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Drone view of Blidworth from St Mary's Church

Aerial view of Main Street showing St Mary’s Church (centre) and the old tower mill (far left). Source: Darren Jennings

Other Nearby Locations

Drone image of the old tower mill

Drone image of the abandoned, Old Tower Mill, looking South over St Mary’s Church. Source: Darren Jennings.

The Old Tower Mill

People would travel to Blidworth to see Vicar’s Son, Frank Whitworth, throw a ball from the church gate and hit the sails of the tower mill.

Cricket was a popular pastime in the village and Frank Whitworth later became an accomplished cricketer, playing county cricket for Nottinghamshire and becoming a professional fast bowler for Accrington in 1887-88.

Most professional cricketers at this time were bowlers. Batting was favoured by the more well off gentlemen who would engage working class bowlers to bowl to them.

The old tower mill

Vintage picture of Blidworth Tower Mill with sails.

From the high vantage point of the Old Tower Mill, it used to be possible to see Lincolnshire Cathedral to the east, and the Vale of Belvoir to the south.

Druid Stone Blidworth

The Druid Stone at Blidworth in 2012. Source: Steven Clay.

The Druid Stone

Located in a field close to Fishpool Road (the B6020) and Rickets Lane, the Druid Stone was formed from glacial deposits around 450,000 years ago.

Standing 14 feet tall, the boulder has a large hole through the centre, giving rise to speculation that it may have been used in ancient rituals.

Although indicated on Ordinance Survey Maps from 1850 as ‘Druidical remains’ there is no proof that this object was ever used by Druids.

Local folklore does however mention that sick children would be passed through the stone to cure whooping cough.

One group of people who may have had an interest in using the stone for worship, are the Coritani, a Celtic tribe common to the East Midlands but displaced by the Romans. If the Coritani were present in Blidworth, then the abundance of Mistletoe, and forest springs would have had great appeal.

Since 1999 the site which is on private land has been recognised by Newark & Sherwood District Council as a grade one geological site of regional importance. 

The Druid Stone, Blidworth. Aerial camera; Rick Gibson.

Fountaindale

The Lakes at Lyndhurst. Source: Fountaindale Trout Fishery, Facebook.

Friar Tuck’s Well

Along Ricketts lane heading out towards the A60 to the south of Mansfield and the north of Blidworth is Fountaindale at Lyndhurst.

Lyndhurst means ‘lime-tree hill’ suggesting that Lime was the dominant species when the wood received its name. Lyndhurst was a jealously guarded property of the crown and was separate to the Manor of Mansfield, and to Blidworth which belonged to the Archbishop of York. In medieval times, the trees would have been predominantly Oak. 14th Century records detail the employment of carpenters and sawyers there and expenses of carting the timber to Nottingham Castle.

The area also features a chalybeate spring (water containing iron minerals) one of many along Rainworth Water in an area known colloquially as Friar Tuck’s Well.

At the time of Alfred the Great (848-899) the Danes are said to have destroyed a Saxon shrine here, and treasure was hidden by a monk who was subsequently killed by the invaders. The moat at Lyndhurst is said to have been cursed by the Danes after they failed to find the treasure.

The Robin Hood ballad The Curtal Friar is said to be based on this location. The Ballad describes a Friar who fought the outlaw, as being cordial (round) about the waist, and his habit being curtal (short). It is the only time Robin Hood ever wore armour in a fight.

The ballad tells of how Robin Hood’s outlaws enjoy a successful hunt where Little John kills a Hart from 500 yards away with an arrow. When Robin Hood claims that nobody within a hundred miles can match this feat, Will Scarlett tells Robin of a certain friar who is a match, and Robin Hood sets of to find him.

He meets the friar at a river where Robin forces the friar to carry him across, but in doing so the friar throws him in the water half way. They fight and eventually Robin asks to be allowed to blow his horn. The Friar agrees and the Robin’s Merry Men arrive, armed with bows. The friar asks to be allowed to blow a whistle, Robin agrees and fierce dogs arrive to aid the friar. After a stand-off the friar joins the band

Fountaindale added further detail to the Robin Hood legend when Sir Walter Scott wrote part of his novel Ivanhoe here – an adventure featuring Robin Hood. Scott was a guest of Colonel Need whose family lived at Fountaindale Lodge for the greater part of the 19th century.

Irving Washington, one of the most famous American authors of the 19th Century who stayed at Newstead Abbey following the death of Lord Byron in 1824 also visited the site, writing; ‘Here is Fountaindale, where he (Robin Hood) had his encounter with that stalwart shaveling Friar Tuck’. Irving was inspired by his visit to write The Legend of Spooky Hollow, an early example of American literature and Romanticism.

Archives held at Nottingham refer to stones being removed from within the moated enclosure about 100 years ago, which could have formed part of a Cell or Hermitage. A wooden bridge being the only point of access.

In the 1950s a board was attached to railings around the well which told how the holy clerk would pray at the Chancel of Saint Lawrence in Blidworth Churchyard. Other signage described the bridge over the moat was where the Friar met Robin Hood, and another explained how the King’s taxes were collected here in this part of Sherwood Forest.

The early Robin Hood ballads describe Friar Tuck as wearing similar cloth to that of Franciscan monks It’s feasible that a rebellious holy man could have lived in the Hermitage at Fountaindale, as Newstead Abbey, only two miles away, was once a Priory for Augustine monks.