Kings Clipstone

The following is an extract from "A History of Kings Clipstone" published in 1890 by A Stapleton.

"Some possibly would consider an apology necessary from the Author on account of the insignificance of the subject for a history of the most obscure of hamlets, without church or monastery and only noticeable for the Kings House. The remains of which are not of sufficient interest to be included in a routine tour of the Dukeries"

However, Stapleton goes on to say that no apology was necessary for a place deemed worthy enough to entertain at least half a dozen English monarchs and one Scottish King. Stapleton’s words reflected a lack of interest in a small community which allowed the remains of King Johns Palace and other important historical remains to become very fragile.

Then, a century later, in 1998, a group of local Villagers formed, working under the title of "A celebration of Kings Clipstone" Their aims were to research and write a village history and to restore the pride in this place which lies at the very heart of Sherwood Forest. Without the royal interest, followed by the ownership of the great estates, Sherwood Forest, as we know it today would not have survived in the manner it has. The Royal Forest, by its very nature is protected and cared for. From 1154, seven generations of Plantagenet Kings chose Clipstone as a site for a royal residence and a hunting park and this place became very special.

Our earliest confirmed history is Roman and on the site of the ruins of King Johns Palace, archaeologists have found not only pottery of the time but also a j shaped ditch suggesting occupation. Also there have been Roman finds at various locations around the Kings Clipstone Village. Following 1066 and the Norman Conquest a new chapter in our history opens and the following historical summary is taken from many respected and verified records of our heritage.

The 1086 Doomsday Survey Record states "Osbern and Ulsi have two Manors at Clipstone which paid the geld for one caracute. The land was two caracutes. After the conquest, Roger de Busli had in demesne one caracute and a half, 12 villeins and three bordars having three caracutes and a half and one mill of three shillings"

It seems that the community of Clipstone was well established at this time, the land held by one of Williams’s knights. The Plantagenet Kings not only gave their patronage to Clipstone but also left records giving an insight into the coming and goings of events. Details of utensils and delivery of wines, and repairs and additions to the Kings Houses have been identified. Whether the Village as we know it was on the same site we are not told. Perhaps the linear build we have identified was as a result of the Royal Residence, the village being built under the protection of the walls.

1164 King Henry II spent £20 on works to the "Kings Houses" (King Johns Palace today). Further records show the stocking of the farm at Clipstone with oxen, sows, beehives and sheep. The Clipstone community paid Feudal Tax of 1 mark, Edwinstowe paid 3 marks and Mansfield 20 marks. This implies a community of some substance though small. In 1176 a Vivarium (fishpond) is added to the residence at a cost of £210, a vast amount of money at that time. This not only provided food for the royal table but protection on two sides of the site. The fishpond became known as "The Great Pond". Two year later further works at Clipstone was carried out to the park and the vivarium. A new Chapel is built for £20 which the recent TV programme "Time Watch" identified during its own research. In 1179, the Park was enclosed at a cost of £30 by high fences, 7 miles in length to keep deer in and the locals out. This ensured an abundance of animals for the Kings to hunt. Verderures, foresters and agisters protected and maintained the Royal Park and forests. The fence remained until the Civil War and Commonwealth 1642-1660.

1194 King Richard ("Lionheart"). Whether the perception of the Royal residence was considered at this time as a Hunting Lodge or Palace, King Richard chose to meet the Scottish King William here. When Richard left for the Crusades he nominated his Brother John as regent in control of the country. Prince John’s nickname was "Lackland" so Richard granted his brother the counties of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. It was during this time that John stayed at Clipstone but his visits went unrecorded. News reached Richard of Johns treachery in seizing castles and of his intention to claim the Throne for himself. Richard returned to England reclaimed Nottingham Castle and proceeded to Clipstone. He was recorded as being "much pleased" by what he found here.

1199 Prince John had not long to wait before the English throne was his. King John came to Clipstone in 1200 and though only seven visits are recorded, there are many references in the royal records about Clipstone. In one such correspondence John commands the Sheriff of Nottingham to provide payment for the Chaplain at Clipstone, there ministering for the soul of his father King Henry II. "King John's Palace" as a title was not in fact used until the 18th century. Before that it is always referred to as the "Kings House or Houses".

1216 Henry III is crowned King. He certainly seems to have known Clipstone when in 1221, the Village of Clipstone is destroyed by fire and the houses of the Kings "poor men" burnt. There was need for timber to rebuild and this was granted but most importantly not at the detriment to the Kings Forest. In 1223, the Kings own chamber is damaged by fire and is repaired at a cost of 15 marks. Henry continued to build at Clipstone, including a hall "large and handsome" for his consort Eleanor of Provence in 1244-5 at a cost of £134. Also built was a chapel for his Queen and a new chapel which was plain glazed and wainscoated.

1272 Edward I saw the beginning of the golden age for the Kings Houses. Prior to a visit in 1280, Edward had chambers for himself and his wife Eleanor of Castille built, also chapels at a huge cost of £435. In 1282 he had stables constructed for 200 horses. He was obviously preparing for greater things and in November 1290 he was to hold parliament here. It was at this time that Eleanor was taken ill and died soon after at Harby. It was the Queens remembrance Thomas de Merk who records the name "Clipstone Regis" i.e. "Kings Clipstone".

1307 Edward II was the King who spent the most time at Clipstone. Whether in his troubled reign he felt safe at this palace in Sherwood Forest is certainly a possibility, but he is recorded as being fond of rural pursuits. In 1317 he added a Pele to the Royal hunting Park. Constructed of timber with a stone gateway and house, this was to help improve and keep safe food, crops and animals. The famine in 1315 had left even the royal household short of supplies. The road and farm known today as Peafield is a corruption of Pelefield.

Edward III came to the throne and he had the Pele dismantled in 1328 and everything but the Gatehouse was brought back to the Manor at Clipstone. The gatehouse was to become Beeston Lodge. Sections of the standing wall remained until the 1950s. During 1327 Edward III visited Clipstone several times and he reversed many of the changes made by his father. During his reign a list of repairs is drawn up that gives a greater insight into the residence here at Clipstone than any other.

Works carried out in 1348/9 included the rebuilding of the Knights Chamber on the groundwall of stone, repairs to the Great Hall, the Kings Chamber, Queens Chamber, Kings Kitchen, Queens Kitchen, The Great Chamber, Rosamund's Chamber, Robert de Mauley’s chamber, the treasurers chamber, the chamber of Lionel the Kings son, the great Chapel, the chapel next to the Kings chamber, the Kings long stable and the great gateway".

If any doubt was given to whether this residence was a palace, the diversity of chambers leads us to believe this was a "high Status" build and certainly a "palace". Its boundaries protected by the Great gateway and walls, the Great pond and a boundary ditch with bank and palisade fence. James Wright, Andy Guant, Ben Crossley and David Budge have recently excavated two trenches over the Boundary ditch in a bid to prove the date and scale of what was an extensive feature.

Richard II was the last Plantagenet to spend time at Clipstone. His successor Henry IV granted the Manors to George Dunbar (Earl of March) for life in recompense for the Scottish lands he had lost as a result of supporting the English against the Scots.

Henry VI in 1434 gave grants of £200 for repairs to the palace and later in 1435-46 over £650 on further repairs and "the making of a new tower". This is the last expenditure at the Kings Houses. No further visits are recorded from English Monarchs. Decline follows throughout the 15th Century but the property remains under royal control. This followed a national decline in royal palaces, the monarchy choosing to focus more on those nearer to London.

Henry VIII 1520. During the reign of Henry VIII, the Kings Houses, pond, dams and weirs, mill and park were put under the keepership of William West, groom to the kings privy chamber. William must have been a young man and have felt himself greatly honoured but a survey undertaken in 1525 reports the property is in ruin and decay. Chimneys need mending, the roof, covering and the steps are fallen down but the kitchen is newly plastered. William is doing his best but lack of interest from the time of Edward III has left the royal residence beyond repair. No written evidence of permission to demolish is available but by the time William dies in 1568, the king’s houses are described as "the site of the late castle".

James I. 1603. Clipstone passes out of royal hands and is granted to Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy. He then sold it to Gilbert Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and Husband of Bess of Hardwick. The Earl of Shrewsbury built a hall on the site where Old Barn Court is today, that is recorded in the Sherwood Forest survey of 1609.

1630 William Earl of Newcastle purchased the Clipstone Estate from his stepbrother. He immediately commissioned a map of the estate by William Senior. This map survives in an album that can be seen at the Harley gallery, Welbeck Garden Centre. It shows a village recognisable with that of today. It is interesting to note that this shows a property marked "West" the second largest house in the village which suggests that William West, keeper of the Kings Houses sought permission to demolish and reuse the stone from the royal site. Indeed it seems likely the whole village at that time is stone built. We had seemed set for a glorious revival of the estate and village but the English Civil War was to change Clipstone beyond recognition.

1642 William Earl of Newcastle is tutor to Charles II and is fighting for the Royalist side. He had applied for permission from Charles 1 to cut trees from the Kings Forest and makes forges but before he has chance to put his plans into practice, he is forced into exile. The civil war was won and the parliamentarians in control moved their own people to Clipstone.

1653 Two licenses for forges and slitting mills were applied for at Clipstone. One sited where Cavendish Lodge was later built and George Wakefield was given "full and free liberty to build on any river or brook at Clipstone, but not within the Park. This changed the estate from "protected and rural" to industrial. Charcoal taken from Clipstone and pig iron brought back on the return journey. Fortunately when William returned in 1660, although he was devastated by the destruction, he was determined to replace all that was lost.

William now Duke of Newcastle was a Cavendish, descendant of Bess of Hardwick’s second husband Sir William Cavendish. Clipstone becomes part of the Welbeck Estate under the Dukes of Portland and once again Clipstone's future is set to rise. The 1766 map shows a village much as it had been in 1630.

1677 Robert Thoroton records the Kings Houses as a ruin and calls it "a thick piece of stone wall"

1774 Engravings show a ruin recognisable with that of today.

1810 The 4th Duke of Portland started to build the Watermeadows Irrigation System. This was a major development, which led to increased fertility on the estate and being described as an "economic miracle".

1832 The creation of the irrigation system caused many of the houses in the village to be demolished to accommodate the line of the dyke that carried water from the River Maun. A Directory of this year describes the village as being "the most decayed village in Bassetlaw".

1844 A later issue describes Clipstone as being "in danger of being the neatest?". The 4th Duke had rebuilt the entire village and many of the properties today are the result of this time. He also built Archway House. This provided a banqueting hall that was also used as a school for village children. This still stands today, a stunning building (a copy of Worksop Priory Gatehouse) in the midst of the forest.

1920 In order to satisfy the national demand for coal, a new coal mine is opened near to the original village and a major housing development was provided to accommodate the large influx of miners. This new settlement became known as "New Clipstone" and the original village, "Old Clipstone".

1945 The village and estate belonged to Welbeck Estates until May 1945 when it was sold to cover death duties. An agreement was made with the tenants of the farms and properties that their holdings would be sold to them when the reserve price was met. After nearly 800 years, tenants were no longer under the control of either Crown or Estate.

1950-1990s The Village’s identity and its long heritage tended to become lost as "New Clipstone" continued to develop and prosper principally from coal mining. However new sources of energy were being developed in response to growing concerns about the consequences of using fossilised fuels. Clipstone Colliery was closed down and at about the same time, Villagers in "Old Clipstone" began work upon regaining their own identity and re- establishing the village’s important heritage role in English history, stretching back nearly one thousand years.

2000 to date - The Village officially reclaimed the title Kings Clipstone in 2003 and in 2010 the village and surrounding farms and countryside was reclassified as a Parish in its own right, separate from New Clipstone. The new Village Council of Kings Clipstone came into being from May 2011 and is now working to further enhance the community’s proud history and heritage.

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