White's Directory 1853


Willoughby-on-the-Wolds and West Thorpe

Standing 11 miles south by east of Nottingham, and near the Leicestershire border, Willoughby-on-the-Wolds is a long, rural village and parish, sheltered by the embowering foliage of a double row of trees, and seated upon a declivity near the ancient Fosseway. Though so retired in its situation, it did not escape the baneful effects of the civil wars in the reign of Charles I, when a bloody contest was fought in Willoughby Field, in which Colonel Stanhope was numbered amongst the slain. The lofty cross in the village was doomed for destruction by the pious soldiers of Cromwell, but their religious enthusiasm was so much damped by some strong beer given them by the vicar, after he had made a long speech in defence of the innocents, that it was permitted to remain unmolested, but was taken down thirty years ago. Willoughby is considered by Horseley as the Vernomentum so often mistaken for Margidunum. Stukely tells us that the old Roman town (of which the ditch and mound still exist) was in a field called "Henings" where, tradition says, there was an old city called Long Billington, but the site is now designated the "Black Field", from the colour and richness of the soil. Near the source of Willoughby Brook is Croxhill, an ancient tumulus, on which an unusual revel was held in allusion to some traditionary festival of the Roman mythology. Many colns, pavements, and other antiquities have been found near the village.

The church, dedicated to St Mary, has many ancient and splendid monuments (now in a ruinous state, from the dilapidated state of the roof) of the Willoughbys, ancestors of Lord Middleton, whose predecessors sold this lordship many years ago to various proprietors. The heirs of the late Lord Rancliffe are lords of the manor, and Sir R.H. Bromley is patron of the vicarage, which is valued in the King's books at £6 18s 6½d, and is now enjoyed by the Rev. Thomas Parkyns Dodson M.A. The church was repewed, and a gallery erected at the west end, in 1829, so that it has now upwards of 230 free sittings. In removing the old pews, a tessellated pavement was found, and it now forms part of the floor of the north aisle. The methodists have a chapel in the village. The parish contains 625 inhabitants and 2,080 acres of land, which were enclosed in 1794, when 367 acres were allotted to the impropriator (the Duke of Portland), 87 to the vicar, in lieu of all tithes, and 1a 3r 5p to the church for repairs. The overseers distribute 16s yearly, as the interest of £16 left to the poor. Samuel Wells left £50, for the education of six poor children, and £20 to the poor. The interest is now paid out of the highway rates.

West Thorpe is a hamlet, a quarter of a mile south-west of Willoughby.

[Transcribed by Clive Henly]