Tuxford is an interesting little town with quite a lot of history. Now you would be forgiven for calling it a village but it was once an important town on the First Road, as the Great North Road, now the A1, was originally known. It was strategically placed as a crossing point for roads from Lincoln, Nottingham, Sheffield and of course London and York. It was not particularly liked by travellers because it was also known as Tuxford in the Clay being deep in heavy mud during the winter. In 1640 William Uvedale, Treasurer at War says 'About Tuxford is the most absolutely ill road in the world'. It has a good hill on the north side of it and a steady climb on the South side. The coaches found it very difficult and they would most certainly have had to have the use of a 'Cock Horse' and extra horse hitched to the team, to get the coach up the hill out of the Town or indeed into the Town. It is said that it sometimes took the coach an hour to get out of Tuxford! At its peak it is said 74 coaches a day passed through Tuxford. These would have brought many passengers to the town to change coaches for the London or York journey. Many horses would have been kept in the town because it was reckoned that a supplier of horses had to provide one horse for every mile of the journey covered so Tuxford to Newark and back for one coach on a regular basis would have required 28 horses. This allowed for days off and lame horses.
At its height Tuxford had its own racecourse, its own Agricultural Show and many trades people to serve the needs of the many who passed through. The North side of the Street consisted mainly of Inns. The building the museum of the horse is now housed in was the main coaching inn but there was also a Mail House and a Waggoners depot. the latter was the building that now houses Gosh Gallery that specialises in modern art. In 1702 all the buildings on this side of the street were burnt down in the great fire of Tuxford. This fire was so severe that there was a National fund raising for the people of Tuxford.
Under the building runs a tunnel, tall enough to walk through. I have seen entrances to it in two places but sadly it is now blocked up for security and safety. However if it was in danger of collapse I think some of the buildings would have disappeared by now as they are built over the top! The arches of these tunnels are very strong. It is said to run across to the Church on the other side of the square so presumably it was as much for escape during the Reformation although it is said its chief use was for rolling barrels of beer from one hostlery to another when the mud was too deep outside.
As Tuxford grew into the modern age the railway line was built through it. Eventually it had four railway stations! Dr Beeching put paid to the last one in the 1960s.
The town benifitted from the patronage of The Duke of Newcastle, hence the inn being called The Newcastle Arms. He built, during the early 19thC, a public baths for the people of Tuxford. Made of fine marble it must have been an impressive sight. However due to 'The rowdiness ' of the youth of Tuxford when using the baths, it was pulled down again after only a few years; the marble was then used to build the mausoleum to the Duke's wife, on the hill just outisde West Markham, about two miles from Tuxford. This is an impressive building and under the cupola is a fine marble statue to the late Duchess with her child.
Other interesting sites in Tuxford include the 1823 lock up in Newcastle Street where the rowdy and passing prisoners were locked up over night. It is said to be one of only two left in the country. On the road to Sutton on Trent, which is the path of the old Great North Road, can be found The Rebel Stone. The inscription reads 'Here lies a rebel, 1746. It is thought it was a Jacobite rebel who broke his neck jumping from the coach to escape but this theory has had doubt thrown on it. However an expensive stone was erected to him the year after the battle of Culloden where the Jacobite Rebellion ended.
On the hill ovelooking Tuxford is a working windmill restored to its former glory in the 1990s. here you can buy flour milled in the mill and have tea and cakes. Another attraction is the very fine collection of early hand carts at The Walks of Life Museum. They tell a story of how so many folk made a living and how we sourced so many products and services in the 19thC and earlier.
There is also a fine 12thC church and of course The Newcastle Arms, the fine old coaching inn. It now houses not only the Museum of The horse but also the Sally Mitchell gallery of sporting and animal original paintings , prints and collectables. There is a coffee shop and florists in the buiding. There is also a country clothing shop and several antique and collectable furniture shops.
The village is well worth a visit. As well as the delights of Tuxford, nearby there is a small brewery and restaurant, Laxton where the last of the strip farming can be seen and another couple of miles on, the Holocaust centre . One of the oldest churches in England nestles under yew trees a couple of miles from Tuxford.
Come and make a day of it!