Broxtowe (Broxtow, Broculston or Brocklestowe) is an old Anglo-Saxon name. Broxtowe was the largest wapentake in the county.
In 1316, a favour was bestowed upon the family and the heirs. This created the= title of Lord John de Broxtowe. Other noted people dwelling in the Hall was Thomas Hewlyn founder of the Baptist movement. In the 16th century Sir Hugh Wllloughby, the navigator, lived at the Hall. In 1554 he attempted to discover the north-east passage through the Arctic seas. The following spring his ship was discovered lifeless in the water with the body of Sir Hugh frozen to death. He was found seated in a chair with the log book of the ship before him.
In the middle of the seventeenth century during the tragic days of the war between King Charles and the Parliament, a real romance and tragedy occured at Broxtowe. In addition to the main armies and garrisons, innumerable country houses were held for one side or the other by small bodies of troops. Aspley Wood Hall was held for the King by a member of the Willoughby family. Broxtowe was garrisoned for the Parliament, with a gallant young officer, Captain Thornhagh, in command.
Hostilities between the two forces do not seem to have been very severely prosecuted. One day, Agnes Willoughby, the beautiful daughter of the Cavalier leader, while on a charitable visit to Bilborough, fell into the clutches of three desperadoes. Fortunately for her, young Thornhagh arrived on the scene in time to rescue her, and, though at great peril to himself, he escorted her home to Aspley. Their subsequent acquaintance led to them falling in love. The tragedy was that they were uncompromisingly opposed to each other in both religion and politics. He was a convinced Puritan and Republican, and she was an equally convinced Papist and Royalist. Each was convinced that the other’s beliefs could only lead to eternal damnation, and neither could give way to the other.
One November morning in 1645, Thornhagh was ordered to join Hutchinson at Nottingham Castle, and with him marched to the assault of Shelford Hall. In the course of this attack he fell, fatally wounded by a bullet. When the news was brought to Agnes Willoughby she was distraught, for she was convinced that her lover had died in his sins. She decided to devote her life to religious purposes in the hope that her good deeds might save his soul, and for sixty years she lived a life of piety and charity.
Article originally published by Peter Woodward of My Broxtowe Hundred Journal Website.