Cossall, itself is beautifully situated. A very pretty little English Village overlooking a valley, its long winding land, detached houses, and scattered farm houses all over. In the country villages you see a few 3 storied high houses, the front of the top story is full of small window panes on lights, the reason, up there the people had their stockings frames, but when machinery came into force, the stockmers loom shuttle had to go. I'm sorry now that I didn't examine them more carefully. I don't know what became of my Grandfather's furniture. I only know of one piece it was a very old piece and antique. It was called drawers, but more in the form of a grand piano. It was a little over 2 ft high and about 3 ft broad and 8 or 9 ft perhaps more long. Stood on 4 legs.
There is a venerable Old church at Annesley where there are tombs and underneath the dust of the old crusaders, the Church is a reminder of what has been, a new church has been built. The old one is too far from the people.
Close by, at least just beyond the park is Newstead Abbey, the once home of Byron the poet, it is a beautiful Abbey, situated in beautiful surrounding, made romantic because of Robin Hood and Byron.
We start off in another direction, we go on the turnpike which is also a beautiful lane, great big trees overhand, and in the distance of a half a mile we see the old Church of Greasley. In the churchyard lie generations of (Balls) my mother's people, their graves are to the left of the entrance door. I have read that the parish of Greasley at one time was the biggest in the Midlands, used to take in the town of Kimberley. Most of the people that attend walk through the fields to the Church. Greasley Castle was destroyed in the civil war of 1640. Between the church and the old castle there used to be a Benedictine monastery but it has been obliterated by time. All the stones have been taken away and used somewhere else. I believe some of the old lanes had sidewalks made out of these old Halls and castles.
The old Castle, very little of it remains, a modern farm house has been built on the site and a part of the ruins (Spencers lived in it when I was a boy) you could see the ramparts and part of the moats, and tradition said that many soldiers were buried in the moats, also there use to be a tunnel from the castle to Beauvale Abbey so that the inmates from with the Abbey or the Castle could escape in time of trouble, it is closed up now. Tradition also said that there was a lot of buried gold somewhere in the tunnel. ( At least the tale has been handed down among the people living nearby.
The Rector of Greasley Church in my time was a Russian Pole nobleman (Baron Rudolph Von Hube) rather an eccentric old chap, he used to like his whiskey, used to call the bottles the "little black devils." The way he got to be the Rector of Greasley was pretty cute, he was courting or paying love to a certain lady. I think a Miss Barber, a family at his time of importance, it appears that the family had quite a lot to say in the matter, so they helped him on the understanding that if he got the Church he would marry the lady. He got the appointment, then straightaway he journeyed to London and married a foreign lady. His foreign ways did not suit Englishmen, and he was always having tiffs, he was very overbearing. He decided that he would not have Sunday burials. A certain person died and they decided that he would be buried on Sunday so they informed the old rascal the Baron. Sunday came, the funeral party went to the church, no preacher there, they waited and waited. Then they sent word that if he did not come they would rear the coffin on end and leave it in the Church, with the corpse inside. That fetched the preacher and the funeral proceeded. It used to be laughable at the vestry meetings. He wanted to be boss and his behaviour caused some gay old times. Ordering the people out, closing the meetings, until at last the non conformists used to attend in numbers and elect a parish churchwarden who did not attend the Church.
Five or six miles away from Greasley Church was the little country village of Cossall with its Ancient Church, and the tombs of the Crusaders, the Willoughby's, an ancient powerful family, the tombs in Selston Church were the Willoughby's also in Wollaton Church. In the Cossall church yard to the right of the entrance door lie generations of the Sysons, my Fathers people.
There is an old Hall not far from the Church, it is now a farm house. There are some Alms houses just across the road from the church, very quaint looking, built in the reign of one of the early Edwards, for old people born in Cossall. As a lad, I used to visit and saw some very old men, some who were born in the latter part of the 18th century. Some had been soldiers at Waterloo. In the tower of the church are two bells, on one is the name "Philip Syson 1720 Church warden" The Rector of the Parish in my in fancy was the Rev. Gordon Hyslop, a Yorkshireman, in his old age he married the Hon. Mrs.Willoughby. The Hon. Hugh Willoughby and others were chaffing the Parson at not being married. Hugh was the Rector of Trowell, the next parish. So the Rev. Hyslop said in a joke if she would have him he would marry her, so he proposed and she accepted. He had an exceedingly long nose, extra long. Not far from Cossall lived a family named Oates who were all very tall men and women, who had very prominent noses, supposed to be the biggest in the district. The father of the family said if he ever met a man who had a bigger nose, he would give him his hat. One day when he was returning from work one day ( he was a miner) he met the Parson and such a scene, the Parson who prided himself on being an aristocrat was accosted by a miner, such language, pretty near took away his breath. Said"Wall ah alweys said if ah met a man who had bigger nose than mesev ah'd him me hat, which on us will tae it, thee sev or mae".
Also there lived in this Parish, in what was called the marsh, an extra ordinary fat man. He was not tall, but he had as the natives used to say - a belly on him- people would come for miles to see him. And if you had fortune to see him, he would set up such a scowling as would frighten you. His name was Charlie Fritchley.
In my boyhood days we still believed in witches, we always maintained that a witch lived in an old house that stood at the end of a row of houses, how we used to run up the yard that led to the house, then throw stones at the door and windows then shout," there she is "and run for our lives.
I went to a Dame's School when I was about 5 or 6 years old ( 1878) I well remember it was a little old house, we sat on forms or benches, the old Dame's name was Mrs. Shimmel. There was a long walk paved with big square stones up to the door, from the main road, the house was surrounded with trees; right by were some very old houses, used for a barn, built of bricks and big timbers liked they used to build in Elizabeths time. They were pulled down some few years afterwards. I wish I had known their history.