|Laneham shown within Nottinghamshire|
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Laneham is a small Nottinghamshire village and civil parish on the banks of the River Trent. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 census was 312. It is 13 miles (21 km) due west of the city of Lincoln and 8 miles (13 km) east of the market town of Retford.
The Parish of Laneham had a total population of 279 people at the 2001 census, somewhat reduced from the 410 people who lived in the village in 1851. The parish covers an area of 1,589 acres (643 ha), and includes the two settlements of "Town" Laneham and "Church" Laneham, separated by the village beck and a short stretch of low-lying ground. The eastern boundary is formed by the River Trent. Prior to 1884, the parish included 155 acres (63 ha) of land used for parture on the eastern bank of the Trent, but most of this was transferred to the parish of Kettlethorpe. Communication to the east was once easier, as a ferry crossed the river here until 1922. The ferry had a very long history, since a list of stock held by the manor in 1388 included two gangways, which were used by passengers boarding the ferry. In earlier times the parish suffered some flooding from the Trent and the village beck, but the situation was improved by an Act of 1768–9 which set up drainage commissioners who were to protect Laneham and several other villages from flooding and improve the drainage of the land.
There are a number of listed buildings in the village, including Manor Farmhouse, with three bays and two storeys, built in the early nineteenth century, and Binge Farmhouse, with five bays and two storeys, together with a basement and garret, built in the middle eighteenth century. Willow Tree Cottage is a single-storeyed eighteenth-century building with three bays and an attic, while Willow Tree Farmhouse is an L-shaped building, consisting of a seventeenth-century gable-ended wing and a nineteenth-century wing. The substantial farmhouses reflect the former prosperity of the village, based on the well-ordered fields surrounding the village, which in turn show the influence of the enclosure movement. Laneham was enclosed by Act of Parliament in the 12th year of George III's reign – 1772; the enclosure involved 1,073 of the parish's 1,589 acres (6.43 km2). Enclosure was first mentioned in October 1767, but it was another five years until an Act was obtained. There was local opposition to the idea of enclosure, but it is unclear how many people were involved, as the opposition is listed as property on which it was assessed, and consisted of 9 messuages and cottages, 83 acres of enclosed ground, 129 acres of open arable and meadow, and 52 beastgates. No breakdown of who owned this property exists.
The village had three public houses: The Butchers Arms (demolished 2009–10), The Ferryboat, and the Ring o' Bells which stood on the site of the present senior citizens' bungalows. A village hall makes use of the former school building. The Parish Church of St. Peter remains open, and is a grade I listed building. Various parts were constructed in the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. It was restored in 1891, and the porch was renovated in 1932. The church is the focal point of Church Laneham; it is built on a small knoll above the river and contains a large, elaborate alabaster memorial to Ellis Markham and his son Jervase, which dates from 1636.
A small, disused Methodist chapel still stands in the village. A Laneham Methodist congregation was first recorded in the Society Book of the Epworth Circuit in 1799. The chapel was erected in 1834, and renovations to it were carried out in 1884.
Most Laneham people will be familiar with the information about village charities in the church and hall. The Laneham poor charity has existed since at least 1700. In that year four Laneham men ‘surrendered’ a close of about two acres, the revenues of this being used to feed the poor of the parish. Every three years this land was put up for rental on Easter Monday, yielding around £11 6s a year in 1827.The money was paid to the Overseer of the Poor who then commissioned a village baker to provide two shillings worth of bread every Sunday, to be given out as penny and twopenny loaves at the Church. This only cost £5-5-0d a year, so the rest was used to buy coal for the poor.
During the 1820s the Overseer was also receiving 13s from the occupier of three closes in Laneham which belonged to the Vicar of Applethorpe, but no one knew how this arose. More money came from the bequest of William Skelton, who had left £20 for the poor of Laneham. Half of this had been ‘vested’ in a Rampton farmer, Elizabeth Draper, who paid 10 shillings a year interest; the other half was vested in John Popple, who paid nothing until his death in 1815 when Mrs Anne Warrener took the capital and started to pay out. A woman called Sarah Fillingham also left a close called Clay Half to provide 20 shillings a year for distribution to ‘honest widows.’
The population of the village in 1811 was 337, and in 1815, 25 of these were officially "poor", representing 7.42 percent of the population. This was slightly higher than the 6.96 percent average for Nottinghamshire at the time.
The archbishops of Canterbury held Laneham Manor from an early date, certainly by the time of the Domesday book when 100 acres of pasture at Newton were said to belong to the Archbishop's manor. One who seems to have benefited was William of Laneham who was on the Archbishop's staff in the early 1200s and became Archdeacon of Durham by 1224.
Thomas de Corbridge, Archbishop of York, decided to spend the summer months in his residence at Laneham in July 1303 – to which he presumably travelled by water. However, while staying in the village he became ill and died on 22 September. He was known as a hard-working archbishop and was still handling his business until five days before his death. His body was taken to Southwell for burial, presumably again by water, with most of his final journey being via the Trent. There are old references to the remains of a moat from the palace, but these were apparently ploughed out in the 1970s.
Another known event in Laneham is one of the first legal cases involving a ‘carrier’, i.e. someone responsible for transporting another person or their goods. In 1346 William, a ferryman at Laneham, took a man named Richard, his horse and his goods across the river by ferry. However, he only took them part of the way, because William threw the horse and goods into the river. Possibly this might have been as the ferry was overloaded and they were all at risk of drowning (as in another case a couple of years later) but we know William’s conduct ‘inflicted other enormities to the grave damage and against the peace’. Damages to Richard’s property amounted to 40 marks.
Little is yet been found about Laneham having a role in civil administration, but it is known that at least one major 'trial' was held in the village. Thomas Hancock was the Puritan vicar of Headon from 1605 to 1623, arriving from Elkesley. In 1620 he was fined "6d for riot", at a special sessions in Laneham to try 26 people indicted for riotous assault. Hancock had something of a record for challenging the establishment, having also been one of the Puritan curates sheltered by the Brewsters at Scrooby in the 1690s when he had conducted the apparently illegal wedding of another cleric, Robert Southworth.
An old family history of the Markham family ('Markham Memorials vol 1' by Sir Clements Markham, 1913) sheds interesting light on the two Markhams who kneel facing the east in Laneham church, and have done so for hundreds of years.
At the front is Ellis Markham (c1515-1578) who was the grandson of a famous Lord Chief Justice. He had a career as an administrator, both with the Duchy of Lancaster based around Ripon and in the household of the Archbishop of York. In 1536 he was working for Archbishop Lee and played a minor role in organising matters during the Lincolnshire Rebellion against the policies of Henry VIII. But by 1547 he was described as being in the household of Queen Catherine Parr which would indicate strong Protestant leanings. He was elected an MP in 1555-7 but Markham achieved some notoriety when Mary I gave him the job of investigating the financial affairs of the disgraced Archbishop Holgate. He gathered in all sorts of treasure and finery at Cawood – to the extent that the next archbishop under Queen Elizabeth tried to sue him for damages.
Ellis Markham had two sons – Gervase and Jerome. The boys apparently went to school in Laneham, and then to Cambridge – Jerome arriving there at the age of 16 in 1576. However by the 1590s the Markhams were embroiled in a bitter dispute with a ruffian named George Noel, and Noel called the Markhams out for a duel.
This was at Edward Stanhope's house, probably at Shelford east of Nottingham – the Stanhopes were earls of Chesterfield eventually. Jerome accepted the challenge although Edmund Elvois said, 'Alas, Jerome is a very young man and without experience in any fray.' They went out into the fields and Noel attacked Jerome, breaking his sword; with his opponent defenceless, Noel proceeded to kill him in an act which many saw as murder. He was buried in Nottingham. Edmund Elvois may well have been the Askham man whose name was usually spelt 'Helwys' – and father of Thomas Helwys the Baptist pioneer who paid for the 'Pilgrims' to go to Holland. Noel was a braggart and a bully, with a whole string of local quarrels including with George Lassells at Sturton. Soon afterwards someone spoke up for Noel at a meeting in the archbishop's palace at Southwell, nearly causing another quarrel as the Markhams reacted angrily.
Jerome's brother Gervase lived on but he lived anything but a good life – with a reputation for seducing wenches and stockpiling treasure. Gervase had some success as a soldier and returned home to live mainly at Dunham on Trent. He was known to be the 'gallant' of the Countess of Shrewsbury, a term that was clearly meant to imply more than knightly devotion. He was described as 'a proper handsome gentleman, and of great courage.’
In 1616 Markham was involved in somewhat scandalous legal dispute with Lord Darcy, following an incident with the noble Lord's dog whilst they were both at a hunting event. After this he got involved in a dispute between Sir John Holles and the Stanhope family, as a result of which Holles accused him of 'lying like a villain.' Markham took this as a challenge to a duel, which he offered to fight in Worksop Park – territory of one of Holles' enemies, so Holles declined. Markham took this as a 'refusal'. However the two men met by chance in Sherwood Forect and Holles declared he would 'spoil' Markham; they duelled with rapiers, and Holles ran through Markham 'through the middle of the guts and up to the hilt, and out behind toward the small of the back.’
This incident almost led to full scale battle between Holles' men and those of Markham's friends, but Markham survived. Apparently he rashly swore to never eat supper or take the sacrament until he had gained revenge – but never did manage to! Despite his poor reputation, in 1625 Markham was Sheriff of Nottinghamshire with lands at Laneham and Dunham. While he was away from his home at Dunham one day, two youths who were reputed to be his 'bastards' robbed his house of property worth £5000 – at least £800,000 today. Perhaps to evade capture, the youths buried their treasure in Gamston Woods. In 1627, when he was elderly and bedridden, one of the Holles family ordered his home to be searched for a fugitive catholic priest. This was widely interpreted as the action of someone denouncing Markham for reasons of a grudge, and the vicar of Dunham certified that he had routinely attended his parish church.
He cannot have been that ill in 1625 as he was still alive in 1636, though living the life of a miser. He was spending £40 a year though his income from land was £800 and he had £40,000 in money – so a substantial millionaire in today's values. Markham had no family and refused to acknowledge any of his extramarital offspring, so spent it on no-one. Despite this he refused to pay the king's new tax, Ship Money, and was ordered to be arrested. The vicar had to certify that he was too ill to travel to London, reporting that he had taken communion in his bed for many years – so perhaps he had given up on his vengeance vow! He died in 1637, old and crippled, and was buried in Laneham church beneath an effigy of himself as a young and handsome man that had been there many years already – having been presumably commissioned by his father.
There also seem to have been a few Quakers in the village. In 1689 Gervase Harrison was prosecuted at the ecclesiastical court following an action by Richard Bradley, vicar of Laneham, for not paying the sum of 6d each for three communicants in his household. Harrison did not appear to answer the case and was committed to Nottingham Gaol for nine weeks, including two weeks in one of its nefarious dungeons.
In 1810 the church tower was rebuilt after being struck by lightning and four bells added at a cost of £800. According to a Church of England report at the time, efforts to raise funds for this locally failed 'as the parishioners are too poor.'
According to the Notts Guardian in 1865 there was a grave in the churchyard for James Penant, a blacksmith, who died on 27 May 1763, with the inscription:
- My tongs and hammer I’ve declined
- My bellows they have lost their wind
- My fires extinct my forge decayed
- And in the dust my vice is laid
- My coals are spent my iron gone
- My nails are drove my work is done.
Only a few parts of this text are still legible.
The poverty of Laneham’s former curate was reported in the news in 1842 when an income tax return was sent back from the village with the following verse attached:
- There’s nothing here but poverty,
- Scottish rags and hunger;
- If Sir Robert Peel has sent you here
- Surely it was in anger.
The writer was Rev. John Irvine, a Scottish man who had taken on the curacy of both Laneham and Rampton for the ‘shamefully small’ stipend of £50 a year. At that time it was quite common for a parish to have a vicar or rector – usually well-connected – who drew most of the income and then paid a small portion to a less well-connected clergyman to act as curate and do most of the work. After a year or two Irvine had to give up the role at Rampton (we do not know why) and was reduced to just the Laneham role for which he was paid 10 shillings (£0.50) a week – so his pay was little more than that of an agricultural labourer. When Laneham’s rector died, Irvine felt he had a strong claim on the senior position and petitioned the patron of the benefice, the Dean and Chapter of York, for the place – without success.
To make ends meet, Irvine was forced to open a parish school where he could charge parents for the education of their children, but clearly this produced only a small income for him.
Some of the vicars of Laneham were also interesting. In 1764 John Welch was "not able to do any duty, being a little insane". In 1842 Edmund Wallis died, having been vicar for 60 years; this perhaps explains some aspects of Irvine's story.
A few minor crimes have received press coverage giving an insight into Laneham life in the past. In 1839 two women ‘had words’ in the street and then took to blows in a ‘desperate encounter’, which ended with one at death’s door apparently. In 1843 at harvest the locals mixed with Irish itinerant workers in one of the village inns, but hostility was bubbling under the surface; Charles Parr, Thomas Lane and other local ‘ruffians’ were found ‘absolutely roasting’ a young Irish reaper on the fire of the inn until its landlord intervened.
In December 1768, a group of landowners from this part of Nottinghamshire asked the civil engineer John Grundy, Jr. to investigate the possibility of draining some 10 square miles (26 km2) of land on the west bank of the River Trent, stretching from Laneham to West Burton. He was accompanied by Samuel Goodhand, his clerk, on the initial site visit, and proposed three components to a solution. The first was a catchwater drain, which would intercept the streams flowing into the area at its western edge, and discharge into the Trent at West Burton. To prevent high water levels in the river flooding the land, he proposed a 7-mile (11 km) flood bank, which would run from Laneham to West Burton. Finally, rainwater would be collected by a Mother Drain and numerous side drains, which would discharge into the Trent through an outfall sluice at Sturton Cow Pasture.
The landowners liked the plans, asking Grundy to produce detailed proposals, and to supervise the obtaining of an Act of Parliament to authorise the work. Assisted by the surveyor George Kelk and a colleague called David Buffery, who checked the levels, he spent six weeks producing his plans, which he presented in February 1769. He estimated that 5,900 acres (2,400 ha) would be improved by the scheme, which would cost £2,700 for the catchwater drain, £6,800 for the bank along the river from Laneham to West Burton, £2,400 for the Mother Drain, with an additional £1,200 for the side drains, and £900 for the sluice at Sturton, making a total of £14,000. He spent most of March and April in London, to ensure the bill passed through Parliament, and received £329 for his work up to this point. A detailed plan of the area at a scale of 1:21,120 was published.
The Act appointed Drainage Commissioners, who met for the first time on 29 May 1769. Grundy became the engineer for the scheme, Buffery was the surveyor of works, and Kelk was the land surveyor. Grundy's plans for Sturton Sluice show a 12-foot (3.7 m) waterway. Brickwork and masonry were erected by local contractors, while the major excavations were handled by Dyson and Pinkerton. Grundy changed the plans somewhat, as he decided that a drainage mill would be needed at Sturton. This had a 15-foot (4.6 m) scoop wheel, and was completed in April 1770 by Henry Bennett from Spalding, at a cost of £458. The works were finished on time in May 1772, with the final cost amounting to around £15,000. Grundy visited the works at least seven times to ensure that his specifications were being met. The only known details of the scheme are preserved in Grundy's Report Books, which he spent the last few years of his life preparing. Running to 12 volumes and 4,000 pages, they were lost, but were re-discovered in the library at the University of Leeds in 1988. The Laneham Drainage scheme is covered in volumes 10 and 11.
The drainage mill which pumped water from the Mother Drain into the Trent was replaced by a 43 hp (32 kW) steam-powered beam engine in 1847. It had a larger scoop wheel, which was 26.5 feet (8.1 m) in diameter and 2.25 feet (0.69 m) wide. It was scrapped some time before 1937, and has been replaced by an Allen-Gwynnes 24-inch (61 cm) electric pump. With the passing of the Land Drainage Act 1930, most land drainage authorities were superseded by Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs), and the original scheme formed the central section of the Laneham IDB, who were responsible for 78.5 miles (126.3 km) of drains and ditches, which helped to prevent flooding of 22.9 square miles (59 km2) of low-lying land. They maintained 10 pumping stations, which included those at the end of the catchwater drain and the Mother Drain. In April 2012, they amalgamated with the Newark, Kingston Brook, and Fairham Brook internal drainage boards to become part of the Trent Valley IDB.
- Brown, Margery Ellen (1995). Aspects of Parliamentary Enclosure in Nottinghamshire (PDF). Proquest for UMI Dissertation Publishing.
- Charities (1828). Reports for Commissioners. House of Commons.
- Hinde, K. S. G. (2006). Fenland Pumping Engines. Landmark Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84306-188-5.
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- Thirsk, Joan; et al. (1991). The Agrarian History of England and Wales: 1348–1500. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-20074-5.
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- Historic England. "Manor Farmhouse, Laneham (409019)". Images of England.
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- "Laneham IDB – Summary details". Shire Group of IDBs. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- "Laneham IDB Biodiversity Action Plan" (PDF). Shire Group of IDBs. January 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- "History". Trent Valley IDB. Archived from the original on 11 August 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
Media related to Laneham at Wikimedia Commons