Mansfield town centre was once riddled with over 60 yards and courts; only a few survive. One of those surviving courts, although currently derelict (2010), is the ancient “Eight Bell’s Court” off Church Street , which was named after the public house that it is situated next to. However after many generations of landlords the pub is now called “Pure” although the original name still stands prominent high above the main entrance.
These courts were once the centre of Mansfield life and contained residential properties, warehouses, business premises, retailers, maltings and public houses. At the beginning of the Victorian era up to 70 percent of Mansfield ’s population lived within 300 metres of the market place; a good portion of them living within those yards and courts.
During the Victorian era Eight Bells Court contained a variety of uses from residential to business. Although the actual layout of the court has hardly changed there are just a few pre 20th century walls remaining with their blocked up windows and doors amidst later developments. The Old Eight Bells public house is well known locally as being, at some time, the residence of Samuel Brunt, the founder of Brunt’s Charity’, who died in 1711.
To give you an idea of life in the Eight Bells Court following is a list of the residents in 1895:
1) Miss Annie Gregory; Milliner: Cottage and business 2) Mr. Frederick Willman; Stationer & printer: Shop & printing office 3) Eliza Morrell; Landlady of The Old Eight Bells: Public House 4) George Hardwick; Baker, Grocer, corn & flour dealer: Business property 5) Mr. E. Renshaw; Dentist 6) Mr.R.Pogmore; Landlord of the ancient Ramm Inn: Cottage 7) Mrs. Ann Ellis; Resident: Cottage at the rear of The Old Eight Bells 8) Robert Frank Vallance; Architect & Surveyor to the Mansfield Improvement Commissioners: Business premise 9) Stable and enclosed yard belonging to The Old Eight Bells 10) Maria Harvey; Widow of Thomas Harvey, Plasterer: Cottage 11) Aaron Jefford; Resident: Cottage 12) John Arthur Hancock; Resident: Cottage 13) James Henry Blake, Mansfield Borough’s fifth mayor; Ironmonger of 36 Church Street; Warehouse 14) Mr. W. H. Robinson: Cotton Doubler of Nottingham Road and manager of the Mansfield Sand Company: Business premises.
You can see that there was indeed a very varied life within this court, which would have been typical of most of the courts throughout the town centre in years gone by.
This article was originally written for the Chad in 1992, who have given their permission for its reproduction on this website.