurley was a considerable man at Nottingham." "He, or his posterity, became possessed of the chiefest part of these grounds, which was the occasion of them being called Maperley's Closes." In 1353-6 he was member of parliament for Nottingham. In 1402-3 Thos. de Mapperley was mayor, and recorder in 1407-8 [Stapleton p. 46]. In 1411-18 he was M.P. In 1462-3 John Mapurley was one of the sheriffs, in 1473-4 he was mayor, in 1477-8 he was M.P., and in 1481-2 mayor again.

The men of Nottingham began to talk about their pasture rights in Cornerwong, which apparently had been lost about the time of the Black Death, say 120 years before, when it is supposed the Mapperley family bought the land. "Ye Corner Wonge is ye comons of Notyngham as men sayn," B.R. 1452, p. 862. John Maperley thought he had better get hold of the Archbishops award of 1270. He therefore went to Shelford, and the Prior said that after frequent petitions and importunities he succeeded in borrowing for a week the award, promising faithfully to re-deliver the same, but afterwards refused to do so, and then said he had lost it In 1483 the Mickletorn Jury "leyd theyr hedes to geder to vnderstand how they myght haue verrey evydence and knolage of this close afor seyd" (B.R. 398), and therefore sent four men to Shelford to ascertain from the Prior the facts, which being reported, it was determined to take forcible possession, and the Mayor and Burgesses "with grete multitude of people to the nombre of CC (200) persones and moo, with force entred into the seid close," (B.R. 895). John Mapperley thereupon sent a petition to the King, the dispute came before the assizes, was referred to Sir Gervase Clifton, and Sir Charles Pylkington, for arbitration, who awarded that the land should belong to the Burgesses, that the deeds should be delivered to the Mayor, that John Mapperley should retain possession until he was paid 80 marks (£53 6s. 8d., equal to £533 6s. 8d. now), to be paid "in the parisshe Chirche of Seint Maries," and they also awarded that "fro the beginnying of the world vnto this day, the seid Maire, Shireffes, Burgesses and men, and the seid John Mapurley from hensforth shalbe frendes, and frendly dele," etc.

All that now remained was to carry out the award, and to pay the costs, and a pretty long bill it was. But what became of the land? Did the Corporation get it? If so did they sell it? Two great struggles, and what for? The next we hear of the property it is, and ever since has continued in private hands, and singularly enough, in 1511-12, according to Thoroton, "John Mapurley Esquire, (then living at Bulwell) suffered a recovery of (conveyed by form of action at law), 200 acres of land in Basford, called Cornerwong, with the appurtenances, to Thomas Archer, and John Byron, Esquire," p. 230.

How strange it is that the things we passionately desire, and struggle for, when obtained pall on the palate! Apples of Sodom !