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Gleanings - or Something About Beeston in the Olden Times

Rev Thomas OLDRINI, a much-respected Beeston vicar from 1854 until his death in 1885, took an interest in Beeston's history and wrote "Gleanings - or Something about Beeston in Olden Times" in 1873. Tantalisingly, he is said to have written a further instalment called "The History of Beeston, Old and New" which had not been published by the time of his early death. Several of us have tried to find out, without success, what happened to the manuscript. It is said that his funeral was attended by 3000 persons which shows the esteem in which he was held by all denominations.

Situated four miles W.S.W. of the "good old Town of Nottingham," and within one of the divisions of the Hundred of Broxtowe, is the ancient village of Beeston. It lies snugly nestling in a pretty valley, with Bramcote gently rising on the north, and the rapidly flowing Trent forming its most southern boundary. And here, immediately contiguous, rises Clifton, with its old Church, and Hall, and sylvan Grove - the view of which from the river banks is worth coming for at least a hundred miles. Listen to Kirke White’s description of it, and then judge for yourselves. Thus softly sings the local bard -

The deepening glen, the alley green,
The silver stream, with sedgy tufts between,
The mossy rock, the wood-encornpassed leas
The broom-clad islands, and the nodding trees.

It is, indeed, a lovely spot, and as picturesque as any we meet with, travel we "Merrie England" through. But Beeston itself is a long, straggling, road-side village, with few, if any, beauties to recommend it, except locaIe; and though now it numbers its thousands of inhabitants, yet until a very recent period they were but hundreds. Old folks still speak of the time when everybody knew everybody, and when three-quarters of the existing houses were still unbuilt. Imagination will help us to realise the old-fashioned village as it stood some ages since, and as, I daresay, it had lasted on from remote and bygone epochs. We are not, however, going to be minutely historical, so as to poach on the domain of our county annalists, but shall simply glance at a few of the objects of interest which make up the long ago of venerable Beeston.

There are manufacturing villages, neither few nor far between, which have been of almost as rapid growth as Jonah’s gourd, and which cannot trace their origin beyond the nineteenth century. But not so with Beeston, which boasts a hoar antiquity and an ancient pedigree. Doomsday Book records the existence in Saxon times of its three manors - the manors of Alfeg, Alwin, and UlcheI; and, of course, conjecture becomes imme­diately busy as to these rustic Thanes - what they were like, and whether their dwellings occupied the sites of more recent edifices; but written records and traditions are alike silent on these and many other particulars, till we arrive at the stirring times immediately subsequent to the Conquest, when, as Thoroton tells us, William de Peveril, Earl of Nottingham, held a demesne in Beeston. This William de Peveril was the bastard son of the Norman Conqueror, and one upon whom he seems to have delighted in heap­ing all manner of lands and possessions - no less than 55 manors are spoken of, besides other estates. A great blank now ensues, and nothing is known of the place of any importance, till we hear of one of the manors being escheated, and presented by the Crown to a branch of the Bellocampo family; and we find it further stated that Miles and Richard Bellocampo paid two marks for one knight’s fee (200 acres of land) in the reign of Henry III, and John de Beauchamp, who appears to have been another of the magnates of Beeston, forty shillings. Still in the time of the same monarch - in 1241 - Richard de Beauchamp is recorded as giving two bovats to Beeston (a bovat being as much land as an ox can plough in a year, or 28 acres - an odd way of bestowing a benefit peculiar to that early period) and which lands were then in the occu­pation of Jordan, son of Uvo, and, who, with "all his sequel," that is, I suppose, his family and descendants (for these were the days of feudalism and villanage) was even­tually transferred to the cluniac Priory of Lenton, one of the most splendid and powerful of the monastic institutions of the Midland Counties. This is, so far as we know, the first mention of the neighbouring Parish of Lenton in re­ference to Beeston, and which afterwards, as we shall find, exercised over it so considerable an authority. Proceeding a little onward, we hear of Richard de Willoughby having free warren in Beeston (this was in the 27th year of Edward III) - a privilege whence derived we are unable to tell. These are very scant scraps of information, but they, at any rate, serve as connecting Beeston not only with some of the Saxon lords of the soil, but with the noble Norman families of Peveril, Bellocampo, Beau­champ and Willoughby.

We now, however, skip over about two centuries, em­bracing the turbulent times of the Wars of the Roses, and the rise of the Tudor dynasty, and arrive at the Elizabethan era, when we discover that the chief man of the place was one Nicholas Strey - the first of that name of a long line of petty squires. It would appear that one of the manors must again have become escheated, for it passed into Nicholas Strey’s hands by Royal grant, his family having been, as I am told, of Yorkshire extraction, but afterwards resident in the North of Nottinghamshire. The first Nicholas Strey rnentioned in the old Church Registers, and who was christened June 6th, 1563, was a son of the aforesaid, and the last died October 13th, 1785, and was buried on the 17th of the same month. Richard Strey (a quondam lawyer of Nottingham) inherited the estates in 1785, and only deceased on 3rd April, 1797, at the ripe old age of eighty-six. His sister Dorothy, who kept his house, survived him but a few years, departing this life on December 8th, 1802 and being buried on the 14th. Living so recently, there is still much floating talk concerning these two worthies. The octogenarian squire is described as an easy-going personage, of middle height, ordinarily dressed in a brown coat, and fond of going out coursing on his grey pony. While Madam Strey (for so was she styled) is spoken of as somewhat sharp-tempered, and penurious to a degree. Her costume was considered quaint even in those days, and, her "mob cap" is still remembered and talked about. On her demise, the family of the Streys became extinct, so far as direct descent was concerned, and the estates at Beeston, Chilwell, and Atten­borough, were, by Richard Strey’s will, dated 23rd June, 1796, devised to certain persons for life and entail, the ultimate remainder being in favour of his nephew, the Reverend Peter Broughton, who eventually succeeded to the property, and is set down as the owner in the award of 1809. He took the name of Strey on 8th October, 1827, but dropped it by Royal License in 1836. A doubt seems to have existed as to the claim of the Strey family (pro­nounced Straw by the villagers) to be considered landed gentry at all, and the position they occupied in the county could scarcely nave been very exalted, for we find one of them a grocer in the Parish of S. Mary’s, Nottingham, somewhere about the middle of the eighteenth century. The Manor House, too, which they inhabited, though snug and cosy-looking, yet is neither very extensive nor imposing. Its main features are its gabled roof, a rather broad stair­case, and a moderately-sized dining room and drawing room above. The old rookery belonging to the house still existed within the memory of some of the oldest inhabitants. Other ancient houses were the "Manor Farm," only separ­ated by the road from Mr. Strey’s, and at the extreme west of the village we come to the "Robinet," another, as it is supposed, of the Manor Houses (the site of the handsome mansion now occupied by Edmund Percy, Esq.), and which appears to be identified as such, by the small adjacent field, called "The Hall Croft" from time immemorial; and not far hence is another tolerably large house, the resi­dence for many years of Mrs. Charlton, the relict of one of the squires of the adjoining village of Chilwell.

In the eastern and by far the oldest quarter of the parish (curiously named "The City"), we find what was formerly "the Workhouse" - a low thatched mud edifice; and here stands "Frog Hall" (why so called we cannot trace), and which was probably the third manorial residence. Some fifty years back it was a ladies’ school, but is now in possession of some of the Attenborough family. Most of the cottages here are of a very ancient type, and in the bed chamber of one of them the oaken beams were ornamented some time ago with carved angels, with out­spreading wings - a custom very prevalent during the fourteenth century, arid referred to in the childs’ prayer, still very commonly used amongst the village poor : -

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
Bless the bed that I lay on:
Four corners to my bed,
Four angels round my head,God within and God without,
Blessed Jesus all about.

"The City," too, used to be remarkable for the extra­ordinary number of beehives, and whence Beeston was ignorantly reported to have obtained its name; but the true derivation is from Bea, Bee or Bees - a female saint who "flourished about the middle of the sixteenth century, led an anchorite life, and afterwards formed a nunnery in Copeland, near Carlisle. Her shrine was kept there after her death, and became famous for pilgrims." Six other places were called after this saint, whose memory appears to have been much venerated amongst our Saxon forefathers. There were in addition a few other homesteads, possessing, however, no characteristic worthy of notice.

As to the old Vicarage House - comfortably ensconced under the very shadow of the Church - it was a sadly poor place, wretched in the extreme, and had been partially destroyed by fire. The nail-head moulding of the arch, which ran through the whole building, and was its main support, indicated great age-perhaps six hundred years - and on the demolition of the ancient edifice in 1860, not only were the oaken rafters discovered to be of very early date, but to have been used antecedently for some other purpose. The terrier in 1704 speaks of the parsonage as "built with studd and mud, and covered with thatch," and as "containing a brewhouse, kitchen, parlour, passage, and a few pantries." And thus it probably remained till so late as the time of the Reverend Thomas Bigsby, one of the vicars, when it was so much improved as to be de­scribed in 1809 as "built with brick and mortar." We hear, also, of a fish-pond in front of the house, and that the garden (containing more than a rood of land) was then neatly laid out - an alcove or summer-house being also erected. Later on still - in 1854 - and then inhabited by the curate, it had, though very dilapidated, yet a kind of picturesqueness, covered as it was with a fine pyrus japonica, a jasmine and woodbine. Towards the west it was over-shadowed by a splendid horse-chestnut, which had been planted by the Reverend T. Bigsby, on being preferred to the benefice.

The site of the old Tithe Barn was near the east end of the Church, and facing the Street; and immediately ad­joining the Churchyard was what was called "the Poor Row" - built on the waste - where a few poor families resided rent free. This row was taken down in 1845, when the Church was rebuilt, and no substitute provided. There was then, too, a thoroughfare in the Churchyard, and the position of the stile on the north side, now built into the wall, can still be distinctly traced out.

But the ancient Church; as it stood before 1844, and being perhaps the successor of other Churches, occupying the, same spot, deserves a long paragraph to itself. The benefice was originally a rectory, but from a comparatively early period was appropriated to the Priory of Lenton, being afterwards, by the help of Pope Alexander III, (Thomas-à-Becket’s Pope) and Lucius III., who succeeded him, lowered to the position of a chapel. The names are recorded of the Commissaries, who were empowered to carry into effect this arrangement, with "the poor vicar" of Beeston, for thus he is denominated. They were John de le Laund and William de Hundon, Rectors respectively of Arnold, Notts and Barnburgh, Lincolnshire. The "poor vicar" had, it is fair to suppose, but little chance of success, when engaged in contending against such all-powerful influences. It was once more the old story of might overcoming right. Henceforth the Prior of Lenton became patron, and ecclesiastical lord paramount of the place. Not that the benefice was a very valuable one, for it is rated only about this time at eight marks (a mark being reckoned at 13/4) Pentecostal offerings were for a long course of years paid to Southwell Minster, which was regarded as the Mother Church of Nottinghamshire, and we therefore find that Beeston was annually muleted by the very moderate sum of 20d. So much then for the patronage and value of the Living in the middle ages. Let us now cast a glance at the fabric itself. Unhappily it was not rich, either in architectural beauties or historical tradition, but, nevertheless, as the Church is, naturally the central object of all antiquarian research. The style of some of its parts -the chancel, at any rate - was the later Perpen­dicular, and the date perhaps the latter end of the reign of King Henry VIII, therefore just escaping the Debased Period. From a small water-colour painting, yet in exist­ence, it was by no means impressive in its proportions, or attractive in general effect. The before-named chancel (which still remains) is battlemented, but within is low, confined looking, and unfortunate in its acoustic capabilities. It was formerly blocked up with high pews, and the sedilia (partially within the Sacrarium) were turned into book closets for the use of the Sunday School, then held in the Church; and, strange to say, the stone bowl of the ancient font was stowed away for a long lapse of time somewhere under the altar. In 1735 (in the reign George II.) we learn from a "true schedule or inventory taken by the Minister and Churchwardens of all the books, vestments, and vessels belonging to the Parish Church of Beeston," that besides two large black-lettered Bibles and two greater and one smaller Books of Common Prayer, there was "a Book of the Homilies, a Table of Marriages, and a Register of Parch­ment." As to vestments, the Church then possessed "two surplices" - "a carpet" for the altar - also "two linnen cloths," one for the Holy Table, and one "to cover the elements;" a pulpit cloth and cushion, and "a hearse-cloth." The holy vessels were of a very meagre description: a small "silver cup with cover to it" (the cup is still in the Church’s possession, but minus the cover), "two pewter flagons," "a salver" (so-called), "a basin for the offer­tory, and a round pewter plate." These appear to have been the only vessels in use, till "the Archdeacon of Nottingham having visited the Church in 1833, and ordered additional Communion Plate in the place of the old; the vicar for the time being (the Reverend John Wolley) pre­sented a flagon and plate, both double-plated and silver­-edged, and which cost £3 11s. 6d., viz., flagon £2 15s. and plate 16s. 6d - and which were used for the first time at Easter in that year. But these were in their turn partially superseded by a new alms dish, offered in 1856, for which £2 10s. was paid, and in 1857 by an electro­plated chalice and paten of a rather more ecclesiastical pattern than the ancient ones, at an expense of £6 1s. There were no effigied tombs or monumental brasses in the Church, as one so often finds even in the most woe-begone edifices, but only a few mural tablets. In the chancel, however, were interred the Rev, Henry Watkinson and his wife, and many of their children; also some of the Sharpe, Strey, and Rickards families. Mr. Watkinson is the only vicar buried within the Church, but a large flat Stone is pointed out in the churchyard, not very far from the chancel, which is said to cover the remains of the Reverend Thomas Trowell, who died in 1744, and also those of his wife. The Church clock is noticed in the terrier of April, 1704, but the works of which were much interfered with by the owls and others of the feathered tribe, which tenanted the rather ruinous belfry. There were also three bells, but which were far from being silvery in their tones in later times, whatever they might have been originally. The Churchyard is described in the terrier of 1809 as containing one acre and twenty perches; and cows were permitted, within the memory of some of the present inhabitants, to graze there. The chancel was repaired by one of the impropriators (Lord Charles Cavendish, vide terriers of 1704 and 1781; Henry Cavendish, Esq., terrier of 1809; Henry, Lord Middleton, terrier of 1825). The patronage of the benefice, with lands and homestead connected with it, had, at the Reformation, on the suppression of Lenton Priory, been, in all likelihood, bestowed on one of those supple courtiers who had so zealously aided and abetted "bluff King Hal" in his plundering proclivities, and thence seems to have been conveyed and made over to the Cavendish family. But the Church Farm, abutting very conveniently the property of the Lords Middleton, was at last purchased by them-the patronage being, nevertheless, still retained by the noble house of Devonshire. As lay impropriators, the Cavendishes had the tithes of corn and grain, and were also Lords of the Manor; but the Streys, who were also lay impropriators, possessed the tithes of hay. But according to the award in 1809, all tithes, whether vicarial, or belonging to the lay impropriators were, at the Enclosure commuted for land. The vicar had the tithes (even before the Reformation) of wool and lamb, of hemp and flax, of tofts and crofts (small messuages and fields attached); Easter offerings, oblations, mortuaries (fees demanded on the death of the head of a house), Lammas dues (Loafmass held on 1st August) for cows, calves, mares, and foals; a rate for servants’ wages, viz., a farthing in a shilling in every pound; and the tithe of all orchards, pigs, eggs, &c., and in lieu of which (with the exception of Easter dues, mortuaries, and surplice fees), were allotted the three closes, severally called "the Church Field, the Pasture, and Meadow," containing about 73 acres - the original glebe being only about 36. The names of some of the ancient ecclesiastical domains are rather curious. For example, "the Parson’s Flatt or Vicar’s Wong," "Pie Close Common," "The Thorndikes," "The Hassocks." The Feast of Dedication (commonly called "the Wakes") is held on the Sunday immediately succeeding S. Peter’s Day, but the Church itself is dedicated to S. John Baptist - the Wakes being still ruled by old style. But what is very interesting is the fact of William de Beston, parson of Cotgrave, called William de Beckeford, having founded a chantry (cantaria) in the Church for his own soul, and the souls of John his brother and Felice his mother, and of Alice de Langston, and of his brothers and sisters; and, it appears that the first chantry priest was John, son. of John. de Beston (I suppose the founder’s nephew) and presented by him. This was in the; reign of Edward III - in 1356 - a year memorable in English annals for the great battle of Portiers. According to the Valor Ecclesiasticus,* compiled in 1534, in the reign of King Henry VIII, the endowment for the chantry was derived partly from lands and tenements in Beeston, and partly from the like in Lenton, and was subject to an annual payment to the Prior of the last named place. Peter Halley was at that time chantry priest, and, in all probability the last, for private Masses for the dead are supposed to have expired at the period of the Reformation, which occurred shortly after this date. Traces of the chantry with piscina were discovered in the south aisle of the old Church by Sir Gilbert Scott, the eminent architect, before its destruction in 1844 to make way for the new one. The only relics remaining of the old building, save and excepting the chancel, is part of a stone finial, and a portion of a stained-glass window, representing a woman in the costume, as far as can be judged, of the time of Henry VIII, and bearing some resemblance, strangely enough, to the portraits of his elder daughter, afterwards Queen Mary I.

Of the pre-Reformation vicar we know even less than of their whilome parishioners, only that one William Garforde certainly ministered to them in the year 1534, and that contemporaneous with him was Peter Halley, as already men­tioned, the chantry priest. In 1560, however, the 2nd year of Elizabeth (Registers of Births, Deaths, and Marriages having been ordered since September, 1538, by competent authority to be kept) we find that W. Jeffries was vicar. He seems to have died January. 5, 1604, and was buried at Sawley, in the County of Derby. His writing is very fairly legible, though not equal to that of his successor - Walter Kynnersley, who, from the fact of his keeping the registers in Latin, may be concluded to have been a scholarly man. He was instituted to the benefice in the 2nd year of James the First, and lived long enough to see very troublous times. His last signature was in 1643 - the particular year when the Parliament en ????????????? Directory for Worship, and six years before the execution of King Charles the First. He was thus vicar for thirty-nine year but we have no record either of his decease or of his after-life. During the Commonwealth the registers were miserably and illiterately kept, the benefice having passed into the hands the Presbyterians. A William Westaby was the minister; the civil marriages being performed by Thomas Charlton, Esq., Chilwell Hall, J.P. Births (not christenings) during this interval are recorded. His death took place in August, 1658, being in the same year as that of Oliver Cromwell, and only a month before. There is no mention, whatever, of any religious personage for the next five years; but after the Restoration Henry Watkinson was inducted vicar on 1 May, 1663 - the Presbyterian clergy having been ejected throughout England on the 24th of August in the previous year. Mr. Watkinson held also, conjointly with Beeston, the neighbouring parish of Attenborough. The Cavalier vicar (for so we may call him) was, according to an old tradition, rather small in stature, but a man of consistent and excellent life. His walking cane is still preserved. He married, on the 24th May, 1670, Mary Coddington, of Toton (presumably a parishioner), and had issue by her four sons. The eldest, Henry, died young; the second, John, was admitted to Christ’s College, Cambridge, 23rd October, 1690 (as we find by a memorandum of the vicar himself in the register) and probably afterwards took holy orders; the third, Richard, became a hosier, and de­ceased as recently as 7th January, 1772, at the advanced age of 97; and all that is known of the fourth, another Henry, is that he was twice married. The earliest terrier extant was made while Mr. Watkinson was vicar, being signed by him and the churchwardens on 15th August, 1687. He surviving him about eight years. They are both interred as before-mentioned, in the chancel. The next vicar was Mr. Thomas Trowell, who continued so from the 10th year of Queen Anne till the 14th May, 1744, the date of his decease. We should judge him to have been one of the High Church clergy of that period, and perhaps an ardent admirer of the popular Dr. Sacheverell. Potter’s "Discourse on Church Government" was presented to him and his successors on 8th October 1732, by Mr. Benjamin Cockayne, vicar of Attenborough at that time. "The Schedule on Inventory of Church Articles," already alluded to, was made out and signed by him and the Churchwardens, and delivered to Arch­deacon Marsden, B.D., at his visitation 2nd June 1735. His wife was buried in the churchyard on 4th October, 1732, and he on the 16th May, 1744. The vault is covered by a large flat stone, near the east end of, the church. Of Mr. John Henson, it is noted in the registers that he was inducted, into the benefice on "Monday, 4th June, 1744, by the Reverend Mr. Chappell. Rector of S. Peter’s, Nottingham." This was the 17th year of George II. His writing in the registers was beautifully plain and neat; he held other preferment besides. We have no memorial of his death here, and he was only vicar for fifteen years. His successor was the Rev, Timothy Wilde who was appointed in 1759. He was Master at the Free Grammar School at Nottingham, and is described as a pleasant looking man about five feet eight inches in height, wearing his hair en queue, in accordance with the prevailing fashion then in vogue. He was very popular among his parishioners, and we remember talking to an old person who had been catechised by him, in the church. We should imagine him to have been a thorough man of business. Two terriers (almost fac-similies) were signed by him on the 20th April, 1764, and 10th June 1781, respectively. He was buried at S. Peter’s Church, Nottingham, on the 30th January, 1799, aged 94, and having been vicar for forty years The last parish priest I shall mention, and who, indeed, brings us down to almost modern times, is Thomas Bigsby, who was instituted in the 39th year of George III He was a Cambridge M.A., and was a great pluralist - being not only a Fellow of Jesus, and also vicar of Burton Joyce-cum-Bulcote, but was in the enjoyment of other and further preferment. He occasionally resided in the Old vicarage house, which, as already stated, he had made some-what more habitable, but was principally resident at Arnold. He had been twice married, his first wife having been a lady of good position, but the second a milliner of Nottingham, for whom he had conceived a sudden and romantic attachment. He had a dignified appearance, with a good complexion; no whiskers; was of middle height; and ordinarily dressed in the black coat, (which had now superseded the cassock) knee breeches, silk stockings, and, silver buckles, which formed the garb of the clergymen at the commencement of the nineteenth century. His voice, I have been told by those who heard him, was remarkable for its rich mellow tones, and, that he read the service with great decorum and solemnity; but the character he bore was none of the highest, being one of the bon vivant type of parson, then, alas !, so common; and though good natured and kind-hearted, especially to his poorer neighbours, yet was evidently most indolent and careless in the management of his parish. For instance, the keeping of the Registers was entirely left to the care of the parish clerk, who, being a sorry scribe, miserably fulfilled, his task. An old Rector, long since deceased, found him, when calling on him on his appointment, sitting at a, very high desk in the little entrance room of the Parsonage. He was only 22 years vicar, dying on 25th October, 1821, and was buried at Arnold on the 1st November following. A mural tablet was placed in Beeston Church to his memory. A terrier was signed by him on the 10th June, 1809.

I cannot here forbear quoting. a few of the titles by which the lands of Beeston are distinguishable, though I must profess my inability to throw any light on their origin or derivation. There are the closes called severally "the Musco Sike," "the Gleadwong," "Heaming," "the Pen" also "Longlands," "Acrelands Pasture," "Purples Meadow," "the Home Corner," "the Round Hill," and "Flitter’s Croft." Then, there is "Dovecote Lane," and down on the banks of the Trent, "Clifton Orchard," just opposite the ancient village of that name.

Beeston also boasted, if not a holy well, as Bulwell, yet two chalybeate springs - the one at the rivulet called Tuttle Brook (which is the eastward boundary of the parish), much es­teemed, even to this day, by the working classes for its medi­cinal properties; the other a little beyond; but in the immediate vicinity of "the Robinet." The village, especially in times past, has always been celebrated for the salubrity of the air and climate - the death-rate being in general remarkably low. In the 35th year, however, of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it was visited by a dreadful "pestilential fever," which raged, with almost unabated fury, from the 7th May to the beginning of the ensuing year, and to which 137 persons succumbed. This was a heavy mortality, considering, the smallness of the population which, even in 1822, only numbered 1534. At the east end of the churchyard is "the Plague Hole," which tradition still enables us to point out. A terrific storm is still spoken of by some of the very old people, as happening on Wednesday in the Wake-week or the year 1784. The electric fluid is reported to have melted some of the chimney pots on Mrs. Charlton’s house. Also, a sharp shock of an earthquake was experienced on Sunday, 17th March, 1816, about 12 o’clock, a.m., greatly alarming the congregation, who were at once dismissed by the officiating minister.

At the beginning of this century a custom existed at Beeston of providing a christening robe for infants at their baptism, and which was kept at the Vicarage House; also at the death of the head of a family, a Funeral Dole was given to the whole of the parish. It is worthy of remark, that the last person who did open penance in the church, wrapped in a sheet, and, possibly, barefooted, is said to have been one Mary, or "Moll," Read, and that so late as the year 1782. The occasion was the birth of her illegitimate child, Elizabeth, who afterwards, curious to relate, became the wife of one of our Nottinghamshire clergy. Thus traces of church discipline lingered on in Beeston until almost the end of the 18th century.

The position of the village Cross is clearly ascertained by tradition, being not far from Mr. Strey’s house, and just at the point where four ways meet. Here a corn market was held in olden time, the corn being brought, not in waggons, but on pack horses. There was also a Windmill, which stood on an eminence somewhere in the direction of the property of John Fellows, Esq., J.P.

An ancient board, set in the Church in 1724, records the various charitable bequests to the poor of the parish of Beeston. Amongst other benefactions, one is struck by two sums of £10 left anonymously - all honour to such like donors. Then 20s. per annum by a Mr. Handley, of Bramcote; £5 by John Kirkby, of Sneinton; £5 by Hannah Garton, of Chilwell, £5 by Thomas HaIlam; 3s. 4d. yearly, to be paid every February 2nd by ???????????? composition for horse doles, by assigns of Mr. Charlton; ??? five dozen bread, yearly on Whit Sunday, by William ???ckerill; £5 by Mrs. Dorothy Strey; £10 by Mrs. Elizabeth Charlton, and £10 by Mrs. Mary Chariton, her sister. In the eleventh year of George II., by a deed, dated 24th February, 1737, these benefactions were invested in the pur­chase, for £70, of Rawson’s Hassock Close, comprising nine acres; and the vicar, churchwardens, and overseers ex officio, (and "three other substantial inhabitants" were empowered, annually to apply the "benefit and produce" of such close for the use, benefit, relief, and better maintenance of the poor people of Beeston, in augmentation to the parish levies and assessments. The close had belonged to John Rawson, f.w.k. of Nottingham, and had been mortgaged to William Day, yeoman, of Burton Joyce. The indenture was signed Thomas Trowell, vicar; Henry Cox and John Hunt, Churchwardens; Thomas Henson (with his cross) and John Smith, overseers; and Nicholas Strey, gentleman, and Thomas Levis and John Moore, yeomen. The poor, too, were not forgotten at the enclosure, some closes being allotted on their behalf.

The pedagogue of the place in Mr. Wylde’s day, and that of Mr. ‘Bigsby, was Charles Marshall, who, in his particular walk of life, merits a niche amongst our. Beeston celebrities. He was a very superior schoolmaster, taking an interest in his parish beyond his immediate vocation; and, as churchwarden, affording invaluable assistance to his clergyman. The "Wor­shipful" the Reverend J. Eyre, M.A., Archdeacon of Nottingham, finding in his "perambulation" in June, 1811, that the Register of Births, Deaths, and Marriages had, for some time past been kept on paper, ordered that the entries should be transcribed into two books of parchment to be provided for the purpose at the parish expense; and at a vestry meeting 2nd September, of the same year, this duty was entrusted to Mr. Marshall (2s. 6d. per annum being allowed for the same); and which he most admirably performed, - his writing being really superb - not to be surpassed by copperplate itself. He is said, indeed, to have used the ferule pretty freely, as was the custom of his fraternity in those days, when boys and parents were not so thin-skinned as in this more enlightened age; but he appears, nevertheless, to have taught the three R’s very successfully, and, what is more, to have obtained: the respect and love of his numerous alumni. : Not to be behind his neighbours in loyalty, he served with credit to himself as a volunteer in Lord Middleton’s corps. His house was pleasantly situated on the Chilwell Road - with yews in front of it - being close to the western boundary of the parish and was afterwards inhabited for forty years by John Pare, the parish clerk, lately deceased. He was buried on the 18th March, 1824, aged 69 years, and so excessive was the grief of his poor old widow, that night after night she might be seen in the Churchyard, lying on his grave, and bitterly lamenting his decease. She herself survived him seven years. The only other schoolmaster we have record of is John Mellars, who was buried on the 10th March, 1763.

And, now, our gleanings come to a close, being far from profuse - only sufficient, perchance, to whet the edge of our curiosity without actually gratifying it. There is an old rhyme, extant, in which Beeston is described as "beggarly Beeston," and its neighbour Chilwell by a still less complimentary epithet. Whether the term "beggarly" applies to the insignificance of its inhabitants in worldly importance (few-with the exception of the Strey family for some hundreds of years - rising above the condition of yeomen) or to some well known characteristic, now almost forgotten, we are unable to say. Certainly, it is to be regretted, from an archeological point of view, that it was not some one’s peculiar function to record the events which chequered English village life in the olden times of this and other parishes. It is only from extraneous sources, from oral tradition (not always the surest guide) from Post-Reformation Registers, and from the terriers, that these few particulars have been compiled. Doubtless to Beeston folk they will have a significance and interest of their own; for even a limited knowledge of the olden days of that locality, which claims us for its sons, has a charm for us all - equally for the vulgar as for .the highly-educated mind. Something, it will be, to have succeeded in preserving from oblivion some of the reminiscences of a very ancient, albeit lowly, village.

* For the above extract, I am indebted to E. Lawson Lowe, Esq., who is engaged in bringing out a new History of Nottinghamshire.