View down Main street, Linby (photo: A Nicholson, 2004).
View down Main street, Linby (photo: A Nicholson, 2004).

The villages of Linby and Papplewick, which form an united ecclesiastical parish, lie some nine miles west of north from the city of Nottingham, within the bounds of the ancient Royal Forest of Sherwood.

Various conjectures have been made as to the meanings of the names of the villages, but the authorities on placenames are by no means unanimous in their interpretations.

LINBY — has been interpreted as signifying "the dwelling by the lyn, or deep pool" and also "the dwelling by the lime trees." The deep pool may refer to a mill dam, since there has been a mill in the village from a very early date; or again local lime trees may also have contributed to the identification of the place.

PAPPLEWICK — similarly has variants of interpretation: one being "the dwelling of Papil" (priest or hermit), or Pappa, the name of a Saxon chieftain; another "the dwelling by the pebbly brook." Of these, the latter, which could be accounted for by the presence of the pebble outcrop of the Bunter beds, seems to be preferable to an explanation which relies on the existence of a mythical personage. That pebbles and stones had been noticed in the district is shown by the name of one of the local farms, Stankerhill, derived from "stane" (stone) and "kiarr" (marsh).

Domesday Book

Both villages are mentioned in Domesday Book, that magnificent fiscal work undertaken by order of William the Conqueror in 1086, and a translation of the relevant entries reads as follows:— (under the estates of Wm Peverel).

M. LIDEBI. Three brothers had one carucate, and a half taxed to the geld. There is land for two ploughs. William had three carucates. There are twelve villains and two bordars have five carucates. There is a priest and one mill worth ten shillings. There is wood pasture one league long and one league broad. In the time of King Edward it was worth twenty-six shillings and eightpence. Now worth forty shillings. In Papleuuic five bovates lie to this manor.

Papleuuic. In Papleuuic Aluric Alsa and Elric had two carucates. Three bovates are taxable to the geld. There is waste land. There is wood pasture one league long and half a league broad. In the time of King Edward it was worth twenty shillings.

If the bovate is taken as one eighth of the hide of 120 acres, the Linby Manor appears to contain 75 acres in Papplewick and this may well be part of those fields and wastes, Bardeley Goldwood, etc., which were the subject of grant by the Linby manorholders, Thomas de la Have, Hugh le Colyer, John de Crumbewell et al, to the Prior of Newstead. In 1329, however, the de la Pole brothers answered for the rent from "21 free tenants who hold 20 messuages and 41 bovates of land each containing nine acres" (Inquisiones post mortem, Thoroton Society) so that land measures do not appear always to be of the Domesday standard.


Until the middle of the XIXth Century the two Parishes were ecclesiastically separate, as they were and are civilly, but in 1855 the Perpetual Curacy of Papplewick was added to the Rectory of Linby by Order in Council. The ecclesiastical boundaries have remained unchanged through the ages, although changes in the civil boundaries have resulted in parts of the parishes being taken over by the civil district authorities of Hucknall and Bestwood; most of the area is under the Basford Rural District Council.

From the mention of a priest at Linby in Domesday, it is fair to assume that there was also a church, though not of course the present structure; but the absence of the mention of a church at Papplewick, or of a priest, does not preclude their existence. Indeed the site there of what is now called Robin Hood's Stable, may have been the site of one of the rock cells where a hermit perhaps lived. Often the mention of a church or priest in Domesday is incidental, since the record was concerned with taxable property, and was in no sense a directory.

One of the first mentions of a church at Papplewick is in the Charter Rolls in the first year of King John (1199/1200), so both villages may claim antiquity for their Church traditions.

LINBY in Domesday is described as a Manor; but here again we must be careful not to ascribe the word its modern sense. It must be regarded, as a term denoting an estate rather than a house, and represents lands granted by the King as a reward to his followers; in this instance granted to William Peverel, sometimes said to be the natural son of the Conqueror. The owner of a Manor more often was an "absentee landlord," benefitting from the revenue, whether in rents or services.

The separate entities of the two villages were further preserved in olden times by the fact that while the Rectory of Linby was given to the Monastery of Lenton, at its foundation; that of Papplewick was granted to the Priory of Newstead by Henry II, who is said to have founded this and other religious houses in expiation for the murder of Thomas a Becket. It is more likely that as a sign of remorse Henry added to an existing foundation, since some few years prior to the murder the Canons of Newstead answered to the Exchequer for "five shillings in Papewich" (Pipe Rolls. 1165. 12 Hen. II). The fact that the phrase "by the grace of God" is omitted before Henry's title of King in his charter to Newstead is another clue, since Delisle has established that after the murder of a Becket this phrase is always included in the Royal charters.

Since Papplewick was an Impropriate Rectory, that is the Greater Tithes were retained by the Priory, it is reasonable to infer that in its early days the church there would be served by the Canons of Newstead rather than by a resident priest; and this is borne out by there never having been any rectory or vicarage house in the parish, at least as far as it has been able to trace the history.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries Newstead Priory and all its lands including the advowson (gift of the living) of Papplewick passed into the hands of Sir John Byron who purchased the Priory from Henry VIII for the sum of eight hundred pounds.

From the evidence before the commission for the Survey of Livings in the time of the Commonwealth, there was no appointed minster at Papplewick at that time (1650), and the Commissioners recommended even at that early date that the living should be amalgamated with Linby. This may perhaps lie behind the legacy of Richard Shaw, in 1653, of lands at Edingley to maintain "a preaching minister to live at Papplewick," since few unions of benefices meet with the approval of the parishes concerned at first. More than two hundred years were to elapse before the union actually took place.

March the 14th, 1653. In the Name of God Amen. I Richard Shaw of Papplewick in ye county of Nottingham being weak of body but in perfect mind and memory thanks be to the Lord, do make and ordain this my last will and testamt (sic) in manner and forme following.

First I bequeath my soul into the hands of Almighty God my Creator who first gave itt mee hoping with these my eyes to see my Redeemer in ye land of ye living, and my body to be devoutly buried in ye Churchyard of Papplewick aforesaid and for ye personall estate which it hath pleased God to lend me I give and bequeath as followeth.

That land which I have at Edingly I give to a preaching minister to live at Papplewick .... I give to Lord Byron one hundred mark which John Lupton of Lambly owes mee if he can gett itt. ... I give to ye poor of Papplewick five pounds. I give to ye poor of Linby forty shillings.

RICHARD SHAW his mark. Witnesses. EDWARD GILBY: JOHN DAY his mark.

In the XVIII century, when church life was at a low ebb, we find the custom of pluralities, that is one priest holding two or three livings, held sway in these parishes. Under this system the priest would receive the stipend from each benefice, and himself living in the most attractive place, would leave the other parishes in the care of a curate who was often shockingly underpaid. In Herring's Visitation of 1774 the records shew that Linby had as rector Andrew Matthews, who also held the livings of Hucknall, Nutthall and Annesley. He lived at Linby, serving that church and Annesley, leaving the other two places in charge of a curate, Rev. Thomas Carter, who was paid fifteen pounds a year plus surplice fees. Papplewick at this time seems to have been held in plurality with Blidworth by Robert Stanley, who later (1762) became also Rector of Linby. In 1838 Thomas Hurt held Scrooby and Sutton on Lound, in addition to Linby and Papplewick.

When Lenton Priory was suppressed the gift of the living of Linby would be transferred to the purchaser of the estates. Often the old records speak of the church and rectory of so and so being given to various people, and it is to this right of presentation this refers.

Presentation of William de Wiham Clerk, by
the Prior and Convent of Lenton. (Archbishop Giffard's

Presentation of Sir Richard of London to the
Church of Lynby by Richard, Prior of Lenton.

1286. Institution and induction of Michael, Dictus Normannus, to the Church of Lynby on the presentation of the Prior and Convent of Lenton. (Archbp Romayne's Registers).

1378. Presentation of John de Sileby of the Chantry of the Altar of St. Mary, Newark, to the Church of Lyndeby in the Diocese of York, in the King's Gift by reason of the Alien Prior of Lenton being in his hands on account of the war with France. (Patent Rolls)

Others who held the advowson were Robert Strelley (1569), John Byron (1575), Lord Rochdale (1689), William Stanhope (1723), and Lord Montagu (1762).