A Potted History of Stanton on the Wolds

Here on a crest of the Nottinghamshire Wolds around the church, glacial deposits of sandy loam overlie the heavy boulder clay found in the surrounding fields. The light soil and water springs attracted early settlers. Remains of a Neolithic hut were found in the Rectory garden. Access from the ancient ridgeway track, where the Romans later built the Fosse Way, is preserved by the present day bridleway and Browns Lane, between the former medieval open fields. The Saxon settlement was called ‘Stanton’ or ‘stoney town’ after the copious stones or boulders found in the locality. ‘Wold’ refers to a low wooded hill.

Stanton-on-the-Wolds ChurchThe Domesday Survey of 1086 records that the Saxons had become tenants of three Norman landowners. The land of William Peverell was in the jurisdiction of Clifton. Subsequent feudal owners of land at Stanton included the de Salcey, Stoke, Lymar and Widmerpole families. In the thirteenth century, charters granted land in the open fields to the Hospital of Saint John at Nottingham, and the revenues were used for the upkeep of Trent Bridge. Permission was granted for building a windmill. There were three open fields. The village houses were on the Town Street between the church and the moated manor house. The road from the Fosse Way to Nottingham ran along the route of the present Thurlby Lane and Stanton Lane. In the 1380s the manor belonged to the Sibthorpe family, and they held manor courts at Stanton.

After the Black Death in 1349, the population and agriculture declined. In 1468 there was a legal wrangle between Sir Richard Bingham and Sir Richard Illingworth, who were both at sometime High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, over their rights to pasture sheep on their land at Stanton. By this time one of the three open fields had already been enclosed.

By the sixteenth century the Clifton family had gained possession of the manor at Stanton. They leased it out to flock masters, who dilapidated many of the village houses and planted hedges to enclose the open fields. Between 1540 and 1587, Sir Gervase Clifton, Knight, leased the manor to Christopher and Roger Bradshaw. Both their wills contained instructions for their burial within the church at Stanton, which at that time was dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. This Sir Gervase Clifton was a notable at the courts of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth and was known as ‘Gervase the Gentle’. In 1588 he was succeeded by his grandson, another Gervase, when he was under a year old. He was knighted at the coronation of James I and made a baronet in 1611. He had seven wives before he died in 1666.

William Rayner of Orton Longueville near Peterborough, who had been living at Kinoulton, leased the manor at Stanton and was occupying the manor house in 1593. He was knighted in 1603 when he was High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire. By his first wife he had a daughter, Elizabeth. Her first marriage was to Henry Talbot, who was the fourth son of George, the sixth Earl of Shrewsbury, and his first wife, and the stepson of Bess of Hardwick. Henry carried the news of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, to Lord Burghley in London . He died at Kinoulton in 1596. In 1601 Gertrude Talbot, the elder daughter of Henry and Elizabeth, married Robert Pierrepont of Holme Pierrepont, who became the first Earl of Kingston. In 1606 Sir William Rayner married his second wife, Mary Villiers, who later became the Countess of Buckingham and was suspected with her son, the Duke of Buckingham who was the favourite of James I, of poisoning him on his deathbed. She was buried in Westminster Abbey. Later that year, shortly before her husband died, she stole household goods and wool from his woolhouse at Stanton. The train of packhorses and wains was stopped by Robert Pierrepont, and the wool was returned to Stanton.

In 1610 Sir Gervase Clifton leased the manor to William Needham of Hickling. His son, Colonel John Needham, was living at the manor house during the Civil War, when he was the Parliamentarian Governor of Leicester. A party of Royalist soldiers came to capture him at Stanton, but he escaped from the manor house and hid in the neighbouring gorse.

Humphrey Babington was the rector in 1660 after the Restoration. He belonged to the same family as Anthony Babington of Kingston on Soar, who was executed in 1596 for his part in the Babington Plot to kill Queen Elizabeth. He was a resident fellow of Trinity College at Cambridge where he befriended Sir Isaac Newton.

By 1684 Catherine Clifton, the elder sister of Sir William Clifton, Baronet, had married Sir John Parsons of Langley, Baronet, and they came to live in the manor house at Stanton. Sir John Parsons was buried by the altar of the church in 1704. Their son, Sir William Parsons, had a mansion in Short Hill at Nottingham.. He had three children by his first wife. The elder son, William, was transported to the American plantations for forgery. He returned without permission and became a highwayman, but was recognised, arrested and hanged at Tyburn in 1751. The younger son, John, became vicar of Arnold. The daughter, Grace, married Thomas Lambard. Sir Mark Parsons, who was the highwayman’s son, inherited the manor. He lived in London, but in 1763 he had a Book of Maps drawn to show his lands at Stanton. They show that at this time the new turnpike road, which is now the Melton Road, was called Rampart Road. His tenant at the manor house was George Bowskill, who was succeeded there by his son-in-law, Richard Watts. In the churchyard there are three Swithland slate headstones carved by Charles Winfield for George and Hannah Bowskill and their daughter, Mary Watts. On the death of Sir Mark Parsons in 1812, the manor was inherited by his nephew, Milton Lambard, who sold it.

The land at Stanton became part of the Widmerpool Estate belonging from 1870 to Major George Coke Robertson, resident at Widmerpool Hall. In 1889 his wife, Harriet, paid $400 to completely restore the church, which had been re-dedicated to All Saints. He owned all the farms, and in the 1890s started to play golf at one of them, Page’s Lodge, situated off Stanton Lane. The manor house was occupied by a farmer, William Page, until he died in 1892. In 1902 William and Elizabeth Bryans came newly married from Wysall to farm there. William Bryans was the Overseer for the Bingham Union. A new farmhouse was built for the Bryans family at the corner of Browns Lane and Stanton Lane in 1934, and the old manor house was abandoned. The lower floor eventually became a barn.

After the death of Major Robertson in 1924, his land at Stanton was sold to Thomas Towle of Loughborough. He sold the golf course to the Golf Club. He also sold building plots along Stanton Lane. After the Second World War more building plots were sold along Browns Lane and Melton Road. Today the village is mainly occupied by commuters and retired people, often attracted by the presence of the golf course.