Villages by Andrew Nicholson

Entry for the "small village and parochial chapelry" of Cossall in William White's History, Gazetteer and Directory of Nottinghamshire, 1832.

Entry for the "small village and parochial chapelry" of Cossall in William White's History, Gazetteer and Directory of Nottinghamshire, 1832.


A comprehensive list of books and articles on the history of Nottinghamshire villages published before 1998 can be found in

For material published since 1997, search the online library catalogues of Nottinghamshire County Council

and the University of Nottingham

Village packs

Nottingham/Nottinghamshire public libraries have produced a useful series of village packs, containing photocopies of key printed sources: extracts from trade directories and guide books, old maps, newspaper articles etc. Search the online library catalogue for the village of interest plus the term "village pack" for further details.

Primary printed sources

Trade directories

Directories are an important historical source for village communities in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They list the principal inhabitants (landowners, farmers, professionals and tradesmen/women), and often provide a basic history of the place and sometimes details of contemporary developments such as the rebuilding of the village.

Leicester University has recently made the full text of a representative selection of trade directories for Nottinghamshire and other counties available online:

Parliamentary enquiries

19th century parliamentary enquiries on operation of the poor law and on agricultural employment can provide an invaluable insight into the lives of villagers during the period. For example, the Reports to the Poor Law Board on the operation of the laws of settlement and removal of the poor presented to both Houses of Parliament in 1850 have been used to explore the influence of institutional factors on the evolution of settlement patterns:

The Answers to rural queries (Appendix B to the First report on the operation and administration of the Poor Laws) published in 1834 provide a wealth of material on the lives of Nottinghamshire agricultural labourers in the early 19th century:

Secondary printed sources



Approaches to studying village community history are described and the sources illustrated and discussed in:

Estate/model villages

Distinctive cottages, built by the first Earl Manvers c.187-12, in the model village of Budby.

Distinctive cottages, built by the first Earl Manvers c.1807-12, in the model village of Budby.

There are several good examples of estate villages in the county: i.e., villages re-planned and rebuilt in a uniform fashion by the landowner. Budby, for example, was rebuilt in a distinctive Gothic style by Earl Manvers of Thoresby Hall in the early 19th century; Ossington and Winkburn enjoyed ‘makeovers’ in the mid-19th century, though the style is plainer. A good general introduction to estate villages:

The village of Whatton, in the Vale of Belvoir, was rebuilt in neo-Elizabethan style in the 1840s:

Individual villages

W. E. Doubleday (also known as ‘John Granby’) wrote histories of virtually every Nottinghamshire village and published them in the Nottinghamshire Guardian during the 1940s and 1950s. Scrapbooks containing these articles are held at Nottingham Local Studies Library and at the East Midlands Collection based in the Hallward Library, Nottingham University. Doubleday developed an impressive card reference system to support his research; the ‘Doubleday Index’, organised alphabetically (and then for each village by period and theme), contains thousands of references and is accessible at the Local Studies Library at Nottingham Central Library.

Published village histories vary enormously in quality and usefulness. Consult Brook’s Nottinghamshire Bibliography (reference at top of page) for a comprehensive list of histories published before 1998. One of the most scholarly yet accessible village histories is

Deserted settlements in Nottinghamshire

Settlement patterns and plans

Village communities