Legends and Memories of the Past

King's Mill.
King's Mill.

LIKE all very old places, Mansfield is rich in its legendary lore. I have endeavoured to gather a few of the old stories, such as appear to be of most interest in the town and neighbourhood. Most intimately connected with the ancient history of Mansfield is the story of "The King and the Miller," which may be ranked amongst the most interesting of our poetic lore. Whether it be true or not matters little. There is reason to describe it as an authentic account of a real transaction, though it has long since passed into fable-land. The waters of King's Mill Reservoir cover the spot, once a romantic dingle, where stood the water-mill and cottage said to have been the scene of the rencontre between King Henry II. and the Miller of Mansfield. Mr. Harrod says:—"If the reader be not in a good humour, I beg he will lay down my book; if he be in a happy frame of mind, he may proceed. I am apprised that he expects that I should say something relating to this interview, and he shall not be disappointed. Although I had but very little hope of success, I set out enquiring of the most ancient inhabitants, and found, as I had imagined, that they knew nothing more of it than the tune. Tradition says that the mill and house, now inhabited by Widow Massey, situated on the left hand of the road as you pass from Mansfield to Sutton, was built on the site of the mill and house where the King was entertained. Passing near it, I could not resist entering, expecting to be shown a very ancient stone staircase, &c.; but was informed that the old house and mill had been entirely pulled down and the present ones built on their site. Not being able to learn any more, I set off homewards, and found that the evening had stolen upon me. 'All was darkness visible,' and I, unfortunately, for a few minutes, lost my way, during which time I amused myself by parodying the king's soliliquy in Dodsley's celebrated entertainment." Mr. Spencer T. Hall, the "Sherwood Forester," says at this mill, "in the reign of Henry II., lived one Blount, who sometimes assisted in watching the Forest, in which capacity he once seized Henry himself (who from his eagerness during the chase had outstripped his attendants, and lost himself, near Hambleton Hill), as a purloiner of the royal game."

To-day it would be impossible to lose one's self coming from King's Mill to Mansfield; therefore, we may take it that when Mr. Harrod took the walk the road was not in the splendid condition it is at the present time. Mr. Harrod was mistaken in supposing that a Widow Massey lived in King's Mill in 1800, or from anywhere near that time until it disappeared in the waters of the reservoir. The occupant and owner for many generations were the Barkers, members of which family are still living in the persons of the Rollinses, farmers near Mansfield. They inform me the property was sold by the trustees of the late Mr. George Barker, under a misapprehension, during the minority of the next heir. When the heir came of age, and thoroughly realised what had been done, his regrets were great, but, of course, of no avail. This is how the property passed into the hands of the Duke of Portland.

And now for the celebrated story of "The King and the Miller." Bishop Percy, in his introduction to this poem, remarks that it is a favourite subject with our English ballad-makers to represent our kings conversing, either by accident or design, with the meanest of their subjects. Of the former we have "The King and the Miller." This is a piece of great antiquity, being written before the time of Edward IV., and for its genuine humour, diverting incidents, and faithful picture of rustic life and manners is infinitely superior to all that have been since written in imitation of it. The following version is taken from an old black-letter copy in the Pepys collection, entitled, "A Pleasant Ballad of King Henry II. and the Miller of Mansfield," &c.:—

Part the First.

Henry, our royall King, would ride a hunting
To the greene forest, so pleasant and fair,
To see the harts skipping and dainty does tripping :
Unto merry Sherwood his nobles repair:
Hawke and hounde were unbound, all things prepaid
For the game in the same with good regard.

All the long summer's day rode the King pleasantlye,
With all his princes and nobles, eche one
Chasing the hart and hind and buck gallantlye,
Till the dark evening forc'd all to turne home.
Then, at last, riding fast, he had lost quite
All his lords in the wood, late at night.

Wandering thus wearilye, all alone, up and downe,
With a rude miller he met at the last:
Asking the ready way into faire Nottingham;
"Sir," quothe the Miller, "I meane not to jest,
Yet I thinke what I thinke soothe for to say,
You doe not lightlye ride out of your way."

"Why, what dost thou think of me?" quoth the King merrilye,
"Passing thy judgment upon me so briefe:"
"Good fayth," sayd the Miller," I meane not to flatter thee;
I guess thee to be but some gentleman thiefe;
Stand thee back in the darke, light not adowne,
Lest that I presentlye crack thy knave's crown."

"Thou dost abuse me much," quoth the King, "saying thus;
I am a gentleman; lodging I lacke."
"Thou hast not," quoth th' Miller," one groat in thy purse ;
All thy inheritance hanges on thy backe."
"I have gold to discharge all that I call" (this the King);
"If it be forty pence, I will pay all."

"If thou beest a true man," then quoth the Miller,
"I sweare by my toll dish I'll lodge thee all night."
"Here's my hand," quoth the King, "that was I ever."
"Nay, soft," quoth the Miller, " thou may'st be a sprite.
Better I will know thee ere hands we will shake;
With none but honest men hands will I take."

Thus they went all along to the Miller's house:
Where there were seethings of puddings and souse:
The Miller first enter'd in, after him went the King;
Never came hee in soe smoakye a house.
"Now," quoth hee, " let me see here what you are."
Quoth the King, "looke your fill, and doe not spare."

"I like well thy countenance, thou hast an honest face;
With my son, Richard, this night thou shalt lye."
Quoth his wife, "by my troth, it is a handsome youth,
Yet it's best, husband, to deal warilye.
Art thou no runaway, prythe, youth, tell?
Shew me thy passport, and all shall be well."

Then our King presentlye, making lowe courtesye,
With his hatt in his hand, thus he did say:
"I have no passport, nor never was servitor,
But a poore courtyer, rode out of my way;
And for your kindness here offered to mee,
I will requite you in everye degree."

Then to the Miller his wife whisper'd secretlye,
Saying, "it seemeth this youth's of good kin,
Both by his apparel, and eke by his manners;
To turne him out, certainlye, were a great sin."
"Yea," quoth hee, "you may see he hath some grace
When he doth speake to his betters in place."

"Well," quo' the Miller's wife, "young man, ye're welcome here,
And, though I say it, well lodged shall be;
Fresh straw will I have laid on thy bed so brave,
And good brown hempen sheets, likewise," quoth shee.
"Aye," quoth the good man, "and when that is done,
Thou shalt lye with no worse than our own sonne."

"Nay, first," quoth Richard, "good fellowe, tell me true,
Hast thou no creepers within thy gay hose?
Or art thou not troubled with the scabbado?"
"I pray," quoth the King, "what creatures are those?"
"Art thou not lousy nor scabby?" quoth he:
"If thou beest, surely thou lyest not with mee."

This caused the King suddenlye to laugh most heartilye,
Till the tears trickled fast downe from his eyes.
Then to their supper were they set orderlye,
With hot bag puddings, and good apple pyes;
Nappy ale, good and stale, in a browne bowle,
Which did aboute the board merrilye trowle.

"Here," quoth the Miller, "good fellowe, I drinke to thee,
And to all cuckholds wherever they bee."
"I pledge thee," quoth our King, "and thank thee heartilye
For my good welcome in every degree:
And here in like manner I drinke to they sonne."
"Do, then," quoth Richard, "and quick lett it come."

"Wife," quoth the Miller, "fetch me forthe lightfoote,
And of his sweetnesse a little we'll taste."
A fair ven'son pastye brought she out presentlye.
"Eate," quoth the Miller; "but sir, make no waste.
Here's daintye lightfoote!""In faith," sayd the King,
"I never before eat so dainty a thing."

"I wis," quoth Richard, "no daintye at all it is,
For we doe eate of it every daye."
"In what place," sayd our King, "may be bought like to this?"
"We never pay pennye for itt, by my fay:
From merry Sherwood we fetch it home here;
Now and then we make bold with our King's deer."

"Then I think," sayd our King, "that it is venison."
"Eche fool," quoth Richard, "full well may know that:
Never are wee without two or three in the roof,
Very well fleshed, and excellent fat;
But, prythee, say nothing wherever thou goe;
We would not, for twopence, the King should know."

"Doubt not," then sayd the King, "my promist secresye;
The King shall never know more on't for mee."
A cupp of lamb's wool they dranke unto him then,
And to their bedds they past presentlye.
The nobles, next morning, went all up and downe,
For to seeke out the King in everye towne.

At last, att the Miller's cott, soone they espy'd him out,
As he was mounting upon his faire steede;
To whom they came presentlye, falling downe on their knee;
Which made the Miller's heart woefullye bleede;
Shaking and quaking before him he stood,
Thinking he should have been hang'd by the rood.

The King, perceiving him fearfullye trembling,
Drew forth his sword, but nothing he sed;
The Miller down did fall, crying before them all,
Doubting the King would have cutt off his hed.
But he, his kind curtesye for to requite,
Gave him great living, and dubb'd him a knight.

Part the Second.

When as our royall King came home from Nottingham,
And with his nobles at Westminster lay,
Recounting the sports and pastimes they had taken,
In this late progress along the way;
Of them all, great and small, he did protest,
The Miller of Mansfield's sport liked him best

"And now, my lords," quoth the King, "I am determined,
Against St. George's next sumptuous feast,
That this old Miller, our new confirm'd knight,
With his son, Richard, shall here be my guest:
For, in this merryment, 'tis my desire
To talk with the jolly knight and the young squire."

When, as the noble lords saw the King's pleasantnesse,
They were right joyfull and glad in their hearts;
A pursuivant there was sent straight on the business,
The which had often times been in those parts.
When he came to the place where they did dwell,
His message orderlye then 'gan he to tell.

"God save your worshippe," then said the messenger,
"And grant your ladye her own heart's desire;
And to your son, Richard, good fortune and happiness;
That sweet, gentle, and gallant young squire.
Our King grets you well, and thus he doth say,
"You must come to the Court on St. George's Day;"'

"Therefore, in any case, fail not to be in place."
"I wis," quoth the Miller, "this is an odd jest:
What should we doe there ? faith, I am halfe afraid."
"I doubt," quoth Richard, " to be hang'd at the least."
"Nay," quoth the messenger, "you do mistake;
Our King he provides a great feast for your sake."

"Then," sayd the Miller, "by my troth, messenger,
Thou hast contented my worshippe full well.
Hold, here are three farthings, to quit thy gentlenesse,
For these happy tidings which thou dost tell.
Let me see, hear thou mee, tell to our King,
We'll wait on his mastershipp in everye thing."

The pursuivant smiled at their simplicitye,
And, making many legges, tooke their reward;
And his leave taking with great humilitye,
To the King's Court againe he repair'd;
Shewing unto his grace, so merry and free,
The knighte's most liberal gift and bountie.

When he was gone away, thus 'gan the Miller say:
"Here come expenses and charges indeed;
Now we must needs be brave, tho' we spend all we have;
For of new garments we have great need:
Of horses and serving men we must have store,
With bridles and saddles and twenty things more."

"Tush, Sir John," quoth his wife, "why should you fret or frowne ?
You shall ne'er be att no charges for mee;
For I will turn and trim up my old russet gowne,
With everye thing else as fine as may bee ;
And on our mill horses swift will ride,
With pillows and pannells as wee shal provide."

In this most statelye sort rode they unto the Court.
Their jolly sonne, Richard, rode foremost of all;
Who set up, for good hap, a cock's feather in his capp;
= And so they jetted downe to the King's hall:
The merry old Miller, with hands on his side;
His wife, like Maid Marian, did mince at that tide.

The King and his nobles that heard of his coming,
Meeting this gallant knight with his brave traine;
"Welcome, Sir Knight," quoth he, "with your gay lady:
Good Sir John Cockle, once welcome againe:
And so is the squire of courage soe free?"
Quoth Dicke, "A bots on you! do you know mee "

Quoth our King gentlye, "how should I forget thee?
Thou wast my owne bed fellowe, well it I wot"
"Yea, sir," quoth Richard, "and by the same token,
Thou with thy lying didst make the bed hot."
"Thou whore son, unhappy knave," then quoth the knight,
"Speake cleanly to our King, or els goe ------."

The King and his courtiers laugh at this heartily,
While the King taketh them both by the hand;
With the Court dames and maids like to the Queen of Spades
The Miller's wife did so orderlye stand,
A milkmaid's courtesye at every word;
And downe all the folks were set to the board.

There the King royally, in princelye majestye,
Bate at his dinner with joy and delight;
When he had eaten well, then he to jesting fell,
And in a bowle of wine drank to the knight:
"Here's to you both, in wine, ale, and beer;
Thanking you heartilye for my good cheer."

Quoth Sir John Cockle, "I'll pledge you a pottle,
Were it the best ale in Nottinghamshire."
"But then," said our King, " now I think of a thing—
Some of our lightfoote I would that we had here."
"Ho! ho!" quoth Richard, "full well I may say it,
Tis knavery to eate it and then to betray it."

"Why art thou angry?" quoth our King merrilye;
"In faith, I take it now very unkind:
I thought thou wouldst pledge me in ale and wine heartilye."
Quoth Dicke, "you are like to stay till I have din'd :
You feed us with twatling dishes soe small;
Zounds, a blacke puddinge is better than all."

"Aye, marry," quoth our King, "that were a daintye thing,
Could a man get but one here for to eate."
With that Dick straight arose, and pluct one from his hose,
Which with heat of his breech 'gan to sweate.
The King made a proffer to snatch it away:
"Tis meat for your master, good sir, you must stay."

Thus in great merriment was the time wholly spent;
And then the ladyes prepared to dance.
Old Sir John Cockle, and Richard, incontinent,
Unto their places the King did advance.
Here with the ladyes such sport they did make,
The nobles with laughing did make their sides ake.

Many thankes for their paines did the King give them,
Asking young Richard then if he would wed;
"Among these ladyes free, tell me which liketh thee?"
Quoth he, "Jugg Grumball, sir, with the red head:
Shee's my love, she's my life, her will I wed;
She hath sworn I shall have her ---------."

Then Sir John Cockle the King called unto him,
And of merry Sherwood made him o'er seer;
And gave him out of hand three hundred pound yearlye:
"Take heed, now, you steal no more of my deer;
And once a quarter let's have here your view;
And now, Sir John Cockle, I bid you adieu."


In the middle of a field near Berry Hill, on the right hand side of the road, before reaching the cross road near the Berry Hill Estate, there was formerly an old tumble-down structure. This was known amongst old residents as "Whitehead's Folly;" and the story told of it is that two or three hundred years ago, when the town was visited with an outbreak of small-pox, a man named Whitehead, who owned this field, being in terror lest he should catch the dread disorder, had this building erected in which to live. His precaution, however, was fruitless; for the woman who brought the bed for Whitehead unwittingly left the germs of the disease behind her. Whitehead contracted the complaint, and died without a friend about him. Miss Dickons, from whom I had the information, stated that the property was formerly in the possession of her father, and she remembered, as a girl, the building being used as a summer-house. By purchase, the field and building passed into the possession of Sir Edward Walker, to whom the building was an eyesore, and he quickly had it rased to the ground.


When walking along the Nottingham Road towards the cemetery, one cannot fail noticing at the corner of Bottle Lane, immediately after passing the Sherwood Foundry, a snug, cottagelike residence, standing back from the road, and quite recently the residence of the Dickons family; but few are aware that it was once a good, flourishing hostelrie, under the name of "Ye Leather Bottell," and for some two or three centuries the last house before reaching "The Hutt," at Newstead. It was a favourite calling-place for travellers, before starting on the journey to Nottingham across the Forest; and one relic of it remains to our own days in the name of the adjoining highway, "Bottle Lane." It would seem that this ancient hostel was for several generations kept by a family named Martin, until the tragical circumstances mentioned below caused the closing of the house ; and after being used for several years as a farm-house, and afterwards as a private residence, it finally became what it now is—a pretty relic of the "Good Old Times." The whole of the country round was then forest, and the high road to Nottingham ran over where the cemetery is now situated. In the centre of the road, opposite the inn, was a large stone, on which was cut, in Old English characters :—

"John Martyn's stone I am,
Shows ye great roade to Nottyngham.

On a cold and stormy night, towards the close of the last century, Baggaley, the bearer of the Mansfield post, left Nottingham for his dreary journey on foot across the Forest. The storm increased as he left Nottingham behind, and the snow-drifts rendered the roads almost impassable. Late in the evening he reached "The Hutt," weary, footsore, and almost frozen; here he rested a short time, and then resumed his journey. But the storm was now at the height of its fury, and it was with the greatest difficulty that he managed to plod his way till he spied "Ye Leather Bottell," and the great guide-stone standing out from the snow. Thoroughly exhausted with cold and fatigue, he crept to the inn door, and demanded refreshment and shelter in the King's name, as bearer of his Majesty's mails; but mine host refused him admittance, bade him go where the climate is supposed to be warmer than desirable; and the postman was compelled to make one more effort to reach the town. Cold and fatigue, however, had done their work; and next morning the townspeople were horrified to hear that Baggaley, the postman, had been found near the Water Meadows, frozen to death, his hands still grasping the mail-bags. An immense number of people attended the funeral; and the justices, hearing of the hard-hearted refusal of the landlord to supply refreshments, held a special sitting at Mansfield, and closed the house for ever. This house, with the adjoining land, passed into the hands of the Townsend family, and from them descended to Miss Dickons, of Mansfield. When making some alterations to the house, a few years ago, the great old guide-stone was found in the cellar.

How it had got there none could tell; but, being too heavy to be got out whole, it was broken up and removed piecemeal. Mr. Oldham and Miss Dickons, who supplied me with this information, stated that the descendants of Postman Baggaley are still residing in Mansfield.


Half-way between Mansfield and Mansfield Woodhouse, there is a house at the junction of the road where Major Rooke lived and died. From this house Thoroton Gould eloped with the daughter of the last Earl of Sussex, and, riding over the border, was married to her by the blacksmith of Gretna Green. The lady succeeded to the title of Baroness Grey de Ruthin on the death of her father, and the present holder of that title is descended from her.


In the wall at the corner of Nottingham Road and Portland Street, there is an old drinking-trough which at one time played an important part in local travelling. Near to where now stands Messrs. Greenhalgh's mill was formerly an inn, known as the "Bull's Head." It was a posting-house, and was largely patronised, the mail coaches for Nottingham all stopping there. In front of the inn was a large tree, round which were seats, where customers could sit on summer evenings and quaff their beer. In front of this, again, was the drinking-trough for the use of animals. When and why the house was pulled down there is no record; but the stump of the old tree is still in the field in front of Messrs. Greenhalgh's mill. The inn gave the name to Bull's Head Lane, now Portland Street. There is another Bull's Head Inn at the railway end of Portland Street, but this has nothing whatever to do with the name of the street.


Near to the Mansfield Woodhouse Hospital, and in the parish of Mansfield, in a field near the roadside, is a mound known locally as Hallam's Grave. It is said to be the last resting-place of an eccentric gentleman of the name of Hallam, who left a sum of money for charitable purposes to the parish of Mansfield Woodhouse. Beyond the mere fact that such a place of sepulture exists, and at one time was considered a haunted spot, I have been unable to obtain any reliable information. The proverbial oldest inhabitant — with whom I had an interview — remembers nothing more than what I have stated. This much is certain—that if such a burial did take place, it was several centuries ago. Mr. Oldham, a gentleman well posted up in local lore, informed me that the place is described in the Duke of Portland's deeds as the "Island Meadow," and that the mound marks the site where once stood a scythe and sword factory. The charcoal for forging was obtained in the Forest, and the iron was worked at Pleasley Forge, from whence that outlying portion of Mansfield derived its name. The swords manufactured here were famous for their high quality. Even though this may be the case, it is by no means improbable that the interment of Mr. Hallam's remains may have taken place prior to the establishment of the sword factory on the spot.


House where Mr Thompson lived and died.
House where Mr Thompson lived and died.

One of the first places to which visitors to Mansfield are conducted is "Thompson's Grave," about a mile from the town, on the brow of a hill between the Newark and Southwell Roads. Mr. Charles Thompson was born in Mansfield in 1714; his father, who died in 1728, being a maltster. In 1737, much against his mother's will, young Thompson went to London, where, after much disappointment, he received an offer from Messrs. Richard Chauncey & Co., Russian merchants, to go out as their accredited agent in Persia in disposing of cloth for the troops of the Nadir Scah, who then swayed the absolute sceptre of that ancient monarchy. One condition imposed was that Thompson should give unlimited security to the firm to make good in three months. In this difficulty he appealed to Mr. Wright, of Mansfield, an old friend of his father's, who had on several occasions befriended the young man. This gentleman gave the required sureties, and Thompson shortly afterwards set sail, with a fair wind and a good cargo, for the country of Ferdusi and Thoraster.

After encountering several severe storms, the vessel arrived in safety on the Russian shores. At St. Petersburg, Mr. Thompson was detained by order of the Empress Catherine, that autocratic monarch having taken umbrage at his predecessor's conduct in having taught the Persians the art of shipbuilding. The Empress at length gave Mr. Thompson an audience, when he gave such an explanation as was satisfactory to her, and was allowed to proceed on his way to Persia. In his passage up the river Volga, he observed great numbers of tulips and auriculas growing spontaneously on its banks, the former of which were of a dullish colour, owing to the roots continuing from year to year in the earth. Mr. Thompson was in Persia at the time Kouli Khan was assassinated; and on the very day that he met his fate in the evening, Mr. Thompson applied to him for the redress of grievances, none of his officers having paid for the clothing their men had received. Kouli's attendants advised him not to notice the complaint, upon which he turned to them and said: "He is an Englishman, and shall have justice done. I would sooner take an Englishman's word than believe a native of any other country though he confirmed it by an oath." Immediately on the death of the Khan internal convulsions shook the Persian Empire, and it was not safe for him to remain a day longer than was necessary to collect his property together. During his journey to the coast, he witnessed many barbarities. He saw several governors of provinces, appointed by Kouli Khan, strangled by the usurper's orders, that he might get into possession of their fortunes. Every one dreaded being appointed a governor, lest he, too, might share the same fate. After a voyage in which nothing extraordinary happened, he arrived safely in England in the year 1750, when he was 36 years of age. He proceeded to London, where he was received by Mr. Chauncey with every token of respect. From the commission which had been allowed him while in Persia, he found himself in possession of a sum of £4,000. Although surrounded while in Persia by incentives to evil, Mr. Thompson pursued a virtuous course, and, at the conclusion of the business of the day, derived profit and consolation from reading the records of divine truth.

On the recommendation of Mr. Chauncey, Mr. Thompson entered into partnership with an English gentleman in the wholesale cloth line, at Lisbon. Here he remained until the awful earthquake of 1775, of which he was an eye-witness. At first it was supposed by the firm that the whole of their savings and stock-in-trade, like so many buildings and people, had been swallowed up, and Mr. Thompson set out for England, where he again appealed to Mr. Wright for assistance. The appeal was liberally responded to; but, fortunately, at the end of seven weeks he received a letter from his partner, containing the welcome intelligence that it was possible, with not a little labour and expense, he might recover some, and perhaps all, of his property, which he had laid up in specie. He returned, and eventually recovered the sum of £7,000, with which he sailed once more to England, determined to spend the remainder of his life in his native town, exempt from the fluctuations of business and its harassing cares.

At Mansfield he lived a quiet, peaceful life, visiting amongst the poor and helping them in their necessities. By his repeated acts of charity he soon won the affections of the inhabitants. In his habits he was exceedingly regular, rising very early in the months of spring, summer, and autumn for the purpose of prayer and meditation. After dinner his invariable walk was to the spot that now bears his name, which he chose as his burying-place, and which he purchased from the owner.

Various reasons have been assigned why Mr. Thompson chose the exposed site on Newark Road as his resting-place—first, that when the earthquake at Lisbon took place, he was on an eminence in the vicinity of the town similar in every respect to this; second, that during his visits to the parish churchyard, he sometimes saw human remains thrown up in the digging of graves. This frequently drew from him strong expressions against the uncivilised custom of filling the ground so thickly with human remains. He made enquiries of the clergy of the town as to the propriety of his being buried on the site he had chosen, and, though they discountenanced his proposal, he persisted in his determination, and included a provision in his will to that effect.

At length it became evident to his friends as well as to himself that his end was drawing near.

Medical assistance proved of no avail to avert the hand of the destroyer; and, after a short illness, Mr. Thompson fell asleep on the 14th of December, 1784. The directions for his burial were as follows:—"I desire that Edmund Bulbie be employed as undertaker; that he make me a good, strong, plain coffin, without any ornaments. That I be dressed in a flannel shirt, better than two yards long, a flannel cap, a slip of flannel around my neck, and in that state put into the coffin, and then to have two yards of plain flannel thrown over me—no shroud snipt or cut. About the coffin, after I am put in, I would have three iron hoops or plates—one towards the head, another about the middle, the third towards the feet, fastened to the coffin; in each of these places to have an iron ring inserted at the upper part of the coffin, for the ropes to run through to let me down into the grave. That six or eight poor men be employed as bearers, to put me into a hearse and take me out, and that they be allowed five shillings apiece. That George Allen and assistants be employed to make my grave; and, if they can make it six yards deep, to be handsomely paid for their trouble; but to make it as deep as they can. I would have my interment as private as possible; no bell to toll; the hearse to go down Bath Lane, to avoid the town; and in the morning, if it can conveniently be. I desire that George Allen may be employed to build me a good strong wall, by way of enclosure, seven yards wide withinside. I desire that, after my funeral, my executors, at my expense and charge, shall cause as much earth to be brought here as will raise a mount; and, at the proper season of the year, some trees may be planted thereon; and then finish the wall."

The funeral took place on Friday, the 17th of December, 1784; but, so far from it being private, the novelty of the arrangements caused hundreds to assemble from all parts of the town and neighbourhood. The service was conducted by the vicar of the parish, and the choir went before the hearse, chanting as they walked. The instructions contained in the will were duly carried out; and within the enclosure there are now several fine, large trees, on which names and initials of visitors have been cut until there is hardly a square inch of uncut bark to be seen on the largest of them. At the top there are dates and names that were carved early in the century, the growth of the tree having carried them higher up the trunk. How Mr. Thompson disposed of his money has been told in another part of this work.