The trees have obviously grown since the road sign was painted but everything else seemed to have remained the same on the day we visited ... even down to the brown horse being ridden down the road (no, it isn't in the photo but it was there as you will see!).
Cropwell Bishop has grown quite considerably in recent times: there was a population of 300 in the census of 1801 which had risen to 650 by 1850. Today there are over 2000 residents. It is a popular place to live: it is an attractive village with a rural setting but it is conveniently close to road and rail links. The increased population has changed the structure of the village though. In the 1800s it was a self-contained place with the census listing such occupations as miller, dressmaker, tailor, shoemaker, lace-maker, carpenter, bricklayer, butcher, plumber, farmer and publican. Within living memory there were ten working farms in and around the place. Gypsum was mined nearby and the Grantham canal was a busy route as it passed by the village. Many of the houses in West Bridgford were constructed from bricks made at the Cropwell Bishop brick works then transported to Bridgford by canal boats.
Well, the gypsum works have gone, the canal is quiet and the barns have become homes or business premises. Two large housing estates were built during the 1950s and more new building has occured since. Today the Co-op seemed to be doing a roaring trade and three public houses serve the population. When the gypsum works were in operation there were five pubs ... the Canal Inn and the Plough and Harrow have long gone.
The Wheatsheaf is a 400 year old coaching inn; The Chequers which is ungoing a facelift and, just outside the village is The Lime Kiln. Legend has it Dick Turpin stayed in one of these establishments .... someone else who appreciated the close proximity to local road routes!
Another old building which is no longer in existance was to be found on Mill Lane ... a steam mill that dramatically collapsed in 1910 when the steam engine blew up. A second mill had been located at the top of Fern Hill. This mill was mentioned in documents dating back to 1686. Unfortunately that mill blew down in a gale in 1849 but it was rebuilt and working again two years later. There is no sign of it now.
As you drive into Cropwell Bishop the road sign tells you the village is famous for Stilton Cheese. Our first stop had to be the cheese shop.
The Cropwell Bishop Creamery is a great little place. I was imagining a small cheese counter in the warehouse but no, it is a proper shop displaying jars of jams, pickles, fruits and curds; cheese biscuits and waffers; cheese boards and cheese knives .... and a whole selection of cheeses. Now I do not like cheese ... never have done ... I try it every so often but always pull a face and ask for a drink so it came as a real surprise to find their Fig and Orange Stilton is delicious!! The lovely shop assistant, Sarah, was cutting a piece as I was perusing their interesting recipe cards when the delightful smell of oranges tempted me to sample a bit. I was converted. The piece we bought didn't last long when we got it home (nor did the Stilton with Blueberry) so now we have to go back. Right, sales pitch over! (Really is worth a visit though!)
Down the road in the centre of the village is St Giles Church. Apparently there are under-ground tunnels under the church after a Reverend Dobbin had a house built incorporating a passage between the buildings. Why he needed an underground tunnel to connect his house to the church is anyone's guess.
Parts of this building date back to the 13th century. Inside the porch "TB" carefully carved the ceiling beam with the date on 27th August 1608! I love things like that!
Inside was another treat .... the ancient oak pews had inticate poppy carved heads and had been cut to fit round the stout pillars. Brilliant!
Near the altar we found slate gravestones (one by Wood of Bingham) that still had the gold inlaid into the carvings. All the ones I have seen so far have been outside so the gold had gone: these revealed how beautiful the stones would have looked when they were new.
Judging by the number of names on the brass war memorial Cropwell Bishop played its part in both World Wars. The War Memorial Hall was built in the village and opened in 1932 by the Prince of Wales (who would later become King Edward VIII).
One on the First World War soldiers who died was Frank Wood, the son of the vicar. Frank was a subaltern in the Sherwood Foresters attached to the Machine Gun Company. He was badly injured at Passchendaele on 4th October 1917 and, sadly, died on 23rd October. There is a plaque to his memory and a stained glass window commemorates the others who gave their lives.
Someone else connected to the village who lost his life too early is Henry Norreys. King Henry VIII granted the manor of Cropwell Bishop (together with Stoke Bardolph, Gedling, Newton and Carlton) to Sir Edward Norreys. Henry Norreys inherited the manor from Edward. Henry was a favourite of the King and was granted positions at Court and grants of more land. Unfortunately for him he was a favourite of Anne Boleyn too! Norreys had been an admirer of Anne before she met the King so the two were always close. On the 1st of May 1536 the royal couple were attending a jousting match in which Norreys was competing. Anne dropped a handkerchief, Norreys picked it up and kept it. King Henry was far from happy and immediately left the tournament. Henry Norris was arrested and executed along with Anne's brother and three other courtiers for high treason, all accused of adultery with the Queen. His lands reverted back to the Crown and were later granted to Lady Anne Stanhope of Shelford. Modern historians believe the accusations were false ... just a way of Henry getting rid of Anne because he had met Jane Seymour.
According to Wikipedia 'Queen Elizabeth I always honoured his memory, believing that he died "in a noble cause and in the justification of her mother's innocence".'
Next to the church is the old school house: a Board School built in 1878 after the Elementary Education Act of 1870 which was the beginning of state education. Compulsory education began in 1880 (but truancy was a major issue as it meant children had to give up work!). The village children attended school here until the 1960s. This building is now used as a Community Building where a wealth of meetings take place each week ... Gardening and Allotment clubs: Mother & Baby; Cinema Club; Youth Club; Bridge Club and Zumba to name a few. There is no shortage of community spirit here.
We wandered off down the road towards the old Manor when we stopped to photograph a beautiful brown horse at the livery yard.
The yard belongs to Jon Barlow and the sign on the gate said "horse breaking". He very kindly explained his job to us: you can't just throw a saddle on a young animal .... an awful lot of time, dedication and attention to detail is needed to prepare a really good riding horse. They breed, train and sell horses at the stable. Jon took us to see this beautiful four day old foal.
Just look at those long legs! The father is a German showjumping champion called Chaman .... not just any old horse .... this is one of Germany's elite! Who knows, this little foal could be an Olympic medalist of the future!
The Barlow family have long been connected to the village. I found this post on the BBC website from 1986:
"The Cropwell Bishop stables are situated on the main road quite near Mill Hill. They stable Hunters, and the hunt meets at Cropwell Bishop every year. Prince Charles once rode in it .The stables are owned by Mr.Tom Barlow who was invited to the wedding of His Royal Highness Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer. Prince Charles wanted to buy Mr. Barlow's horse, Lulu, but Mr. Barlow wanted to keep it."
We thanked the family for an interesting visit and continued up to the old manor house.
One of nine listed buildings in the village ... the others are cottages (one of which is a black and white timber framed Tudor cottage on Fern Road); St Giles Church; the Methodist Chapel and the Wheatsheaf pub.
We met some interesting, friendly people during our visit. The village is bigger than most we have visited so far but it maintains its 'country' feel. Numerous Public Footpath signs point the way into the surrounding fields and horses are ridden through the streets. It stands out from the other villages by having more than one pub still in business ... we will be visiting again .... not just for the cheese.
|The Lime Kiln - Just outside Cropwell Bishop|
This is the first village that we have visited to boast three pubs within its boundaries. Needless to say I had to revisit to try them all. Stop number one was the Lime Kiln which is some way out of Cropwell Bishop if truth be told. It was a fine sunny afternoon when we visited and so we took full advantage of the garden - a well-kept and commodious affair! Unfortunately this pub keeps no real ales and there are no hand-pumped beers. If you want a real ale you have to buy a bottle. Instead I plumped for the keg Bombardier.I was pleasantly surprised!
Map of Cropwell Bishop: click here.