Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, a Sherwood Forest Village, recorded in Domesday

The family of Wood seems to have occupied a position in Woodborough second only to that of the Strelleys and Lacocks after the Reformation. The first mention of them is in the Harleian Society's Visitations of Notts., which gives a pedigree commencing with the marriage of Henry Wood of Enfield with Jane, daughter of John Strelley of Woodborough. This must have been prior to 1600, but it must be mere conjecture whether John Wood obtained the lands of the Manor of Hertford at the Reformation or whether he received them as the married portion of Jane Strelley or whether they were purchased in 1629 by another John Wood.

John Wood of Lambley and Woodborough was appointed first Recorder of Newark by Charles I in 1627. He probably owed this appointment to the fact that his grandfather, Sir Richard Mountague, was Lord Chief Justice of England. He is mentioned once in the "Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson," among other townsmen of Newark. He was ejected from the office of Recorder under the Commonwealth in 1645, but lived to see the restoration of Charles II. He gave the Oak Table in the Church as has been mentioned already.

The pedigree in Thoroton of course ends in 1677. The family seems to have become extinct in the male line at the death of the Rev. Mountague Wood, who was Rector of St. Michael Royal London and founded the Endowed Church School at Woodborough in 1736. Enquiries at St. Michael's Royal show that he became Rector in 1707 and died in 1741. Nothing is known about him except that his signature occurs in the Minute Books and Registers. His sister, Elizabeth Wood, was buried at Woodborough in 1722, and his sister Catharine in 1738. He and his sister Catharine, as Exors. of their brother Richard Wood released to Trustees certain lands in Arnold purchased by Richard Ward out of moneys given by several persons for the poor of Gedling, Carlton and Stoke. He also in 1724 bought 38 acres of land in Lambley called Jericho out of a grant of Queen Ann's Bounty to which he added money of his own to increase the endowment of the Vicar of Woodborough.

Mr. William Edge, who inherited the property, complained that Woodborough was not properly served by Rev. W. Leybourne who found it worth his while in consequence of the aforesaid augmentation to be non-resident Vicar, with the result that Richard Oldacres was ordained to be Stipendiary Curate. He died in 1796 and left a Charity of £40 for the Singers and Poor widows of Woodborough, of which more hereafter.

Mr. William Edge, his son, succeeded. At his death the property passed to Mr. John Bagshawe Taylor, who sold it, by auction, to Mr. Robert Howitt [Robert Howett]. Mr. Howitt [Robert Howett] began life as a Threader-lad in a factory and became a successful bookmaker. He altered the house and built the stables opposite. He died in 1887 and the property was foreclosed by the mortgagee, Mr. Mills of Alvaston, who left it at his death in 1892 to his nephew Mr. William Bradshaw, who now owns it.

Wood's School was founded by the Rev. Mountague Wood in 1736. The original Trust deed is among the School deeds with the Parish Registers, and an abstract of it is given in the Charity Commissioners' Reports for Notts. It is an Indenture of Lease and release dated 4th and 5th December, 1739, between the Rev. Mountague Wood of the one part and the Rev. Thomas Allen, Minister of Woodborough, the Rev. Henry Woods, Rector of Lambley, and the Rev. Christopher Rawleigh Seaton, Minister of Epperstone, of the other part, whereby certain lands in Woodborough, Blidworth and Stapleford were settled on Thomas Allen, Henry Woods and Christopher Seaton, in trust, to apply the rents and profits for the maintenance of a Schoolmaster, to be employed to teach the children of the inhabitants of Woodborough and to instruct them in the principles of the Christian religion according to the usage of the Church of England, and other learning for ever, and to repair the said School house and rebuild it when necessary. The Rev. Mountague Wood retained power for life to appoint the Master, but at his death the majority of the Trustees were to appoint. Provision was also made for the dismissal of a Master by the Trustees, and for the surviving Trustees to co-operate a new Trustee in case of death, so as to keep up the number of three, who should always consist of the ministers of Woodborough, Lambley and Epperstone.

According to the Charity Commissioners' Report, based on the original deeds, the land consisted of:

1. A Farm at Blidworth containing 58a. 2r. 1p.

2. A cottage and orchard at Stapleford containing 2r. 27p. with 5a. 2r. 2p. of land adjoining and a     meadow containing 2a. 0r. 2p.

3. A house and school-room and garden at Woodborough containing about a rood, open to other lands     rented by the Schoolmaster, the boundary being marked by stones.

The first School Master was Mr. John Thorpe for he appears in the Registers as the father of a child baptized in 1746, and he was himself buried in 1763. The Trustees then advertised for a Master as follows:


"A Schoolmaster of a sober life and conversation, capable of teaching to read and write English and to cast accounts, in the Parish of Woodborough in the county of Nottingham. The Salary about £20 a year with a convenient new house, etc. The election will be upon the 15th instant of June at the School in Woodborough about ten o'clock in the morning. The trustees propose to keep themselves independent of all solicitations in order, impartially, to chuse the most proper person of the best character and ability to serve that high trust and labour; and therefore beg no friends or gentlemen will endeavour to break in upon so necessary a resolution by recommending a person unequal to such business. Candidates must each bring a testimonial of their sober life and conversation from the Minister and parish officers where they come from, and every person subscribing such characters is desired seriously and honestly to consider that the character and behaviour of a School-Master is one of the most essential ones in every parish; and therefore prayed not to testify for one that will not bear such an examination."

Among thirty candidates were a Mr. Wildbore and a Mr. Richard Oldacres, who presented the following testimonial:

"Mr. Richard Oldacres having requested of us the Minister and Churchwardens of South Wingfield in the County of Derby to do justice to his character, We do hereby certify that he has been School Master with us for nearly four years last past and by his life and conversation given sufficient proof of his diligence, ingenuity, sobriety and honesty, and particularly his endeavour to promote Useful Learning, Humanity and Virtue among his scholars and neighbours. We therefore recommend him as a Worthy Schoolmaster and a good neighbour in every respect."

Evidently the Trustees wanted a man who would not merely work for payment by results but of high moral character and good tone. Their choice fell upon Mr. Wildbore, but he died almost immediately and Mr. Richard Oldacres was elected in his place on August 8th, 1763, and came into residence on August 18th.

Mr. Richard Oldacres was born at Trusley, where he fell under the influence of the Rev. Mr. Wilmot, (afterwards Dr. Wilmot of Morley in Derbyshire). In 1741 he was put to business in Derby where in about 14 years he made himself master of almost every part of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. In 1753 he opened a Private School at Duffield near Derby whence he was preferred to South Wingfield School where he was helped by Dr. Hatton, of Queen’s College, Oxford. Of his work at South Wingfield he gave the following account:

"First I rise pretty early in a morning and spend a considerable time in studying the best authors for my own improvement. Secondly I open my School a little before eight o’clock." After an account of the routine work he wrote, "In the afternoon I teach them in the English or Latin Grammar, etc., and at night I prepare copies, pieces of morality and precedents of business for the next day . . . . Every Wednesday I instruct all that are capable in the use of Globes, Maps and Orrory, etc. . . . On Thursday in the afternoon I instruct them in the Church Catechism, and on Saturday I order every one an easy task for Sunday, which they that attend Divine Service are excused from saying and this makes children fond of the Church.  Likewise once in three weeks we have a Society of ingenious young men for their improvement in Church Musick, Mathematics, Natural and Experimental Philosophy; in this Society I play occasionally the bassoon, help them to solve their Mathematical problems and read select pieces in Physics, Optics, Pneumatics, Astronomy, Hydrostatics, Mechanics, etc., which I explain to them by proper examples and experiments; by these means and several other easy methods I can often reclaim my scholars and others from idleness and neglect of learning; and in a very little time made them acquire a just and ingenious way of thinking which naturally inclines them to diligence and attention in their learning and above all it always gives them the most exalted notions of the great wisdom, power and goodness of the Deity."

Here then we have two Churchmen, a Clergyman and a layman acting as pioneers in the education of the people. Here is the Rev. Mountague Wood endowing a Village School at his own expense no less than 130 years before the Education Act of 1870 and Mr. Richard Oldacres starting Continuation Classes for young men at his own labour and expense just 130 years before the Evening School Code of 1892 which first provided sufficient funds to work Evening Schools. It is easy now to point to a National System of Education maintained by the Imperial Exchequer and Local Rates. But it is all nonsense for Parliament and School Boards to pose as pioneers in Education. The real credit is due to the Church and to such Churchmen as Mountague Wood and Richard Oldacres who in days of vice and ignorance founded Schools and taught the poor with money drawn from their own purses and not from the purses of taxpayers and ratepayers. We do not think that the name of Mountague Wood is honoured as it should be in this Village and we are amazed at the ingratitude and ignorance shown by those Parishioners who have endeavoured to hand over his Church School to a School Board.

The letters of Richard Oldacres show the character of the man. He was an enthusiast for education, educating himself and others; a man of singular modesty of character, of patience and cheerfulness under disappointment, of undaunted perseverance and of untiring energy. The work that he got through must have been enormous, for not only did he teach his day and evening schools, but at the same time he qualified himself for ordination. He was then Schoolmaster and Stipendiary Curate with the charge of the Parish and Sunday Work. Further he took in a number of Boarders whom he taught in School at rates which would make modern teachers stand aghast, though doubtless money went a long way.  Here is his prospectus in 1782:

"Terms for Board and Education at the Rev. Mr. Oldacre's Academy in Woodborough near Nottingham.

Each Boarder to bring a pair of new Sheets and a couple of Towels."

His salary as Schoolmaster was £30 a year. The original Schoolroom was 18ft. 6in. long, by 14ft. 6in. wide and 8ft. 6in. high. The Cottage was only 18ft. 6in. long by 16ft. wide, divided into a little parlour 10ft. by 9ft., a kitchen with open chimney. a small passage and a staircase. But R. Oldacres built a new Schoolroom 23ft. by 19ft. 8in. by 8ft. 9in. high, and a study adjoining with two stories of bedrooms above, and two cellars, a kitchen and pantry above and a bedroom over all. This is now the part of the Vicarage adjoining the road containing kitchen, scullery, small study and rooms above. He died in 1785 having been master for 22 years.

The Rev. Samuel Oldacres succeeded him as Curate and Master. His salary as Master was £95. He became Rector of Gonalston in 1812 and was succeeded by the Rev. J. Hewes who died in 1837 and was succeeded by the Rev. S. L. Oldacres. His salary was £109. He rebuilt the whole of the original School buildings except the outer walls in 1840 at a cost of £300 and enlarged the house by raising the roof and widening and lengthening on the north and west. He also built garden walls and conveniences at a cost of £100 and a stable and coach house (since pulled down) at a cost of £60. In 1875 there were 63 children on the books with an average attendance of 40, and an assistant mistress was employed at a salary of £15.

On the passing of the Education Act of 1870 the Government Inspector reported that there was no efficient elementary School in Woodborough on the ground that he could not pass a school under 10ft, in height, and the Charity Commissioners sent down an Assistant Commissioner with a view of drafting a scheme for conducting the School as a Church School under Government Inspection. The Dissenters immediately got up an agitation with a view to getting the School under popular control and Mr. Samuel Morley was invited to attend a public meeting. He brought Canon Forester with him and clearly explained that the Endowment was to educate children in accordance with the doctrines of the Church and could not be acquired by a School Board. Mr. Oldacres was away but wrote a long letter to him dated February 20th, 1875 setting out all the above facts, in which he wrote, "The Endowment was given by a clergyman of the Established Church to found a Church School; . . . conscientious Dissenters can have no claim to share in its benefits or interfere in its management and I feel it my duty to keep the School which has for 37 years been entrusted to my charge in the manner designed by its founder. . . . I challenge the kingdom to find a parish where Scholastic and clerical duties have been performed by one family for such small remuneration for 112 years." The Charity Commissioners drafted a scheme which was sent down to be considered by the Vestry and to which the Parishioners made very grave objections most of which were allowed. Finally the present scheme was approved in Council on 12th August, 1876, which ordered a new school to he built within one year and that then S. L. Oldacres should retire with the use of the School House for life and a pension of £50, but in the meanwhile he had passed to his rest after ten weeks’ illness on May 29, 1876.

By the Scheme of 12th August, 1876, the intention of the founder to "provide for and advance the education of youth in accordance with the doctrines of the Church of England" was secured, but the Trustees were altered to six Governors, the Vicar, ex-officio, three Co-operative and two Representative to be elected in Vestry; the Master was to have a pension of £50; a new School and School House were to be built and the School was to be conducted as a Public Elementary School under the Act of 1870, with a Conscience Clause giving exemption from religious instruction. The first Governors were:

Rev. Fred. G. Slight, Ex-officio.   
Rev. M. Hugh S. Champneys, Rector of Epperstone. (Co-operative).
Rev. Thomas N. Grigg, Rector of Lambley. (Co-operative).
John B. Taylor, Esqre., Ratcliffe-on-Trent. (Co-operative).
Mansfield Parkyns, Esq., Woodborough Hall. (Representatives)
Joseph Marriott, Woodborough. (Representatives).

At one of the early meetings Mr. J. B. Taylor offered to give the land and adjoining paddock rented of him by Rev. S. L. Oldacres to the Governors so as to increase the value of the existing buildings on condition he might nominate Mr. Bliss Sanders as Architect; and the Governors made arrangements to sell the buildings and land at Woodborough and certain lands at Stapleford to raise funds to build the new School. Eventually the Charity Commissioners authorized the following sales, viz.:

June 26th, 1877. The dwelling house and Schoolroom with the buildings, yard and garden containing 1r. 20p. at Woodborough for £574 17s. 0d

May 28th, 1878. A piece of land at Stapleford containing 2,170¾ square yards and a piece containing 1565 square yards, both known as Meakin's Croft at  Stapleford  for £1,012  3s. 9d

January 27th, 1882. A piece of pasture land at Stapleford containing 1,133 square yards for £340  0s. 0d

But the Governors sold the house and school with Mr. Taylor's land to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for £925 13s. The value of the school premises had therefore been increased by £350 16s., by Mr. Taylor's gift. 

The total realized was £2277 16s. 9d, out of which the Governors at once paid £200 to Mrs. Oldacres for timber, shrubs and fixtures.

On December 10th, 1878, the Charity Commissioners ordered the advance of £1,626 17s. 11d, for the building of the school designed by Mr. Bliss Sanders, inclusive of the architect’s charges and fittings, and £89 16s. for the site purchased of Mr. Howitt and the expenses. But this order was only obtained after a great deal of trouble as the Governors had accepted Messrs. Tyers' tender to build the schools for £1,450, before the designs had been approved by the Charity Commissioners, who objected to them as being needlessly expensive. The contractors moreover became bankrupt during the work, but eventually the new Schools were opened on Monday, August 22nd, 1878, when Canon Hole, now Dean of Rochester, preached a sermon in the church, and there was a great procession of the children and a public tea.

But of course extras had been incurred in the course of building, and there was interest due to the Bank and the Solicitors, which in June 1882 amounted to £180 16s. 3d., and the Governors applied to the Commissioners for a further advance of Capital. The Commissioners again and again asked for information which had already been supplied, but eventually in July 1887, when the original £180 16s. 6d. had been increased by legal expenses and interest to £309 13s. 8d., advanced the sum of £309 13s. 8d. on condition it was repaid by the Governors by annual payments of £17.

The first teachers were Mr. Fitness and Miss Patching, and the children were charged 2d. a week; but there was much trouble about non-payment of pence and corporal punishment; and Mr. Fitness and Miss Patching eventually left in 1880. Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Houseley succeeded, but in 1881 Mrs. Houseley gave up teaching and Miss Charlotte Holmes was appointed Infant Mistress. But the course of things did not run smooth. The parents objected to pay the pence, and the Dissenters objected to the church teaching, and an opposition school, conducted by a young man name Lenny was attempted, but soon failed. While good results were obtained in the Infant Room, the Government and Diocesan Reports on the Upper Department were most unsatisfactory. Financial matters also got into great confusion owing to the sudden deaths of Rev. F. G. Slight and Mr. Howitt, who were Treasurers in succession. In the end Mr. Houseley resigned in September 1892. His resignation became a signal for a renewed agitation by the Dissenters to get the School under the control of a Board. A requisition signed by upwards of fifty householders was sent to Mr. C. J. Spencer, the returning officer at Basford, demanding a School Board. At a Public Meeting on February 2nd, 1893, Mr. Parkyns in the chair, the resolution in favour of a School Board was lost by 60 to 43; and at the poll on February 16th, the voting by ballot was—

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



Authorities: Harleian Society, Visit. of Notts. p. 86.  Thoroton's Notts.

Charity Commission Reports, Notts.  Wood’s School, Minutes and Papers.

WOOD. Arms Quarterly. Gules, semee of cross crosslets fitched and three demi-wooden argent, on a canton sinister three fleur-de-lis or. Crest. An oak tree proper, acorned or.

The agitation was greatly assisted by Nonconformists from Nottingham, but the defeat was decisive. However the excitement took long to cool down, and Mr. and Miss Biggs, the new teachers, had a very difficult part to play, but his patience, tact and excellent teaching in time brought peace. At the present time, Wood's Schools are earning excellent reports and full grants from both the Government and Diocesan Inspectors.

On July 21st, 1893, in consequence of representations made to the Charity Commissioners by the Vicar, Rev. W. E. Buckland, and Mr. Mansfield Parkyns, who had devoted many days together to the building and school accounts, Mr. Mitcheson, Assistant Commissioner, was sent down to meet the Governors. The meeting was decidedly stormy, Mr. Mitcheson proposing to devote the Endowment to Technical Scholarships, and requiring the Governors to carry out Clause 20 of the scheme. The Governors retorted that hundreds of pounds had been wasted by delays at Whitehall, and that Mr. Mitcheson's proposals were wholly contrary to the intentions of the Founder. Eventually Mr. Mitcheson consented to agree to the wishes of the Governors. But much correspondence followed which ended in the Commissioners' order of 23rd October, 1894, whereby it was arranged that the advance of £309 should be repaid by annual instalments of £9 10s. for 30 years, and by a letter dated March 30th, 1894, the Commissioners agreed not to press for the present for any application for a Scheme under Clause 20 of the Scheme of 1876, relating to the £50 payable as pension to the Rev. S. L. Oldacres. 

So ended a long wrangle between the Governors, the Commissioners and the Nonconformists, which has caused much ill-feeling in the Village. But we trust we have entered upon peaceful times. If only we can secure good and tactful teachers, and if the Charity Commissioners will but leave things alone, all will go well, and perhaps our people will come to reverence the memory of the Rev. Mountague Wood, who stands out as one of the real Benefactors of Woodborough, and one of the earliest pioneers in the education of the children of the poor in the principles of the Christian Religion, according to the usage of the Church of England.

Edge's Charity was founded by Mr. William Edge, by his will in 1796. He gave all his personal Estate to his wife, Mary Edge, subject to the payment of £40, which he gave to the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of Woodborough, in trust, to put the same out at interest in the public funds, and to pay the interest thereof yearly, one moiety to the singers for the time being at the Parish of Woodborough, on St. Thomas' day, and the other moiety among the poor widows of Woodborough, on the same day. This legacy has never been invested, but the sum of forty shillings a year is payable out of the estate of the Hertford Manor, now owned by Mr. William Bradshaw. The moiety payable to the poor widows will be administered by the Parish Council under the Local Government Act of 1894. The moiety for the singers will be administered by the Churchwardens, who have hitherto allowed the Vicar to receive the money and to distribute it among the adult members of the Church in proportions based on their attendance on Sundays. There is a custom connected with this Charity: on Christmas morning the Choir sing the old version of the 123rd Psalm to some curious music which is traditional and said to be by Purcell.

The Charity known as the Poor Lands and a small sum of money in the Old Savings Bank at Nottingham, the interest of which is distributed among the poor at Christmas, can best be treated under the Parish documents.


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