Over the next few Newsletters we shall publish extracts from
'Memorials of Old Mexborough' by William J.J. Glassby, son of Robert Glassby,
Sculptor to Queen Victoria, in memory of his father.
MEMORIALS OF OLD MEXBOROUGH,
By William J.J.Glassby
Mexborough, a bustling, thriving town in the valley of the Don, and though decreasing in renown so far as its potteries are concerned, by its glass works, and in other ways, it is daily growing in importance, and in the estimation of all who look for the advancement of our commercial prosperity. But it is not to the Mexborough of 1893 that we would direct our attention; but to that of past ages - from its earliest reference in works of antiquity to within fifty years of the present time, viz., 1843, in which year Mexborough with the neighbouring hamlet of Denaby contained about 1300 inhabitants. The mention of Denaby reminds us that the memorials concerning our friend across the water must be recorded here; for Denaby has from time immemorial been united in indissoluble bonds to the larger and more important district of Mexborough; and it is not our desire to treat the lovely spot with contempt by remaining indifferent to its claims on our notice, or by these printed pages endeavour to insinuate a dissolution of their matrimonial ties. Nay, our love for the rugged and picturesque would the rather be to embellish these pages by a mention of Denaby, even if it were not part and parcel of the larger township.
In the Autumn of 1892 it was our pleasure to wander for the first time along the shady paths of Denaby, enjoying the fresh breezes, exploring with delight every nook and cranny, plucking specimens from the floral kingdom, and regarding with wonder and delight the marvellous works of nature. And, spellbound, we paused in our walk to gaze around upon the sublime and beautiful, and had not the memorials of Old Mexborough stood out in bold relief in our minds we should have been tempted to forget the romance of the past, while we lost ourselves and our readers among nature's embellishments as they are displayed in fair Denaby. Well might we look upon it as the blushing bride of its hard-working neighbour, Mexborough.
But we must pause, or admiration for the beauty of the present will lead us to forget the romance and remarkable reality of the past; and upon that it is necessary to fix our minds, recalling from bygone ages the records of the departed who in their day and generation passed over the same ground we shall cover, leaving behind them glad memories for us to seize in our endeavours to regale ourselves with all that shall enlighten and ennoble, and the better prepare us for a place among our compeers. To many who will scan these pages the name of Mexborough, - or at least its whereabouts, - will be unknown; but who is there who has not heard of the gentle and lovely Don?
The River Don, or Dun, has derived its name from the Celtic Dan - a deep or low channel. Rising by the side of the lofty eminence of Snailsden, the Don takes its course towards a more picturesque country, passing betwixt Penistone's bold banks, near rocky Thurgoland, and under Wharncliffe, a rich and ancient wood,
"Where Don's dark waters bathe the rugged feet
Of billow'y mountains - silent, motionless,
As if the Almighty's hand had still'd and fix'd.
The waves of chaos in their wildest spell;"
and which in the good old times was haunted by the so-called "Dragon of Wantley." Through the lovely oak forest, skirting the broad and undulating hills the now swelling river hastens on. Leaving Wantley and wadsley, Sheffield is reached, where in bygone days a grand old castle kept watch and ward upon its banks; but on and ever on the river wends its way to Attercliffe and Wincobank,
..."through which the river, like a snake uncoil'd
Wanders, through tam'd, a match for conquering time."
and away, away, to Kimberworth and Eccles.
Rotherham is now approached and passed, and in our eagerness to find Mexborough we hasten by Thrybergh Park, once the seat of the Reresby's, -now in possession of the Fullertons, - and leaving in the rear Kilnhurst and Swinton, we at last arrive at Denaby and Mexborough. Here will we le e the famous river to make its way to Conisborough with its old castle ruin dark and dominating bidding defiance alike to the assaults of wintry tempests and the corroding touch of time; and on through Sprotboro' midst rugged rock and vendure green to Doncaster; from whence after a journey amid varied scenery, it merges its tide in the current of the Ouse.
Welcome back to a new season of meetings, we hope the move back to the traditional Tuesday evening does not effect the excellent attendances of last season, one of the highest on record.
The summer programme proved successful, the decision to use a smaller bus for the day trips was the correct one with the Society showing a small profit for a change. The Lincoln visit was particularly enjoyable, the guide, Herbert Sharman shared his enthusiasm for his city and made the visit a day to remember. Haddon Hall must be one of the most magical places to visit, straight out of a fairy tale, sadly guides are not available at the weekend, however everyone had a good day.
The evening trips had a mixed attendance, Denaby Main Walk by member Bernard Pearson proved popular and we look forward to Bernards Pilgrims Trail, a journey through Old Conisborough next summer. Also Epworth Old Rectory, home of the Wesley's, was brought to life by the excellent guide, but the visit to Cawthorne Museum had a poor response. This museum has an excellent collection, something of interest for everyone. It is run by a voluntary committee of villagers and is well worth a visit, if only to see what they have achieved over the years.
The Society were involved in the Mexborough Gala held on the Athletic Ground on Sunday 27th August. The stand proved popular with the large crowd, both young and old queuing to see various
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photographs and the CD Rom showing on computer. It is planned to make this an annual event adding further attractions next year. Hopefully some of the people who showed interest will have bought this newsletter tonight.
During August three members of the Committee were invited to to visit Arden Hall, home of the Earl of Mexborough, to take photographs of his ancestors, some of which lived in Mexborough, before their move to Methley. These photographs are to be stored in the archives.
I have joined Mexborough Community Partnership on behalf of the Society. This group brings together community groups, individuals and support organisations with the aim of social and economic regeneration of Mexborough. It is hoped to open a Civic Hall somewhere in Mexborough with facilities for several organisations including The Heritage Society where we intend to house our archives.