History of Woodthorpe House

Sherwood Community Centre is based in Woodthorpe House, a Grade II listed building which dates back to at least the first part of the 19th Century.  However, it is possible that parts of the house are even older.  On Chapman’s 1774 map there was only one building in the area which is now known as Sherwood, this was on the site where Woodthorpe House now stands.  In the very large Basford Enclosure map of 1792 the house and its outbuildings are most clearly marked in the position they are today and they are in the same position on Sanderson’s map of 1835.

Woodthorpe House has some beautiful architectural features, such as the entrance portico with Doric columns


dentilated cross-beams and arched niches.  Rooms 1 and 2 have carved and fretted wooden pelmets and beautiful plasterwork, including an anthemian border: 

There is also a curved mahogany door, and Graham Beaumont, formerly County Architect considered the building to have some of the finest wooden windows in Nottinghamshire.   It is believed that the house was built in at least 3 phases, as can be seen by the irregularly fenestrated façade overlooking the lawn, together with the differences in ceiling heights.  We would welcome further investigation by architectural historians.

Little is known about the early life of the house.  In 1832, Richard Hooten (maltster and builder) was the owner, and he may have built the house himself some time before this.  However, Martin Roe Esq (woollen and linen draper) was living here according to Whites 1832 Trade Directory.Various families are recorded as having lived in the property which in 1896 is shown to have included land extending to the Day Brook (just the other side of the ring road, but excluding The Cedars and Woodthorpe Lodge), all the area up to the boundary of the Prison (i.e both sides of Edwards Lane up to the end of Victoria Road) and to the row of trees down the middle of Edwards Lane/Magnus Road.  Additionally, the land on the corner of Woodthorpe Drive on the north side of Woodthorpe Park and the land on the south side of Woodthorpe Park (Elmswood Gardens etc) were also part of this extensive estate. 

Owners and Tenants of Woodthorpe House from 1844 to 1939:
1844 – John Fox – prominent local Solicitor
1851 – William Cartledge – Lace Thread Manufacturer.  It is possible that he was the son of another William Cartledge, who in 1805 succeeded in machine-spinning a suitable lace-making yarn from cotton, thereby creating the conditions for a considerable expansion of lace-making, whether by hand or by machine.  It is not known when William Cartledge first purchased the property, however, the discovery of an Abstract of Title in 2010 has shown that the house remained in his family until 1896.  Following William’s death in 1859, his wife, Rebecca and daughter, Mary Jane continued to live there until, Mary Jane married Henry Smith Wright, (MP, Banker and Barrister, son of Ichabod Charles Wright).  Mary Jane died in 1866 leaving a daughter, Edith Mary Smith Wright, who inherited Woodthorpe House at the age of 2, on the death of her grandmother, Rebecca in 1868.  The property was therefore held in trust until Edith’s marriage to her cousin, Donald Campbell (great grandson of the 5th Earl of Carlisle).  In 1896 she sold the property to Sir Charles Seely.
During the time between Rebecca Cartledge’s death and Sir Charles Seely’s purchase of the house and land, the following families lived in Woodthorpe House. From 1871 to 1880 Louis Augustin Baillon (French Consul and owner of a Lace and Linen factory in Nottingham) lived at Woodthorpe house.  Both he and his French-Irish wife Eliza Catherine Blake were from the famous lace making areas of France, namely St Quentin and Valenciennes.  William Frederick Goodliffe was born in Rutland in 1835 and lived in Woodthorpe House from 1880 to 1892, with his second wife Elizabeth Hardy Cooper, and the six children from his first marriage to Eliza Ann Brownlow.  He was a hosiery manufacturer (Gascoigne and Goodliffe). On the schedule attached to the Abstract of Title in 1896, Annie Howland is shown to be the tenant of the house.  Trade Directories for 1894 and 1895 also show a Mrs Charles Claridge Howland to be living at Woodthorpe House.  Nothing is known about Mrs Howland, although the 1881 Census for 297 Caledonian Road, Islington, Middlesex, London shows a Licensed Victualler called Charles C Howland married to Ann.  This address was the Edinburgh Castle Public House.  Further records show the death of a Charles Claridge Howland in 1890 and a Beer Retailer called Mrs Ann Claridge in the Middlesex Trade Directory of 1891.  Whereas the Post Office Directory for the same year lists a new Landlord.  Local Farmer John Gadsby is shown as being the tenant of most of the land on the 1896 schedule.

From 1898 to 1939 the Tomasson Family lived in Woodthorpe House.  It is believed that Sir Charles Seely sold the house and the land currently occupied by Sherwood Community Centre, the houses on Old Lodge Drive, and the ex-Play Centre (now Young Potential’s Community Garden) to Captain William Tomasson between 1896 and 1898.  The remaining land remained in the ownership of Sir Charles Seely until his death in 1915 and was sold by his sons, to Nottingham Corporation in 1919 prior to the subsequent building of the current estate on both sides of Edwards Lane in the 1920’s. Captain William Hugh Tomasson – later Sir William (1858-1922) had previously been an Army Officer, and had fought in the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879.  In 1881 he was a Police Superintendent in Mansfield, but had become Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire in 1892. When Sir William died suddenly in 1922, the house passed to his wife, Lady Eliza, and later to their son, Major James Frederick Hugh Tomasson, who lived there throughout the 1930’s with his wife and two daughters.  It is believed they moved to the grounds of Newstead Abbey in 1939. Sir William’s daughter, Katherine Tomasson (Kitty), who was born at Woodthorpe House wrote “The Jacobite General” a biography of Lord George Murray, and “The Battles of the ’45).  She was very fond of Scotland as can be seen in a recently discovered portfolio of sketches and paintings which she did between 1910 and the early 1920’s.  These paintings also include 3 self-portraits and paintings of the family pets.

During the war Woodthorpe House was used as the Regimental H.Q. of 161 Mixed Heavy A.A. Regiment. Nissen huts were put up in the grounds and the canteen was built on the site of the former loggia.  The buildings were also used as a prisoner of war camp. The building was acquired by the City Council in 1949 and used for a short while for school meals and as an annex to Haywood School (at that time in the current Seely School building).  A local lady remembers being walked from the school to Woodthorpe House, and sitting by a pot bellied stove whilst her teacher read “Wind in the Willows”.  Her brother also remembers seeing soldiers guarding the grounds.  They believe that their ancestor, Richard Hooten may have built the house.

The History of Sherwood Community Association
The Association can trace its history back to the Second World War when dances and fund raising events were held in members houses and local schools.  It started using Woodthorpe House in May 1949 and the Centre was formally opened by the Mayor of Nottingham Councillor H.O. Emmony J. P. on July 8th 1950. 
In 1977 the courtyard at the rear of the building was roofed over and joined to the stable and scullery areas to form the youth wing, although this is now a dance studio.  During the 1950’s, plans had been drawn up for a large hall which was to be opened in 1953 to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.  Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition until 1980, when a hall, smaller than originally hoped for, was built adjacent to Woodthorpe House.  This greatly extended the possibilities for larger scale activities and led to the re-forming of the Old Time Dance Section, and in 1984 Leslie Crowther, (Nottingham born) TV Crackerjack and Games Show Host) was the guest at the opening of the new coffee bar, foyer and toilets block, which now join the newer building to the old.

We would also be grateful for any further information and the loan of photographs related to the History of Sherwood Community Centre and would be particularly interested in any information concerning the activities which took place here during the Second World War.  Please send any photos or information to woodthorpehouse@hotmail.co.uk or to Sherwood Community Centre, Woodthorpe House, Mansfield Road, Sherwood, NG5 3FN, Nottinghamshire, England
Terry Fry: HISTORY OF SHERWOOD a Nottingham Suburb, ARTICLE ON WOODTHORPE HOUSE – CIVIC SOCIETY OF NOTTINGHAM NEWSLETTER No 140. Both available to read at the Local Studies Library)
Joan Baillon Wood: FAMILY PHOTOS.

A local resident: ABSTRACT OF TITLE 1924
Nottinghamshire Archives
Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Libraries
Sherwood Community Centre Archives
Nottinghamshire County Council and www.picturethepast.org.uk
We would specially like to thank Terry Fry for his advice and permission to use information from his own research.




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