Early Wollaton

The family at the Hall have an interesting history, and this info is a bit ‘over the garden fence, chatty’ but stick with it as there are fascinating weaves about all the branches of the family of Willoughby’s. As a person taught at Clifton girls school with a head teacher at the time who was an anthropologist, fascinated by local history and the possibility that historical records were changed for political convenience, the straightforward approach seems less exciting.

The facts from the historical records are on the Nottingham Uni link.

** the d’eresby Willoughby’s a branch of that family (Willoughby) were almost married into royalty as Henry viii seventh wife!! see a modern link with the Tudors telly programme info, its cool to see all the characters around just before Wollaton Hall was built, and Catherine Willoughby’s father and his wife were important people to Henry viii and Catherine of Aragon…the De Eresby Willoughby’s lived at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire built in 1516 for the marriage of William De Eresby to Maria De Salinas, lady in waiting to Catherine of Aragon..check out the architecture for 1516…





This family sadly isnt our Willoughby’s, but our Wolllaton Willoughby’s have their day at court too…

Henry Willoughby (1541-1528) was in Richard iii court, Henry vii and Henry viii court too;  (At some point i’ll add a sub-page and timeline).  The Wollaton Willoughby’s are descended from the Bugge family and are originally found at Willoughby on the Wolds and Wollaton.

Francis Willoughby built Wolly Hall 1550-1558, there are books in the Courtyard shop with info.

An update on the Willoughby’s …from being stuck at home during the Yuletide of 2011-12, being pretty much unable to take photo’s because it’s a rainy winter it seemed a good idea to look up the Willoughby’s who first lived in the Hall…

after Francis came Bridget his daughter…but apparently married to a Percival Willoughby from a different branch of the Willoughby’s in Bore Place, Kent.

Yes, thats three Willoughby families… see the Nottm Uni info below.

This Percival apparently had a father called Thomas, and a mother called Bridget Read….thats two generation’s of Bridget’s.

Percival and Bridget also had a daughter called Bridget (now Aunt, neice and daughter).  The latter Bridget married first Nicholas Strelly and then a Cavendish and this marriage and a burial of a child shows up on todays online Ancestry records!!.

(Interestingly and to make it complicated,  there’s also a record at the British History online of a Franceses (female presumably) on some Willoughby family info… who is a sister of the Percival (who marries  Bridget  the elder Francis- we are advised the male who built wollaton hall) and she marries a Montague Wood of Lambley (where the Bugges originally come from) but the record of this couples daughter Elizabeth (not a Frances as stated unless Eliz Frances or Frances Eliz) shows the parents as Montague Wood and mother’s name…Bridget…. why this info…read on

 but theres also a Montague recorded in the Bore Place info. It’s all interesting stuff if you like history

are the family all local? Are the family branches in different locations but using the same christian names….or do they just have lots of houses around the land, and lots family members and branches….with different religions maybe….it would be convenient to be able to play on both sides in religious or civil conflict days to keep hold of land.

The most intriguing link is to the Grey family, of Codnor and Dorset, and Lady Jane Grey.


…the clearest most accurate family history info is on the Nottm Uni site but it doesnt include this Montague character

The Bridget women mentioned earlier…, one the daughter of Francis Willoughby and one the grandaughter would have been brought up in the old Hall and moved to the new one, on the hill.

There’s also an interesting Cavendish link too as Bess of Hardwick married William Cavendish and owned Hardwick Hall, and had business contracts for iron smelting in Shropshire with a Francis Willoughby (and she had a daughter called Frances)…see a Time Team programme on this old iron smelting business …so that’s where the money to build the hall came from presumably…

Check the British History online Willoughby then wollaton search results


Just for extra info…whilst Wollaton Hall was being built, and completed, the Spanish Armada sailed against England (and Sir Francis Drake was on Plymouth Hoe playing bowls), Walter Raleigh was in favour, Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne and William Shakespeare was born, grew up and began writing his plays.

Before Wollaton Hall was built, Henry Willoughby was one of the executors to Henry viii, and the old wollaton hall (which i personally believe may have been, for a time, St Leonards church…check the windows and the architecture… possibly it went from a church to a Hall and back to a Church, the reason for this idea… in the 12th Century churches were orientated with the door to face the sun of the saint they were named for rather than e-w, old tudor buildings were one main room with flat beams, often there was a separate tower, the road probably ran where the pub and church are now, and the chantry was probably the place of worship…Wollaton was a grange to Lenton Abbey, and possibly took all the square, the pub area and the cottages. Around this time the old Hall belonged to the Morteins…

Wollaton Hall being built and the contemporary poet linkhttp://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare

Where to find official info on Wollaton, the Park and the Hall from days gone by

There are books in the shop in the stables courtyard, with lots of information about the Hall and the Willoughby’s,

If you look on the internet there are other sources of information, some of which can be confusing… it takes quite a while to understand the various families of the Willoughby’s and even possible that some of the historical records are not 100% accurate about which Willoughby family was doing what…
academic records of course can be specific about the official male line of descent, but often leave out the female lines, and of course there may be records with different information…one Willoughby for example was said to have died at Bosworth Field, but then appears in the records again, but as stated earlier there were at least three families or branches using the Willoughby name.
…who knows they may even have swapped over…

What is recorded is that Francis Willoughby (builder of the Hall) had a son-in-law who was Percival Willoughby d’Eresby through the marriage of his eldest daughter, uniting the two of these families… did he came from Kent or Lincolnshire, or both?.


After this ‘over the garden fence type of thinking’ and apologies for not using cited and completely accepted info (the female line doesnt get recorded remember) back to the formal records..

These few links are to help de-mystify the information thats available and provide enough basic facts to make sense of any further enquiries you might want to make

The Willoughby family, info from the Nottinham University Website



The Hall Architecture…(hope its ok to link to the English Heritage Site) just the basic facts of the hall… if you want lots of detail there are books on the subject in the stables courtyard, and some info on the nottingham city website and this blog’s Architecture page.




British History Online


British History online… Wollaton


The Peerage Website snippet for the surname Willoughby


If you are interested in all the different families with the name of Willoughby (de Broke, d’eresby, Parham) their family tree info can be found on the Peerage.com website…see the names in the snippet above, follow the links through the generations… This link when put into a browser takes you to the surname pages…

You can also look for their names online and find basic wikipedia info that may or may not be accurate…plus the places they lived ie Wiltshire, Lincolnshire, Suffolk …the Peerage Willoughby’s don’t all come from the family of the Wollaton Willoughby’s … although there are some interwoven pieces of history for history sleuths eg our Henry Willoughby courtier to Henry viii, and William Willoughby whose spanish wife was a courtier and lady in waiting to Katherine of Aragon…different Willoughby families??


Channel4 made a TimeTeam programme about the iron furnace Francis Willoughby and Elizabeth Cavendish contracted for in Elizabethan times in Staffordshire? (strangely theres an Oakamoor at Cossall or nearby)


Credit to channel4, and on sky 522 Discovery History.



If we have a look at the Heraldry info…it becomes ‘clear’ that each family, generation and the associated marriages would have their own Coat of Arms, and marriages of titled persons would have arms showing both the husband and the wife…its explained on this webpageimage




The Nottingham History Society



Around the time of the Wars of the Roses and later the Reformation… there’s lots of intriguing politicing with local families divided by the old and new religions…all set against a europe wide series of changes with each country on one side or the other or even ‘changing sides’ … and with the marriages of important houses taking lots of fortunes with them…Henry Vii for example to Elizabeth of York

For local family name interest for example in the de broke branch of the Willoughby’s…around 1493 there was a papal dispensation for a willoughby marriage…strangely too around that time the village of sutton passeys (church named st Mary’s) disappeared (was this anything to do with the match??)

Also sometime around then, a Mary or Marie Neville married either Gervase Clifton or his father … The Neville family were also linked to the de Percy’s through the Clifford family not once but twice


I think Mary, marie Neville is buried at clifton…St Mary’s

The Clifton family were known as Clifford Clifton at one point later on in the 1600s.

They were also married into the Esme Lennox family in Scotland in the time of Mary Queen of Scots…

Its all fascinating stuff!!!! More accurate info with links later…Tudor Place website has lots info.

My original interest in the local history came with my grandfather born 1871 (Ancestry is another interest and his family have very old Notts family links mostly around the river Trent) …but Ms Audrey Heron, headmistress of Clifton Hall Girls’ School (we dropped the Grammar) where i was sent from 1967-74, was an Anthropolpogy expert and told us lots of info…it would be cool to see the inside of Clifton Hall again..

Back to the history…of course there’s also the raising of Charles I standard in Nottingham at the beginning of the (second…wars of the roses) civil war…and all the associated local battles and those before them and since…

It is truly fascinating!!! and we havn’t even mentioned Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella!!

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