Sam Clarke wrote, referred to the Harvest and the Mansfield Statutes Fair in the 19th century:

“Harvest was a time when every able-bodied man & woman who could be spared sallied forth to shear the wheat with the historic sickle, barley was mown with a scythe & carted loose, and oats were a negligible quantity.  Women & children also used to glean the fields as soon as the crop had been gathered, no farmers would have dared to stop them, as they deemed it an inalienable right even as Ruth on the plains of Bethlehem.  In the Psalms we read of the JOY of harvest and truly it was a joyful pleasant and profitable period when a little extra money was earned to meet extraordinary expenses. Almost every family fed a pig for their own consumption and so the corn gleaned when threshed with a flail would be taken some windy day, chaff and all, into a field, a sheet was spread on the grass, the corn being poured steadily over the sheet, 4 or 5 feet high, the useless chaff would flee before the wind, the resultant wheat would be sent to the village windmill to be turned into flour for bread, if mixed with other corn, meal for the pig which when fattened was usually killed for Christmas or the *Rocking Blidworth Feast 1st Sunday in February.”

Farm servants, male and female, were hired at the Mansfield Statutes Fair on the first Friday in November; they would generally walk to Mansfield then take their stand on the pavement at the bottom of Leeming Street facing the Town Hall, the girls on the Westgate side, the “Chaps” on the Church St. side waiting to be hired, after a deal of haggling on both sides, a bargain was struck , “earnest money”, or commonly called the “Fastening Penny” generally about 2/6 was given to the future employee to clinch the bargain, arrangements were made as to date to commence work, which was usually the latter end of Nov.  Leaving day was Nov. 23, Martinmas day, when their wages were paid; they would then pay their laundress for washing and mending their clothes for the year 10/- usually, cheap enough!  Shoemaker and Tailor were visited paying up, and if natives, getting measured for another rig out for the coming year.  How they managed to save anything at all was wonderful.  A weeks’ holiday!! Before were pitchforked into a new environment. Are you stopping “again?” some old greybeard would ask his equally aged and hirsute townsman, was an annual joke, “Ah! A don’t think a’shall shift this year” was the usual reply.  Mansfield Statutes is still held, but only as a Pleasure Fair. At some of the larger farms a harvest supper was provided for all those who had helped in any way, men and women, the gathering took place either in the barn or the commodious farm kitchen, after a good “tuck in” tables were cleared, songs were called for and responded to by members of the company, healths were drunk perhaps oftener than was necessary, home-brewed beer being served ad lib. Cheers for the Master and Mistress were given with gusto and wishes expressed for a bumping harvest next year. They then wended their way home as well as head and legs would permit; to begin another year’s “daily round and common task”, drab but full of infinite variety.”

Blidworth and the First World War - by John & Dale Smallwood; on behalf of the B&DH&H Society.

Forward: Our late President, Bill Richards had an incredible memory for the things he had experienced and witnessed.  The Society is grateful that his interest in local history encouraged him to delve into the Parish of Blidworth’s past and record it in one or other of the many books he wrote.  Bill was born during the Great War and was able to be part of how Blidworth changed following the conflict.  Furthermore, he was always willing to pass on his knowledge and was an inspiration to everyone who shared his interest in local history.  Interestingly, but not surprisingly. The time he spent fighting in the second World War was spoken sparingly and the event that led to him being mentioned in dispatches for bravery was a subject he totally refused to discuss or describe.  He did allow his citation to be displayed but that is as far as he was willing to go.”

For more see the book, members can borrow from our archives or you can purchase the book by emailing us at External link opens in new tab or


It was 1920 before the village had permanent memorials to those who lost their life in the Great War.  One erected inside St Mary’s Church; along with a role of honour, and one inside the Wesleyan Chapel.

It was 95 years later that the village got a war memorial that included those that died in WWI but also WWII and also in subsequent wars.


An extract from Sam Clarke’s diary follows:


My Ancestors

John Clarke was a “stockinger” or framework knitter, he also acted as Corporal in a sort of Militia, styled the Nottinghamshire Marksmen, from which many men were drafted into the old 45th Regt; their rules and regulations I have in my possession. It is bound in parchment, quaint and curious recipes, to cure or relieve every known disease.”

Later, Sam’s own brothers James and Adam fought in WWI.  The following is a letter sent from France, where Adam was in the army:

“REPLY TO: Pt A Clarke   NO: 625121  Dec 28th 1915 6

Shorncliffe Canadian Headquarters C.T.D.

Dear Brother & Sister Niece & Nephew Just a line to let you know how I am getting along.  I have been down to Hastings since the last time I wrote.  My work has been Guard Duty all the time.  I have been going to and from Dover to Havre in France on transport & returning to Southampton with Prisoners of War.  The most miserable objects you ever saw.  There are 50 guards on each boat with fixed bayonet and ball ammunition.  I feel sometimes like having a shot at one.  I have been trying to get a pass for 6 days but I can’t get one yet.  They don’t seem very anxious in giving us a pass.  Because we are over Age for France.  I am in the best of health at present hoping that you all are the same.  We had quite a good time this Xmas.  Hoping you all had the same & wishing you all a happy and prosperous New Year.  From your loving Brother”,

The Society have the letters that James, who emigrated to Australia and Adam, who emigrated to Canada and they have been transcribed and are an interesting read.  Some letters were simply addressed:


Digital copies of the letters are available by emailing the society at External link opens in new tab or


Later in WWII Harry Clarke, (Sam’s son) saw both the start and finish of that war.  Recording both the local activities of the time and commentating on the national and international events.

1939 - “Sept 3 Sun – England declared war on Germany at 11. A.M. 

We were in Chapel & Mr F Houldsworth came & told me to keep the children to the end of the service, as we were going out early.  We went out at 11.5.  The children were very impressed.  I heard one say, “Wasn’t it solemn”.  One boy wept a bit. 

We hurried home to hear Mr Chamberlain at 11.15.  The preacher was Mr Shaw, he should have stopped all day but he went home.  G. Clarke preached at night.

Sep 4

At 3 A.M. the blowers went for an air raid, but we all stopped in bed.  A lot of people got up & went to the top of Rookwood Gardens.  The blowers went again at 6 A.M. for another air raid.  I took my gas mask with me to work.  When C Kirk's bus came to take us to work, we all got inside & then we considered, as there was an air raid we had better get out, so out we came, but the blowers went in about a minute.

Sep 8

The windows on the screens are being painted black on outside.  All corners of buildings painted white.  Sandbags round offices.  Firefighting appliances everywhere.

Sep 9

Gave Mr H Clarke a marrow weight 9lbs.  Gave Mrs C Cragge one 71/2 lbs.  Mr H Clarke showed me how to grow them.”

He worked through the war at Rufford Pit.  Became an air raid warden and was certified as trained in dealing with High Explosives & incendiary bombs. He used his garden to supplement the family’s pantry and continued his excellent teachings at the Church.

June 18 Tues

“Had a certificate from the pit to say that I was trained in High Explosives & incendiary bombs.  We are learning Ambulance work now.  A soldier was on duty against the bridge at Rufford.  He stopped several cars & examined them.”

The local women setup Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS), the “women in green” supported the local community and the armed forces. Making a difference to life at home and at the battle front.

Cup a tea! Blanket, or a meal.  Packages for the men at the front – knitted Balaclavas; scrap metal collection!

Page 69 of Blidworth and the First World War book, gives list of what would be in a typical parcel:

A balaclava helmet – a knitting guide was provided.

WWIIthe “women in green”, as they were known; operated canteens; evacuation; bomb shelter; first aid and emergency centres.

1938 - 1945 war work 

The War Memorial on Main Street, Blidworth pictured here was dedicated on 3rd November 2007 and although originally it was to include the fallen servicemen and women of WWI, it was decided to include from WWI to Afghanistan.

The book “Remembered In Silence” by Tom Murray gives insight to the research and inauguration of this memorial – Society members may borrow the book from us (we have 2 copies) or loan it from Blidworth library.

This year, due to Covid-19, the service of remembrance will not be possible.  However, those who wish to pay their respects can lay a wreath at any time from Sunday 8th November to the 11th November. 

Remembrance Day commemorates the sacrifice made by servicemen in times of war. In the United Kingdom the day was first commemorated in 1919, when it was known as Armistice Day, with two minutes silence at 11am on 11th November. The day marked the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that brought World War One to an end in 1918. Its name was changed to Remembrance Day after World War Two.  Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and in light of the risks posed, the annual Remembrance Sunday March Past the Cenotaph will not take place this year.  We recognise this will be deeply disappointing for all who were due to take part and it is not a step that has been taken lightly. The Government led Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph will continue to go ahead as a closed ceremony.

Despite the changes this year, we are encouraging people across the nations to ensure Remembrance Sunday is still marked appropriately by taking part in remote and socially distanced Remembrance activity, whether that be watching the service on television or pausing for the Two Minute Silence in their home or on their doorsteps. External link opens in new tab or window




However, you show your respect to those that gave their lives so that we may live; wear a poppy bought or made or lay a wreath remember that every poppy counts!

For more information see RBL site. External link opens in new tab or window 






As we enter another lockdown for Covid-19, remember the above message and that there is help locally for anyone needing company, shopping, medical appointment travel etc.


Here to Help during the COVID-19 Crisis


Visit Blidworth And Rainworth Fight Against Covid-19 Facebook page

This page has been set up by the following organisations to centralise the brilliant response our community has had to fight the Coronavirus. The organisations are: the Blidworth and Rainworth Parish Councils the Sherwood Forest Community Church., C of E and Methodist Churches in Blidworth, as well as the Blidworth Welfare, the Head-teachers of Local Schools and the Social Action Hub (Foodshare and Coop). We hope that more of the local community will join us. Our purpose is to supply useful and accurate information to the community and to help the vulnerable at this time. We recognise the outstanding response that members of the community have had by making pages etc, this is just a way of consolidating all the various groups.

Or contact them on the following numbers:

Rainworth Social Action Hub food share 01623 490498

Blidworth on the move for medical transport 07915 929933

Blidworth food share at Sherwood forest community church 07907 664862

October's News Sheet

Following is an extract from Sam Clarke’s diary:

Water supply in 1888 see Kelly’s directory.   Water Supply

Little is known by the current generation of the difficulty of obtaining water in the good old days. Our well, 30yds deep served over

25 houses and was situated as the plan.


“When a new bucket or rope was needed the cost was ascertained and collected by our father and John Ashley (another shoemaker who lived across the street) from those who used the well.  It was quite a feature of our end of the village for men to foregather and draw their daily water supply, while waiting for their turn to discuss the latest news, local or otherwise. 

There were about 15 wells in the village also 6 huge stone troughs in the street at intervals that served the middle of the village, 2 of them were in the open space in front of the Black Bull a protecting wall at the back was a favourite loafing place for all and sundry. As well water was too hard to wash with, almost everybody had large tubs to hold rainwater off the house roof; in a dry summer when they were empty, we would fetch a supply from “soft water” trough half a mile away, a spring which has not failed to the present day.  

Our present water supply has been a great boon it being much easier to turn on a tap than draw from a moss covered well, poetic! To some, yes, but not a tired-out labourer who had done more of his share of work during the day for a paltry half-crown. Ern Elsom told me he had two wells where he lives (i.e. just above me in Winch’s old farm) one down the cellar. He said there was a deep well in the back yard of Holloways’ farm (i.e. the old rambling house at the top of Marriot Lane, where old Mr Collins lived) and he said his brother uncovered one down Fishpool Lane in a little 3 corner of a field, set in the hedge bottom.”

During lockdown, local veterans received contact from their regiment; SSAFA or RBL, keeping in contact and boosting moral for both veterans and serving personnel. 

This month is the 17/21st Lancers commemoration of their most famous battle – Balaclava!  

Most people will have heard of the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson:


“Half a league, half a league, half a league onward, all in the valley of death rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!” he said, Into the valley of death rode the six hundred. "Forward, the Light Brigade!"  was there a man dismay’d? Not tho’ the soldier knew someone had blunder’d: theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die!  Into the valley of death rode the six hundred.  

Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them Volley’d and thunder’d; Storm’d at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well. Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell 

Rode the six hundred.”

In 1759 the 17th Light Dragoons were born, following a battle in Canada.  It later was amalgamated with the 21st in 1922 to form the 17th/21st Lancers. It is most famous for riding in the front line of the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in 1854.


The choice for a badge the Death's Head with the motto 'Or Glory' was made following the death of General Wolfe. This Motto remained unchanged, continuing as the Motto (cap badge) of The Queen's Royal Lancers.

In recognition of the Queen’s 70th Anniversary as Colonel in Chief, she granted the suffix “Queen Elizabeth’s Own” to the regiment and later the badge incorporated the crossed lances representing the 9th/12th Royal Lancers amalgamation, whilst retaining the original motto “death and glory” to be the motto today. 

Battle of Balaclava - 25th October 1854 of the 147 17th Lancers that charged, only 38 answered the roll call after the battle. For their gallant actions that day, three Victoria Crosses were awarded to members of the Regiment.  

Although the 17th remained in the Crimea for the rest of the campaign, they did not play a major role in any of the remaining battles, which were predominantly infantry affairs.


The Royal lancers and the Notts Yeomanry museum are at Thoresby Courtyard, Thoresby Park. It was opened on 26th July 2011 and although closed during Covid-19 has now reopened Wed, Thurs and Sunday from 19.30-4pm. Coronavirus precautions have been applied with distancing measures in place and sanitisers available. For safety reasons some hands-on attractions have been temporarily withdrawn, but there is still plenty to see and enjoy.


The 17th was present in every major conflict and the museum will give a fuller history.

Newstead Abbey, Ravenshead was formerly an Augustinian priory.  Converted to a domestic home following the dissolution of the monasteries, by order of Henry VIII.

Despite the name “abbey” it never was but in fact was a Priory.  It is best known as the ancestral home of Lord Byron.

Another family were owners of Newstead and link to our story of the 17th / 21st Lancers, earlier in this news sheet.

Dr David Livingstone met William Frederick Webb, an explorer and hunter, during Autumn of 1851.  Webb had been hunting north of Cape Town sending trophies home, and for 2 years it was feared that his party was lost or dead because no correspondence was received.  In a place called Kunman, Webb became ill with a fever and the expedition was at a standstill.  Dr Livingstone heard through the natives that a white traveller was sick some distance off and set out to search for them.  Finding Webb and his party he cured him.  The two men became very good friends and stayed together for some months, talking at great lengths about their respective families and life in England.  They agreed to meet up again should they both be in England at the same time.

William Frederick Webb inherited a considerable fortune from his uncles and his father, Frederick Webb who was a land owner and industrialist of Durham.  In his early years he received a commission in the 17th Lancers, aged 18 – served in Ireland in 1848 but later resigned his commission in favour of his younger brother Augustus.  

Captain Augustus Cavendish Webb died of his wounds at Scutari 6th November aged 22 just one week after he fell mortally wounded during the charge of the light brigade at Balaclava.

Webb continued to make a considerable profit from his properties and land.  In 1861, Mr & Mrs Webb purchased Newstead Abbey from Colonel Wildman, outbidding Queen Victoria to acquire Newstead.  Mr Webb moved his family in and set about improving Newstead; installing central heating and gas lighting amongst many things.  Mrs Webb contributed by filling the house with Byron memorabilia and entertaining guests from all over the world.  In 1864 one such guest was David Livingstone, who having returned to England for the 2nd time after exploring the Zambezi river and its tributaries, was persuaded by the Webb’s to visit Newstead.  The first of many visits, he stayed for 8 months to write his book on the Zambezi, which proved to be a literary sensation.

Speedwell and Mayflower – in July we saw the start of the epic voyage of the Pilgrims from England to the New World, and the 400th anniversary of that voyage.

Having repaired the leak on the Speedwell the ships set sail for America around the 5th August 1620.  But Speedwell sprung another leak necessitating the ships to return to Dartmouth for repairs.  Another start after these repairs put them 200 miles beyond Land’s End, early September when a third leak meant they had to abandon the Speedwell – both ships return to Plymouth and 20 Speedwell passengers joined the overcrowded Mayflower whilst the others return to Holland.

As the Mayflower waited for the wind to pick up William Bradford became especially worried saying “Our victuals will be half eaten up, I think, before we go from the coast of England; and, if our voyage last long, we shall not have a month’s victuals when we come in the country.”

Speedwell had cost time and money to refit and was said to be seaworthy –

Bradford suggested that “it’s master may have used “cunning and deceit” to abort the voyage by causing the leaks, fearing starvation and death in America”.

At last the overcrowded Mayflower was ready - this final voyage would succeed!  

September 26. 1620 the Mayflower set to sea; its passengers had been on board the entire time from early September attempts cooped up in cramped spaces.  Provisions were low.  She carried 102 passengers plus a crew of 25-30 officers and men.  


The first half of the voyage they had calm seas.  Then the weather changed with huge waves constantly crashing against the topside deck.  The physician Samuel Fuller died and was buried at sea. 

A baby was born, christened Oceanus Hopkins; one storm saw the ship drifting without hoisting the sails as the storm was so fierce, they risked losing the masts.  John Howland was swept overboard, sunk 12feet but then rescued by a crew member who threw him a rope. 

Passengers were forced to crouch in semi darkness below deck as ocean swells rose to over a hundred feet.  Holding on to wives, children and their provisions and property they made their way through October always seeking that landing and their new lives.

Thoughts of their old life in villages such as, Scrooby and Babworth must have seemed unreal and far away.


An extract from John Wood’s “A Walk Around Rainworth”



Several years ago, I was talking to Barry Maddocks in Bishop’s Hill plantation.  Barry said “I think that the chaffinch, John, looks as though an artist has flicked his brush across his pallet and a splash of all of the colours has landed on this bird” – I thought of Barry’s words as I watched chaffinches for a while after our conversation and on the 18th September 1986, I penned:”


Bird of Many Colours


Were you painted by Reuben’s?

Were you painted by Van Gogh?

Are you a product of Picasso with the colours that you’ve got?

No, you’re better than old masters,

You’re a treasure of the earth

No-one could put a price on you You’re beyond all earthly worth.


Nature was the artist who made you what you are,

She painted you in bright array

To brighten up our dreary days,

Your call of “pink”, a coloured call,

And when you sing from exposed perch

I sit without a flinch,

To look at you and listen to  My beautiful chaffinch



Friar Tucks Well Fountain Dale 2004 This card is amongst our archive and the sender remarked:

 “You will be shocked to see the state of this place.  I guess it is on private land belonging to Fountain Dale, so it is up to the owner whether it gets restored or not.”

From Facebook photos recently posted it is still in a bad state but a nice walk to take. Fountain Dale House, Rickett Lane, Blidworth,.

Fountains Dale 


Visit the home of Friar Tuck, the jovial friar, one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, mostly depicted as a fat, bald, jovial monk with a love of food and drink. We visit his holy well in Fountains Dale, believed to be the location of Robin and Friar Tuck’s first meeting. 


Friar Tuck was accomplished with bow and sword, so on hearing this from Will Scarlet, Robin felt he must have this doughty fighter in his band of outlaws. The story of their meeting, carrying each other back and forth over the still-visible moat is one of the popular myths associated with the legend. Nearby is Friar Tuck’s Cave and Fountain Dale House where Sir Walter Scott penned his most famous work ‘Ivanhoe’.



The Council for British Archaeology's Festival of Archaeology Part II - another week of events to get people engaged with and enthused about archaeology, from 24 October - 1 November.  See website for more details External link opens in new tab or window link opens in new tab or window Digital and on-site activities available.




Keep safe and well.

September News Sheet:

Autumn is the transition season between summer and winter, best noticed by the colour change in leaves and the harvest.

Perhaps the most noticeable sign of autumn in the UK is the changing colours of the leaves.

By the meteorological calendar, the first day of autumn is always the 1st September and ending on the 30th November.

A local poet and author, Arthur Radford wrote:


“Autumn is slower now for the mother of the kids.  The four boys are after conkers and can’t wait for the chestnuts to ripen.  The three girls are learning to grow up, now another sister has been born.  Trying to walk in their mother’s high heeled shoes and lipstick their mother hardly uses, for she hardly goes out, not with this lot to keep.

The rich lady, Mrs Watson, is sitting in her study, a widow of many years, looks out of her window.  The wallflowers are still blooming, so are the geraniums.  The maid is washing the cups and saucers and the gardener is giving the privet hedge its last cut.

Mr Thomas is walking his dog Butch, down the lane, by the meadow and collecting some sloes to make into sloe gin.  He might be ragged but he knows a good thing or two.

He is chatting up the ladies, he has high hopes of finding someone to live with, all he wants is a cook, cleaner and a washer up.  I wish him the best of luck, for women are not looking for blokes in the Autumn, they’re looking for winter clothes and winter blankets to keep them warm at night and will wait till spring to look for a man- so I wish you the best of luck, Arthur” 

During lockdown many delved into attics or dark corners of their homes, seeking distraction from the boredom and confinement of Covid-19.  The treasure unearthed initiated contact with long lost relatives and friends. 

One such item was from Andrew Whitworth – his grandfather Arthur Dodsworth, worked at Blidworth Pit and was concert secretary at Blidworth Miners Welfare.  Whilst rummaging in boxes Andrew found one of his grandads’ pay slips.  Not that striking a document (but its in £ s d) but on checking the reverse for a date he discovered a signature of a very well-known lady artiste.

Sincerely yours Vera Lynn!   

It is not known how or when Arthur got the

 autograph, but being the concert secretary would have had him rubbing shoulders with many artistes giving shows at Blidworth Miners Welfare.

There is a second signature on the payslip – but we cannot interpret it – Can anyone?  

Do you know if or when Vera attended the Welfare?  Let us know either by email to External link opens in new tab or or via our Facebook page.

As a historical society we saw our numbers on Facebook rise and the generosity of our community to share such treasures with us and the villages around was magnificent to see and feel.

Another item shared was this: 

A Walk Around Rainworth, Book 1 by John Wood.

John lives in Rainworth and has a wealth of knowledge about the Village and has written several poems, stories about it.  John has kindly given his permission for us to share his work with our Society.



“I would like to take you with me on a walk, in verse of course, around the Rainworth area.  Nature has always been a passion of mine and features strongly in my poetry and prose, as you will gather when you read on.  Our walk commences at Ell Lake.”

We now have a copy of this book donated to our archives should anyone wish to borrow it.

Ell Lake – The date was the 25th January 1987, Burn’s Day.  I was walking by the main lake at the western end and had paused awhile to watch a party of long-tailed tits tumbling in an alder when I caught a glimpse of russet from a neighbouring willow tree:


“Watching through binoculars the long-tailed tits on high;

Tumbling in alders, next falling, dim-lit sky,

I caught a glimpse of russet from a neighbouring willow tree;

A bulbous, reddish breast and black cap I could see.

He was grey across the shoulders with a white flash on his wing,

His piping note on Burn’s Day seemed a fitting note to sing.

Two females were with him in this willow next the lake,

A glorious sight in evening light, make you no mistake;

Bullfinch in all his glory in the branches upon high,

The sun had risen once again to light the evening sky,

And like the sun my heart rose too and readily did sing

As I watched in awe and wonder till the bullfinch took to wing,

Across the lake and out of sight he and the females flew

                                   And vanished in the fading light of January blue.”

We have received several requests for information that we have answered or are in the process of researching.

Elmsley Lodge search was begun and still under progress but we have had help from as far away as Australia!  Thanks Tom.





Tom’s message on Facebook “Elmsley Lodge was north of the old Rufford Pit Sidings. A rail line ran from Rufford pit up towards Clipstone. The Lodge was to the left of the railway line when looking towards Clipstone, you could get to it from a track off Eakring Road.”


Looks like a walk is needed – more to come later!

If anyone has photos, documents relating to the lodge then please let us know either via our email or Facebook Page.

Ravenshead – Following the piece in August’s news sheet we received lots of comments on Facebook of several well remembered landmarks and events.

The Hutt – a Berni Inn; can you remember it?

The Hutt is a public house located in the village of Ravenshead in Nottinghamshire, opposite Newstead Abbey. The pub was built on the site of The Royal Hutt in 1400 as part of the Newstead Estate, which was given to Sir John Byron in 1540.

Built on the site of the first building in Ravenshead, The Hutt was one of seven buildings constructed to allow the King's men to patrol the nearby forest. The Inn takes its name from the medieval spelling of the word 'Hut'. The Inn boasts a tunnel that was reputedly used by monks to get from Newstead Abbey to The Hutt. By the 17th century the pub had been turned into a coaching inn hosting merchants and travellers travelling between Nottingham and Mansfield. It is reported that at the inn they would take on some Dutch courage before setting off on the journey through 'Thieves Wood'.


"Lovely hearing all about the history! “I lived in Fishpool to become Ravenshead from 1962 - 1980 opposite The Little John Pub. I can remember Bonfire Nights on the pub field. There used to be a hunt there once a year. Whippet racing behind the old cottages.  I attended Blidworth Church school which only had 5 classes from the age of 5-11. Mr Whitworth was the Headmaster.  Then going on to Joseph Whitaker Secondary Modern School, which seemed huge after The Church School.
Also started drinking at The Hut on Nottingham Road which a cellar Bar. Very sophisticated for its day.”

The sophisticated “cellar bar” at the Hutt – which in those days was part of the Berni chain of steak houses – where you could get wine by the glass!!


The Little John, recently re-opened again with new landlords.



Extract from Sam Clarke’s diary, in which he referred to Fishpool (Ravenshead) back in his time in the 1900s; (these are his own words):

Blidworth Parish

“Blidworth Parish is off the main roads being about equi-distant from the Nottm, Southwell and Rufford Roads.  Distances: 5 miles S.E. of Mansfield, 10 miles N. of Nottingham, 8 miles W, of Southwell and 16 W. of Newark.

The Bottoms or Lower Blidworth comprising a many dilapidated old cottages, a P.M*. Chapel, (once a farm) which was well attended 50 years ago, but sad to say has now few loyal adherents.  * PM is Primitive Methodist

A spacious well-built Inn, the Fox & Hounds looks sadly out of place.  The most common name when I was a boy was Coleman, there is a gravestone facing the vicarage lawn erected to one Timothy Coleman, Blacksmith with the usual epitaph to Vulcan’s sons “My Tongs & Hammers are reclined, my bellows have lost their wind.

Fishpool or Fishpools, another hamlet so called from two large ponds which once existed and are shown on the parish award maps, there being a good spring a little higher up, the stream meandered through the Bottoms and erupted itself in Palterford pond.  This water ultimately dried up after several big waterworks were started round here. 

Old Fishpool contains about 30 houses, a chapel, an Inn “The Little John” a reminder of Sherwood Forest (also the “Robin Hood” at Rainworth).

There are a number of houses being built near Larch Farm, where by the way, a Toll has once existed.

Blidworth Proper

Blidworth Wood as it’s called, formerly formed part of Sherwood Forest, indeed there are a number of venerable oak trees, gnarled and hollow of massive proportions, identical with those in the Dukeries they must be at least 1000 years old, there is not the least doubt that Robin and his Merry Men were well acquainted with them over 700 years ago.  On the south side of the Cave pond there is a depression near the pond head where once a cave hewn out of the sandrock existed, called Robin Hood’s Cave, my father remembered it quite well, it was destroyed about the middle of the past century.”

The Council for British Archaeology's Festival of Archaeology Part II - another week of events to get people engaged with and enthused about archaeology, from 24 October - 1 November.

See website for more details External link opens in new tab or window

Digital and on-site activities available.

August News Sheet:

Whilst VE Day marked the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, many thousands of Armed Forces personnel were still involved in bitter fighting in the Far East.

Victory o

They were the soldiers who found themselves in the midst of a military disaster – and who often regarded themselves as the Forgotten Army at the end of the Second World War.

Harry Clarke wrote:

Aug 19 Sun - “Last week we had our V.J. Day for the defeat of Japan.  The headstocks were lit up some of the children had tea in the New Village in the streets.  I had only one holiday, I was on nights.  The Pits in Nottinghamshire decided to work August Bank Holiday Monday*.  I was doing the chargemans job & so had to go on at 6P.M. Sunday till 6.30 A.M. next morning, two more men should have come on at 10.30 P.M. but did not come so I was with myself all night.  Rene Clarke was talking to me today she got back from her holidays.  *nobody turned up so they couldn’t work”.



By Tom Murray


The War Memorial on Main Street, Blidworth pictured here was dedicated on 3rd November 2007 and although originally it was to include the fallen servicemen and women of WWI, it was decided to include from WWI to Afghanistan.

Tom Murray was part of the committee to get the memorial in place and carried out vital research finding those names of the lost during the actions of WWII.  He wrote and published his book and has kindly agreed to us using some of the information from it in our Society’s news.

Fighting in the Asia-Pacific took place from Hawaii to North East India.  This year we remember the contribution of all Commonwealth and Allied Forces, without whom victory and the freedoms and way of life we enjoy today would not have been possible.


The following people are some of those who died in this theatre of war:

Private Arthur Draycott – killed in action Singapore 12th February 1942

Gunner Harvey Pressley - died 2nd October 1942, Hong Kong

Signalman William C Hikin died 18th August 1943, POW on Burma-Siam railway

Trooper Eric Harrison – died 28th February 1945, Burma


They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old

Age shall not wary them nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun an in the morning

We will remember them

As our cinema’s begin to open and we look forward to enjoying the big screen films of today, our thoughts go back to the time of the picture houses in Blidworth & Rainworth.

The Palace, Rainworth the popular cinema. Continuous Monday to Friday 6-10.30pm


Front stalls 6d; Back stalls 9d Circle 1/-

This programme dated 1935, 4 years before the start of WWII.

The Marines  are Coming - film 1934 - A brash marine assigned to a new post under the command of his former rival. The marine falls in love with his commanding officer's fiancée and romances her away from him…..

Adverts for various businesses in and around Rainworth:

Permanent Wave – 238 Southwell Rd East

Fancy Drapery – 182 Southwell Road

Fish & Chips – 180 Southwell Road


Chemist & Optician – Mansfield Rd

Newsagent – Mansfield Rd

Boot Repairer – Mansfield Rd

Dale Garage – Blidworth

General Dealers – Lyndhurst Ave

Pathé News was a producer of newsreels and documentaries from 1910 to 1970 in the United Kingdom. Its founder, Charles Pathé, was a pioneer of moving pictures in the silent era. The Pathé News archive is known today as British Pathé. Its collection of news film and movies is fully digitised and available online.

RAINWORTH – introduction 

I was born in Rainworth, still living in the house I was born in 64 years ago this year.  I learned some of the village’s history whilst at school.  I was told the village was termed a “ribbon” village, meaning that houses and shops were built along and in line with the original road that comes from Southwell to Mansfield; named Southwell Road – divided into East and West.  Later as the village developed with the Rufford Pit; public transport (train); and the need for more housing, it became a village with 5 distinct estates around the original village.

There are several sources of material depicting the development of the village from the original settlement in Roman times.  Will Richards, referenced the village in many of his books, as did Sam and Harry Clarke (Harry worked at Rufford Pit) in their diaries. 

Wikipedia records:Rainworth started as a settlement close to a Roman road that went through Mansfield and Newark, and provided access to the coalfields of Derbyshire for the Roman settlements in the area to the east of Nottinghamshire. The sheltered location and access to clean water from the River Idle (now called Rainworth Water), meant that the area was often used by travelling Romans as a camp site. In the year 617 AD, a mighty Roman warrior, Readwald, stayed at the site prior to a battle with Ethelfrith, King of Mercia. In the battle, Readwald's son, Regehere, was killed, and from that day, the area was known as Regehere's Wath (Wath being a ford or crossing point over a river). Over the years, many changes in the spelling of the name have been recorded, from the original Regehere's Wath to Reynwath by 1268, then Raynwath, and then to the present-day name of Rainworth. Rainworth Lodge was first built in 1190 as a hunting lodge. Rufus Clarke lived there in 1212 and was with King John's hunting parties in the forest. Little more is known about the village until the 16th century, when it is recorded that it was a peaceful hamlet with 13 dwellings:

•           Three Thorn Hollow Farm; (Three Thorn Hollow now named Blidworth Lane).

•           six houses in the Old Square known as Ramsden Croft;

•           The original Robin Hood Inn, then named the Sherwood Inn;(now Tesco’s)

•           the toll house, nicknamed The Inkpot; and

•           five houses on the road leading to Mansfield.

The people who lived in Rainworth were farmers or nurserymen.

Estates surrounding this original settlement:

•           Kirklington Road – pit houses for the miner’s families

•           White City – houses going up Southwell road towards Mansfield

•           Wimpey – off Warsop lane pit houses built around 1953/4

•           Geordie – below Joseph Whitaker school miners from Northumberland housing

•           Model Farm – along Lake View Farm road (bungalows and houses)

I live on the Wimpey estate – houses built of concrete to provide housing for the miners of Blidworth and Rainworth pits.  My family moved into our house on the 1st January 1954.  The first and only tenants.  Dad worked at Blidworth pit for 33years on the coal face.  I and my sister attended school at Blidworth County Council school (now Blidworth Oaks Primary school) before going to Joseph Whitaker and Sherwood Hall Grammar schools respectively.

I would like to share the village’s history with you, Jayne Williams

Rainworth pictured left, shows Southwell Road going down into the main village from Mansfield on the left is the Pumping station and, on the right, (off shot) is the Methodist Church.

Rainworth Water (previously River Idle), feeds Rufford Mill and Lake, plus  L-Lake which is part of Rainworth Lakes that are a site of special scientific interest.

The river rises in Normanshill Wood, to the north-west of Ravenshead and flows eastwards, passing under the A60 road, and to the south of Portland Training College.

Some dates and sites to explore:

1871 – train link from Mansfield to Southwell opened; station in Rainworth

1879 – elm tree planted called “Tree of Knowledge”;

1890 – first church built

1895 – pumping station built

1939 – St Simon & St Jude built

1911 – work starts at Rufford Colliery (more housing needed built along Kirklington road)

1913 – pit disaster

1914 – primary school “Heathlands” built

1924 – Python Hill school opened

1945 – Lido in disuse by end of the war

1950s – more housing needed Wimpey estate built; Council houses built Kirklington road above Python Hill school

1963 – secondary school Joseph Whitaker opened

1965 – Railway stopped; more housing to accommodate families from NE England – Geordie estate

1975 – Black Panther caught by locals and police

1993 – Rufford Colliery stopped producing coal; Welfare remains open


Ravenshead – introduction

100 years ago, Ravenshead was centred on an area called Fishpool, this name appeared on a 15th-century map.  There can still be found a signpost in Blidworth Bottoms indicating the direction of Fishpool.  This name pertaining to the fish pools of Newstead Abbey. 

Newstead Abbey, a 12th-century grade 1 listed building and ancestral home of Lord Byron, is accessed from the village. After the death of Thomas Becket, King Henry II supposedly to make up for this terrible deed gave the Canons of the Order of St Augustine the land at Ravenshead where they set up a priory, the walls of which can still be seen today. It is here that the name Ravenshead is first encountered. "Ravenshede begins at the aforesaidway which lies from Papilwyke [Papplewick] to Blydeworthe, along the hollowroad eastward which is called Thefestyghe: and this leads to the King's highway which is called Nottinghamgate."

In the Middle Ages the priory was a stopping place for pilgrims.

In 1966 the  Fishpool Hoard of 1,237 15th century gold coins, four rings and four other pieces of jewellery, and two lengths of gold chain was discovered by workmen on a building site near present day Cambourne Gardens, in Ravenshead, an area then known as “Fishpool”.

It is the largest hoard of medieval coins ever found in Britain. To judge from the dates of the coins the hoard was probably buried in haste at some time between winter 1463 and summer 1464, perhaps by someone fleeing south after the Battle of Hexham in May 1464, in the first stages of England's civil war between aristocratic factions, the War of the Roses. The British Museum assesses the face value of the hoard when deposited, about £400, would be equivalent to around £300,000 today.

As soon as we have any information as to when we can meet again we will try and contact the membership individually (please contact us to ensure we have your most up to date contact details –  by email to External link opens in new tab or or check out both our website External link opens in new tab or window or Facebook page Blidworth & District Historical and Heritage Society