A gentle stroll in the Nottinghamshire countryside is a peaceful haven away from the city. Sometimes a more local adventure can stir the imagination just as easily as one further afield, our walk through the fields and village of Strelley shows that we don’t have to travel too far in order to find a lovely setting hidden just off the main road.
The whole of the Strelley Village area is steeped in history including the Monks stones, a 14th century route taken by Monks through the area, some of the monk’s way can still be walked today next to the “All Saints Church” which was built in the 13th Century. The area was an industrial hub in the 16th and 17th Centuries and Strelley Hall itself dates back to 1200AD a former castle complete with moat.
Walking along the village lane is like stepping back in time. Strelley village is located roughly 4 miles from Nottingham City Centre and within easy reach of the M1, Junction 26. From the main road there are also good bus links. Parking is available at the lovely “Broad Oak Pub” at a charge, this is also a nice place to finish your walk with a pub lunch, especially on a Sunday! I prefer a spot further along the lane where it is free to park and there is enough space for at least 4 cars in the layby at a bend on the lane called Motts corner. It is believed that there was once a Saxon building located on Motts corner a few hundred metres south of Strelley Hall, it would have been a wooden construction stood on stilts. Near the corner are the remains of some Motts, (Mott being an old word for Moat.) This is where my favorite local circular walk begins. There are numerous circular walks in the area, some little strolls and others taking a longer route towards Bramcote, Trowell, Ilkeston or Cossall where there’s even more countryside to explore including canalside walks.
We hop out of the car with kids and dog for a Sunday stroll across the fields and take a full circular route turning left along the track towards a little woodland copse, beautiful in all seasons. We usually take it slow through the woods to take in its calm peaceful atmosphere, maybe a stick to throw for Max the dog too. Our circular now takes a right and past some farmland, brown and farrowed since all the fields are neatly ploughed for winter. Whilst always on the lookout for wildlife, we spot a pair of buzzards circling above nearby, I always find them fascinating, I’m sure there’s plenty for them to hunt for across these fields, abundant in rabbits and field mice. The next stage of the route takes us under the M1 Motorway and as we follow the route around the view comes into sight. It’s beautiful across the fields towards Cossall, I can see for miles around at this point and as the trees turn more Autumnal the view becomes more filled with colour, in sight are more farrowed fields with hawthorn hedgerows and on the horizon more villages are in sight. It’s a surprisingly pretty view really considering we’ve just passed by a major motorway artery.
We stop a while to watch a kestrel hunt across the fields, hovering and dipping here and there before swooping down just out of view and now a game of eye spy is underway, a family favourite pastime while out walking. A little further and we’re in another woodland area, larger than the last, a beautiful leafy pathway leads us through the trees with Sweet chestnut, birch and oak all shedding their multi coloured leaves on the ground as the sunlight filters through the canopy and dapples the ground underfoot. The path can get a little sticky in bad weather but it’s worth wearing sturdy footwear for the privilege of taking this peaceful stroll. Max the dog enjoys the chance to fetch a stick or two and we take the last chance to kick up the leaves before exiting the woods with a horse field to the left. Journeying on along the trail it’s time to take a turn to the right and we now cross over a motorway bridge. The M1 is below us now with traffic of all kinds rushing along unaware of our gaze, a never ending trail of busy people. The motorway that never sleeps.
Just a short stretch to go on our relaxing Sunday stroll through the Nottinghamshire countryside with butterflies flitting about the hawthorn hedgerows and a couple of young rabbits scampering underneath. The path ends at the village lane, the one lane in the village which ends abruptly due to the M1 motorway cutting through it. Max has to go back on his lead as we walk along the leafy lane past the Gates of Strelley Hall.
Strelley Hall has some interesting history; after an archeological dig in 2006/7 masonry dating back to 1250-1350 was discovered and also shows that the Hall at that time would have been more akin to a castle complete with moat, although would not have been used for defensive purpose. Records show that no permission was sought to crenellate, which means that it could not be officially classed as a castle, only a fortified Manor. What is known to remain of this early history can be seen within the walls of Strelley Hall today in the Castle room, with walls a metre thick and a dungeon below. It is thought there would have also been a tower above the castle room. Strelley Hall today is used for office space rental, conferences and a wedding venue. The paneled room is also for hire, and I was once privileged to spend a day there whilst on a course and I took in the grandeur of this beautiful Hall while I had the chance. I enjoyed my day in this lovely place and would love to return some time. The paneled room on the ground floor to the right of the entrance door was once the breakfast room and was extended in 1894. The paneling in the room was examined in 1990 by an expert who declared that the paneling predates the room by 200 years and is in fact Jacobean.
Strelley Hall and Estate was owned by Sir Nicholas Strelley until he lost it through gambling and it came to a Lawyer, Ralph Edge in 1678. The Edge Family continued to pass the ownership to the male line of the family where possible and the only way the Hall could be inherited to a female member of the family was for any prospective husband to take on the Edge name. The last member of the Edge family to own Strelley Hall was Miss Emily Mary Edge who died in 1978. Members of the Edge family do still visit occasionally, even the late Sir Nicholas Edge and some of the serving wenches have been seen at the Hall, mostly in the Castle Room.
Other interesting history of the Strelley Village and Estate is regarding its links to industry as far back as the 16th and 17th centuries, it is hard to believe this when you see how idyllic the area looks now but it is an important part of its past. Strelley is one of the earliest areas to be mined for coal using bell pits. A bell pit had a central shaft dug and then was worked outward till the overhang was too unsafe to continue then a new shaft would be started elsewhere. Some of the coal would have been transported to the river Trent by horse and cart to river barges. Horse and cart was not suited very well for this purpose so a wooden rail line was constructed at the beginning of the 17th century and the trucks were pulled by pack horse since steam railways had not been invented yet. The line was built between Strelley and Wollaton and was a real boost to the industry. Mining continued in the area for many years, however the more recent open cast mining ended in the 1960’s. No sign of open cast mining remains today.
As our stroll takes us a little further along the lane we’re approaching the “All Saints Church,” A pretty little church by the side of the lane with Strelley Hall standing directly behind it. The church dates back to the 13th Century coinciding with the history of Strelley Hall. Quoting from the record books of 1356, Sir Samson De Strelley “had licence that he and his parishioners might hear sermons for the space of a year in the chappel situate within his manor of the said village, because the parish church was not then fully built.” Inside this lovely little church can be found in the chancel a tomb with effigies of Samson De Strelley and his wife Elizabeth who was the Daughter of Sir John Hercy of Kent. Sir Samson De Strelley Died circa 1390 but the very ornately detailed tomb would have been from a later date after the death of his wife Elizabeth. In the effigy, Sir Samson De Strelley wears armor relating to a later date than that at the time of his death and what I feel is quite touching is the fact that they are holding hands to show that they are still together in the afterlife. 14 angels bearing shields are around the base of the tomb, not female but true male angels, a very romantic and beautifully detailed tomb indeed. The Son of Sir Sampson De Strelley, Sir Nicholas Strelley married Elizabeth, Daughter of Sir E. Pierpont, and died in 1430 leaving a will stipulating that his body should be buried in the church at Strelley. The preserved will can be found in York. Although Sir Nicholas Strelley’s tomb can’t be found in the church, during floor alterations at the altar, two bodies were found, one each side of the altar.
Continuing the walk along the lane we walk a path that is visibly much more worn and historic in nature, this is the Monks Way, a historic route taken by monks as early at least as the 14th Century. It is thought that the monks of Lenton Priory would have used this same route with pack horses as they are known to have interests in this area in the 14th century. Lenton Priory in its day was the wealthiest priory in the midlands region.
If you decided to park at the “Broad Oak Pub” you might want to take a bite to eat and remember the history of this beautiful area you have just walked through. The pub is the only one in the village and used to look more like a house from the road side. Before the pub was sold to a brewery it only had a 6 day licence and was owned by the Strelley Hall Estate. “The Broad oak” was named after a large oak that once grew in the courtyard which was felled to make furniture for the Hall. Our family Sunday Stroll however ends at Motts Corner where we began our adventure, it’s time to head off and it’s just a 15 minute drive before we’re back home again to relax and have a bite to eat. I hope you enjoyed this insight into a part of Nottinghamshire’s History, only a tiny part mind you, there is much more to be told about the History of the area if you are interested enough to dig deeper, since if I told you all there is to know about the history here I would have to write a book. Till next time.