East Retford


Archives & Libraries

The Retford Library is normally open six days per week. It was refurbished in 2020, and is wheelchair friendly, has a Local History Section and is not far from Churchgate Car Park. Retford Library has a bicycle rack at the front of the library, adjacent to the main entrance. Their physical address is:



  • The East Retford Cemetery covers 25 acres and is 1 mile from the railway station, next to the A1. The first burial appears to be in 1854.
  • The National Archives have a document listing East Retford Cemetery Burials and dated 1922. Reference: HO 45/11087/434944.


  • The parish was in the East Retford sub-district of the East Retford Registration District.
  • The table below gives census piece numbers, where known:
Piece No.
1841 H.O. 107 / 851
1861 R.G. 9 / 2413 & 2415
1871 R.G. 10 / 3451 & 3453
1891 R.G. 12 / 2639, 2640 & 2642

Church History

  • The Anglican parish church is dedicated to Saint Swithin.
  • The church tower and chancel fell down in 1651 and were subsequently rebuilt.
  • The church was thoroughly restored and enlarged in 1855.
  • The church seats 650.
  • A Mission Church, dedicated to Saint Catherine, was erected on the wharf in 1884.

Church Records

  • The Anglican parish register dates from 1573.
  • The International Genealogical Index (IGI) includes records from this parish for the period 1627-1842.
  • Bishops Transcripts are on the IGI for the period 1777 - 1833.
  • Notts Archives Office hold the marriage register on microfiche for the period 1573 - 1900.
  • The Society of Genealogists have marriages for the period 1573 - 1900.
  • The church was in the No, 1 deanery of Retford.
  • The Wesleyan Methodists had a chapel on Grove Street before 1869 and it was replaced by a larger chapel in 1880.
  • The Primitive Methodists had a chapel here built in 1789 in Carolgate as a theater, but converted to their use in 1843. A new, larger chapel was built on site in 1873.
  • The Independents had a chapel here in 1808.
  • The Catholic Church in Queen Street is dedicated to St. Joseph. It was built in 1895.

Civil Registration

  • The parish was in the East Retford sub-district of the East Retford Registration District.
  • Civil Registration started in July, 1837.

Description & Travel

East Retford was a market town. a parish and a parliamentary and municipal borough which lies 144 miles north of London. The town sits on the east bank of the River Idle, 8 miles east from Worksop, 18 miles south-east from Doncaster and 32 miles north-east of Nottingham city.

If you are planning a visit to the town:

  • By automobile, take the A1 motorway north to Ranby and turn right onto the B6079 trunk road. Continuing east through Babworth, and West Retford is dead ahead. It is hard to distinguish West Retford from East Retford these days, but everything East of the Idle River is the old parish and town of East Retford.
You can see pictures of East Retford which are provided by:




Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which East Retford has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



  • This place is reportedly the scene of a 617 battle between Edwin and Ethelred.
  • Richard the Lionheart reputedly provided the first town charter between 1185 and 1200, but no charter of that date has been found.
  • Henry III granted the rights for an annual fair in 1246.
  • East Retford first sent members to Parliament in 1315.
  • Elizabeth I granted borough status in 1571.
  • The Parliamentary Election of 1828 was marred by corruption in the form of "buying" votes.
  • The military were called in to ensure a fair election and a number of residents submitted claims to Parliament to recover expenses for supporting the troops. You can see these names at British-History.com.
  • The Town Hall was opened in January, 1868.
  • Hops were grown in the area in the 1800s, but that trade virtually ceased by 1910.
  • The Retford Speedwell Cycle Club made the news in 1896 and 1900.


  • See our Maps page for additional resources.

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SK709817 (Lat/Lon: 53.327478, -0.936935), East Retford which are provided by:


Medical Records

  • The Retford Hospital and Dispensary on Thrumpton Lane was founded in 1865. It opened in January, 1887 and was enlarged in 1902.
  • Patient records were not required to be archived, although administrative and accounting records should exist in the local Archives office. Any patient records would be restricted under a 100-year Closure regulation.
  • A Small Pox Hospital was erected in 1903.

Military History

  • In 1881 the 2nd Nottinghamshire Rifle Volunteers was headquartered at 10 Ashley place on the London road.
  • A Royal Warrant was issued on 24 December 1899 to allow the Yoemanry companies to form a royal regiment for service overseas (in the 2nd Boer War).
  • In 1904 the Sherwood Rangers and D squadron of the Nottinghamshire Regiment were stationed in the town.
  • In 1912 the town hosted two units of the Territorial Force: D Squadron of the Sherwood Rangers and A Company of the 8th Battalion of Sherwood Foresters.
  • In 1914, according to Wikipedia, the Yoemanry regiment was based at Albert Road in Retford.
  • During World War I the Red Cross established a military hospital at the Sherwood Rangers Headquarters at 12 Lime Tree Avenue.

Names, Geographical

  • In the 1086 Domesday Book the name is written as Redeford. It appears in the 13th century as Este Reddfurth. The name appears to come from the red clay at the river bottom which was disturbed by fording horses, cattle and carts and colored the river.


There were three newspapers in Retford in 1912:

  1. The Retford, Worksop, Isle of Axholme & Gainsborough News, 14 Bridgegate, East Retford: publisher: Charles BUTLER, district manager; published Friday.
  2. The Retford, Gainsborough & Worksop Times, Market square, East Retford: publisher: Bennett JACKSON, manager; published Friday.
  3. The Retford & Worksop Herald, 8 Exchange Street, East Retford: George A. SMITH, managing editor; published Tuesday.

Politics & Government

  • This place was an ancient parish in county Nottingham and became a modern Civil Parish when those were established.
  • The parish was in the North Clay district of the ancient Bassetlaw Wapentake (Hundred) in the northern division of the county.
  • The East Retford Borough Act of July, 1878, reset boundaries for the parishes and the borough and defined the three wards for voting.
  • On 1st April, 1921, the three Civil Parishes of Ordsall, North Retford and West Retford were abolished and the areas amalgamated into an enlarged East Retford Civil Parish.
  • District governance is provided by the Bassetlaw District Council.

Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • Richard SLOSWICKE left a bequest in 1657 for 6 poor men in an almshouse in Church Gate.
  • The town Corporation had almhouses in Union street built in 1823 with apartments for 18 poor women.
  • After the Poor Law Amendment Act reforms of 1834, this parish became the centre of the East Retford Poor Law Union.


The population soared after the amalgamation in 1921 of West Retford, North Retford and Ordsall Civil Parishes into the Civil Pariush of East Retford.

 Year Inhabitants
1801 1,948
1811 2,030
1821 2,465
1831 2,491
1841 2,601
1851 2,943
1871 3,194
1881 3,414
1891 3,438
1901 3,436
1911 3,614


  • The Free Grammar School of King Edward VI was founded by that monarch. But the school was not built here until 1855 after much political scandal ove the misuse of property.
  • There was also a National and Infant School for children of both sexes.