Local History Group

The Cranmer Local History Group was formed in 2001 and typically meets on the first Tuesday of the month in the Thomas Cranmer Centre, Main Street, Aslockton.

For more information visit the Group’s website at http://cranmerlhg.org

There follows below a brief history of Whatton-in-the-Vale.

Early Settlement

Whatton is an ancient settlement, artefacts have been found on the border of Aslockton and Whatton indicating that there was a settlement in Whatton in the late iron-age. The actual settlement wasn’t found but is thought to be located under the A52. It is of interest that the ‘finds’ were dated up to the 1st century BC and did not extend into the Romano-British period (1st to 5th Century AD). Whilst evidence has yet to be found it is entirely probable that there was a Romano-British settlement in the parish.

Names used in the parish, supported by the Domesday record provide evidence of early Saxon and Danish settlement in the 5th to 11th Centuries. The English Place name Survey (‘EPNS’) of 1948 proposed that the name Whatton is a contraction of Wheat with the Saxon suffix of ton meaning farm or settlement. Unfortunately, the EPNS used the modern spelling, the actual 11th Century spelling was WATONE, the tone suffix is indeed Saxon, but the wa appears to be a contraction of the Danish for Water. The bridge which carried the Nottingham Grantham road over the Smite (at the start of what is now the Bye-pass) is called the Cocker Beck Bridge. Cocker Beck is a combination of Saxon and Danish meaning winding stream. The name of the river itself, the Smite is thought to be of Danish origin.

Whatton was in an area of England called. ‘Danelaw’ was part of the North Sea Empire which also included Norway, Denmark and part of Sweden. The other parts of England were Mercia and Wessex (West Saxons.) On the death of Edmund Ironside, England was unified under CNUT (aka Canute).

In the Danelaw area, Manors were called Sokes and Wapentakes were the equivalent of Saxon Hundreds. We know from the Domesday record that Whatton was held by Ulf Fenwick who was a ‘Jarg’  the Dane equivalent of the Saxon Earl.

The Soke of Whatton also had jurisdiction over the southern part of Aslockton and the majority of Hawkesworth and was part of the Bingham Wapentake.

Copyright 2014 – GR Redford all rights reserved.

The Norman Heritage

In 1066, the Manor of Whatton was granted by William I (The Conqueror) to Gilbert de Ghent who in turn placed ‘his man’ Robert as Lord of the Manor. Robert and his family took their surname from the Manor and became de Watone, later changing to de Whatton and then just Whatton.

The Manor of Whatton not only held what is now the parish of Whatton, but also had jurisdiction one of the five Manors in Aslockton and one of the two Manors in Hawksworth. In all the Lord of Whatton held in the region of three thousand arable acres and a population of 40 villagers, smallholders or cottagers, 29 freeman spread over the entire holding. The largest population being in Whatton itself numbering about 28 villagers and 12 smallholders. The numbers quoted refer to able-bodied adults so the actual population would be in the range of three to four times the actual number quoted

From Robert, the Manor passed to his son William and from him to his eldest son Robert. It is interesting to note that his younger son Walter was a Knight of the Second Crusade and lived at the Manor House in Whatton. Walters’ daughter Isabella married Reginald of Aslockton and was the great-grandmother of (Archbishop) Thomas Cranmer. Walters’ eldest son Richard was also ‘seated’ at Whatton Manor and was also a Knight of the Crusades.

Robert (son of William) had no surviving male heir and the Lordship of the Manor passed to his daughter Adelina who had married William Lord Heriz. However, it appears that William died before Robert and so the Manor did not pass to the Heriz family. Adelina is listed as the ‘Dame’ of Whatton in 1205 and therefore held the Manor in her own right. In about 1190, Adelina give land in Aslockton to Lenton Abbey and the Church in Whatton (and associated land) to Welbeck Abbey in memory of her late mother, father and husband (William Lord Heriz). She also paid a fine to the King of 100 silver marks to allow her to marry whoever she may wish.Sometime after 1205 Adelina married Ada de Novo Mercarto (later anglicized to Newmarch). Adam was Lord of the Manor of Bentley (Yorkshire) and continued to live there. The extended Whatton family continued to live at Whatton Manor. The Manor passed to Adams’ eldest son Henry and from him to his eldest son Adam. For reasons that are not clear the Manor passed from Adam to his younger son, yet another Adam, effectively separating the Bentley (which passed to Adams eldest son) and Whatton Estates. The Lord of the Manor of Whatton was again living in Whatton.

Adams’ eldest son Henry inherited the Manor from his father and in 1275 was granted a charter of free fishing from Edward 1st. His son, Thomas was summoned by Edward II in 1315 to “attend him at Newcastle-upon-Tyne to repel the Scots“. It was also during his Lordship that in 1344 that a Charter of Market and Fair was granted by Richard II.  Thomas’s son, another Thomas became the 10th Lord of Whatton.

During this whole period the Gilbert de Ghent and his descendants were the ‘Tenants-in-chief’ of Whatton Manor it was Thomas’s son, Hugh who in 1377 purchased the ‘Fee’ of Whatton Manor for himself and his descendants.

Hugh did not have a male heir so he was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth who married her distant cousin Ralph, Lord of the Manor of Bentley. Thus the Manors of Whatton and Bentley were reunited. The Manor then passed to Robert, their son. If the intention was to recreate the Newmarch ‘dynasty’, it regrettably didn’t work as Robert had no male heir and the Manor passed to his daughter Elizabeth. Elizabeth married the younger son of the Earl of Westmoreland, John Nevil. They too had no male heir and the Manor passed to their daughter Joan who married Sir William Gascoigne in about 1458.

A later Sir William Gascoigne (there were sixteen Williams in succession) sold the Manor to Sir Thomas Stanhope (grandfather of Philip the 1st Earl Chesterfield) in 1516 thus severing Whatton Manors’ 450year connection with the 1st Norman Lord of the Manor Robert.

The Manor House which was located between what is now Whatton Grange and the Gables was not occupied probably from the early 1400s and almost certainly fell into disrepair. Certainly by the late 18th century no trace of the Norman Manor could be seen.

Copyright 2016 – GR Redford all rights reserved