BOLE grew up on the bank of the River Trent, and the origins of its name give a fair indication, of the kind of place it was. In Domesday Book (1086) it is called ‘BOLUM’, a Latin word ‘ derived from the Greek ‘BOLOS’, which means’ casting a fishing net. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘BOLE” as ‘stem or trunk’, a word which comes from the German’ BOHLE’, meaning ‘a plank’. Fishing, like the cultivation of osier reeds – used for making wicker baskets – were important local occupations. In the immediate vicinity, the River formed two large loops, known respectively as Bole and Burton Rounds. In the course of time these narrow necks of land were steadily eroded by the scouring action of the strong tidal current, and in the spring of 1792 disastrous floods occurred, caused by a sudden thaw following after severe and prolonged frost, as a result of which the River at last broke through, and its old channel slowly silted up. So today, a stretch of open land – through which runs a railway line separates the village from the River. It is doubtful whether (even with a fishing permit) you would any longer be able to land a fat salmon from the Trent, and the osier beds have long since disappeared. The officials who toured Bole inspecting the flood damage in 1792 made a reference in their report without a note of which even this brief document would be incomplete. “We found also”, they said, “an indecent practice – boys and booby young men playing marbles in the churchyard on Sunday. Surely some method might be devised by the principal villagers to prevent such unbecoming practices. Another celebrated local story concerns the fate of the old parish registers. Those still in existence date only from 1813. Earlier ones, it is said, were damaged by being thrown into a pond or did they perish in a bonfire? No one knows for sure but certainly they have disappeared From a very early date, Bole was a Manor belonging to the Abbey Church of St. Peter in York, who appointed a Lord of the Manor to administer the lands on their behalf. The tithes (i..e. rents) went towards the upkeep of the Abbey. It is likely that the earliest lessees of the estate were a small community of monks, who lived at a house just below the church. This is suggested by the existence of fragments of what is thought to have been cloister in Manor Farm, which lies a short distance to
the east of the church, and the story goes that there was once a passageway connecting the house and the Church. Canon D .T. Glassford, who was Vicar here from 1926 to 1941, records that when the deal boards around the interior of the church were removed in the 1930’s, two aumbries were discovered which, he says, points to the fact that there must originally have been altars standing on either side of the former chancel screen, a theory which fits in with the tradition that the parish was once served by a number of priests. The aumbries are set low in the wall at either side at the head of the nave.
Bole Church is dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. The original church was Norman, of which only the north wall of the chancel and the font (reckoned by experts to be one of the finest in the County) remain. The present church was begun in the 14th century and the tower dates from about 1500. But long before the church was finished, the great Cathedral at York had been built, and the manorial tithes from Bole assigned for the maintenance of a Prebendary (i.e. Canon) in York Minster. The parish was designated a ‘Peculiar’ of the Dean and Chapter of York (that is, under their personal jurisdiction and therefore exempt from the normal form of ecclesiastical government), with the Prebendary of Bole as Patron, responsible for the appointment of the Vicar. In 1394, the Vicar’s stipend was improved by Richard II who ‘granted leave to William Rothwell (the then Lord of the Manor) to assign for the support of the Vicar and his successors 8 acres of land and 6 of pasture.’ This is probably the origin of the glebe land which still belongs to the parish.
The Cathedrals Act of 1840 did away with Peculiars, and the manorial estate of Bole passed into the hands of the ‘Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who sold it to a private owner. The parish was transferred to the Diocese of Lincoln until 1881, the Patronage was alternately in the hands of the Bishops of Lincoln and Manchester, and in1923 it was transferred entirely to the Bishop of Southwell. In July 1858, Bole was united with South Wheatley, an arrangement which lasted until January 1878, and in December 1881 the parish was joined with neighbouring Saundby, which is the arrangement still in force today. Since January 1972, the two parishes have formed part of the Clays Group of Parishes (the others being North and South Wheatley, West Burton, Sturton-leSteeple and Littleborough) .
The former vicarage in Bole (or Prebendal House as it was known) was what is now ‘Laburnum Cottage’ In the late 19th century this was replaced by the large house standing beside the road leading into the village which was sold in 1968, and is now known as ‘Bole House. There is no longer a Lord of the Manor in Bole. Among those who have held the office are Ulmer (before the Norman Conquest), the Lady Elizabeth Gilby and others 1612, Lord Wenlock – 1853, and subsequently Sir CharIes Anderson, of Lea, Gainsborough, and Lord Middleton, of Malton, Yorkshire, by whom it was disposed of in the1920’s. The present Lord Middleton is Patron of the nearby village of North Wheatley, and those of Wollaton and Trowell, Nottingham. In the past, the parish has benefitted by a number of bequests. In 1671, a ‘ person unknown’ left 5/- (25p) yearly to the poor out of a farm at Welham (in 1891 this was Charles Thorold, of Welham Hall) ; and in 1745 George Mower Esq. paid 68 years arrears of this annuity – amounting to £17 – which, with other gifts, were expended in the purchase of a house and rood of land now let for about £7 per annum which is distributed yearly by the church wardens. Legacies bequeathed’ for the education of poor children and the payment of a school teacher’ are recorded as 1781 – William Nettleship (£2 a year). 1807 – John Nettleship (£30); and 1820 – Robert Wilkinson (£30).
The village School was built in 1858, for 50 children (in 1891 the average attendance was 28). The School has been closed since about 1950, and the children attend school at North Wheatley, the School-room and house now belonging to the parish. A Wesleyan Chapel was built in South Street in the 18th century. This fell into disuse some years ago, and has since been skilfully converted into a private residence. A hundred years ago (when the village post office was still in the hands of the Watkin family) the population of the village is recorded as being 208 – about twice that of the present day.
To end this short account let us return to the church. The exterior of the nave and the tower are embattled with crocketted pinnacles.. The design of the windows covers the period from Early English to Perpendicular (co 1300 1500). Compare them with those in for example , Babworth Church. A particularly striking feature of the interior is the magnificent hammer-beam roof..
Until about 1930 the walls were boarded up to window level with deal, stained a dark brown. When this was removed the walls were cemented, plastered, and lime-washed. At about the same time, the Chancel was improved and enlarged. The tower contains three ancient bells, the oldest of which is inscribed, “S.Katherine”, the others “Jesus be our speed” and “God save the King”, the latter dating from about 1660. The pulpit is of unique interest. It incorporates four carved panels depicting scenes from the story of Esther and Haman in the Old Testament: they are of 16th century Flemish workmanship, and were presented by Sir Charles Anderson, of Lea. On the north Chancel wall hangs a large hatchment bearing the Royal Arms of Queen Anne (1702-14) the last of the Stuart rulers. Heraldically this is incorrect, for (so we are told) owing to the economy of the 18th century wardens, only part of the Stuart Arms were repainted on the accession of the Elector George. A brass plate taken from a tomb in the tower floor is now in the sill of the Chancel window, this commemorates John Danby, Canon of York and Vicar of Bole in 1400, who helped to endow the vicarage. Notice the figure of a bird carved in the stone about half way up the left hand side of this window arch. Another parishioner, Nicolaus Browne, A.M. (1668) is remembered by a large latten plate on the west wall of the nave, just behind the organ. The organ itself is a two-manual and pedal reed instrument, electrically blown. The central heating system in the church is oil-fired.
Bole church also possesses some fine Communion plate of the 17th and 18th centuries, and four magnificent sets of Communion vestments bequeathed by the late Canon Glassford,in whose time many other items were inserted, including the beautiful Calvary group on the Rood Screen, the statues of the Madonna and Child and St. Martin (brought it is said, from Tours, in France), the sanctuary lamp, altar cross and candlesticks. The modern oak altar table was given in 1968 in memory of Mary Hancock Baddiley, of High House, West Burton. The Blessed Sacrament is perpetually reserved in the aumbry which stands immediately beneath the altar cross. Two lovely altar frontals (in green and white), dossal curtain, prayer books and processional candlesticks are among recent gifts to the church which is, as ever, a fair place, and the joy of the whole earth” (pso48,2). And as even a casual glance reveals, it is as lovingly cared for now as it has always been.