A brief history of Radcliffe-on-Trent

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Early history


The red cliffs along the river gave Radcliffe-on-Trent its name. The first specific information about the village comes from the Domesday Book of 1086, some twenty years after the Norman Conquest. This records two manors and fisheries, but there is no mention of a church or mills.  Lamcote, Radcliffe’s neighbouring hamlet, had three manors. Eventually it would be absorbed and administered by Radcliffe, despite being in the ecclesiastical parish of Holme Pierrepont. In medieval times the main landowners were the Deyncourt, Basily, Grey and Strelly families.


The church of St Mary on Radcliffe’s main street is found in written records by the 13th century. A chantry chapel was founded for a priest to say mass there for the soul of Stephen de Redcliffe who died in 1245, having left a pasture to the ‘town’. His wooden effigy in the church was apparently burned on a celebratory bonfire at the time of the Napoleonic wars, a plaque to his memory being placed there instead. In 1379 the value of the living was reduced when lands and rent producing the main tithes were granted to Thurgarton Priory. The incumbent was no longer a rector, but a vicar who could collect only the lesser tithes. (The title of rector has been recently revived.)

Tudor and Stuart times


The end of the Wars of the Roses brought in the Lancastrian Tudor dynasty led by Henry VII. Even after the battle of Bosworth in 1485, the Yorkists remained a threat. In  1487 five ‘good and true men’ of Radcliffe guided Henry VII to East Stoke where the Yorkists were finally defeated. Other Tudor changes came with the dissolution of the monasteries in Henry VIII’s reign. Thurgarton Priory’s former Radcliffe lands came into the hands of lay landowners who still collected the main tithes until the late 18th century. The more extreme Protestantism of Edward VI’s reign put an end to chantries, including Stephen de Redcliffe’s chapel in Radcliffe.


By this time the main manorial lords were the Rosells who lived at what is now Tudor Grange. From the 1520s their status was increased after Harold Rosell married Dorothy Cranmer of Aslockton, the sister of Thomas, the future Archbishop of Canterbury. With the return of Catholicism in Mary’s reign Cranmer was executed by burning at the stake. There is no evidence of nonconformity to the moderate Protestantism of Queen Elizabeth’s reign which followed.


In general, the Rosells were regarded as good landlords, and they were loyal to the crown during the Civil Wars of Charles I’s time. Radcliffe itself, situated between Parliamentarians holding Nottingham Castle and Royalists in the Vale of Belvoir, seems to have escaped the conflict. Captain Gervase Rosell, however, is recorded in 1643 as a defender in Royalist Newark against the Roundheads. Two years later, Radcliffe was one of many places that suffered plague, some eight victims being recorded in the parish register.


By the end of the 17th century the Rosells were on the wane, trapped in financial obligations and with a dwindling male bloodline. From 1711 another Gervase began selling off his Radcliffe and Lamcote lands, and moved to Derbyshire. He was father to six daughters. Today, the only remembrance of the Rosell squires is on a Victorian plaque in the church recording donations to the Jeffrey Dole, a charity founded by wheelwright Jeffrey Limner who died in 1617.

The 18th century


Soon after the departure of the Rosells, the Pierreponts of Holme Pierrepont and Thoresby extended their holdings in Radcliffe and from 1724 were the major landlords until well into the twentieth century. As Earls of Kingston-upon-Hull from 1628, and with a dukedom from 1715, the Pierreponts were absentee landlords with vast estates, using agents to administer their holdings. The dukedom failed when the second Duke of Kingston had no male heir. (His wife was eventually found guilty of bigamy.) The Radcliffe lands then passed to his nephew, Charles Medows, who adopted the name of Pierrepont and was granted the title of Earl Manvers in 1806.


A major change to the traditional farming pattern took place from 1790. The three open fields (Cliff, Breck and Stony) and three pastures (Sunpit, Trent and Hesgang – the latter Stephen de Redcliffe’s gift, now across the river after a change in the Trent’s course) were enclosed and the old strip system of agriculture and communal grazing rights came to an end.


Two years later, after years of neglect, St Mary’s church steeple fell onto the main roof and the south aisle of the church. Following disputes about the rebuilding, the modified church was completed about 1799 with a castellated tower, and eventually a sundial instead of a clock (the latter first mentioned as early as 1580). The whole was described as a ‘mean, though neat, building’. Many of the 18th century slate headstones have survived in the churchyard, those by George and James Sparrow being of particular note.


By this time the Anglican Church was being challenged by the preaching of John Wesley. The first Wesleyan meetings were held before 1791 in Baker Beeson’s house on Mount Pleasant, and the first chapel built on an adjoining site in 1796. Other branches of Methodism – the Primitive and the Independent Primitive – were also established in Radcliffe during the early 19th century.

Victorian Radcliffe


The village had to wait over 40 years for the replacement of the church clock. A visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1843 was commemorated by the purchase of a two-dialed chiming clock for £85 in 1844. It was to outlast the building it was put in. The chancel was rebuilt in 1858, and the rest of the church enlarged by 1879 and given a distinctive high tower with a saddle-back roof. Two new bells supplemented the existing four, and provision was made for another two, which were hung in 1946. A brass from 1626 is now the only item in the church to pre-date the Victorian era. The clock is still working in the new tower. A nearby cemetery was opened in 1870 to supplement the overcrowded churchyard.


One reason for the expansion of the church was the increase in population – from 761 in 1801 to 1704 in 1881. (Today the population is around 8,000.) The coming of the railway in 1851 encouraged Nottingham people to move out to Radcliffe. New housing began to appear along the Bingham, Cropwell and Shelford Roads, away from the old centre. As well as new residents, the railway brought trippers who enjoyed the river, the cliffs and the public houses. Radcliffe became known as ‘Little Scarborough’, but the crowds led to disorder and in 1874 it was decided that a Police Station should be built. (Today the building is mainly used as a solicitor’s office.)


Further changes included improvements in sanitation and water supplies. A widespread scarlet fever epidemic in 1881-2 led to the deaths of 26 Radcliffe children. Although no link with the open drain running through the village centre was established, it was permanently culverted. A new Primitive Methodist Chapel was built on Shelford Road in 1893. Other chapels eventually closed, but the Shelford Road premises remain as the only Methodist chapel in the village. In 1894 a Parish Council replaced the old Vestry meetings. A recreation ground on Wharf Lane was opened in 1897. Radcliffe also became synonymous with cricket with George Parr (the England captain) and Richard Daft living in the village. Schools, both private and public, flourished in Victorian times. The school opposite the church had its roots in a foundation by the Dowager Countess Manvers in 1825. It moved to new premises on Bingham Road in 1909 (now demolished.)

Modern times


The 20th century saw the addition of the War Memorial to the churchyard, recording the deaths of 52 Radcliffe men killed in the First World War, and another nine who died as a result of illness on active service. The gift of the Rockley Memorial Park, and the adjacent walk along the cliffs, by Lisle Rockley in memory of his son killed in the war has been a permanent and attractive asset to the village. Another nineteen names were added to the War Memorial after the Second World War.


The ownership of Radcliffe lands by Lord Manvers largely came to an end in 1920, with final sales in 1941. The 1920s, however, were enlivened by the frequent presence of the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII, when visiting Lamcote House and Brick House on Water Lane. (Both houses have since been demolished.) The increasing use of the motor car accelerated the dormitory nature of Radcliffe – a bypass was constructed by 1930. After the Second World War a housing estate for Canadian airmen at Langar was built in Radcliffe, the property coming into private hands after their departure in 1963. Other new estates have been developed off Shelford Road, St Anne’s Catholic Church on New Road opened in 1962, and three schools – Primary, Junior and Comprehensive – now cater for children from the village and beyond.


Today, Radcliffe remains a pleasant place to live with numerous amenities, including a good shopping centre, library, medical centre, bus and train services, three centrally located churches, sports facilities.
In October 2004 the Parish Council achieved it’s long planned goal to provide a multipurpose community hall in the village incorporating the Parish Council office.


For more information about local history or how to buy a local history book, contact Radcliffe on Trent Local History Society, either by email: click here or telephone: Marion Caunt on 01159332685




In this section we look back at news items involving the council over the years since its formation in 1894.



Expenditure items incurred by the council in the early 1900’s make interesting reading. At a meeting of the council on October 13, 1902, members agreed a cheque of £8 15s (£8.75) to Earl Manvers for the rent of half a year for the playground and for £1 18s (£1.80) for four weeks wages for the village lamplighter. Another 14s (£0.70) was paid to the City of Nottingham Water Department for six months supply of water to the village fountain.


A request at the same meeting by the Rev J Cullen on behalf of the managers of the village school for help from the council in making a gas supply to a lamp in the school grounds was aloud to lie on the table, with no action being agreed. The Vicar, who was chairman of the managers, said the school had no funds for such expenditure. But at the meeting a motion was received from Mr Butler Parr that the council purchase a lamp near the entrance to the school and was carried on a 7 – 3 vote. Chairman Mr Richard Barratt was one of those voting against. At the next meeting members were told that the Lighting Inspectors had recommended that the project for the new light should not proceed ‘for this season’. The council had a budget figure of £40 for street lighting in 1902.


Later that year Mr J Bell was paid 4s (£0.20) for eight weeks work for ‘attending to the swings’ and the City of Nottingham Gas Department was paid £3 for the Michaelmass Gas Account (street lights). And the council also bought a copy of the Littles Law of Burials at a price of 18s 6d (£0.92) and a copy of the Lunacy Act 1890 for the price of 10½ d £0.04).

(Published May 2010)



A special Parish Meeting was held in the School Room at Radcliffe on June 24, 1904, to consider a scheme by the parish council to purchase land and lay it out as an extension to the cemetery. Permission was also sought from the meeting for the council seek a loan for the scheme.


The chairman of the council was Mr Butler Parr and he made a statement to the meeting as to the suggestion of the parish council — then having been in existence for ten years — and minutes of the meeting indicate there was 26 people present and 12 of them supported the proposal to go forward with the scheme, for opposed it and the remainder did not vote. The meeting approved the council seeking a loan of £1,300 to meet the expenditure being incurred, on a proposition from Mr Butler Parr and being seconded by Mr Henry Marshall. Before the end of the meeting Mr Thomas Haynes demanded a poll be held and this was later organised for July 7. That poll resulted in 168 people voting in favour of the proposal by the parish council and 37 against it.


In November 1904 the Local Government Board held an inquiry into the plans of the council, with this taking place at the Manvers Arms Inn. The land for the extension was offered to the village by Earl Manvers and covered two acres. The Medical Officer of Health at Bingham Rural District Council, Mr James Ealow, spoke in favour of the extension and said because the ground was on a gentle slope this afforded every facility for efficient drainage and said he felt it would be difficult to find a more suitable site.


The paperwork involving the extension said that this was necessary because of the numbers of burials being accommodated for from the ‘County Lunatic Asylum’ at Saxondale. The records showed that prior to that opening in 1902 the usual number of burials varied between 16 and 28 a year. After it opened the number rose in the first two years to 50 in 1903 and 58 in 1904. In 1904 there were a total of 428 patients being catered for in the Asylum, including 57 who lived in. There was 10 staff living in the nearby cottages, all males.

(Published May 2010)



The parish council advertised for the appointment of an assistant engine man for the village sewage pumping station and were offering 55 shillings (£2.75) a week for the work. The council put notices up in the village and an advert in the Nottingham Evening Post to advertise the job. At the council meeting in March members were told there had been 95 applicants for the post. Bingham Rural District Council approved of the additional man to be employed.


At the same meeting the council agreed that street lights in the village — they were gas operated — be turned off for the summer season after April 9. The clerk was instructed to ascertain the cost of storing the lights once taken down.


The council were told of a failure to obtain a strip of land required for the public park, the Rural District Council having sold it to Mr Meads. It was agreed to pay a commission of 2.5per cent to a newly appointed Assistant Overseer in the village for collection of the Special Expenses Rate. The meeting was chaired by Mr J Upton in the absence of the chairman, Mr J Butler Parr. Receipt of £1 from Mr J Wright for the ‘cemetery crop’ was reported to the meeting and 5 shillings (25p) for the annual rent from Mr J Gilbey for an allotment.

(Published March 2011)



A parish meeting held in the village in January 1937 appointed a committee to organise celebrations for the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on May 12. The meeting was chaired by Mr Dowson. Various groups from the village attended including the British Legion (then not having the ‘Royal’ tag), the Ratepayers’ Association, the WI, and the various churches. The parish council was represented by Couns.. Dowson, Measures, Stanley, Taylor and Tinkler.


Each organisation put forward views on what should be arranged and it was agreed that the activities be similar to those that had been provided previously for the Silver Jubilee, such as a fancy dress parade, a tea party for children, an entertainment event for old people and all children to be given a Coronation mug. It was also agreed as a permanent memorial a start should be made for the provision of a village hall by subscription and an application be made to the Carnegie Trust for funding. The meeting appointed Messrs Measures, Lygo and Siggs to be joint secretaries. The village cricket club was to be asked to allow their ground to be used on Coronation Day.


It was agreed that any surplus of funds raised for the Coronation left at the end of the festivities be used to start the village hall fund.

(Published April 2010)



Looking back through some old parish records we came upon a letter from the parish council in July 1941 seeking support from the village for the National Air Raid Distress Fund Flag Day being held on August 19, 1941.


Mr Robert Batty, clerk of the parish council, in a letter to named residents in the village, said volunteers were urgently needed for the effort and said a special meeting of the parish council was to be held at the home of Mr J T Foulds on Bolton Terrace at which the council hoped to see one representative from village organisations, named as the Parochial Church Council, the Trustees of the Wesleyan Church, the Trustees of the Methodist Church, the WI, Girl Guides, the Conservative Association, the Women’s Co-operative Guild, the Auxiliary Fire Service and the A.R.P. Medical Service. Some of the individual names of people who were sent the letter were Mrs Dowson (WI), Mrs A E Allen, Mrs Cox (Co-Op Guild), Miss Mallett and Mrs A Harrington (Methodists).


Among the 29 people who acted as door-to-door sellers of the special emblems were Miss D H and Miss R Bloodworth, Miss Waggett, Mrs Boyle and Mrs M Beeson. The papers showed that the council ordered 3000 coat emblems of the national flag for selling in the village. Minutes of the parish council in October 1941 show that the amount of money collected in Radcliffe for the appeal had been £30 1s 10d (£30.08) and the amount collected in the whole of Bingham RDC area had been £298 2s (£298.10).

(Published March 2010)



The annual meeting of the parish council on April 16, 1945, was held at the home of Mr J T Foulds on Bolton Terrace and was attended by 12 members. Coun. E J Wright was elected chairman. Coun. Dowson raised the question of the sum of 2 shillings (10p) being inadequate for a Ministers fee for a burial. The clerk reported that the matter had been raised the previous year and the Auditor had approved of the decision then to take no action in making a change. The meeting was told that owing to the war making heavy demands on the Home Secretary — who would have had to confirm any change — the matter be left over until an end to the hostilities.


Skills Motor Coaches wrote to the council to say they had been granted permission by the Regional Transport Commissioner to operate double decker buses on the route from Nottingham to East Bridgford and were needing to “remove one or two obstructions en route” and asked the council to arrange for the removal of two lamps, one protruding from the Cooperative building and from a house wall some 40 or 50 yards from the Co- Op Hall on the road from Radcliffe to Radcliffe Station. The bus company said they would be willing to bear the whole or part of the expense incurred in the work. The council agreed to the removal of the two standards and wrote to Skills to ask them to meet the cost of a new standard to be erected on Shelford Road near the Methodist Chapel.


The council received £20 7s 3d (£20.37) in allotment rents at the meeting. It was agreed at the meeting that the £10 rent for allowing Armstrong’s fair to be sited on the playground be divided between the War Comforts Fund and the Penny a Week Red Cross Appeal. Members felt the condition of the air raid shelter on New Road was unsafe and it was agreed to write to Bingham Rural District Council to point this out.

(Published January 2011)

Kindly provided by Radcliffe-on-Trent Local History Group

Supporting the people of Radcliffe on Trent