Nottingham Rock Church and Caves

A few Months ago I looked at the haunting of Elizabeth Sheppard and after finding out about where her alleged Murderer was hung, it triggered an interest in me to dig deeper.

I have grew up and live in Nottingham all my life, but there is parts of Nottingham’s history that i never knew.

Charles Rotherham was hung at the location of where Rock Church Cemetery now is. The actual gallows would have been where the entrance of the graveyard is today. In 1827 though, the land would have appeared very different and Rock Church cemetery and the Forest ground would have looked very different. The surrounding area would have been a field of windmills and the site where Rock church cemetery now is, there would have been a stand alone mill. A great example of how it would have looked like is illustrated below.

Moore, Thomas Cooper, 1827-1901; Mills and Gorse Bushes in Nottingham Forest
Example of how Mansfield Road would have looked like. Source: artuk.org

If you walk or drive dowm mansfield road just before you cross the road to the entrance of the cemetery, you will notice the last house on the left hand side of the traffic lights, they have a picture of a mill inprinted on their door to remember this.

At the front of the Windmill, where the entrance to Rock Church cemetary now is would have been a gallows up until 1827. Records show that this was used as a hanging site from the 14th century but many believed it was used even earlier then that. As well as Charles Rotherham being hanged here, it is also believed that the prior of Lenton and his monks may have also in 1538 after they was accused of high treason.

It was common during this time for bodies to be buried at the foot of the gallows and when leveling work was done on the site in 1826 more than 15 skeleton remains was found where St Andrews Church now stands. This would suggest that the gallows moved its positioned over the years between where the church is now to where the entrance of the cemetery is.

The Church and graveyard opened in 1856 even though it wasn’t finished. A Mortuary Chapel was added in 1879. A cottage adjoining one of the three windmills which formerly stood on the site of the Cemetery was used as a temporary Chapel after the opening of the Cemetery and was subsequently demolished.

Within the centre of the graveyard is what is known as the paupers graves, it is an area which would have just been a sandpit at one point for those who didn’t have enough money to buy a headstone.

There was also catacombs made, but they was actually never used.

It is no secret that Nottingham is known for its caves, but what I don’t think people realise is the mass scale these caves go. Rock Church cemetery is one of these. Most of it is now gone after a gentlemen fell through and died, but there is still entry points to smaller caves underneath scattered across.

At the foot of the hill was a large cavern known as Robin Hood’s Cave or Stable. Tradition has it that this was used by Robin and his outlaw band to hide in and stable their horses. It was from this base that Robin is said to have rescued Will Stutly from the nearby gallows.

When Excavation work was carried out here Rev. George Oliver observed the findings. He believed that he had seen evidence of a recognisable structure and it was something he later called a ‘Druid Temple’

The deepest of these caves are at the southern end, – what Oliver refers to as the ‘Head of the Temple’. On the western side is the original Robin Hood’s Cave, the mouth of which has several entrances. These lead to a complex of tunnels, – which are on two levels, – some of which run over a mile under the City and connect with the caves in the Park, known as The Papish Holes.

To understand the sheer size of these caves below is a statement i found Mentioned on Nottingham’s hidden history the writer states:

My own maternal grandfather lived in a house on Raleigh Street, Radford to the west of the cemetery caves. A short flight of stairs in the cellar of the house led to a cave tunnel which in-turn led into a network of further tunnels. Exploring these tunnels my grandfather found that they emerged in both the cemetery and cellars under the houses of the Park. For obvious reasons my grandfather kept these tunnels a close family secret.

There is a story that a group of Victorian gentlemen exploring the complex of tunnels became lost and did not find the exit for several days.
One of these tunnels, within this location Oliver described it as being, ‘….a spacious cavern capable of holding over two hundred people.’ When work started on building the houses in the Park, 160 skeletons were found buried just yards from the mouth of this cave.

Perhaps the most curious find, which has now disappeared, having been broken-up by the cemetery workmen, was what Oliver describes as a ‘Rocking Stone’. Rocking Stones are natural geological features, where erosion has caused a large boulder to be perfectly balanced on the surface of the ground. These boulders can be ‘rocked’ by the slightest of touch, but not toppled and are mainly found on druid sites.

Many don’t believe Oliver’s claims and instantly dismiss them as there is no historical facts to back this up and simply believe they was used for nothing more than a old sand mine but however, Edwin Patchitt who designed the cemetary picked his families tomb to be in the exact spot that Oliver as described to be the ‘Archdruids Private Cell’.

Hauntings

There is only one documented sighting I can see and that is of a Victorian lady who walks up to people forest road and simply disappears.

Many people have stated ‘its haunted’ but havent exactly stated what they have seen or witnessed to back this statement up.
What did we encounter?

Within the pauper’s grave area of the cemetary, Aimee thinks she seen what appeared to be a little boy peaking behind a grave. Logically Aimme thought it may have been a shadow but upon checking the grave it belonged to a William who died at the age of 3, which was interesting to say the least.

We had interesting ITC sessions within this area also.

Team member Chrissie also heard chants, which at the time I didn’t know monks had been hung here.

The paupers graves generally does have an all round sadness feel to it. The other graves outside this area are so grand and unique that when you step into this area you can really sense how ‘class’ was everything at one point.

Aimee also heard walking noises and i did detect about a 4 degree increase in areas of the graveyard.

Chrissie also stated that she seen a shadow person pass her.

We then did a live here which you can view the footage below to see what we encountered next and a explore.

Also dawn dudleson captured this image below from our live…

To me this looks like a lady with dark hair turned to the side with her dress hanging off her shoulder…..but as with many pictures many others see various other things.

I also explored Peel streets caves earlier this year so if you would like a look around one of these amazing caves, check out the link below

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