The following article entitled ‘Tollerton Hall’ was published in the West Bridgford Advertiser on Saturday, 25 August, 1923. This would have been when Alice M Burnside resided at Tollerton Hall. Her husband, William Elliot Burnside, having died in 1911.
We have found many articles that describe Tollerton Hall and its estate but this piece captures the ambience of the Hall and surrounding area so well. It also gives us real insights into the character and generosity of the then lady of the manor – Alice Burnside.
The article was only digitised and uploaded to the British Newspaper Archive in April 2020 so may never have been seen before. For ease of reading the whole piece has been transcribed. We have no idea who wrote this article; at the end it merely gives the initials of the author M.H.H.. It would appear to have been a local person because of their sightings of Plumtree School pupils making their way down Tollerton Lane and of those scarlet capped pupils in the playground at Plumtree during a snowstorm. Would be really interesting to know who the author was.
“The small village of Tollerton is very pretty amidst its woodlands and green fields. The Church, the Hall and the Rectory are very close together. It is a very interesting old Church, having pews on the upper floor, one of which the lady of the manor occupies each Sunday. The children always watch her coming in, for they feel that she is a good friend to them. The clock is on the Hall tower, one thinks it is on the Church, the chimes sound so near. The old hall can not help but call forth our admiration, as we stand on the beautiful lawn near to the front door, where old stone pillars support the porch, and iron gates open out at the front and each side. The square tower looks below on the wall, nearly hidden in its greenery, and on the lawns, park and woods, also the lake glittering in the sunlight, with the two loveliest white swans sailing about. ”Float double swan and shadow,” and their stateliness adds beauty to the place. On the banks may be seen large numbers of wild ducks, swimming and diving, and doing many acrobatic feats, then climbing up the bank to lie on the grass in the warm sun. They add life and interest to these beautiful grounds. A wide shady walk lies by the side of the lake, down which Richard, the handsome white terrier used to love to gambol, and one misses his welcome in the garden. In the midst of the lake there is an island, a green bower. The lawn leading down to the lake is most pretty, past the fountain where there is a stature deserving of admiration, down the steps of the terrace to the edge of the water, a place surely to dream wonderful things, to watch the heron come in the evening, and settle in the trees of the park, their plumage showing up a blue grey amidst the many shades of green. Leaving the lake a little behind, one comes to another lovely lawn, where one can sit under the arms of the great tree and take in all the beauties spread out before one, over the sunk fence into the park, and note on the left the gorgeous colours in the conservatory and the tropical palms therein.
It is useless trying to set forth the splendour of the entrance hall with its wide space, and old world charm and one feels it more and more on entering the library through the folding doors, the windows of which command a view of the lake, and the fir trees in the park; a wonderful room, showing the refined taste of its owner, where all is in harmony. We think of the lady of the manor sitting in this room, planning out wonderful surprises for her children of Tollerton and Plumtree. For several years she made a cap for each child in the school, worked at them day by day, and these were much valued by her children during the war, when articles of clothing were so expensive. It was always such a pretty sight to see the children running to school in the winter down Tollerton Lane in these scarlet caps, especially when the snow was on the ground, meeting the Plumtree children at the school, and romping about before the whistle sounded, the colour of the caps adding to the gaiety of the scene. I remember the children were out playing when a snowstorm was on, the forms of the children, the touches of scarlet, the white of the pure snowflakes, and the dark and stormy sky, formed an exquisite picture.
In this beautiful library, from which we have somewhat wandered, we have an idea that the surprise parcels (which are given at the children’s annual parties) are planned, a present for each child, and more surprisingly still, one for each teacher. This is not the only beautiful room, they all possess their charm, and one leaves the hall with a feeling of enjoyment and gratitude for the kind hospitality of its owner, who has that rare quality of making one feel quite welcome, and that our pleasure is her pleasure, and our admiration is further increased when leaving the hall through the nut walk, where the festoons of ivy are “wandering astray” under the shadow of the wall bordering the road, near to which one of the lodges nestle.
On the other side of the grounds there is a quaint old lodge, in which the keeper dwells, near to which one can hear
“A sound of water murmuring
Along a shelving bank of turf, which lay,
Under a copse, and hardly dared to fling
Its green arms round the bosom of the stream,
But kissed it and then fled.”
The stone corridor from the Hall to the Church must not be forgotten, when you go to the Church without stepping outside, and we think of the private chapels of the great houses years ago, when it was the custom to keep a chaplain.
This old Hall of Tollerton, which years ago was called Rocklaveston, is one of the many beautiful houses in our county.”