Lady Bay. Where, and what was Lady Bay? Many boys will answer, "The bridge over the canal, or the land beyond it." They should, however, bear in mind that the name was well-known three hundred years ago, when there was neither a canal, nor a railway embankment. In 1613 the Mickletorn Jury (that is, a number of men sworn to do their duty, whose office was each year to go round the boundary of the town, and see that there were no encroachments on town property) presented to the Court the following report:—"We present Fostard, of Bridgford, for inclosinge the Middletorne waie, that they can not goe according as our libartie goeth in Bridgford field nere to our Lady Baie." So Fostard was very properly fined 6s. 8d., and doubtless having learnt a lesson in the penalty school, he would in future mind his own business. Now let us try to imagine all the land from Trent Bridge, up to beyond Boots' Recreation Ground, and between Radcliffe Boad on the south, and the Trent on the north, as being two big grass fields, without buildings, or hedges, and divided by a great dyke (traces of which may still be seen), and by the old Trent pools, for this is the course of the old Trent, which may be traced very distinctly north of the Holme Boad, opposite to Ladybay Boad. There were also "mearstones"—boundary stones, set up. The northern side of this line I suppose would be what the Jury called "our Lady Baie," and the southern side "Bridgford Field." but at the eastern boundary of Boots' Athletic ground Bridgford parish stretches to the present Trent course, and near this point the Bridgford brook, formerly much larger than now, having run right through the parish, and under Radcliffe road, and the Canal, proceeds oastwardly towards the Trent. The bridge on Radcliffe Road was a much larger and more important structure than now, having three arches, one being larger, and two smaller, which were removed about 1900, but the present culvert may be seen from the land between the houses Nos. 54 and 64. That bridge was known as Lady bay bridge, a name afterwards appropriated to the canal bridge. Now in 1321 Alice le Palmer (see her story) was receiving tolls for repairing Trent Bridge, and "another bridge between it and the land towards Gamston, to be newly constructed according to the King's grant." The two bridges were thus joined together in their work, repair and dedication. In 1301 a license was given by the King to John le Paumer, and Alice his wife, referring to divine service daily in the Chapel of St. Mary on Hethbeth-brigg, or Trent bridge, and that chapel continued for several hundreds of years. I think we are therefore justified in agreeing with Dr. Deering (1751) that the chapel might possibly have given to the ground which is the farthest boundary of the Town to the east beyond the Trent the name of Lady bay (p. 165), and that the old Trent creek, and the land round it, was the bay of "Our Lady," the mother of Our Lord.

The Story of Alice Palmer. Alice was the daughter of Robert de Stapleford, and she had a brother named Hugh, with whom in after life she heartily joined in public work. The family, sometimes called de Heriz, seem to have been lords of Stapleford from the time of the Peverels, and they contributed to the foundation of Lenton Priory. Alice was married to John le Palmer, junior, who in 1302-3 was Mayor of Nottingham. "The palmers" were pilgrims who had returned from visiting the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, and who carried a palm branch in token of their accomplished pilgrimage. King Henry II. in 1174 granted to the Palmers of Nottingham three-and-a-half acres of land to establish a hospital for poor men, which afterwards stood at the north west corner of St. John's Street, and in 1208 King John placed the body under royal protection, and committed to them the important duty of keeping the Trent Bridge in repair, and collecting alms for the purpose. It was therefore fitting that a descendant of the Palmers should, when an occasion presented itself, show his interest in the special work which had been committed to the Order, and inasmuch as the form of shewing piety, about the year 1300 was in the founding of chantries, it is not surprising that John le Palmer, and Alice his wife, desired in 1301-2 to give a rent of £6 13s. 4d. to maintain two chaplains to celebrate divine service in the Chapel of St. Mary of Hethebethbrygge for the souls of the said John and Alice, and their ancestors, and of all Christians who shall assign their goods, or part of them, to the sustenation of the said bridge. The royal license was issued in 1303, but the rent given was increased to £16 13s. 5d. For present value the rent named may be multiplied 15 to 20 times, thus being a very large sum, but both families were evidently well-off. This dedication appears to have been the preliminary step to the undertaking of the greater work of rebuilding the bridge, and doubtless this work would be pressed upon the minds of the worthy pair, who as Mayor and Mayoress were in office in 1302-3, and again 1306-7, and yet again in 1311-12, and in this work of building the lady Mayoress became the prime mover, for in 1311 a royal grant was addressed to Alice le Palmer, of pontage for a term of five years for the repair of Trent Bridge; in other words a duty, or toll, on wares sold, must be paid by the men of the town for this special purpose. A license to beg, sending out letters and collectors to charitably disposed persons, was issued in 1314, but this authority was addressed to Alice, late the wife of John le Palmer, so evidently Alice took the sensible way of burying her grief by additional work for the good of the people. The toll keeper at Chapel Bar, 1315, stopped two loads of wood for pontage (bridge toll), thinking they were merchandise, but he was wrong. In 1315, before the previous grant had expired, a further extension was made for building the bridge, and in 1317 the work had become so great and pressing that Alice, womanlike, threw her heart and soul into it, and spent not only what she had collected, but large sums out of her own pocket, so the King decided to grant her an old age pension, and sent a letter to the Prior and Canons of Thurgarton, requesting them to grant her, "by their letters patent, a suitable allowance for her maintenance in food and drink, to be received from their house for life, the King wishing to provide her with maintenance for life, lest she should be brought to want on account of the expenditure of her goods about the construction of the bridge of Nottingham, upon which she has spent, and still spends great sums, for the common utility of all persons passing over the same, the King wishing that she may be animated to complete so desirable a work when she sees that she is sure of a maintenance for life."

It thus appears that Edward II. exercised a royal right to provide for aged servants at the cost of the monasteries. Four years later, the King in granting the right to take toll for building the wall of the town, guarded the bridge tolls by a clause that "custom was not to be taken of goods or merchandise whereof any custom is due in aid of the repair and amendment of the Bridge of Hethbeth, and of another bridge between it and the land towards Gamston, to be newly constructed, according to the King's grant to Alice le Palmer, during the term of this grant to her." This bridge, on the Grantham Road, was over the water of Bridgford brook, which in flood times formed a torrent, and the bridge became known as Lady Bay bridge. In 1322 the wall building tax seemed to be more important than the bridge tax, which was suspended for three years, being the customs granted to Alice le Palmer " in aid of the construction of certain bridges near the aforesaid town." This again probably included Lady Bay bridge, and may have included the bridge in Bridgford lane, which was till recently regarded as a county bridge. The King was in Nottingham in 1324, and would see the work done by Alice, and now countermanded the wall tax, and granted to Alice and her brother, who had previously supervised the work, a three years customs for the bridge, and a new causeway near to. In 1327 the King, again at Nottingham, made a further two years grant, and restrained the Mayor and bailiffs from taking the wall tolls while the grant to Alice continued, and in November of the same year the King was evidently so pleased with her work that in consideration of her great labours and expenses on the construction and repair of the bridge, he released her from all taxes and tolls while she was engaged in the work. In 1328 Commissioners were sent to inspect the bridge, and the accounts, which apparently were satisfactory, and the grant of tolls was extended a year further, when the work being completed, William de Amyas, the then Mayor, undertook the work of repair.

We must go back a space. In 1322 Alice founded a chantry in Stapleford church, and endowed it, and the same day presented two chaplains to the chapel on Trent Bridge. The last record of her is that she presented a chaplain at Stapleford in 1331, and in 1333 she was evidently dead, for her successors, the Newstead priory, then presented a chaplain to the Trent Bridge chantry. The chaplains continued to be appointed for more than 200 years. The chapel is gone, but the endowment is part of the Corporation estates. The sculptured stones from the chapel arch (the sixth or seventh from Nottingham), etc., have many references to them, collected by Mr. A. Stapleton, and included in his book "The Churches and Monasteries of old and new Nottingham," pp. 176-192. The mullions of the windows of the chapel, and other fragments, were found in 1826 and 1831, but they have not been preserved. Fortunately there are two arches of the bridge still left standing on the southern side, supporting the pavement of the Lovers' Walk, adjoining the County police station, and these form the monument of the philanthropic work of Alice Palmer.

A "History of the Old Trent Bridge, with a descriptive account of the New Bridge," illustrated with many photographs, was written by Mr. M. O. Tarbottom, the Corporation engineer, and published in 1871. The views shew the old and new bridges, with the heraldic shields, etc. There is added a paper on "The Archaeology of the old Bridge," by Mr. S. Dutton Walker. In "Chapters of Notts. History" Mr. J. P. Briscoe gives 16 pages to a short history of the bridge, its adornments, repairs, etc. The new bridge cost £86,403. The old bridge was demolished about 1872, some of the stone work being utilized in building a new aisle to Plumtree Church.

From a painting lent by Mr Roe.

Bridge Estate. It has been shewn that the Trent bridge was kept  in repair by tolls, and town efforts, but Henry VIII. in view of the heavy burden of the repairs on the town funds, resolved to give certain estates towards such repairs, and this was carried out in 1551 by Edward VI., who gave the chantry of the Blessed Virgin Mary, etc., late in the tenure of Thomas Palmer, Incumbent of the chantry, and much property then described, and the hospital house called Saint John's, and its endowments, to the Mayor and Corporation (See Orange's History, p. 645). The annual rental of the Bridge estate in 1840, Orange says was about £1,400, and the land belonging to it 265 acres. The rents of the Bridge estate collected for the year ending March, 1914, were £10,167 10s. 11d. and they probably included the income from funds which formed the endowment of the Palmer chantry.

The Suspension bridge may here be named. It was built in 1905-6, the cost being £8,871. The object was partly to carry the water pipes en route to Wilford Hill Reservoir, and partly as a relief to Trent bridge.

Borough Records. Cecily, the wife of Richard de Bridgeford, must have had a legal mind, for when, on the eve of the Nativity of the Lord, 1315, Philip Tusard distrained, and took two brass pots of the value of 10s., she attended the court, and complained that by common right, and the law of the land, no one of the town of Nottingham can alienate, or sell a tenement of his wife's right, or burden it with a rent, except by a fine thereupon levied in the Lord King's Court, or the wife being examined in the Court of Nottingham, before the Mayor, and Cecily prevailed.

Thomas, parson of the Church of Bridgeford, is mentioned in a law case in 1390. Apparently he was Rector from 1369, and in 1415, dying, he desired to be buried in the chancel.

The Bridge-Warden in 1457-8 paid :—

"Item to men of Brycheforthe for laborying . . . . . . . . . . .


Item for nayle to the bote . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Robert Brygefforthe must have been an attorney of some standing, for Friar Thomas Gregg, Prior of the House of the Friars of the Order of Carmelites in Nottingham, in 1494-5 wrote to his attorney, "I pray you enter accyon off trespas for takynge vp teynters (tenters), and for brekyng off my grounde also, an accion of desseyte (deceit) for brekynge off promyse off repeyrynge off my howse, to the hurtes and harmys," etc. The Friar must have been very angry, for Thomas Newton had promised to repair his house, and had not done it.

The Chamberlain in 1486 paid three men of Bridgeford with three carts, "for clensyng of Cowlane" (Clumber Street) "by the space of two days euerycheon of them takying by the day Xlld. (1s.) summa vjs. (6s.). About 60s. would have to be now paid.

"The chiefrent of Bridgeford in Wilford Pasture vjd." paid in 1513. What could it mean?

"Item peyd to the husbandmen of Brygeford for carryage of gravelle to the wey beyond the Malt Myln goying to Snenton xliijs. iiijd."

In 1508 there was a dispute respecting the title to a "parcelle of grounde wreked by strenth and myght of the Water of Trent" "at the southend of Notyngham Brygge called Hebeth Brygge and apon the est parte of the said Brygge." The arbitrators decided the dispute, and set up a mark of stone.

1511. Item to a man of Brydsgeford for an C. thakke XXijd. A thakker was paid for thakkying three and half days, at 6d.

The Warden, and supervisor of the works and repairs of the Bridges of Hethbeth in 1485-6, accounted for "3s. 4d. received of the bequest of the will of Robert Hall, of Bridgford, at the end of the Bridges of Hethbeth" and other like bequests.

The Chamberlain in 1461-2 received "6d. for the rent of Assize of the pasture of Bridgford."

In 1503-4 there was a taxation of lands and tenements in Nottingham towards the aid granted to the King at the rate of 12d. in pound, and Sir Gervase Clifton paid for Bridgeford Pasture 40s., and—Thymelby Esquier, for londes in Bridgeford Feld £3 15s. 8d. Palmer Chaunterie on Heth-bethbrigges £4 3s. 0d.

1577. Item payd to Humfray Byrd for the conveaunce of a woman being lame to Brydgfourth Xijd.

The Mickleton Jury in 1579 wanted "serten mearstones to be sett in Brydeforde Fylde" and other places, (boundary stones.)

1621. Item given in ale and bread to Bridgeford and Sneynton men att comon worke ijs. vjd.

There are some curious entries that cannot easily be explained. What was a "chief rent of Bridgford in Wilford pasture?" "A free rent of Bridgford," 6d., paid to the Chamberlain of Nottingham. "Londes in Bridgeford Field" paid the Corporation? as also "Sir Gervase Clifton for Bridgford pasture?"

The inhabitants of West Bridgford apparently joined for renting, in 1689, the big field on Holme Road, for which they paid rates on £24 to Sneinton Parish.

The fishing in the old Trent was, about 1348-9, kept for the Town, and was given to Stephen Romilo, the Constable, "for his time for having good counsel and assistance." As these were the years of that awful calamity, the Black Death, does the entry mean that Stephen had specially distinguished himself in his efforts as constable to minister to the dying and dead, and to help the bereaved families, and therefore the fishing was given to him as long as he held office ? If so, we will say, " Well done, Stephen ! "