THE KATE GREENAWAY TRAIL
Suggested parking is at the Greenaway (Village Hall) NG23 5SG
The renowned illustrator and writer of children’s books, Kate Greenaway, had a long attachment with Rolleston. She lived here, as a very young child in 1846, and after returning to London was a frequent summer visitor until she was about 20 years of age. When she was in the village, Kate lived with Thomas and Phyllis (Mary) Chappell and Mrs Chappell’s sister, Ann Barnsdale, at 18 Fiskerton Road. A commemorative plaque has been erected on the house in Kate’s name. The Chappell family were known to Kate as ‘Mamam’, ‘Dadad’ and ‘Nanan’, a measure of their significance to her in her childhood here in Rolleston.
THE DAPPER SPANIEL
(FORMERLY THE CROWN INN)
When Kate first came to Rolleston in 1846 the Olive Family ran the Crown Inn. It was part of the Manners Estate, as was much of the village at that time. Although the building has seen numerous changes, not just in its name, it has played a significant role in village life.
Before moving to the barn near the Church, children were taught by Nathaniel Beedham in one of the rooms in the Crown. When Kate was in Rolleston, she endured Sunday school lessons run by John Parnham, from one of the front rooms in the pub.
At one time there was an elm tree with a double trunk near the Inn. People were able to walk through the trunk and new brides could make a wish. It must have been thought to bring good luck.
Continue onto next house
OLD CORNER FARM HOUSE
This was a farmhouse when Kate stayed in the village. From 1908 it was the Post Office. We know a little about earlier postal deliveries from Kate's journal.
Kate would sit on a stile at the end of the house where the Chappells lived. She would watch for the Postman riding a donkey. Folk put their letters in the window to alert him to stop. He would blow a brass trumpet, so that they could run out with the letters for him to deliver. Similarly, he would leave letters at houses as he passed. Letters for outlying house were left somewhere in the village, from where they would have to be retrieved. The mail for The Odd House (Now Field Farm) was left at the Chappell’s home. An old lady was paid a halfpenny a letter to take them to Kate's Aunt Aldridge.
Continuing on the road
KATE GREENAWAY GARDEN
The Kate Greenaway Garden was so named by Rolleston Parish Council in 2021 to reflect the significance of Kate Greenaway to the village.
Cross the Road
PEAR TREE FARM
Edward Barker farmed here when Kate Greenaway visited the village.
Turn right onto Station Road
This was Elizabeth (Betsy) Linney's bakehouse. Villagers could bring items to be baked on Tuesdays and Fridays. Betsy had been a servant for Kate's Great Aunt Wise.
Go next door
John Smith ran a butcher shop here. The 1851 census says he is a baker but the 1861 census states he is a butcher. He was obviously a man of many talents!
Walk a little further down Station Road
This grade 2 listed house dates back to the early 18th. Century with 19th. Century alterations and a 20th. Century extension. At the time that Kate visited Rolleston, John Cullen lived here and farmed 180 acres.
Beyond Rolleston Manor lie the remains of three moats, a group of eight fishponds with sluices, an area of ridge and furrow and a water channel, all of which are associated with the medieval and post-medieval manor of Rolleston.
Cross the road and walk on the lane to the left of the Church
RACECOURSE FARM AND RACECOURSE FARM COTTAGE
Kate describes this as a ‘long low old House whose front looked on to the Church and Church Yard.’ Kate was very fond of visiting here where she was treated by Mrs Fryer to little glasses of cowslip wine and little round sponge cakes with currants in them. Kate describes the house as having three downstairs rooms, one being the parlour which was hardly ever used. Kate loved the garden at this house describing it in her journal as-‘my loved one of all gardens I have ever known– what a Paradise it was to me. Flowers and Fruit trees … Roses everywhere'
It was to this house that Mrs Chappell came as a servant to Mrs Bridget Fryer (nee Wise). Mr Fryer was a farmer and butcher.
When Kate visited Rolleston, this was a barn, part of John Fryer's farm. Kate describes it as ‘a very big barn indeed and very high-’ and remembers that it was to the beams of this barn that sometimes a swing was fixed. It was made of the ropes that had been used to tie the loads of corn. It was ‘a kind hearted young man’, a miller living close by who used to put it up for her. His delight was to swing Kate very high. Many years later, writing in her journal, she recalls, ‘the Higher I could go the more delightful for me and they used to send it high – nearly straight – so that you got a Jerk in returning – Mamam was always too terrified to look on.’
Even before the 1870 Education Act, requiring Local Authorities to provide free education to all children, the Church of England had tried to provide a school in every parish in England and Wales. Rolleston benefitted from this initiative and the barn became the school in 1867. It closed in 1959.
Kate refers to church as being very old, with a Norman Arch. In fact, there is a glimpse of Saxon England in the herringbone masonry in the walls of the church. In her journal, Kate recalls the yellow-coloured walls and high pews. She remembers sitting with her Uncle Aldridge and her cousin, Ann Maria, in a long high pew near the pulpit, and was not able to see over the top!
There were 4 bells in Kate’s time, with casting dates 1607, 1628, 1370, 1778 She describes them as ‘mournful’ and spoiling her Sunday walk!
Johnny Fryer, son of Mr & Mrs Fryer of ‘The House’, supplied the music at the church. He turned a handle to play set tunes on an organ.
Mr & Mrs Chappell died within a month of each other in 1871. They are buried in the churchyard, which Kate described as having overgrown grass and large old box tombs.
Continue along Station Road
Kate knew this as ’the new Vicarage.’ It was built in 1844.
Until 1840, a thatched roofed Vicarage was sited on the opposite side of the road. It was made up of 4 rooms and the house was part brick and part mud. A barn, a small stable yard and a garden of half an acre accompanied it.
Continue along Station Road and turn right across the rough land known as the clay pits. Cross the railway line
Rolleston Mill is mentioned in The Domesday Book. In her journal Kate Greenway describes it as ‘a charmed Place to me - it was a Flour Mill with a water wheel - it was on the Greet.’ She writes that ‘the mill was in a network of pools and streams – a small river the Greet wound about it in many curves. Forget-me-nots were on its banks and apple trees overshadowed it.’ She says that ‘the Mill itself was (an) endless attraction – the Flapping Sound ...........– and Husks and Flour – the smell of it - the white Millers and the Floury Sacks and Carts and the Sound of the water wheel – and the stream – winding about the House and Garden.'
Retrace your route back along Station Road and turning right onto Fiskerton Road. Just
around the bend you find the house where the Chappells lived.
18, FISKERTON ROAD
Kate lived here on all her visits to Rolleston.
This house and Mr & Mrs Chappell are of great importance in understanding Kate Greenway’s relationship with country life and the countryside, both of which were pivotal in her work as an illustrator.
From Kate Greenaway's journal we learn that the Chappells lived..' in a little house and a kitchen built out at the side, you went through the kitchen door into the kitchen, through another door into a little room with a window looking to the back, that answered to a passage. One door led upstairs, another into the dairy.’
‘The kitchen was a true kitchen - there was a Pump and a Sink in it- two
coppers and a large water butt behind the door, a cheese Press, a long dresser, a table and chairs – things hanging up all over the walls. The floor was red brick.’
This was the end house in the village and belonged to Kate's Great Aunt Wise.
Kate describes this as a large old house built in the Elizabethan era, having 2 wings but then made into 3, with 3 shops on the ground floor. Kate writes that she walked up to front door through 2 lines of tulips. She recalls these as being taller than herself.
The Village Pinfold was just across the road.
THE ODD HOUSE
Looking beyond the Pinfold towards the river lay Odd Farm, demolished in 1949. Kate was a frequent visitor as her aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs John Aldridge, and cousins farmed here.
Return to the Village Hall.
To extend your route
Continue past the pub along Staythorpe Road to an old cottage on your left..
Sunnyside was originally 2 cottages and are believed to have been built in 1725. Some people refer to them as Rick's Cottages, but the Rick family did not move here until 1912. The Ricks previously lived over the railway line and when moving into Sunnyside said they had gone up in the world.
There were many small cottages on this site in the mid 19th century. Mr Edward Hall, a farmer in Staythorpe, owned some of them, including Sunnyside. He developed the site, building Rolleston House in 1860 for his retirement. Kate would have seen this house being built.