Cropwell Bishop Streets: 39. Smiths Close

Smiths Close

Smiths Close is one of the smallest streets amongst those built during the village building-boom of the 1970s. It differs in other ways too.

When Wimpey began building the second phase of estate building (after the Bells Estate was built), St Giles Way was the entrance to it.

The show houses were at the top end of St Giles Way and the Wimpey site office and storage area was on the left-hand side – where Smiths Close now is. Consequently, the houses on Smiths Close were not built until the site office and stores were taken down – which wasn't until all the other homes on that side of the estate had been completed.

Even then, the Close did not have the houses that it has now. The far end was a grassy area with a few trees and there was a wooden bungalow still standing from decades earlier.

In the right-hand corner was the brick bungalow that was also there before Wimpey began building.

Smiths Close
The far end of Smiths Close in 1997
1970s end of Smiths Close
In this view from the church tower in 1970, the wooden bungalow at the foot of Smiths Close can be seen behind the tree branches on the right-hand side. Also, the brick bungalow just beyond it.

It was in 1999 that new homes were built in place of the wooden bungalow, trees and grass.

Smiths Close
New houses being built at the end of Smiths Close in 1999

So we know the history of homes on Smiths Way, but now we need to find out how it got its name.

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The Smiths

Notice that, in the street name, Smith is plural, which is a relief, because there is no shortage of candidates for the street name.

As usual, my first step was to look at the 1804 Enclosure map because that is what parish councillors repeatedly did when they had to choose a street name.

Smith 1804 landowners
This version of the 1804 Enclosure map shows which fields were owned by Smiths: Henry's are coloured purple, John's green and Richard's (that is what the R stands for) yellow.

Of all the names on the map, there are three with the name Smith: Henry Smith, John Smith and R. Smith (first name, Richard, as revealed in the map’s accompanying documents).

First, we need to discover which, if any, of these Smiths might have inspired our councillors to name a street after them.

Henry Smith had the most land of the three, 48 aces, but my research reveals that no Henry Smith lived in Cropwell Bishop at that time, although Cotgrave and Cropwell Butler had, between them, three Henry Smith’s. I decided to drop him from my considerations because the other two Smiths were well established Cropwell Bishop men, so far more likely candidates.

In spite of Smith being a very common name in England, only one Smith family appears to have lived here at that time — or, at least, was the dominant one.

To avoid confusion, we must consult the family tree to see where John and Richard Smith fit into the picture. We need to examine it with care, because the Smiths made repeated use of Richard and John when naming their babies.

Starting at the top, the ‘father’ of this sector of the Smith family tree is the Richard Smith born in 1726 and married to Ann Morris.

Richard was the village baker and owned the corn mill so an interesting character, no doubt. However, he did not own any of the land on the Enclosure map because he died two years before its publication.

Richard and Ann had five children. Eldest son, John Smith, inherited the farming business, second son, William, the corn-milling business and Richard (junior) the bakery business. His daughters were not forgotten; they inherited money.

In 1804, John would have been 53 years old and his brother Richard, 45. Were they, I wondered, the John and Richard Smith, on the Enclosure map. A published copy of their father’s 'last will' provides clues.

In the will, it was John who inherited virtually all of his father’s land, over 46 acres. William did inherit some land around the windmill on Fern Road, plus a few acres near Hoe Hill, but since his name was not on the 1804 map two years later, he must have sold it.

The third son, Richard, did not inherit any land from his father, so I doubt he was the ‘Richard Smith’ on the map.

From the family tree, it is not difficult to locate a more likely Richard Smith.

John Smith married Grace Waner in 1779 and they had three children, Richard, John and, Sarah. Richard was the eldest and in 1804 he would have been 24 years old. His brother, John, would have been only 11 years old in 1804.

It is my belief that the landowners on the 1804 map were John Smith (born 1751) and his son, Richard. I think they would have been at the forefront of the minds of parish councillors when choosing the name for Smiths Close – especially so because they could appreciate how their influence in the village would grow in the coming years.

Smith family tree
Smith family tree

Let’s look at how the careers of the two brothers, Richard (born 1780) and John (born 1796), evolved in the 1800s.

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The Sons and Daughter of Richard Smith (senior)

Richard married Sarah Cotton in 1811 and they became tenants of the Fillingham Farmhouse on Church Street (it was replaced by Ebenezer House in 1904). From there he could farm the land he had inherited from his father.

Fillingham Shelton Farm (1890s)
Fillingham Farm (which was later called Shelton Farm) (1890s)

Richard and Sarah had three children, William, Richard and Grace. Notice how the Smith family loved to recycle family names.

In the coming years Richard took on the lease of more and more land and by 1837 he was farming over 153 acres in Cropwell Bishop. By then he was 57 years old, an age when most men might be looking towards retirement and a quieter life. Not Richard Smith.

In 1840 he had a new house built for him and his family. The building was on Colston Road and it was the Lime Kiln Inn. Nowadays, it is the ‘Small People’ outdoor nursery.

Small People Nursery
Small People Nursery in 2020, once the Lime Kiln Inn and originally the home of Richard Smith and his family.

Richard’s wife, Sarah, died after 16 years at the house but he lived for another 10 years and died at the age of 86.

Richard’s sister, Sarah, married in 1811 (the same year as Richard) to a Richard Harrison from the small hamlet of Staunton in the Vale, which is about 5 miles north-east of Cropwell Bishop. Even today, Staunton has little more than a few farm buildings so it is quite likely that Sarah married a farmer.

Nothing more is known of her life there but we do know that she died when she was 52 and is buried alongside her father in Cropwell Bishop.

Meanwhile, Richard’s younger brother, John, probably dreamt of increasing his own wealth. His marriage to Ann Hall of Cropwell Bishop in 1821 would help his dreams come true.

John was farming land owned by his father (which he would go on to inherit) and other rented land, but Ann had offered, not only herself at their marriage, but also the promise of land and property.

When her father died 9 years earlier, she was awarded a house and 20 acres of land in his will, but they would not become legally hers until her mother died.

Following their marriage, they moved into The Yews farmhouse on Nottingham Road. As John’s wealth and power increased, it is said that he assumed the title of ‘lord of the manor’ for himself.

In 1835, Ann’s mother died and she finally inherited the house and land promised in her father’s will.

In 1841, John bought Lenton House — just 100m up the road. He greatly enlarged and improved the house and its outbuildings before moving in with his family.

Lenton House in 1960
Lenton House and farm buildings just as John and Ann Smith would have known them in the mid 1800s
(1960s photo)

Lenton House in 2021
Lenton House in 2021

It is interesting to note that this building was likely built by the same builders who had just completed the Lime Kiln Inn, Richard’s new house.

Both buildings had the year of their build displayed in similar, giant numbers in their brickwork. The Smiths were clearly becoming big players in the village.

By 1850, John owned the largest farm in the Cropwell Bishop with 180 acres of land.

John and Ann live out their lives at Lenton House. Ann died in 1868 at the age of 67 and John lived to be 85. On his death in 1881, his daughter, Elizabeth, and her family moved into Lenton House.

So, when we look at the Smiths Close street sign, who should we think of?

There is no doubt that the Smith family we have studied is the source of the name, and I think it was the intention of our parish councillors to celebrate a number of Smiths for their contribution to Cropwell Bishop life.

If a visitor were to ask you the question, a safe answer would be to say, “John and Richard Smith” — then you will be covering all five of the most influential members of the family in the 1800s.

Tony Jarrow

Note: Thanks to Anne Terzza for her help with this article.

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Smiths Close in 2020

Smiths Close
Smiths Close
Smiths Close
Smiths Close
Smiths Close
Smiths Close

Street Stories – where are the others?

All previously published Street Stories can be found in the Heritage page.

Click the 'Heritage' tab on the right (with mobile phones rotate screen into horizontal position or click the 'More' tab).

Tony Jarrow

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Litter Pickers — we shouldn't need them

Most of you will have caught sight of people, heads down, with black bin bags in Cropwell Bishop.

Maybe you saw them on the pavements, in hedgerows or down ditches — or on footpaths and along the canal.

They shouldn't be there, they shouldn't be needed. But they are because people deliberately leave their litter there or toss it from their car as they pass through.

Litter picking is not a thankless task, the people of Cropwell Bishop are thankful. At least 99% are, the other 1% are dropping the litter and hanging dog-poo bags on bushes (you can imagine what happens when the hedge trimming machine comes along!).

If you see someone leaving litter, report them to Rushcliffe Borough Council, they will take care of their prosecution.

Meanwhile, a big thanks to the litter pickers.

Tony Jarrow






Photos by Mel Stanley, who says:

"Please check out Cropwell Bishop Litter Picking FB page. More help needed to keep our hedgerows, verges and green lanes free of litter, and protect our small, local wild life."

Attend Parish Meeting - from your Home

For the first time in over a year, there is a poster on the Events page of the website.

It tells you how to attend the Parish Council's Annual Meeting without you having to step outside your door — using your computer/tablet/mobile phone.

Click on the Events tab for more details.

Tony Jarrow

Looking Down on the New Housing Site

Colin Bryan was out today taking photos of the site for new housing in the village.

There are strange markings on the ground. Is there a connection between them and the plan for housing? You decide.

Tony Jarrow

Drone photo of new housing site
Drone photo of new housing site
Drone photo of new housing site

Cropwell Bishop Streets: 38. Clarke Close

Clarke Close

Clarke Close was built in the early 1970s when the final extension of Hoe View Road was completed. Like all the other side-roads built at the time, Clarke Close was named after people associated with Cropwell Bishop.

Finding a character named Clarke, who made their mark in Cropwell Bishop, was not difficult. The problem was in picking the right one because dozens of Clarkes once lived here and several might deserve a street name.

So, the question became, which of these Clarkes did parish councillors have in mind when they named Clarke Close?

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Who owned Clarke Close land?

When investigating the history of other village streets, I found it helpful to start with the map for the 1804 Enclosure Act. In the 1970s parish councillors often chose names from it.

Below, is the portion of the map in the region of Clarke Close. Nottingham Road sweeps from left to right and is first crossed by the Grantham Canal and then joined by Kinoulton Road.

1804 map
1804 Enclosure Map

According to the map, the field which corresponds to the Memorial Hall field of today (coloured brown) was owned by John Marshall. Next to it are four horizontal fields in white: the second one up corresponds to Clarke Close.

This field has no name on it, which means it was not part of the Enclosure Act agreement. Consequently, it doesn’t name its owner. So, our parish councillors were denied their usual method for choosing a street name.

Maybe they found a more recent owner of this land had the name Clarke.

In 1930, there was an auction of land and properties in Cropwell Bishop that included this same field. One of the people who attended that auction was local farmer, Arthur Barlow.

Here are copies of the auction leaflet and a map that went with it. These were his personal copies and they show the pencilled notes he made at the auction.

1930 property sale
The front cover of a booklet printed for the sale of a number of village properties and land in 1930 – including the field on which Clarke Close is built (Field 44 on the map).
Lot 3
Lot 3 at the 1930 auction is shaded green on this map
Lot 3 sale
Lot 3 included the grass paddock, Field 44.
The booklet belonged to Arthur Barlow and his hand-written note on the left suggests that he bought this paddock for £450.

As we can see, field 44 was being sold as part of Lot 3. The note at the side suggests that it was indeed, Arthur Barlow who bought Lot 3 for £450.

However, its significance for us, is that it wasn’t a person named Clarke.

So, the evidence suggests that the street was not named after someone with a direct connection to the land on which is stands. There had to be a different reason for choosing the name Clarke.

Could this Clarke character have owned land elsewhere in Cropwell Bishop, I wondered.

Clarke Close land in 1965
Behind Lenton House is the field that would eventually be the site of Clarke Close (1965)
Clarke Close
View of the Memorial Hall from a spot that is now the front garden of 127A Hoe View Road (see red dot on the 1960s map below).
This field of cows is where Clarke Close now is.
On the left, behind the hedge, is the back garden of Lenton House.
Clarke Close
A 1960s map of the area now occupied by Clarke Close.
The red dot is where the photographer stood when he took his photo of the Memorial Hall.
Clarke Close
A overlay of the 1960s map on a satellite image. Clarke Close was built on Fields 43 and 44.

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The Clarke family

All I needed to do was investigate all the Clarke families who lived in Cropwell Bishop during the last 200 years. Sounded straight forward — until I discovered that Clarke families liked to have lots of children.

Just think about it, if a Mr and Mrs Clarke had 10 children in the early 1800s, and each of these children had 10 of their own, by 1850, that would result in 100 descendants. If this pattern repeated itself, then by 1900 there would be 1000 Clarke descendants.

Of course, this didn’t happen in practice. Some parents did not have that many children, some children did not survive infancy, and all girls would lose the Clarke name in marriage. Nevertheless, it did leave a lot of Clarkes to consider.

I decided to concentrate on the most promising branches of the family.

Clarke Close
The Clarke Family Tree. Those members of particular interest are shown in red.

Back in 1806, William Clarke of Hickling, married Mary Shelton of Cropwell Bishop and they went on to live their life here, having 9 children along the way. The most interesting child in our search is the youngest one, Thomas Clarke.

Thomas was born in Cropwell Bishop in 1821 and married Ann Wilford of Cropwell Bishop. They had 11 children. Their fourth, Samuel, was born in 1848. He was an agricultural labourer and when he was 27 years old, he married Eliza Harrison of Cropwell Bishop.

Eliza Clarke
Eliza Clarke

They had 5 children and their eldest was George — and he would prove an interesting person in our search for a ‘significant’ Clarke.

George did not achieve “his significance” until late in his working life when he became a farmer. He was not a rich landowner but he did run a small dairy-farm, called Stockwell Farm, on Church Street.

We came across George Clarke in the Church Street Story that described the milking parlour that he had near the corner of The Maltings.

Since George was both a farmer and a landowner, whose land was later used for house building, he appeared qualified for having a street named after him.

However, when the land he left behind (he died in 1955) was built on in the 1960s, it was not named Clarke Close but The Maltings. The name derived from the malt houses that George had owned.

When parish councillors had the task of naming more new streets in the 1970s, they may have decided to make amends for not naming that street after George Clarke, by choosing to name Clarke Close after him.

On the other hand, maybe they had in mind a very different Clarke character: George’s own grandfather, Thomas Clarke.

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The Post Office Clarkes

In the decades that Thomas and his wife, Ann, were raising their large family during the mid 1800s, Thomas worked as a “plaster-getter”. But in the 1880s, when they were in their 60s, a new opportunity came their way — one that may have earned them the honour to have a street named after them.

Up until the mid 1880s, the village post office was in a cottage on Church Street and run by Ann Shelton. When, at about this time, Ann died, the post office was taken over by a newcomer to the village, a Mr Porter. However, he quickly found the task too demanding for him.

It is said that it was the vicar, Reverend Dobbin, who recommended that Thomas Clarke and Ann take over the post office.

Thomas and Ann accepted the challenge, and adapted their house at The Turn, 1 Nottingham Road, to make it a post office and small shop.

Thomas Clarke, Ann Clarke and a grandson (1890s)
Thomas Clarke, Ann Clarke and a grandson (1890s)

About 10 years later, Thomas died, but Ann Clarke continued as post-mistress until her own death in 1908. She was helped by her youngest daughter, Eliza, who lived at the house together with her husband, John Walker, and their growing family. John was foreman at the gypsum mine.

Ann Clarke with granddaughter Ethel (1907)
Ann Clarke with granddaughter Ethel (1907)

John died when he was just 59 years old, but Eliza carried on her job as post-mistress. Her youngest son, Wilf, helped her in the shop and became the village postman when he was 16 years old. When he was 22, he took over as sub-postmaster which enabled his mother to retire.

Wilf continued in his post for 43 years until retiring in 1973. His son, Robert, helped him.

It was then that the post office moved into the newly built general store and newsagent on Church Street (now demolished).

Clarke Close
Wilf Walker in front of his Sub-Post Office at Number 1 Nottingham Road (1970s)
Clarke Close
Wilf Walker points to a portrait of his grandfather, Thomas Clarke (1979)
Clarke Close
Wilf Walker with his son, Robert Walker. Robert took over from his father as postman for Cropwell Bishop.

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Which Clarke was it?

So, where does this leave us in our search for the “Clarke” of Clarke Close: do we have an answer? Let’s look at the options.

Local farmer, George Clarke, who was denied the honour when The Maltings was given its name, appears to have been deserving – as was his grandfather, Thomas Clarke, who stepped forward to provide a village post office when he might have dreamed of having an easy retirement.

Then there was his wife, Ann Clarke, who did most of the work in the post office – and kept it going when her husband died.

Also, Ann’s daughter, Eliza Clarke, who took over the post office after her mother — wasn’t she just as deserving as the other three?

Which one would you pick? I don’t have the confidence to pick one ahead of the others.

Of course, it isn’t for us to choose; that was the parish councillors’ job and I doubt we will ever find out for sure who they had in mind. Anyway, does it really matter?

The Clarke family certainly seeded a large number of later generations in Cropwell Bishop and it seems reasonable to have a street name to remind us of that.

Tony Jarrow

Note: Thanks to Anne Terzza, Pam Barlow and Ricky Snodgrass for their help with this article.

Clarke Close
9 Clarke Close in the early 1980s.
Behind it, you can see the garage on Nottingham Road being rebuilt.
Clarke Close
Clarke Close in 2021

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Clarke Close in 2020

Clarke Close
Clarke Close
Clarke Close
Clarke Close
Clarke Close
Clarke Close
Clarke Close
Clarke Close
Clarke Close
Clarke Close

Choose Your Co-op Charity: Cropwell Bishop Community Arts

If are a Co-op member, and you haven’t already selected your "chosen charity", we would love to invite you to select the:

Cropwell Bishop Community arts project lead by Friends of Cropwell Bishop school for 2021/22

This project will help us raise funds to run an arts project and festival for our school and local community.


The project focuses on mental health and wellbeing and will involve music, drama and art specialists working with our school and local community.

The funding window runs for an entire year, we therefore hope to raise enough money to run the project in the 2021/22 academic year.

How it works:

If you are already a Co-op member then each time you shop and buy selected Co-op branded products and services, a percentage of the cost is given to a charity.

As a Co-op member you can select which charity you want to support. We therefore hope that you will choose FOS!

The FOS cause profile page is here:

If you are not already a member of Co-op but would like to join, then you can join here online at:

or by downloading the Co-op app.

Thank you very much for your support.

Friends of School
Cropwell Bishop Primary School

Do you know this Mushroom?

I like looking for wild Mushrooms/Fungi for cooking and frequently come across some that I am not too sure about. I wondered if there are any likeminded foragers that could recognise the attached pics ?

They appear to be possibly Wood Blewitts, but it is quite early for these and they smell slightly of ammonia and not the usual fragrance associated with Blewitts. Size of this one is about 100mm cap.

If you do recognise this one, please contact me.

Thank you

Jacques Lacey
Phone: 0777 288 4709



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