Page images

that the style was "evidently Roman." Incineration was said to have been practised here during the Roman occupation, and in support of this theory the late Mr. Samuel Dutton Walker and Mr. T. C. Hine have stated that an existing opening in the roof of one of the caverns was the "Bustum," or place of cremation, and that the elevated opening, with its many recesses, was the "Columbarium," or sepulcral chamber, in the walls of which were niches for urns of ashes. This has been known as "The Doctor's Shop." None of the tiles said to have been Romam are known to exist, and may have been of later date, probably Norman. No urns or ashes are recorded to have been discovered here. If this was ever a Roman burial-place of the columbarium type, it is remarkable as being unlike any other in character, for the Romans, invariably it is believed, placed the inurned ashes on masses of masonry, and not, as would be the case in this instance, in recesses of friable rock. An illustrated paper on the subject appeared in the first series of "Old Nottinghamshire." In preNorman times the Church of St. Mary la Roche occupied the site; previously it would be a hermit's cell. developed until it became a Church of considerable dimensions, and later was an adjunct to the neighbouring Priory of Lenton. Mr. Briscoe pointed out a series of holes at regular intervals, which might have been made as resting places for roof supports. Various documents are in existence which relate to St. Mary's nearly down to the close of the fifteenth century. All that has been written on the ecclesiastical history of these caverns has, in substance, been reproduced, with added material, in Messrs. Stevenson and Stapleton's chapter on "The ancient rock-hewn chapel of St. Mary, in Nottingham Park," in their " Some account of the religious institutions of Old Nottingham," published in 1895. Because of their association with the Roman Catholics, portions of these rock-holes were demolished by the Parliamentarians. At this time, and subsequently, these bore the name of "The Papist holes." For a con


siderable period the caves were open out to the Leen and the Meadows, but were enclosed and utilized as a BowlingGreen about 1850; and in the early seventies their care devolved upon Mr. Leavers, a gentleman who has preserved them with religious care, and readily permits them to be inspected by all who take interest in these monuments of a a remote past. The party then proceeded to


The drive which preceded the inspection of Wollaton Hall and Church was a most pleasant one. The party went to Lord Middleton's famous seat in five conveyances, the hall being reached in good time, 3.30 p.m. This fine specimen of imposing English domestic architecture (15801588), probably the finest in the country, was much admired by the members of the society. The favourable impression made by the exterior of the building was enhanced by the appearance of the interior, over which the society were shown by a competent guide. On leaving the house the party were taken in hand by the Rev. H. C. Russell, Rector of Wollaton, who, before taking them to the Church, led them over the grounds. The church of St. Leonard, with its interesting monuments of the Willoughby family, occupied the society till about half-past four.

In the evening upwards of thirty members and friends. sat down to dinner at the Albert Hotel, under the chairmanship of the Rev. A. J. L. Dobbin. The following, is a complete list :-Mr. Henry Ashwell, Rev. Atwell M. Y. Baylay, Rev. John Bedford, Mr. T. M. Blagg, Mr. Hugh Browne, Rev. R. Jowett Burton, Mr. J. Potter Briscoe, Mr. J. P. Cropper, Rev. A. J. L. Dobbin, Mr. Fredk. Felkin, Mr. Charles Gerring, Mr. John T. Godfrey, Mr. T. K. Gordon, Mr. A. E. Hubbart, Mr. E. M. Kidd, Mr. W. Moore, Mr. G. G. Napier, Mr. W. P. W. Phillimore, Rev. J. E. Phillips, Mr. J. T. Radford, Mr. A. Harris-Reeves, Mr. J. T. Spalding, Rev. J. Standish, Mr. W. Stevenson, Rev. T. W. Swann,

Mr. James Ward, Mr. John C. Warren, Mr. G. H. Wallis, Mr. William Wells, and Rev. H. L. Williams.

After the repast the Chairman announced that Lord Hawkesbury (the Chairman of the Council) had written regretting his inability to be present, and proposed "The Health of her Majesty the Queen," which was duly honoured. The Rev. T. W. Swann, Vicar of Orston and Thoroton, submitted the toast of "Success to the Thoroton Society." It was a great pleasure to him to welcome the members to Thoroton on the previous day. They were apt to forget the beauties of their churches, and it was an excellent thing that such a society should come amongst them, and point out the features of their churches and parishes. In this he believed that the society would in this way be of immense advantage. Through the clergymen the inhabitants of the parishes would know more of their churches and the beauties they contained. He had been almost twenty-five years in his present charge, and the remarks made in Thoroton church on the previous day by many people versed in antiquarian lore had induced in him a greater love for his church, and had aroused many feelings almost lost sight of during twentyfive years.

Mr. H. E. Hubbart, in response, said that he was much in favour of the foundation of the society, or of any society which would create an interest in what they called local antiquities. Many of these antiquities were disappearing, partly through ignorance; while the School Board was killing many a tradition. In other parts of the world there were societies which kept a record of every tradition, notably in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and many parts of America, and he thought it would be well if the Thoroton Society attracted all those into its membership who were interested in every phase of antiquarian research.

On the conclusion of dinner two papers which follow were read by Mr. Stevenson and Mr. Phillimore. This concluded the first annual meeting of the society.




Four years ago I wrote in the Nottinghamshire Weekly Express, a monograph on "The Oldest Church in Nottingham," giving that title to the Church of the old Borough, as the town on the hill of St. Mary was called long before the Norman conquest. Like all early Churches it served for a wider district than it administers to to-day. It embraced the manor of the old Borough, and the adjoining manor of Sneinton to the east, and we are not without evidence that it served for the manor of the new Borough, embracing the west part of the town, the site of the Castle and the Park, a manor in due time separated by the chapels therein being freed, and two of them, St. Nicholas' and St. Peter's, with a growing town around them, being advanced to rectories with allotted parishes, the castle and its precincts coming down to our time extra parochial.

We have no record of this in our local histories, and I am the first to make this statement, for the truth of which I rely upon the Domesday entry :-" In Nottingham there is one Church in the King's demesne, to which lie three mansions of the Borough." This I claim means that three manors, constituting the then borough in 1086, were laid to, or were subserviant to that Church, and these three manors appear to have constituted the wapentake of the town, for the western one was not given in the neighbouring wapentake of Broxtowe, or the eastern one in that of Thurgarton.

This mother Church of the metropolitan town of this inland county never obtained high rank or eminence, but has always been overshadowed by the minster Church of Southwell. The military and ecclesiastical centres, unlike the instances of York and Lincoln, were here separate. Although by this act our Church has lost in rank, cast or dignity, the

student of history has gained, for it proves that when the grouping of the old wapentakes or hundreds was decided upon, with the object of forming a county, that in choosing Nottingham as the centre, military considerations alone obtained. Having prefaced my remarks with an allusion to St. Mary's Church at Nottingham, the mother Church of the town, but not of the county, I will turn to the still greater fountain of our faith, the minster Church of Southwell.

Tradition says this Church was founded by Archbishop Paulinus, a follower in the splendid train of King Edwin of Northumbria, when he visited his newly acquired province of Lindsey, in the year 625, when, as Beda informs us, Paulinus baptized his converts to the new faith in the river Trent, the Jordan of the north. There is no proof of this. The geography of York and Lincoln, combined with the fact of Paulinus being on the bank of this river, strongly marks the site as being at Littleboro, where the Roman way from York to Lincoln crossed the Trent, or at Torksey, a few miles further south, where the Foss-dyke or Roman canal from Lincoln joins the river Trent. The Rev. R. M. Usher, late Rector of the Anglo-Saxon Church of Stow, in his handbook of that historic fabric states, without any qualification, that Torksey was the city of Tiovulfingacester, near to which Beda informs us Paulinus baptised his converts in the river Trent. It is questionable whether Paulinus ever travelled so far to the south-west of the royal route of his master as the site of Southwell minster, or whether. the district of Southwell was then, or during his short episcopate, a part of the kingdom of Northumbria.

When I wrote about the origin of Southwell minster in my volume, "Bygone Nottinghamshire," I stated it as my opinion that it was the foundation of some one of its early Archbishops, who were the lords of the manor. Since this date, 1892, details, not generally known, have come to light which lead me to modify that view.

Felix, a supposed monk of Croyland, who wrote the life of St. Guthlac, informs us that in the closing years of the

« PreviousContinue »