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Scarrington Village History

 

The following text is reproduced from a lecture given to the members of the Scarrington Women's Institute by Captain S. Harker-Smith in 1930 that was found in the Church archives. The information provides a wonderful snapshot of the village at that time, along with an invaluable historical record for the local community.

 

It is impossible to say exactly how old Scarrington is, but it is probable that there was a village of sorts here 2000 years ago. According to one authority the name Scarrington was originally “Scarringass” and was named after the chief man who lived in the village. We know that the ancient Britons had a camp here and this camp was defended by a moat and stockade; the last portion of the moat was filled in about 1810 and was near the Men's Institute. The field next door to Mr Stafford’s is called “The Saucers”. There are three depressions in the field which were originally dew ponds and were made by Ancient Britons. When the Ancient Britons were here, this part of the country was mainly wooded, and each of the villages would be a small clearance in the wood.

 

There is no record of Scarrington in Roman times, but the village probably continued to exist as if it was still here under the Saxons. The Saxons, like most of the invaders who have visited this country, came up the Trent, and gradually spread inland from the river. They soon settled down as farmers and had a very democratic system of government. The people were classed into families of tens, and ten families formed a Hundred. There was no army, but all the men and boys over 14 years old had to serve during the war. Each district was called a Wapentake; thus we have Scarrington which is still described as being in the Hundred of Bingham and the Wapentake of Newark.

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In Saxon times every family in the village held land. The land in the parish was divided into strips, and each family had one or more strips. The strips might be dotted about all over the place, so that you might hold a strip of land in one field, two strips another field a mile away, and perhaps one or more strips somewhere else. An acre of land was sold at the price of four sheep, and the sheep were sold at 4/- each. There was no sugar, honey being used for sweetening purposes and also for making an intoxicating drink called Mead. People lived a very simple life, and as far as we can tell their principal recreation was getting drunk. Trading to a great extent was done by barter, and money was not very much in evidence. 

 

In the 19th Century the Danes invaded England and came up the Trent into Nottinghamshire. After fighting which lasted for one hundred years, they eventually conquered the Saxons and settled fairly strongly in this part of the world. One of the effects of this was that many of the churches which had been built by the Saxons, who were Christians, were destroyed, or partly destroyed by the Danes. Scarrington church seems to have been pretty fortunate. The North wall dates back from 825, the tower was built in 940, and the arches in 1216. The chancel was built in 845 but seems to have been a that pulled down, or allowed to get into ruin, as it has been rebuilt at least once since. The iron cross was put up on top of the spire in 940 and is now inside the church.

 

After the Norman conquest, that is after 1066, the land was given by William the Conqueror to various adventurers who had come over with him. William the Conqueror had a record made of all the property in each Hundred and each Manor, and so we get some very interesting information from this record, which is known as the doomsday book. This is what it says about Scarrington:

 

“This is also a berew of Orston and rated to the Dane Geld at two car.  There the King had two ploughs or car and 23 villains and four bordars having five car and a half.”

 

At this time Scarrington was called Skerington, and this name persisted for a long time. The chief man in the neighbourhood was the Lord of the Manor of Whatton, whose name was Dr Whatton, and he had a bailiff who lived in Scarrington. The first time Scarrington is mentioned as a Manor is about the year 1300, when the younger brother Sir Richard de Whatton called himself Roger de Scarrington. The Manor remained in his family for a long time, and eventually passed to the family of Shipman, who called themselves Shipman de Scarrington. The Shipman’s apparently came into possession of the land in 1567.

 

After the Norman conquest there was very bad feeling between the Saxons and the Normans for a long time. It is interesting to note that Nottingham was divided into 2 towns, and a big wall was built between the two, which went across the marketplace. The Saxons lived in the part of the town which is now known as the Lace Market and had the town hall at weekday cross.; the Norman town hall was near Saint James's Church. In the country districts there was not so much trouble. Under the Normans, generally speaking, the Hundred Courts, which had been responsible for the trial of offenders during the Saxon times, were largely abolished, and the Lords of the Manor were autocrats in their own villages. In Nottinghamshire, some of the Hundred Courts survived, it is interesting to note that in this part of the country there were fewer serfs than there were elsewhere, probably because the natives, who were a mixture of Saxons and Danes, were more independent.

 

At this time the houses were built of stone or wood and had no glazed windows. The serfs’ houses would be made of wattle and daub. Rents for cottages will be anything from 1/- to 2/- per year. At this time Scarrington was not a parish of its own but was a Chapel of Orston. The services of the church were held by the curate from Orston, and occasionally were rather badly held. There were no seats in the church, people either sat on the floor or round the bottoms of the pillars.

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The next time that I can find any mention of Scarrington is during the Civil War, which started in 1642. During this war, Nottingham was held for the Parliament, and Newark, and most of the villages in the county were fighting for King Charles. During the Civil war, Cromwell's soldiers occupied the village for some time. They threw the font out of doors, and it was used as a pump trough until about 30 years ago when it was given back to the church by Mr Stafford. They also destroyed the tombstones in the churchyard and destroyed a small Chapel which used to stand there. A Scarrington man named George Armstrong, who was descended from the Shipmans, reproved a vile Parliament Soldier for swearing and cursing and was stabbed to death. Another Scarrington man killed one of Cromwell’s soldiers, and was hidden by his friends in the ceiling of the church. The church was restored in 1867 and a cup and saucer, a plate and a bundle of hay, were found in the tower.

 

It is interesting to note that this times Scarrington was a more important place than Aslockton, which was called Aslackton. Apparently, it is only within the last 50 years that this name changed to its present form. At the time of which we are talking, in the 17th Century, Aslackton was described as Aslackton by Scarrington. In 1660, the whole of Scarrington, together with parts of Aslockton, Thornton and Car Colston belonged to two maiden ladies who lived in the Old Hall near the churchyard. One of them married a Roman Catholic named Robert Vavasour of Bingham. He sold the property to Mundy Masters Esquire, late of Colwick, who sold it to John Wright Esquire, a banker in Nottingham. Amongst the church papers there is a document creating a charge of 10/- per year in the Red House Farm, for the benefit of the poor. This document is signed by Robert Vavasour.

Thornton's History of Nottinghamshire says “There is nothing of note in the village or church; The latter has a Spire steeple with three bells.” The Old Hall was built about 1440. And the people who lived there had a private entrance to the church. You will see a blocked-up doorway in the garden wall and another in the north wall of the church.

In the church was a gallery. Instead of an organ, we had a band which sat in the gallery. There were two family pews in the chancel. The right-hand side one belonged to the Flower family, and the left-hand side to the Shipman’s. The front was near the Shipman’s pew. Between the pews and in front of the altar there was an iron stove. At the time of which I am talking, which was about 1802, the church was in a very neglected state. The South aisle was pulled down and the space between the pillars and arches was filled with brickwork. The ceiling was flat and the high two-decker pulpit stood about midway down the South aisle. All the farm servants and lads were expected to attend Church. If they were absent without a reasonable cause, they were not provided with beer for dinner by their masters on that day. The clergyman would robe in a white surplus by the pulpit in the presence of the congregation, and then take his place at his desk just below the pulpit proper. The Clark sat on a lower seat at the side. If there were no musicians present, he would start the singing with his tuning fork. Before the sermon the clergyman would change his surplus for a black gown.

I've already mentioned that we had a band instead of an organ. The band consisted of a flageolet, cello, and accordion, and was very popular with the Parishioners. when there was no service at the church, the band would attend the Chapel. This gave great offence to the Vicar, and eventually he refused to have a band. A harmonium was then introduced into the church, and was played by a young lady of the village. She was rather shy, and during the service she was screened off with a red curtain; but after a few Sundays, when she had gained more courage, the curtain was removed.

 

In 1867, Scarrington became a parish and was joined with Aslockton. The brick wall on the South side was removed, and the new South aisle was built. The old pews and pulpit, as well as the flat ceiling, were removed. In 1896 the tower and Spire were repaired. The original font is not in use. The present font dates from 1662, and the carved oak lid on it was designed and presented to the church by Mr Reeves, who used to be the schoolmaster here. I've already mentioned the Old Hall. One of the rooms which is now, I think, in Scruffins Cottage was lined with old oak, but has been covered up with plaster. The top floor used to have latticed windows with ‘cheese room’ painted above them. They used to be a tax on windows, but lattice windows without glass and with cheese room painted over them were exempt from tax. The last person who lived at the Old Hall was a Mrs Marsh. Her husband fell into the Moat and was drowned in 1810. In 1820, Mrs Marsh died and the hall was divided into 3 cottages.

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There is a pinfold near Newton's house. Every village had a Pinder, whose duty it was to impound horses, sheep and cattle found straying on the road. The owner had to pay one shilling each for horses and cattle, and either threepence or sixpence for each sheep. Another parish official was the Beadle, whose duty it was to turn all dogs out of Church, and to wake up all people who went to sleep during the service. The Beadle had a uniform and top hat. At that time, the Churchyard was called the ‘Parsons Freehold’, for which he had a vote. The outbuildings at the back of the Gables were originally the back part of the village Inn. This stood opposite the Church, where Major Walker’s crew yard now is and was called ‘The Wheel’. I have already mentioned that one of Cromwell’s soldiers killed a Scarrington man. This happened at the Inn. A short time ago when I was having some alterations made to the outbuildings at the Gables, we found that there was a paved yard about 18 inches below the present yard. This would have been the Inn’s courtyard.

 

Lunnon is apparently very old. Two of the mud cottages date back as far as 1340, but I cannot say which they are. Apparently most of the cottages there were built about 200 years ago. They were built by labourers on common land, and we're made of road scrapings and stubble. They were also thatched with stubble. At one time they belonged to the people who built them, but about 60 years ago a man named Mee paid rent for his cottage in return for some service done by the Parish, and gradually all the cottages became Parish property. At the time when these cottages were built, corn was harvested by hand, and the stubble left was about 2 feet high. They used to be a school near the gate at Lunnon. This school afterwards moved to part of the Old Hall where Nash’s cottage is, and the School at Lunnon became a mangle house, containing a large old-fashioned mangle which consisted of two heavy rollers filled with stones. The charge for the use of the mangle was a penny. The mangle house was pulled down some 30 years ago.

 

There have been some queer characters at Lunnon. An old lady named Nanny Spybey used to live there and had a great reputation as a walker. She used to work the fields, and she always said that when she came home she could light the fire, put the kettle on and walk to Aslockton and buy a pennyworth of tea and a pennyworth of sugar and get back again by the time the kettle had boiled. It is reported that she used to sleep with a goose's wing on a chair by the side of the bed, and used to get up periodically and sweep the fleas out of the bed with the wing. The recipe for Scarrington pie originated at Lunnon.

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Mr Worley’s grandfather married as his second wife, Nell Roadley. She had some thatched cottages up Speller Hill, but after they were married she lived at Lunnon. Apparently, she was not a very satisfactory wife, and he had to take strong measures with her. On one occasion he thrashed her with a walking stick. The next day when he got home, he found a large pie on the table. When it when he started to carve it he thought that there was rather a lot of bone in it, and when at last, he got it open he found that his wife had chopped up his walking stick into small pieces and made a pie of it.

 

I have been lent a directory of Nottinghamshire, which was published in 1853. This contains some very interesting information. At the time, Scarrington was rather larger than it is now as it had 230 inhabitants. The principle landowner was Mr Flower who lived in the house where Mr Stafford now lives. The Lord of the Manor was Thomas Watson, who lived at Manor Farm. He had three brothers who lived at the Red House farm. According to this directory, the Chapel was built by the Watson family in 1818.

 

In addition to being bigger in those days, Scarrington was apparently a much more wealthy village. There were several prosperous farmers who lived there, and it was said that Scarrington and Cropwell Butler were the two richest places in the county. Apparently, some of the inhabitants were what we should call nowadays rather lively. They were rather fond of racing and gambling. At one time, the farm opposite the Gables used to be a training stable, and it was occupied by Robert Ludlow. One of the farmers had a pony called ‘Silver Toes’ and on one occasion he drove to Newark show, won the first prize, and drove her home again. In those days there was a paper called ‘The Owl’. It always had an article which reported the misdeeds and shortcomings of the local people. The column was always headed ‘it is true that’, and it is reported that one of the Scarrington farmers appeared in this paper every week through one cause or another. Taking the list of people in the directory, we find that the local farmers were;

  1. William Blagg, who lived where Mrs Pickworth now lives. At that time there was a crew yard in front of the house, and Mr Blagg filled this and did a lot of rebuilding to the house itself. He built the archway at the side of the house, and also rebuilt the outbuildings. This was about 50 years ago.

  2. Mr Fisher lived at Scarrington House.

  3. Robert Ludlow lived at Garoods Farm.

  4. Thomas Marsh lived at White House farm. At that time there were no railings in front of the White House, and there was a little green there which was called Scarrington green. The feast used to be held there, but it was enclosed about 70 years ago.

  5. As I've already told you, Thomas Watson lived at the Manor Farm and three brothers of his, John, Robert and William lived at Red House farm.

  6. William Welborne lived at The Gables, which was then not quite as it is big as it is now. The entrance was at the front facing the street.

The other people in the village at that time who are mentioned in the directory, the first one is George Blackwell, a Shoemaker. He lived in a house near the cottage where Herbert Smith lives. Next door to him was William Payling, the butcher. He was the Grandfather of Mr Pailing who now lives in Aslockton. 

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It is interesting to note that the last beast was killed in a butcher’s shop in Scarrington 45 years ago, and was killed on a Sunday. William Paling was a Sunday School superintendent and ran a clothing club in the village. He used to collect 3d. per week from the children and add 3d. himself, and then distributed the money when it had accumulated. Unfortunately, some of the villages spent the money on barrels of beer instead of clothing, so instead of giving money he used to give vouchers which could be exchanged at Doncaster’s in Bingham.

 

William Rowarth was a Joiner and had a shop where Mrs Cheatham's cottage is. He lived in a thatched house just behind the shop. This house was knocked down when Mrs Cheatham's cottage was built. On one occasion, Rowarth was the victim of a joke. Some of the men in the village had been celebrating Plough Monday, and one of them was dressed up as a doctor with a top hat. In the evening they hauled him up to the roof of Rowarth’s cottage, and he put the top hat over the chimney. The next morning when joiner got up, he could not get the fire to burn, and eventually, I believe, went to work without any breakfast. What he said when he came back at midday and saw the top hat is not recorded.

Robert Hardy, a cattle dealer, lived in a thatched cottage in the stackyard at the back of The Gables. This cottage was knocked down when two new cottages were built. John Clarke was the blacksmith and lived in a mud house. The house where Newton lives was built by his Grandfather. He tells me that his father gave Mr Black and a new seed drill for the key of the blacksmith's shop. The Parish Charity, which amounts to about £7.00 per year, was left by Mr Wyman who lived where Mr Johnson now lives.

 

The Whalleys are one of the oldest families in the village, and at one time there were five Whalleys living at Lunnon. It is possible that they are descended from the Whalleys of Screveton. If you look in Scarrington Church you will see a monument to one of the Whalleys who had three wives and 23 children. His grandson was a prominent man during the Civil War, and in Cromwell's time was Major General of the county. He was one of the men who signed the death warrant of Charles the First, and after the Restoration he went to America where he died.

 

Scarrington School does not appear to have had a very interesting history. The present school is about 60 years old and was built by voluntary subscription. It was turned into a Church School by Canon Pavey when he was the Vicar here. There used to be a shop at Lunnon where Sill’s Cottage is, which sold toffee and matches and was kept by Maria Simpson. She used to sit behind the door spotting lace on a frame. It is interesting to note that 60 or 70 years ago the Scarrington women used to do stocking and lace work at home.

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I will conclude this paper with two anecdotes. The first is about a man named Pritchett, who lived at Aslockton, but worked at Wyman's in Scarrington. He went down to Mrs Brown, who kept a shop at Aslockton, and complained to her that when her candles were burnt half down they did not burn any longer. She was so annoyed about this and said that her candles were as good as anybody's, and that he could bring them back for her to look at them. His reply was, of course, ‘they don't burn longer, they burn shorter’. 

 

The second story is it about the Scarrington ghost. Two apprentices went up to the belfry, tied a piece of coco-binding around the Clapper of one of the bells and took it across the road into Collin’s Yard. After dark, they sat at the top of the stack and pulled the Clapper. This naturally caused a little stir and the Vicar, Clerk and another man eventually went up the tower with a lantern. As soon as the two lads saw the light in the tower, they stopped pulling, and the party came down the tower. As soon as they had got down, the bell rang again, and back they went. Again, the bell stopped, and they came down the tower. As soon as they came outside the church, bell rang again, and I believe that by that time they did not dare go up to the tower again. The joke was kept up for three nights and then the coco-binding broke and it was found in the lane, and so the ghost was laid.

Captain S. Harker-Smith, 1930

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