Bleasby Community Website
The Glebe Field – Bleasby’s Special Open Space
The Glebe Field lies next to the Church and had once been the gift to the church of an unknown benefactor to help maintain the building.
Once the vicarage stood in this area, along with a farm which helped the vicar to sustain his family. The buildings disappeared in the 19th century but the undulations where they stood can still be seen.
This central space in the old village must have seen many interesting happenings – such as the celebrations held in 1815 to mark the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
The glorious Coronation Oak was planted by the Parish Council in 1937 to celebrate the coronation of George VI – planted by the oldest and youngest person in the parish. Unfortunately this tree failed and the Parish Council secretly replaced it the next year!
In 2011 the Glebe Field became the property of the parish of Bleasby and that year an archaeological dig was carried out. Nothing very spectacular was found but it was very interesting and great fun!
From that year the Glebe Field has become our “village green” where a variety of events have taken place including picnics to celebrate special royal happenings, Christmas events and village and school fairs and is available by arrangement with the Parish Council for village events which local people may wish to hold.
It is in everyday use for anything from sitting to admire the beautiful surroundings, for children to explore and play and for local people to take part in a variety of activities such as teddy bears’ picnics for the Bleasby Playgroup and the charity camp-out undertaken by Bleasby WI members!
BLEASBY GLEBE FIELD – A HIDDEN HISTORY
How it got its name – in English church tradition, glebe was an area of land belonging to a parish or group of parishes, intended to support the priest. An incumbent was entitled to retain the glebe for his own use if he wished, even farming his own land, or he could let it out, and any rents would form part of his income. From 1571 onwards, Church of England glebe was listed in a document called a glebe terrier, compiled by the incumbent of the benefice. The word glebe is from the Latin word for a clod of earth, glaeba.
The Glebe Field’s location – placed by the church, this was a key piece of glebe land, given to the church by a benefactor in ancient times. Along with the church and much of the old village, it is sited on a natural gravel terrace left by the meanderings of the River Trent and, therefore, rarely subject to flood.
The Vicarage – the vicarage and its farm buildings stood in this field into the 19th century: the undulations (humptie bumpties) in the field show where the house and farm buildings were likely to have stood. Many of our vicars would have lived here; for instance, John and Reforme Jackson’s son was born at the vicarage in 1660 – they were of the Puritan persuasion: the parish register entry reads “Wait-still, the son of John Jackson and Reforme, his wife, was borne the 1st day of June, 1660.” The name of their son shows that John was well aware of the turbulence of the time for people like him because the restoration of the monarchy was changing religious practices - he was acknowledging by giving this name to his son that he would have to ‘wait still upon God’. His fears were fulfilled and he was ejected for his puritan views on April 4th, 1661.
Changes - During the years when the status and wealth of vicars rose this vicarage was deemed too lowly for the vicar to live in and it was rented out as a farm. The terrier of 1759 records that there were two barns, a stable and the homestead: in 1770 the Vicarage House was described as having floors of clay. As Revd Henry Williams said in his history of 1895 “there was only a small cottage house at Bleasby, and the Vicars being non-resident, and generally acting in some other capacity at Southwell, usually rode over to Bleasby to fulfil their duty.” John Holmes, Bleasby diarist of the early 19th century, mentions the renting out of the “parsonage house and farm”. He also says that in 1824 J Lambley was the tenant, with the Vicar of the time, Henry Houson, living in Southwell. It seems that the Lambley family had long been tenants; Lambley’s Orchard is recorded in this area, possibly on the part which is now the parish orchard.
The School Garden or Orchard – people in the village who went to Bleasby School when it was on Gypsy Lane (now the Village Hall) remember the orchard area being used as the school garden – it had a pear tree which bore very juicy pears!
Coronation Oak – the magnificent, but fairly young in oak terms, Coronation Oak was planted for the 1937 coronation of George VI. It was ceremoniously planted by the oldest and youngest person in the parish. Unfortunately the tree planted in 1937 died and the Parish Council, not wanting to disappoint Bleasby residents, uprooted it in 1938 and replanted it with the present one in the dead of night and no-one was the wiser until someone spilt the beans many years after.
Lots of things happened in Bleasby which would have impacted on the Glebe Field
–there was a visitation of the plague in 1604 in which 104 people died: this was a terrible death toll for a small village, which probably lost a third to a half of its population – we don’t know where they are buried but it was almost certainly in the churchyard somewhere: a very sad time for the people and the vicar, Rev Robert Sheepshank, who had to comfort them and deal with the deaths
–a new bell for the church arrived in 1810, the smallest in the ring of bells: it came from Nottingham in March and was rung for the first time in June
–celebrations for peace were held on the green in 1814 – we are not sure where the green was but it was somewhere near the Glebe Field – John Holmes tells us all about what happened on the 24th of June and the following day – the bells pealed out, a grand dinner was held with “a quantity of beef, thirty plumb-puddings, with a plentiful supply of John Bulls beverage”. There were flags made, the principal inhabitants were chaired, led by the village band, and there was music and dancing on the green. [see at the end for the complete text]
–there was an earthquake in March 1816 after the Sunday service had just been held, felt also in Nottingham and which caused a great deal of consternation but apparently no damage
–the Kelham family bought Bleasby Hall in 1816 – it was in that year that church repairs began and the Kelhams funded many of its alterations
–in 1823 Mr and Mrs Andrew Bostick were going home to Kimberley after being married in Farndon (they came over the river by the Hazelford ferry) when, having got as far as the churchyard, Mrs Bostick gave birth to a baby on the street – she and the baby were taken to the Waggon and Horses where another baby was born – mother and twins went home to Kimberley after a few weeks
–the new Vicarage was built in 1843 on land adjacent to the Glebe Field and vicars once more lived permanently in the village and did so until the 1970s.
A new era – after many years of negotiation, in 2009 the Parish Council managed to buy the field to act as a village green - plans were put in place to create an even more beautiful area in the middle of the old village for everyone to enjoy. In 2011 lots of work was done, aided by lots of voluntary work, local donations and a generous grant from the County Council – this included planting the parish orchard which lots of people helped to prepare and plant with local fruit and nut varieties. Benches, including the dragonfly and bumble bee especially for younger people, have been installed. Events held here, including a Royal Wedding picnic, have been greatly enjoyed by large numbers of local residents.
The dig – because the Glebe Field is such an historic area archaeological excavations had to be undertaken before anything was fixed into the ground. In October 2011 local residents joined professional archaeologists to dig four trenches where benches were to be put. Although none of the trenches showed any evidence for buildings a number of finds of interest were found, including what looked like a demolition deposit from a brick building, possibly from the old vicarage or one of its associated farm buildings. There was also a bone knife handle decorated with oblique grooves – likely to date from the 18th century. A range of pottery fragments were found too, the earliest a few sherds from the mid 15th century with each century thereafter represented by examples up to about 1900; there were also bits of 17th to 19th century locally made clay pipes. Although nothing spectacular was found, the dig was greatly enjoyed and appreciated by those who took part or visited. The opportunity to learn new skills and to sample mediaeval food cooked by Neil, one of the archaeologists, proved extremely popular!
The entry in John Holmes’ diary of happenings in Bleasby for celebrating the return of peace in 1814 – the diary, completed 1824, is now in Nottinghamshire Archives
The Battle of Toulouse was one of the final battles of the Napoleonic Wars and led to an armistice being declared. Bleasby was a little premature in its celebrations as the Wars did not end until 1815 when the Battle of Waterloo was won under the Duke of Wellington’s leadership and the French were finally defeated. Below is the full text from Holmes’ diary about these splendid celebrations in 1814 – the spelling and grammar is his.
“The 24th of June and following day, was set apart, by the local inhabitants of this village, for celibrating the return of peace, once more bearing upon the suffering nations of Europe. Like their loyal neighbours around, their exertions to show their gratitude may be equalled, but not surpassed by any village in the county. Each morning was ushered in by a peal of the village bells, to arouse every inhabitant to commence the hilarity of the day. A commodious place was affixed upon, near the wheelwright’s shop, and at 2 o’clock a plentiful dinner was served up; consisting of a quantity of beef, and thirty plumb-puddings, with a plentiful supply of John Bulls beverage. Two neat flags with the words “Peace” “G.R.” etc. where tastefully ornamented by the villagers. After the cloth was drawn, several appropriate toasts were given by the chairman and drank with much harmony by the company. The chairing of the principal inhabitants, led by the village band, of music, and a dance on the green, concluded the first day. The next day (being Saturday) the loyal females was regaled with tea, plumb-cake etc. The day concluded, with chairing the cooks, and another dance by the rich and poor mixing together. This festivity will be long remembered in the village, which I thought proper to record, that the children of Bleasby yet unborn, may read the loyalty and gratitude of their ancestors, for the peace of the memorable year 1814.”