29 August 2011

Samuel Butler's Langar, Nottinghamshire

George Bernard Shaw lamented the fact that Samuel Butler (1835–1902) died virtually unknown, although he is now widely recognized as the author of such works as the novels Erewhon: or, Over the Range (1872) and The Way of All Flesh (1903). Many of his works are available through Project Gutenberg, a link to which is here. 

Ian Brown's booklet Samuel Butler of Langar (West Bridgford, Nottingham: Nottinghamshire County Council Leisure Services, 1990) has an excellent cover photo of the Rectory on Church Lane, Langar (pronounced with a soft 'g'), where Butler was born. In the shot I took here, foliage almost completely conceals the building.

Samuel Butler's father Thomas was the rector of St Andrew's in Langar from 1834 to 1876. On his arrival the church was very run down, and the tower had to be almost rebuilt.

The former school was established by the Rev Thomas Butler and Francis Wright. Thomas gave classes there, although Samuel was probably taught by a governess. Brown's booklet suggests that stones from the kitchen garden walls of the old Langar Hall were used in the building of the school.

A closer view of the entrance, with the school bell above the datestone,

which records 'AD 1842'. The school continued to function until very recently, and this Grade II listed building is now undergoing conversion into a home.

The original school fireplace.

The well at the rear of the school might predate the building, and possibly even have served the village itself. Many thanks to Tom and Maria Jackson for showing us round.

No Butler connections that I'm aware of here, but it seems an error not to mention the village pub – the Unicorn's Head, which dates from the 17th century according to Everards, the present owners. The distinctive chimney was once part of the pub brewhouse.

The AA sign states that Langar is four miles from Bingham and twelve from Nottingham.

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