Sunday, 16 April 2017

Wysall and Thorpe in the Glebe

This has to be one of the prettiest villages we have visited so far .... greatly helped by the lovely weather and the time of year as the glorious daffoldils were shown off to perfection.  Every road was lined with them.  They came in all sorts of sizes and colour combinations.  Apparently there are 30,000 different cultivars of daffodils: a large number of which seem to be on display around Wysall.

Wysall is a 'Thankful Village' meaning every man who signed up to serve in the First World War returned alive.  Twelve Wysall men went to fight: one soldier, John Derrick, was shot in the leg so returned injured but he lived to tell the tale.  There are only 41 Thankful Villages in Nottinghamshire.

A beautiful church clock was commisioned in 1920 to commemorate the bravery of these 12 villagers.  It cost a grand total of £118 and was made by G & F Cope and Co.  This company was established by two brothers in 1845 and is still in business today as a family jewellers with shops in Nottingham and Newark.  They specialised in large public clocks for a time: the Council House clock in Nottingham city centre is another of their designs.

Wysall did not get off so lightly during the Second World War ... a plaque in the church informed us James Robert Elding, a 21 year old pilot in the RAF Voluntary Reserves, was killed in action.

Holy Trinity Church sits in the centre of the village and was built in the 14th century but the Normans had a church here in the 11th century ..... built on the site of an even earlier Anglo Saxon church.  According to the Southwell Church Project people have worshipped on this site for well over 1000 years.

The inside of the building must have looked very different in the 16th century when the walls were covered with "a blaze of murals" and the windows were filled with stained glass depicting the lives of the saints.  All this colour was removed along with the stone altar, the Great Rood (or cross) and the Holy Water stoup once Henry VIII broke with Rome.

Some stained glass has been reintroduced during the 20th century though:

Inside the church we found the alabastor tomb of Hugh Armstrong Esq and his wife, Mary, who was the daughter of  Henry Sacheverell of Ratcliffe on Soar.  Hugh had died in December 1572 while Mary had died ten years earlier.

The Armstrong family had a long connection with the neighbouring village of Thorpe in the Glebe.  Unfortunately this village no longer exists because in 1518 Hugh's father, Gabriel, decided to enclose his land, evict the villagers and introduce sheep.  Dr Thoroton, writing in the 1670s, was not impressed ... he thought Gabriel Armstrong "hath so ruined and depopulated the town that there was not a house left inhabited in this notable Lordship (except some part of the Hall), but a shepherd only kept ale to sell in the Church . . . ."  Today there are a few scattered farmhouses that make up an area called Thorpe in the Glebe but there is no real village .... other than the mounds and dips in the land near to Church Site Farm indicating the site of the original village.

Thorpe is a Scadinavian name for a 'second settlement' so Wysall was always the main village of the two.  Historically a glebe was an area of land used to support a parish priest but here it means 'a field' - an older name for Thorpe in the Glebe was Thorpe in the Clottes (referring to the heavy clay clods of soil here).

A second monument in the church was a colourful mural dedicated to George Widmerpole who died in 1689 at the age of 84.  The Widmerpools were a wealthy family who owned property in Wysall.  The mural was found when the south wall of the church was removed during the church renovation in 1872.

The amusing Green Man carving below is to be found on a 15th century misericord ..... a seat with two positions: one for sitting down properly and the second designed to make it look like you are standing up ..... the poor old clergy were supposed to stand a long time during some services!  I thought a Green Man in a Christian church would be quite unusual but apparently not .... 

During 1623 a number of Nottinghamshire court documents record people being reprimanded for taking sick relatives to see the Stroking Boy of Wysall.  There are about twenty such references showing people had travelled quite long distances (from Trowell, Wollaton, Broughton Soulney and West Bridgford). The boy obviously had quite a reputation as a faith healer. There are no further references to the child after 1623.

 In 1894 Wysall was a bustling place with its own school, wheelwright and blacksmith, joiner, bootmaker, grocer, butcher, shop and stilton cheese manufactuer.  Add the farmers and the public house and you have a self sufficient community.  The Plough public house is still there .... and well worth a visit ... but most residents now commute to work.

The Plough was the scene of an inquest into a murder in 1843.  Here are two extracts from The Times newspaper as the crime hit the national news:

The Times, Wednesday 31 May 1843
Supposed Murder of a Son by his Father
Last week the neighbourhood of Wymeswold was in a state of considerable excitement, caused by the discovery of the body of a gentleman named Isaac Kettleband, of Wysall, in a pond on the farm of Mr. Hebb ... Circumstances subsequently transpired which led to the apprehension of the father of the deceased, on suspicion of having committed the murder. On Wednesday and Thursday last an inquest was held before Mr. Swan, coroner, when it appeared that the deceased was last seen alive with his father near the pond in question on the 12th instant. Mr. Brown, of Wymeswold, surgeon, was of opinion that the neck of the unfortunate youth had first been broken, and that his body was afterwards thrown into the pond. The inquest was adjourned to the 30th instant, and the father of the deceased was committed to Nottingham Gaol to await the result.
The Times, Saturday 3 June 1843
Wilful Murder
On Friday, May 10, a lad named Isaac Kettleband, aged 10 years, son of William Kettleband, of Wysall, labourer, was missing. On the Tuesday following his body was found in a horse-pond, on the farm of Mr. Henry Hebb, situated near to a barn and a stable, at which the deceased and his father usually worked. An inquest was held on the body the same evening before Mr. C. Swann, coroner, and no evidence to the contrary being adduced, a verdict of "Accidentally drowned" was returned. On the same evening and during the next day, the village gossips, in talking the affair over, began to think it possible that foul play might have been used, as the father of the deceased was known to be a violent and passionate man, and it was notorious that he had always most shamefully and brutally maltreated the boy. Mr. Browne, of Wymeswold, surgeon, was sent for to examine the body, and he at once discovered that the neck was dislocated, and gave it as his most decided opinion that it was broken before the body reached the water. The pond in which deceased was found is about 10 ½ yards by 4, and a yard and a half or two yards deep in some parts; it is, except at one corner, surrounded by a dead fence, about 4 feet high, and is so situate that the boy could not possibly have broken his neck in falling in accidentally. These circumstances, connected with the anxiety the father exhibited to have the corpse interred before any surgical examination took place, excited such suspicions that the deceased had been unfairly "done to death," that a second inquest was decreed indispensable. Accordingly a notice was sent to the coroner, and Kettleband was taken into custody. Mr. Swann consequently commenced a most rigid inquiry on Thursday, the 25th, which was at the close of the day adjourned until Monday last, the 29th. Mr. Hebb, in whose employ the deceased and his father were, has three farms – one at each of the villages of Wysall, Keyworth, and Stanton – and there is no residence on the farms at Wysall. The farm buildings are situate about a mile from the village, and stand the width of a very large field from the road; they consist of a barn and stables at right angles to each other, and the pond spoken of is not more than 25 or 30 yards distant. On Thursday a jury assembled at the Plough Inn, Wysall, before whom Mr. Swann commenced his inquiry, and a verdict was returned of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown." The prisoner was then discharged out of custody.

On 19th December 1843 William Kettleband was tried for the murder of his son.  The jury decided to acquit him of murder even though he had abused the boy and evidence proved he had ridden a horse through the pond to hide any evidence.  He was convicted of manslaughter for which he was transported to a penal colony for life.

 According to Wikipedia there are two more newspaper references worthy of our attention:

Remarkable foot race in 1847

The Derby Mercury, Wednesday 18 August 1847
On Thursday the 5th instant, at the quiet village of Wysall, a somewhat remarkable foot-race took place – remarkable, not for the distance run, nor for the speed of the runners, but for the fact that each of them has been running a race with old Time for more than ninety years – one having exceeded his great climacteric 28, the other 33 years. The distance was forty yards. The competitors were – Mr. Wootton Bryans, sen., aged 96, and Mr. John Hogg, aged 91 – the latter winning by just a yard – which so nettled or rather mettled his rival, that he challenged him to jump for a guinea. When this match is to come off, or whether the challenge was accepted, we have not learnt.

Death by oyster

With the Old Market Square in Nottingham being a popular destination for the nineteenth-century Wysall farmer, you would expect these hard workers to be treated well in town. If the following story is anything to go by, the remaining farmers in the area would be wise to consider giving up seafood.
The Pall Mall Gazette (London, England), Monday 17 February 1868; Issue 942
On Saturday night Mr. Richard Marshall, farmer, of Wysall, near Nottingham, met with his death by an extraordinary misadventure. He went to an oyster stall in the Market-place, Nottingham, and ordered some oysters to be opened. The first handed to him was a very large one, and stuck in his throat. He was unable to dislodge it, fell to the ground gasping for breath, and was carried at once to the hospital, but died on his way. The deceased was a married man and has left a large family.

The village is a very active community with lots of clubs, societies and events advertised on the Wysall website.

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