The Village Green, traditionally referred to as the ‘lower’ Green, has been an integral part of the community for centuries. The current seven monumental trees surrounding the Village Green were originally planted to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. They are six lime trees planted by the widow and daughter of the late Reverend Edward Davies and four ladies from Wilford House, along with one sycamore tree, planted by Lady Markham Clifton at the centre of the green. The ceremony was conducted by the newly-arrived Reverend John Clough.
The Green has long continued as a site of community celebration. Celebrations for the Coronation of Edward VII, George V, and Elizabeth II are known to have taken place on the green and in the village. Subsequent modern celebrations include the annual May Day celebration, Founders Day for South Wilford Endowed Primary School and the Diamond and Platinum Jubilees of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Glebe Cottages bordering the green were originally very poorly built with single brick walls. The rooms were only 7ft high with brick floors and an outside lavatory. The new houses, seen today, were rebuilt in 1870 by the Reverend Davies. Their name comes from the original purpose as glebe land, a part of the reverend’s estate intended for the poor. The original thatch roofs were destroyed in a fire in 1876, and newly-tiled roofs were erected in 1887. The cottages are all now privately owned.
Points of Interest
The Lower Ford:
The Lower Ford, from which the village got its name, crossed the River Trent where the Bee Bank is now north-west towards the entrance to Tottle Brook - directly opposite the church. The entrance to the Lower Ford was later moved further up the river to beside St Wilfrid’s Church, now accessible by a set of steps stretching from beside the church gate to the waterfront. Historic plans showed that the ford was comprised of oak piles on either side, the space between being paved with stones, and the middle portion paved with smaller stones. The paving is said to have strongly resembled that of Roman fords. A likely origin for the name of the river is “a river that is easily forded”. The name “Trisantona Fu” (Trisantona River) first appeared in The Annals, the work of Roman historian Tacitus. Researchers at the University of Wales suggest the name is derived from the Romano-British “Trisantano” (through-path) due to the economically and socially important crossing points along the River linking major Saxon settlements in the south with their counterparts in the north. The Upper Ford was nearer the current site of Clifton Bridge. Wooden piles found at Clifton Bridge relate to a riverside fort or settlement whilst Roman and medieval pottery, coins and remnants of a Roman bricked ford crossing have been found on the north bank of the Upper Ford. The Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD, but for political and other reasons, their army didn’t cross the Trent into Brigante territory until 71 AD. Romans withdrew from the region around the year 410 AD. The fords will have remained in constant use until the 14th century when King Edward III gave royal approval for the facilitation of a ferry in their place.
Dorothy Boot Homes:
The Dorothy Boot Homes for Veterans, named in honour of his daughter, were built by Sir Jesse Boot, who had transformed Boots the Chemist, founded by his father, into a highly successful national company. The eleven almshouses were provided rent-free for the veterans of the Boer War and Indian Mutiny. Each house had the luxury of a bath and a garden, the free service of a doctor, and a nurse, and with coal for the central heating also supplied free by Boots. The Rt Hon Lord Lucas, Under Secretary of State for War, and Dorothy Boot laid the foundation stones on 30th July 1908. The homes were officially opened in November 1909. Until 1920, they were wholly occupied by veterans, the last remaining until 1930. Qualifications for tenancy were changed in 1925, after which all new tenants were retired long-serving employees. In 2007, the homes were sold off as private housing. Where the Dorothy Boot Homes now stand was an old thatched Cottage of the Hammond. It is thought to have formerly been a public-house, with benched seats, a cellar, and a club room. The old tree in front of it still remains, as does the post box and the restored telephone box. The village pump, however, has been lost to time. On the other corner of Holly Avenue stood the Wilkinsons' House which continued to stand until the 1940s when it was demolished to widen Holly Avenue for the construction of Vernon Avenue.
Across Main Road from the Village Green stands a striking pair of matching houses. These two houses were built by the illustrious local captain and adventurer Captain John Deane - for more information on Deane, visit the Church Green waypoint. 'The Hawthorns', 138 Main Road (the leftmost house), was built first. This was followed by 'The Elms' where Deane and his wife, Sarah, eventually retired to in 1738. The houses were originally called 'Palazzo' and 'Thorn House'. In 1748, at the age of 79, whilst walking one day in a field roughly where Vernon Avenue sits now, Deane was violently assaulted by a robber named Miller. He stripped Deane of everything valuable, even the sleeve buttons from his wrists. At the following Assizes, Miller was tried and afterwards hanged on Gallows Hill. Though he was beaten and left for dead, Deane survived to see his assailant caught and duly hanged a few months later. The two houses, originally named the Palazzo and Thorn House, were home to Deane and his family until his death at the age of 81 in 1761.
The Village Shop:
There were six white cottages immediately lining Main Road, of which only one remains. The most northerly was the original Wilford Post office, run by Mr Marshall, before it moved to the crossroads. In the early 1920s the two cottages at the southerly end became a butchers shop for a period run by Christopher Dann from his shop on Friar Lane. This did not last too long before becoming a sweet shop by the late 1920's until the 1960s. The sweet shop was first run by Ida Weightman and later by her brother, Herbert Weightman after his retirement from being a jobbing builder. During the Second World War, the three northerly cottages were hit by a German bomb and demolished. In more recent years the remaining shop became a small village grocery shop for about 20 years until competition from supermarkets made it impossible to continue. The remaining cottage fell into disrepair before being restored for use as a private dwelling.
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