Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, a Sherwood Forest Village, recorded in Domesday

Woodborough remembered by an ‘Old Boy’ - Circa 1952

I met Mr Henry Smith at the school sports and asked him if he would care to give us some impressions of the village when he was a young man. We’re grateful to him for the following. Mr Smith has been Mayor of Bebington in Cheshire where he now lives [1952].

Though not born at Woodborough, my parents left Calverton, my birthplace, shortly after I was born; I have always claimed the former as my native place.

This sleepy red-tiled village nestling under the shadow of Sherwood Forest is a beautiful, clean, prosperous and popular one and has a reputation of producing fruit and vegetables of a quality second to none in the country. As a boy I well remember seeing a square of strawberries in a fashionable shop on Long Row, Nottingham, marked “Woodborough grown” and felt a special thrill when I saw they had been grown by own father as they were in a square marked “W.S”, my father’s initials.  

That was 60 years ago and with the passage of time there appear to be very few fundamental differences in the general tenor of the lives and activities of the villagers. Few certainly of the old residents remain but in the village records the names of many of their offspring appear and several of them figure prominently in the affairs of the village.

My earliest recollections centre round the village school so beautifully situated and so well cared for and to which I was carried at the tender of two and a half years. Little did I think that my school life would continue to the age of 65 years or that I should be the first scholar on its books to proceed to a Training College − Saltley College, Birmingham, and later become a fully fledged teacher, finishing my career as Headmaster of one of the largest senior Boy’s Schools in the north of England. I am proud of the training and groundwork associated with Wood’s Foundation School and pleased to know that its reputation and character are being well and worthily maintained. May it continue to prosper and flourish and produce citizens who will bring honour on themselves and renown to the school, which they surely love?

In many respects Woodborough has been singularly fortunate. In my childhood days the residents at the Hall − the Parkyns family − entered into the life of the village with fervour and enthusiasm that became almost infectious. Mr Mansfield Parkyns was instrumental along with the members of his family − all daughters, I believe − in beautifying the Church and in contributing to the happiness and comfort of the villagers to a marked extent. The daughters at the Hall arranged plays, concerts, socials, etc., during the winter months and brightened and enlivened the village which in those days, owing to lack of transport facilities was isolated and colourless during the winter-time.

During periods of unemployment a soup kitchen was opened at the Hall, to which all in need could go and receive generous portions of hot soup during the cold days of winter. With that sturdiness and independence of character common to village people, some refused to accept so gracious a gift but nevertheless they were mindful of the kindness, which prompted it.

In another very important direction the village has been very well blessed. The long line of Vicars has been characterised by devotion to the wants and needs of their parishioners and without exception the incumbents have been zealous in carrying out those duties which have fallen to their lot with a loving regard and a sincere desire to render that service which only they can adequately render. One of this line of Vicars of his own free will and accord, Rev. S. Bond, gave me a series of private lessons in helping to prepare me for my Religious Knowledge examination prior to entering college. He was amply rewarded when I had the honour of receiving the Bishop’s Prize as a result of the examination taken.

In one respect the general tone of the village has improved enormously since my early days. At that time the village had five public houses, the Four Bells, the Bugle Horn, the Punch Bowl, the Nag’s Head and the New Inn and it is rather a sad reflection to have to say that in the evenings a large proportion of the men of the village repaired to licensed premises for their relaxation. I am glad to say I never remember seeing a woman of the village enter a public house in the village, it just wasn’t done. Fights took place almost every night mostly between men of the village. With the coming of the Village Hall and improved transport facilities, the outlook improved. The introduction of Cricket and Football Clubs added to the improvement, the Cricket Club bringing lustre to the village by winning a cup in a district competition in which teams from Lincoln and Newark entered.

Before the village became a centre of market gardening there were two very diverse activities in operation. Hand frame-work knitting was carried on in the homes of many of the villagers. This died out when factories were opened in Nottingham. It is interesting to note that the frame-work knitter was invented at Calverton by the Rev. William Lee.  

The other centre of activity concerned the racing stables at the Manor House. As a boy I well remember playing in the stables with the trainer’s son, Melton Vasey, who became one of the foremost of northern trainers and trained a horse to win the Manchester November Handicap. His father trained horses at Woodborough that won equally important races. Many of the young men of the village found employment in the stables, but when the owner, Mr Robert Howett, died, the stables were closed.  

The church occupied as it does, the centrepiece of the village, stands a dominant and commanding feature. Its northern arch forms a beautiful example of that form of sculpture and it much admired by all who are interested in such work,

The stained-glass windows which beautify this lovely sanctuary were mercifully preserved during the late war and are representative of all that is best in this form of art. The choir stalls, which I believe are also a reminder of the Parkyns’ generosity, having been the work of the family, add to the beauty of the interior.



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