Scenes from Village life

In Saxon times, most of the parish was moorland: at the Domesday Survey, there were only 100 acres of the 1,430 acres under cultivation, one fishery and two mills to boast of, and 16 socmen, that is well-off farmers.

The land was developed during the Middle Ages, partly by'the Knights Templar, before they were suppressed in 1303, partly by the Lords of the Manor, such as the Pierreponts, and partly by the Knights Hospitaller of Jerusalem, who held land at Langford Moor, by the Fosse Way.

The Knights Templar and Hospitaller were crusading orders of Monks, set up originally to defend the Holy City of Jerusalem. For their support they were given large estates throughout Europe, and became very wealthy, as did the Church in general. This wealth proved irresistable to the State, so that Henry VIII, through Thomas Cromwell, took over the lands given for religious purposes and sold them on, or granted them to new institutions. In this way the Knights Hospitaller lost their land at Langford in 1552, when it was given to Henry Fynes, Lord Clinton; and the patronage of Langford Church, and income from tithes, was given to Trinity College Cambridge by Henry VIII when he set up his new College.

Meanwhile, we have tantalising glimpses of life in Langford during the late Middle Ages. In 1302, when Edward I was visiting Newark, some Gascon members of his party, who were no doubt the worse for drink, were charged with unspecified crimes at Langford: an early example of the benefits of sharing a government with France. Then, in 1325, a rather more home-grown crime surfaced in a case of one Richard Poye of Langford, accused of stealing 27 fleeces of wool in Newark from a cart belonging to Henry Warde. This was one of a large number of thefts involving fleeces at the time: the wool trade was the staple of this part of Nottinghamshire, as it was of Lincolnshire nearby.

On his arrival to take up the living of Langford in 1593, the parson found himself in the middle of a protracted conflict over land between a Mr. Philpott and Sir Francis Leake. In the course of this, 4 acres of land belonging to the parson had already been incorporated into the churchyard, and 2 oxgangs of land belonging to Mr. Philpott had seemingly disappeared. When things became tight for him, Sir Francis Leake, the Lord of the Manor, moved decisively, enclosed the land of the parish for sheep farming, "dispeopling" the village and greatly increasing his own income. Sheep farming was far more profitable than arable for the landowners. In all, Sir Francis extinguished 12 ploughs by making the enclosure: in other words, the livelihood of 12 farmers was reduced to nothing. This meant that the parson's arable land became valueless, and, to make matters worse, he was deprived of valuable meadows too in the course of the dispute.  Then, to cap it all, Sir Francis Leake sold the land to the Earl of Shrewsbury: a good example of asset-stripping combined with property development. Parson Stringer's complaint was that he was left without a means of livelihood and with no parishioners! Langford had disappeared, and all that remained of the village was the Church, which, at about this time lost its North aisle and side chapel.

Then, about 20 years later, a hunting lodge was built in the village.  This building still stands, and is known as The Manor. Evidently, there being no people, the wild life could flourish.

The village began to revive towards the end of the 17th Century, as we can see both from the church's rebuilding of 1684, and from the registers- of baptisms from 1689, of burials from 1701 and of marriages from 1703. The earlier register no doubt ceased in 1593 and was lost because it was not needed for a depopulated village. In 1743 there was a visitation return for Archbishop Herring of York, giving him a picture of the state of religion in the village.  There were 16 families, one of which was a Quaker family, though they had no Meeting House. There was no school, no charitable endowment and no Vicarage. The parish was looked after by a Curate, William Tomlinson, who had been admitted to the parish in 1726. There was one service a fortnight, which was an improvement on the previous one a month.  The Curate taught the children the catechism each year during Lent, and the Lord's Supper (Holy Communion), was celebrated four times a year, with 18 or 20 communicants.

In the Nineteenth Century, the Midland Railway laid its line through the village, which had between 125 and 150 inhabitants throughout the century. The Church was placed with Holme as a united benefice, a Perpetual Curate ministering to the combined settlements. The Curate was supported by 88 acres of Glebe, which, in 1844, for example, brought in L40 a year, and in 1922, L202. Then, in the 1920s, Trinity College Cambridge transferred the patronage of Langford with Holme to the Bishop of Southwell, whose responsibility it is to nominate a clergyman to the living. However, Trinity College Cambridge remains a major landowner in Langford, and is benefitting largely (1990) from the gravel extraction in the north of the parish.

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