J. B. (John Benjamin) Firth.

Highways and byways in Nottinghamshire online

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into the splendid but now sadly hackneyed description of the
Derby as the Blue Riband of the Turf, and to Disraeli alone
would it have occurred to call Lord George's heavy sigh of
disappointment and regret at Bellamy's " a splendid groan."
The tragic end came soon after and moved all England to sincere

As we continue on our way, the road closely approaches the
water,which here bears the name of Carburton Forge Dam. There
could hardly be a name less congruous with the surroundings,
for the existence of a forge in such a spot is almost unthinkable.
Yet this beautiful winding sheet of placid water was originally
banked up for the purposes of the forge which stood just by the
weir that divides it from Carburton Dam. The last traces of
it were removed many years ago by the fifth Duke and its very
existence is now forgotten in the neighbourhood. Yet old
Pococke describes the Carburton iron works in 1751 as though
it were a flourishing industry, and he notes that " the pigs were
brought from Derbyshire to be melted into bars for use," and
that " the rivulet, I think the Meden, had been bayed up for
turning the mills." It was not the Meden, however, but the
Poulter. No doubt the plentiful supply of water and timber
for fuel explained the selection of the site. Below the weir
the lake narrows down between wooded banks and by the time
the hamlet of Carburton is reached it resolves itself once more
into a prosaic stream. The ancient church of Carburton is a
little oblong barn of a place with a small belfry at the west end,
a double-faced sundial and a Norman door inside a stuccoed
porch. It possesses a register dating from 1528, one of the earliest
in England. This tiny rustic chapel affords the quaintest contrast
to the costly, elaborate church at Clumber, which presumably
has filched away most of its congregation.


A quarter of a mile beyond Carburton we enter the Duke of
Newcastle's estate of Clumber. House and church are a long
mile distant through the Park, lying to the right from the main
road, close to the fine sheet of water into which the river Poulter
has once more been teased to make a lake. Clumber is of com-
paratively recent creation. Before 1770, it was described as
" a black heath, full of rabbits, having a narrow river running
through it with a small boggy close or two." By 1800, two
thousand acres were regularly tilled, and they carried some three
or four thousand sheep. To-day it forms a superb park, between
ten and eleven miles in circumference, and consisting of about
four thousand acres, of which the lake covers eighty-seven.
The glory of the park itself is the famous " Duke's Drive,"
three miles in length, with a double row of lime trees on either
side, and each tree apparently the very picture and counterpart
of its neighbour. In the spring time, this long curving drive
is one of the loveliest things in the whole district, a little mono-
tonous, it is true, to those on foot, but delicious to those who are
travelling more rapidly in car or carriage. This drive is a con-
tinuation of the road by which we entered Clumber, and issues
majestically through noble gates at Apleyhead on the Ollerton
and Check erhouse road.

The story of the Clumber estate is of unusual interest. It
belonged for a long time to the -Holies family, which we shall
meet at Haughton, a few miles away, and when John Holies,
fourth Earl of Clare, married the heiress of the second Duke of
Newcastle, of Welbeck, Clumber and Welbeck were for a time
in the same hands. But that period was brief, because again
there was only a daughter to inherit, and the Earl of Clare, who
had become Duke of Newcastle of the second creation, left
Clumber away from his daughter, the Countess of Oxford, and
bestowed it on a nephew, who became Duke of Newcastle of the
third creation. So Clumber and Welbeck became dissociated
once more and have remained so ever since, and the Dukedom of
Newcastle, originally connected with Welbeck, has long since
passed to Clumber. Nor is this frequency of creation the only
source of confusion in the Dukedom of Newcastle. A second un-
failing source of error lurks in the title. The first three creations
were all of Newcastle-on-Tyne, and the third patent was made
out with special remainder to the Duke's brother. This brother
succeeded, and when, in 1756, it became apparent that the title


would lapse again through default of heirs, the Duke persuaded
the King to give him a second Dukedom, that of Newcastle-
under-Lyme, with special remainder to the male heir of his
sister, who had married the Earl of Lincoln. Thus, from 1756
to his death in 1768, the Duke was Duke both of Newcastle-on-
Tyne and of Newcastle-under-Lyme, and though the former
Dukedom lapsed the other passed to the Earl of Lincoln, ancestor
of the present Duke. In this tangle lies the clue to the many-
hyphened family names of the Dukes of Newcastle. The Clare
connection brought the name of Holies, then Pelham was added,
then the Lincoln connection brought in Fiennes-Clinton, and the
family adopted the name of Pelham-Clinton for short.

The most distinguished, politically, of all of these Dukes was
he who bore the weight of the double Dukedom Pelham-Holles,
who sat in almost every Cabinet from the time of Walpole till
after the great ministry of the elder Pitt. His name became a
byword for aristocratic monopoly of office, which fell to him
chiefly because he was the most powerful Duke of his day and
held the biggest block of votes in the House of Commons. His
character has suffered severely because Horace Walpole was his
bitter enemy and lost no opportunity of traducing him. " His
name is perfidy," wrote Walpole, ridiculing the statesman
who was " always in a hurry but always late," and who only
discovered, after the news came of its conquest, that Cape Breton
was an island. But there is this to be said for the Duke of
Newcastle, that though he held the highest ministerial posts for
forty years, he left public life 300,000 poorer than when he
began it, and he refused a pension from George III. That King
once, and once only, encountered a Dean who refused a Bishopric.
The Duke of Newcastle was almost certainly the only politician
who refused a pension, and who kept his own hands clean,
though patronage and bribery were the two main instruments
by which he himself conducted the affairs of State.

It was his nephew and successor who built Clumber, and not
caring for politics, settled down to the life of a country gentleman.
Wright was his architect, and he designed a house consisting
of a large central block with four wings. The fire of 1879
destroyed the centre, which was rebuilt by Barry. The present
library was added by the fourth Duke, and the state drawing
room by the fifth. To the third Duke belongs one of the rarest
of all distinctions. It is that, though an ardent sportsman and



the best shot in the county, he permitted any gentleman to
shoot on his estate without any other restriction than that
imposed by his sense of honour. Moreover, he would never allow
a peasant to be prosecuted for a breach of the game laws. Only
once did he prosecute a poacher, and that was for snaring hares

in the close season and selling them in Newark market. A
sportsman indeed !

The fourth Duke, who succeeded to the estate as a boy of
ten in 1795, had the great misfortune, just after leaving school,
of being for four years one of Napoleon's detenus in France.
He returned to England a bitter, implacable Tory, perfectly
honest in his vehement convictions, but without a morsel of poli-
tical discretion. Narrow, dogged, conscientious, but absolutely


impossible, his unpopularity was unbounded. When in 1829
his Newark tenants dared to vote against his candidate, Mr.
Sadler, he gave them notice to quit. "It is right," he said,
" and no clamour shall turn me from the straight path." So
again in 1831, when the same thing happened, his retort was,
" I shall raise my rents to the double and see how they like that."
" Can't I do what I like with my own ? " he cried, to the great
joy of the Radicals of his day, who held him up to the execration
of the people as the crowning example of aristocratic intoler-
ance. The London mob twice broke the windows of his house
in Portman Square ; the Nottingham mob burnt his empty
mansion, Nottingham Castle, and there were wild threats as
to what would happen at Clumber. The Duke was in London
when he heard the news, and at once set out for Clumber at
four o'clock in the morning. He got home that same evening,
and thus records in his Diary what he found on his arrival :

" I reached Clumber about eleven o'clock, having met vedettes
of Yeomanry patrolling within two miles of my house. On
my arrival at the house the garrison expressed their rejoicing
and welcome by loud and long continued cheers. In the house
I found my dear Lincoln, Charles and Thomas, with the officers
of the troops stationed there. I could not believe that I was
at Clumber : the whole was changed : everything removed
that was valuable, such as pictures, ornaments, furniture,
statues, etc., and nothing but bare walls, and the house filled
with men in all the rooms, with cannons (of which I have ten
three-pounders and fourteen little ship guns) fire-arms, muskets
and pistols and sabres, planted in their proper positions and in
all the windows. . . . Before I went to bed I visited all the
arrangements made in the different rooms. ... In the house
there are 200 men, and out of it a great many more, in-
cluding a troop of yeomanry of 70 men and horses."

Next day the Duke sent away all the Yeomanry, except a
sergeant and twelve men, and reduced the garrison from 200 to
twenty, for whom he made " a barrack in the offices adjoining."
He mounted a chain of sentries round the house at night and
had the personal satisfaction of being taken prisoner because
he did not know the countersign.

So strongly ran popular feeling against the Duke that even
his own friends shunned one who did their side such incalculable
harm. He had a genius for quarrelling. Lord John Russell



removed him from the Lord-Lieutenancy of the county for
writing an offensive letter to Lord Chancellor (Tottenham, and
he became estranged from his own family. He never forgave his
heir for joining with Peel in his " apostasy " over the Corn
Laws, and for years they never saw one another or corresponded.
Meanwhile, the Duke, whose complacency led him in 1837 to
say, " On looking back to the past I can honestly say that I
repent of nothing that I have done/' encumbered his estates
by making large and reckless purchases of land, including the

Clumber, 1818.
From an engraving by T. Matthews, from a drawing by J. P. Neale.

Worksop estate, which he bought from the Duke of Norfolk
for 370,000. And that he was proud of his bargains is shown
by the entry in his Diary : " My purchases have amounted
altogether in Nottinghamshire within the last two years to not
less than 450,000, little short of half a million of money, which
is pretty well for one who has no capital at command." Pretty
well ! It was to a heavily encumbered estate that the fifth
Duke succeeded who, as Earl of Lincoln, had introduced Glad-
stone to his father's notice when he was " the rising hope of
the stern, unbending Tories." His domestic life was clouded
by bitter sorrow and terrible scandal wherein no blame
attached to him and his political career was broken by


the fact that he was made the scapegoat, as Minister for War,
for gross neglect in which the whole of Lord Aberdeen's
cabinet was equally responsible. Mr. Gladstone was a
frequent visitor to Clumber during these years, for their
close friendship lasted down to the Duke's death in 1864.
Indeed, he was one of the executors of the Duke's estate,
and in an affecting passage written by him to Mrs. Gladstone
from Clumber, he describes his regret for his lost friend :

" So that brave heart has at last ceased to beat. Certainly
in him more than in anyone I have known was exhibited the
character of our life as a dispensation of pain. This must ever
be a mystery, for we cannot see the working out of the purposes
of God. Yet in his case I -have always thought some glimpse
of them seemed to be permitted.

" It is a time and a place to feel if one could feel. He died
in the room where we have been sitting before and after dinner
where, thirty-two years ago, I came over from Newark in
fear and trembling to see the Duke his father, where a stiff,
horse-shoe semi-circle then sate round the fire in evenings ;
where that rigour melted away in Lady Lincoln's time ; where
she and her mother sang so beautifully at the pianoforte in the
same place where it now stands. The house is full of local

Clumber is rich in china, manuscripts, books and pictures.
The finest feature of the exterior is the broad Lincoln Terrace,
overlooking the lake, the stone of which was brought from
Italy about a century ago. Many of the vases and garden
ornaments came to Clumber from Worksop, when the fourth
Duke purchased that property in 1840.

Clumber church, close by the house, was built by the present
Duke in 1889. Of white stone, with red facings from Runcorn,
it is a very ornate and elaborate building with a graceful spire,
and it is very beautiful, if beauty may consist in the aggrega-
tion of rich, costly, and sumptuous adornment. Doubtless, it
may. Yet simple things are beautiful, too. The services here
are conducted with a ceremonial which consorts with the
splendour of the fabric, for the Duke of Newcastle belongs to
the most advanced order of the Anglican Church. His mother,
the widow of the sixth Duke, who spent the last twenty
years of her life in philanthropic work in the East End of
London, had herself been a devoted Anglican Catholic prior to
her joining the Roman Catholic Church.

Clumber Bridge.



THE road from Clumber to Thoresby is one of the pleasantest
in the whole district. Crossing the stone bridge over Clumber
Lake, which offers the finest view (accessible to the public) of
the house and church in their delightful setting of wood and
water, it then rises for a mile over Thorney Hill to the Ollerton
Lodge, on the boundary of Clumber Park. The stranger, even
if he comes afoot, is apt to be reminded by the locked gates
at the lodges that these seeming high-roads are strictly private,
and unless the day be one of the " open days," he may suffer
the mortification of being turned back. Opposite this lodge
are the tall entrance gates into Thoresby Park, and the house
itself is about a mile and a half distant by the road, which
describes a great sweeping curve before it crosses the public
highway from Budby to Perlethorpe. This bisects Thoresby
Park from west to east and passes near the house.

Thoresby is the estate of Earl Manvers, and while his splendid
park in no way falls behind those of Welbeck and Clumber,
the adjacent woodlands of Birklands and Bilhalgh, which lie
outside the park proper, are easily the finest, not merely in
Sherwood, but in the whole of England. Thoresby Lake, too,
formed by the river Meden, is a nobler sheet of water than its
rivals. The house, which is not shown to the public, is a modern
building and architecturally of no great interest a fine mansion
and there an end. It was built in 1868 to take the place of a
typically Georgian predecessor " a comfortable house rather

CH. xvin TjpORESBY PARK 271

than a magnificent seat," to quote a century-old description
which itself was built on the site of an earlier house destroyed
by fire in 1745, soon after its completion. Peter Tillemans
engraved a large plate of the second Thoresby House, which
displayed its noble owner, the Duke of Kingston, in the fore-
ground, surrounded by his pointers and shooting his birds,
with all his stars blazing on his breast to dazzle and console their
dying eyes. Mrs. Delaney, who came over to see Thoresby
from Welbeck in 1756, says that it was " reputed to be the
finest place in this country, but in my opinion falls very short.
I think it not to compare to Welbeck I mean the park. It
is twice as large, but the ground does not lie so well, nor are
the woods so fine." But then Mrs. Delaney was prejudiced in
favour of anything belonging to her dear friend, the Duchess
of Portland. The usual verdict of the eighteenth century,
however, was in favour of Thoresby. " This park excels the
others much in beauty," wrote Sir Harbottle Grimston, in 1768,
" having a very good turf, which in this country is much
wanting." " I don't wonder," wrote Walpole in 1777, " that
Lord Ossory preferred Thoresby to the three old Dukeries. So
did I, and did not admire it much either. . . . Merry Shirwood
is a trist region and wants a race of outlaws to enliven it, and a;
Duchess Robin Hood has run her country it has little chance
of recovering its ancient glory." We shall see presently the
meaning of the allusion to " Duchess Robin Hood." Mean-
while, it is to be observed that the present Thoresby House
does not occupy the site of the old one, which was a quarter of
a mile further south, approached by the noble beech avenue
from the Buck Gates, on the Ollerton side of the park.

The family name of the owners of Thoresby is Pierrepont,
and the Pierreponts have played a prominent part in the affairs
of the county for many a long generation, though rarely rising
to very high distinction. A Henry " Pierpont " was Knight of
the Shire in 1416, and the name recurs at frequent intervals
both in the list of members for the town, as well as of the
county, of Nottingham, down to the time of the family's ennoble-
ment. Holme Pierrepont, near Nottingham, was for centuries
their principal home ; the little church there is full of their
monuments, and it was the second son of Sir Henry Pierrepont,
of Holme Pierrepont, who first became Earl of Kingston-upon-
Hull in the reign of Charles I. When the war broke out, the


Pierreponts were hopelessly divided among themselves. Colonel
William Pierrepont was a strong Parliamentarian ; his elder
brother, Lord Newark, was a violent Cavalier. Their father,
the Earl of Kingston, desired to stand neutral and would gladly
have joined a middle party, had there been one to join. Mrs.
Hutchinson says of him that he was " a man of vast estate,
and no less covetous, who divided his soul between both parties
and concealed himself, till at length his fate drew him to declare
himself absolutely on the King's side, wherein he behaved him-
self honourably and died remarkably." Why " remarkably,"
it may be asked ? The answer is that the manner of his death
fulfilled to the letter an imprecation which he himself had uttered
but a short while before. " When I take arms," he had said,
" with the King against the Parliament, or with the Parliament
against the King, let a cannon-bullet divide me between them."
And a cannon-bullet did. The Earl declared for the King
and was present in Gainsborough when that town was captured
by Lord Willoughby of Parham. His captors put him in a boat
to be taken down the Trent to Hull, and some Royalist troops
on the bank fired a shot at the pinnace, with the result that
the ball hit the Earl in the middle, and literally cut him in two.
Such was the fate of the first Earl of Kingston in 1643. His
eldest son was created Marquis of Dorchester by Charles I.
in 1645, and steadfastly followed the King's fortunes throughout
the Civil War. He could do so with the better confidence that
even if the King's cause went down in ruin he would not be too
heavily punished by his adversaries, because his own brother,
William, stood high in Cromwell's favour. This brother, who
was known in his family as " Wise William," was a powerful
man with his master, and letters of his are preserved at Welbeck
his daughter Frances married the eldest son of the first Duke
of Newcastle strongly advising his son-in-law to pay every
mark of respect to the Protector.

After the war the Marquis of Dorchester went up to London
to live because, as he said, " every mechanic in the country
thought himself as good as the greatest peer." He was a man
of quarrelsome disposition he and his son-in-law once came
to blows in public and tore one another's wigs and he also
offended the sense of dignity of many of his brother Peers by
taking to the study of medicine, and becoming a Fellow of the
College of Physicians. His foible was to physic his friends,



who were not always as grateful as he thought they should be
for the pills which he thrust upon them. It was his son, the
second Marquis of Dorchester George I. made him Duke of
Kingston in 1715, because of his loyalty to the Hanoverian
succession in that critical year of Jacobite insurrection who was
the father of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. That once famous
lady spent a good deal of her girlhood at Thoresby in her father's
company, and very chilly company it seems to have been. Yet he


- " H. - * *

- '


was proud of her, for, when she was a child of seven, the Marquis
nominated her as a toast at the Kit Cat Club. The other mem-
bers insisted on her being sent for, and the child was fetched in
her best dress. Then her health was drunk and her name engraved
on a glass. This, of course, took place in London ; she found
life rather tedious at Thoresby which she never mentioned
in her later letters and being of a studious and literary turn
of mind she struck up a romantic attachment with Mr. Edward
Wortley, of Wharncliffe Chase, who was many years older than
herself. It started through a sentimental correspondence with
his sister, though the latter's epistles seem to have been



largely dictated by her brother. The courtship which followed
forms one of the most curious love stories of the early eighteenth
century. When Wortley grew as jealous as his cold phlegmatic
temper would allow, because someone else had taken Lady
Mary to Nottingham races, she hotly replied : " To be capable
of preferring the despicable wretch to Mr. Wortley is as ridiculous,
if not as comical, as forsaking the Deity to worship a calf."
But though capable of occasional spasms of jealousy Wortley
was a desperately calm lover, a model of formal propriety, given
to reproof when he thought Lady Mary was growing too worldly,
and fond of playing the censor. However, the lady liked it,
or pretended to do so, and her devotion is best shown by the
fact that she accepted his reproofs and flew to the opposite
excess of a gravity unsuited to her years. When the attach-
ment was made known to the Marquis, trouble arose over the
marriage settlement, and the lovers were ruthlessly parted. Nor
was that all. Her father busied himself to find his daughter
another husband, and when at length he produced one and
sought to enforce her acceptance, there was nothing for it but
an elopement. So the formal and priggish Mr. Wortley was in
honour bound to make the necessary arrangements for a carry-
ing-off, just as any reckless young rake might have done, and
in 1712 this odd pair began their married life with a runaway
marriage. The Marquis, of course, was furious, and nursed
his resentment for many years.

Of Lady Mary's subsequent career, of her travels in the east,
of her literary friendships and antipathies in London, and of
her successful efforts to introduce into England the system of
inoculation against small-pox, which she found in use in Turkey,
we need not speak here, for her connection with Thoresby
ceased at her marriage. Nor, to tell the truth, is it easy to
take much interest in either Lady Mary Wortley Montagu or her
letters, which are ridiculously overpraised, compared with those
of many other clever women writers of her century. The most
amusing story of Lady Mary at Thoresby is that told by her
descendant, Lady Louisa Stuart, when she describes how, as a
young girl, Lady Mary had to carve for all her father's guests
on his public days, and took lessons in the art of carving three
times a week, so that she might attain perfection. It is added
that on these occasions " she was forced to eat her own dinner
an hour or two beforehand," else she would never have had



an opportunity of getting a mouthful, so busily were

Online LibraryJ. B. (John Benjamin) FirthHighways and byways in Nottinghamshire → online text (page 22 of 35)