The chancel of the church was re-roofed by him about 1718, about the time of the re-roofing of the nave. The letters on the beam in the nave—J.P. and W.T—are the initials of the churchwardens of that time, John Peate and William Turpin. The date 1718 is on the beam also.

The chancel roof must have been considerably lowered, for the east window is square headed, and all the tracery from the upper part removed. He gave two treble bells to the church. The baronet rebuilt Bunny Hall at a cost of £12,000, and built a wall around the park. This wall cost £5,000 and is built on arches, and was the first of its kind in England. He made a large cellar in the park.

The old schoolhouse at Bunny (photo: A. Nicholson, 2003).
The old schoolhouse at Bunny (photo: A. Nicholson, 2003).

The inscriptions over the door read:
"Scientia non habet inimicum nisi ignorantem"
[Knowledge has no enemy except ignorance]
"Disce vel Discede" [Learn or leave] Nemo Hinc "Egrediatur ignarus Arithmetice" [No one from here will step out ignorant in maths]
Transcriptions and translations courtesy of John Boutwood.

Sir Thomas not only improved and re-built his own house; he also made many alterations for the better in the village.

The erection of the old school and almshouses testify to his skill in architecture. He built these at a cost of £400. Many people passing through Bunny stop to read the inscription over the south doorway. His arms are carved on the stone. There is an inscription also over the north door relating to the hospital. Lady Anne Parkyns, mother of Sir Thomas, wished to make provision for the instruction of poor children in the knowledge of God, and also teach them to read, write, and the rudiments of mathematics In this deed of 1709 Lady Anne granted a piece of meadow land at Thorp in the Clotts to be used for this purpose.

Money was also left by Sir Thomas Parkyns for widows and funds for apprenticing boys for trades.

As mentioned, Sir Thomas built a new vicarage, and invested money in land in the meadows at Nottingham to provide a fund for the almshouses with profitable results. His shrewd mind saw into the future. He knew that this land would greatly increase in value. He was also the author of a Latin grammar and wrote a book called the Cornish Hugg Wrestler. After the foreword there is a dedication to King George II in which Sir Thomas wrote to the king: "As you have polished the head, so, in this my book, I have endeavoured to make the hands, feet, body and all the members of your subjects, more useful in your army on future occasions."

Lady Anne died in 1711.

Amongst other offices Sir Thomas was a J.P. He pointed out the unsafe condition of the County Hall. They took no notice of his warning. At a crowded meeting in 1724 the floor gave way, and the people fell through into the cellars.

We owe the open space of what used to be the Market Place in Nottingham to Sir Thomas. It was proposed to build the County Hall and the gaol there, but Sir Thomas, with brother magistrates, refused to sign the order, and appealed against it. This appeal was successful.

Sir Thomas found time for sport, and was most interested in wrestling. He wrote that: "As appears by Genesis, Jacob wrestled with an angel. Whether it is real or corporeal, or mystical, or spiritual in its significance, I leave the divines to determine, but I advise all my scholars to avoiding wrestling with angels."

An annual wrestling match was established by him in 1712 on Midsummer Day, and many came from afar to compete and to witness this match. These matches went on for 99 years, long after the death of the lord of the manor.

A gold-laced hat, valued at 22s., was the first prize, and 3s. the second prize. He used to compete himself. His footman and coach were both wrestlers, and they defeated him in the ring occasionally.

His monument, depicting him in wrestling attitude, will be referred to later on.

The school's first master was Humphrey Wainwright. He acted as clerk to Sir Thomas, and was a famous clockmaker.

Sir Thomas was the owner of land of all Bunny and Brad-more and land up to Costock, Keyworth, Wysall, Ruddington, Gotham and East Leake.

Sir Thomas died in 1741, aged 78 years. (A reference to the monument designed by himself will be given later on in the book, also the inscription.)

The roads were so bad at Bunny at this time, that fines were imposed on the inhabitants of Bunny and Costock. In 1739 the way from Nottingham to Loughborough via Gotham was abandoned, in favour of a road through Bunny, the old route. We are told that the by-roads were in such a dreadful state that when Captain Barker, the "Wanderer," set out for Gotham, he found himself back in Bradmore again.

Troops and baggage passed through Bunny in the Jacobite rebellion.

In 1751 gypsum was found in Bunny. Bishop Pocock stopped to watch the digging and burning of gypsum for floors. He related that immense pieces were dug up, large enough to make a chimney piece.

This industry of Bunny of 200 years ago sprang to life again about 1936 when a diviner, living on Bunny Hill, named Dixon, found the gypsum.

The old brickyard was re-built, and a factory created for the making of gypsum products close by.

These two industries have greatly increased the population and two new estates have been built, viz., Chells, Garden City and Gotham Lane Estate. Coal has been sought but none has been found. Under an act of 1795 we read that 1,000 acres were enclosed, thus changing the appearance of the parish. The inhabitants of Bunny were very concerned at this time for fear that there would be an invasion by the French, and the village raised a force of local Bunny volunteers. We read there were 60 houses at this time. Many sports and customs were maintained. The men indulged in badger baiting.

There are still badgers left in the woods. One was killed by a car when crossing the road in 1945, and some have been seen in the plantations since then.

Names of fields in Bunny still remain from early times. The decoy—a small wood, was enclosed by Sir Thomas Parkyns as a decoy for ducks. A stream runs through the "Coy," and it is damp. The Wadlings, School Field, Brook Acres, West Field, Bratt Hills, Rough Field, the Negroes—the names still continue.

The curfew bell was one of the last to be rung in Notts.. I. may say that there was a bell rung at eight o'clock morning and evening up to 1934 at Bunny Hall.

Sir Thomas Parkyns was succeeded by his son (Thomas) by his wife Jane, eldest daughter of Mr. George Barnard, one of the aldermen of York, the second wife of the baronet.

His first two children, by his first wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Sampson, died.

The son of the wrestling baronet was admitted to Gray's Inn like his father and grandfather. The third baronet married three times. In 1747 he married his great niece, Jane. In 1765 he married Sarah, daughter of Daniel Smith, of Bunny, and in 1796 Jane, daughter of Thomas Bouthbee, of Leicester. He left two sons, Thomas Boothby Parkyns, and Thomas Bouthbee Parkyns. The elder died in 1800 before his father. As mentioned before, he was made Lord Rancliffe in 1795, because he represented Nottingham in Parliament. He left five daughters. The eldest, Elizabeth, married Sir Richard Levinge. Henrietta married Sir William Rumbolt and Maria married (1) The Marquis de Choiseul, (2) Prince Auguste de Polynac. He was succeeded by his only son, the second Lord Rancliffe, George Augustus Henny Anne Parkyns, and grandson of Sir William James, baronet. He married the Lady Elizabeth Forbes, daughter of the Earl of Granard, and died without children in 1850, so the peerage became extinct. The baronetcy went to his cousin, Sir Thomas Bouthbee Parkyns.

Another interesting member of the Parkyns family was Mansfield Parkyns, of Woodborough, the younger brother of Sir Thomas Parkyns. He was a great traveller and lived in Abysinnia and Egypt. He was living with the natives and was unheard of in England for some years. About 1852 he returned to this country and wrote his " Life in Abysinnia." He married the Hon. Emma Bethel, daughter of Richard, Baron Westbury. Mansfield Parkyns died in 1894, at Woodborough. His last work was the carving of the oak stalls in Woodborough church.

There was great consternation in the family when Lord Rancliffe's will was read, leaving all the estates to Mrs. Burt, his housekeeper, who married Alexander Forteath after the death of Lord Rancliffe.

Sir Richard Levinge and Sir Horace Rumbolt took the matter to the courts but it was of no use. The will stood. The seventh son of Lady Levinge, Sir James Levinge, took sides with Mrs. Forteath, and was one of her greatest friends, so now we come to the reason why the estate came back into the family. Mrs. Forteath entailed the estate on Sir James' family, but she left it to her niece Araballa Hawksley for life.

The villages did not suffer under the reign of Miss Hawksley. She did her best for the people, and was especially devoted to the work of the church, helping by regular attendance herself and insisting on her servants doing likewise. Miss Hawksley was kind to her tenants and sympathetic with them in their troubles.

She was stern and upright and tried to be just in her dealings, taking care of the contents of the house which would belong to the Levinge family at her death. Miss Hawksley was an example to the village.

She married Mr. Robert Wilkinson Smith rather late in life.

There were no buses to Nottingham at this time. A carrier's cart was the only means of riding—a very slow ride going. A party from Bradmore were once trying to catch a train at Nottingham, but the progress was so slow that they had to get out of the cart, and run to the station.

The hall was an open house for gatherings of all kinds. The grounds were admirable for garden fetes. The Quorn hounds always met in Bunny Park in the season.

Mrs. Wilkinson Smith died in 1909. The Bunny and Brad-more estates, which reached Costock, East Leake, Keyworth, Ruddington and Wysall, were left to Sir Richard Levinge, of Knockdrin Castle, Ireland. Rev. Dr. Powell was the Vicar in charge at the time. It was a coincidence that the Irish estate was not very far from the home of Dr. Powell, who came from Ireland. Sir Richard was the grandson of Elizabeth, Lord Rancliffe's sister. Every house in Bunny and Bradmore had belonged to the lady of the Manor, also the outlying districts. It was a shock to both villages to receive notice to quit. Sir Richard Levinge came to England, bringing his sister and other relations, also some of their Irish servants (who went to Mass in Nottingham on Sunday mornings).

Sir Richard Levinge only stayed at Bunny for a little time—about three months. All the beautiful furniture and silver of generations, not forgetting the wonderful paintings by Hoppner and other well-known artists, were sold. I may just say here that the son of Hoppner, born 1795—the year after painting the portrait of Lady Anne Parkyns—was named Henry Parkyns Hoppner. This boy twice accompanied Parry in his attempt to find the North-West passage.

This portrait will be referred to later.

Sir Richard Levinge ordered the sale of all the contents of Bunny Hall. It commenced on February 22nd, 1910, and continued until February 25th. Some of the prices reached a fabulous figure, according to those days of 1910, but some were cheap. To quote one or two examples :

A Queen Anne settee made £700;

A picture of Sir Thomas Parkyns, afterwards the first Lord Rancliffe, 900 guineas;

The Hon. Mrs. Parkyns, afterwards Lady Rancliffe, 8,000 guineas; this painting has more than doubled in price, and is now in America.

The whole estate of Bunny and Bradmore was bought by Mr. Albert Ball, who was then Mayor of Nottingham. It also comprised the living of Bunny and land in Keyworth, Costock, and East Leake, and we read that the purchase price was about £100,000. Dr. R. H. Cordeux bought the Hall, Park, Rancliffe and Bunny Woods in 1910, and came into residence there that same year.

Mr. Albert Ball went round the village personally with his secretary, and gave the tenants chance to buy their own farms, houses, and land or, if not, offered them a choice. Many people bought their houses, or one belonging to someone else.

In 1910 the land adjacent to the churchyard, given by Mr. Albert Ball, was dedicated.

Now there were many land and house owners in Bunny. If you had lived in the villages in 1910 you would have seen many loads of furniture, and in some cases, cattle, driven out of their yards to new homes.

There were cottages belonging to the Hall at a rental of one shilling a week. The rents were all paid once a year to Mrs. Wilkinson Smith's solicitors. The rent for the glebe was paid to the Vicar. This land, belonging to the Church, was sold by the Vicar, Rev. F. J. Kahn, in 1921.

Returning to the year 1910, we find that the owner of the Hall, Dr. Cordeux, his wife and daughters were a great help to the village.

Mrs. Cordeux and her daughters made the Hall the centre of social activities. Mrs. Cordeux commenced the W.I. Her second daughter had a good drama team, ran the tennis and hockey clubs, and taught in the Sunday School. They helped the parishioners in every way they could, regardless of their own requirements.

Dr. Cordeux died in 1915, and his only son, Lieut. Edward Cordeux, was killed in action the same year.

This, as you may imagine, was a great blow to the wife and mother, but she put her own trouble on one side, to help the village in every way she could at this difficult time of the First World War.

Her son-in-law was awarded the V.C. in the First World War, and reached the office of admiral.

Her five daughters and the Miss Pyatts of Bunny Grange did much for the social side of the life of the village. Both families helped the work of the Church and its Vicar in every way.

Mr. H. Pyatt was a famous singer. In his earlier days his voice was said to be the finest in Europe. It was a very great help to Bunny and the church to have a gentleman of such musical abilities living at the Grange. He sang before Royalty, was a member of the Savage Club, and the Carl Rosa Opera Company. His sympathy with the people in this somewhat difficult time is talked of to this day.

His son, Mr. Henry Pyatt, M.A., of Oxford, was a Master of Fettes College. He wrote several books of verse. The beauty of thought expressed in well chosen words make these poems a pleasure to read. He married the Bishop of Edinburgh's daughter, Rev. Dr. Dowden, who survives him.

Miss Mary Pyatt, the elder daughter of Mr. H. Pyatt, inherited her father's gift of singing. Her voice was wonderful— both on the platform and in church. She won the bronze medal at the Royal Academy. To hear her sing in church Mendelssohn's " Hear my prayer " was a great pleasure.

She and her sister, Miss Geraldine Pyatt, added much joy to the social life of the village, loved by all the inhabitants. They ran the G.F.S. for many years at Bunny and taught in the Sunday School. The other brother lived abroad many years; but he came back to Bradmore. He also shared the respect of the villages.

The Rev. S. G. O. Anderson had the living here at this time, followed by Rev. Dr. Powell (in charge for three years), then the Rev. S. G. O. Anderson again. He died in 1920, and the Rev. F. J. Kahn was presented with the living by Mr. Albert Ball, who was afterwards knighted in 1920.

Rev. S. G. O. Anderson was a brilliant preacher. His daughters helped in the work of the parish.

Mr. and Mrs. Kahn worked very hard for the parishes during their 13 years sojourn at Bunny. Mrs. Kahn started the Mothers' Union, and was in much demand as a speaker at the meetings around.

Mr. and Mrs. Kahn were very strict as to the observance of Sunday and church attendance.

Electric light was put in the church, a new carpet provided, and the heating apparatus repaired.

Both this Vicar and his wife were assiduous workers in the parish, and they had the interests of the people at heart. The Bishop said in the Bunny pulpit that Mr. Kahn was a great worker in the church

The Rev. J. L. Street only stayed two years. He was a fluent and interesting preacher, and did much outside work in the churchyard, as well as inside. Mrs. Street taught each Sunday in the school, and was very helpful. She also helped in the work of the Mothers' Union.

The Rev. J. R. and Mrs. Harrison followed in 1936. They were here at a most difficult time, all through the war, when everyone's energies had to be devoted to the country's needs. Mrs. Harrison had sewing meetings and girls' classes every week for knitting and making bandages, and was one of the billeting officers. Mr. Harrison did many kind deeds, unknown to the world—such as looking after sick and aged people, in addition to the work of the church, where his members of the choir were called to war work on Sundays, and therefore could not attend always.

The spire was examined at this time, and could not be repaired owing to the war, and shortage of materials. The Vicar taught each Sunday, in the school, after taking the Y.P.G.