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Some will know that this is the site of the Forest Folk Hotel, built in 1926 and the spot for many joyful, memorable occasions.  The pub was knocked down to make way for the shop to many people’s disappointment.

 

 “The Cradle”, representing the ancient "Rocking Ceremony", performed at St Mary of the purification in Blidworth, can be found here.  An ancient ceremony which is performed in the St Mary of the Purification, Main Street, Blidworth, Notts, marks the presentation of baby Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem.  On Sunday, the baby boy born nearest to Christmas Day in the village would be rocked in a cradle.

 

On the opposite side of the cradle is a flower planter that now has a plaque in commemoration of James Prior, local author and poet.

James Prior Kirk 1851 – 1922, the author of several novels that are all set in around Nottinghamshire.  The novel Forest Folk, published in 1901, was the name inspiration for the Hotel that once stood in this spot.


Born at Mapperley Road, Nottingham in 1851, his parents were James Kirk and Sarah Jane Prior. Together they ran a millinery business in Nottingham. James attended various schools in and around Nottingham. At age eighteen he left school and at the insistence of his father he began training as a Solicitor.


“If yo think a man‘ll come the sooner becos a woman waits, yo’ve summat to larn. M’appen yo’re afeared he’s gettin’ wet? O’ th’ outside I mean. Get yo’ to bed! It’s no night to be traipsin’ back’ards and for’ards int’ road lookin’ for a bad sixpenny bit”.


The local dialect of his characters sparkle with wit and energy, but his narrative style perhaps bears too much of a strain for the typical middle-class bookworm.



Albert Spinks the Gamekeeper, Joseph Whitaker and the Egyptian Nightjar

Our story begins in 1883, June 23rd to be precise. On that day, Albert Spinks whilst shooting at a rabbit, disturbed a bird and it flew away from the side of the pathway where he stood. He fired his second barrel and brought it down. He noticed its curious colour, came to the conclusion it was a young bird, took it home and threw it into the ashpit.

Joseph Whitaker, naturalist and sportsman of Rainworth Lodge, called on Albert  Spinks and the incident of the bird came into the conversation, whereupon Albert fetched the bird to show him.   To quote Joseph Whitaker “I thought it was a variety and sent it to my stuffer who contrived to make a fair specimen of it” It turns out to be an Egyptian Nightjar and only the second occurrence of this bird in Europe, and the first known sighting in Britain at that time. This stuffed Egyptian Nightjar is stored in the Mansfield Museum.

A memorial stone was erected on the spot where the bird was shot, but sadly in 1972 the memorial was very badly damaged by vandals. Wilf Wild wrote in his book that he searched through the bracken and found most of the pieces. Will Richards wrote that in 1985 whilst walking with Roland Berridge who worked in Thieves Wood as a forester, that they found a further piece. Will Richards also wrote that all these pieces are in safe keeping. It was felt that if the memorial was rebuilt it would meet a similar fate. In 1989 a more vandal proof stone was erected close to the original spot.

Joseph Whitaker died at the age of 82 years on May 27th 1932, he was cremated and his remains deposited in the grounds of Rainworth Lodge.