[25] Rushing cars thunder along the modern highway, drowning out memories of the old Great North Road from London to Edinburgh. The replacement A1 bypasses Retford, Babworth, Scrooby, Bawtry, and Austerfield, but the old route is heavily used locally. When Brewster received the king’s messengers at Scrooby Manor House to provide them with meals, overnight lodging, and a change of horses, most of the road north was unpaved, especially in mountainous passages. Paved stretches remained from Roman times.


[18] Nowadays, hospitality and a good meal are provided by the landlord of Scrooby’s pub, The Pilgrim Fathers, built in 1771.

[19] A view from the pub frames the church tower.

[24] Busy though Bawtry is, with traffic on The Great North Road, just a block away are quiet little streets and old houses like this with its double bow windows and panelled and arched central doorway from the eighteenth century.

​[21] Continuing north on The Great North Road, the next town is Bawtry, where the Crown Hotel has been the stopping place for Pilgrim tourists for well over a century. Henry Martyn Dexter, author of The England and Holland of the Pilgrims (1905), wrote, “At Bawtry, the Crown Inn is the best.”[22] The Crown Inn dining room has recently been modernised.

The Tour Continues...


[15] The Old Vicarage is the only house left in Scrooby that shows the half-timber construction that was common in Pilgrim times. Most of Scrooby Manor, like Gainsborough Old Hall, was built this way, although nothing of the half-timber work at Scrooby Manor survives. Massive framing surrounds areas filled with panels of clay and sticks – daub and wattle. Another cottage that shows what most farmers’ simple houses looked like is The Cottage at Rempstone, southeast of Nottingham.

[17] Two gothic window frames of stone indicate that the present farmhouse is part of the medieval mansion. Probably this brick wing formed the front along the east side of the double courtyards of the house. The Brewster family had divided the house and farm, leasing out part of it since the 1590’s to another farmer, also an active Separatist. From this manor house Brewster supervised the Archbishop’s property in seventeen subordinate villages, besides offering hospitality and a change of horses to official messengers on the road between London and Edinburgh. The manor house became in that sense a post on The Great North Road, of which William Brewster was the post master.

[23] A walk in the village of Bawtry, across the market square from the Crown Inn, leads to the parish church of St. Nicholas. Several churches in this area have the unusual, late-gothic windows like what we see here. At the end of the south aisle and along the upper story of the nave, the window tracery ends not in a pointed arch but with a flat top. Richard Clifton, after he was ejected from his position as pastor at Babworth, preached in Bawtry’s church, although without permission from higher church authorities.

​[20] Fields behind the pub display Scrooby’s rural character, little changed in 400 years.

[16] Scrooby Manor, owned by the Archbishop of York, counted thirty-nine rooms in the early sixteenth century, when King Henry VIII stopped by with several hundred courtiers and servants. Liking the palace, he bought it in 1544, but the Archbishop bought it back a few years later, donating it again to the archdiocese. Later, Queen Elizabeth I also pressed the Archbishop of York to sell her the house, considering it a worthy lodging for a monarch. The bishop resisted. William Brewster, Sr., had been appointed his bailiff here in 1575. King James, on his way from Scotland to become King of England, passed by and also attempted unsuccessfully to buy it for the crown. Vestiges of the moat and outbuildings can be perceived in irregularities in the fields around the remnants of the house (now private). Roof timbers from the old house were re-used in the brick barn and dovecote seen on the left.