Adapted from "A Guide to Bingham," 1992
Photographs copyright ANDREW SHELTON
By 47 AD the Romans had invaded Britain and built the Fosse Way. There were several small towns and villages in the area and the nearest to modern Bingham was called Margidunum. Margidunum survived until about 450 AD and evidence of burials as well as a number of villas have been found. Life in the mid-4th century was subject to raids from Germanic tribes, Angles and Saxons, and Picts and Scots from the north and from Ireland. Anglo-Saxon villages appeared in the area, including Bingham, which had acquired its new name at about this time. New invaders avoided the exact sites of Roman settlements and, in Bingham`s case, moved about 800 metres south-east to the present site.
There has been a succession of owners of the manor of Bingham. The Domesday Survey reveals that the last owner before the Norman Conquest in 1066 was Tostig, a nobleman of Danish descent, but by 1086 the manor was in the possession of a Norman baron, Roger de Busli. Henry III granted the manor to Ralph Bugg a wealthy Nottingham merchant in 1265. The family took the name of their manor and he became Ralph de Bingham. Two notable Lords of the Manor were Sir Thomas de Rempstone, who helped King Henry IV depose Richard II in 1399 and his son, also Sir Thomas, who fought at the battle of Agincourt (1415) but was later captured by French forces under Joan of Arc. At the time of the Domesday Survey the population was about 250 people and the annual rental for the village was £10. The population grew and then decreased as the Black Death struck in 1348. This led to part of Bingham known as Crow Close becoming overgrown and finally disappearing. Arial photographs clearly show the pattern of houses and `closes` which once existed. There is a surviving survey taken in 1586 and many family names mentioned crop up again and again over the centuries. In 1674 records show there was a total of 117 households in Bingham, possibly a population of 600-700.
In 1314 Alice de Bingham, widow of Ralph`s son Richard de Bingham, claimed the right to hold a market every Thursday, with a fair on 6 days a year. The market was discontinued at the end of the 19th Century following the opening of the Nottingham to Grantham railway. This revolutionised local transport and allowed the journey to Nottingham to be made in 23 minutes. It also marked the decline of Bingham as traders and customers travelled to Nottingham or Grantham instead and Bingham market dwindled. However, the market was revived in 1975 and is held every Thursday around the Butter Cross. The Butter Cross marks the site where women sat to sell baskets of butter more than 200 years ago. The Butter Cross itself dates back to 1861 when it was erected to the memory of John Hassall by his friends and neighbours at a cost of £700. He was the Agent of the Earl of Carnarvon, the Lord of the Manor of Bingham. The initials JH are entwined in the spandrels of the arches and the inscription reads: "to be beloved is better than all bargains".
Almost everyone was employed in agriculture, sheep farming being the most widespread. The names of former fields have survived as names of modern farms and streets. The annual rent due to the Lord of the Manor in 1586 was £95.14s.7½d. Some small farmers were also traders or craftsmen and cheese-making was done on a large scale. Industries changed during the 18th century and a significant number of framework knitters were in Bingham, the last surviving as late as 1915. The 1851 census showed a wide variety of trades and crafts being carried out in the town
The present church, St Mary and All Saints, was built in the early 13th century although the font dates in part from the early Norman period (late 11th century). The font is believed to have come from an earlier church which was possibly built in the 10th century. Medieval burials have been found which may have been associated with a chapel of St Helen on Kirkhill. In the 16th Century the rector of the church John Stapleton ran a school in the church. In 1710 a local apothecary called Peatfield attempted to burn down the town. He was arrested, tried and judged to be insane and locked up for almost 30 years until he died. At the same time the local rector Henry Stanhope was `incapacitated for takeing the Oaths to the Government by being a Lunatick` but was able to continue in his post for almost 50 years with the curate carrying out his parish duties.
During the Civil Wars of 1642/9 Bingham was uncomfortably situated between the Royalist strongholds of Newark, Shelford, Wiverton and Belvoir, and the Parliamentarian base at Nottingham. Although the inhabitants of Bingham were not actually fighting they probably ended up paying taxes to both sides. Soldiers returning from the wars brought back with them the plague resulting in many deaths in the town. The parish register of that time makes sad reading.
Over the centuries Bingham grew into a successful community and became the centre of one of the administrative divisions of Nottinghamshire known as `wapentakes`. This Scandinavian word dates from the time in the 9th century when Danes invaded and settled in the East Midlands alongside the Angles who had already been in the area for about 400 years. The town never lost its position as a local administrative centre. A new Workhouse was built on Nottingham Road in 1837 replacing the earlier one on Union Street. This was home for many old people, handicapped, orphans, unmarried mothers and those who had fallen on hard times and served a large number of villages throughout the south-east of Nottinghamshire.
When local government began to take on its modern form, Bingham became the centre and headquarters for one of the new Rural District Councils until the reorganisation of local government in 1974. Bingham is now in the Borough of Rushcliffe with civic offices in West Bridgford.
Only a few houses were built after the 1939-45 war. In the mid-1950s Bingham became popular once more, as people wanted to live and work in smaller communities away from big cities. Many old properties were demolished and large new housing estates were developed around the town.
Bingham is twinned with Wallenfels in Germany and an active Twinning Association organises regular exchange visits.
The town has an infant, two primary and a comprehensive school. A leisure centre was built in 1969 and has a swimming pool, a floodlit all-weather athletics track, sports hall and sports pitches. The Town Council provides sports fields for football, rugby union and cricket.
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