16 June 2021

Tuxford

Cottage in East Markham

Tuxford is a small market town in Nottinghamshire. It is between two larger towns  - Worksop and Newark. Tuxford still sits astride "The Great North Road" but nowadays the settlement is bisected by the A1 motorway. 

In days gone by, The Great North Road provided the main travel link between London and the north of England. In the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries if you wished to go north or south you travelled by stagecoach. Along the way there were several places like Tuxford that provided accommodation, refreshment and more importantly fresh teams of horses and stabling. All of this was of course before railways arrived on the scene.

Ornate signpost in Tuxford

If you look carefully you can still see signs of that old stagecoaching legacy - in the wide main street and in the buildings that hug it. You may choose to close your eyes and listen to the distant thunder of horses' hooves and the cracking of whips. On a good run, it took over three days to travel from London to York.

On yet another hot June day, I parked near Tuxford Primary School where some council workmen were adding flowers to the front borders. With boots on I set off to visit the town's  Grade  I listed church. The door to St Nicholas's was open so I ventured inside. During this bloody pandemic nearly every church has been locked so it was a surprise to find this one open.

Countryside north of Marnham Road

Mr Knowall, the church warden, was inside and he engaged me in a conversation. He asked me where I was heading and I said I was going north to East Markham. "You'll have trouble doing that because it's east of here!" he chortled so I got out my map to wipe the smile from his face. He also boasted about the town's senior "academy" saying it catered for over six thousand pupils when in fact it serves just over one thousand five hundred. There were other blatant gaffes and I was glad to say goodbye to Mr Knowall.

I walked steadily across the undulating Notts landscape for four hours, pausing only once to sit for ten minutes upon a stile near Gibraltar Farm to drink water and consume my meagre lunch of a packet of plain crisps and a couple of small apples.  You may or may not  be pleased to learn that I had no encounters with beds of nettles nor inquisitive cattle.  It felt good to be alive and out there again - simply walking, one foot in front of the other...

Two Grade I listed churches - within a mile of each other

St John the Baptist Church, East Markham

St Nicholas's Church, Tuxford

35 comments:

  1. If there are cows who read your blog, they've certainly gotten their feelings hurt. Probably the next time you meet them, you'll be soundly snubbed.

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    1. I don not mind being snubbed by cows - as long as they don't trample me to death Debby!

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  2. Is Mr Knowall also the Tuxford Mine of Information?

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    1. If he is there's a lot of iron pyrites down there!

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  3. Your pair of churches are terribly attractive.

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    1. England is blessed with churches. However, church congregations continue to dwindle so some simply cannot survive.

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  4. Tuxford sure has the look of an old stagecoach stop from that photo. Mr. Knowall sure does know all about the area, or thinks he does anyway!

    Good to know that things are reopening in your area. Many folks in the southern US made an awful fuss about churches not being open during the pandemic. Not surprisingly, those states are lagging behind the north in terms of vax rates and stopping the spread of covid. (I'll keep my comments about the "pro-life" crowd to myself :P)

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    1. I am pro-life myself but not necessarily in relation to unwanted pregnancies. It's a woman's right to choose.

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  5. Love reading about your walks and your pictures.

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    1. Thanks for joining me Ed. Next time please bring along some ice cold cans of "Schlitz" beer.

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  6. I am so glad you only encountered the Church Warden with his "information". The cows,sheep and nettles were safely avoided. It looks so beautiful and I am glad you were able to go walking once again.

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    1. It was a lovely, peaceful walk - at one with my thoughts and the rhythm of my footsteps.

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  7. Nice post about a nice walk, Mr. P.!
    Mr. Knowall (we would say Mr. Knowitall) sounds like a jerk. There's one in every church, eh?
    I wonder how many generations of craftsmen it took to build one church? The English did not take their church building lightly, did they?
    And I have to comment on the lamp post- I am not sure I've ever seen a more intricate one.

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    1. Most village churches evolved over centuries so hundreds of craftsmen and stone masons would have been involved in that evolution. Nowadays church attendance is so very shrunken down that many churchs have had to lock their doors - probably for good.

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  8. I had to look up what grade 1 listed buildings meant, old. The churches are beautiful. I'm not a church goer but I do love visiting old churches. Looks like a lovely place for a walk.

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    1. Just being "old" does not earn a church a Grade I listing Pixie Lily. It has to be of special merit.

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  9. "London to York". Dick Turpin probably sung that riding on Black Bess.

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  10. You do get to visit some lovely places on your perambulations YP. How did you know the church warden's name?

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  11. What, no belligerent cows!
    As always excellent photos YP, and I particularly love the cottage in the first photo - it looks picture postcard perfect. Tuxford looks a nice little town and the sign post is something unique - were you able to find out any history about it?
    I'm so glad you put Mr Knowall firmly in his place, people like that are always so insistent that they pass on their totally useless misinformation.

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    1. Sorry Carol. I know nothing of the signpost. I should have asked Mr Knowall.

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  12. The Great North Road engaged my attention as a boy, engrossed in a novel borrowed from our branch library.

    I travelled the old road again, vicariously, in A Dance to the Music of Time.
    Anthony Powell's pre-War, pre-motorway England is as good as Kipling's India.
    And the Great North Road was a feature in every travelling salesman's life.

    Mr Knowall, the church warden, could be a character out of The Pilgrim's Progress.
    John Bunyan wrote a terrifying book about Hell (The Death of Mr Badman) republished in paperback by Hesperus. The cover has a photo of a bluebottle.

    Bunyan was a working-class tinker and wrote prose as elegant as Powell's.
    He is best read out loud to your cat or dog, for they will have the advantage of knowing no terror as the gates of Hell clang shut on Mr Badman, for all eternity.
    Haggerty
    P.S. Heavenly photo, North of Markham.

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    1. Thank you John. Was Bunyan a "tinker" or a "thinker"?

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    2. Bunyan (1628-1688) was schooled to literacy in his Bedfordshire village, but seems to have worked as a repairer of pots and pans, hence the designation tinker, or travelling pots-man.

      Bunyan was an imaginative thinker, like the visionary William Blake, but he was not one to engage in open theological discourse, and his epistemology was tied to hyper-Calvinism. Blake's theology is heterodox, and the Blakean universe is forgiving, unlike Bunyan's hellfire.

      Lorna Sage compared F.R. Leavis's appearance to a gasman who had read Bunyan; and Leavis believed there had been a rich oral culture in the 17th Century, which enabled Bunyan to write so well.
      Decades ago the Marxist historian Christopher Hill wrote a wonderful book,
      *A Turbulent, Seditious and Factious People: John Bunyan and his Church*.

      Hill, an atheist, said he was grateful to the Banner of Truth for enabling him to read so many of the Puritans, which the Banner reprinted when no other Christian publisher would touch them.
      Bunyan was a Puritan as much as John Owen and Richard Baxter, writers who can be enjoyed by atheists like Christopher Hill.
      *The Life and Death of Mr Badman* is written in a clear, startling and rhythmic prose, which sometimes reminds me of Samuel Beckett.

      Remember, Bunyan fought in Cromwell's army during the English Civil War, and he describes how a demonic spirit of cursing (picked up as a soldier) frequently seized him even after his conversion.
      Bunyan is a penetrating psychologist as can be seen in The Pilgrim's Progress, as well as his less famous book, Grace Abounding.
      And he has a sharp and delicious wit. He knew types like Mr Knowall, the church warden of St Nicholas.
      Haggerty

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  13. Never ceases to amaze me the effort and energy (and money ) that was put into building churches - by today's standards would be regarded as immoral in many ways. And yet, we have these magnificent buildings as a legacy. My own favourite are the simplest of little chapels - of which h there are many in Wales.

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    1. It amazes me that so often church builders sourced the stone they required from many miles away.

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  14. I really hate running into Knowalls. It's hard to get rid of them. I would assume that the churches are no longer used.

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    1. Oh no Red. Both of these churches have reasonable congregations.

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  15. I wonder what kind of a nick name Mr Know all might have given you?

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    1. Possibly Mr Yorkshire Pudding as he learnt that I live in Sheffield.

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  16. The best kind of walk, isn't it, when you are one with your thoughts and you simply enjoy putting one foot in front of the other. I know I will be able to do such walks again, too, just not now - I need patience more than anything at the moment, not overdoing things as soon as I feel better.

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  17. Lucky you had your map! I told a friend that I would be coming south to visit him, and he said, "Margaret, actually, I live almost directly west of you." Because I have to drive around Puget Sound, I go south, then west then meander north. (which apparently I wasn't aware of) I'm thankful for GPS.

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  18. Been to Tuxford once to a farm auction a couple of years ago, theres some money there it had the cheapest posh charity shop ive visited...lol

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