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Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, an ancient Sherwood Forest Village recorded in Domesday


The Institute in year 2000, little if anything has changed externally since then.


The Wesleyan Methodists had begun preaching in the village by 1812 and a cottage licensed for preaching purposes is recorded at the time, with only three members. The village population was then only 750, but the Primitive Methodists also established a group in 1820, building their own Chapel in 1851, and the Baptists had decided by 1830 that they too had sufficient numbers to need a church (finally built in 1851). Opposition to the established Church was thus strong, despite very vocal opposition to early non-conformist visiting preachers. (In 1817 it is recorded that a Methodist preacher was pelted with eggs and his voice drowned by the Church bells; Edward Morton in 1841 was pushed into the dyke in an effort to prevent him preaching near the centre of the village!) The increase in interest in non-conformist religions was probably related to the introduction of framework knitting as a cottage industry to a previously agricultural village.

By 1883 the congregation of the Wesleyan Methodists had decided that this building was too small for their needs, was in need of repair and they lacked the space to build an extension for Sunday School needs. A 400 sq. ft. building plot further down Roe Lane at its corner with Main Street was purchased in 1886 for £20 from William Edward Lee a descendant of William Lee, the inventor of the framework-knitting machine and, who was possibly born in Woodborough. He also agreed to be the architect for the new building.

The old Chapel was to have been sold to help defray the cost of its replacement. One potential purchaser was put off by a proviso in the conditions of sale that the building must not be used for religious services during the times of other services in the village, (thus preventing the development of other rival congregations). From 1891-1894 it was let to the Vicar of Woodborough for a nominal £5 per year, to be used as a non-sectarian Men's Reading Room - evidently a good village compromise to ensure the continuation of a valuable facility for community use. After this time it was variously known as the Men's Reading Room, the Men's Institute and finally as The Institute.

In 1895 the building was handed over to a Trust comprised of 15 villagers but later it was purchased by the then tenant of Woodborough Hall, Mr. Charles Hose Hill, who let it to the Parish Council for a peppercorn rent of five shillings per year. The Reading Room, which was adapted for the purpose by funds generously given by the late General Percy Smith, has been closed. The Room was worked on the widest possible basis, political and religious meetings being excluded by the rules and by the conditions on which it was left by the Wesleyan Trustees, and the Committee being representative of the various denominations.

The usual difficulty experienced in pleasing men who wanted quiet and lads who preferred amusement, where there is only one room, has been detrimental to its success, and shows that two rooms are absolutely necessary for such institutions to succeed. The newspapers have all been given by friends, and the rent wholly provided by subscriptions. The room has been sold by the Trustees, the furniture, which is all the property of the Vicar, will be retained by him in the hope of providing a similar institution at some future time.


Left: Mannie Foster in 1990 stoking the old coke heater which has since been

replaced by two gas heaters. On the right: Mannie celebrating his ninetieth birthday.




The following short pieces are drawn from Mannie Foster’s memories:














The building continued to be used for communal purposes despite erection of a Nissen hut in 1947 for use as a Village Hall. In 1950 a descendant of Charles Hill conveyed the ownership by gift to four Trustees, all Woodborough residents, subject to conditions that the premises should continue to be used: ‘for the purposes of physical and mental training, recreational and social, moral and intellectual development through the medium of a reading and recreation room. Lectures, classes, games, whist drives, youth club recreations and entertainments. Provision to be particularly made for the entertainment and use of the Institute by the old folk of the Parish of Woodborough, and to be used generally for the benefit of the inhabitants of Woodborough and its immediate vicinity without distinction of sex or of political, religious or other opinions. The control of the Institute to be entirely non-sectarian. The Institute may be used by any political parties for whist drives or other entertainments with the consent of the (Trustees) but no political speeches of any kind whatsoever shall be made in the Institute at any time'.

Reported in the Woodborough Newsletter in May 1968 that having been approached by the Trustees of the Institute, Roe Lane, to accept the property as a gift, Basford RDC asked the Parish Council if they would be prepared to take over local management if the property were put into a completely useful state. The offer was declined.

The Trustees were given the powers of an absolute owner and the ability to mortgage, lease or sell all or any part of the property 'until the expiration of twenty-one years from the death of the last survivor of the Trustees'. In 1999 there was only Mannie Foster of the original Trustees surviving, in his eighties, and he- handed over the Trusteeship to younger villagers. The Woodborough Institute is therefore an interesting example of community ownership of a building from an early date. It has remained virtually unchanged over a hundred years, apart from the removal of a gallery, and continues to provide a communal social and recreational facility for the village, despite the subsequent building on Lingwood Lane of a separate Village Hall in 1947 and the later replacement of this by a much larger building also on Lingwood Lane.

During 2000 and 2001 the Institute under went a scheme of improvements. Externally with new double-glazed windows and entrance door, and internally some new and more comfortable seating, totally redecorated plus the addition of new blinds to the high windows. Thus the Institute commences the 21st century in confident style, a popular meeting hall for small groups.



The interior of the Institute was fully refurbished in 2009 and Les Morgan (right) officially

reopened building and is pictured here with David Burgess who is Chairman of the Trustees.


In the year 2009 further improvements to the interior were made, in particular, new kitchen units and new sink were installed as well as new electrics. To cater for slide/computer aided talks a permanently mounted projection screen was placed above the kitchen units so when not in use it retracts out of the way. For the comfort of users of the hall new fold-up seats were brought in to replace the equally comfortable but much heavier chairs bought in 2001. Additional to these internal improvements external work to re point the brickwork, replace the guttering and convert the existing toilet with new fittings which are also suitable for access and use by disabled visitors. When the work was completed the hall was officially opened by Mr Les Morgan representing the Samuel Eden Trust whose grant had financed the project.


Trustees for the Institute were changed in October 2011. Mrs Margaret Kirk, and Peter Hollingsworth joined Chairman Mr David Burgess and Mark Stanbrook.


Peter Hollingsworth, David Burgess (Chair) Mrs Margaret Kirk and solicitor Mr Tom Barron on 10th October 2011

having signed the Trustee Deed. Mark Stanbrook, already a Trustee was unable to be present at this occasion.


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The Institute - A former chapel, now a popular meeting room



The Institute is a simple, plain two-storey red brick building, erected in 1827 as a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel with a blank-gable end on to the road, the land having previously been bought in 1826, the whole structure almost fills the site. This followed a resolution by ten members of its congregation, and designed to hold 150 despite its small size of 24ft x 33ft. High windows on the two long sides of the building indicate the original existence of a gallery inside and there is a bricked-up door on the entrance side below this. The gallery was removed in the early part of the twentieth century, leaving a single large room extending to full height (two storeys) of the building. There is a simple wooden dais across the eastern end, which now has kitchen units along part of the east wall. The original cast-iron stove was replaced in 1992 with two gas fired wall mounted convector heaters. Wooden benching around interior walls is retained only on the west and part of the north walls. The building was probably built with local Woodborough bricks, which would have come from the Bank Hill brickyard. The roof has red clay pantiles and there is a brick single story lean-to, which now houses a toilet.

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