Many will know that there are two villages in England called Tollerton although they are about 100 miles apart. One is situated in North Yorkshire and the other is Tollerton, Nottinghamshire, which is situated south of Nottingham in the Borough of Rushcliffe. Both of these Tollertons were mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) though the one in Yorkshire was somewhat smaller with only 8 households against 20 households in Tollerton, Nottinghamshire. Based on information available, (www.domesdaymap.co.uk) our village was larger than Bassingfield with 12 households but smaller than Cotgrave with 38 households and Plumtree with 33 households. In 1086 the population was measured by the number of households and not by the number of individuals living in a particular village or town. The Tollerton entry refers to 4 ploughlands, 30 acres of meadow, two mills and one church, all of which will be referred to later in this book. Roger of Bulli (sometimes spelt Bully) was the Lord of the Manor and Tenant-in-chief, who in 1086 received £3 in rent from all the villagers for the year. Much has been written about how the name of our village has evolved. In the Domesday Book the village was referred to as ‘Troclaveston’ or ‘Trocalavestune’. There are various ideas about the earlier derivation of this place name but Thorlagh or Thorlaf’s farmstead seems to be the most common with ‘ton’ or ‘tun’ meaning farmstead and Thorlagh or Thorlaf being a Danish-Viking name. It would seem that incorporating the name of a person in a village name was fairly common practice in those days but it does leave you wondering who Thorlagh or Thorlaf was!
It is suggested by Potter (1929) and in the publication ‘Place Names of Nottinghamshire’ that the
village’s name “suffered a great deal of corruption” throughout the 13th and 14th centuries but the 16th century ‘Tollarton’ is the closest to the present day name. Of course back in those times few people could spell and write well and names such as ‘Tollerton’ would have been written as it was heard by the scribe.
Since the lands around here were held by the Danes in the 9th century it became part of the ‘Danelaw’, although this term was not used to describe a geographic area until the 11th century. Five fortified towns became particularly important in the Danelaw: Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Stamford and Lincoln, broadly delineating the area we now call the East Midlands. Under Danelaw the region was divided into administrative areas called ‘wapentakes’, a Danish word, roughly equivalent to the term ‘hundreds’ used in Anglo-Saxon England. In Nottinghamshire there were six wapentakes and Tollerton came under the Bingham wapentake, which itself was divided into two: Bingham Wapentake North and Bingham Wapentake South. Tollerton came under the latter.
Each wapentake assumed responsibility for peace and justice. By the 16th century wapentakes had ceased to have any real administrative importance but remained a useful way of discussing and comparing the geography of the country. After the Poor Law Amendment Act (1834), the Bingham Poor Law Union was formed in 1836 to serve 40 parishes in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. Tollerton was in the Bingham Union and as such would have assumed responsibility for the care of the poor.
Around the same time a new workhouse for up to 200 inmates was built at Bingham and this would have provided relief for the sick, elderly or orphaned. In the 1851 Census there was one Tollerton born person at the Bingham Workhouse along with 47 others from neighbouring villages. This same person, a single man born 1802, is also found at the Bingham Workhouse in the 1881 Census, listed as a pauper. This is not to suggest he was there throughout those thirty years as in the 1861 Census he was employed as an agricultural labourer.
Prior to 1834, each parish took care of its own poor, including collecting a rate to cover costs and
administering relief. Those who were in need and had moved away from their birth village were often removed from the parish in which they were living to their ‘home’ village. Pregnant women without any means of supporting themselves would even be moved back to their home village prior to the birth of their child so that no claim could be made by the mother or the child upon the parish in which they were residing. Parishes also received funds to support the poor and needy through bequests. In her will of 1722 Agnes Crosse, a sister of a Rector at Tollerton – Latimer Crosse between 1693 and 1717, gave to Tollerton Parish 50 shillings a year forever to be paid on St Peter’s Day. She requested that 20 shillings of this should be given in bread to the poor children who had learned the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Commandments.
Tollerton Parish was in the Radcliffe-on-Trent sub-district of the Bingham Registration District until 1st November, 1883. Thereafter it was reassigned to the Bingham sub-district of the Bingham Registration District. For those interested in genealogy and searching for ancestors this is important since birth and death registration on genealogy websites might be listed under Bingham.
Occupations in the Parish – 1831
Tollerton was once a very small rural village where farming was the main occupation. Graph 1 shows the occupations of male residents in Tollerton in 1831, aged 20 years and over, and indicates that around 50% of this group were agricultural labourers and a further 20% were farmers.
Fifty years later in 1881, there were still a significant number of men involved in agriculture and many women were in domestic service. Graph 2 shows occupational data split into male and female and the categories of employment further defined.
Population in the Parish
In White’s Directory of Nottinghamshire (1853), Tollerton is described as “a small, picturesque village and parish, upon a pleasant declivity, 4½ miles south by east of Nottingham, containing 157 inhabitants and 1,240 acres of land, most of which is arable farmland”. Kelly’s Directory of 1876 refers to Tollerton as being “delightfully situated on a height overlooking the town of Nottingham”.
Compared to two of our neighbouring villages, Plumtree and Cotgrave, Tollerton was always much smaller in terms of total population from the mid 1800s through to 1931.
Although Cotgrave shares a common agricultural heritage with Tollerton and other villages in Rushcliffe, the similarities stop there. In the mid 1990s, Cotgrave adopted town status. Its transformation from village to town did not follow the usual path of gradual growth but took place over a very short period following the development of a colliery. Plumtree’s population dipped considerably between 1851 and 1881 but then plateaued out from about 1891. Albeit small in terms of population, Plumtree was a busy village throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries with many carrier services passing through the village including the London mail coach, changing horses at the local pub in that village.
The population of Tollerton in the 19th and early 20th centuries fluctuated around 150 persons, roughly half male and half female.
The population then swelled greatly but temporarily during WW2 with the arrival of the troops based at Tollerton Hall and in the surrounding estate. One source that cannot be verified suggests there were around 2,000 American Paratroopers based at Tollerton at one stage. During this time there would also have been many people working at the airfield making it and the surrounding area a far busier place. It was not until the 1950s that the total and permanent population of the village increased significantly – in 1931 it was 127 and by 1951 was 893. This was due to the huge expansion in house building in the village at that time. Furthermore, as an increasing number of families acquired a motor car, the idea of living in a more rural location but within a short commutable distance of Nottingham, work and other facilities became more attractive. This trend in growth continued through to 1961 when it rose further to 1,207. In 2013 there were 1,723 residents in our village.
Enclosures and Boundaries
Documents suggest that Tollerton village had been enclosed in 1804 but Thoroton in his publication ‘History of Nottinghamshire’ (1677) claims that Philip Pendock, the Lord of the Manor from 1645, had made an extensive enclosure much earlier in the latter part of the 17th century. By the Enclosure Acts of 1803 half the parish was enclosed. These Acts were a series of Acts of Parliament which enclosed open fields and common land in the country, creating legal property rights to land that was previously considered common. In terms of whether it was an ‘open’ or ‘closed’ village, it is probably classed as a ‘closed’ village with only one major landowner until the 20th century.
In the Gazette (May, 1883) the boundaries of Tollerton are defined as follows:
“a point on the Melton Road, opposite Russell’s Farm and along the north side of Melton Road and along the parish boundary fence to the Aqueduct, thence along the Gamston and Tollerton parish boundary fence to the parish boundary fence of Edwalton, thence in a line to the west end of Little Lane and along the west fence of Mill Hill field in a line by Russell’s Farm to the point on Melton Road aforesaid”.
The red lines on the map show that over time and up until the 20th Century, the boundaries of Tollerton changed very little.
In April 1984 the parish boundary was adjusted to include the first few houses on Melton Road (near the bridge), the garage, the Charde restaurant and houses beyond here on Melton Road. This meant that the parish boundaries were Melton Road, Gamston Lings Bar Road, the canal as far as the stream, across to the junction of Cotgrave Road and Cotgrave Lane and along the white line down the centre of Cotgrave Road to Melton Road.
These revised boundaries increased the population of Tollerton slightly and also redefined the new limits for admission to Tollerton Primary School without special permission.
Frank Plowright’s Poem
This lovely poem was written by Frank Joseph Plowright who lived at Bassingfield Farm in Tollerton between 1894 and 1919. It depicts life in Tollerton during that time and captures many of the features of the old village and some who lived here then.
Time passes on – three score and ten,
and little to do, but think and dream
of days gone by,
and why? when? where? and what?
Again l see the village
And the house where l was born,
The paddock and the chestnut trees,
The garden and the lawn.
Behind the house the boundary wall,
Which cuts the village from the Hall,
Wherein the squire with lordly grace
Kept to his class, and man in place.
The keeper’s lodge on Cotgrave Lane,
The iron gates – the padlocked chain.
The keeper who with watchdogs kept
His vigil while the village slept.
The pinfold in the village street,
Cut in the bank where two roads meet.
There straying sheep and cattle found
Were put like Pegasus – in pound.
From hill behind in summer sky,
I watched that first historic flight.
Just wings on strings a gunshot high,
I gaped and saw it out of sight.
The wood that skirts along the wall,
From keeper’s lodge to squire’s hall,
Behind the ancient Blacksmith’s shop
Where harmless village lads would stop,
To congregate when work was done
And with the bellows have some fun.
Or help the farrier shape his shoes
And earn a pint of blacksmith’s booze.
Give hands in shaping red hot steel
On horses feet from toe to heel.
The stream – the village cricket pitch,
The waterfall in babbling flow
Where roach – bream – eels and chub l fished
Is now all stagnant – sludgy-slow.
I well recall in memories eye
When Queen Victoria had to die.
The Old Hall flag was half mast high
And, childlike, then l wondered why?
The church beside the manor stood,
Pews, and rear entrance for the squire.
On Sunday – squire must needs be good
And so his retinue inspire.
The villagers at his behest
Would flock to Church in Sunday best
Then – maybe – he, much like the rest,
On Monday swore – to clear his chest.
No squire now! That ancient Hall
(Perchance acquired by Albert Ball)
In other hands was bound to fall.
It is for better use it stands
In training priests for Christian bands?
I do not know and why regret?
My childhood memories serve me yet.
Fast by the church – that hallowed shrine,
Where kith and kin and friends of mine
From strife and turbulance found rest
At Peace with man, and God, and blest.
The poem is not dated but given that Frank was born in late 1894 the opening line would suggest it was written in 1964 or 1965 when Frank was 70 years old.