Odd Items. Let a few odd items here be given:—Herbert de Bulwell was, in 1179, declared an outlaw, and his goods were sold by the sheriff, who accounted for 81s. 4d., equal to about £40 now. One wonders what he had done amiss, for outlawry deprived him of all the benefits and protection of law. Another outlaw, not of Bulwell, the same year the sheriff "held," and then sold.
Roger Williamson and Robert Bailey, of Bulwell, as representing the parish, were in 1886 sued by the King's officer for 40d., and they denied liability. The court at Nottingham therefore appointed a day for the hearing of the case. The parties were to come with a band of five on Sunday next before the feast of St. Ambrose, at the first hour, but the complainant did not attend. Apparently cases were then heard at one o'clock on Sunday, after Church service. Bulwell men "waged war" against a crown claim, and succeeded.
In the manuscripts of the "Stuarde to Ser Hary Wyllobe, Knygth," preserved at Wollaton Hall, is an item in1522, "For ale as ye went of hwntnyg at Bowlwell iiij" (4d.), so the party was not extravagant, and the like remark will apply to another item in 1542, "to two pore men as you come from the churche, one of them was of Bulwell, and th' other beyng lame ij" (2d.)
The Justices in Nottingham were in 1613 determined not to have poor people from other towns or villages settling in Nottingham, lest they should become chargeable to the rates. Now John Barnes had agreed to take in one Marten, from Bulwell, "into a poore rotten coate in Hungate." (Cottage in Hounds Gate). They thought the best way to deal with Barnes was to commit him to prison "till he putt in good sureties to forbeare tippling, and to be of good behaviour."
Pentrich Rising. One hundred years ago an evil system prevailed of the government employing spies to go in and out among the people in order to discover the disaffected, and of handing over to common informers half the penalties imposed by the magistrates. Jeremiah Brandreth, a labourer, had for some months been hiding in Bulwell, £50 reward was offered for his apprehension, and his friend (?) Sansom betrayed his hiding to Colonel Rolleston. The circumstances were that the times being awfully bad it was thought that when the French war ended at Waterloo in 1815, trade would at once revive, but it did not, and there was a great disaffection, and the Habeus Corpus Act was suspended. A government spy named Oliver persuaded a few men that there was going to be a general rising. He could raise 70,000 in London; Lancashire and Yorkshire were ready to form a provisional government, etc. Forty or fifty men assembled in Wingfield Park, under the command of Brandreth, and they marched towards Nottingham by Eastwood, were surrounded at Hill Top. and taken to the County Jail. Brandreth, with others, ran way. They were charged at Derby Assizes with making war against the King, and notwithstanding that Mr. Denman made a fine defence, the jury convicted the prisoners of high treason, and Brandreth and two others were sentenced to be drawn on hurdles, hanged, beheaded, and quartered; nineteen others were transported, etc., and others released. Oliver had to flee to the Cape, where he died in great poverty and suffering; and it served him right. The whole story occupies 150 closely printed pages.
Roads. When the King's great road from London to the north, which at the Conquest passed through Daybrook and Redhill, began to be deserted because there were few villages on it, the road to the north from Nottingham came to be over Bulwell Forest, and through Papplewick, and Mansfield, and so having the advantage of passing through many places. Evelyn, going on this road in 1654, says there was at Papplewick "an uncomparable vista," which apparently was formed by rows of fine elms. The Mansfield Turnpike Act of 1787 apparently again diverted the traffic, and the road over the Forest became almost deserted, and this was the more so when in 1833 the bridge over the Leen in Bulwell made the passage that way the better. G. H., whose initials are on the bridge, was George Holmes, who was a builder, and superintendent of the Baptist Sunday Schools. The various Inclosure Acts in the surrounding parishes which passed (Hucknall 1769, Greasley 1774, Basford 1792, etc.), all tended to produce better roads, and a good road on the west was secured by the Turnpike Act in 1758, which however involved a toll at Cinder Hill, removed in 1877.
Reform Riots. Bulwell rate-payers complained bitterly when through the folly of the Nottingham mob in burning the Castle in 1831, the damage had to be paid for by the Hundred of Broxtowe, and Bulwell had to pay its share, £438, Hucknall £676, Basford £1140, Nuthall £401, Arnold £1149. The Castle was not in the Borough, but in the Hundred of Broxtowe, so even Mansfield had to pay its quota (£2903), for each district must keep order, or pay for not doing so. The hardship here was that the men of one district did the damage, and the men of another district had to pay for it.
Chartists. The Chartist movement had many sympathizers in Bulwell, and nearly all they sought for was reasonable, and has since been obtained, but their methods were doubtful, and they were in too great a hurry. Many of them are said to have been in the Mapperley Hill Demonstration in 1842, and suffered (see page 145). There was an unfortunate land scheme of four acre allotments in a National Land Company, in which many lost their money, but their aim was right, although their methods were wrong.
St Mary and All Souls, Bulwell, was built 1849-50 (photo: A Nicholson, 2005).
Parish Church. Domesday book does not mention a Church at Bulwell, but there may have been one, and if so it would probably be timber-framed, thatched and without seats, as was customary. In 1171, the Pope, Alexander III, in his bull confirmed to the Canons of St Mary, at Southwell, certain advantages, and approved of the clergy and laity of the county, at the feast of Pentecost, going to Southwell to join in the solemn procession. They took from Bulwell yearly Pentecostal offerings of 10d., equal to a guinea now. About 1218 we read of the advowson of Bulwell, that is the right of presenting the priest to the church, and an interesting query arises here, for at that time the Leen was the boundary of Sherwood Forest. It seems to be unlikely that the parish would be on the western side of the Leen, and the church be built in the King's Forest on the eastern side.
There was a chapel in the town of Hindeshall (Hempshill) in 1240, when the Archbishop of York confirmed a grant of a chantry—an endowment for the chanting of masses, arid offering prayers for a departed soul—"in this chappell," Torr. Apparently there was then both a village and a church.
Unfortunately for want of records of interest we must leap over the centuries in regard to both the structure of Bulwell Church, and the spiritual work. The Roman Catholic form of service continued to be rendered in the Latin language until Whit-Sunday, 1549, when through the form of the Common Prayer the people of Bulwell were enabled to present to God their united prayers in their native tongue. Possibly a copy of the Great Bible in English had been obtained, and chained in the Church ten years before. The English form of service was prohibited in 1558 during Mary's sad reign, but again restored on June 24th, 1559. In 1645 the use of the Book of Common Prayer was forbidden, an'd its use even in private houses was made penal, but from 1660-2 the use has continued in the Parish Church, having in it an abundance of quotations from or portions of scripture, and prayers of earnest devotion, rendered in beautiful and pathetic language.
At the time of the Commonwealth the benefice of the rectory was worth £40 a year, and Matthew Laycocke was the preaching minister. In 1725 Magna Britannia gives the value as £33 10s. 0d., but that amount would represent at least three times its present purchasing power. In 1766 Mr. Stretton says two aisles were built to the Church. In 1772 the old rectory was built, and the churchyard walled round, the church enlarged, and a small gallery added. In 1800 the old tiled roof was taken off, and replaced by a slated one, and the tower was then raised. A picture is extant showing the entrance to the church to be up steps, and through the west-end tower. It also shows the south aisle tacked on, in what is called the church-warden style, with a roof nearly flat, so as to be below the clerestory windows. In 1850 the building was pulled down. In front of the singing gallery at the west-end there was a revolving notice board, having on the back slots for the number of the hymn or psalm to be sung, and on the other side was a painting of King David having a crown and royal robe, and playing the harp. This board Mr. Wilkinson now has. The choir was assisted by two violins, a double bass, and a cello which was played by Richard Wilkinson, and a flute by Richard Tilley. The road to the old church was across the bogs, north of where the present main road is. There was a bridge across the Leen about five or six feet wide, and the path was straight up to the church by what is now a steep narrow ascent, with an iron hand-rail from Church Lane. The site of the old church has been left in a very rough state, with a sheep-walk path across it. For nearly half a century the rector was an absentee, residing fifty miles away. He came twice a year to officiate, and it is said that he repeatedly read the same sermon, from an appropriate text, "Occupy till I come." Such a state of affairs would not be permitted now, but those were "the good old times!"
The present Church of St. Mary was built in 1850, about sixty yards nearer to the southern brow of the hill than the former one, and was consecrated by the Bishop of Lincoln. Its style is early English, and consists of chancel, nave, aisles, and embattled western tower, containing an illuminated clock and six bells. The cost was £3000, towards which the Church Building Societies gave £400, the Rev. A. Padley £600, and Mrs. Bolton £300, and for an organ and other purposes £600 more (Bailey, p. 464). Mrs. Bolton was the widow of Mr. Bolton, of Hempshill, and mother of Mrs. Padley. There are six stained glass windows to the memory of Mr. and Mrs. Allcock, Mr. S. R. Cooper, and others. A handsome reredos is to the memory of Mr. Thomas Hardy. A new organ was, in 1872, presented by Mrs. Cooper, the old one being sold to Mr. E. Charles. A surpliced choir was adopted in 1883.
The Church of St. John's was built in 1882, the Duke of Portland laying the foundation stone, the principal donors being Mrs. Cooper and her two sons, the Rev. W. H. Cantrell, Sir Chas. Seely, and Mr. G. W. Walker, the cost being £5000, and the site being given by Mr. Saml. Ball. There are five stained glass windows placed by Mrs. Cantrell in memory of her husband. There is also an alabaster slab to the memory of the Rev. H. T. Fountaine. The organ was the gift of Sir Chas. Seely, and Mr. R. Shipstone has been organist ever since the church dedication.
There is a Mission Room on St. Alban's Road, where there is a Boys' Club. The Boys' Brigade movement is represented by the 19th Company, connected with the Parish Church, and meeting in the National Schools. It has been fairly successful in winning prizes.
C. E. Men's Society. There is a branch of the Church of England Men's Society, for promoting Bible reading, the Church Scout movement, Social purity, Aiding ex-prisoners, and other matters. The Archbishop of York in "Work for Boys," has given them an appeal in carrying out their promise to do something for the Church every day. "The Church has a right to look to the C.E.M.S. to supply a body of men to be comrades and leaders of boys, and all that makes for Christian manliness, men who will carry into the work the spirit of their own special pledge of prayer and service, and who will arouse that spirit in the boys they lead."
There is a Church Institute, built by subscription under the present Rector, the Rev. A. E. Rose, M.A., in 1901, for men and boys over 16, with about 300 members, the subscription being 1/- per quarter. There is a Girls' Club at the National Schools.