Wel­low, in Not­ting­hamshire, has its share of su­perla­tives – and in­ter­est­ing prices

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Heritage - Clive Aslet

North Not­ting­hamshire is not, on the whole, a place of pretty vil­lages. This used to be a land so rich in great coun­try houses that it be­came known as the Duk­eries. There are not many Dukes around now.

Hav­ing grown rich in the 19th cen­tury from the coal that lay on their es­tates, orig­i­nally hewn from Sher­wood For­est, the noble fam­i­lies took wing in the 20th. Charles Barry’s pala­tial Clum­ber Park was de­mol­ished in 1938, caus­ing Pevs­ner to ob­serve: “The 20th cen­tury has few wealthy men with the in­cli­na­tion or means to go on with them.’’ (How dif­fer­ent things look in the new age of oli­garchs and bil­lion­aires.)

Slag heaps and min­ing vil­lages were in­ter­spersed with beau­ti­ful but house­less parks and rem­nants of old for­est. Now the slag heaps have been flat­tened, and you wouldn’t know that this stretch of the coun­try had been any­thing but farm­land.

Wel­low fits com­fort­ably into the new land­scape. It has al­ways been a coun­try vil­lage, boast­ing the tallest may­pole in Bri­tain. Ac­cord­ing to the vil­lage web­site, Wel­low was founded by the Cis­ter­cians, who came to Ruf­ford Abbey in the 12th cen­tury (Ruf­ford be­came the seat of the Sav­ile fam­ily; half of it was pulled down in 1959). Want­ing seclu­sion, they dis­placed the ex­ist­ing vil­lage. Per­haps the monks gave them a hand build­ing the church of St Swithin, the ear­li­est parts of which be­long to that time.

Sher­wood For­est would be­come fa­mous for the out­laws who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. The vil­lagers of Wel­low didn’t take any chances with them, build­ing a de­fen­sive ditch and bank around their set­tle­ment – Ge­orge Dyke – which can still be walked.

In the cen­tre of the vil­lage is a tri­an­gu­lar green. The Prim­i­tive Methodists built a chapel on it in 1847, in a har­mo­niously Ge­or­gian style. Ear­lier in the decade, the tofthold­ers, who had the right to graze their an­i­mals on com­mon land, con­structed a stone-walled pound. This was the “pin­fold”, in which a man called the Pin­ner kept any horse, sheep or cow which had strayed onto the com­mons with­out author­ity un­til a fine was paid. The tofthold­ers were jeal­ous of their rights; as a re­sult, Wel­low – un­like many vil­lages – has kept 40 acres of com­mon, sec­ond only to South­well as the largest com­mon-land acreage north of Wat­ford.

Wel­low also has, in Wel­low Park, “the largest re­main­ing ex­am­ple of ash-wych elm wood­land in Not­ting­hamshire,’’ ac­cord­ing to the des­ig­na­tion. Next to it are the earth­works of Jor­dan’s Cas­tle, which may be Norman.

Most of Wel­low is brick, with tiled or pan­tiled roofs. A few build­ings, like the Red Lion – one of two pubs – have painted them­selves white; a cou­ple of houses show signs of half tim­ber. Two cot­tages by the green are now for sale through Gas­goines (01623 860328), at £399,950 and £375,000.

Smith and Part­ners, South­well, can of­fer a mod­ern chalet for £345,000. The for­mer brew­house at Ruf­ford Abbey, now a fourbed­room house, is on the mar­ket with Richard Watkin­son and Part­ners (01623 626990) for £695,000. For this you will also get the for­mer Pad­dle House, where the beer was pad­dled, and a watertower in the Tus­can style, which orig­i­nally pro­vided a head of wa­ter for the foun­tain (it is de­scribed as hav­ing “fur­ther po­ten­tial’’– an ex­cit­ing space for peo­ple who like stairs).

Prop­er­ties in the once stu­pen­dously grand Duk­eries are now, by na­tional stan­dards, go­ing cheap. Look­ing around, I’m struck by the value that you can find in some of the farm­houses – £460,000 for a six-bed­room, Grade II-listed ex­am­ple at Eakring (Richard Watkin­son and Part­ners); £390,000 for an at­trac­tive four-bed­room one at Kneesall (Hum­berts, Ne­wark: 01636 701401); £325,000 for a Welshlook­ing Vic­to­rian one at Boughton (Ian Sandy, Ne­wark; 0844 805 5434). When you think that Lon­don is only 80 min­utes away from Ne­wark or Ret­ford sta­tions, th­ese are in­ter­est­ing prices.

It isn’t easy to push the boat out, but one of the pricier prop­er­ties around is Inker­sall Cot­tage, hid­den away in Sher­wood For­est. The con­verted stable block con­tains a heated swim­ming pool. It could be yours for £795,000 through Charles and Co. in South­well (01636 812525). For the full monty, you might need to look nearer Ne­wark. The Manor at East Markham has gar­dens, pony pad­docks, mar­ble bath­rooms, any num­ber of beams and an ask­ing price of £1.35 mil­lion (Sav­ills, Not­ting­ham: 015 934 8000).

Clive Aslet is Ed­i­tor at Large of Coun­try Life.

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