Friday, 26 February 2016

Granby & Sutton Cum Granby

Granby Lodge with Redmile Church in the distance.


Granby and Sutton cum Granby are attractive villages which enjoy impressive views across the Vale of Belvoir towards the Castle.  Today the area has a population of about 300 people and very few amenities but it was once a busy market place.

Granby village
In Victorian times Granby had the large Church of All Saints, a Methodist chapel, two mills, a village school, a blacksmith forge, a post office, a dairy, a number of farmhouses and two pubs.  Well, the church is still here, and one of the pubs, but the mills have long gone, the school is now the Village Hall and the other buildings have been converted into cosy residential properties.  There is old village water pump in the middle of a small village green; the roads twist round in circles or suddenly stop altogether and everything is beautifully neat and tidy  .... no wonder they keep doing so well in the Best Kept Village Award.

Best Kept Village 2015 Award
Between Granby church and the old chapel is the wonderfully named Dragon Street .....

Dragon on the old Methodist Chapel overlooking Dragon Street
..... and on Dragon Street you find the aptly named Marquis of Granby public house.

The Marquis of Granby
The Marquis of Granby is the title used by the eldest sons of the Dukes of Rutland who have lived at Belvoir Castle for over 900 years.  The Marquis referred to in the pub name was John Manners (1721 - 1770) eldest son of the 3rd Duke.  Rather amazingly he was educated at Eton and left in 1732 ..... aged 11 .... then he graduated from Trinity College Cambridge in 1738 ..... and people complain about the state of education today!   He was returned as Member of Parliament for Grantham in 1741.... he didn't bother with any election campaigning and unfortunately he was unable to attend the parliamentary debates because he was in Europe at the time!  He went on a Grand Tour in 1740 and returned home in 1742!  Indeed, in the whole parliamentary session for that Government he only attended one sitting in the House! In these early years he gained a reputation as a gambler and a racing man with heavy debts to his name: King George II once described him as ‘a sot, a bully, that does nothing but drink and quarrel, a brute’ and yet the Marquis was to become one of the most well loved soldiers of his generation.  He was one of the first officers to understand the importance of morale in the army.  He took a real interest in his men and their welfare, even ensuring injured men were well cared for after their active service.  It has been said there are a record number of pubs named after him because he helped set up his ex servicemen as pub landlords. The public house at Granby dates back to the 1700s and is believed to be the first of that name.

King George eventually changed his poor opinion of the Marquis after the latter achieved success in his military career.  Because of  his courage and tactical skills he was recognised as a real British military hero.  At the Battle of Warburg his men faced an army with three times their number of troops but the Marquis out-manoeuvred the enemy and led his men to victory.  His opponent (the Duc of Broglie) was so impressed he commissioned Sir Joshua Reynolds to paint a portrait of the Marquis!

This famous portrait shows him as pilgarlic (bald headed ... I have always wanted to use that word!).  Famously, in the chaos of battle, the Marquis lost his wig and hat subsequently forcing him to salute his commanding officer with his bald head uncovered.  The British Army still has a tradition in force today that non-commissioned officers of the Royal Horse Guard (his regiment) are allowed to salute superiors without wearing headgear.


The Marquis died in 1770, nine years before his father so he never became the Duke of Rutland.

Village sign
This small pub (it has two rooms) has a reputation for serving good ale.  It is a Brewster pub: a brewery set up by Sara Barton in 1998 (Brewster is an Old English word for a female brewer). Her highly regarded craft beers have picked up several Gold Medals since then.

The other village pub, The Boot & Shoe, has recently closed down and the land purchased by housing developers.

The oldest cottage in the village bares a date stone for 1752:

Date stone for 1762
But the oldest building in the village is All Saints Church:

Church of All Saints
The Domesday Book lists Granby as having a church and a priest but in 1812 a Roman altar was discovered buried in the churchyard which suggests this was a place of worship long before the Conquest.

Stained glass




Inside the church is rather plain.  There is a modern stained glass window over the altar (2002); the 19th century font sits on top of the 14th century font it replaced; the altar rail and the oak pulpit date back to the 1600s and there are two piscinas.  Nothing unusual there then.  The pews are interesting though.  Each has an intricate carving on top.  There is a mermaid and a merman, male figures holding shields, angels and grotesque animals.  They were carved about 1440.






Grotesque animal pew carving dating back to 1440

Abigail Frost tomb stone
The stone memorials are also interesting.  One is placed in front of the altar and is in memory of Abigail Frost who died in 1749.  She was the sister of Thomas Secker.  Who? I hear you ask ... exactly! We met Thomas Secker at Sibthorpe where he was born ... he grew up to be the Archbishop of Canterbury who christened, confirmed, married and crowned King George III but unlike Thomas Cranmer people in Notts barely know about him!



Outside are a large number of slate gravestones by good old Sparrow and Wood.  They are as beautiful now as they were in the 1700s when they were carved.  One family group shows Richard Fawkes died in 1721: his son Thomas, aged 26, was to follow him in 1722: a daughter, Elizabeth, also 26, and her brother Richard, just 22, both died in 1724. Nearby a small stone tells of two Fawkes infants who were buried in 1726 and 1727. The sadness stretches across the years.

Belvoir Angel on a slate gravestone from the 1700s
There is a brass plague in the church informing us that Elizabeth Blaggers left money for the benefit of the poor and for the upkeep of her family graves. Her father's name was William Flower.  Now I have no proof of any connection other than this surname but the "Belvoir Witches" from just down the road were also called Flower.

This is a terrible tale of a miscarriage of justice .... obviously, since we now understand there are no such thing as witches, but in the time of King James I people truely believed in witchcraft.  It was the summer of 1612 when King James was visiting the Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle. Joan Flowers (a local herbal healer from Bottesford) and her two daughters were employed as extra kitchen staff.  The women were not well liked and arguments soon broke out between them and other workers.  When some items went missing the Flowers were dismissed.  Unfortunately for them they didn't go quietly and a few unpleasant words and curses were swopped.

A sickness bug spread through the castle soon after the King's visit and one of the Duke's sons failed to fully recover from it.  He died in September 1613.

It was 1619 when another sickness bug carried off the second son and Joan and her daughters were arrested for causing the deaths through witchcraft.  Joan asked for Holy Communion to prove her innocence .... as surely an evil witch would be unable to take Communion. Tragically she choked on the bread and died! Her daughters didn't stand a chance after that!  They were hanged at Lincoln.

Now that could be the end of the matter but for one small detail ... King James I brought a 'special companion' with him on that visit, George Villiers.  Although George was very attractive he was not very wealthy.  The death of the Duke's sons meant his daughter Katherine was the sole heir to the Rutland fortune.  Guess who married Katherine in 1620! Had he witnessed the Flowers being dismissed then poisoned the Rutlands?  Could he have returned to finish the job years later?  We will never know.

Well, anyway ... back to Granby!!

The older properties are all well maintained but this has not always been the case ....1808 to 1827 the vicars all lived out of the village "due to the unfitness of the vicarage".  Surely the beautiful old rectory across from the church must be a different building.

Granby
 Just down the road is Sutton cum Granby.

Roads to every where
The Domesday Book lists the Church of St Ethelburger as being in Sutton but there is no sign of it today and some historians believe it never was here .... the Ethelburger Priory (a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of worshippers each year) was situated a short distance away near Langar so it is thought there may have been a mistake.

There was a Methodist chapel here but it has been converted into a house. Obviously at one time there was a large number of Methodists in this area as Granby also had a chapel.  It makes you wonder how the pubs stayed in business with such a small population!

Old Methodist Chapel, Sutton
In 1520 Sutton was owned by Sir John Savage of Cheshire.  The Savages were an incredibly wealthy and influencial family from Chesire.  It was a Sir John Savage who lead part of Henry Tudor's army at the Battle of Bosworth.  A few years later his son, also named John Savage, played an important part in the Battle of Flodden Fields; a battle which cost him many close friends and relatives.  Soon after that he and his eldest son became embroiled in a dispute with a member of the Pauncefote family.  Swords were drawn and Pauncefote died.  Sir John and his son were arrested and imprisoned in the Tower under sentence of death.  After some months, and with the support of Cardinal Wolsey, the two men were released but they had to pay a heavy fine and they were exiled from their home in Cheshire.  In order to pay the fine of 400 marks the Savages sold Sutton to Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland.  Sir John died seven year later never having returned to his beloved residence at Clifton.

Barn
Sutton also has a village pump in the middle of a village green:

Sutton water pump
And here is an usual sight for an English village:

US mail box
Until 1879 a mill used to stand in the fields between Sutton and Granby (across the road from Grange Farm).  It had been built on the site of a large moated house (which a Victorian historian described as a castle).  We went looking for signs of either buildings but found only a few willow trees where the moat used to be.  

Street sign

With regards to the pub tally, this is our 25th village and here we have only the seventh pub (that's seven currently open).  The Marquis of Granby is one of the finest.  One village has a pub closed due to a fire and one has had its pub converted into an Indian/Italian restaurant while the remaining sixteen are all pub-less.  Even so it was only a matter of a few months ago that there was a choice of pubs here.  Sadly the Boot and Shoe has gone the way of so many public houses in recent times.


Cheers!

Brewsters Ale


Map of Granby: click here.