Babworth is a village and civil parish in the Bassetlaw district of Nottinghamshire, England, about 1½ miles west of Retford. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 1,329. In addition to the village of Babworth the parish also includes Ranby.
Prior to 1066 (the Norman Conquest) Babworth (Babvrde) is known to have belonged substantially to Earl Tosti and was part of the king’s manor of Bodmeschell. Tax was paid for six and a half bovats of land. It is also said that Ulmer also held two and a half borate.
After the Norman Conquest, Roger de Busli bought the whole of it and delivered it "by feudal tenure" to Goisfrid. In the Doomesday Book it is certified to be one carucate and a half, with a boarder; pasture wood two quarents long, and one broad, which before the Conquest had been valued at 40s but afterwards was valued at 10s.
According to Nomina Villarum, by 1316 the Earl of Lancaster, and Robert de Saundeby, are certified to have been the lords of it. In 1355, nearly the whole of Babworth became the property of Sir Thomas de Grendon, who sold it in 1368 to Sir William Trusbutt. It was later inherited by Trussbutt's son, Sir Robert, who sold the manor "with its appurtenances" to Sir Richard de Willoughby, of Wollaton. Later it became the property of the Earl of Shrewsbury and Lord Cavendish, and in the 18th century it was purchased by Sir Gervas Elwes, and lastly by John Simpson. (see The History of Retford in The County of Nottingham by John Shadrach Piercy, 1828) Piercy describes Babworth in the early 19th century as follows:
"The parish, which contains the hamlets of Great, and Little Morton, Morton Grange, and Ranby, contains nearly 6000 acres, of excellent forest land, mostly inclosed. The whole of the land in Babworth is the property of the Hon. J. B. Simpson, which he has in his own occupation, and upon which he has erected a steward’s house, and farming buildings, upon a large scale. Babworth Hall, the seat of the Hon. John Bridgeman Simpson, (brother to the late Earl of Bradford,) is pleasantly situated on an eminence, a short distance from the Retford and Worksop road, about a mile and a quarter from the former place. Its vicinity contains some of the finest scenery in this part of the county, for which, it is, in a great measure, indebted to its present possessor, who, has lately increased the beauty and interest of the place by a fine piece of water, a swiss cottage, &c. Near the church, is the charming little sequestered residence of the Rev. Archdeacon Eyre, the rector, in which, comfort and elegance are blended; and to whose worthy possessor, added to the kind patronage of the Simpson’s family, the parish is much indebted for its internal prosperity."
Writing in 1881, Leonard Jacks (See The Great Houses of Nottinghamshire and the County Families) described Babworth thus: "Some of the most delightful scenery in the county [Nottinghamshire] is about Babworth. It is as varied as it is beautiful." He enthuses about the scene from Babworth Hall: "From one point, close to the house, the eye travels over a bit of open landscape, with a foreground of thriving trees, and further away the crown of gently swelling hills. Looking across the bright and gracefully designed gardens, either from the terrace or from the windows inside, one catches the shimmer of water—of a large and pellucid lake, on the other side of which rises a picturesque bank of sandstone, completely covered with rich foliage, save in one or two places where the red of the sandstone peeps out from the thick mass of leaves and branches, acquiring a still ruddier tint in the light of the summer sun." The lake to which Jacks refers was later drained and its position is now a stand of trees. However, the faint outline of its position - in the form of an indentation in the landscape - can still be made out today.
Babworth All Saints and the Pilgrim Fathers
Babworth is well known for its connection with the Pilgrim Fathers - the early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Massachusetts, USA. Richard Clyfton was parson here between 1586 and 1605. Two of his friends were William Brewster and William Bradford, both passengers aboard The Mayflower. The church contains many interesting items recalling the Pilgrim Fathers including the chalice used by Richard Clyfton for communion services. Bones were discovered in a vault under the north aisle at Babworth in 1951. Among them was the chalice that Clyfton had used. It is thought it may have been hidden here to save it from being stolen or melted down - possibly at the time of the English Civil War in the mid-17th century.
In the early 20th century Babworth maintained its connections with early American heritage when the Rector was Frank Wilberforce who was the great grandson of William Wilberforce who led the campaign to abolish slavery.
Babworth parish church, All Saints, is quintessentially English and is surrounded by greenery. The church is around 900 years old. It is a small structure with a tower steeple with three old bells, (to which were added three newly cast bells in the late 1950s) and a clock, a nave, chancel and a porch. Most of the building dates from the 15th century, with several 18th century memorials and 19th century stained glass by Charles Eamer Kempe. The chancel and sanctuary contain furniture by Robert (Mousey) Thompson, featuring his trademark mouse carvings. In early spring the church is surrounded by a spectacular display of snowdrops, which the public is free to visit.
According to Piercy, in 1295 the advowson of Babworth church was the property of Robert de Swillington, "who had free warren in Babworth". In 1365 after Swillington's death, it became the property of Sir Thomas de Grendon, who sold it to Sir William Trussbutt. Trussbutt is said to have presented it to the priory of Newstead, having first obtained the king’s licence, and the licence of Sir Thomas de Saundby to do so. Newstead priory remained in possession of the church until 1531, until the prior of Newstead, John Blake, granted it and one acre of land to John Hercy, Esq. of Grove for the sum of fifteen pounds. In 1674 it became the property of the Wortleys, from whom it was purchased by John Simpson, Esq.
Piercy describes the church favourably as "a small but handsome structure of stone, advantageously situated on a rising ground. It consists of tower steeple, with three bells, and clock, a nave and chancel uniform in their windows, height, and battlements, with a side aisle and vestry, and a handsome porch. The whole is of the later period of the Gothic architecture. The little burial plot which surrounds it, is considerably elevated, being connected with, or rather enclosed within the elegant pleasure grounds of the adjacent buildings; while the fine trees, aged and bowery, enhance materially the charming effect of the ivy-mantled tower."
Babworth has a junior football (soccer) club called Babworth Rovers FC. Many of the players live in Retford and neighbouring villages.
See The Pilgrim Fathers UK Origins Association for pictures of Babworth church, mouse carvings, stained glass windows and chalice
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