Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, a Sherwood Forest Village, recorded in Domesday

Buckland’s 1896 Book - The History of Woodborough etc.

Buckland ~ CHAPTER I


THERE are no British Remains in Woodborough; but Throsby (Thoroton's, Notts.) attributes the rock-holes in the Park at Nottingham, close to the river Leen, to the British who may have had a settlement there. Throsby says that these rock holes were called by the Saxons 'Snottenga-ham' or 'Snodenga-ham,' from 'Snottenga,' caves and 'Ham,' home; whence the name Nottingham. But this is absurd. It is well known that 'ing' or 'inga' is the Saxon patronymic, and the 'Snotingas' were a Saxon clan who took their name from some chieftain called 'Snot' or 'Snod.' The 'Nottingas' were another Saxon clan, or probably the same without the initial S; these names may once have begun with an H, e.g. 'Hnæcinga,' 'Hnuttinga.' It seems certain that 'Nottingham'- means the Home of the Snotingas, or clan of Snot. Hence perhaps our local surname 'Snodin,' and 'Nodin.'

Though Julius Cæsar invaded Britain BC. 55, the Romans did not occupy the island till AD. 43, when it became a Roman province. A network of roads opened up the country for traffic, palaces and villas studded the country, and cities and garrison towns were built in important places. Law and civilization were introduced to the savage Britons.

One great Roman road from London to Lincoln and York, now called the Fosse-way, passed not far from Woodborough, having military stations at regular intervals. In the Itinerarium Antonini it is given thus:
Iter a Londinio Lindum. MP c1vi  (London to Lincoln, 156 miles)

 A Londinio
 Verulamio xxi  St. Alban's.
 Durocobrio xxi Dunstable.
 Magiovinio xii  Fenny Stratford.
 Lactodoro xvi  Towcester.
 Isanavatia xii  Daventry.
 Tripontio xii  Rugby.
 Veronis ix  Cleycester.
 Ratis xii  Leicester.
 Verometo xiii  Willoughby.
 Margiduno xiii  East Bridgford.
 Ad Pontem vii
 Crocolana vii Collingham.
 Lindo xii  Lincoln 

About Ad Pontem I shall have much to say later.

While the great marching road ran south of the Trent, the Roman armies had their camps on the adjacent hills. One of them was on Holly Hill, otherwise Cockpit Hill. A Roman road ran along the Mapperly Plains from this camp to Nottingham, which some identify with the Roman station Gausennæ; and I would conjecture that the camp was connected by a road with the station 'Ad Pontem,' on the Fosse-way; probably this road followed the course of Spindle Lane. I do not agree with Dickinson, (History of Southwell), that Ad Pontem was Southwell, and it is most improbable that any Roman road ran, as he says, from Cockpit Hill via Epperstone Wood and Halloughton to Southwell across all the ups and downs of the Dumbles, nor can I learn that there are any traces of Roman camps at either of these places. The camp on Cockpit Hill, now almost destroyed by the plough, was 417 yards by 240. It had smaller camps near it as outposts: one is on Combe Hill, near Oxton; another is in Foxwood in Woodborough. Hence probably the name 'Wood-borough,' the Wood fort: though some explain it as 'Udeborough,' Ude's fort, and others as 'Woden's-Borough.' Against the last I am told that the 'n' in Woden is never elided: e.g. Woden's day = Wednesday. The camp in Foxwood is in the shape of a horseshoe, of which the heel on the Woodborough side is lost. It is quite possible to trace the outer trench or 'foss-a,' which was generally 9ft. deep by l2ft wide, and the high bank or 'vallum' formed from the soil of the trench into the top of which stakes were driven and interlaced with boughs. Within this is a second trench, the soil from which formed a second vallum. Each side is 60 yards long. The outer vallum has dips in the centre of each side where the entrances were; the inner vallum has none. Of course the lapse of 1500 years has broken down the valla and filled up the fossæ, but we can realize that a force of badly armed Britons from the forest round Woodborough would have found it impossible to cross the trench, climb the bank, scale the stockade and then cross the second trench, bank and stockade under a shower of Roman arrows and opposed by Roman soldiers armed with pikes, javelins, swords, helmets, breast-plates and shields.

Any Church History will give an account of the Conversion of Edwin King of Northumbria by Paulinus the companion of St. Augustine. Paulinus became Bishop of York and revived the ancient British see of Eborius: he built a wooden Church at York which became the Bishop's Cathedral and a stone Church at Lincoln: he is also said to have built a Church at Southwell ¹. Certainly he introduced Christianity to the English in Lincolnshire, for the Venerable Bede, born AD. 672 wrote (Book II. 16) that a friend of his named Deda had known an old man "who had been baptized, together with a great number of people at midday by the Bishop Paulinus, King Edwin being present in the river Treenta, near the city which is called in the tongue of the angles Tiovulfinga-cæstir; who also was wont to describe the person of the same Paulinus, that he was a man of tall stature, a little stooping, with black hair, a meagre face, a thin aquiline nose, his aspect both venerable and awful." ²

1: "A tradition which probably grew out of the fact that from Saxon times S. Mary's of Southwell was subject to St. Peters of York." Bright’s early English Church History. p.128, note 7.
2: Henry of Huntingdon.—" Narravat Abbas de Peartanen se vidisse eniorem a Paulino baptizatuni cum ceterâ turbâ coram rege Edwino in fluvio Trëta juxta civitatem quæ tunc Fingecester vocabatur," al-Tiowl-fingacestre.

This passage in Bede leaves little doubt that the first attack upon the heathenism of the Midland Kingdom of Mercia was made by Paulinus. It would be very interesting to identify the site of the town of Tiovulfinga-cæstir, near which Paulinus baptized in the Trent. I do not believe it was Southwell, nor do I think Southwell was 'Ad Pontem.' In the first place Southwell is not on the Trent, but on the Grete, whereas Paulinus baptized in the Trent. In the second place 'Ad Pontem' was on the Roman road between Margidunum (East Bridgford) and Crocolana (Collingham) and was probably nothing more than a station or possibly even a sign post on the Fosse-way, where a road diverged 'to the Bridge' over the Trent. I would conjecture, as above, that 'the Bridge' was at or near Margidunum (East Bridgford), and was part of a road which diverged from the Fosse-way and passed over the Trent at Gunthorpe, through Lowdham and Woodborough and by Spindle Lane and Foxwood to the Camp on Cockpit Hill ¹. Dickinson, however, p. 92 says, "The summer months of 1792 and 1793 being extremely dry, the foundations of an immense bridge appeared in the river Trent, near to the village of Winthorpe by Newark. On examination there was every reason to think them as old as the time of the Romans.

1: In this I am confirmed by Stukeley's Itinerarium Curiosum or Antiquities of Britain, published in 1724. He says, p. 105. "We arrived (from Newark) at about six miles distance south of Newark to the station of the Romans called 'Ad Pontem.' East Bridgford lies near a mile to the right upon the river Trent; doubtless there was the bridge over the river, which created the denomination in the Roman times as being the passage from the eastern parts to those beyond the Trent and as to this particular station upon the roads, perhaps a bridge was the sign of the inn, that travellers might know where to turn for that purpose, for I cannot suppose there was a bridge at the road." Stukeley, however, locates Margidunum at Willoughby.

As for Tiovulfinga-cæstir, every village on the Trent claims to be the site. Dickinson gives a wonderful explanation of the word: Saxon "Tiolo," industry; Roman "Vulgus," multitude; Saxon "Fengan," to lay hands on; Roman "Castrum," a station: i.e., "the place where much industry was employed in laying hands on the multitude." Canon Smith, of Southwell, says that "Tiovul" was dropped and "Fingacæstir" corrupted into "Finster" or "Fister" and "ton" tacked on; thence Fiskerton. But Fiskerton was the "Fisher-town" of Thurgarton Priory. This explanation is supported by explaining "Bleasby" as "Blecca's-by," the town of Blecca, one of Edwin's courtiers and the Island in the Trent at Hazleford is said to be the site of the Baptism; others put it at Farndon ¹, and others at Torksey ², the nearest village to Lincoln on the Trent. But Dr. Bright is probably right ³, He explains it as "Castle of the Tiovulfing family" and identifies it with Littleborough, where the river was crossed by the Roman road from Lincoln northwards. Perhaps even Bede did not know the site of the Baptism, though he probably knew where Tiovulfinga-cæstir was.

1: The late Archdeacon Maltby, Rector of Farndon. 
2; Smith's Students' Eccles: History. 
3; Bright's Early English Church History, c. iv. p.128 and note.

The battle of Hatfield, AD. 633, in which Edwin was killed by Penda, caused Paulinus to fly to Kent, and Northumbria with any parts of the Midlands where he had gained a footing relapsed into heathenism. It is to the Missions from Iona and Lindisfarne, conducted by St. Aidan, that we must attribute the permanent conversion of Northumbria and Mercia, rather than to the Roman Mission of Paulinus.

I do not accept the local tradition that Paulinus built a Church at Southwell, nor do I agree with Dickinson that Ad Pontem, Tiovulfinga-cæstir and Southwell are one and the same. The earliest document relating to Southwell is in the Liber Albus at York, and is printed in Dugdale's Monasticon and in Dickinson's History of Southwell. It is a grant of Eadwy, King of Wessex in AD. 958 to Oscytel, Archbishop of York; ¹ "Ego Eadwy, Rex Anglorum, pro amore Dornini Nostri Jesu Christi, cuidam meo desiderabili Episcopo Oscytello, concedo partem telluris meæ ubi dicitur ad Suwellam xx mansas, in hæreditatem," etc. But Leach ² casts serious doubts on the genuineness of this document, and is of opinion that "the foundation of Southwell must be attributed to a date when the Northumbrian power was supreme south of the Humber, and Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire were subject to it. It is probable that a far earlier date than the middle of the tenth century (AD. 950) saw its foundation. But to attempt to assign any more approximate date is hopeless, and must be mere guess-work." Now, the Northumbrian power, though it was supreme over Nottinghamshire, from Edinburgh to Edwinstowe, in the time of Edwin and Paulinus, went down before Penda, and I cannot discover that Nottinghamshire had any connection with York till after the final peace made with the Danes by Alfred in 878 when it became part of the "Danes-Law" or "Danes-country" with Northumbria and East Anglia, and I would conjecture that the ancient Diocese of York was revived at the conversion of the Danes and made coextensive with Edwin's Kingdom of Northumbria and that Southwell was founded by the Archbishop of York about AD. 900.

1;:"I. Edwy, King of the Angles, for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, grant to my dearly beloved Bishop Oscytel part of my lands where it is called, at Southwell, 20 manses for his heritage." 
2: Visitations and Memorials of Southwell Minster. Camden Society. introduction. p. xix.

The Archbishop of York had four Cathedrals in his Diocese, York, Ripon for the West Riding, Beverley for the East Riding, and Southwell for Nottinghamshire. In Southwell the Archbishop had his staff of priests, missionaries, and itinerant Evangelists for Nottinghamshire, supported, no doubt, at first by the Archbishop, but afterwards by lands assigned to them for their common support. The priests on the Southwell staff were "secular" priests, that is, ordinary clergymen, bound by no particular vows, but living together on common estates, serving a common church, under common rules, and allowed to marry if they chose. They had a double duty to perform; the one was to advise the Archbishop and perform the services in the Minster; the other was to act as Missionaries and perform the services in the Churches round. At first they were called 'Canons' because they lived according to the "canons" or rules of the Minster; afterwards, when separate estates, provisions or "prebends" were assigned to each in the different villages, they were called "Prebends." As a Canon, each had to sing in the Minster Church at Southwell and deliberate on the common affairs; as a Prebend, each had to manage his own estates, perform service in his prebendal Church and do priest's duty in his prebendal Parish. Each had a house at Southwell, and up to AD 1126 they were allowed to marry, but at that time the right to marry was taken away and was not restored till the time of Henry VIII. I do not think they had any houses in the prebendal parishes, but probably used the "parvise" (a room over the Porch) of the Church, if there was one, or lodged in the village.

The original number of Prebends at Southwell was probably seven; one of Normanton; three of Norwell; two of Oxton; one of Woodborough. To these were added North Muskham and the Sacrist, or Treasurer, Prebend. Of the foundation of these there is no record ¹. But records exist of the foundation of the seven later prebends, South Muskham, 1109; Dunham, 1119; Beckingham, 1119; Halloughton, 1160; Rampton, 1200; Eton, 1290; and North Leverton, 1291. All these, except Rampton, were founded by different Archbishops of York. Thus Southwell Minster had her full number of sixteen Canons or Prebends, which lasted till 1841.

1: Though the Commissioners for the suppression of the Chantries were informed that the "Prebende of Woodboroughe" was "founded by the sayd King Edgar as parcell of the said Colledge to maintain devyne servyce ther for ever" But an almost fatal objection to this is that Edgar was entirely under the influence of Dunstan, who in many cases expelled the secular Canons to replace them by Benedictine Monks. Record Office, Certificates of Chantries.  Com. Notts, No.106.

In Domesday, the Survey made by William the Conqueror, there is the following entry about Woodborough. "In Udeburgh, 7 oxgangs of land to geld. Land of two carucates, there, half of one carucate in demesne and 2 villains and 1 bordar having one carucate, Belongs to Suduwelle. There holds one clerk under the Archbishop one bovate of land to geld." The latter part of this can only mean that Southwell Minster then had land at Woodborough, and that the clerk or priest of Woodborough was a prebend of Southwell.

The above facts now help us to form some idea of the origin of Woodborough Church. Calverton Church has Saxon Carvings, representing the Seasons, built into the wall of the Tower, and one of S. Wilfred, in the chancel arch. S. Wilfred died in 709. If then there was a Saxon Church at Calverton, there may have been one at Woodborough, but any such Saxon Church would most certainly have been destroyed by the Danes. The fact that the Danes were not converted till AD. 879 makes it unlikely that any Church existed here before that date, and the dedication of the Church in the name of S. Swithun, who was translated in AD. 971 would show that no Church existed before then. On the other hand the fact that Southwell Minster owned land and had a prebend at Woodborough at the time of the Domesday Survey proves that a Church existed before AD 1086 which was probably founded by the Archbishop of York. On the whole I am inclined to think that the first Church at Woodborough was built after the Conversion of the Danes and after the re-foundation of Southwell between AD 900 and AD 1086 It would have been of Anglo-Danish workmanship, having a Chancel, Nave, and Western Tower, the walls formed of wood-logs run in with mud, small windows high up, and a high-pitched roof. Of course no trace of it remains. It was probably pulled down after the Norman Conquest to make way for a more permanent building of stone.



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