Watnall Hall.
Watnall Hall.

Watnall Hall is a large mansion of the Elizabethan style of architecture. To the red brick and stone of which it is built time has given a pleasing tone. It was well described in 1881 by Mr. Leonard Jacks, whose articles on the “Great Houses in Nottinghamshire, &c.,” appeared first in the Nottingham Journal, and were subsequently brought out in a collected form in one volume. The prospect from the leads of the mansion, to which years ago we ourselves were taken by the present owner, is absorbing in diversified and charming scenery, and an artist might long sit there without getting wearied of his work. The grounds of the hall have been the most made of in the laying out of the shrubberies and garden in tasteful arrangements, and there are some remarkably fine trees both in the grounds and behind the mansion in the park. Some interesting remains of long bygone days are the once cockpit in a part of the grounds, and a wide flight of stone steps which in earlier times led to the then entrance to the Hall. Mr. Leonard Jacks, in a vein of romantic playfulness, while giving a graphic description of the house and premises, together with a telling allusion to the great Balls for which Watnall Hall had been reputed, introduces a charming nymph in the person of the now historic Mary Chaworth (of Byron’s disappointment, which made him the poet he became), who, it appears, now and then escaped the vigilance of her guardians to surreptitiously trip it here to the strains of the ballroom. Mr. Jacks is an altogether facile artist in the way of pen and ink sketchings, and we cannot but say that his sketches are interestingly suggestive, only we have not the poetic vein to fill up the pretty picture, as he may have had it in his mind’s eye.

Gates to Watnall Hall.

The fine gate which gives entrance to the Hall grounds, and which in earlier times stood not where it now is, is a work of art worthy of the examination of any student of antiquarian taste. It is generally admitted to be the work of the deservingly reputed Huntingdon Shaw of Nottingham, of art-ironwork fame. His chief works seem to date from about 1695, not the least of which is the magnificent gate which was removed to the Kensington Museum from the Hampton Court Palace Gardens, to which it is now hoped that they will be returned to again adorn those historic grounds.

The Rollestons of Watnall were the sole pioneers of elementary education in the parish of Greasley. They built and endowed the Bogend School in about 1756, which was not closed until the Board Schools of Beauvale had been established; and it was also owing to the auspices of this family that a dame school was kept at Watnall, and another small school at Kimberley, which we believe has been absorbed by one or other of the now existing schools of that township. During the years of the present Mr. Rolleston’s minority, (and subsequently from subsidences owing to coal mining), the Bogend School had become much dilapidated. Moreover, the Charity Commissioners have remodelled the endowment of it, and the old schoolhouses and premises were then bought in by Mr. Rolleston, who since then had them transformed into a neat and comfortable cottage-dwelling, which is now occupied by Mr. William Harland Attenborough, the grandson of the late Mr. John Attenborough, who for many years was master of the Bogend School, and also Clerk of the Parish Church.

The present owner of Watnall is the eldest son of Lancelot Rolleston of Watnall Hall, Esq., son of Christopher Rolleston and Ann his wife, daughter of Capt. Nicholas, R.N., and Eleanor Charlotte his wife, daughter of Robert Fraser, Esq., of Torbeck, Inverness, and the Lady Ann his wife, daughter of James the 8th Earl of Lauderdale.

Mr Lancelot Rolleston.

Mr. Lancelot Rolleston, like his ancestor of Charles II.’s time, has been High Sheriff for this County, and is a Justice of the Peace. As an ardent sportsman he has been Master of the South Notts hunt, and subsequently of that of Rufford. As a soldier he has attained to the Colonelcy of the South Notts Hussar Regiment; and as a patriot he left his sports and comforts, and volunteered for service in the South African War, where unfortunately he was severely wounded in an engagement at Lindley, where his South Notts Hussars of the Imperial Yeomanry would probably have earned for themselves great repute if their daring charge could have been supported. He married, on February 25th, 1882, the Hon. Charlotte Emma Maud, sister of the present Earl Carnworth, daughter of Robert Alexander George, fourth son of Robert Alexander Dalzeel, LieutGeneral in the Army, and his second wife Andalusia, daughter of Lieut.-Colonel Arthur Brown. The Lady Maud Rolleston followed the Colonel (her husband) to South Africa, where after various other endeavours, she set up a convalescent hospital at the ere then besieged Kimberley, and did not surrender that work until necessitated to do so by the critical state of the Colonel from his severe wound.

Some little history may possibly be connected with Watnall as betokened by the field names of the township, since there is always some reason or another why a certain name is given to a place. We have the names, but we have not been able to trace their origin. In Watnall Chaworth, which is the larger of the two Watnalls, they are: the Spinney, the Black Nook Close, the Trusty, the Nabbs, the Sledder, the Coney Gree, and the Muttering Yard, which call for explanation ; while it is easily seen why the names of Crow Hill, Ox Close, Calf Close, Long Lane Field, Gospel Close, and Church Field, or even Nook Close have been bestowed.

In Watnall Canteloupe it is in most cases easier to explain the field names to one’s own satisfaction. We have: the Stubbings, the Roe or Row Oak, the Crosslands, the Water Close, the Star-Mare Croft, the Crooked Stile Close, the Goose Pen, the Burnt Oak, the Five Lands, the Woody Closes, the Flat, the Cliff Hill, and the Thistle Close, while two names only are out of the ordinary, and possibly point to some little history, i.e., the Pingle, and the Holywell. But we have in Watnall an instance of the gradual perversion of original place names. There is a farm near the Watnall-Hucknal road, of which tradition says that its ancient name was Shiloh, and since there is both a Gospel and a Church Close in the township, the tradition may rest on a good foundation. But Shiloh became Illo, Sub, Sello, Ello, and at last Hell Hole; while a small wood adjoining it bears on an early ordnance map the name Hell Wood. We have now given the farm, or we endeavour to give to it, and to maintain for it, the name Eel Hole Farm, from a pond that is there. We shall meet with another perversion of a place name when we come to deal with the other hamlets of the Parish.

Watnall Canteloupe is the property of Earl Cowper, where one or two quite new farmsteads have been erected, as well as several fine labourers’ cottages, while other farm buildings have been much improved.

The Wesleyans had a small chapel in this township, which was opened on the same day as that on which we read ourselves in at Greasley. It is now a reading room, which is called the Victoria Institute. The township has a Post Office at the house of Mr. John Webb.

Bogend School.
Bogend School.