The first visit arranged by the recently established Building Recording Group (known colloquially as RUBL - Recording & Understanding the Buildings of Lincolnshire) was to Norwell led by Norwell resident Professor Michael Jones who has lived in the village since 1980 and with his group has produced a brilliant series of local history books.
We were greeted by his wife Elizabeth with coffee and biscuits in the parish church of St. Lawrence where Professor Jones gave an introduction to the village emphasising that the parish had been owned by the church and later the Church Commissioners for a 1,000 years and was only sold in the 1950s.
The church’s conservative approach meant that there was little development, even enclosure was late in the 1830s. Laxton the adjacent parish was never enclosed.. Outside the trees were in fine autumn colour.
Our first visits were to Greasley and Pitchfork Cottages where we had friendly welcomes from the owners as we did at each of our visits. RUBL has many members with detailed knowledge of timber-framed buildings so there was plenty of discussion and interpretation of the surviving timbers.
These buildings have been dated by English Heritage to probably mid C16 and have been drawn by the local group but there has been no detailed interpretation. There are parallels here with the findings of the RUBL Trent Valley survey.
Our next stop was at The Old House with its earliest date of 1494. Some timbers are still in situ but most of the upstairs timbers were re-used in the C17 reconstruction.
Outside is an old timber fingerpost by what was the village green but now is a road junction. On the junction is a Methodist chapel with an 1841 date stone but this is when the Wesleyan’s took it over. It was built in 1821.
By now it was lunchtime and we retraced our steps to Parr’s Cottage, c1800, where Mrs Jones had prepared a gourmet buffet. On the way we stopped to look across what once had been open fields but still with remnants of ridge and furrow cultivation.
After lunch our first visit was to School Road to see the evolution of schools in the village. The oldest is the endowed school from 1727, now a private house. Next door is the 1872 National School in need of TLC. Opposite is the 1960s Nottinghamshire County Council replacement.
Nearby is the Old Farmhouse with a dendro date of 1362. Two bays of the original building survive. We interpreted the C18 and C19 extensions as rebuilds of earlier end bays which means that the original building had four bays.
Back on the main road we had a brief stop to look at c. C18 farm buildings at Bay Tree Cottage. Nearby is the Auld Cottage dated to 1512 but not listed. It has no electricity or running water. The village would like to buy it and turn it into a heritage centre.
After a brief stop to look at the 1830 pinfold, which unusually was built after enclosure, we continued to Palishall. This site has been occupied from at least 1215 and possibly earlier. The building seems to have originated as a tower house, now two stories but possibly originally three. A medieval hall of two stories abutts it. It fell into serious disrepair and has recently been restored by the current owners. This impressive building with its large garden and extensive grounds was an ideal end to an excellent day.
RUBL’s next visit will be to Southwell on Saturday 16 April.