The Green





The village is situated on a plateau at the northern border of Northamptonshire, and has spectacular views overlooking the Welland Valley and the county of Rutland. It was originally the third largest village in Rockingham Forest, and although primarily an important agricultural village within the forest since the Middle Ages, the rich veins of ironstone in the surrounding land have played a vital part in the village's development

Iron currency bars from the Iron Age have been found, and the Romans also worked the ironstone deposits. There were ironworks here in Edward the Confessor's reign in the 11th century, when Gretton was a royal manor, and the industry came to the fore again from 1881 to 1980 providing ore for Corby's steel works.

Most of the earlier houses - a fair number dating from the 17th century - are built of local limestone, sometimes banded with darker ironstone and roofed with thatch or Collyweston slates.

Before the railway came in the 1870s, the village would have been almost totally self-sufficient. According to the parish rate book, in 1845 there were 2 butchers, 6 shopkeepers, 3 bakers, 1 miller, 3 blacksmiths, 4 shoemakers and 1 wheelwright, 1 cooper and 5 public houses. Inevitably, the numbers of tradesmen and shops have declined, although there are still 3 pubs, a village stores and Post Office, a coffee shop, a sports club and numerous societies. The church and chapel are still active, the primary school is thriving, and the Silver Band that first gave musical entertainment in 1886 still plays.

Gretton is one of the few villages to retain its stocks and whipping post, which can be found on the village green. The last recorded use was in 1858 when a villager was put in the stocks for 6 hours after failing to pay a fine for drunkenness. Also on the village green is the War Memorial erected in 1925.

One village curiosity is the Jo Stone, which stands at the corner of Kirby Road and Corby Road, and is said to have been the stone on which local farmers struck a bargain.

Gretton Paddock Park, the 50th Pocket Park in Northamptonshire, was officially opened by Arnold Peters (Jack Woolley of 'The Archers') on 1st June 1996, and provides a peaceful haven for both the local wildlife and the people of Gretton. It stands in 2 acres of land opposite Gretton House, and contains a pond, butterfly garden, and a petanque (boules) pitch.


St. James Church

Although the main body of St. James Church dates back to the 11th century, the tower is 15th century. It is notable for its Norman arches, round pillars, and highly unusual irregular shaped east window. The chancel floor was raised at the eastern end in the 18th century to accommodate the vaults of the Hatton family of nearby Kirby Hall.

The churchyard has gravestones dating back to the 17th century. Immediately to the right of the porch are the tombs of the Rev. Abner Brown, and his wife and daughter. This 19th century vicar did much to improve the villagers' lives, being instrumental in setting up the first school, the allotment society, the fire brigade, and a lending library.

To the east of the graveyard is a granite memorial erected by the villagers to their unofficial district nurse, 'Reservoir Woods', who was born and brought up in a gypsy camp, and who died in 1911. Her knowledge of herbal remedies was said to be invaluable.

The Baptist Church

The Non-Conformist movement began in the village in 1786, and the present Baptist Church was consecrated in 1824. Parts of the attached schoolroom originate from wooden huts, lived in by railway construction workers in the 1870s.

Village Hostelries

In times past there were at least seven public houses in the village. Though a number of these have been converted into private dwellings, three still remain :

The Talbot

Named after a breed of hunting dog, now extinct, the first mention of the name of The Talbot was in 1796. It was quite likely to have been in existence in 1691 when there were 6 Gretton licensees mentioned in the Finch Hatton papers, but there is no mention of it by name. Although the building does not look very old there was a building on the site shown on the 1587 map.

The upstairs was used by the village sportsmen as a changing room until the 1960s, when new facilities were built on the recreation ground.

The Talbot Inn web site provides details of available facilities.

The Hatton Arms

This building is the oldest of the pubs, and its history relates to the time when the Hattons became Lords of the Manor of Gretton c.1587 as it was part of the estate.

There is a legend that James Chapple, a negro servant of Christopher, second Lord Hatton, became landlord of the Hatton Arms. This is based on the true story of how James Chapple rescued Sir Christopher and several members of his family after an explosion in the magazine of Castle Cornet in Guernsey, in 1672. He was rewarded with a pension of 20 pounds per year, which in those days was a considerable income. However, it seems unlikely that he became landlord as there is no mention of a James Chapple in the licenses from 1691 to 1706.

The pub was refurbished in 2004 and the Hatton Restaurant built onto the rear. The Hatton Arms web site provides details of available facilities.

The Blue Bell

The Blue Bell obviously goes back a long way, as mention of it can be found in the Stamford Mercury of Thursday July 16th 1772, when it was advertised 'To be SOLD or LETT'.

It has changed little over the years, although in 1840, a license was refused as a result of its disorderley reputation, and the bad character of the landlady. The license has since been restored ! As a breakfast stop during the 1930s for the local quarry workers, the landlord, 'Tinker Joe', limited the meal to 2 pints ! Like many landlords of that time he had two jobs, and his name derived from his ability to repair kettles, saucepans and tools.

Gretton Architecture

The buildings in Gretton provide a wide variety, ranging from the centuries-old 'Corner Cottage' in Arnhill Road, to a relatively modern housing estate on the south-east side of the village.

The Old School House, built in 1853, was the first purpose-built school in the village. The infants' classroom at the east end housed 70 children at times. The school operated until 1908 when the present school in Kirby Road was opened. Subsequently it was the village community centre before being converted into a private house in the 1970s.

Barn House, in High Street, is one of the few houses in the village which retains its thatch. In the 1940s there were about 40 thatched houses, now there are merely a handful.

Stoneleigh House, in High Street, was formerly the premises of parchment makers. Springs were fed under the house into ponds which were used for soaking and cleaning the skins. Remnants of the drying sheds and other buildings still exist at the rear.

Opposite the village green is a stone mullioned building, Tithe Farm, which has been considerably changed and extended, although for much of this century it was in a serious state of disrepair. In 1919 the district surveyor found it to be unfit for human habitation. To the rear of the farm is the Tithe Barn (rebuilt after being destroyed by a fire in 1983) which used to store the 10% of village produce that went to the church.

Caistor's Cottage, in Caistor Road, once a tiny cottage belonging to a shepherd called Castor.

The Post Office and Stores, in High Street, is part of a Victorian terrace called Pages Row. Formerly owned by a brewery, pigsties at the rear were rented out for sixpence a year. The Gretton Pig Club was in existence from 1875 until 1977.

Overlooking the village green is the former Gretton Stores. This was formerly the White Hart pub, which closed in 1931.

Stonycroft, in Station Road, is an 18th century cottage, with some narrow stone mullioned windows, and an interesting stonework panel over the door.

Gretton House, in High Street, is Georgian, but has a large neo-Jacobean addition of the 1880s. It was a family home until the Second World War, when it was requisitioned by the War Office as a military hospital. Following the war it became a convalescent home for employees of the Corby steel works. Since their closure it has been a home for people with learning difficulties.

Manor Farmhouse, in High Street, is a good example of banded ironstone and limestone, and has a datestone of 1675. Originally called Warren Farm, it overlooked Warren Field, which suggests that this was where the medieval manor obtained its rabbits.

The Old Vicarage, in Station Road, is 17th century with later additions, and was the vicarage until c.1830.

Gretton Primary School, in Kirby Road, with its impressive stone bell tower was built in 1908, together with the schoolmaster's house. It is still a thriving village school with 4 classes and over 100 children.

Click below to visit the gallery of village photographs, comparisons of past and present Gretton, details of village organisations, Parish Council minutes, useful information relating to services within the village and the latest edition of Gretton News.





The Roll of Honour, detailing the servicemen on Gretton War Memorial who died in World Wars 1 & 2, can now be found on the internet.

Please CLICK HERE to display the Roll of Honour.



Available from Lydia's Coffee Shop, the Hatton Arms, or Andy Butterworth, Chantry Cottage, 5 High Street - phone 01536 770302.

St James the Great, Gretton

Become a Friend of St James

The church of St James the Great has stood marking Gretton's position on the edge of the Welland Valley for nearly 1,000 years and has played an integral part of many happy family celebrations, as well as sad farewells.

The building itself in need of your support, not necessarily as a regular churchgoer but as a villager who has used or may still have cause to call upon St James for one of your important life events. Or you may just be one who feels it is vital that the building remains a quite and peaceful sanctuary to be there whenever you might need it.

Currently, the running costs are exceeding income by £5,000 per year. These means we are on a downward trend and you becoming a Friend of St James will contribute to the upkeep and good repair of the building. If we do nothing then the condition of the building will gradually decline so the idea is to do something to bridge the gap sooner rather than later.

What Can You Do to Help

By making an annual donation or by setting up a monthly standing order for £3.00 each month or whatever you can afford will support this beautiful building for the future generation of our village.

To become a Friend of St James and to obtain a Standing Order form please contact one of the PCC members :-

Treasurer - John Hindle Email :

Administrator - Sherry Stokes Email :

Administrator - Sally Watts Email :

The Friends of St James has been created to ensure the running costs are met and to maintain the good repair of the building. The Treasurer and Administrators are volunteers and are responsible to oversee that the funds are used appropriately.

Click here for resumés of  businesses operated from home within the village.

Other Internet Sites of Local Interest

    Gretton Local History Society             Welland Viaduct
    Gretton Silver Band              Deene Park
    Northamptonshire People and Places              Rockingham Castle
    UK + Ireland Genealogy - Northamptonshire            Kirby Hall
    Rockingham Motor Speedway                     Rutland Water
    The Hatton Arms - Gretton             The Village Monthly- a community magazine
    The Travers Foundation             Gretton Music Festival 2014
    Gretton Diamond Jubilee Street Party

Visit our neighbours !




Extracts from 'A Walk Through Time In Gretton' are reproduced by kind permission of the Gretton Local History Society and the Rockingham Forest Trust.

Please e-mail Maurice Kellner with your comments or suggestions

©   Photographs copyright Maurice Kellner 2008
The Green, Gretton, from an original watercolour by Sheila Macadam © 1998