Farnsfield Local History Society

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A Short History of Farnsfield

By Judith Milnes

Farnsfield Local History Society was founded in 2002 and has about 50 members. We meet in the Village Centre, New Hill on the second Wednesday of the month and over the years we have had speakers on a wonderful variety of topics. Two or three times a year we go out to places of historical interest. Visits have included tours of Bromley House libratry and Nottingham Council House, Newstead Abbey as well as outings to General Booth's birthplace, Tuxford Windmill, Ruddington, Eastwood and Papplewick Pumping Station.

We take part in village events and have regular quizzes about the village and the county.

In the last few years we have set up our own Farnsfield Local History website where you can see the programme of events for this year as well as many photographs of Farnsfield people and places and past events. We have received e-mails from the other side of the world enquiring about ancestors from the village.

We are always pleased to receive more information, relevant documents and photographs.


Farnsfield, Nottinghamshire.  History of the village.

The first record of the village is in 956 AD.  There are no records of any earlier occupation. Iron age implements, dating to 1000 BC have been found. There is also evidence on the edge of the village and at Hexgreave Park of Roman occupation in the area.

In the Domesday Book the village is referred to as Franesfeld.  By the twelfth  century the village's name had become established as Farnsfield. Up to 1600 and probably beyond the village was within the boundary of Sherwood Forest and was subject to Forest Laws. Gradually encroachments into the forests then the Enclosure Act Award of 1777 pushed the forest boundary back and Farnsfield came to lie outside the boundaries of the forest.

The present church is quite young, having been built in 1859/60 to replace the earlier church which was destroyed by fire in 1856. From the point of view of the local historian the fire was a disaster as it destroyed many of the earlier church records. The village did not have its own vicar until 1572. Before that its spiritual needs were attended to by the canons of Southwell Minster.

One aspect of religion  for which the village has wider recognition is Quakerism, as at one time the village had many more Quaker residents for its size than many other larger villages and towns. There are numerous Quaker built houses within the village.

The village does not have any major industry but in former times many small businesses were located within the village, mainly related to agriculture and rural trades- blacksmiths, tanners, basketmakers. There was also a flourishing brickmaking works on Brickyard Lane which utilised the local clay and produced quite a distinctive red brick of a smaller size than modern brick. Clay was also used by the local pottery which made tiles, drinking vessels and other domestic items.

A building in the village of particular interest is the Old Maltings on New Hill (now refurbished and converted for use as a village centre which is now used by clubs, societies, individuals and outside organisations.) 

There was for a brief period a cotton mill at "Cotton Mill Farm", utilising the water of the stream that ran through the farm. It is believed, but has never been proved that the mill was one of the small cotton mills designed by Sir Richard Arkwright.

Farnsfield, like the majority of similar villages, does not feature in any great national historical events. Some important members of the village were involved in a local secret society "the sealed knot" in an unsuccessful conspiracy against Oliver Cromwell.

The village's most famous son was Sir Augustus Gregory who went with his family to Australia in the early nineteenth century became a famous explorer and is credited with opening up "the Outback" and crossing the continent from West to East.

Between 1834 and 1866 Farnsfield was noted for having as its postman George Yates, who was blind. Every day he went from Farnsfield to Southwell with the outgoing post and then returned with letters for the villagers. It is recorded he was never absent or late.

Today the village still has no major industries and farming remains important. The village has grown quite considerably in size with a population of over 3,000. Unlike a lot of other villages it has a retained its shops, pubs, the church, chapel and other usual village organisations and clubs such as the W.I, Mothers Union, Playgroup, Scouts and Guides, tennis, football, cricket and bowls clubs.

Over all the village retains a very strong community spirit and remains a very pleasant place to live and relax in.









This page was added by Judith Milnes on 23/01/2012.
Comments about this page

I had a great aunt that lived in a bungalow on Far Back Lane her name was Ethal Powel, her husband was the brother of my maternal grandmother he was a farmers son from Mansfield. I visited her with my mother and grandmother many times in the 1950s, she was old then but I think she lived until about the the mid 1960s. She had an orchard across the lane from where she lived and when we visited I played in the orchard, it was quite overgrown. One incident that I can remember as if it was yesterday, and it was getting on for sixty years ago, I was exploring in the orchard and disturbed an owl, it was massive (well it was to a little boy) it was probably a tawny owl, it scared me to death. I don't know if this is of any interest to visitors to this site but it is a fond memory of mine.

By Peter Bowler.
On 22/01/2013

My mum and dad, the webbs, bought a part of the orchard to the north on far back lane. According to mum, 'the postmaster bullock' (who also owned a butchers in the village) bought a large plot from 'the widow powell' in the mid 1950s for £750, split it into 13 plots and sold each for £250.

By Jonathan webb
On 25/01/2014

I've just been looking at a street plan of Farnsfield and noticed a Powell Close,who is it named after, could it be my great aunt Ethal?

P/S. Thanks for replying Jonathan according to my grandmother she sold the orchard for a lot less than it was worth but she wasn't very good with money. 

By Peter Bowler
On 21/07/2014

I am researching the Gregory Family of Farnsfield and Rainworth, one of whom is the famous Australian explorer Augustus Charles Gregory.  His parents Joshua and Frances Gregory with two other (maybe three) siblings arrived in the Swan River Colony (Perth, Western Australia) in 1830.  They were prominent citizens there, especially contributing to the exploration of the inland.  My Harris Family arrived in 1833 and were neighbours and friends of the Gregory's, even linked through marriage.  I am having great difficulty researching the origins of the Harris Family in either Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire.  There is a strong possibility that the two families were connected before leaving for Australia.  Therefore, by learning more of the Gregory Family I hope to discover more of my Harris Family.

I am appealing for some person who might like to assist me.  I have lots more information on the Gregory Family but know almost nothing about them pre-1830.

I live in Perth, W.A, I'm a retired teacher who is totally immersed in genealogy but can find time to pursue my other passion - golf.

Kevin Anderson   Email :  kander@bigpond.net.au


By Kevin Anderson
On 24/09/2015

I was born in Farnsfield my dad was the vicar for a period of time until 1971 I knew Jennifer and Jonathan Webb from school. The church school. I remember living there with such fondness. Wandering to Coombes Wood and bluebell Wood. We were told at school that the name came from a clearing in the wood and ferns. Anyone from that time still living there I would be interested to know Janet Kerr from the Kerrs farm. Ann Musson at the cobblers in Quaker lane The Rhodes I know are still living there. 

By Ruth Mitchell
On 15/03/2019

I lived in farnsfield for just one year. My dad worked on a farm on longlands lane.  My sister and I went to the village school on main Street. It was in 1993-1994. I've stumbled across this looking online for the old school. There's not much to find on Google but I've seen it has been knocked down and built on.


I remember the playground having steps and a field at the back and I remember the shape of the classroom I was in. 


Funny what you remember. 

By Sharon chambers
On 28/07/2020

Ann Musson was my best friend at the Lilley and Stone School in Newark. Sadly, I lost touch with her. She went to Reading University and was a brilliant Mathematician. I was also at school with Janet Kerr from Kerrs Farm- she was to train to be a doctor. I also think Helen O'Malley lives somewhere in Farnsfield. Ruth Miller was also at the Lilley and Stone. I think she became the owner of Minster Kitchens who  built two new kitchens for my parents in Bleasby- Sycamore Lane. I would love to get in touch because I have just moved up from South Devon to Farnsfield.

By Mrs Jacqueline Campbell
On 10/05/2022

My folks, Beryl and Ken Smith, moved to Farnsfield in the early 60’s and bought the first house on the Ridgeway (number 3) when the road ended at number 18 (?) I remember cows being led up the road and there were fields and trees at the top of the road. We moved to number 11 in ‘68 (?) and my Mum and Dad lived there until they died. Mum was a bit of an institution in the village, teaching crafts at night school and helping out with the Church school, while Dad was treasurer of everything! I remember that one of Mum's friends from outside the village sent her a letter, but didn’t know the address, so marked it “Beryl, Farnsfield“ Thanks to Jean the postie, she got the letter! We backed onto the Webbs and we had a path through the hedge, so Jonathan and I could hook up! I remember all the wonderful shops in the village: Bowlers grocers (best cream doughnuts ever!) Billy Emmons, Walkers butchers and Mr Musson the cobbler. I even remember the old Co-op where you gave your list to the assistant and they picked your shopping! And there were four pubs!! We all went to the Church School and then to Southwell Minster (still a Grammar School when Chris and I started) Good days and happy memories. Still visit Farnsfield, as my youngest brother Tim bought number 11 when Dad died. Nice to still have a family home and proud to be the Ridgeways longest resident family. It’s still a lovely village and will always be “home” though so much has changed now and it’s grown out of all proportion 

By David Smith
On 06/09/2022

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