Broxtowe Hall

Broxtowe Hall

THE word "Broxtowe" is probably a corruption of "Broculstowe" meaning the dwelling-place, or stowe, of somebody called Brocul. Who Brocul was is not known, but the name appears to be one of Saxon origin, and as Broxtowe was the head of a weapontake, we may assume that it was a place of importance long before the Conquest.

In the early eleventh century a certain Gilbert, son of Eustachius de Broculstowe, made gifts to Lenten Priory, and the wording of the gift is of importance for it refers to a toft "on the east part of the church," so evidently in those far-off days there was a church at Broxtowe.

In the middle of the seventeenth century and the tragic days of the war between King Charles and the Parliament, a real romance and tragedy occured at Broxtowe. In addition to the main armies and garrisons, innumerable country houses were held for one side or the other by small bodies of troops. Aspley Wood Hall was held for the King by a member of the Willoughby family, while Broxtowe was garrisoned for the Parliament, with a gallant young officer, Captain Thornhagh, in command.

Hostilities between the two forces do not seem to have been very severely prosecuted, for one day, Agnes Willoughby, the beautiful daughter of the Cavalier leader, while on a charitable visit to Bilborough, fell into the clutches of three desperadoes.

Fortunately for her, young Thornhagh arrived on the scene in time to rescue her, and, though at great peril to himself, he escorted her home to Aspley. Their subsequent acquaintance led to them falling in love with each other. The tragedy was that they were uncompromisingly opposed to each other in both religion and politics. He was a convinced Puritan and Republican, and she was an equally convinced Papist and Royalist. Each was convinced that the other’s beliefs could only lead to eternal damnation, and neither could give way to the other.

One November morning in 1645, Thornhagh was ordered to join Hutchinson at Nottingham Castle, and with him marched to the assault of Shelford Hall. In the course of this attack he fell, fatally wounded by a bullet. When the news was brought to Agnes Willoughby she was distraught, for she was convinced that her lover had died in his sins. She decided to devote her life to religious purposes in the hope that her good deeds might save his soul, and for sixty years she lived a life of piety and charity.

The present Broxtowe Hall is all that is left of a mansion said to have been erected by Thomas Smith, one of the great banking family, about 1700. Perhaps, however, Thomas Smith merely altered the then empty house, for what architecture is left looks rather earlier than 1700, say about 1660.