The Black’s Head, Broad Marsh

The Black’s Head, Broad Marsh

IN spite of its modern renovations and its noisy surroundings, the Black’s Head, in Broad Marsh, is a noteworthy building, for it has seen vicissitudes and in its day has been the dwelling-place of distinguished people.

Towards the end of the Eighteenth Century, whilst men’s minds were occupied with the work and the trial of Warren Hastings, there lived in this house, a certain Captain George Cartwright, "Old Labrador" as he was nicknamed. This worthy man was a younger son of the well-known Cartwright family, and, in order to make his way in life, he spent some time as a trapper in Labrador.

His experiences are set down in his "Labrador Journal," a book which deserves to be better known than it is. About 1786 he returned to England, and settled down in this house.

He amused himself with hawking, and is believed to have been the last man in Nottingham to indulge in the pastime. Before Captain Cartwright’s tenancy the house was occupied by two ladies with the resounding names of Mesdames Elizabeth and Cassandra Willoughby.

They were aristocratic old ladies, and were related to Lord Middleton of Wollaton. It is impossible to say when they took up their residence here, but in 1772 they were paying an annual rent of 10s. for a stable in Broad Marsh.

They were delightful people, exercising themselves greatly in charity and social service, and in fulness of time were gathered to their fathers. In 1774 Madam Cassandra died, and in 1780 Madam Elizabeth followed her.

At Madam Elizabeth’s funeral at Cossall occurred an incident illustrative of the superstition of a hundred and fifty years ago. When the stone was removed from the entrance to the family vault in order to prepare it for its new occupant, a faint light was seen to he proceeding from the tomb, which the onlookers promptly attributed to supernatural causes, and being thoroughly convinced that they had to deal with a ghost, they promptly ran away.

After some difficulty, somebody with stronger nerves was found who investigated the matter, and found that the ghostly light emanated from a phosphorescent bone which had got dislodged from is burial place.