by John H Gilbert
A rustic Trentside village sprawling alongside the River Trent a few miles off the Lincoln-Retford A57 travelling north having crossed the modern Toll bridge at Dunham-on-Trent. Leaving the main road Fledborough (origin 'Fleot-burgh' burgh on a stream) is approached down a twisting by-road overshadowed by a large Power Station (Marnham). How deceptive this rustic, sprawling open-landed this is, with few buildings and farms nestliing alongside the River Trent and in the shadow of the Power Station. The present image belies a place steeped in history. A narrow lane leads to the core of the village which in the past could be easily missed except for a road sign which read 'Fledborough Only' (1808) and 'Fledborough and no further' (1740) and now at the time of writing a new sign borrowing on the past 'Fledborough no further' will be erected. After the Norman Conquest the De Lisieux family held the Manor and were probably the builders of the first stone church (12th.cent.) the tower of which still stands. The church building is verified in the Doomsday Book. The lovely St.Gregory's church is now closed for regular Sunday worship and is in the care of the Historic Churches Conservation Trust who permit the present vicar Revd. Canon Jean Calvert to conduct occasional services and celebrations.
This tiny village miles from anywhere had population of 60 souls in 1712 and in 1991 still only 70 persons. The village rose to fame in the eighteenth century and was known as 'Sweetapple's Dyke' through the questionable activities of the famous? Revd. William Sweetaple. From 1729 until his death in 1753 this gentleman married 480 couples and earned the nickname for the village of the 'Gretna Green' of the midlands. Another notable personality was the Revd.John Penrose and his family who were prolific writers and poets with much interaction with famous County families and personalities.
"Turn traveller hither, no further thou'lt stray, To Fledborough only I point the way. To no common village a guide, for in Fledborough only such charms can be seen, And he who a guest in her circle has been, Can only wish there to abide". (Elizabeth Penrose c.1830)