Transactions of the Thoroton Society
Extracts from two Essays from
“but the only’good example now remaining is a house near the top of Wheelergate on the west side.4
I can find no authentic record as to the original ownership or date of erection of this house. It is claimed by some authorities to be the “Feathers T avern” whither Lord Delamere repaired in November, 1681, in order to confer with the nobility during the Revolutionary period, but this does not seem likely when we consider the facts”.
Blackner says “The Feathers Inn is now (1815) a private house and stands near the top, and on the west sideof Wheelergate” (p. 378). He also informs us that the T own Hall of the French Borough stood until 1714 on the site where now stands the house of Alderman Ashwell at the N.W. corner of Wheelergate.
According to Deering and other writers “the Feathers stood at the corner of Fryer Lane on the spot where the T own Hall of the French Borough formerly stood” (hence the terms Moot Hall and Moot Hall Gate, used in old leases, &c.)
It would appear that the confusion has arisen from the words “near the top” having been used
interchangeably with “at the corner of” Wheelergate, together with the fact that the buildings were similar inappearance, each block comprising three shaped and moulded gables. The T own Hall of the French Borough was replaced by the Feathers Inn, this in turn gave place to a private house, which eventually was changed to the Moot Hall Vaults, the predecessor of the modern structure which now occupies the site.
The house we are considering near the top of Wheelergate is now given up entirely to business pursuits; and while this has taken away some of its interest, it has not robbed it of all its old-time dignity and importance.
Judging by the style of architecture, the shaped and moulded gables, the heavy stone architraves and pediments to the windows, the stone quoins at the angles, and the elaborate plaster enrichment to the ceiling of the principal room, I am of opinion that this building was erected during the reign of Charles II., to serve as the town-house of a gentleman. I can well remember the demolition of the old Water Offices—the adjoining building on the south—when sufficient evidence was disclosed, to shew that this house was built in between older premises. It is doubtless one of the first of the mansions that were “built soon after the Restoration,” and tradition may be right in ascribing it to Lord Mansfield.
This building is worthy of careful study as an example in transition from the earlier type with gables to the later type with horizontal cornice. It should also be noticed that the topmost windows on the front are casements in accordance with the older style, while the lower windows are sliding sashes after the newer style.The sliding sash, however, must not be taken as an infallible indication of the date of erection; for it was not unusual for old houses to be re-sashed in whole or part, to bring them up to date, in this respect.
H Gill, Nottingham in the 18th century , Transactions of the Thoroton Society , 16 (1912)
Extracts from Two 20th Century Essays from Transactions of the Thoroton Society.
The house which is now divided into tenements, the lower of which is occupied by Messrs.
Armitage as the Oriental Cafe, is of extreme interest to the architectural student for it forms a link
which connects the old Gothic traditions of building with the Renaissance type of house. Its
upper stories were illuminated by what are perhaps the earliest sash windows in Nottingham and
it has very many other features which are of great interest to the antiquary . The wonderful ceiling
in the shop is an excellent example of the plaster work of the 17th century and it is more or less
contemporary with the publication of Milton's Paradise Lost. As far as I know there is no
documentary evidence of the date when this house was built, but I think it is probable that it was
erected in the closing years of Charles I.'s reign, and it is believed to have been the town house
of the Earl of Mansfield. There seems no proof of this fact, but at any rate, it was firmly held by
the late Mr . Harry Gill who knew more about these matters than most people. It has a later
association which is extremely interesting for during the terrible times of the Chartist riots, about
1810, it was occupied by a Mrs. King who in addition to being a grocer added to her income by
letting rooms, and these rooms above her shop were occupied by the great Sir Charles Napier ,
the conqueror of Sind. Although he saw a tremendous amount of service his name will be for
ever associated with his work in India where he rose to the height of being Commander-in-Chief.
Whilst stopping in Mrs. King's rooms he occupied the humbler post of Commander of the troops
brought into Nottingham and the neighbourhood to deal with the civil commotions consequent
upon the Chartist riots.
From Transactions of the Thoroton Society . 36 - 1932.
2 - 6 Wheelergate, Nottingham. Centre of the photograph.