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Stocks, prize-fighting, swimming in the brook and a strike at church 1928

Loughborough Echo - Friday 3rd August 1928

Quorn is perhaps as well off as most places for tales of interest, and has also the usual amount of elderly people; it is sometimes astonishing for the young generation to find what changes have taken place in, say, sixty years. Few would suppose that the village stocks had been in active use within the memory of anyone now living, but plenty of old inhabitants can remember them, standing against the wall of 'The Elms', hold in their embrace the drunkard, the waster.

It would perhaps be tactless for anyone, in such a hunting centre, to decry the pastime of hunting, but no one would mind uplifting his voice against what is now regarded as the brutalising prize ring; had he done so 60 years ago, he might have had more reason for doing so than today, for apparently such sets to were not entirely unknown in Quorn, and the Stone House in Meeting Street, then the Three Crowns Inn, might, if it could speak, tell a tale in that direction. Mention of the Three Crowns Inn recalls the apparent great thirst of our forefathers; the population of the village according to the last census, was 2,340 and there are thirteen licenses houses; besides the house mentioned, there are certainly five others which in former times were licensed, including the Crown and Cushion, now the Factory House, the Blue Ball, now the Co-operative Stores, and the house now occupied by Mr C Tomlin, in Meeting Street, which was formerly the Bird in the Hand. The population of Quorn 60 years ago was 1,818, so there is evidence that ample allowance was made for the thirsty man, even supposing that some of the licences have been granted since then.

Neither the Factory Brook nor the River Soar are regarded as salmon streams, but it appears that a migration of salmon to those waters took place about forty years ago, when a Mr Webster, who occupied premises by the brook, where Messrs M Wright and Sons' new buildings stand, shot a 15lb fish, and when persons netting the brook for bait secured a still larger salmon, whose mortal remains may still be seen in glass case by all who know where to look. The Factory Brook calls to mind the floods which used to occur in the village, but which seem to get scarcer as the years go by. The opening of Zouch Mill by the late Edward Warner of Quorn Hall, has caused the water to disappear quicker than it used to do, and the present generation has forgotten, if indeed it ever knew, that in year 1875 it was possible to swim in the flooded garden of Brook House; yet this was done by the late Mr E Watson, who recounted to the writer how he did so for a bit of fun and to amuse his friends. The same flood burst out from the grounds of Quorn Hall (House?) with such violence that Mr John Brown was drowned in a passage of the White Horse Hotel.

The history of the village is very largely the history of the Parish Church and the leading local family, and the records of St Bartholomew's Church, Quorn and those of the Farnham family can between them tell the history of Quorn for 800 years. But neither of them tells how, in the 50's of last century, the organist of the church, finding the church cold, asked for a stone, which the Vicar refused to supply, so she (it was a lady, which makes the vicar's action the more ungallant) went on strike, and the choir with her. The Rev. Robert Stammers was not the man be set fast by a strike, and by the next Sunday he had gathered a choir, dare it be said, of blacklegs, together with sundry instrumentalists, and between them the service was kept going much as is nothing had happened. One, at least, of this scratch choir is still alive in the person of Mrs Thomas Gamble, who, at the age of 87, is still to be seen in church, doubtless calling to mind her early efforts as a chorister in the west gallery, as she listens to the white robed choir, as it sings in the little chancel, which, in her young days was the family pew of the Nether Hall.

The instrumentalists just mentioned were led by one Johnson, who played the bass viol, and seems to have taken great delight in the hymn "Angels from the realms of glory," the rhythm of which he used to stamp out with his foot, and whose performances, with those of his brethren, aroused the admiration of Mr Thomas Cradock, who used to turn round in his pew at the top of the nave, and visibly urge the musicians to further efforts.

Apparently, however, the Nether Hall family had not always occupied the chancel on Sundays, for there is still, in the restored pewage on the north side of the nave, a small portion railed off, and approachable by two small gates only; we often wonder what the churchwardens would say if a newcomer at Quorn Hall were to claim his right to use these gates; but it is so long since they were used that the Church has probably acquired the right of way.

The windows of the church are varied in quality ranging from quite good to hideously bad; unfortunately for the good name of the place those in the latter category were made by a local artist; the east window, placed by the Warner family in 1865, and neither very good nor very bad, was some nine years ago taken bodily out for repairs, these taking two weeks to carry out, the window was filled with plain glass for that time, and a local rhymster sent the following effusion to Mr Warner:

The famous Warner window
Has gone to be re-glazed;
We knew it when, on Sunday,
We saw the light that blazed
Where formerly a mixture
Of colours looked so hot;
We thought it was a fixture,
Thank goodness, it was not.

The leaves of pink and yellow,
The sky of Reckett's blue,
The plants that look like starfish,
The angel's feathers too,
The politeness of Elijah,
At which we've often laughed,
Are gone; and now the window
Lets in an awful draught.

When looking at the window,
I often have recalled
The statement that Elisha
Undoubtedly was bald.
I looked for him this morning,
Alas! He was not there;
I missed him with his top-knot
Of thick and curly hair.

What though the icy breezes
Blow in from Barrow Cliff,
And fill the church with sneezes,
And make the choir sniff;
We know it's not for ever,
For we are now informed
By Whitsuntide the window
Will come back quite reformed.

It certainly was reformed, the background of Reckett's blue being replaced by a more sober colour. The west gallery referred to was taken down at the restoration of 1865; previous to then the bells were rung from the earthen floor which then existed at the foot of the tower. No one seems to know nowadays exactly when it was that the sexton hanged himself by of the bell ropes, nor whether such an act of sacrilege was followed by a service of reconsecration of the church. Mention has been made of the Rev. Robert Stammers as vicar of Quorn. But his long tenure of the living (1833-1888) was only partly as vicar, for until the year 1868, the church was a chapel of ease to Barrow, then a large parish stretching to the west of the Barrow Rural District Council. It was customary for the Church in Quorn to pay the Vicar of Barrow the sum of 2 per annum for the churchyard grazing, and it speaks little for the business acumen of our immediate forefathers, when we find that, in spite of the separation of the parishes in 1868, and the announcement in the London Gazette that the rights of the churchyard passed to the then incumbent, that they continued to pay the tax until well into the twentieth century.

 Submitted on: 2009-08-07
 Submitted by: Kathryn Paterson
 Artefact ID: 484
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page

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