Cropwell Bishop Streets: 17. Church Street — part 1 (23-10-20)
The names of some roads in Cropwell Bishop were not chosen by Councillors; they evolved from everyday conversations by people who used them when they were little more than dirt paths.
St Giles Church was built in 1215 and it must have been only natural for people to refer to a street next to it as Church Street.
So, no secrets to reveal about name of the street but lots to tell about the buildings — past and present, that line it.
Let's explore it, starting at The Turn.
The space in front of the Church, where Church Street, Nottingham Road and Fern Road meet, was for centuries called The Turn.
Look at this photograph taken in the 1920s and you will see why. There was a grassy roundabout where horse-drawn carts, and then carriages and bicycles could easily turn around.
The name stuck, even after the roundabout was replaced with tarmac and the pavement in front of the church wall was extended. Whilst the name is less well known nowadays, there is no better one for this spot.
It is interesting to compare photographs of Church Street taken from The Turn. Compare the one above with the others taken at later dates.
Inspect the vehicles, the pavement on the right-hand side, the number of telegraph poles (and wires), the gap after the cottage on the left, the telephone box, and the power lines.
In 2018, The Turn was as crowded as it has probably ever been when the Tour of Britain cycle race swept through Cropwell Bishop for the first time ever.
The Turn to the Postbox
The white cottage at The Turn is well over 200 years old.
The house next to it, No.5, is a modern home. It replaced the old cottage that was still standing in 1970: it can be seen in the photograph of the Easter Parade in 1919.
After the twitchel or, to use its old name, Little Lane, stands Ebenezer House which was built for Sam Heasleden in 1904. He was the founder of the Heaselden Company that employed over 80 men to mine gypsum in the village during the first half of the 20th Century.
The house was built on the foundations of the previous building, Fillingham Farmhouse which, in later years, became Shelton Farmhouse.
Some of the farm buildings were left standing and remained a colourful view in summer until their demolition for the building of Stackyard Close in 2018.
The demolition of Fillingham/Shelton Farmhouse was accompanied by the demolition of Cropwell Bishop's original Post Office.
The small white thatched cottage stood in, what is now, the front garden of Ebenezer House. The path on its left still exists – it is the twitchel, Little Lane.
The Postbox to Stackyard Close
Where the bus stop, phone box and postbox stand was, until fairly recently, one of the busiest spots in the village.
At that time, the bus service to Nottingham was regular and reliable and the phone box had a phone. Beside it was The Cabin (a newsagent, general store and post office) where, it seemed, everyone called in at least once a day.
During 50 years, I think only four different teams ran the shop – with the help of local part-timers and paper-boys and girls.
It started with Ken and Enid, followed by Lesley and Norman, Michelle Woodward, and, lastly, Chantelle and Mark — who still provide a newspaper delivery service to Cropwell Bishop and local villages.
Before The Cabin was built in the 1970s, the Post Office was on Nottingham Road at The Turn. The site where The Cabin would be built, was occupied by other businesses.
There was a fish & chip shop: it was next to the post box and you had to climb steps to its door. In years to come, it become part of The Cabin and was used for the sale of cards, stationery and diy items.
As well as the fish & chip shop, there was a black hut. We don't know its original purpose but at one time it was a Barbers, run by a Benny Snowden.
Then it became a shoe Repair Shop as well as a hairdresser. A man named Ernie Parnham did the shoe repairs and his father did haircuts.
In 2019 Stackyard Close was completed. The phonebox remains as a reference point for comparing the view with old photographs.
In the 1970s, the building across the road from The Cabin was the Mace grocery store.
In those days it was run by Val and Wilf Bellamy. In the distant past is was run by other families and, long ago, by a John Eastwood. Below is a photo which shows his shop in the background.
This building is still there but is now a family home.
On its right is an old house that has been greatly modified in recent decades. At one time it was called The Homestead, and then Hyson Cottage.
On its right, effectively in the churchyard, is the building we now call the Parish School Room. This building was the first school for village children. Built in 1850, it was then called the National School.
At that time, education was not compulsory and many poor children would leave school as soon as they were able to work — at 10 or 12 years of age.
Attendance declined for another reason; the Vicar at that time kept an eye on the curriculum while many local people felt the school should be non-denominational.
In 1875 the school closed but in 1878 children had a big, new school to go to on Fern Road. We now refer to that one as The Old School. Its history is described in the Parkin Close Street Story.
The Parish School Room is now used by the Cropwell Bishop Heritage Group.
Views from the Church Tower
Over the years, photographers have made use of the tower of St Giles Church to capture views of the village. In the photos here, we can see the changes that have occurred on Church Street during the last 80 years.
If only cameras had been invented 800 years ago, we would now have an even more complete history of the street.
I wonder if any artists sketched or painted the scene in earlier times. Could a drawing be hidden in the attic of a Cropwell Bishop cottage.
Stackyard Close to St Giles Way
An earlier Street Story on Stackyard Close described how the Cart Shed came to be built and the high quality of its brickwork, even after 130 years, does not look out of place beside new buildings.
After the Cart Shed is a narrow lane at 90° to the road.
The houses are numbered from 19 to 13, with number 19 being the first one. They are all Church Street homes but the top one, number 13, has presented delivery people with a problem ever since Stackyard Close was built.
Full access to number 13 had long been via the old stackyard but this stopped when building began. Fortunately, the home can be accessed from St Giles Way but this has resulted in the house having a number plate on St Giles Way stating, "13 Church Street". Imagine the problems for delivery people!
The owner of the village slaughter house once lived at number 17 and adjacent to it was the slaughter house itself. It doesn't look like one nowadays.
Here are some pictures of the cottages long ago.
Back to the road and we come to two semi-detached houses, 21 and 23 Church Street.
The building looked quite different about 30 years ago: it had a flat roof. You can see it in the 1940 photos taken from the church tower.
Number 21 was once occupied by Tom Simpson who was a baker and a member of the Simpson family that ran the Corn Merchants, 'H, Simpson & Son', further down the road.
Church Street is not a long road but as one of the four ancient roads in Cropwell Bishop is has a lot of history. In this article we have only covered about 50m of its length: the next one will continue its story.
Note: Thanks to Anne Terzza, Pam Barlow and Lynda Hatton for their help with this article.