The Burgage Green is a 1.3 hectare open public space of grass and trees at the north end of Southwell. It is used for strolls and picnics and for special town events such as funfairs and festivals; but the Burgage Green and its surrounds hide a wealth of history and archaeology which we have been investigating since 2013, though two projects supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Burgage seen today is remarkably unchanged from that depicted in the 1841 tithe commission map which shows a central open green space surrounded on the north by a maltings and the House of Correction and to the south by three large Georgian mansions set in extensive grounds. Historians writing in the 18th-19th centuries, however, report local memories of a different Burgage that had once been densely populated, and of an old hall and a chapel – all traces of which have disappeared.
The 1841 tithe map of the Burgage Green
Our document research confirms the existence of a Manor of Burgage, which was separate from the rest of the town and administered by the Archbishop of York’s steward through the usual manorial court system. Sadly records of the Manorial Court of the Burgage only survive from 1807. In the absence of reliable written records our questions about the early Burgage can only be answered by archaeological investigation. Since 2013, therefore, we have been carrying out a programme of geophysical survey, test-pitting and trial excavation to investigate the Manor and the development of the Burgage Green. This work was supported by grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund's "All Our Stories" programme (2012-13) and the Heritage Lottery Fund's "Our Heritage" scheme (2015-17). A report on our 2013 work can be read here, while our 2015 report can be read here. The results of our test-pits have been archived with the Nottinghamshire Historic Environment Record and can be viewed online via the Heritage Gateway. The final 2017 report is now available here, together with the pottery catalogue.
The Burgage Green today
Test-pitting on Burgage Green