As one draft is almost complete for the moment, it’s time to return to the outstanding research items for my Nottinghamshire short novel- or novella, dependent upon it’s finished length.
As the story is set around an old manor house with a village estate belonging to it (in 1802), I’ve been reading up on Nottinghamshire villages.
I bought J B Firth’s Highways and Byways in Nottinghamshire a few years ago from one of the second-hand and old book stalls at the annual Lowdham Book Festival final Saturday.
It’s one of a series of books written by assorted authors during the first half of the 20th century, and the illustrations capture buildings and locations that had changed little over the previous century.
I’m within travelling distance of an old village which features in the Nottinghamshire edition and I’ve used as the basic plan for the village in my story.
Looking at late 19th century images of this village it’s possible to pick out individual buildings that have survived and been updated, while the once open spaces in the pictures were eventually filled with houses.
While the church, now protected behind flood banking, once had a gentle sloping bank down to the river; and along with a gazebo- that on one occasion acted as a mortuary after a ferry accident and passengers drowned- still exists.
At one time there would have been a clear view toward the town of Nottingham over the “commonable land” and it was like that until 1845 with the railway, and the need for space generally.
While my fictional village will be further into the countryside, there will still be the connection with the river.
In the 1801 census Nottingham exceeded 28,000, so it was a large town, but didn’t gain city status until 1897.
The South Prospect of Nottingham, with the Castle, etc. About 1750.
If you walk along the river bank you can still see Nottingham Castle perched high on its rock, though now the remaining skyline is obscured by buildings…
Source: Highways and Byways in Nottinghamshire by J B Firth, with illustrations by Frederick L Griggs, A.R.A. MacMillan and Co, Limited St Martin’s Street, London. 1924.