Tollerton Hall has an extensive and fascinating history. It is a Grade II listed building so is of architectural significance as well. The image below shows the Hall and grounds and was captured in a painting that appeared in Thoroton’s History of Nottinghamshire (1677).
It is thought that the artist may have enhanced this image since the nearest mill would not have been so closely located to the Hall. Whilst some may quibble about its authenticity, it is probably one of the oldest known images of the Hall and shows the lake and grounds to the rear of the Hall.
Given that there is so much history attached to this property, this chapter has been split into three parts:
Part A – focusing mainly, but not exclusively, on the ownership of the Hall up to 1928 and in terms of its earliest ownership, draws heavily upon evidence from Potter’s ‘A History of Tollerton’ (1929).
Part B – this section looks at the ownership of Tollerton Hall post 1928.
Part C – provides more detailed information about the people who lived and worked at Tollerton Hall and some of the events that happened here. The Census from 1841 gives us a far better picture of who owned the Hall and also the people who were employed here. Local press coverage was far greater too from the mid-1800s so this also provides insights into happenings at the Hall.
Part A: Ownership of Tollerton Hall up to 1928
Whilst in ‘private’ ownership, the main families who lived at this manor house were the Barrys,
Pendocks, Neales, Broadhursts and Burnsides.
It is suggested in Potter’s ‘A History of Tollerton’ (1929) that there were once two manor houses – one to the north of the village and the other to the south. The northern manor house was probably located close to Chestnut Farm and was occupied in the mid-17th century. There are indications that it may have been known as Bassetts Manor House. This building was pulled down about 1830. The southern manor house was said to have been located close to the current Hall, possibly nearer to Hall Farm. It is thought to date back to the 15th century, around 1475. The two manors were accounted as one fee of the chief lord so it is not easy to find references to each of the two manors in ‘ancient’ records.
The Barry Family
The first family to hold the Lordship of Tollerton was the Barry family, sometimes recorded as Barre.
The earliest reliable evidence on the ownership of the manor suggests Sir Richard Barry (son of John and Matilda Barry) received his lordship in 1293. Six generations later upon the death of John Barry (born 1515, son of Thomas and Brigit) in 1546, the Barry line ended with John’s sister Matilda Barry who was married to Richard Pendock. At this stage the family became known as Pendock Barry. When Matilda died in 1567 her husband, Richard, then held in her right the manor and advowson of Tollerton and so the Pendock link with the Hall was further established.
The Pendock Family
This family had a very long association with Tollerton Manor over 100 years. Richard Pendock, mentioned above, died in 1578 but his son, grandson and great grandson succeeded him – William, John and then Richard. It is suggested that John Pendock married young (around 17 years of age) and, upon marriage, settled at the northern manor house – Bassetts Manor House.
He got himself into debt and it appears that in 1611 he mortgaged part of the estate to a well-do-to farmer of Tollerton, William Barker, and also borrowed money from others. When he died in 1643 he was in a dire state of poverty and had little to bestow on his children. Richard Pendock, one of John’s sons, died two years after tenure so had little chance of improving the family’s fortune. However in 1645 Philip, Richard’s son, inherited the estate and appears to have restored the family’s prosperity. Quite how he did this is unclear but by the time he died in 1682, he owned the greater part of the parish and was well established at Tollerton Hall. Records show that in 1674 Philip Pendock paid hearth tax on fourteen chimneys.
In those days properties were taxed on the number of chimneys they had, a tax imposed in 1662 by Parliament to support the Royal Household of King Charles II. The first payment of one shilling was paid on 29 September (Michaelmas) and the second payment on Lady Day, 25 March, so the tax amounted to two shillings per hearth or stove each year.
Philip Pendock had four children through his marriage to Jane Carlton; his only son Thomas died in 1683 at the age of 15. Inheritance of the estate was initially divided between the three daughters – Elizabeth, Anne and Mary. This was a temporary arrangement though and eventually Philip’s second oldest daughter, Anne, and her husband, John Neale of Mansfield Woodhouse, became sole owners. In Charles Deering’s publication entitled ‘An Historical Account of the Ancient and Present State of the Town of Nottingham’ (1751) Tollerton Hall is referred to as ‘a pleasant house’ that ‘of late had very much altered and improved by John Neale, Esq who at present lives in it’.
The Neale Family
We now move into one of the most widely documented phases in the history of Tollerton Hall, not least because of the people who lived here and the stories surrounding these people!
In 1749 John Neale died. His eldest child Pendock Neale born 1728, became Lord of the Manor and his second eldest child later became Rector of Tollerton in 1781. Pendock Neale married Harriett Eliot who appears to have been the second daughter of Richard Elliot Esq. of Port Eliot in Cornwall. Richard (Harriett’s father) was, among other things, auditor and receiver-general to the Prince of Wales and his wife (Harriett’s mother) was the daughter of the Secretary of State in the reign of King Edward 1.
Pendock Neale was listed on countless occasions as a ‘privateer’ and died in 1773. He and Harriett had no children so the lordship of Tollerton passed next to his nephew Pendock Neale, who was the son of Rev. John Neale and his wife Elizabeth, and was born in 1757. Herein lie many issues as it appears that Pendock Barry did not get on with his uncle, Rev John Neale, and there were many fiery exchanges between the two men.
Pendock Neale was known to be eccentric and often drank to excess. There are numerous stories about Pendock and some of these are recounted in part C of this chapter. He married Susanna Neale, his cousin, who was the daughter of Rev. Thomas Neale in 1780 and they had two children. During his time as Lord of the Manor he made considerable changes to the Tollerton Hall building, enlarging it and adding several Gothic Revival towers, turrets, pinnacles and battlements.
The exterior of the building was dressed with stucco brought over from Italy at great expense. Potter’s ‘A History of Tollerton’ (1929) suggests that initially there was a low boundary wall between the Hall grounds and the churchyard and that Pendock Barry had this removed and a fence erected instead within the churchyard. The rector protested against this arrangement and the fence was removed. Eventually around 1812 a high wall was built – its purpose being to shut out the view of the Church from the Hall. A further addition was the building of an ambulatory (walkway) that connected the Hall to the Church, again the rector raised vigorous but vain protests. Relationships between Pendock and the rector were certainly tense to say the very least! Pendock also renamed the Hall ‘Roclaveston Manor’ at some stage.
The Barry Family
Pendock Neale’s wife, Susanna, died in 1811 and around this time Pendock became known as Pendock Barry. The following newspaper item, published in the Gazette on 20 November 1811, confirms this.
His Royal Highness the Prince Regent hath been graciously pleased, in the name and on the behalf of His Majesty, to give and grant unto Pendock Neale, of Tollerton-Hall, in the county of Nottingham, Esq; great grandson of John Neale, of Mansfield Woodhouse, in the said county of Nottingham, Esq; deceased, by Anne his wife, daughter and co-heir of Philip Pendock, of Tollerton aforesaid, Esq; who was lineally descended from Richard Pendock, of Gutherington, in the county of Gloucester, Esq; and Maud his wife, the sole heir of Thomas Barry, of Tollerton, Esq; whose ancestors were for many generations seated at that place, His Majesty’s royal License and authority, that he and his issue male may, in consideration of his descent from the said ancient family of Barry, take and use the surname, and bear the armorial ensigns of Barry, of Tollerton, only; such arms being first duly exemplified according to the laws of arms, and recorded in the Herald’s Office, otherwise His Majesty’s said royal License and permission to be void and of none effect: And also to order, that the said royal concession and declaration be registered in His Majesty’s College of Arms.
Pendock Barry’s daughter, Susanna Falkner Neale, died in 1821 leaving just his son who was born in Originally his son was Pendock Barry Neale but after 1811 was known as Pendock Barry Barry and remained a bachelor all his life. It is said that Pendock Barry initially doted on his son but relationships deteriorated later to the point where the two men did not speak to each other. When Pendock Barry, died in 1838 he did not leave the Hall and estate to his son but to his lawyer, his butler, the housekeeper and a medical attendant. Barry Barry must have been beside himself when he discovered he had been disinherited. He challenged the will in court and details of these proceedings and some of the evidence presented at the time are covered in part B of this chapter.
Pendock Barry Barry did eventually acquire the Hall and lived there until his death in 1847. During his time at the Hall he was close to his housekeeper, Susannah Davies. Susannah (sometimes spelt Susanna) was of a similar age to Barry Barry, having been born around 1786 at St Martin’s Vicarage, Shropshire. She often accompanied him to social events. The following brief extract from a private diary illustrates this:
“He returned to Radcliffe for Samuel Parr’s feast along with Barry of Tollerton and a Mrs Davies”
|Pendock Barry Barry||Born 1786||Nottinghamshire|
|Susanna Davies||Born 1786||No birth place stated|
|William Allen||Born 1826||Nottinghamshire|
|Mary Brassinton||Born 1816||No birth place stated|
|Catherine Forse||Born 1838||Nottinghamshire|
|Alice Porter||Born 1821||Nottinghamshire|
|William Russell||Born 1801||Nottinghamshire|
|Ann Stephenson||Born 1821||Nottinghamshire|
1841 Census Entry for Tollerton Hall
Crown Derby plates from a service called ‘Barry Barry’ or ‘Pendock Barry’. Marked in gold and dating to c1811
Susannah Davies inherited the Hall when Pendock Barry Barry died in 1847 and became Lady of the Manor. This must have raised a few eyebrows! She is listed in the 1851 Census as landed proprietress (widow) occupying 127 acres and employing 7 servants. Her staff included a companion by the name of Elizabeth Jones and a cook called Esther Eyles. By 1861, Susannah Davies is 77 years of age and both the companion, Elizabeth Jones, and the cook, Esther Eyles, are still with her as well as two Tollerton born housemaids – Catherine and Louisa Forse. Catherine is the ‘upper housemaid’ and Louisa the ‘under housemaid’. The Forse family have a link to Hall Farm, Tollerton and this is referred to in the ‘Farms and Farming’ section of this book.
In 1871 Elizabeth Jones (the companion) and Esther Eyles, the cook, were still with Susannah Davies. Loyal staff indeed for they had remained with Susannah for at least 20 years. There are also four further servants listed, none of them Tollerton born, and interestingly she has two ‘boarders’ – Susannah B Neale born 1818 and Elizabeth B Neale born 1823. These were the daughters of Thomas Neale, Rector of Sibson, Leicestershire – relatives of Pendock Barry.
In 1864, ‘Whites’ Directory stated that the grounds were ‘extensive and tastefully laid out with shrubs and flowers, with a fine piece of water with a small woody island’. Later in the Wright’s Directory of 1883, it stated that the interior had been ‘tastefully refitted several years ago by the late Mrs Davies’. It seems that Mrs Davies was well liked and respected by her staff and those she came into contact with. She also frequently entertained those living and working in the parish. The newspaper article below describes festivities in the village to celebrate the end of the Crimean War in 1856.
Following the death of Susannah Davies in 1872 the Hall went up for sale by auction in August 1873 and in 1874 J. M. Potts received instructions from the Executors of the late Mrs Davies to sell by auction a portion of the household furniture and effects of the premises of Tollerton Hall.
Interestingly, in 1881 Elizabeth Jones (Susannah Davies’ former companion) can be found at Cropwell Butler. She is listed as head of the household with no occupation. With her is a niece from Wales, where Elizabeth was born, two servants and Elizabeth B Neale (listed as visitor) who was in the Davies’ household in 1871 listed as boarder.
Saul Isaac became the new owner of Tollerton Hall in 1873. It is suggested that he paid £94,000 for the Hall and its estate at auction. An article in the Nottinghamshire Guardian (26 September, 1873) reported that the auction took place at the Auction Room in Wheeler Gate, Nottingham. The article elaborated on the estate saying it included ‘small holdings, a blacksmith’s shop and premises, 15 cottages and gardens and two ornamental lodges at the extremity of the drives’. Not included in the sale was a small field owned by the church wardens.
Saul Isaac’s friend was Sir Robert Clifton and upon his death, Isaac leased Clifton Colliery Company from the Clifton family. The Clifton Colliery supplied coal to Wilford Power Station as well as domestic fuel. He was elected MP for Nottingham in 1874 and held this office until 1880. Furthermore, he was the first Jewish person to be elected to the House of Commons as a Conservative candidate. It is said that he was popular with his work people and, as a large employer of labour, became a person of consequence in Nottingham.
Presumably when he was defeated at the general election in 1880 and had disposed of the colliery he moved on. He then contested the seat at Finsbury Central in the 1885 general election but was unsuccessful. From then on his involvement in politics ceased and he seemed to pass out of public life entirely. Internet sources suggest that his fortunes also seemed to decline around this time and when he died in 1903 at the age of 80 he was occupying a bed sitting room in South Hampstead, almost penniless.
Alfred Broadhurst (sometimes recorded as Brodhurst) was born 1824 in Newark and, by 1878 was the owner of the Hall. The 1881 Census indicates his mother, Esther Broadhurst (nee Lucas), now a widow, was also living there and his sister and her husband (Mr and Mrs Thomas Atlay) were visitors at the time. Thomas Atlay was the Archdeacon to the Bishop of Calcutta and lived in India between 1867 and 1888 but had returned to England on temporary leave during the time of the 1881 Census. Five servants are also listed, none of whom were born in Tollerton.
Alfred Broadhurst was an attorney, solicitor and bank director. He was chairman of Moore & Robinson’s Bank in Nottingham for many years but started his career as a solicitor in Mansfield. Newspaper records state he was unmarried, very fond of and a keen judge of horses. The Broadhurst/Lucas families had connections with The Friary in Newark on Trent and Hasland Hall, Chesterfield.
Servants at Tollerton Hall in 1881
|Name||Date of Birth||Birthplace|
|Mary Catliffe||1821||Sutton on Trent, Notts|
|Louisa Peakworth||1861||Stilton, Lincolnshire|
|Emma Wyekes||1851||Ashby de la Zouch, Leics|
During Alfred Broadhurst’s ownership of the Hall, there were a number of occasions when those in his employment were charged with serious crimes. In 1878 his gardener, Thomas Duke, who was also clerk at the parish church, was charged with the attempted poisoning of his wife. This case was widely reported in the newspapers; further details are in part C of this chapter. Then in 1887 Broadhurst’s butler, who had been with him for less than a year, was charged with the attempted rape of the housekeeper at Tollerton Hall. After lengthy court appearances, the butler was found guilty of indecent assault against the housekeeper and was sentenced to six months hard labour. This case was widely reported in the local press and Mr Broadhurst was called upon to give evidence in court.
Alfred Broadhurst was still at Tollerton Hall in 1891 but with entirely different staff. In the 1901 Census he was living at Barnstone in Nottinghamshire and died in July 1912 at Aslockton, Nottinghamshire.
By 1898 Col Cantrell Hubbersty and his wife were owners of the Hall. Mrs. Cantrell-Hubbersty, who was a daughter of Mr. William Jessop of Butterly Hall, Derbyshire, was widely known and esteemed. In the hunting field she enjoyed great popularity. It is unclear exactly when he bought and sold the Hall but he was certainly in residence in 1902 and presumably beyond this. Their daughter, Augusta Margaret Cantrell-Hubbersty, married Rev. John Hales, Rector of Cotgrave, in 1898. Tragedy struck again at Tollerton Hall in November 1898 when the housekeeper to Colonel Cantrell-Hubbersty, Louise Wentz aged 50 years, took her own life. Further brief details can be found in part C of this chapter.
There was a notice in the London Gazette in 1894 in which Queen Victoria authorised Albert to use the name Cantrell along with Hubbersty.
Whitehall, February 3, 1894.
The Queen has been pleased to grant unto Albert Cantrell Hubbersty, of Felley Abbey, in the union of Basford, in the county of Nottingham, Esquire, late Major and Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel, 3rd Battalion, Derbyshire Regiment, Lieutenant – Colonel Commanding and Honorary Colonel (1892), 1st Battalion, Nottinghamshire (Robin Hood) Rifle Volunteers, in the Commission of the Peace for the counties of Derby and Nottingham, Her Royal License and authority that he and his issue may take and henceforth use the surname of Cantrell in addition to and before that of Hubbersty, and that he and they may bear the arms of Cantrell quarterly with their own family arms; such arms being first exemplified according to the laws of arms, and recorded in the College of Arms, otherwise the said Royal License.
This was the last family to own and live at Tollerton Hall. It is believed that William Elliott Burnside and his wife, Alice Mary Burnside, purchased the Hall and estate in 1908 for £75,000. Alice Burnside was the daughter of James Cross Esq of Manchester and she had married William Elliott Burnside in April, 1892 at Lutterworth. He died in 1911 but his wife, Alice, continued to hold the estate until her death in 1927.
William Elliott Burnside was also the Lord of the Manor in Plumtree from 1904 and one can find many references to him in Plumtree too. His initials WEB can be seen on several buildings in Plumtree including the school, the former Post Office (now a private residence) and the Griffin pub/restaurant. William Elliott Burnside, born 1845, was the only son of John Elliott Burnside (born in Chesterfield) and Julia Georgina Burnside, born in Plumtree, who was his cousin. Julia’s father was the Reverend John Burnside of Plumtree.
As a child and young man William Elliott Burnside, born in Ruddington, lived in Normanton on the Wolds at Normanton House. William’s father, John Elliott Burnside, died in 1864. He was reputedly one of the wealthiest men in Nottinghamshire. How he acquired his wealth is explained in part C of this chapter. William and his mother moved to Lamcote House in Radcliffe on Trent after his death.
In the 1871 Census William is listed at his aunt’s home (Mrs Noel, his mother’s married sister) at
Lamcote House, Radcliffe on Trent as was his mother Julia. By 1891 William’s mother had died but he was still at Lamcote House where the coachman was Charles Sweet. This is mentioned here as the Sweet family’s connections with Tollerton appear elsewhere in this publication. Frustratingly, the 1901 Census provides few insights into the life of William and Alice Burnside. They were both at a hotel in Buxton in the company of friends on the night of this Census.
William Elliott Burnside was only at Tollerton Hall for around 3 years before he died at the age of 65. By March 1911 Alice Mary Burnside is listed as a widow and her nephew, Walter Cecil Crawley, is with her as well as ten staff living in. All the servants except Ethel Bucknall, who was born in Nottingham, came from other parts of the country. Other employees who worked for the Burnsides or on the estate lived in cottages within the village.
Charles Sweet was still the Burnside’s coachman when they moved to Tollerton Hall. Mr Sweet used to regularly take Mr Burnside by coach and horse to a city centre hotel. Gerald Cowlishaw, a resident of Tollerton, can recall being told about an incident that occurred on one of these days. As it was raining heavily on this specific day, Mr Sweet donned a heavy cloak and large hat to protect him from the elements. He parked up outside the hotel in Nottingham as usual and waited patiently for Mr Burnside to rejoin him. Mr Burnside stayed longer than expected and Mr Sweet took the opportunity to nip into a local shop to buy tobacco, leaving the cloak and hat in the carriage. When Mr Burnside returned Mr Sweet was not to be found and intent on returning to Tollerton immediately, Mr Burnside put on Mr Sweet’s cloak and hat and drove back to the Hall, leaving Mr Sweet behind.
As Mr Burnside approached the lodge gates, other employees noticed the carriage was empty and as they opened up the gates shouted up to the ‘driver’ (who they assumed to be Mr Sweet) ….. “What have you done with the bloody old man?” or words to that effect! Needless to say these men and Mr Sweet were all hauled in next day and reprimanded!
One gets the impression that Alice Burnside was a generous and well respected lady. She died on 25 December, 1927 in Middlesex. With no children or close relatives to inherit she left much to William’s second cousin who lived down south. However, in her will she also left £2,000 to both the Nottingham General Hospital and the Nottingham Children’s Hospital to endow a bed or beds in the names of her husband and herself. £1,000 was also left to the Nottingham General Dispensary and £500 to the Nottingham and Midland Orphanage and Industrial Training School for Girls and the same to the Nottingham Gordon Memorial Homes for Destitute Boys. Alice also left the equivalent of one year’s wage to all the servants in her service and larger amounts to three of her key staff who had served her over many years. These were Herbert Lacey the butler, Jane Smith her maid, and Annie Elliott her housekeeper. Jane Smith and Annie Elliott must have worked for Alice Burnside for many years as they are both listed in the 1911 Census within her household, some 17 years prior to Alice’s death.
Annie Elliott may have joined the Burnside family shortly after their move to Tollerton Hall. She had previously been housekeeper for Lady Ashburton (a widow, formerly Louisa Caroline Stewart Mackenzie) and as such would have encountered quite an illustrious lifestyle in Lady Ashburton’s household. Her lady was socially ambitious and liked to surround herself with well-known names like Robert Browning, Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, Charles Kingsley and Edward Lear. Over many years after her husband’s death, Lady Ashburton had an intimate relationship with the American born sculptor Harriet Hosmer, who had emigrated to Rome in her twenties, and this relationship is widely documented.
Part B: Ownership of Tollerton Hall post 1928
Reports in the Nottingham Evening Post suggest that when Tollerton Hall and Estate first went under the hammer at auction in 1928 the highest bid was only £32,200 and the sale was withdrawn. The newspaper subsequently reports that Alderman Sir Albert Ball purchased the Hall and 1,200 acres of land for £40,000 in June 1928. At the time of the auction the sales brochure described it as an ‘imposing and comfortable residence with charming grounds with well timbered undulating parkland, surrounded by woodlands’. The brochure went into fine detail about the Hall’s facilities and features, including lounge, hall, four receptions, billiard room and 25 bed and dressing rooms, and provided a fascinating insight into this fine building.
These images show some of the interior of the Hall – the dining room (above) and the drawing room (below). Both these images appeared in the auction brochure and despite their grainy and blurred appearance illustrate how grand the rooms were.
Albert Ball was born in Lenton, Nottingham and started life as a plumber but by the end of the 19th century had become an estate agent. He had purchased Bulwell Hall in 1908 with 575 acres of land and two years later bought the whole of the Bunny Estate. In 1919 he purchased Papplewick Hall and in 1936 Upton Hall. He was Mayor of Nottingham in 1909, then much later in 1929 was Alderman of Nottingham and again Lord Mayor of Nottingham in 1935. His son, also called Albert Ball, was the renowned First World War fighter pilot who was killed in action in 1917 and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Ball was also the first man in the Great War to be awarded three Distinguished Service Orders (DSOs) and received the Military Cross.
It is said that when Alderman Albert Ball acquired Tollerton Hall he had no idea what he was going to do with it but shortly afterwards he, along with other backers, converted it into a residential country club where valets and horses could be accommodated. It was primarily created for those in the hunting fraternity. £29,000 was spent on its refurbishment and an article in the Nottingham Evening Post suggested that the aim was to make Tollerton the centre of social life of the Midlands!
Those who were involved in the conversion of the Hall to a country club had very high aspirations, as illustrated in the following extract taken from the Tollerton Hall Country Club’s brochure:
‘Until the past year or two there has been no response in this country to these widely felt demands. There was something missing in the structure of our social life. And now comes the Country Club! Why on earth hadn’t we thought of this before? It is exactly what we have been waiting for for years – ever since the War, if not before. Here it is at last, and if we in Old England are not always first out with a new idea, no other nation under the sun can turn a new idea to better account, and that is what is going to happen in this case. In a few years the English type of Country Club will be the model for the world.’
Clearly its location, sufficiently close to the city yet surrounded by open green spaces, was a key feature in the country club’s publicity. In the club’s brochure it stated: ‘To stand before the house, or to look forth from its windows across the wide expanse of grass to the woods in the background, with not a single factory chimney or any sign or sound of urban life within range, is to be conscious of a great peace of mind that – heaven knows! – is not easy to find amid the rush and scurry of our twentieth-century-world.’
A further extract from the Country Club’s brochure states: ‘From the country lane that runs through the tiny village of Tollerton, the visitor to the Hall turns in through the main entrance gates, along a drive between broad grass margins bordered by ancient and stately trees.’
The grand opening of the Tollerton Country Club took place on 16 March, 1929 when those invited were entertained to luncheon and tea. From 20 April 1929 the country club was open to non-residents with a dinner dance held fortnightly on a Saturday – 12 shillings and 6d each for dinner and dance, 7 shillings and 6d each for dinner only and 6 shillings and 6d each to attend just the dance. Of course, this was pre-decimal currency days when there were 20 shillings to a pound (£) and 12 pennies (d) in a shilling.
Those wishing to stay at the Country Club could have a single or double room. The most luxurious suite comprised of two double bedrooms, a sitting room, bathroom and lavatory at the cost of £3 10 shillings per day.
Alas this venture and all its aspirations were short lived for within 14 months it had closed down.
Around this time the estate was split up and some of the land was sold for building development which ultimately gave way to the growth of the village. Many Tollerton residents may find that Albert Ball is mentioned in their house deeds. Furthermore it was during this time that the farms in the estate were sold off.
Paton Congregational Institute
In May 1930 Tollerton Hall became the headquarters for the Paton Congregational Institute, a theological training college for Congregational Ministers. Established in 1866 by the Rev. J.B. Paton its previous premises had been at Forest Road, Nottingham and, prior to 1921, was known as the Nottingham Congregational Institute.
The Nottingham Evening Post featured an article about the purchase of the Hall by the Paton Congregational Institute on 12 May, 1930, saying….. ‘ …. (they have) secured a palatial building, magnificently decorated and furnished, which, with its lake and charming grounds, will form a unique seat of religious learning.’
There is limited information about the activities of the Institute whilst at Tollerton. One very short article in the local press in January 1932 reported that the Hall had been linked up to the Nottingham Corporation water supply. It appears that during their first 18 months at the Hall they had to rely upon water from the lake in the grounds of Tollerton Hall for all their needs, boiling it before consumption.
In December 1930 and again in May 1934 there appears to have been a fire at the college though damage was relatively minor. In October 1937 the college had a chapel created under the clock tower, which adjoined the cloisters of the parish church. The image below shows the interior of the chapel.
World War II
The college remained at Tollerton Hall until the beginning of World War 2 when it and much of the estate were requisitioned by the government and used for training for the D-Day landings by the British Army, the RAF and American Paratroopers. Whilst the troops camped out in the Hall’s grounds, the officers resided at the Hall itself. It is said that those stationed at Tollerton Hall were wowed with the beauty of their location and the friendliness of the local people. This period is covered in greater detail in the chapter relating to World War 2.
St Hugh’s College
In 1946, it was said that the Hall was derelict and decaying. Eventually in 1947 it was bought by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nottingham to be used as a minor seminary and continued to be used for this purpose until 1987. Along with the Hall came approximately 120 acres of land. This was the first junior seminary in the diocese of Nottingham.
After much restoration, the college was officially opened by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Bernard Griffin, in 1948. In an article that appeared in the Catholic Herald (08.10.1948) Bishop Ellis stated that the Hall had been bought two years previously for £21,000 but needed at least another £20,000 to cover the cost of alterations and repairs, in addition to the £31,000 already received from the people of the diocese during the past two years. At the opening event Bishop Ellis said that all the 45 rooms had been redecorated, the roof recovered and showers, baths, fluorescent lighting and other up-to-date equipment installed to make it fit for purpose.
One of the ways they raised funds was to hold an annual fete. In 1948 there was a three day fete in the grounds of the Hall that raised nearly £5,000 and it is stated that thousands of people from all parts of the diocese attended this event. Over the years the annual summer fete at St Hugh’s proved to be very popular and many residents in Tollerton will have supported these events.
Originally, the college only accepted boys from the age of 11 years and older who were Roman Catholic. The first 26 students arrived on 4 October 1948, 15 of whom had previously been at St. Mary’s Junior Seminary in the diocese of Menevia in Wales. The first student was eventually ordained in June 1960.
A further short piece in the Catholic Herald, three years after opening, suggested the number of students had increased such that the college needed to find further accommodation and embarked on converting the original stables of Tollerton Hall into classrooms.
In May 1949 a life size statue of St Hugh of Lincoln in Portland stone was erected on the façade of Tollerton Hall. Hugh of Lincoln was a Carthusian monk and bishop born in 1140 in Avalon near Grenoble and in 1182 Henry II chose Hugh as Bishop of Lincoln. In 1220 (twenty years after his death) he was canonised. Hugh was sometimes depicted with a tame swan, hence the design of the college badge.
However, by the late 1960s the number of church students declined and the college started to admit Catholic lay boys with no particular vocation in mind. ‘Domesday Reloaded’ states that the college became a private school supplying one quarter of the diocesan priests. In 1969, the college allowed non-Roman Catholic boys to join the school which was staffed by a mix of diocesan priests, Franciscan nuns and lay teachers. Tollerton residents recall seeing pupils on Tollerton Lane waiting for the bus at the end of the school day. It is said that some pupils sometimes carved their initials in the long brick wall, which is parallel to Tollerton Lane, as they waited for the bus to come along but there is no evidence of this graffiti now. Former students of the school refer to themselves as ‘Old Hugonians’ and have established a past-student website at www.sthughscollegetollerton.org.uk, which provides interesting insights into their activities, routines and memories of their time at the college.
This website also has some excellent photographs of the Hall, its grounds and facilities taken by students during their time here. As a college, further facilities were added including squash courts, an open-air swimming pool (only used by the most hardy though as it was very cold!) and a sports pavilion. Students enjoyed boating on the lake and night-time expeditions on to the roof of the Hall!
Boating on the lake
The Archbishop of Westminister, Cardinal Basil Hume, visited the college in February 1985. Also around this time contractors emptied the lake and dug out all the silt that had accumulated over 80 years, deepening the lake by 4 to 5 feet. The number of pupils continued to fall to under 90 and in July 1985 it was decided to close the school after one more academic year. Closure finally occurred in 1986 when it was said that much of the Gothic Revival stonework had been removed from the building for safety reasons because of stonework decay.
The annual summer fetes at St Hugh’s College remained popular and many local Tollerton residents will have attended these events. Below is a photograph of the Nazareth House Orchestra performing at one of these events in 1951.
G & J.E. Bankart Ltd (Insurance Brokers) moved into Tollerton Hall in 1987 and set up their offices in April that year. His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester flew into Tollerton in September 1987 to officially open the offices. In the February 1988 Village Newsletter, Michael Weston, Managing Director, thanked local residents for their kind welcome and support. In the published letter he said he hoped that those who had known the Hall for many years were not unhappy at the way in which they had tried to preserve the considerable character of the building. He went on to say that the company had made contact with descendents of the Barry family who had lived at the Hall and they had generously loaned them some of the family memorabilia.
The company was later renamed Bland Bankart Risk Services Ltd and through growth, merger and eventual acquisition changed over the years. The Oval Group acquired Bland Bankart in 2004 and maintained their office base at the Hall. In 2014 Arthur J Gallagher acquired the Oval Group for £199 million and it is now the Gallagher name that appears outside the entrance to the Hall.
Below is a copy of an oil painting on canvas created by Arthur Lowe. It shows the lake at Tollerton Hall and in the background the flag flies from the Hall itself. The artist, Arthur Lowe (born 1865, died 1940), was born in Nottingham and lived for most of his life in Kinoulton, Nottinghamshire. He was a member of the Nottinghamshire Society of Artists, exhibited many times at Nottingham Museum and Art Gallery and twice at the Royal Academy in London. Much of Arthur Lowe’s work depicts landscape scenes in the Vale of Belvoir but in this instance he chose Tollerton Hall as the subject of his work.
Part C: Further Insights in to some of the people who lived or worked at Tollerton Hall and
The Eccentric Pendock Barry
Pendock Barry, squire of Tollerton Hall until 1816, appears to have been a wealthy and ‘colourful’
character, widely reputed to be eccentric. In ‘A History of Tollerton’ (Potter,1929), John Duke described him as being small, thin and delicate looking; unlike his wife who was reputed to weigh 26 stones. It is said in Potter’s book that Pendock Barry was fastidious in dress, often seen in a blue coat with gilt buttons, white buckskin breeches and with a gold-headed walking stick. He disliked being seen by the villagers and nearly always rode from the Hall through the park, attended by Cornelius Russell his coachman; John Duke’s father, who was his groom and sometimes with his butler and Samuel Whitehead.
Those who knew Pendock also described him as ‘childish in his amusements and occupations.’ It is stated that he would have his servants prepare a coach, without horses, and climb aboard with a whip and pretend to be driving a team of horses. More strangely, it was said that he was fond of putting on boots and spurs, having a saddle strapped on to the back of one of his men, and then climbing on top of him and pretending to be riding.
In various accounts his son, Barry Barry, described his father as a man of very weak and slender
capacity, who whilst at University, acquired a habit of drinking to excess. His son also suggested that, whilst his father did go to Oxford University, he never actually completed his studies. Others found Pendock Barry to be a vindictive man. Potter (1929) refers to one case where Pendock Barry was subsumed with anger when Mr Elliott, Lord of Plumtree Manor, built Hoe Hill farmhouse and buildings maintaining these buildings obscured his views from the rear of the Hall. Barry ‘contemptuously named the farm house Dye Pot Hall’ (a reference to Elliott’s trade) and planted a line of trees in the Tollerton estate to hide the offending buildings from his sight.
In other sources it is suggested that there were disputes over land between Pendock Barry and William Thurman (born c1796), who was at the time the parish clerk, and that the ‘evil squire’ forced William Thurman out of the village. Certainly he can be found in Tollerton in 1841, with his wife Rachel and four children, but not in 1851 or beyond, so possibly there is truth in this story. The Thurman family have had a long connection with Tollerton. Samuel Thurman was born 1710 in Tollerton and worked as a blacksmith. He married Mary Cumberland who was also born in Tollerton. Thomas Thurman, William’s grandson, was sentenced to death and transported to Australia. Here lies another story which is covered later in this section.
Back to Pendock Barry! It is said that Pendock’s wife, Susanna, was a lady of great sense and discretion. From the time of their marriage until her death in 1811 she managed all of Pendock’s affairs and transactions. When Susanna died, Pendock was a lonely man and depended even more heavily upon his staff, particularly his butler – Samuel Whitehead, with whom he indulged in heavy late night drinking sessions. The squire and his cousin at the Rectory were at loggerheads and this animosity was shared by Pendock’s son who frequently tormented his uncle, the Rector. There are tales of the son (later known as Barry Barry) deliberately ringing the entrance gate bell opposite the rectory in the early hours of the morning and of him shooting the Rector’s pigeons because they perched on the Hall. Also during the night he fired a gun into the Rector’s bedroom window and broke the ground floor windows of the Rectory with a rake.
Pendock Barry died in 1816 and it was his wish to be buried at Newark.
Pendock had his last will and testament drawn up prior to his death. He was by now estranged from his son and his daughter had moved out of the family home. Pendock signed a will that divided his estate between his lawyer, his butler, his housekeeper and a medical attendant. The lawyer who prepared the will was the lawyer who inherited under it which raised eyebrows when Pendock passed away.
His son, Barry Barry, must have been beside himself when he discovered he had been disinherited. He challenged the will in court, alleging that his father was soft in the head and that the lawyer took advantage of him. During the hearing in 1835, witness after witness described further odd goings- on at Tollerton Hall and also elaborated upon Pendock Barry’s behaviour, some of which is described in the following paragraphs about his son.
Pendock Barry Barry
It appears that Barry Barry was close to his mother during her life and initially there was a high degree of regard and affection between him and his father, Pendock Barry, but this relationship declined. It is said that from an early age Barry Barry was a person of high spirits and was easily excited. As time went on his parents could not control him particularly when he had been drinking. In May 1813 his uncle, the Reverend Pendock Neale, had him bound over to keep the peace, allegedly after the incident previously described when Barry Barry shot his uncle’s pigeons.
A charge of indecent assault was brought against Barry Barry in 1813 by a man named Hickling. Some weeks later Barry Barry left Tollerton Hall as he thought another warrant was out against him because of another act of violence against his uncle, though it is implied that he already intended leaving the country to avoid the charges brought upon him by Hickling. Later in court, Hickling suggested that he had been induced to make the charges at the instigation of Mr Neale. Barry Barry’s father also believed that the charges were deliberately set up to get rid of his son and until March 1814 father and son continued to correspond.
Whatever the truth, it is clear that if Barry Barry had not absconded, he would have been in court. In 1814 he returned to England under the feigned name of Smith and declared he was ready to face his trial. When everything was ready for his trial he did not appear in court and disappeared again, only returning after the death of Hickling in 1827.
By 1827 his father was dead and it is then that Barry Barry contested his father’s will and these former claims were exposed. It seems that his father had expected his son to stand trial for the charges made against him and that he would therefore clear his and the family’s name. When he did not do so his father started to believe that there might be some truth in the allegations brought against his son and disassociated himself from Barry Barry. Embarrassment led his father to seek greater seclusion and to avoid all strangers believing that they would recognise him as the father of such a terrible son.
In 1819 Barry Barry actually went to Tollerton Hall but his father would not see him. Two years later Barry Barry’s unmarried sister (daughter of Pendock Barry) died. In 1823 Mrs Gentry, the housekeeper at Tollerton Hall left and Miss Cooper came and soon after married Samuel Whitehead the butler. This might seem to be insignificant but Pendock Barry, now totally disassociated from his son, relied heavily upon the Whiteheads. A few years later Pendock Barry was taken extremely ill and it is thought this is when he wrote his will, disinheriting his son. When confiding in his butler, his doctor and solicitor Pendock said he had done with the Neales and that his son was not destitute as he had annual allowances on which he could survive.
Here are just a few extracts from witness evidence presented during the case by those that knew Pendock Barry well:
Russell, who lived with the deceased for nearly twenty years as coachman, described him as a man of very weak mind but not an idiot. He seldom drank less than two bottles of port a day, sometimes three. Whitehead his butler exercised an influence over him. Duke the gardener who had been in the deceased’s service for 24 years concurred with this.
Stones, a coach-maker, represents that he was weak and imbecile, and that he gave absurd directions; but he admitted that, for forty years, he took his orders and charged for the execution of them.
Mr. Neale, brother of the deceased’s wife, certainly represented the deceased as a person almost in a state of idiocy, incapable of doing anything for himself, or of knowing what he was about. He said that he drank four bottles of wine a day; that his intellects were impaired; and that he took no interest in the management of his affairs. His wife exclusively managed all her husband’s affairs, wrote all his letters and cheques, and that every one who came to the deceased on business transacted it with his wife. He said that he was so weak in mind as to be incapable of counting ten, except with his fingers. However “I feel grateful,” he said, “for acts of kindness from the deceased till I was excluded from the house.” It appears he lent him money to pay his brother’s bills, which he knew he could not pay on his low curacy allowance.
Mr. Faulkner, who, from his situation in life, had an opportunity of knowing and forming an accurate opinion of the deceased’s character, says he was treated as a child.
Mr. Banks, who married a sister of the wife of the Rev. Pendock Neale, spoke of him as a man of retired and reserved habits, but who conversed rationally and sensibly, and took that moderate share in conversation which a rational man would do. He said that he drank to excess, but that he never saw him intoxicated.
It was stated that Pendock Barry’s wife gave the servants orders not to contradict him and to keep a strict watch over him to prevent him doing mischief to himself or others.
At the end of the hearing the judge declared that Pendock’s will was valid, stating that eccentricity was not insanity. Furthermore the judge suggested that if Barry Barry had wanted to inherit, he should have visited his father more often. It was concluded that the will was Pendock’s final eccentric act but that he really did want to give his wealth to his servants and lawyer.
Barry Barry appealed against this decision in 1838 but it becomes unclear as to what the final outcome was. Certainly by 1841 Barry Barry is at Tollerton Hall with his housekeeper Susannah Davies and seven other staff. He died in the autumn of 1847.
It was reported in the newspapers in 1829 that Thomas Thurman visited his father, also called Thomas, and stayed overnight with him. Whilst at his father’s house, Thomas requested money from his father or permission to take a calf. His father refused both requests but next morning Thomas senior found that his son had in fact taken a calf without consent and reported this to the village constable.
When the case came to court a judgment of death was recorded but the judge recommended mercy be shown and the death sentence was commuted to transportation for life. Thomas was transported as a convict to Australia.
Thomas, aged 35 years, a married man with two children, arrived in Sydney in May 1830. There is no evidence however to suggest that his wife and children ever joined him. Thomas lived out his days in New South Wales, Australia where he was initially assigned as a farm labourer to a local man. In 1839 he was granted a ticket of leave which meant that his period of assigned labour was over and he was free to seek work. In 1848 he was granted a conditional pardon whereby he was free to go anywhere in the world except the UK. Thomas died in 1859.
The Trial of Thomas Duke
This case was widely reported in the newspapers both nationally and internationally. In fact this synopsis is based largely on an article that appeared in the New Zealand Herald on 5 October 1878. The case was also extensively covered in the local press with explicit details about what happened and with numerous references to evidence presented by neighbours in Tollerton.
On 27 July (1878) Thomas Duke appeared in court charged with unlawfully attempting to administer to his wife, Hannah Duke, a quantity of strychnine with intent to murder her. It was said that he was the gardener to Mr Broadhurst of Tollerton Hall and had for some years also been the parish clerk. Thomas Duke had been married for about 30 years to Hannah who was suffering from an incurable form of heart disease, from chronic rheumatism and was completely bedridden. Evidence was given by Elizabeth Whittaker a servant in their employment, who lived close by with her father William.
The prosecutors stated that on 14 April Mr Duke took her a breakfast of tea, bread and butter to his wife whereupon she was almost immediately seized with violent spasms, sweating, and all the symptoms of strychnine poisoning. Duke gave her the same on further occasions that week and in the following week. On 28th April, Whittaker was preparing Mrs. Duke’s breakfast when the prisoner came in, and, according to Whittaker’s statement, sent her down into the cellar to fetch more butter while he buttered some bread for his wife. Whittaker took the food upstairs and Mrs. Duke ate one slice of bread, then complained of a bitter taste and refused to eat the rest. Some of this evidence was corroborated by Miss Sarah Wild and Mrs Mary Hull, who nursed Mrs. Duke in her illness, and another neighbour, Mrs Ann Hickling (wife of Thomas Hickling a joiner). Samples of the food and tea, retained by Miss Wild, were given to the local doctor (Dr. Taylor) who sent them for analysis in London. They were all found to contain strychnine and Prussian blue, but not enough of the former to destroy life or do much harm.
Subsequent evidence highlighted Duke’s likely motive. In 1877 Clara Howson, aged 19, came to work at Tollerton Hall as kitchen maid. She and Duke developed an intimate relationship and Duke made repeated promises that he would marry her when it became possible. In December, 1877, Clara left Tollerton Hall, and went to live in service at Nottingham. In April, 1878, she had a miscarriage, the result of her intimacy with the prisoner. Duke and Clara Howson kept in regular contact by letter. In court it was said that between November, 1877 and April, 1878, the prisoner wrote as many as 83 letters to Howson, expressing his ardent affection, and in many alluded to the prospect of his wife’s death. In January he wrote: “My loving Clara, – My feeling is this, that sooner than we should be parted and our love taken away we would go out of the country; but, dear, it is very plain to be seen at our house that it will not be long before l am free. In April” …… “l am sure it will not be long before I can call you my own dear, wife.”
It is said that when the prisoner was arrested by the police, he took two purses from a desk on the pretext of giving money to his wife and tried to conceal one of these purses from the police. However upon examination the purse was found to contain a packet of blue powder corresponding to that found in the analysed food, and known as Batty’s vermin killer, the principal ingredients being strychnine and Prussian blue. Furthermore when the police searched the premises they found in an outhouse a box marked ‘Tollerton Cricket Club’. Within this box there was a portrait of a female and a braid of hair, several letters sent by Clara and also a locket containing a portrait of a female and some hair.
In court the prisoner gave a long statement in which be tried to place the blame on Elizabeth Whittaker, the servant. The judge dismissed this totally and in commenting on the heartless nature of the crime sentenced Thomas Duke to “20 years’ penal servitude”.
The 1881 and 1891 Census lists Thomas Duke (born c1827) as a convict at Dartmoor Prison. It appears that Hannah Duke, his wife, died in 1881 and that same year Clara Howson married but clearly not to Thomas Duke! In 1911 Thomas Duke was living in Radford, Nottingham aged 87 years. He is listed as a widower and boarder; occupation domestic gardener. He died the following year.
Louise Wentz – Housekeeper to Col. Cantrell Hubbersty
The Nottinghamshire Guardian published a short report on 26 November, 1898 about the inquest held at the Mission Room at Tollerton following the death of Louise Wentz, aged 50 years. Louise was the housekeeper to Col. Cantrell-Hubbersty and had been in his service for many years. From the report it appears that she was a single woman with no known relatives or friends and had suffered for some months with headaches and nausea and had also complained to other staff about her memory and head. The gamekeeper, William Bell, found her body in the lake near the boathouse and called for a doctor who pronounced that she was dead. Later a letter was found addressed to a nurse living in Nottingham in which Louise stated that she could not ‘bear this stress any longer’.
Col. Cantrell-Hubbersty, the butler (Joseph Hooper), the game keeper, William Bell, and Elizabeth Banner, Mrs Hubbersty’s maid, all gave evidence at the inquest. The Coroner returned a verdict of suicide.
It would appear that Louise was not the only employee at Tollerton Hall to die in this way. Nearly 35 years prior to Louise’s death, Mary Woodward, a servant at the Hall, threw herself in to a pond or brook that ran in the neighbourhood and drowned. It appears that this incident took place during a wedding but there are few details of this event which was very briefly reported in the Nottinghamshire Guardian, August 1864.
William Elliott Burnside and the Elliott Connection
Mr Burnside’s family had prior links with Gedling House and Lamcote House in Radcliffe on Trent; they were indeed a wealthy family. Most of their fortunes were inherited from an ancestor who had discovered a technique for dyeing and finishing black silk stockings. It is for this reason that Pendock Barry referred to the Hoe Hill Farm buildings that William Elliott had built as ‘Dye Pot Hall’. As well as being a silk merchant, William Elliott was also involved in the cotton spinning industry in Nottingham in partnership with other family members.
It was when William Elliott, a dyer of Brewhouse Yard, Nottingham, died without issue in 1792 that his fortune was left to his nephew, William Stanford, of Castle Gate, Nottingham, on condition he changed his surname to Elliott. William Stanford (now Elliott) died four years later and his sons inherited the estate, changing their surname also to become William Elliott Elliott and John Elliott.
These two brothers therefore had money to spend at a time when Sir Lionel Copley had decided to sell his estate at Plumtree. Both brothers were named as joint owners in 1803 and 1807, but William seems to have been the dominant one, especially as he outlived his brother by over 20 years. Whilst William continued to live at Gedling House, he started to build at Plumtree. William was also very concerned for others and it is recorded that he gave money to widen Chapel Bar, Nottingham and subscribed to a fund for the relief of out of work factory workers.
When William Elliott died he had no children so the estate passed to John Elliott Burnside, the eldest child of his sister, Ann. John married his cousin Julia Georgina Burnside who was born in Plumtree in 1821 and was the daughter of the Revd. John Burnside. It was their son, William Elliott Burnside, who married Alice Mary Cross in 1892, and came to live at Tollerton Hall.
After William’s death his wife, Alice, had the Burnside Memorial Hall in Plumtree built in 1921 ‘ …. for the general benefit of the inhabitants’, in memory of her husband. This building still exists opposite the church in Plumtree and is the home of the Burnside Pre-School Nursery.