Retford Ladies Probus Club

by | 2 May 2024 | Probus, Retford, Social Group

At the April meeting of Retford Ladies Probus Club, Maggie Watkins took members on a discovery of Clumber Park and was quick to point out that Worksop people are still campaigning for the right to enter the park free of charge as was written in the Domesday Book.

Originally there was a monastery on the site, then the third duke was granted a licence to enclose 3,000 acres of land as a deer park for Queen Anne. Lime Tree Avenue is considered to be the longest of its kind in Europe.

The seventh duke seems to have had the most input building a large house, Manton Colliery and giving over land to Worksop College. He was a larger-than-life character, only five feet tall and was the inspiration for Toad of Toad Hall. He was a close friend of author Kenneth Grahame.

In its heyday Clumber Park had 29 gardeners who grew exotic fruits and flowers. The duchess expected a fresh carnation on her breakfast table every morning and it cost £5,000 to produce one pineapple! This also came at a human cost. They developed a special heating system which involved the use of toxic chemicals. Sadly, this caused the early death of many gardeners. Samuel Barker, the head gardener, had a house built but was only allowed a back door. A front door would have suggested he was getting above his station!

The duke died in 1928 and things went downhill. The eighth frittered it all away and in 1946 the National Trust took over. All the dukedoms can be traced back to Bess of Hardwick because the first duke, William Cavendish was her grandson.

The Club next convenes on Wednesday 8th May at Westhill Community Centre from 10.00am for 10.30am, when the talk will be ‘Dogs for Good’ and Piper will be the star of the show! All are welcome.