The Realms of Royality
First published: June 2012
Author: Davide Cook, Priories Historical Society

For several centuries the British Monarchy has regularly visited our area in both times of peace and war. Here is a look into  Bassetlaw’s royal heritage. The first mentioning of royalty in our area comes from Bedes book, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, and tells of King Edwin’s army winning the Battle of the River Idle in 617AD defeating the Northumbrian king Æthelfrith. It is thought Edwin was baptised somewhere near Littleborough around 627AD and was slain six years later at the Battle of Hatfield, located near Edwinstowe after his army was defeated by King Penda’s Mercian and Welsh army. 

King John’s Royal Palace in Nottinghamshire, at Clipstone, was used and maintained by several kings but fell into disuse by the early 1500’s. Richard the Lionheart came here soon after his return from the Crusades and this complex may have been used for royalty and nobility to stay in during their time hunting in the Royal Forest of Sherwood.

In 1476 one of England’s shortest lived rulers, Richard, Duke of York’s body was brought through the county from Pontefract.  During the evening of July 23rd his remains were rested at Blyth Priory before proceeding south to be reburied at Fotheringhay.

Since 1541 the owner of the Manor of Worksop has held the rights of presenting the new monarch a pair of gloves and holding their right hand during the ceremony.  The gloves carry the Arms of Verdun, the family which had originally held the rights at Farnham Royal Manor.  The Farnham family did not have any male heirs so the gloves passed through various family names until 1541 when the then owner of the manor exchanged the land and deeds with Henry VIII for Worksop Manor. Queen Elizabeth I was crowned in 1558 in Westminster Abbey and was the first monarch to receive the gloves by the Earl of Shrewsbury Francis Talbot. In 1840 Worksop Manor was sold to the Duke of Newcastle and from then on, his heirs performed this service. Unfortunately as the Manor is now run as a company the present owners are not able to perform this task

Elizabeth I and Bess of Hardwick were quite close friends when they were young and the Queen regularly came up to this part of the country on business.  Mary Queen of Scots also spent time in Worksop Manor during 1583 whilst in the care of the Earl of Shrewsbury and Bess.  During the 17th century royalty were regular visitors to Worksop and Welbeck Manors.  On the 20th April 1603, King James VI came had a brief stop at Blyth near the banks of the Ryton before proceeding to Worksop.  Whilst at the Manor the king hunted and ate well giving the leftovers to anyone that would have them. James I also stayed at Welbeck in 1619. During the Civil War Charles I visited Welbeck to visit the Marquis of Newcastle on 15 August 1645 before going to Retford a few days later before returning to Welbeck on 13th October. In 1695 William of Orange had a two day feast at Welbeck after his return to England after the siege of Namur in Belgium, he travelled from Dunham Ferry with the Duke of Newcastle through the countryside to get there.

In 1897 the Prince and Princess of Wales arrived in Worksop via train and were taken to Worksop manor via the town escorted by the Duke of Portland with the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry Cavalry. The town was heavily decorated with bunting and flags making the town look very smart.

The early 20th century was also a busy period for royalty visiting the area with both the British King George V and Queen Mary and the Spanish monarch, King Alfonso XIII visiting Worksop in 1905 the British monarchy was again escorted by the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, The Norwegian King Haakon VII and Queen Maud (the daughter of VII) visited Welbeck Abbey in 1913 and George V and Queen Mary visiting Worksop and Welbeck in 1912 on a three day visit which included inspecting the towns National Reserve.  They
also visited Retford via train on 26th June 1914 with the town decorated and a parade in the market square. George V also visited Worksop in 1928 in a Rolls-Royce to open Memorial Way (later renamed as Memorial Avenue), dedicated to Worksop’s military dead from World War I.

Postwar visits of royalty have unfortunately been far and few between on 25th July 1950 the Queen Mother visited the town. A lavish display was put on in the old market square including a guard of honour by No.1 Regimental Training Unit from the REME camp at Tuxford. She also visited Harlow Wood Orthopaedic Hospital near Mansfield and Hesley Hall near Doncaster.  During the mid fifties Prince Phillip landed at RAF Worksop and inspected the guard of honour before going to Welbeck College in a helicopter to attend their prize giving day.

Worksop’s new council offices next to the old Town Hall on Potter Street were opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 5th
June 1981 named ‘Queen’s Buildings’ in her honour. .  This included a special exhibition designed by Lee Sinclair BA and a dance by Harthill Morris Men. A plate with the new town hall was made and sold to commemorate the event. I remember this event as a youngster sat on a wall waving a union flag as they drove north on Carlton Road. In 1989 Princess Diana visited the Worksop stopping off at Courtaulds and the Bassetlaw Hospital to open the Mammography Unit. The last visit of royalty to our area was Prince Charles and Camilla who flew in to Welbeck Abbey to look at the School of Artisan Food and unveil a plaque in November 2011.

So love them or hate them the various royal families have played a big part in our areas history.  Bassetlaw District Council are planting 6000 trees in the area to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee and various celebrations will be going off in our region throughout the summer.  There has also recently been a book published on the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry Cavalry written by Jonathan Hunt and available via Pen & Sword military books.