Take of English earth as much
As either hand may rightly clutch.
In the taking of the breathe
Prayer for all lie beneath.
Not the great nor well-bespoke
But the mere uncounted folk.
Of whose life and death is none
Report or Lamentation.
Lay that earth upon thy heart
And thy sickness shall depart.
It is difficult to find in the unplanned sprawling suburb which unites the present Gedling with the town of Nottingham any trace of the "site at the mouth of the very pleasantly situated valley in the Vale of Trent, acreage 1,917 where Ghellinge stood."
But some land marks remain. First and foremost the great thirteenth century church absolutely unaltered, its tower with spire 180 feet high overlooking the whole neighbourhood. The "gentry" who found sanctuary in this "very pleasantly situated valley" have left their mark, even if they made no roots, in the houses that they built: the Manor where the Earl of Carnarvon entertained Edward VII for the shooting still stands, But is now a Home for Old People. Gedling House, built by Elliott W. Elliott, and bought from him by Lt. Col. Brooksbank ( who both interested themselves in the affairs of the Parish Church and the village) is now in the hands of the Nottinghamshire County Council.
But more important than mere buildings is the core of Gedling people who still are a part of the village as they have been for generations: the Stanhopes have gone and the Pierrepoints; all that remains of the Bardolphs is their coat of arms in one of the south windows in the nave of Gedling Church, 3 cinquefoils or on a field azure. But there are others. According to the Church registers which commence in 1588 Andrew Byrd married Anne Knight in 1607, and the marriages of their successors can be traced continuously to 1785. Herbert Bird is now Leader of the Gedling Borough Council: Richard Aslin married Mary Butler in 1713 - it was (possibly) to his ancestor Goisfried de Ancelin that William the Conqueror gave a manor in Gedling. John Aslin is on the Borough Council too. Elizabeth Noon was the bride of John Pretty in 1797: her people are still active in the life of the village: a Skellington married in 1778, Skellington was the name of the village blacksmith in the early nineteenth century - two of women were women - a Skellington is Churchwarden in 1979. A perusal of the marriage registers of recent years shows the names of numbers of old families of Gedling - Selby, Shelton, Barrett, Bell, Savage (nine of these married between 1627 and 1800), Poole, Harvey, Greenfield, Horsley, Ellis, to mention only a few. It was William Harvey who farmed land north east of the church and sold to the railway company the right to run a railway line through Gedling from Nottingham to Colwick. The railway (still in use for the Gedling colliery) cuts across Cottage Lane (now Jessop's Lane, and previously Grims' Lane) where it joins Willow Lane. For many years this was known as "Harvey's crossing" because the railway bridge was found to be too low for the traffic and a slope had to be made and a crossing over the line. Certain buildings also remind of the past. The house owned by William Harvey in the dip of Jessop's Lane, Orchard House, possibly on the site of Peveril's orchard, still stands unaltered, (except for an interior staircase to replace the old spiral one in a cupboard), since its building in about 1700. It has been plastered in white cement, but the great barn beside it has not been touched; the rosy hand made brick survives.
Where Jessop's Lane meets Arnold Lane is another plastered house, spoilt by unimaginative addition, and probably the oldest house of all is the white one on Arnold Lane. The Manor Farm, on Arnold Lane, a beautiful bow-fronted house, probably mid 1800's, has been saved, and several houses of the same date can still be seen in the village. In the latter half of the nineteenth century the manor of Gedling passed to the Earls of Carnarvon by marriage with descendants of the Earls of Chesterfield; lady Carnarvon presented the fountain at the church gates where the road forks to Carlton, which has been carefully restored. In 1924 a Memorial Hall to the men of the First World War was built on the site of the first school, which has now larger premises on the Main Road, but is still All Hallows' School. Dovecote farm still has its dovecote, and "1729" cut in the oak beams of an out-building.
A really beautiful modern building is the Almshouses in Arnold Lane, built under the will of Mary Elizabeth Hardstaff; the architect T. Cecil Howitt, and just beyond it is an illustration of twentieth century building at its very worst, a super-market.
The Rectors of Gedling have always been men of substance, and their deep interest in the village is shown by what they have done: for instance the Hon. Orlando Watkin Well Forester (later Lord Forester) 1867-1887: the Hon. Albert Edward Bertie 1887-1924, and his wife, Lady Caroline, daughter of the Earl of Chesterfield, whose work among the people of the parish will never be forgotten: in fact, an association for women in the district has been formed to keep her memory green. The Sanctuary lamp burning before the altar of the great church was put there in memory of her son killed in the First World War.
But the great church apart, probably the most precious bit of the past (and the future) for Gedling is the piece of land north east of the Church - the last remains of the parks of the lords of the Manor, through which the Ousedyke flows, with its magnificent beeches, and three great elms, walnuts, sycamores and a very good specimen of hornbeam.
This land has been saved from building by the people of Gedling themselves, especially the children who, on their own initiative, drew up petitions to the Nottinghamshire County Council, against a road which would have split the village in two. As a result, the Gedling Borough Council bought it, renaming it "Willow Park". It is used continuously by young and old: it is free of any litter, and the spinney, attached to the field, is the home of a vast number of song birds, some extremely rare, cole-tits, long-tailed tits, wax-wings, goldcrests, goldfinches, red-wings, greenfinches, besides the great numbers of blackbirds, thrushes and missel thrushes which greet every spring morning with their melody.
The future of all this depends on the people of Gedling itself, and the Borough Council bearing its name.
Written by: F.M. Swann
Transcribed by: Allen Copsey