Nottingham Street Tales- Kaye’s Walk

by Joe Earp

Kaye’s Walk, runs along the north side of St. Mary’s Churchyard. Today it is perhaps one of the quieter pathways in the City. Also perhaps one of the least known footways. It was not until the early part of the 19th century that Kaye’s Walk was constructed. The churchyard to St Mary’s in the 19th century was a lot bigger than it is now and reached out to the opposite mansions. Kaye’s Walk in a way was created to ‘neatly’ enclose the churchyard on the north side. It also gave pedestrians a path and it was decided that the churchyard would be saved from being used as a short-cut.

The name for Kaye’s Walk is from the Rev. Sir Richard Kaye. He was Rector of Marylebone, Prebend of Southwell, Archdeacon of Nottingham and Prebend and Dean of Lincoln. He died in 1809 and was buried at Lincoln. In Captain Cook’s “Journal,” under the date, May 11th, 1778, occurs the following entry: “I bore up for the island—I left a bottle with a paper in it on which were inscribed the names of the ships and the date of our discovery, and along with it I enclosed two silver twopenny pieces of his Majesty’s coin of the date 1772. These, with many others, were furnished me by Rev. Dr. Kaye (now Dean of Lincoln), and as a mark of my esteem and regard for that gentleman, I named the island after him, ‘Kaye’s Island.'”


Kaye’s Walk, Lace Market, Nottingham, c 1950- Photo Credit: Picture the Past.

Today Kaye’s Walk is mainly occupied by private businesses. But in the 19th century it was the homes of many of Nottingham’s rich and famous. In one of the houses lived a certain Mr William Trentham. He lived in a mansion at the corner of Kaye’s Walk and St. Mary’s Gate. He occupied the house around 1812. William Trentham was a hosier in the town. He was a partner in the firm of Trentham, Tierney & Morton. He was already a notorious and hated character among the framework-knitters of Nottingham.

The Luddite rebellions of the early 19th century, saw disgruntled framework knitters smash up their machines and protest over low pay, poor working conditions and a lack of voting rights. It all started in Nottingham on the 11th March 1811. A large crowd of framework knitters assembled in Nottingham Market Place and after a number of very angry speeches the crowd dispersed, moving up the Mansfield Road to Arnold. They entered the premises of hosiers who had “rendered themselves the most obnoxious to the workmen”. They then continued to destroy a total of sixty-three stocking frames. The Luddite movement would go on to become one of Great Britain’s biggest ever public protests in it’s long Island history.

At the height of the Luddite movement it was William Trentham in Nottingham who the Luddites would turn their protesting attention against. On the 27 April 1812, while returning to his home on Kaye’s Walk at about 9.45pm, he was opening his front door when he was shot. The Nottingham Date Book (published 1880) gives a full account of the incident:

“At about a quarter to ten o’clock at night, an attempt was made to murder Mr William Trentham, an extensive hosier in the town. The unfortunate gentlemen had been at a convivial party at Mr Timm’s, in Market Street, and was returning home to his residence, a very ancient mansion at the south-west corner of Kaye’s Walk. He had knocked at the door for admittance, and while inside the porch waiting for the door being opened, two men stepped up to him from among the tombstones (Mr Trentham’s house door facing the churchyard), and one of them instantly, without uttering a word, discharged at him the contents of a large horse-pistol. The ball entered his right breast, and passing obliquely, lodged near the shoulder. The assassins, who were described by the sufferer, as ‘very small men’, instantly fled in different directions. Mr Trentham was assisted into his house, and Mr Wright, surgeon, of Pelham Street, succeeded in extracting the ball and ultimately restoring his patient to his former strength, though from the nature of the wound life for several days hung as it were in the balance. The Mayor issued a printed notice the next morning, offering a reward of 100 guineas to anyone giving information that might lead to the apprehension of either or both of the assassins; and a further reward of 500 guineas upon conviction. The reward, large as it was, was never claimed. It is, understood however and may be regraded as a moral certainty, that the man who attempted the assassination was one of the Luddites who were hung at Leicester, in 1817, for taking part in the attack on Messrs Heathcoat and Boden’s factory at Loughborough. The only motive that can be supposed to have impelled the men to the horrible attempt was resentment of a reduction in wages”.

After William Trentham’s death in 1820 the house was taken by Mr. Daft Smith Churchill, who, amongst other things, was one of the original directors of the General Cemetery, and who lost his life in the wreck of the ship “Forfarshire,” off Fame Lighthouse in 1837, despite the gallant efforts of Grace Darling and her father to rescue the crew. His co-directors set up a great monument to him in the General Cemetery which can still be seen near the entrance from Derby Road. Upon his death the house came into the hands of his son, who had the house demolished.


Unfortunately the Mansion on Kaye’s Walk which was once owned by William Trentham and Daft Smith Churchill no longer exists, after the latter’s son had it demolished. However Daft Smith Churchill’s Memorial can still be seen today in the Nottingham General Cemetery. Photo Credit: Joe Earp/ Nottingham Hidden History Team.


About nottinghamhiddenhistoryteam

Originally formed in 1965 to try to save or at least record before destruction the cave sites continually discovered during the major redevelopment of the City that took place in Nottingham in the 1960′s. Almost every day new sites were unearthed and destroyed before anyone was notified; last thing they wanted was someone telling them to stop what they were doing; TIME is MONEY. The word HIDDEN in the Team’s title is because a lot of what was being invisibly lost in the redevelopment was our early history in the caves, they are under most, if now all, of Nottingham. In the 80’s and 90’s the Team conducted with the help of Dr Robert Morrell and Syd Henley, research and work on Nottingham’s history, folklore and local archaeology. The Team published quarterly magazines on their findings. The Team lapsed for a few years after the death of Paul Nix who was the team leader for thirty plus years. The Team has reformed and is now back working on Nottingham local history. On this blog you will find a series of history, folklore and archaeological related articles and information. Most of the material published will be specifically related to Nottingham/shire local history.
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