grateful to Charles Mayhew and the Rutland History & Record Society
allowing us to reproduce these articles.
As a postscript to the records of the Revd T K B Nevinson,
Mr Harry Betts, who was baptised by Mr Nevinson in 1906 and lived in the
village until he died in 1997 at the age of 90, had clear recollections of the
estate before the First World War. His father had come to Lyndon as coachman in
1903. He himself later became chauffeur, spending the last 40 years of his life
in the gardener's cottage.
He remembered that a few years before the war there was a
staff of ten at the Hall. Each Sunday morning they would go to church, the
women wearing black bonnets tied under the chin, and would sit in the pews in
the south aisle.
On the estate there was a cowman and shepherd who lived in
a cottage in Post Office Lane. He was responsible for the dairy and for
supplying butter to the Hall. There were also a coachman and groom, and three
gardeners. The groom and the two single gardeners lived in the room over the
apple store. This three storey building was just inside the entrance to the Old
Rectory (now demolished). Under the apple store was the stable for the
gardener's horse. The groom and the two single gardeners ate in the Bothy where
a woman would come and cook for them.
He remembers that the estate bricklayer and mason came
from Hambleton on a tricycle and had his workshop in the end part of the head
gardener's cottage. The estate carpenter lived in the Lodge, and his
housekeeper was responsible for opening the Hall gates for anyone calling at
The Revd T K B Nevinson
Glimpses of Life in Lyndon at the end of the nineteenth century
On Saturday 19th January 1889 the Revd T K B Nevinson MA
was instituted to the living of Lyndon. He married, had children, took a
leading part in the life of the village -and kept a record of village activity
, which gives us an interesting insight into the daily life of the community of
Mr Nevinson records the first Parish Meeting to be held in
the village, in accordance with the Local Government Act 1894, in the Old
Rectory on 4th December 1894 at 6 pm. He was elected chairman. He goes on to
record its dynamic discussions! On 22nd March 1902 "Mr Presgrave (one of the
Overseers of the Poor) called attention to the prevalence of moles in the
Lordship, but nothing definite was done." At the Vestry Meeting on 30th March
1889 Mr J Stanton had been appointed Mole-catcher: the salary paid out of a
voluntary Penny Rate was 50 shillings. But by April 1891 Mr Stanton had left
the village and the office of Mole-catcher was abolished.
On 25th November 1908 "A meeting (public) was held in the
Laundry to discuss the question of asphalting the paths in the village. Of the
twelve men present, ten voted in favour of asphalt, two against N.B. The
Highway Committee of the R[ural] D[istrict] Council in June 1909 refused to
sanction the proposal."
But some things did happen in the village:
On twelfth November 1891, there was started a
Reading-room for the men and boys of Lyndon in the room over the Sunday School
at the old Rectory. The Room will be open during the winter months on Monday,
Wednesday, and Friday from 6 to 9 pm. No betting or gambling, and no
refreshments will be allowed. There were twelve present on the opening night.
In the Autumn of 1900 a road was made in front of the
five cottages adjoining the Village Green, and carried round to join the Wing
Road, the object being to keep carts off the Green.
And then the postal arrangements were improved. "Previous
to Dec. 1900 there was only one delivery (8.25 am) and one collection (4.45
pm). In Nov 1900 a Petition to the Postmaster General was drawn up by the
Rector, and signed by the principal inhabitants of Lyndon, Manton, and
Wing...". The result was that there were two deliveries and two collections
each day. Today this has averaged out to two collections and one delivery!
The spirit of Thomas Barker lived on. On 17th December
1896 Mr Nevinson records: "A slight earthquake shock was felt at Lyndon between
5.30 and 6.00 pm: no damage was done." Later, on Monday 28th May 1900: "An
eclipse of the sun took place from 2.47 to 4.57 pm, total in Spain, N Africa
etc. Here more than 3/5 of the sun was obscured ...The Rector and his Son
carried pieces of smoked glass round the village."
And then to the supernatural: "In the possession of Mr
Conant is (1904) a document which sets forth that Mr Sam Barker in 1722 let
Lyndon Hall on lease to Mr Thos Trollope. It provides among other things that
"a young holly hedge against Hand's Lane is to be preserved and delivered up in
as good order as found upon entrance. NB Hand's Lane, which used to be the
direct road to Manton and ran along the south side of the holly hedge, until it
was stopped by Mr E N Conant, had the reputation of being haunted, teste Mrs.
Wm Fox, nee Sidney, +1901."
Among the profusion of church activity , the Rector
records the founding of a branch of the Mother's Union on 5th December 1900.
"Nine members were admitted after Evensong at 3 pm, being a Wednesday in
Advent." On Sunday 1st May 1904 "A Hymn Board, the gift of Mrs. Jane Jackson
Housekeeper at Lyndon Hall, was used for the first time."
And then of course there were the people. Amongst them was
Thomas Cliffe who succeeded Richard Barsby, whose memorial tablet is on the
east wall of the south porch (see above), as Parish Clerk, presumably in 1872.
He lived in the first cottage on the right hand side, approaching Lyndon from
Wing. "It is reputed that when water was laid on from the old Hall reservoir to
the wells in the village (see below), he refused to use it, and continued to
fetch his own water from a spring down in the field near the river. "
On 14th February 1893 he wrote to the Rector:
I now address you on a subject which may
not to you be pleasing but at the same time I feel it my duty to do so;
tomorrow being the first day of Lent you will undoubtedly pronounce the curse
against sinners of whom I am chief Therefore I cannot conciencially pronounce
the Amen any more I will light the fire as usual and chime the Bells and stop
at the service but make no response to those horrid sentences in all other
matters your servant I am
Mr Cliffe resigned the clerkship owing to lameness on 18th
July 1897. The Rector decided not to appoint another clerk, and on 31st October
1905 Thomas Cliffe died at the age of 80.
There is a cutting from the Grantham Journal of
18th April 1903 recording the welcome given to Mr E W P Conant and his family,
Mr Conant having succeeded to the estate of the late E N Conant, Esq. his
father. "At the entrance-lodge gates, a very pretty arch was erected. At the
top, upon a background of red cloth, was the word "Welcome", cut out of white
material. Suspended from the centre was a good' imitation of a horseshoe, made
of primroses and forget-me-nots. Over the entrance-hall, also upon a background
of red cloth, and the letters in white, were the words "Health and Happiness":
while at each corner two Union Jacks were floating in the breeze. Mr and Mrs
Conant arrived at Manton Station by the 5.35 train on Wednesday evening, and
the inhabitants, his tenants, turned out en masse to give them a hearty
reception. Upon their arrival, the horse was taken out of the shafts, ropes
were quickly attached, and the carriage was drawn up to the front door, where
the Rector of the parish, the Rev T K B Nevinson, in a few well-chosen words,
welcomed Mr and Mrs Conant and family. Mr Conant, in reply, thanked all for
their enthusiastic greeting, and kindly invited those who had drawn the
carriage to partake of refreshments, the health of Mr and Mrs Conant being duly
toasted. Mr Nevinson called for three cheers, which were vociferously given.
The bells were rung upon their arrival and during the evening. Mr and Mrs
Nevinson, Messrs B Wright, head gardener, and assistants, helped with the
On the north wall of the north aisle of the Church there
is a plaque which commemorates a death in South Africa. The account here is
from the Grantham Journal of 5th July 1902.
Sad news reached [Lyndon] on June 24th, by telegram
from the War Office to Mr and Mrs B Wright, stating that their eldest son,
Frederick Lewis [of the South African Constabulary] had been thrown from his
horse in South Africa, causing concussion of the brain, from which he died. He
was well-known and respected, gaining many friends wherever he went, and his
death will be felt and deplored. Great sympathy is expressed for the bereaved
parents and his brother, in their trouble.
Mr Ben Wright, the father, was the head gardener on the
estate and lived in Gardener's Cottage.
It is interesting to learn of the planting of some of the
trees which we now enjoy in Lyndon Parish.
In the Autumn of 1898 Mr Ernest W P Conant had 125
oak trees planted by the roadsides as follows:-
Manton road 68
Wing ditto 42
E Weston ditto
The first on the left hand side of Wing road as you
leave the village was planted by Mr E W p Conant; the first ~n the right hand
side, below the Rectory was planted by the Rector (f K B Nevinson), the second
by the Rector's wife (E M Nevinson), the third by his son (H K B Nevinson).
Besides these, 76 lime trees were planted on the Luffenham road beyond the
Lyndon parish boundary,"
The water supply to Lyndon has an interesting history.
A map in the possession of Ed N Conant Esq marks the
position of the Spring which supplied, and still supplies, the village. The
supply used to be conveyed to the village in a stone drain, open most of the
way. The Revd Edwd Brown, lord of the manor, who died in Sept 1862, several
years before his death made one of the two reservoirs, and substituted iron
pipes for the stone drain. Edwd N Conant Esq, who succeeded his uncle Mr Brown,
made another reservoir.
The results of the Census are also noted:
Apri1 1891. According to the Official Return the
population of Lyndon amounted to 112.
March 1901. The population
of Lyndon amounted to 114. N.B. Almost immediately afterwards two families left
Finally there is the impending rectorial change reported
by the Grantham Journal of 12th June 1909:
The Rev Thomas Kaye Bonny Nevinson, MA, of St John's
College, Cambridge (BA 1874) has just accepted the living of
Medbourne-cum-Holt, near Market Harborough, offered him by St John I s College,
Cambridge, and which was vacant through the resignation of the Rev Chas Fryer,
Eastburn, who had been Rector there since 1870. The annual value, as given in
the Diocesan Calendar, is 487 pounds, with thirty one acres of glebe; the
population of Medbourne at the last census was 427 and Holt 53. The Rev T K B
Nevinson was instituted Rector of Lyndon, near Oakham, in 1889, twenty years
ago, and the parishioners, and very many others who know and respect him
greatly, will learn of his impending removal with unfeigned regret. The living
of Lyndon is of the annual value of 130 pounds, with 14 acres of glebe, and the
patron is Mr E W P Conant, of Lyndon Hall.
In 1911, Albert Sharpe, aged 14, trudged up the drive of
Lyndon Hall to be taken into the employ of Mr. Edward Conant. He was to lodge
in the old rectory in a huge bed over which dangled the great row of spring
hung bells to the various rooms in the house. The sudden jangling of these so
frightened the new hall boy that he asked to sleep in another room.
A new suit of clothes and a wage of £12 a year was
to be his pay in the days when a job of any sort was sought, and not to be
rejected. The boy would rise at seven in the morning and down he would go to
clean the boots and the knives before breakfast at 8 a.m.. sharp. After this
meal he would trim the paraffin lamps and, being short, he would have to mount
steps to reach the hanging lamps. At 9 on the dot, Mr. Conant rang the handbell
and all the staff had to attend in the study for 5 minutes of prayer. In would
troop the cook/housekeeper, the governess, the parlourmaid, the kitchen maid,
three housemaids and the only man amongst them all, the hall boy. In the
absence of a traditional butler, the cook/housekeeper ruled the house with a
rod of iron and everyone had to be on time. Despite this, and during the five
years that Albert served, he does not recollect anyone getting their
From 9.45 until 11.00 a.m. the hall boy helped the
parlourmaid to wash up and leather all the silver ready for lunch. Those items
not required were kept in the great safe in the old butler's pantry along with
the other silver used on formal occasions. At 11 o'clock came a tea break in
the servants hall with scones left over from the masters breakfast After this
the servants lunch would have to be laid up by the boy whilst the parlourmaid
laid upstairs. As soon as he had finished he would go back to his quarter to
change and be ready to carry in the lunch from the cook to the staff seated in
the servants hall The meal had to be served not a minute later than 12.30 and
the food proved to be of the best of everything, time was important, for the
Conants sat down to eat prompt at 1 o'clock.
Washing up again, first the dishes from the servants hall,
then those from the dining room, which were dealt with in the pantry. From
indoors to outdoors in the summer holidays the hall boy was expected to bowl on
the main lawn to Master Rupert and Master Roger for sometimes as long as two
hours. In the winter, however, the afternoons were free, and at 5 o'clock, tea
was available in the servants hall and at 7 o'clock the boy helped the
parlourmaid preparing the silver for dinner upstairs at 8. By the time he had
finished washing up and cleaning up, ten o'clock had struck and he would hurry
across the churchyard to his bed at the old rectory. The little trip would make
his hair stand on end and an old owl in a tree would frighten the life out of
The Conants being connected with Phipps Brewery, received
concessions of 18 gallons of porter and 18 gallons of light ale for the
servants each month. With so many women servants, all the beer was not
consumed, although any caller, be he postman or telegram boy always received a
pint of beer. Rather than lose the custom of the concession through not
drinking all the beer supplied, the Hall Boy would fill empty wine bottles with
beer and lower them [five words missing] to the stokehole below. Here the
gardeners and other outside men enjoyed their drink. Among them was Mr. Wright,
the Head gardener, and four under him who lived in the bothy in the kitchen
garden. In addition were the two Brackenberrys, who were gamekeepers, Mr.
Sydney the outside carpenter, Mr. Frisby, the herdsman, and two laundry maids.
George Betts, the groom/coachman also had his tot, and often he would come back
very late after taking the squire out to a party. Despite this he was expected
to be up early in the morning, so on occasion he would back up the coach to the
front door with only that side cleaned. One morning Mr. Conant asked him to
turn it round.
Although one of the gardeners courted the head housemaid,
the squire very much frowned upon fraternisation between the inside and outside
servants. The only approach to the house permitted to the gardeners was via the
outer door of the conservatory where lived the tropical shrubs and a large
The only time off allowed the boy were two hours on a
Sunday afternoon, and during his service he never enjoyed a holiday, although
he once travelled by train to a convalescent home at Hunstanton, all being paid
by the squire.
Eleven o'clock Sunday service was a ritual under the
Vicar, Mr. Hodge, also a master at Oakham School All the servants had to
attend, sitting in the pews at the back behind the Squire, with Albert, the
Hall Boy being seated on a little chair adjacent to the back pew. All girl
servants would be dressed in their full uniform, with black hats, the hall Boy
in a little black suit
In 1916, Albert joined the Navy under the Derby Scheme.
This was a form of volunteering devised by Lord Derby in 1915, to assist the
numbers required by the war. Despite nearly three million applying, it was not
enough for such a voracious need and a few months later, conscription became
inevitable. Albert served on the light cruiser, HMS Cerces, and watched from
her decks as the German fleet entered Scapa Flow to surrender at the Armistice.
Later the majority of the ships were scuttled in the harbour by their German
Albert Sharp did not return to Lyndon but went to work as
handyman for Jimmy Baird at Deanscroft, Oakham.
A 14 year old Elsie (Dickens) went from school to work at
the Hall for Mr. Conant at the time of the Great war and a time of scarcity.
She tells of a great house without electricity, of oil lamps and candles and
having to walk, frightened, down the long corridors at six of a winter's
morning, armed with a flickering candle. Before the family came down, all
grates had to be polished, fires lit, and rooms made spotless. There seemed to
be oak panelling everywhere and it all had to be washed with old beer.
Hip baths were still in use, and great brass cans of hot
water had to be carried to each room, and there were the formidable four
posters awaiting making.
£11 a year was her pay, and one half day a week and
every other Sunday afternoon off, and one was not allowed out after dark.
Church had to be attended twice on Sundays, and wearing all black clothes and
She left to work at Ayston Hall.