We have taken note already of the amusements of the villagers in medieval times, of falconry, minstrelsy, wolf-hunts, etc.

May-day revels and Whitsun Ales would be observed with zest at Hucknall. A tradition has come down that some Linby villagers, more than a hundred years ago, stole the Hucknall Maypole.

There is no question that wrestling was for a time a favourite pastime for men in the latter part of the 18th century. In "Walks Round Nottingham," by Wanderer, reference is made to a visit to Hucknall Churchyard, and there a gravestone was pointed out to him as marking the spot where Richard Allin Green was buried. The story of Green's prowess at wrestling was told to Wanderer one day by a venerable old man, in 1833, when he was walking from Bradmore to Bunny. The old man sang some doggerel, in which the following lines occurred: —

"By the wrestling rules of Bunny, this famous match was made
Between Allin Green and Trubshaw, and heavy sums were laid;
When they stept into the ring, Trubshaw first did Allin lay,
Then for Trubshaw, huzza! for he'll surely win the day.

Said Allin Green's mistress:  'A wager I will hold
Of fifty bright guineas, in true, shining gold,
That my Richard throws his man, let him do the best he can,
For your Trubshaw's huzza, it can never win the day.'

The drums they did beat, and the trumpets they did sound
As the Nottinghamshire lads went heavy o'er the ground,
To see their money lost, and to have their champion lost,
Then for Trubshaw, huzza! for now he's won the day."

This match took place at Repton, in Derbyshire. Richard Allin Green was a Hucknall man, whom Sir Thomas Parkyns kept at Bunny as a professional wrestler.

The writer has failed to find Green's gravestone in the churchyard.

Ben Butler, who lived in a cottage which now forms part of the bar of the Red Lion Inn, won the last prize for wrestling at the last contest at Bunny, which was held in 1810. This Ben Butler reaped fame as a breeder of fighting cocks, and he had at one time a pressing demand for his birds, and for his own presence, too, at big cock-fights. He kept the cocks in his cellars, and they rambled over the roads and in the neighbouring gardens in the daytime, which often was the cause of friction between Ben and his neighbours.

At holiday times, and especially at the Feast, great gatherings assembled at Hucknall to see the cock-fights, which were frequently held at the rear of the Old Coach and Six, and sometimes in old Mr. Coupe's stackyard, on land now covered by the Post Office and adjoining premises.

Ben Caunt.
Ben Caunt.

In the middle of the 19th century pugilism was as much in vogue and as popular as football is to-day, and Ben Caunt, though born at the little cottage east of Newstead Railway Station, on March 23rd, 1815, was counted as a Hucknall man, probably because his youth was spent here. One of the oldest gravestones in the Churchyard, date 1730, bears the name of Ann Cont. Another stone, now missing, recorded the grave of a Cont, who "was a faithful servant to Lord Byrand."

Ben Caunt was brought up in a fighting atmosphere, for pitched battles used to be fought by the youths living at the Buildings and the lads in the Town, one set calling themselves "Boney's men" (after Napoleon Bonaparte), and the other "Wellingtons." Caunt was one of these spirited lads; he grew to the height of six feet, and was possessed of extraordinary muscular strength.

He fought his first real battle with his kinsman, Richard Butler, on the Wighay, and prevailed. As time went on his prowess became known over the country, and after beating Bendigo he met and vanquished Brassey, in 1840, at Six Mile Bottom, near Newmarket, at the time of the races there, and he told Mr. Robert Widdowson that this was the most trying fight he ever engaged in. James and John Widdowson and a few other Hucknallites went to see this encounter. Caunt fought Bendigo, and won the championship belt of England.

When he came home to Hucknall after winning the championship, the Old Brass Band and a large concourse of people met him near the Yew Tree, and a procession was formed and marched through the village. Ben wore the belt, a big yellow handkerchief round his neck,  and a plum-coloured waistcoat.

On retiring from the prize-ring he settled at a public-house in St. Martin's Lane, London, which was a resort for most Hucknallites visiting the Metropolis, and where they were sure of a warm welcome, for he was a kindly-disposed man.

His success in the ring was attributed not only to his physical strength and agility, but to his cool head, his capacity for enduring punishment, and his straightforward conduct in fighting.

His occasional visits to Hucknall were generally signalised by a few boxing matches in Haslam's Croft, the place now covered by Yorke Street.

He died in 1861, and his tomb in the old part of the churchyard was much visited for a few years after his death.

His daughter, Mrs. Samuel Butler, came some years ago to live in Derbyshire Lane, a kind and intelligent lady, but a confirmed invalid.

Cricket has been a popular game at Hucknall for half a century past, and a number of good players have been brought out, some of them playing in county teams. The most important club was the Portland, whose pitch was in the Wigwam field, now occupied by factories and houses.

Football was introduced about the year 1878, and has enjoyed immense popularity ever since. The clubs which won highest honours were the St. John's and White Star.

Of indoor games billiards has, during the last ten years, gained great favour, so has dancing, which has been promoted by the many classes held in different parts of the town.


1801—Population, 1,497.

1803—The parish rates, at 6s. 21/2d. in the £, produced £512 10s. 1d.

1804—The only recorded visit of the poet Byron to Hucknall was made in this year to his steward, Mr. William Daws.

1806—Baptist preachings at Simpson's in Beardall Street.

1808—Methodist New Connexion Sunday School started.

1809—Byron came of age.  Great festivities at Newstead Abbey. A number of Hucknall people took part therein. Ben Butler won the "laced hat" at the last Bunny Park wrestling match.

1811—Population,  1,793.

Mrs. Byron (the poet's mother) buried in the Byron vault. Luddism rife.

1812—£200 voted by Parliament (by lot) for augmentation of Vicarage.

1814—The Byron estates bought by Duke of Devonshire trustees in 1774, were transferred to Duke of Portland by virtue of an exchange.

1815—Waterloo rejoicings; a cow and sheep roasted on The Green. First news of the battle brought to Hucknall by a Nottingham sand-seller. First newspaper containing account of battle brought from The Hutt (left there by mail coach) by the Hucknall newsboy, Joseph Hall. Methodist Chapel enlarged.

1817—Dan Diggle, who was apprenticed at Rhodes', in High Street, was hung for Luddism. Elizabeth ("Bess") Shepherd, a Papplewick girl of 17 years, was murdered on the Mansfield turnpike, and robbed of her shoes and cotton parasol. The murderer stopped to drink at The Hut (then a public-house) and tried to sell his booty at a public-house at Red Hill. He was caught and hung.

1818—Newstead Abbey sold to Colonel Wildman for £94,500.

1819—Nottingham first lighted with gas.

1820—George IV. crowned. The Duke of Portland gave an ox to be roasted at Hucknall, and the children were regaled with buns in Daws' Croft.

1821—Population, 2,028; comprising 1,070 males and 958 females.

1824—Byron buried, July 16th.

1825—Sophia Hyatt, the "White Lady of Newstead," buried near Byron.

1829—The "Parliamentary Gazetteer" gives Hucknall charities as amounting to £70 16s. per annum, of which £15 13s. 4d. was being devoted to parochial purposes.

1831—Population, 2,200.

1835—Baptist Chapel in Gilbert Street built.

1838—Victoria crowned. Great rejoicings at Hucknall. The Duke of Portland gave £10; also an ox, which was roasted on The Green and served out to 1,000 men and youths; 500 women were entertained to tea; 800 children assembled at Mr. Fred Ward's school and were treated to buns and milk. An oak tree was felled in Wood Lane and bowers made of the branches thereof on The Green. The Hucknall Brass Band played on the Church Tower, the big drum being hoisted up by rope. The Festivities Committee supped at the Seven Stars, Mr. Samuel Ball, the Duke's Hucknall Steward, presiding. In this year there were 394 houses, and the poor-rate produced £629 19s. 0d.

1839—Chartism agitation. Mr. Wm. Calladine, senr., was prominent in the movement.

1840—Penny Post established. A letter from London to Hucknall formerly cost 10d.

1841—Population, 2,680.

1844—Extract from "Nottingham Review": "There was a good number of male and female servants, but not many masters and mistresses, consequently very little hiring was done. There was a numerous attendance of visitors, several shows were exhibited, and there was a decent set-out of gingerbread, toy stalls, &c."

The Common Gardens set out. Mr. J. Godber, farmer, and others gave a prize for best pig fed by one of the allotment holders. 1845—The first railway through Hucknall proposed, viz., the Not-tingham and Mansneld line of the Midland Railway Co. It was opposed before the Parliamentary Committee on the ground that it would not pay, but the project was sanctioned.

County Alderman Robert Mellors informed the writer that the sixpenny fare from Nottingham was decided on on account of the excellent coach service of Mr. Sneath for which only a sixpenny fare was charged.

Poor-rates this year £460;  Land Tax £90 14s. 4d.

1846—A keen winter; snow several feet deep. Mr. Samuel Mor-ley was in this year the largest employer of Hucknall labour, and Mr. Matthew Limb his biggest "bagman"; scarcely a stocking frame going, and fathers of families were employed by the parish at 1s. per day for road-making. Wesleyan Chapel built.

1848—The first Hucknall railway station opened for traffic. A railway journey from Hucknall to London at this period occupied Mr. C. Calladine 71/2; hours. The Rev. Curtis Jackson became Vicar.

1849—General Booth of the Salvation Army pseached to navvies at Hucknall.

1850—The Common Land on Linby Wighay was enclosed.

1851—Population, 2,470.

1852—Lady Lovelace buried. Many people entered the Byron vault. The following extract from "Gossip of the Century," explains why Byron's daughter was buried here:—"Sixteen months before her death she paid a visit to the home of her ancestors, and in the great Library at the Abbey Colonel Wildman quoted a passage from Byron's works to Byron's daughter, and she, touched by the beauty of the words, enquired the name of the author. For reply Colonel Wildman pointed to the painting of her father which hung on the Library wall. It came as a revelation to her. Instantly she confessed that she was brought up in complete ignorance of all regarding her father. From that time Lady Lovelace devoted herself to a close study of her father's life and works. The loss of the affection of that noble heart, which had so long been kept from her, preyed upon her mind. She fell ill—so ill that she knew she could never hope to recover. In this last illness she wrote to Colonel Wildman a letter, begging to be buried beside her father: 'Yes, I will be buried there; not where my mother can join me, but by the side of him who so loved me, and whom I was not taught to love; and this reunion of our bodies in the grave shall be an emblem of union of our spirits in the bosom of the Eternal.'"

1853—Baptist Chapel enlarged.

1854—National School Opened.

Great fire at Mr. Daws', in Station Lane. Shetland Hosiery trade being founded here.

1859—The old Vicarage, near National School built.

Watnall Road Primitive Methodist Chapel opened; cost

£250. An acre of land added to the Churchyard.

1861—Population, 2,836.

First sod of Top Pit lifted, April 21st.

1861—Rev. Geo. Otter became Vicar.

1864—Coal drawing commenced at Top Pit. Dr. Frost died, aged 59.

Cricket Ground, near Connery, prepared for play.

1865—Public testimonial given to Mr. Zachariah Green.

Working Men's Reading Room and Library opened in High Street. Gas introduced and rirst lighted on April 12th, at Mr. P. Howis's shop.

1867—Top Pit on fire.

Congregationalists founded Mission at Butler's Hill.

1868—Temperance Society founded.

1870—Frame rent agitation. Board of Control:—Messrs. T. Mee (Arnold), W. Emerson, S. Morley, M.P., and W. Mill-house (Hucknall).

1871—Population, 4,257.

School Board established. Fires in Mr. James Widdowson's stackyard. Floral and Horticultural Society, founded by Messrs. James Barker, Alfred Cartledge (Lambert Hill), George Cartledge (Linby), F. Shaw (Linby) secretary. 1872—Trinity Church built; cost £2,500. Beardall Street Board Schools built. Small Pox epidemic rife.

January: Parish Church re-opened after restoration; cost £3,200.

1874—.Weekly Market established.

Street gas lamps introduced.

Six trains ran daily to Nottingham and seven to Mansfield.

Newstead Road case tried at Nottingham before Baron Pollock. The action was brought by Mr. Webb to test the alleged right-of-way through what was called the Quarry Banks and past the Abbey. Messrs. Robert Radford, William Pegg, and Samuel Nicholls, of Hucknall were the representatives of the people, who asserted the right-of-way, and by way of protest against closing the road broke down the gates and used the old road.

The trial occupied three days, and evoked a very large amount of public interest, three Q.C.'s, as well as other counsel being engaged. Verdict: "There never was a right of road."

1875—Public Hall built, cost £2,000; 550 seats (architect, Mr. F. Gration). Bethesda Chapel built.

Butler's Hill Primitive Methodist Chapel built. Mechanics' Institute founded a,t Public Hall;   dissolved in 1886.

1876—New Vicarage built.

Baptist Chapel (Watnall Road) built, cost £4,000, excluding land. Butler's Hill Board Schools built. Hucknall Building Society founded.

1877—St. John's Church built; cost over £1,000.

1878—Rev. H. C. Hicks, curate of St.  John's drowned at sea. Hicks Memorial Schools built, £500.

1879—Congregational Church built, cost £1,350.

Spring Street Schools built.

Duke of Portland and Mr. Edward Shipley Ellis died.

Rev. J. E. Phillips created vicar. The names of the Revs. S. W. Walter and W. J. Betson (the present Vicar of Fernilee) may be added to the list of Mr. Phillips's curates on page 54.

Salvation Army established.

John Piggin died, aged 86.

Cigar-making introduced by Mr. J. Dexter.

1881—Population, 10,023.

Waterworks opened in May.

Great Northern Leen Valley Railway constructed.

Royal Oak Inn sold, £2,300. Chequers Inn sold,. £4,435.

Catholic Mission founded.

John Wilmott's stack fired.

Byron floor tablet laid over the vault.

1882—Blue Ribbon Temperance Meetings began on July 8th.

1884—Duke of Portland gave Parish Church Clock; cost £340. Coffee Tavern built, £1,320.

First Burial Board elected:—Messrs. Samuel Mellors, Turner Haslam, William Harrison, and Charles Calladine. Parish Church Reredos erected, cost £270.

1885—Mr. J. E. Ellis first elected M.P. for the new Rushclife Division of Notts.

1886—First plot of Duke of Portland's land sold; purchaser, Dr. Power. Roman Catholic Church and Presbytery opened; cost £1,700. Roman Catholic School built. Market Place enlarged.

1887—Cemetery opened.

Free Library built, cost £2,000; given by Messrs. J. E Ellis and H. B. Paget (architect, Mr. A. N. Bromley). P.S.A. movement introduced. Leaders: P. Howis, H. Beswick, and J. Davidge. Queen Victoria's Jubilee;  beacon fire lighted on Levy Hill.

1888—Parish Church enlarged; cost £4,500.  At re-opening on June 5th, the offertory amounted to £760. Butler's Hill playground opened. Byron Charity new scheme adopted.

1889—Duke of Portland married.

1891—Population, 13,094.

School Fees abolished.

Duke gave National School playground.

October: H. Rhodes' and James Widdowson's stack fires.

1892—St. Peter's Church built; cost £745. St. John's Parsonage built, £640. Hazel Grove Chapel built £600. Post Office opened at Butler's Hill and pillar posts introduced.

1893—Great coal strike.

Congregational Church enlarged, £1,473.

1894—Nursing Association established.

Hazel Grove Chapel built; cost £600.

1895—St. John's Church Chancel built and organ installed;  cost £950.

1896—Moss and Plumb's timber mills burnt down.

Watnall Road Primitive Methodist Chapel built, cost over

1897—Zachariah Green died on January 22nd, and memorial fountain erected. Telephones installed at Hucknall. Queen Victoria Jubilee celebration. Nurses' Home built as a memorial. Typhoid epidemic;  130 cases and 22 deaths.

1898—Tree planting in streets began.

1899—Mr. John Holroyd died, January 22nd.

March 15th: Great Central Station opened for traffic.

1901—Population, 15,250.

Queen Victoria died on January 22nd. Technical School built; cost £1,800. Mr. Andrew Radford died on January 22nd.

1902—St.  Peter's Church built;  cost £670.

King Edward VII. crowned. Town decked, school children regaled, processions and bands. Branch of Young Men's Christian Association founded.

1903—New Methodist Trinity School built; cost £2,500.

1904—Rev. Edward Roberts appointed Vicar in place of Rev. J. E.  Phillips (deceased). Wigwam Lane temporary Baths opened. Duke of Portland gave the site, 2,300  yards.

1906—Wesleyan Reform Chapel built, cost nearly £3,000; architect, Mr. Harry Spencer. Canon Godber died. Church Hall opened; cost £5,887. Duke gave site.

1907—Building Society closed.

Rev. T. G. Barber appointed Vicar.

1908—Watnall Road playground opened.

1909—Baths given by Mr. J. E. Ellis opened; cost £3,300. Mr. C. Daws appointed churchwarden.

It is proposed to transfer Hucknall from Mansfield to Nuttall Rural Deanery.


ERRATUM. Page 2.—Cockpit Hill should read "Cockpit Hill is near Dorket Head."