In the Middle Ages the peasants of England were unlettered. The monks at Newstead would teach a few of the youth of neighbouring parishes in the western cloister up to the time of the dissolution  of the  Priory.

A long dark interval of time elapsed between A.D. 1539 and A.D. 1788 when next a centre of education was to be found in Hucknall itself—at the Parish Church—taught by George Green, the Parish Clerk. It is possible that the Byron Charity Trustees had many years previously provided for the instruction of some children, but no books or documents are to be found to tell us.

A hundred years ago a school at Bog End, in Greasley parish, attracted the youth of the district; the Widdowsons and Shaws, of Hucknall attended this school.

The Church marriage register at that period shows that out of 63 people who were required to sign their names, only 26 could write, although George Green was still teaching a few in the Parish Church.

Frederick Ward, schoolmaster.
Frederick Ward, schoolmaster.

In the year 1824, at the instance of Mr. John Godber, and with the approval of Mr. James Ball, an invitation was sent to Mr. Frederick Ward, who was conducting a little school at Aslockton, to come to establish a school at Hucknall. He came, and dwelt at the present National Schoolhouse, using the adjacent building (now an infant school) for school purposes. His work was continued there thirty years, when Messrs. Godber and Ball took steps to establish a National School.

Mr. Ward was treated considerately; Mr. Ball provided him with a homestead off Washdyke Lane, and the Duke of Portland's steward (Mr. Neale) gave him the tenancy of several fields.

In the 1830 directory Mr. Ward's school was described as a "Boarding Academy." He had sixty scholars, thirty of whom were day or weekly boarders, and their homes were at Annesley, Bestwood, Bulwell, Greasley, Linby, Newstead, Nottingham, Papplewick, and Watnall.

Mr. Ward was a man of considerable attainments, a strict disciplinarian, a character builder, and men now waxen old speak with deep respect of him. He was a sort of village seer, and frequent adviser to many in doubt and difficulty. Though a pronounced Nonconformist, he took his boys on Sundays to chapel at morning and night, and to the church service held in the afternoon.

His most distinguished pupil was John Farmer, author of "Christ and His Soldiers," and many other musical works. He was appointed organist at Harrow School, where he composed his "Harrow School Songs," which obtained a great vogue near the close of the 19th century, and he afterwards became organist of Baliol College, Oxford, where his musical talent did much to popularise the art. He frequently ascribed his musical inspiration to the stirring and skilful efforts of the Hucknall musicians at the chapel services.

When the cotton mills at Papplewick closed, about the year 1840, Mr. Dawn, once a book-keeper at the mills, opened a little school in his cottage at Broomhill. The day opened with a Bible lesson, and his scholars in later years used smilingly to tell of how the one Bible was passed from hand to hand for each to read a verse, their teacher meanwhile smoking his churchwarden pipe. At his death his sister, Miss Dawn, carried on the school for a few years.

There were a number of dame schools here sixty years ago in private houses, where a school wage of 2d. or 3d. per week was paid. A successful one of these was kept by Mr. Green, opposite the Seven Stars. Old Mr. Edwards taught his pupils in the club-room of the Half Moon Inn, which latter was used for Sunday services by some of the Methodists at times.

During the same period much good educational work was being done by the Nonconformists in the Sunday schools, and for years the writer has heard elderly men speak in grateful terms of the devoted kindness of their teachers.

Instruction was given in the rudiments of knowledge for many years in the Parish Church by the Parish Clerk. Miss Frances E. Rolleston, in a published letter dated from Watnall Cottage, July 6th, 1837, wrote thus: Summer has not even come ! not a fine day; thunderstorms clinging round the blue Peak Hills, and cold and
rain around us. I went to see Hucknall Church; no one can venerate Sunday schools more than I do, but the forms and the books, and what I know of the tears and the blows that corrupt the institution, makes me shrink from the hubbub that weekly invades Byron's sepulchre. I have already advised Colonel Wildman to comply with Mrs. ----------- 's request to remove the coffin to the grand mausoleum at Newstead, and now only want an opportunity of re-urging it."

On the transfer of the Annesley Road School to the National Society in 1854, the buildings were enlarged and a porch erected. Mr. Pegler was appointed master, and that gentleman remained until 1860, when he was succeeded by Mr. G.J. Coombs. Mr. Coombs was headmaster for 16 years, the number of scholars increasing from 46 to 200. Mr. Jacklin was appointed in 1876, and holds the position to-day".

The Act of 1870 opened a new era in education in Hucknall. A School Board was speedily elected comprising the Rev. Curtis Jackson, and Messrs. W. N. Ball, W. Calladine, J. E. Ellis, and T. Hardy. Beardall Street schools were built at a cost of nearly £2,000, by Mr. W. Stainforth, the first head teachers being Mr. J. Holroyd, Mrs. Major, and Miss Joel.

The rapid development of the coal industry necessitated the provision of more school room, and blocks of buildings were erected at Butler's Hill and Spring Street, the total cost of the three blocks, before enlargement, was £10,359.

The following gave service on Hucknall School Board:—Revs. A. E. Clarke, Curtis Jackson, J. R. Macdonnell, A. J. Naylor, and J. E. Phillips; Messrs. W. N. Ball, G. Betteson, W. Betteson, T. Bradbury, John Buck, W. Calladine, J. Calladine, J. E. Ellis, F. N. Ellis, J. Edwards, A. J. Fidler, F. Goodall, T. Y. Greener, T. Hardy, O. W. Hind, Wm. Houldsworth, J. Hobbs, S. Mills, J. North, Ar. Plumb, Andrew Radford, H. Rhodes, Joseph Saxton, Wm. Stokes, and J. A. Taylor; Mrs. Kirk. Messrs. John Wagg, Roby Rowe, and F. Allcock served successively in the capacity of clerk to the Board.

In 1886 the Roman Catholic School on Carlingford Road was built adjoining the Holy Cross Church, with room for about 100 boys and girls, taught under the supervision of a head mistress.

In 1874 Mr. Holroyd conducted a series of science and art evening classes, which were well attended. Subsequently Messrs. Johnson and Riley (the Spring Street and Butler's Hill head masters) continued these classes until the Government Science and Art Department condemned the premises as being unsuitable for this class of higher education.

In 1896 a scheme was inaugurated to provide suitable premises for evening science and art classes, and eventually a Technical School was erected by public subscription. The Duke of Portland gave the site; Mr. J. E. Ellis, M.P., £1,000; Mr. H. B. Paget, £500; Mr. F. N. Ellis, £100; Mr. Harold T. Ellis, £100; and the Co-operative Society, £50. Mr. J. A. Munks built the schools at a cost of about £1,800. The County Council contributed £400 towards the cost of equipping the chemical laboratory.

The Technical School has proved a most useful centre for evening education since its erection, and for several years past it has been used in the daytime as a district centre for the training of pupil teachers.


Evidence is accumulating to justify the statement that English people are advancing in the culture of that beauteous, refining, and moralising art of music. The moaning of the wind, the swish of the mad seas, the thunder's roll, the songbird's note, and the rippling rill assail our ears with musical notes, but the production of harmonies of sweet sounds is the work of man.

The villagers of medieval England were little accustomed to the pleasures of music such as are available to the poorest of the poor in these days. They heard the "merry winding horn" of the hunters at times, but it meant little merriment to the people occupied in grinding toil and poverty. The oases in village life when music was heard, occurred at the holydays and mayday revels.

There were wandering minstrels who sang and played, and recited their ballads, and in Tudor times bands of musicians occupied such galleries of great houses as may be seen at Hardwick Hall, but the gentle art was for centuries like an exotic, never taking kindly to English soil.

The fiddle, as we know it, was invented about the 16th century, and was soon used in churches at a time when organs were becoming unpopular.

It is difficult to determine when a band first occupied the Church Gallery at Hucknall, but certainly instrumentalists were there from A.D. 1771, as an old churchwarden's book records regularly the payment at Christmastide of "5s. to the singers for reeds." Queen Elizabeth issued an order in A.D. 1561 which provided for the " using or transposing of the rood-lofts" into galleries for the choir, and in those western galleries the villagers did willing service to their church. The formation of Church bands on a large scale is said to have occurred towards the end of the 18th century. Hucknall Church gallery was not a rood-loft, and its construction was probably undertaken to accommodate the increased congregations owing to the influx of stocking weavers.

In the opening years of the 19th century a band occupied the Church gallery, which was called "The Loft," from whence the leading singer announced the numbers and opening lines of the hymns, Henry Brown being the last of the worthies to undertake the duty.

Here is a list of the instrumentalists of seventy years ago: — Bassoons, Ben Kerry and Joseph Hutchinson; Clarionette, Robert Widdowson; Bass Fiddle, George Starr; Fiddles, Luke Wagg and Richard White; Ophecleide, John Brown; Trombone, James Widdowson; The Serpent (a bass instrument), Mr. Dabill. The singers were Elizabeth Fell, Elizabeth Allen, Ann Brown, Leah Hankin, Elizabeth and Mary Mellows, Thomas Brown, Thomas Farrands, Samuel Barnett, John Wagstaffe, and John Cutts.

A village hubbub was caused during the ministry of Mr. Austin through one of the men pawning the church fiddle at Nottingham. The instrument was recovered, and the offender cautioned and forgiven.

The first harmonium in Hucknall was brought in a cart in the year 1854, destined for the church gallery. The event caused a little sensation, and a crowd of villagers assembled round Mr. Robert Widdowson's house in Baker Street (now a saddler's shop) to look at and listen to the sounds from the new instrument. " Big Jim" Marriott, a village celebrity, was very enthusiastic about the new arrival, and in many a circle his announcement that a "new arboretum" had been taken to the church afforded much fun.

The instrument was played successively by Miss Anne Needham Ball, Mr. William Farrands ,Miss Widdowson, Mr. Coombs, and Mr. Fred Gration.

Music became a great feature at the Methodist New Connexion Chapel, where the school anniversary services were times of joyous excitement, people flocking from all the country side to hear the musical performances which included some classical selections, such as the "Hallelujah Chorus." The proficiency of the choir and players caused them to be in frequent request at other places of worship in the district.

Following are the names of some of the leading singers and players of the period under review: —Rebecca Neale and Eliza Terry (both of whom had exceptionally sweet voices), Milly Terry, Eliza King, Elizabeth Cocker, Elizabeth Martin, Elizabeth and Mary Collins, Eliza Allen, Enoch, William, and John Pickup, Thomas, Joseph, and William Howitt, Charles and William Pye, John and George Thompson, S. Houldsworth, Thomas Dove, Frank Goodall, Joseph Saxton, William Whyatt, George Cocker, Peter, Frederick, and Samuel Kirkby, John King, Sam Collins, Wm. Rickett, George Allen, and Thomas King, the leader.

In 1858 a new organ—the first in Hucknall—was bought for about £80, and placed in the chapel. Miss Swift (who afterwards became Mrs. James Piggin) played the instrument until it was sold about 30 years ago, when the chapel was converted into a schoolroom.

Zachariah Green Memorial Fountain.
Zachariah Green Memorial Fountain.

The Baptists have for many years recognised the value of music in their services, and in the old chapel in the Folly the singers and players included several well-known names. Zachariah Green played a bass fiddle, George Wagg (the carrier) a violin, Abraham Wagg a 'cello; Jane and Elizabeth Green, Bessie Hickling, Hannah Wilkinson, Jonathan Wakefield, John Huish, John Lawson, John Towle, George Mayfield, and Arthur Hadman were the singers and players who occupied what was called the "Singers' Seat."

Brass Band music has been very popular in the parish for many years past. The oldest brass band was founded over 70 years ago, and bears the name of "The Old Brass Band." Among the original members were James and Robert Widdowson, Joseph Hutchinson, William Daws, Henry Smith, Robert Wilmott, W. Millott, J. Huish, and Alfred Mayfield.

In the seventies several of the bandsmen who had good voices formed a little company of glee singers, which led to increased demand for the band's services. Alfred Mayfield, Arthur Wright, Tom Wagg, and Tom Johnson were among the best of these.

A Temperance Brass Band, formed in 1872, and tutored by Arthur Hindley, of Nottingham, flourished for a few years.

A Church Band of Hope Fife Band developed into a brass and reed combine, and eventually was called successively the Temperance Prize and Hucknall Silver Prize Band. Mr. Sam Taylor, a gifted bandmaster, has for many years conducted this band, which has had a most successful contesting career, and, together with the Hucknall Temperance Excelsior Prize Band (a newer but very efficient organisation), has won many first prizes in contests throughout the country.

Orchestral bands were formed and were successively led by Messrs. John Piggin, W. Brown, Arthur Howard Bonser, John Munks, and Samuel Huntley.

The teaching of music in day schools led to its increased popularity, and it is calculated there are about 1,000 pianos, organs, and harmoniums in the cottage homes of Hucknall.

For many years an agreeable custom prevailed in Hucknall. Bodies of church and chapel singers on the march used to sing choral music in the lanes on summer evenings, with beautiful effect, after the manner of the Welsh peasantry, but the practice has ceased during the last fifteen years.

The most expensive musical instrument in the parish is the organ in the Parish Church, which cost £1,600.

The name of a Hucknall-born boy, Mr. Eric Coates, is worthy of mention here. Although still very young he stands in the forefront of British viola players, and his musical compositions are fast obtaining for him a national reputation. He is also a prize-winner at the Royal Academy of Music.

Miss Gertrude Pegg is the most gifted lady singer Hucknall has produced. Formerly a member of the Methodist choir, she underwent a course of training, and her talents are recognised over a wide area.


The morals of Hucknall people in past days were probably neither better nor worse than those of the folk in neighbouring villages.

The cleverness of fighting-cock trainers, quoit players, wrestlers, and pugilists in Hucknall, together with the proverbial weakness of framework-knitters for the observance of "Saint-Mondays" suggest familiarity with the flowing bowl. Local tradition confirms this assumption.

Ancient inn: "The Old House at Home."
Ancient inn: "The Old House at Home."

The Old House at Home was a timber-framed house standing a few yards back from the main road on a site now partly traversed by Parker Street. It was razed to the ground before living memory, and was a fair type of the old village hostelry.

The Red Lion was the renkhouse of the Byron tenantry in the 18th century, and was kept at one period by Theophilus Allcock, who was churchwarden A.D. 1749.

The Half Moon, judging from its situation, its thatched roof, and general appointments, was an old inn. The Widdowsons lived there early in the 19th century.

The Old Coach and Six occupied the site now covered by the Young Men's Christian Association rooms by the side of the "Town Street," as it was formerly styled. The name of the inn is suggestive of late 18th or early 19th century origin. Men and cockfights occasionally took place in the space at the rear of this house, where also was a quoit pitch.

The Plough and Harrow was formerly approached from the main street, through a garden, but it was not a very old licensed house.

A house at the corner of Station Street, part of which still remains, was formerly licensed for the sale of drink.

There was in the middle of the 19th century a licensed house on the top of Misk Hill, kept by William Allcock. It was simply a house of call for people walking to Felley Mill, Greasley, Watnall, and places beyond. The licence was transferred to the house on The Green, beside the church gates, which Mr. Allcock afterwards tenanted. The house on Misk Hill was demolished and part of the ruins remain, these having given rise to much conjecture as to their history.

A licensed house, dubbed "The Indian Queen," existed in the 18th century in West street, on premises afterwards tenanted by Mrs. Bess Percy. Its last tenant was a Mr. Wagstaff. Mr. Herbert Barratt tenanted the house until it was pulled down a few months ago, when a bundle of time-stained receipts for duty on Beer, paid by Thomas Wagstaff in the years 1781-3 was found stored in the rafters.

Mr. Bamkin's house, near the foot of Woodstock Street, stands on land which formerly belonged to the Chaworths of Annesley. At the opening of the 19th century it was called the "Lord Byron," and was the headquarters of the local watchmen during the Luddite disturbances.

The original Yew Tree Inn was about 150 yards from the bottom of Beardall's Lane, at the house tenanted by Mr. Haslam, in A.D. 1769. A part of the original building still remains with a porch headstone over the door in the yard, and is observable from the main road. The licence was transferred to a stone-built house lower down the lane, and eventually Mr. Joseph Beardall (the landlord) erected the present Yew Tree Inn.

The Sun Inn was a licensed house at the corner of Whyburn Street (formerly called Sun Street). The premises have been for some years tenanted by the Constitutional Club Co., Limited.

The "Travellers' Rest" was situate at the corner of General Street and Bestwood Road. It was closed about the year 1869, on account of some legal irregularity.

The Nag's Head in Wood Lane has already been referred to in the chapter dealing with the Enclosure of the Common.

Here follows a list of licensed houses in the parish at subsequent periods: —

A.D. 1832. A.D.  1869. A.D. 1908.
Red Lion John Allcock Red Lion Red Lion
Yew Tree Joseph Beardall Yew Tree Yew Tree
Coach & Six Elizabeth Butler Coach & Six Station Hotel
Chequers John Price Chequers Chequers
Lord Byron John Taylor Plough & Harrow  Plough & Harrow
Green Dragon John Truman Green Dragon Green Dragon
Seven Stars Wm  Walker Seven Stars Seven Stars
Half Moon Robt. Widdowson Half Moon Half Moon
Beerhouse Thos. Widdowson Jolly Colliers Jolly Colliers
Beerhouse Joseph Smith Masons' Arms Masons' Arms
Beerhouse (Town Street) John Mellows Sun Inn Royal Oak
Beerhouse   (on  The Green) Thos. Oldham Portland Arms Portland Arms
    Travellers' Rest Fox & Hounds
      Crown Inn
      Byron's Rest

It will be observed that in 1869 three licensed houses were named after the Sun, Moon, and Stars.

All the Alehouses and Beerhouses in Hucknall save one are now connected with Notts. breweries.

There are now twelve licensed alehouses in the parish, three beerhouses, and twenty-nine beer-off shops, two of the latter holding refreshment house licences.

It is commonly believed that the Hucknall community are more law-abiding, thrifty, and sober than is usual among peoples engaged in similar industries. Close observation of the habits of the parishioners and outside testimony support this view.

Numerous agencies have been instrumental in producing these wholesome conditions, among which temperance teaching has been one of the chief.

The first distinct temperance organisation in Hucknall was founded in 1856, in the form of a Band of Hope at the Methodist New Connexion Chapel. Mr. Thomas Hardy was president thereof, and Mr. John Pickup the secretary.

An important development occurred in 1868, when Messrs. Thomas Hardy, Edward Wood, John Buck, Thomas Ward, Joseph Howitt, and Frederick Goodall met and established the Hucknall Temperance Society. For forty years this society has carried on an active and useful mission in the parish, mainly by means of lectures, popular entertainment, distribution of literature, and opposition at Brewster Sessions to the issue of additional licenses.

On Saturday, April 22nd, 1882, a census of people entering the various inns in Hucknall was taken. Between the hours of 8 and 11 on that evening 4,534 men, women, and children passed into the licensed houses.

In 1882 a temperance missioner from America awakened much enthusiasm in the temperance movement throughout England. Many people signed the pledge and wore a bit of blue ribbon. The event produced a permanent effect in Hucknall by the institution of the Blue Ribbon Saturday night popular entertainments held in the Public Hall. These entertainments have been continued during the winter months ever since, under the management of members of the Hucknall Temperance Society.

The names of Messrs. J. E. Ellis, T. Ward, and W. Severn have been indissolubly interwoven with the history of this society.

A Church of England Temperance Society was started in 1877, and existed twenty years, when it was dissolved.

A branch of the Good Templar movement was founded and carried on active work for some years. This organisation is still represented in the parish.

Bands of Hope have done much to educate the youth of the town in temperance principles. There are about 1,200 children in the 11 societies enrolled in the Hucknall Band of Hope Union.

The late Mrs. Jesse Hind and other ladies established a Women's Total Abstinence Society, which has done energetic work in the parish during the last ten years. The influence of the Rechabite Friendly Society has been powerful in the promulgation of temperance sentiment.

The spread of temperance principles has also been promoted locally by the influence of religious bodies and school teachers, the provision of allotment gardens, free library, public halls, institutes, coffee tavern, and restaurants.