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Meet the Godfreys: Park House is perfect home for ageing Carlton postmaster


Angie Keyworth is a relative of The Godfrey family, who were wealthy landowners in Carlton at the turn of the last century and were responsible for building Park House. She has been covering their story in Gedling Eye.

I have recently transcribed my Great Grandpa John Godfrey’s diaries, which run from 1894 to 1919 and they are delightful.

John and Emma moved to Holly Bank, on Greenhill Rise in Carlton in 1894 and at the back of the first diary there is a list of new furniture and fixtures and fittings which they bought for the new house. 

John’s diaries takes me on a journey through Carlton, family, social and world history.

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John died in December 1920.

John had been a very popular figure in Carlton, serving on many committees, including the Missionary Committee, the Nottingham Sunday School Union and he was Chairman of the first School Board.  Many photographs in my care, family/church/business gatherings are without a date, but I found reference to many of these events beautifully described by John in his diaries.

A typical fortnight of entries in the diary may include comments on the situation in the Boer War, a visit to the Paris Exhibition, a ride on the Trent followed by tea at Colwick Hall, the children collecting the pears from the garden, the selling of corset lace, the weather, the price of coal, corn and a pair of boots, buying of land and houses in Carlton and the Education Bill.  I was enthralled and entertained.

In 1894 John was in partnership with his brother Samuel as Lace finishers, working from premises on St Mary’s Gate, next to St Mary’s Church in the Lace Market.  Sadly, although many of the fine old buildings have survived, a few, including the Godfrey building have been demolished and new buildings stand in their place. 

In the early 1900’s John and Samuel moved to business premises at 3 – 5 High Pavement in the Lace Market.  This building thankfully is in a conservation area and is directly opposite the Pitcher and Piano Pub, the former Unitarian Chapel.

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There is an alley to the side of the building which leads to the factory.   I can imagine horses and carts delivering goods to the factory collected from the railway station or large lace manufacturing business’ and home workers’ nearby. 

When I discovered the building, although I had always known of its existence, it was being renovated.  I was able to enter the building from the side and had a look around what would have been the factory.

The photo enclosed is an old picture of the front of the building and more recent photos. 

PICTURED: 3 – 5 High Pavement in the Lace Market. Top, as it is today, bottom, as it was in John Godfrey’s day

Graham Godfrey, grandson of John’s brother, Samuel Godfrey remembers 3 – 5 High Pavement well.   

He said: “I knew the building well and used to visit my grandpa there.  Going in by the front door on High Pavement you meet the large winding staircase that gives access to the three upper floors.  There were always rolls of unfinished lace on the floor of the first floor, ideal for a young boy to play among. 

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“It was also used as a packing area and office.  This is where my father Wilfred worked. Access to the second floor was by a large staircase situated in the centre of the room. It was there that my grandfather had his office.  The top floor was occupied by three ladies who worked as finishers.”

The following is taken from a eulogy for John Godfrey which featured in the United Methodist Magazine, dated March 1921.  It includes an insight to his mother and father, John and Ann Maria Godfrey.  It seems John and Samuel’s parents played a large part in encouraging a good work ethic in their two boys.

On the photo of workers’ in the warehouse. Harold Godfrey is wearing the white waistcoat.

The eulogy read: “Mr Godfrey owes much to his parentage.  His father was kind and gentle, reverent and devout, while his mother embodied in herself the practical, shrewd and industrious.  I think of her now, at over eighty years of age, scorning the help of tram or car, in making her journeys to and from Nottingham.”

Considering that John’s mother was living at the post office in Carlton Square, it was a jolly good walk up Carlton Hill to Nottingham.  One very determined great-great grandmother indeed!

John and his family moved to Park House in 1909, although they had been very happy at Holly Bank. 

Part of the reason for the move was that John was getting older and he thought of owning a carriage which Holly Bank couldn’t accommodate. 

There was ample room on the Park House site for two cottages, one of which was for the gardener and there was also a stable which was used for two ponies but as far as I know John never did own a carriage. 

John and Emma did however take a drive out in a motor car in 1910.  A diary entry read: “Emma and I had a lovely drive with Mr and Mrs J Grove today in their motor.  Went to Charnwood Monastery .  Farmhouse for tea home again soon after 7 o’clock, It is wonderful how far you can get in 4 hours.”

Taken from John’s diary  on December 5, 1904…
“I bought a field from Thomas Huckerby to be conveyed to me on 25th March 1905.  A little over 5 acres.”
This extract followed in March…

March 25th 1905  Took possession of the field.  Put in hedge at the top.”

This is the field and orchard which was behind Park House.  It appeared any man of means owned a field. 

There is still a Huckerby Field near the Carlton Academy.  My Mum’s maternal Grandma was a Huckerby.

There was also an aviary, a tennis court and two summer houses at Park House. Emma enjoyed taking afternoon tea in the summer houses.  The house had many stained glass windows.  The glass came from Vienna and tiles and mosaics came directly from Italy. 

When Emma left Park House in 1929 she sold the park land for building.  This is where Redland Avenue is today.

John told me in his diary of his wish to see his children and grandchildren live in the house, but it wasn’t to be.

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  1. Orchard Cottages are the last remaining buildings off the original Park House site.
    They are still in use as domestic residences


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