The following abstract from the will of the charitable founder of this hospital, will not only explain all the circumstances relative thereto, but will render other details unnecessary.

John Darrel, M. D. of West Retford, being siezed in his demesne as of fee, of, and in, divers messuages, lands, &c. of the value of seven score pounds per annum, which descended to him from his ancestors, and having no issue of his body, by reason whereof the name and blood of his ancestors "in the lineal 'stemm' was like to be spent and fail;" and being zealous to do some pious work or public good therewith, was desirous. that the same or such part thereof as is thereafter mentioned, should be disposed of to the glory of God in a work of charity to the poor. By his Will, dated November 11th, 1664, he bequeathed all his said messuages, &c. (except such lands and tenements as he himself purchased,) unto the Hon. William Pierrepoint, Esq. the Hon. George Pierrepoint, Esq., Sir George Savile, Bart., Sir William Hickman, Bart., Anthony Eyre, Esq., Francis Stringer, Esq., and Francis Sandys, Esq., his executors, upon especial trust and confidence, towards the founding an hospital for the sustenance and relief of poor and impotent men, to the number of sixteen, to have continuance for ever. By his said Will, he appointed the Subdean of the Cathedral Church of the blessed Virgin Mary, in Lincoln, and his successors, master and governor thereof; and that the said hospital should be incorporated by the name of "The Master, and Governor, and Brethren, of the holy and undivided Trinity of West Retford, in the County of Nottingham," with full power and authority to purchase, take, hold, receive, amid enjoy, and have, to them and their successors, all goods, chattels, lands, tenements, &c. under the said name; and directing that they should have a common seal, with a cross graven therein, and in the circumference thereof "Sigillum Hospitalis Sanctae Trinitatis de West Retford." whereby the said master, and governor, and brethren, and their successors for ever, should, and might, seal any manner of instrument touching the said incorporation. He also further directed that the said Subdean and his successors, upon the death of any of the brethren, should place others in the room or place of him or them so dying; preferring (if any) those of the blood and kindred of the testator, and after them those of the neighbourhood; the master and governor for his pains and for his visitation, receiving £20 per annum, and every of the brethren £10 per annum. The testator also devised the advowson of the rectory of West Retford to his executors, to be by them sold, and the money arising therefrom, to be appropriated to the liquidation of such debts as should be owing at the time of his decease. He also directed that £10 per annum should be expended in the repairs of the said hospital, if the profits of the lands would bear it; he likewise bequeathed 40s. a year out of his said lands unto the governors of the Free School at Gainsbro’, being a body aggregate in perpetual succession, for and towards the setting of the poor people of that town on work. The remaining part of the Will devises to his executors all the lands, &c. which he himself purchased, the profits of which were to be laid out for the maintenence of some ingenious scholar, whose father should not have above £30 per annum, in lands or estate, to be chosen out of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire by turns, upon the election of the said master and governor, and the archdeacon of Nottingham, and their successors; the same scholar to be admitted and educated in Exeter College, Oxford; the said profits to be received by the said scholar for five years after he shall have taken the degree of Master of Arts; or until he have been settled in some benefice which shall first happen, and no longer, and then another to be chosen and maintained in like manner. Lastly, the testator bequeathed to Mr. William Midwinter, of Gainsbro’, £20 for past services, with a desire that he should be the overseer of the funeral, or in his absence, Mr. John Law, of East Retford, and Mr. Humphrey Hoole, and ordered that £20 should be expended thereupon, or more if they should think it necessary.

A short time after Dr. Darrel’s decease, (which took place on the 8th of March, 1665,) it was discovered that Thomas Darrel, gent. deceased, from whom part of the estate descended, had, during his life-time, made some secret or other conveyance, of part of the said lands, amounting to the annual value of forty-five pounds, situate in the Biggins in the parish of Ordsall, to the Rt. Hon. the Lady Diana Cranborne. A decree of the court of chancery, however, put the executors in possession of the estate, but chargeable with the sum of £118, as well as £40 a year, to be paid to Richard Cooke and his heirs, for ever. On the 28th of May, 1680, Sir Orlando Bridgeman, keeper of the great seal, decreed that the number of the said poor impotent men be reduced to ten, to have the same allowance of £10 per annum; and that the yearly allowance of the master and governor should be reduced to £15; but that if the revenue of the said estate should at any time hereafter increase, then that the said master’s allowance, and the number of poor men, should also be increased, in proportion suitable to the advance of the estate.

In consequence of the augmentation in the value of the estates, and a correspondent economy in the general expenditure, the trustees have been enabled, since the date of that decree, to increase the number of the brethren, so, as again to fulfil the will of the founder, and also to enlarge their annual allowance;* thus enabling them to spend their declining years in comfort and comparative affluence.

The hospital is situated on the west side of the high road from Retford to Worksop, and was once the residence of the liberal donor; it is a low and ancient looking edifice in the centre, with two advanced wings in the same style; at the end of these are two advanced fronts, erected in the year 1794, in a kind of mezzo-Gothic style of architecture. The centre part is generally denominated ‘THE HALL,’ in which prayers are read daily; the brethren are each provided with a folio edition of the book of Common Prayer, and alternately officiates as chaplain quarterly, for which he is allowed fifteen shillings. The building is two stories high; over the entrance is placed the arms of Dr. Darrel, with the crest and supporters; over the whole a small bell is suspended, which is regularly used to warn the brethren of the arrival of the appointed hour of prayer. The staircase consists of two short flights of steps, which, with the bannisters, are formed of old English oak; on entering the chamber, the whole assumes a very antiquated appearance,—the work of years which have long since passed away; here no painted nor papered walls salute the eyes of the visitor, but the whole is inlaid with empannelled oak, while over the fireplace is a simple but beautiful specimen of old English carving: in one corner hangs a number of old picture frames, which once circumscribed the portraits of the apostles and evangelists ,—an appropriate decoration to the room; whilst another corner gives place to "the common chests’ which contains the seal and the various documents appertaining to the estate.


Mr. Richard Brownlow, of St. Andrews, Holborn, the county of Middlesex, gent. by Will, bearing date the 20th of March, 1691, devised and bequeathed the sum of £500 to be appropriated by his executor, Mr. Stephen Johnson, of West Retford, as follows, viz. £100 to he laid out in erecting and building a Free School for the advantage of the inhabitants of West Retford: £300 to be laid out in the purchase of lands, the profits arising from the same to be paid to the head master of the Grammar School at East Retford, providing he should teach all the boys of West Retford after they had been "instructed in the accidence" by the master of West Retford school; and if no boys should be taught at the school of East Retford from thence, then the said profits were directed to be paid to the master at West Retford, for teaching the children of all the inhabitants there, who have not an estate above the value of £10 per annum; nor goods and chattels above the value of £150 at the most. The remaining £100 to be laid out in fencing and improving the ox-pasture in Babworth Hill Field, for the benefit and advantage of the commoners.

For several reasons enumerated in the will of the said Mr. Stephen Johnson, dated 8th July, 1723, the bequests of Mr. Brownlow, could not be carried into effects accordingly Mr. Johnson in his will, devised that £10 per annum should be paid out of his estate at Tilne, to the master of West Retford school, for teaching the poor children belonging to that place,and appointed the possessor of his estate, the rector of West Retford, the ministers of Ordsall, Grove, and Babworth, and their successors, trustees for the same.

By a codicil, dated June 3rd, 1723, the said Stephen Johnson devised unto Thomas Gylby, rector of West Retford; John Pigot, minister of Ordsall; Stephen Cooper, minister of Grove; Richard Wilson, minister of Babworth; and their successors, the cottage or tenement, in West Retford aforesaid, near unto the North Field Gate, then lately purchased of Mr. Edward Hall, in trust, for the schoolmaster intended to teach the children, according to the directions contained in the said will.

Since that period the school has been conducted at West Retford, and has been productive of much benefit to the inhabitants generally. The building, however, at present, is in a very delapidated condition, and the school room far too small to accommodate the increasing number of scholars. Mr. William Wragg is the present master.


This place of worship was originally bequeathed ‘By Mr. Richard Brownlow, of London, for the continuance of which, he left certain property, as the following extract from his will will certify.

"Furthermore, I do bequeath my newest messuage, one acre of land, two beast gates, and the five lands ends, to Stephen Johnson and his heirs, in trust, that he, or they, shall from time to time permit such meeting to be held there as is there now, for and during so long time as such meetings shall be allowed by the laws of this realm, and shall also during the same time, permit and suffer the preachers of such meeting, for the time being, to have, use, occupy, and enjoy, the said newest messuage, one acre of land, two beast gates, and five lands ends, and the rents, issues, and profits of the same, free from all taxes, which I would have paid and discharged by the present possessor or occupier; for the time being, out of the profits of the promises herein before given to my executor and my kinsman and their issue, male, as aforesaid, from time to time, as the said premises shall happen to come to him or them respectively,—providing always that if such meetings shall at any time hereafter be prohibited by the laws of this realm, that the said newest messuage, &c. &c. shall be in trust for such person or persons to whom, and in such manner as the premises herein before given, to my executor and kinsman and their issue, male."

The present building was erected in 1815, and although it presents nothing of importance in its outward appearance, its interior is not devoid of taste; although plain and unostentatious, its cleanliness, and simplicity, is worthy of notice. In the centre of the aisle is the baptistry, used for administering the rite of adult baptism; and to the west of the building is the burial ground, wherein is several headstones to the memory of those who have died in that communion.


This family appears to be the most ancient in the neighbourhood, which has preserved its name through an uninterrupted succession of ages. At what period their settlement took place is too remote for me to state, but so early as 1430, such mention is made of them in several ancient documents, as evidently indicates them to have been rich and highly respectable. I have been at considerable trouble to ascertain what families have, at different times, been united with this; for which purpose, reference has been made to the parish registers of East and West Retford, Ordsall and Grove, but unfortunately without that success which was anticipated. It appears, however, that. Nicholas Denman, Esq. of West Retford, married Anne, the second sister of Sir John Hercy, to whom the estate at West Retford descended: the issue of this marriage was one son, Francis, who resided at Old Hall, in West Retford, he afterwards married and had issue, two daughters, Anne and Barbara. Anne married Mr. afterward Sir Thomas Ailesbury, Bart. Master of Requests, in the time of James the first. They had one daughter, who was sole heiress, and subsequently married Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards Earl of Clarendon and Lord High Chancellor of England, from whom descended Lady Anne Hyde, who was married to his Royal Highness James, Duke of York, afterwards James the Second, whose daughter Queen Anne, in due course of time, swayed the British sceptre.

Barbara,§ the second daughter, married Edward Darrel, Esq.± of West Retford, by whom she had issue, Thomas, born June 13th, 1607; Brian, born 1st May, 1610; Edward, born 3rd June, 1613; and Francis, born August 7th, 1616; all of whom dying young, excepting Edward, the estate descended to him; who married and had issue, Thomas and John; at the death of Thomas, the whole of the property descended to Dr. John, with which, under his Will, was founded and endowed the hospital at this place.

About this period another branch of the family of the Denmans resided at Bevercotes, where they have ever since continued: and another branch settled in Derbyshire, from whom was descended Thomas Denman, Esq. the eminent barrister. It is, however, to be regretted, that the pedigree of the family cannot be made out so correctly as to preserve the line of descent uninterrupted. This, however, does not in the least invalidate the correctness of the foregoing statement, nor tend to disprove the facts, but is merely the result of the defective state of the registers in the sixteenth century, and of negligence in not preserving the documents pertaining to the family. The following pedigree of the Derbyshire branch is as correct as can be ascertained.

Graph of the Denman family tree


* This, with other perquisites, now amounts to about £50 a year each.
§ Died in 1653
± Died in 1626