Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, a Sherwood Forest Village, recorded in Domesday

This band was formed in the early 1880’s and my father said there were three families in Woodborough that could run a band without other help! There was the Wylde family, father John and brother Thomas, John’s brothers Arthur and Charlie - Arthur was the conductor – then John Richardson (choirmaster for 60 years at the church) and his sons Ted, Billy, Percy and John. Alf Richardson who lived at the bottom end had sons Frank, Alf and Samuel and these together, with one who was killed in the first war, were all stockingers.  At one time they were 28 strong and used to travel in Mr Dunthorne’s carriers cart to places as far as Lincolnshire, to club feasts at Long Bennington, Ancaster and Metheringham, as well as the Woodborough club feast on Whit Tuesday. For the Heckington Flower Show they stopped overnight, making it three days in the cart. The band seemed to fizzle out after 1901 when Mark Richardson died; he was a butcher and played the euphonium.  It was revived in 1910 by Alfred Richardson and was soon up to about 28 again but only played until 1914 when several members lost their lives in the war, one being George Teather who played the big drum. This band would play at Epperstone on Whit Monday and then in Woodborough on Whit Tuesday when Main Street resembled Goose Fair with 500 people marching down Main Street.

Club feast on Whit Tuesday started with a service in church, especially with a hymn for Friendly Societies ‘O grace our god this day’. Another major event was the Sunday School anniversaries, the Primitive Methodists on Easter Sunday, the Baptists on the fourth Sunday after Easter and the Wesleyans on Whit Sunday. Other events were the Parochial party on New Year’s Eve (with a ham and tongue tea for 18 pence) and dancing from 8pm untill 1 o’clock, but if it fell on a Saturday it had to finish at 12 o’clock. In the new year there was an old folk’s tea and concert in the Institute. Peggy Checkland was great for saying recitations along with her father and Florrie Clayton would sing for us. Parish Councillors would put on a play and sometimes the Girl Guides would repeat a play they had done for concerts in school. The Guides were run by Lady Dowson at Woodborough Hall, with Mollie and Susan Dowson and Clarice Hallam. The Parish Council tea event was usually on a Wednesday evening in early January or February and on a night with a full moon because there were no street lights until 1929 when electricity came to Woodborough. Town water supply came 2 years later.

Other celebrations were Shrove Tuesday with a half day holiday from school when out came the whips and tops or battledore and shuttlecocks for the girls. Oak Apple Day on May 29th meant that all children would wear an oak leaf in their buttonhole. These were to be found in the paddock and if you couldn’t display one a group of big boys standing outside Davenport House would push you into a bed of nettles. Then the Feast of St Swithun’s was held on the first Sunday after July 2nd. Some churches observe the 15th as this was when St. Swithun’s body was moved inside Winchester Cathedral.  In the early days a free tea would be provided by Mr Charles Hill at Woodborough Hall, later the Feast would be celebrated at the Four Bells. Feast Sports were held there until the First War and were reinstated in 1928 in the Broad Close until moving to the new school playing field in the 1960’s. Feast celebration on Broad Close will be remembered for its fair ground with a cakewalk and gallopers.

Among the notable characters who have lived in Woodborough one was Rev’d George Brown, known as the ‘Walking Concordance’ due to his knowledge of the scriptures and preaching experience. He died in 1833 and is buried in the Woodborough churchyard. Another notable was Joseph Marriott , Primitive Methodist who used to stand on the corner of Roe Lane on Sunday mornings and remind everyone that that ‘This is the Lord’s Day’ John Clayton was another local preacher, a Primitive Methodist although his brother Joseph Clayton was a Baptist preacher and also the Clerk to the Parish Council.

In a hot summer of 1911 my father was at work in the Roe Hill field when he was approached by three men, one being the head postmaster of Nottingham. They wanted to establish a telephone exchange in the village but needed a minimum of six people to become subscribers. My father found five and then the Rev’d Samuel Birch-Jones who had just become the new vicar agreed that he too would benefit from having a telephone. Others soon joined but some feared that a telephone apparatus would cause an explosion! No.1 telephone was Mr Gibbs at Lowdham Grange (before it became a Borstal). No 2 was the Post Office which housed the exchange, the third was Hallam’s Hall Farm, followed by Mrs Dring at Shelt Hill Farm. No 5 was the Sherbrooks at Oxton Hall and then Rev’d Birch-Jones at the vicarage. Most of the big houses soon followed and in 1948 the switchboard changed to an automatic with the Post Office as no.7, then 207 and in 1981 to 652207.

Now a word about the village stream – the Dyke. There were two shuttle gates on the dyke to allow for regular flushing, one being at the back of Woodborough Hall and local boys used to love going up Main Street  on Saturday mornings to see the sluice gate opened and to watch the bore running along to the Nags Head. Here the second gate in the orchard would allow the water to divert into a large pond in front of the Nether Hall and then off to join the Dover Beck near Epperstone.

Local transport was provided by carriers cart. In the early 1920’s John Leafe’s cart would go to Nottingham between 8 and 9 o’clock on Saturday mornings. Then his son Teddy Leafe ran a 22 seater bus to Trinity Square and Charles Inger also had a bus that went to the Black Boy yard. It cost one shilling return in those days until Barton’s buses commenced their services on Easter Saturday 1925, with a return fare for one shilling and three pence. They also offered a workman’s return before 9 in the morning for only nine pence. The route to Nottingham for all buses was up Bank Hill and along Mapperley Plains.

Those were the days!!



Woodborough by Mannie Foster - a precis of the full transcription of a talk circa 1981

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Woodborough was called UDEBURG at the time of the Domesday book in 1087 and in the 17th century as Woodburgh, later on as WOODBOROW but now known to all as WOODBOROUGH. The Domesday book states that the size of the parish was 3 miles long and 5 furlongs wide. Measuring it from the field near Ploughman Wood, going back to Lambley, as the southern end and to its extreme northern end past Moor Farm, now called Spring’s Hill Farm, I would say that it is about 2 miles in width and 3 miles from the top of Dorket Head to very near Knowles garage and the water mill on the Epperstone bypass.

Its size in acreage differs between sources of information. When Rev’d Buckland wrote his history of Woodborough in 1896 he mentions 1869 acres of land. More recent directories quote from 1945 to 2020 acres although this may include some land on the south side round Wood Barn farm where an old lane goes from the top of Lambley hill to the top of Bank Hill - a bridle road – which is the old parish boundary. I think some land was taken from this side with a change in the Ecclesiastical parish to allow more tithes to be given to the Rector of Lambley. At the Manor we only had to pay tithe on just the 2 acres at the top of Great Unnies field although Colonel Potter had to pay more for his farm land.

Population size varied as well. At Domesday it was about 200 but after William Lee invented his stocking frame in 1589 this introduced a new cottage industry and when Thoroton, the principal Nottinghamshire historian, visited Woodborough and Calverton in 1670 he quotes 1121 and 1352 for Calverton. At that time there were 11 pubs and 4 beer houses, later reducing down to 3 licensed public houses.

At the hey day of framework knitting in the first half of the nineteenth century there were some 300 frames in the village but by the end it was down to 190 due to the expansion of factories in the towns.  Writing in 1790 Throsby states that there were between 100 and 200 dwellings in Woodborough, quite large in comparison with other local villages – Carlton described as of considerable magnitude, Lambley small, Lowdham about 70 dwellings, Calverton about 100 and Oxton 70. The first official census gives Woodborough a population of 527 but records a steady increase over the next 100 years as the table below shows,  

At the 1871 census there were 449 men and 449 females, rather remarkable! Numbers then drop with only 787 for 1891, possibly due to migration of framework knitters, especially to Macclesfield and Leek where factories were introducing steam power. A decline followed after 1901 and by the first War it had dropped to below 700. By 1951 the figure had risen to 747. As new houses began to be built in the village the figure reached 1200 in the 70’s.

During the 1880’s my grandfather John Foster was appointed postmaster (on 13th September 1880). Before that he had been a shoemaker living at the bottom of Bank Hill. Half the family were born there and then moved to the [old] Main Street post office in 1873. He gave up shoemaking but continued with market gardening in the field at the back of the present cemetery at the top of Roe Hill.

Also born in the cottages at the bottom of Bank Hill was William Roseby Whysall who later became a famous cricketer, playing for Notts and England. His father was gamekeeper to Robert Howett at the Manor. The Woodborough cricket team won the Newark Herald Cup for three successive years keeping the cup in 1885. They came back to Lowdham station to be met by the Woodborough United Brass Band who played them all the way back to meet a rousing reception in the village.

Year of each census

Nos of people recorded





























1941 estimated WWII






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