Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, a Sherwood Forest Village, recorded in Domesday

Charles Hose Hill - Services to Woodborough

Taken from the Trader & Citizen dated Saturday, 2nd September 1922:

Parish Council's warm appreciation - The removal of Mr C.H. Hill, J.P., from the parish of Woodborough is felt to be an incalculable loss, and on Wednesday evening the feeling was given striking expression at an interesting function which took place in the parish room. That building itself, by the way, is one of the last acts of Mr Hill’s goodwill to the village, inasmuch as its present restored condition and equipment to meet the social needs especially of the young people are largely due to Mr Hill’s munificence. It follows, therefore, that during his early thirty years’ residence at the Hall [Woodborough Hall] Mr Hill has been a good neighbour and a generous benefactor, to which is added the fact that he has been for twenty-one years without a break Chairman of the Parish Council. On Wednesday evening Mr Hill entertained the past and present members of the Council to dinner when he was presented with a framed enlarged photograph of the guests, taken in front of the Hall, himself being the central figure. Amongst those present, in addition to their host, were Messrs C.E. Foster (Vice Chairman of the Council), H. Bish, W. Chamberlain, W. Desborough, A. Dunthorne, A. Poole, J. Cooke, S. Savage, P. Spencer, F.A. Swift, J. Roe (present members of the Council), Mr Jos. Clayton (Secretary), Messrs John Clayton, W. Mabbott, J. Small, S. Desborough, W. Harrison, J.T. Poole (past members) and Mr Paulson.

After dinner the proceedings, which were of an informal social character, were prefaced by the loyal toast, after which Mr Ernest Foster, who presided, submitted the health of Mr Hill.  He said he was sure they were all very grateful to their worthy host for inviting them to such a splendid dinner.

The present members of the Council were very pleased indeed to see the faces of old members, who in their time had helped to manage the affairs of the parish. In one sense they met under very pleasant auspices, but naturally they could not avoid the thought that they were about to lose from the village a gentleman whom, for twenty-one years, had done his duty faithfully and true as Chairman of the Parish Council (applause). The thought of that had projected a little gloom into their proceedings. Thirty years ago when Mr Hill first came to the village a good deal of property was in a dilapidated condition, but under Mr Hill’s influence much of it had been thoroughly restored, many of the cottages which were practically derelict having been transformed into comfortable dwellings. Not only had that been done, but Mr Hill had allowed the tenants to remain in them at a merely nominal rent. In these and many other ways he had helped the village and in his departure he was leaving a mark upon it for which they were all deeply thankful. (Applause). For a very long time the name of Hill would live in Woodborough. Not only had he largely rebuilt the parish and added much to its picturesqueness, but he had shown a very practical empathy with all its organisations without the slightest partiality. No appeal for any cause was ever made to Mr Hill in vain. To the Nursing Association especially he had been very generous; indeed had it not been for Mr Hill they would probably have had no Association at all. In asking Mr Hill’s acceptance of the picture, Mr Foster sincerely hoped that it would find a no inconspicuous place in his new home and that for many years he would live to look upon the faces it contained and be reminded of the happy times they had so often spent together. (Applause).

Co-operation of Landlord & Tenant - Mr John Clayton spoke of Mr Hill as a good neighbour, a generous landlord and a benefactor to the village. Woodborough was not a “waste howling wilderness” when Mr Hill came, and he would not like to draw such a contrast, but it was not so beautiful as it is today. As had already been remarked, Mr Hill had restored a great deal of it during the past thirty years and had even continued the work in the difficult times through which they had recently been passing. The top end of the village was one of its principal beauty spots and always seemed to invoke the devotional spirit. Natural beauty, he thought, never looked so fair as when man co-operated with nature, and Mr Hill had undoubtedly been such a co-operator in beautifying the village of Woodborough, and, what was more, not asking the parishioners to pay the piper. He wished publicly to state that and to express the hope that they would still go on with the improvements. Some had bought their own property and he trusted that these as well as those who were tenants would work together to improve still further the appearance of the village. A village was really the representation of the minds of those who lived in it. Two villages which he remembered in Ireland illustrated this, one was neat and attractive and the people industrious, which the other was simply a collection of hovels and briars and nettles stood for the slothfulness of the people who lived in them. The parishioners of Woodborough had a responsibility to make the village as attractive as possible. He would not like to see it made a resort for Sunday pleasure seekers − he had two great a respect for the Christian Sabbath − but he would rather Woodborough became that than that it should become slummy. For all that Mr Hill had done they were very grateful, but he wondered, if they had shown their gratitude for his benefactions in a more marked manner, whether Mr Hill would not have found it a little harder to leave the village than he was doing. It was not an easy thing to break away from old associations.

We may build upon splendid habitations,

Fill our rooms with paintings, and with sculptures,

But we cannot

Buy with gold the old associations.

They had enjoyed the privileges which Mr Hill had bestowed upon them and it was a calamity that he was leaving the village. (Hear, hear). With regard to the Parish Council, he (Mr Clayton) was for twelve years a member during six of which Mr Hill was Chairman, so that he had plenty of opportunity for seeing the kind of man he was. He was official but not officious; he allowed plenty of latitude to all the talents that were exhibited. There were loud talkers, long talkers, short talkers and no talkers, but Mr Hill knew how to deal with all the talents, eliciting the opinions of those who did not speak because he felt that they were probably as weighty as those of the long talkers. In conclusion Mr Clayton hoped that the parish council would be happy in their selection of a chairman as they had been in Mr Hill and that in the years they hoped still remained to him, their host would be as pleased to look backward and forward. (Applause).

Other tributes - Mr J.P. Poole, speaking as Vice-Chairman of the Council for a good many years, said it would have been impossible for any Chairman to have had held the scales more evenly than Mr Hill had done. He never once permitted party politics to sway his judgments or to influence his decisions. A good Chairman was three parts of the Council. He was very sorry he had himself left the village, but his interests were still there. (Hear, hear). Two of the great improvements in the parish − the rounding of the corners at the top and bottom end − were carried out during Mr Hill’s chairmanship and at his instigation. In Mr Hill’s departure Woodborough was losing a very great friend, but they sincerely hoped this would not be the last time they would see him, and that he would have continued health and strength to enjoy the new home to which he was going. (Applause).

Mr Desborough said they were not long in discovering Mr Hill’s good qualities and they had learnt year after year increasingly to appreciate them.

Mr Bish, who in addition to being a member of the parish Council, also spoke as the District Councillor and Guardian, said in looking back over the past years one of the things he felt deeply grateful to Mr Hill for was that he accepted the chairmanship of the parish Council at a time when party feeling was perhaps a little strenuous. It was due to Mr Hill’s moderating influence and sound leadership that a compromise was arrived at to avoid the turmoil and expense of elections and one that had worked out most satisfactorily. During the last twenty-one years of great work had been carried on in the village, the successful results of which were due to principally to Mr Hill’s example and his large and trusted business experience. (Applause).

Mr Hill’s Impartiality and Urbanity - Mr Joseph Clayton professed his speech by reading a letter from Mr A. Foster from Yarmouth deeply regretting that he was unable to be present and hoping that the gathering would be a very happy and successful one. Mr Hill’s presence in the chair at all times, said Mr Foster, was helpful to both sides: his frankness in always allowing discussion to run its full length, and his tact in holding both wings of the Council together, would never be forgotten. He deeply regretted that Mr Hill was leaving the village. Proceeding, Mr Clayton said he need not remind them that not many months had gone since they met for the opening of the parish room. It was then prognosticated that Mr Hill would love to be hundred and Chairman of the council for another twenty-one years - (hear, hear). That hope unhappily was not likely to be realised. The thought was a melancholy one that the time was near at hand when he would have severed his connection with the council and the parish. (Mr Hill: “Not with my friends, I hope” and applause). It was on the 15th of April, 1901, that Mr Hill was first elected Chairman of the Council and he had been elected unanimously on every subsequent annual occasion.  Indeed it was never in the mind of any member of the Council to make any amendment − (hear, hear) − and the fact that he had been elected for twenty-one years with such remarkable unanimity was the best proof of the manner in which he had lived in the minds and hearts of the members of the Council. (Applause). As many of them had acknowledged again and again, Mr Hill’s Chairmanship had been characterised by strict impartiality and urbanity, with the result that the Council had met as brothers and friends and with a desire to promote the best interests of the parish. Mr Hill had also been a governor and manager of the school and had taken a very great interest in the work of education. He would not be exaggerating if he said that his interest had exceeded that of any other manager - (hear, hear). The photograph that had been presented to him would remind him of his twenty-one years’ Chairmanship of the Council and of the happy associations he had had with them for so long. They on their part would look upon the one that was to be hung in the parish room − an exact replica of the one now presented to Mr Hill − and remember him with grateful appreciation of his long residence amongst them and his impartial and urbane Chairmanship of the Council. (Applause).

Mr D. Spencer, as Secretary of the Room Committee, said the provision of the institute, which they owed largely to Mr Hill, was very highly appreciate, and he desired on behalf of all concerned to express their sincere thanks to Mr Hill for all he had done. (Applause).

Mr Mabbott also spoke briefly as an old member of the council, remarking that although Mr Hill was leaving the parish, he would still live in the village, in the hearts of the people, and in grateful memories of all he had done for it. (Applause).

Mr Hill’s Reply - (Photograph on the left dated 1922). Mr Hill, who had a cordial welcome on rising to reply, said: I can only say a few words because at a time like this feelings overwhelm one. I can fight, but I don't like to face a time like the present when you are all so kind, as you have been for so many years past. A year ago I had not a thought that I was going to leave Woodborough, but I have felt that the claims of business and other duties made the coming over the Mapperley hills at the end of busy days a little irksome and that the time had come when I should be more conveniently situated or give up business. I do not think it is a good thing for a man to give up his business so long as he can stick to it. I was in London the other day conversing with a gentleman, and I said to him: “You are a cheery old chap: you must be 68 or 70 years of age”.  “I am not,” he said, “I am 75”. “Then”, I said, “You must have taken great care of yourself”. He replied: “I have, I have for my breakfast a couple of eggs and some bacon”. “What else?” I asked. He said: “At half-past ten I have a bottle of stout or a glass of beer, and I have finished then 'til evening except for luncheon, when I have water”. I heard of a clergyman the other day who went down to take up his new living and in due course visited his parishioners. One day he came across a man in a joiner’s shop. He said: “Well, my man, how old are you?” “I am 75,” he said. He added “You are a wonderful looking man for that age and you are still at work”. “Yes,” he replied, “And my father is still at work”. The Vicar enquired what he did, and the man replied: “Well, just now, he is putting my grandfather to bed, he is not very well”. (Laughter). After that I ought to feel myself a young man again. Well, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done for me and for the great friendship we have had together during the many years I have lived in Woodborough. It is a beautiful and ideal place, and you have got an industry of your own − market gardening and farming as well as other things. I do no know a village that has a better future than yours. You are not going to have a very good year this year, but it will not be long before you have your old prosperity. In the days of adversity learn to take care of your money and look well after it. I remember when it looked as if we were going to war I said: “Buckle up your pockets and take care of your money, you don’t know when you may want it”. The reply I received was: “Oh, I don’t know, the war will be over by Christmas”. “It won’t be started then”, I replied, “I go over to Germany every year and sometimes twice, and I know that the Germans are prepared for war”. We soon discovered that when we saw how they swept over Belgium and into France with the object of getting speedily to Calais. Happily we had got the same blood in us as our forefathers possessed and we stopped them, and we shall stop them again if they attempt war any more − (applause) − and if only we can keep our village life, because it is the villages that are the backbone of England - (hear, hear). You cannot sustain your trade without the land: the land is the foundation of all our industry. Reference has been made to your schools and their endowment. Your present governors have got your schools into the proud position they now occupy. At one time they had an overdraft at the bank, but you are now well out of that difficulty and you have got a very fine endowment.  Your land at Blidworth brings you in £150 whereas it previously only produced about £16, while the land sold to the Midland Railway Company produces a nice sum. I do not know any schools that are in such a happy position. They were given to you endowed for the good of this village and you must see that they are preserved for that purpose. They are there not only for education in the schools but outside as well. You need a new school, and connected with it you ought to have a village hall. The present one is not big enough. With the land you have you could build a very fine hall and entertain all your young people night after night, which would be a very good thing for the parish. Then as regards your Nursing Association, you have got a wonderfully good start, and I advise you to keep it going, and put a sum of money by every year so that when you have a chance to buy a house, do so, and put your nurse in it. This would mean that when a case occurred that required immediate and special attention it could be taken there. The very serious cases, of course, would have to be taken to Nottingham. You are not a rich village but you have given of your best to the village and to your country. (Hear, hear). During the war it was perfectly astonishing how the people in the village brought their contributions, and the Mayor of Nottingham said he was not more proud of any village. (Applause). Let that spirit continue and you will be a happy and contented people. I thank you for all that Mr Foster and the other speakers have said about me. I wish I could live up to it: I shall try to do so. I thank you for your presence and for this portrait. I shall value it, and every face on that picture I shall hope to see at my home in Nottingham. Nothing will give me greater pleasure. I thank you once more and wish you every luck. (Applause).

The toast of “The Visitors” was also honoured and responded to by Mr Paulson. During the evening several guests contributed songs and recitations.


Neither this splendid photo, nor a similar one where the gentlemen pose with their hats on, were published in the original article about Mr Hill. Both photographs feature the Parish Council posing in front of Woodborough Hall and known to have been taken in 1922.

The number of members past and present match exactly the number of people stated to have been at Mr Hill’s retirement dinner. It is not known which of of the two photographs would have been presented to Mr Hill.

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