Besthorpe Name

The name of Besthorpe has been recorded with a number of differences over the years. According to J.E.B. Gower, Place Names of Nottinghamshire: English Place-name Society, Vol. 17, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1940

  • 1147–1332 – Bestorp
  • 1366 – Biesthorp
  • 1542 – Beisthrope
  • 1557 – Beastropp
  • 1578 – 1582 – Beisthorp(e)

It is thought that the name derives from beos – “bent grass”

Some interesting information can also be gathered from Wikipedia with lots of photographs of the floods of 2012 and the gravel pits!

Life in Besthorpe

In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Besthorpe like this:

BESTHORPE, a township-chapelry in South Scarle parish, Notts; on an affluent of the river Trent, 2½ miles E by N of Carlton r. station, and 7 N by E of Newarkupon-Trent. It has a post office under Newark. Acres, 510. Real property, £2,475. Pop., 338. Houses, 65. The property is subdivided. Besthorpe Hall was built in the time of James I., and has a pointed roof and a tower. The living is a p. curacy, annexed to the Vicarage of South Scarle, in the diocese of Lincoln. The church is good; and there are Independent and Methodist chapels, a free school, and charities £9.

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Besthorpe, in Newark and Sherwood and Nottinghamshire | A Vision of Britain through Time.


As can be seen from the list below the Besthorpe population showed a rapid increase between 1841 – 1872 followed by a sudden decline in the 1870s – 80s which coincided with a severe agricultural depression and from which the population has never recovered.

  • 1801 – 216
  • 1841 – 327 (1841 Census)
  • 1851 – 340
  • 1872 – 338 ( John Marius, Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1870 – 72)
  • 1881 – 192 (1881 Census)
  • 1891 – 178 (1891 Census)
  • 1900 – 178 (Newark & District Directory. 1900)
  • 1901 – 159 (1901 Census)
  • 1911 – 160? (1911 Census)
  • 1921 – 161 (Kelly’s Directory of Notts. 1928)
  • 1981 – 175 (Besthorpe Village Plan. 1984?)
  • Present day – 190

Family History

We can take a snapshot of the families of Besthorpe from 1832 – 1984 to show how the main employment and focus of the village has changed.

The Nottinghamshire Directory, 1832 has a list of the families in Besthorpe which shows a vibrant farming community with a range of services and shops. The population was c300.

  • John Bell – Butcher
  • John Booth – Shopkeeper
  • John Cook – Joiner
  • George Crumpton – Cattle dealer
  • George Elliot – Cowleech
  • Rev. H. Gordon – Vicar
  • William Hammond – Corn miller
  • William Hanson – Farmer
  • John Hitchin – Joiner
  • William Hopkinson – Farmer
  • William Howitt – Farmer
  • John Hunt – Farmer
  • Philip Hunt – Gent
  • Richard Lee – Farmer
  • Martha Palian – Farmer
  • R. Pawson – Grocer
  • Joseph Shipley – Schoolmaster
  • Auckland Smalley – Blacksmith
  • Thomas Spittlehouse – Bricklayer
  • William Spawton – Carrier
  • R. Talbot – Tailor
  • John Vessey – Farmer
  • Joseph Vessey – Farmer
  • Thomas Walker – Farmer
  • John Wells – Shoemaker
  • Charles Williamson – Tailor
  • John Wilson – Farmer
  • William Withers – Beerhouse
  • William Woodroff – Shoemaker

William Spawton provided a carrier service to Newark on a Wednesday.

There was a daily coach to Newark and Gainsborough.

Newark and District Directory 1900 and 1911 Census

This shows a population of 178.

W.Wells was the master of the Board School and the old National School (the current Village Hall) was used as a Recreation and Reading Room.

In 1900 the list of family names still shows 14 named as farmers or farm workers – with the Hopkinson family appearing from 1832 and in the 1911 census.

The Hunt family were also listed as farmers in the 1911 census and their family appears on all the census returns since 1764.

World War 1 and the 1921 Census

The population in 1921 was 161.

By this time, we can begin to see the impact of World War 1 on a small village like Besthorpe. Edwin Collinson served in France, five members of the Hopkinson family were in active service with John Hopkinson listed as wounded and Fred Hopkinson killed in action. Edwin Collinson served in France, Alfred Hill, William Coape Oates and John Sherbrooke Coape Oates were also wounded and Charles Cordy, Harry Johnson North were killed in action. William Wilkinson died from bronchio pneumonia while serving in Salonica. These are all recorded in a Book of Remembrance which is kept in the Church.

Two horse chestnut trees were planted in the school playground in tribute. A ‘Memorial to the Fallen’ service was held in Holy Trinity Church on November21st 1920 and the names of the four fallen were placed on a memorial plaque, which can still be seen in the Church.

The memorial also records the death of Eileen Hunt, the daughter of Samuel W. And Florence A. Hunt in World War 2 who was killed by enemy action 11 May 1943, aged 21. She has a War Graves Commission Grave in the Churchyard as has C.H. Buxton, Sub Lieutenant (A) RNVR H.M.S.Illustrius who died July 23rd 1946.

There is a picture of David Hopkinson (undated) in a police uniform in Bill and Connie Wilson, The Besthorpe and Meering Story, 2001. He was born in 1896 and served as a special constable after having served in France 1914 -18. He died in 1977.

Kelly’s Directory of Nottinghamshire 1928 contains some interesting information about Besthorpe. Besthorpe is described as a ‘township, village and chapelry on the Fleet, 1.5 miles WNW of S.Scarle, 2.5 miles NE of Carlton by ferry across the River Trent. The area is 1,288 acres of land and 14 acres of water. The soil is sandy loam and clay with gravel subsoil. The main crops are cereals, root crops and carrots. There is a school for the united district of Besthorpe, S.Scarle, Girton and Meering.

Tom Hopkinson is carrier to Newark on Wednesday and Lincoln on Friday.

There is a daily bus to Lincoln and Newark.

The Duke of Newcastle is the Lord of the Manor. The principal landowners are:

  • Newark Corporation
  • Trustees of John Wilson Esq.
  • Mrs Colton’

By 1928 the main families clearly show that the farming heritage of the village is still important although only the Hopkinson family appear in all lists from 1832 to 1928. The family was still part of Besthorpe until the 1960’s with a number of the family having graves in the Churchyard.

  • Lt Colonel William Coape Oates – JP
  • Captain John Coape Sherbrooke Oates – JP and farmer
  • Frank Brown – Farmer
  • George Croft – Farmer
  • Arthur Hethershaw – landlord of the Lord Nelson Public House
  • David Hopkinson – Farmer
  • Tom Hopkinson – Carrier
  • Joseph Moody – Farmer
  • Richard Noble – Farmer
  • Robert? Saunders – Farmer
  • George Whitlam – Grocer

Besthorpe Village Plan 1984

The population in 1981 was 175 – an increase of 20 since 1971. The village facilities by then show: Church, Primary School, Garage/Car Repair, Public House and sub Post Office.

Present Day

Our population today is 190 – we have lost the Primary School, the Post Office, the Garage but retain the Pub – The Lord Nelson, the Church and the Village Hall.

There is so much more to tell…..

A good source of local family history is which has details of baptisms, marriages and burials for the villages of the East Trent group of churches.

If you are interested in putting more information about other families in the village onto the website or have any photographs or documents – they would be very welcome!