To the outside world Hucknall Torkard is best known as the burial place of one described by Lord Macaulay as "the most celebrated Englishman of the nineteenth century." Memorials of the Byrons predominate in the church, and indications of the family association with the place are found on the tenor bell, on the chancel walls and pavement, in the sculptured marble in the chapel, in the burial registers, in the occurrence of the name on the highways and in the town arms. Before the last restoration of the church there stood an old gravestone on which the inscription ran, "Here lyeth the body of Richard, the son of John and Elizabeth Cont, who was servant to Lord Byrand." This is now missing.

The oldest of the marble tablets in the chancel bears the following inscription: "Beneath in a vault is interred the body of Richard, Lord Byron, who with the rest of his family, being seven brothers, faithfully served King Charles I. in the civil wars, who suffered much for their loyalty, and lost all their present fortunes. Yet it pleased God so to bless the humble endeavours of the said Richard, Lord Byron, that he repurchased part of their ancient inheritance, which he left to his posterity with a laudable memory for his great piety and charity. He departed this life on the 4th day of October, An. Dom. 1679, in the 74th year of his age. In the same vault is interred the Lady Elizabeth, his first wife, daughter of George Russel, Esq., by whom he had ten children, and ye Lady Elizabeth, his second wife, daughter to Sir George Booth, Knt. and Baronet, who appoynted this monument to be erected to the memory of her dear husband, and for her great piety and goodness acquired a name better than yt of sones and daughters."

Soon after the burial of the poet, his sister placed a marble tablet to his memory on the chancel wall, on which the inscription runs:—"In the vault beneath, where many of his ancestors and his mother are buried, lie the remains of George Gordon Noel Byron, Lord Byron of Rochdale, in the county of Lancaster, author of "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage." He was born in London on the 22nd January, 1788. He died at Missolonghi, in Western Greece, on the 19th April, 1824, engaged in the glorious attempt to restore that country to her ancient freedom and renown. His sister, the Honourable Augusta Mary Leigh, placed this tablet to his memory."

In August, 1881, another slab was placed in the church in memory of Lord Byron. At that period a statue was erected in Hamilton Gardens, Hyde Park, by a committee, over which the late Lord Beaconsfield presided. The King of Greece willingly gave a large block of marble of the kind named "Rosso Antico" (D) gotten from a quarry which had been closed many centuries, to form a pedestal for the bronze figure of Byron and his Newfoundland dog on Hyde Park side. From this block the Hucknall slab was cut off, and the late Mr. Belt designed a poet's wreath in brass, enclosing the following inscription:—"Byron, born January 22, 1788; died, April 19, 1824." Various visitors from distant lands brought wreaths which have decayed with the lapse of time. The story of one of these wraths is told by Joacquim Miller, the American writer, in a prefatory note to his poem "Burns and Byron": "The day before my departure for Europe last summer, a small party sailed out to the beautiful sea front of Soulceleto, lying in the great bay of San Francisco, for ever green in its crown of Californian laurel; and there the fairest hands of the fairest and youngest city of the New World wove a wreath in bay for the tomb of Byron. I brought it over the Rocky Mountains, and the seas, and placed it above the dust of the soldier-poet as desired." This was regarded as a gentle and just rebuke on the part of the ladies of the Great West to one of their sex in the Eastern States, who was just then devoting her declining years to the defamation of the poet Byron.

Sir Tollemache Sinclair, whose father was a schoolfellow of Byron, placed a number of inscribed marble tablets in the old chapel (vestry) a few years ago. These contain a brief extract from "Childe Harold," and comments on the genius of Byron from Sir Walter Scott, Tennyson, Chateaubriand, Matthew Arnold, Victor Hugo, Shelley, Goethe, Ruskin, Macauley, Disraeli, and Mazzini. Sir Tollemache Sinclair also placed two medallions of Byron in the church (by Adams Acton), after Harlowe's portrait.

A slate slab was placed on the North Aisle wall in memory of John Curtis, died July 10th, 1777, aged 80, "whose ancestors, as appears by ancient writings, have resided in this township upwards of 500 years." His wives Ann and Elizabeth are commemorated on the same tablet.

In the north transept marble tablets record the deaths of Luke Jackson, Esqre., 1805, aged 63, and Ann his wife. Also Ann wife of the Rev. Luke Jackson, who died in 1821. Another marble tablet records the death of "Elizabeth Sarah, daughter of John Godber, Esquire," in 1831.

There are two memorial brasses in the church—one to the memory of the Rev. J. E. Phillips, in the following terms:—

"To the Glory of God, and in loving remembrance of the Rev. John Edward Phillips, M.A., Rural Dean, who worked in this parish for 29 years, during 25 of which he was Vicar. He entered into rest on the 10th day of May, 1904, aged 58 years. The pulpit is placed here by his friends and parishioners, who esteemed him highly for his works sake, and greatly regret his loss."

The other brass refers to John Lancelot Phillips, son of the above, who died in Ceylon from the effects of a chill in 1902, aged 21 years.


The churchyard was small until the year 1859, when about an acre was added to it. When we think of the thousands who must have been buried there from early times, we are forced to the conclusion that the soil immediately surrounding the church teems with human remains.

The "hallowed acre" is not rich in imposing monuments, because few wealthy people lived here in the later centuries, and apparently no gravestones were reared in the churchyard till the year 1730 or thereabouts, and then the memorials consisted of little limestone slabs, with the initials and year of death inscribed thereon.

Such a stone denotes the grave of Ann Cont, located to the right of the church gates. She died in 1730, aged 49. Near by is the altar tomb of the Palmers, a family noticed in Thoroton's history of A.D. 1677 as landowners in the parish. It is strange this family have no stone older than the year 1792, to Mary Palmer's memory.

The Allcocks, who figured prominently as landowners and churchwardens are laid to rest on the south side of the chancel. Mary Allcock's stone, reared in 1813, states that she lived at "The Misk."

Reared against the chancel wall are a number of stones in memory of the Trumans and Butlers, whose names are perpetuated outside the churchyard at Butler's Hill and Truman Street, where some of their family lands were located. Their graves are covered by the chancel pavement.

On the north of the chancel John Mettam's stone states that "he was unfortunately killed by striking the centres of a cellar arch," in the year 1811. The accident happened in the Towel Roller Row.

It is possible the Mettams were descendants of that John Mettam, who in A.D. 1312 "held, by reason of Sibyl, his wife, the moyety of the town of Lindeby by the rent of a skin of gray furr, and one messuage and 2 carucates of land in Willey by the services of 10s. to the exchequer."

James Widdowson, churchwarden, Byron Charity trustee, winner of the Royal Agricultural prize for best cultivated farm under 50 acres in Notts., etc., etc., was laid to rest in 1892, aged 77.

Near the north transept are the graves of the Rev. J. E. Phillips, whose memorial cross is fixed at the east end of the grave —an old custom signifying that the pastor on the resurrection morning will face his flock. By the late Vicar's side is the tomb of Doctor Power, a popular and kindly surgeon, whose death on 19th October, 1904, aged 55, caused great sorrow in the parish.

The grave of Ben Caunt, surmounted by a tabletted memorial, capped by a funeral urn, is located here. He died in 1859, aged 42, and many a pilgrimage was paid to the grave by those who knew him.

The Curtis family were interred to the north of the church, and the tombs of the Rev. Curtis Jackson and others of this family (connections of the Curtis's) are buried here.

The Curtis family, as the tablet inside the church states, were associated with the parish for centuries. Their names appear in the registers from the year 1565 onwards. They were mentioned by Thoroton in A.D. 1677 as possessing a manor here, and the "Nottingham Borough Records" state that Lancelot and Anthonie Curtis met the Nottingham Town Council with respect to a bond for £100, into which they had entered on behalf of Martyn Hill, who had undertaken the care of the pauper children in that town, but who fell into money trouble. Lancelot and Anthony alleged that they had lest money by Martyn Hill, so the Council met them by allowing them to pay off the bond in four instalments in two years. The 'Records" remark: "Maister Anthonie Curtis and Martyn Hill think themselves well pleased herewith." The interview with the Council took place in 1630.

John Curtis, 1697-1777, was an intelligent and industrious man. He lived in the Elizabethan house still standing in High Street; he married twice, and some of his china ware (said to be the first brought into Hucknall) and linen, spun at the High Street house, are in the possession of the Misses Thompson, of High Street, whose ancestor, Elizabeth Starr, was the second wife of John Curtis. He was an active member of the Byron Charity Trust. The Rev. Curtis Jackson was buried in 1877, aged 61.

We pass the grave of Matthew Limb, hosier, churchwarden, and a well-known man in Hucknall up to the time of his death in 1861, aged 76.

Fred King's stone carries the following verse:—

"As sprightly as the lark I rose,
And hail'd the rising sun;
But ere his daily course was closed,
My precious life was gone."

This lad died in 1847, aged 14; the gravestone saith his death "was occasioned by a large mass of earth falling upon him on Mansfield Forest."

West of the tower are the palisaded tombs of the families of the Balls, Godbers, and Hankins, all well preserved. The Balls appear to have resided here over 300 years. The last two interments in the family vault were in 1876, when William Needham Ball, of Beacon Hill, was laid to rest, and in 1886 his sister Anne Needham Ball, a lady whose life was brimful of good works, was interred.

A special interest attaches to the Godber tomb, for there in July, 1906 Canon John Hankin Godber, the generous benefactor of Hucknall Church, was buried. Of him, as of Sir Christopher Wren, it might be written on his tomb, "If you would see his monument, look around!"

Phoebe Grainger's stone was reared in 1805, her age being 89. It is probable she was landlady of the Nag's Head Inn, in Wood Lane, where part of Hucknall Common was sold in 1771.

The Daws family have lived in the parish since the 18th century. William Daws, steward to the 5th Lord Byron, was buried in 1794, aged 76.

Near the tower also are the graves of the Mellors and Starr families, a number of whom played a prominent part in parish business in the close of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century. The oldest Starr stone bears the name of Samuel, who died in 1774, aged 53.

The stone erected to George Green states that he was parish clerk for 40 years, and near to this lies the body of his son George, who was parish clerk 28 years and who died in 1843, aged 73. The inscription runs:—"He was much respected in his office, and the minister of Hucknall, with a few friends, have erected this stone to his memory." He it was who officiated at the poet's funeral, and taught village children the rudiments of knowledge in the Parish Church on Sundays. His clerical successors to date have been Messrs. John Woollatt, John Brown, and Arthur S. Douglas, whose deputy (Mr. Enoch Bostock) now performs the duties.

The wife of the older George Green is buried at this spot, and her epitaph runs:—

"The graces met and all combined To make her earthly form compleat, But much more virtuous was her mind, Which made her loss more truly great. Oh, death! if such thou would'st not spare, How can we boast of what we are?"

A familiar stone to those who frequently pass along the porch pathway is that which commemorates John Franks, "who died instantaneously whilst ploughing," in 1857.

The Trumans, some of whom lived at Bulwell Wood Hall, have a large number of memorial stones dating from 1759. Martha Woollatt, ancestor of the rather numerous Woollatts in the parish to-day, died in 1751, and adjacent to her grave lies the body of the aged Jenny Burton.

The Walkers, Haslams, and Rhodes all played their part in parish affairs, and their memorials date from the years 1753, 1752, and 1792 respectively.

The Beardalls, who kept the Yew Tree Inn many years, and who belonged to a family of yeomen cultivating the land at New-stead and Bestwood, lie in this part of the churchyard. They appear to have settled in Hucknall A.D. 1716, and are represented in the parish to-day.

The Widdowsons, who are first mentioned in the registers in 1767, belonged to the farming class, and appear to have cultivated what is nowadays known as the Portland Farm, all the time; to-day, as in 1767, a Robert Widdowson occupies the farm. The family existed in Bulwell earlier, and probably migrated hither. Robert Widdowson was village postmaster for some years, and had something to do with the introduction of the Shetland weaving industry into Hucknall. John Widdowson was miller and baker, and he died in 1882, aged 77. The oldest Widdowson grave was apparently opened in A.D. 1788.

John Piggin, who died in 1880, aged 87, was buried in close contiguity to his old neighbours and contemporaries. He was a remarkable man for the good he wrought in the parish, and his deeds are registered elsewhere in this parish history.

Under the shadow of the western wall lies the grave of John Raynor, died in 1897, aged 87, "parish churchwarden 23 years." He was a poor boy, but by indomitable industry and rigid economy became affluent in later life, making his money out of stocking-weaving.

John Frost, surgeon, died in 1864, aged 59. He was a good specimen of the old village medical man and adviser, a man of marvellous bulk, who was known and respected for miles around. He lived for many years at the cottage by the side of the Church gate overlooking the Village Green. His neighbour and associate, William Daws, farmer, lies beside him.

Frederick Ward, "for many years principal of a Boarding and Day School in this parish," was here interred in 1873, near his friend Francis James Phelps, tailor, who was endowed with much intelligence and public spirit, and did much good in his day; he died in 1870, aged 52.

The Swintons and Goodalls are here interred, and across the pathway are the graves of the well-known Zachariah Green; also of William Calladine (1886, aged 83), who was the first member of his family migrating hither from Melbourne, Derbyshire, early in the 19th century. He was manager of a Co-operative Store in 1840, a Chartist, an ardent Baptist, and politician. He was tenant of the old Wighay Windmill and farmed a little land.

Beside John Widdowson's grave lies the last resting place of George John Coombs, who from 1860 to 1876 was the National Schoolmaster, and afterwards Sheriff's Officer.

(D) A porphyrite used by the ancient Egyptians and later by the Romans. The original source of the rock was the Dokhan Mountains on the west shore of the Bed Sea, in Egypt.