To a stranger, the village of West Retford appears to be part of the borough of East Retford, being only divided from the latter place by the river Idle,— but this is not the fact, as they are entirely distinct, not only in municipal government, but in every other respect.

In Doomsday book, this place, as well as East Retford, is joined to Odesthorpe, (now unknown,) and appears to have been like a number of the surrounding parishes, the property or fee of Roger de Busli,* and to have had soke to Clumber to the amount of one bouvat and a half (about twenty-two acres) to be taxed, which was waste or forest land. There was also soke to Weston, half a bovat to tax. The land about sixty acres; there was also one villain, (that is, a native or boadman,) one—fourth of a mill, and four acres of meadow. Of the Tayn land, Ulmer had two bovats and a half to tax in this manor. The land one caracute (about 120 acres.) There was also in this demesne, one caracute and half a mill, and ten acres of meadow, which, in the Confessor’s time, was valued at 40s. but in the Conqueror’s, only at 4s. About the year 1298, Thomas de Maresey, lord of Gamelston (Gamston) held here eight bovats (about 120 acres of land,) at the rate of 6s. per annum. Robert de Hayton also held eighty acres of land here, at the same period, part of which was of the fee of Lancaster.

The manor of West Retford formerly belonged to the same proprietors as Grove and Weston,—the brave family of the Hercys, until the time of the last Sir John Hercy, lit. who dying in 1570, without issue, directed his immense patrimony to be divided amongst his eight surviving sisters, one of whom, Anne, the second sister, was married to Nicholas Denman, Esq. of West Retford, on whom, and her heirs, he caused this manor to be settled, and in whose family it remained, until Barbara, daughter and co-heiress of Francis Denman, Esq. married Edward Darrel, Esq. to whom the family right descended the issue of this marriage was three sons, Thomas, Brian, and Edward; the two former dying without issue, the whole became the property of Edward, with which, at his decease in 1663. he founded and endowed that excellent charity, the Holy Trinity Hospital. The advowson of the church was, by a fine in the year 1342, between Thomas de Everingham and Richard de Ampcotes, plaintiffs, and Hugh de Hercy, of Grove, deforcent, settled on John de Hercy, in whose family it continued till the time of the Denmans, to whom it went along with the manor, from them it descended to the Darrels, the trustees of whom, sold it to the Corporation of East Retford, on the 5th of May, 1668, in whose possession it is still retained.

Nearly the whole of the landed property in this parish belongs to the hospital, the church, and the poor; so that the number of freeholders is limited. In 1612, the following persons were owners of property here, viz—Edward Darrel, gent., John Podge, gent., Phillip Collye, Thomas Lincolne, Isabel Sloswicke, John Colbye, Robert Gollande, George Thompson, Thomas Merebeck, William Booth, William Thomson, Thomas Gollande, Widow Jenyver, and Richard Ellis.

It appears from the Register hook, (which commences in 1538, and is in most excellent preservation.) that, that once dreadful scourge of the human race— the plague, was extremely prevalent at this place in 1558,

"———Sublime in awful darkness, trod
The pest; and lamentation as he slew,
Proclaimed his ravage in each sad abode,
Mid frenzied shrieks for aid—and vain appeals to God."

Between the 22nd July and the 12th October, eighty-two persons died thereof: and again in 1664, between the 20th May and the 10th October, the same authority states, that sixty-six persons fell victims to this terrible calamity. This extensive mortality may, in some measure, be attributed to the low amid swampy situation of part of the town, and from the noxious effluvia arising from the stagnant waters,—the remains of the frequent floods of the river Idle. Latterly however, from superior drainage, and other precautionary measures, these nuisances have greatly abated: the last flood of any consequence came on Tuesday, the 11th of February, 1793; it was so sudden in its rise, that many of the inhabitants had not time to remove their goods, and consequently became considerable sufferers. A grocer’s shop, and part of the house occupied by Miss Hurst, were washed down, and four others nearly destroyed. In East Retford it was upwards of three feet deep in the Market Place, and the torrent ran so violently as to tear up the pavement in different parts of the town, which was nearly all, more or less, under water.

The village of West Retford is pleasantly seated on the Great North Road, in the Hatfield division of the Hundred of Bassetlaw, and separated from East Retford by the river Idle. A dash of rural beauty pervades a considerable portion of the village, and many of the houses bear the stamp of antiquity. Nearly opposite to

"The decent church that tops the neighbouring hill"

stands the rectory-house, which, though small, is neat, and very agreeably situated: a shrubbery and garden add to its beauty, whilst the whole wears an appearance of cheerfulness and content. On the southern verge of the village is the mansion of Peter Dickonson, Esq.; when viewed from the banks of the Chesterfield Canal, it bounds a prospect of great beauty and picturesque effect, being pleasantly situated on the brow of an eminence, the declivity of which is studded with shrubs and evergreens, whilst the dark Idle sullenly flows at its base. To the right the spire of the church shoots above the towering poplars, and the wide extended cars, like a lawn, forms the foreground of this very interesting picture. On the opposite side of the Worksop road to Mr. Dickonson’s house, stands Darrel’s hospital, of appearance beautifully picturesque; the ancient appearance of that part of the building which forms the recess, being shaded by curiously clipped yews, casts a sombre shade of retirement over the place which marks it as the court of solitude and peace.

On the north side of the road in the vicinity of the village, is the delightful residence of James Lee, Esq. (once the property of the Emerson’s family,) an extensive and variegated lawn, highly ornamented with shrubs and trees, displays itself before the principal front, and though lying upon a flat, the home views are pleasing, and those towards the Gringley and Mattersey hills are of a very interesting description. The rural beauties of this place are so impressive, that they attracted the particular attention of his present Majesty, then Prince of Wales, when on one of his journies to the north.


The church at West Retford, which is dedicated to St. Michael, was originally a rectory of medieties, founded nearly in the thirteenth century, and the patronage shortly after became vested in the family of the Hercys of Grove; notwithstanding which, there was an inquisition taken in 1267, about the right of patronage to the mediety of this church then vacant by the death of Robert de Bugethame, of Weston, "from saturday next after the feast of our lady’s nativity," and the competitors were Galfred de Sto Medardo, who presented Robert de Sunfield, Cl.; Henry, Rector of the Romans, who presented John de Dersel, Cl. ; the Archbishop of York, who by reason of lapse collated John de Benyngworth; and Robert de Morteyn, who presented Roger de Redynge, Cl. ; when the presentation of the Archbishop of Yolk was deemed to be conclusive. The following vacancy happened in 1276, when Prince Edward, by reason of the wardenship of the heir of Hugh de Hercy, presented Thomas Fitzsymon thereunto; afterwards the medieties were consolidated on the 13th of December, 1307.

The present edifice is small but ancient, standing upon an eminence# nearly in the centre of the village, and consists of a nave and south side aisle; it has a handsome octagonal spire upon a square tower, with three tolerably good bells. The exterior of the building is in excellent repair, but the interior is far otherwise, especially the pewing, which is in a very neglected state, there being very few which will afford a comfortable seat. On the 20th of May, 1788, it was agreed by the Corporation of East Retford, that a faculty should be obtained for building a new loft in the south aisle, amid for re-pewing the body of the church, but from some cause or other, it has not yet been carried into effect.

The tower and steeple are more ancient than the body, which is certainly not older than the sixteenth century: the monumental inscriptions in the interior are few, and not of an old date; there are some floor stones of the fifteenth century; and three within the altar rails, on one of which I find the following ;—

Hic jacet du Robert Holme quoda rtor isti ecclie q. obiit septimo die January anno dm millimo CCCCLIX.

In the centre is an ornamentally engraved cross, with a bible and chalice. On the one adjoining,—

Barbara Darel Eduardi Darel Armigeri uxor praesentibus chara posteris desiderata hic in spem resurectionis requiescit obiit XXII martii Ao Dm MDCLIV.

On the border circumscribing this—

"Vivit post funera virtus."

The inscription on the other is illegible. At the east end of the south aisle are three others of about the same age, but they are partly obliterated, and partly covered with pews.

A Catalogue of the Rectors of West Retford.





18 Kal. Junii 1227

Dms Thos. de Carlton, pbr acl. medn. Eccle

Malvesin. de Hercy



Dms Robt. de Bugethame, vil Weston, Cl


p mort


Dms John de Benyngworth

AEpus lap­sus



Dms Thomas Fitz Symon

King Edward


13th Decem. 1307

Dms Robert de Retford, Cl



7 Kal. Feb. 1315

Dms Thomas de Hercy, Cl. med Eccle

Dms Hugo de Hercy

Dimis. sion

7 IdesMarch 1325

Dms Robert Norays, de Wynter ingham


p mort

6th May, 1308

Dms John de Ketilthorpe, Pbr


p. Resig

15th. Feb. 1377

Dms John Lesta de Settrington

T. Hercy, de Grove

p mort

14th. March,1401

Dms William Mylne, Pbr

Dms Thos.Hercy

p. Resig

February, 1407

Dms Richard Warsop, Pbr


p. Resig.

1 February, 1418

Dms Thomas Pensar, Pbr

ij dem

p mort

13th Jan. 1420

Dms Thomas de Bramley, Cl.


p mort

10th March, 1421

Dms John Frankysh, Pbr


p resig

24th Sep. 1426

Dms John de Dyninglowe

Capit Ebor

p mort

7th July, 1452

Dms Robert Holme, Pbr

Hu. Hercy de Grove

p mort

25th May, 1161

Dms Thomas Coke, Pbr

Eliz Hercy ux Hugo absent

p resig

26th May, 1461

Dms Thomas Coke, Pbr


p mort

21st March, 1481

Dms Thomas Cooke, Cl. B. A.


p mort

27th March, 1491

Dms Robert Harpham, Pbr

Humphr'y Hercy Arm

p mort

4th Septem. 1521

Dms Thomas Elton, Pbr

Johnes Hercy



Dms Nicholas Pettinger, Cl.


p mort

26th Sep. 1578

Rev. Francis Denman, Cl.

Guilliemus Denman

p resig

21st Jan. 1595

Rev. Zacharias Jenkinson, Cl.

Francis Denman

p resig

9th July, 1600

Rev. Thomas Bishop, Cl. M. A.

EdriusDa rell

p mort

14th Aug. 1642

Rev. William Darell, Cl.

Barbara Darell

p mort


Rev. William Ombler, M. A.

Thomas Darell, Esq

p mort

------------------ 1678

Rev. Thomas Gylby, M. A.

Corpora, of Retford

p mort

------------------- 1760

Rev. William Booth, M. A.

Corpora, of Retford

p mort

Nov. 20th 1787

Rev. Abraham Youle, M. A.



This living is a rectory in the gift of the Corporation of East Retford; when Mr. Hercy was patron, its value was twenty marks.: in the king’s books it is rated at £9. 13s. 4d. and pays for tenths, 19s.; for procurations, 6s. 8d.; for subsidies, 16s.; and for synodals, 2s. Incumbent, the Rev. Abraham Youle, M. A.

The only mural monument worthy of notice has recently been erected, and is as under.

Sacred to the memory of
MARY, the beloved wife of
who died October 8th, 1805, aged 42 years.
their youngest daughter, who died July 23rd,
1814, aged 12 years.
Also their only son,
Vicar of Apesthorpe in this County,
who died April 24th, 1824, aged 33 years.

* This individual was a member of the great northern house of Montgomery, and with the Norman hero appears to have been a particular favourite. According to Doomsday record, he was possessed, in this county alone, of one hundred and seventy-four manors, being the greatest part of ninety townships, besides very many other towns, which were partly or altogether soke to some of them. His seat in this county was at Blyth, and in Yorkshire, at Tickhill. The whole of which property, was valued in the Confessor's time, at 30s. but in the Conqueror's, at 10s. He died in 1099.
# Butler observes that "churches dedicated to St. Michael are usually to be found on elevated spots, in allusion to this Saint's having been the highest of the heavenly host.” St. Michael's mount in Cornwall, and that in Normandy, are confirmatory of this remark.
The festival of St. Michael has been celebrated with great solemnity by the christian church ever since the fifth century; the dedication of the great church of Mount Gargano, in Italy, being said to have given rise to its celebration in the west.