These pages were produced by Roy Mat for his Wilford & Clifton Index in 1997


The Clifton Grove

The Trent From The Base Of Clifton Grove, 
New Years Day 1997 

Clifton Grove

Clifton Grove is a peaceful woodland area that runs from Clifton Bridge for a distance of  2 miles (3 1/2 km) along a cliff on the east bank of the River Trent. The green canopy covers the entire cliff face with a path at its base running along the river bank. The summit of the cliff consists of a wide grass lane with a row of trees orderly arranged on each side. The cliff  separates Clifton from the Trent and protects the community from its history of devastating Flood. To the south, the Grove merges into the Clifton Wood adding a further kilometer to one of  Nottinghams forgotten retreats.

Approach To Clifton Hall 
Along The Avenue Of Elms In The 1800s 


It was planted in 1677 by Sir William Clifton to provide a spectacular avenue of elm trees along the carriage route to Clifton Hall. Visitors would travel the full length of the grove, starting at a small stone bridge over Fairham Brook up the gradual slope of the Cliff and ultimately to the gates of Clifton Hall itself.  The original bridge over the brook collapsed in 1910 but a new one quickly replaced it and it is still in use today as a foot bridge into the grove.


Through The Ages


At one point the Clifton family tried to close the Grove to the public.  The attempt failed and the Grove became Nottingham's most popular retreat from the city in the 19th century and still attracted large numbers into the 20th century.  Shaws Guide To Nottingham, published in 1874 describes the Grove:- 'At Easter and whitsuntide, if the weather at all permits, thousands of the Nottingham artizans with thier wives and families, young men and maidens, either with sweethearts or to gain sweethearts flock to ... the Grove.'

My Dog, Joe Poses For A Picture Below The Grove Cliff
On The River Bank 
(Photographed January 1st, 1997)
My Favourite Picture Of The Grove
(Photographed May 1997)

Barkers Walks Around Nottingham described the trees on the main avenue during his visit to the Grove:- 'I was struck at seeing the immense number of initials and dates carved upon the bark of the trees for about 150 yards from the gate...The oldest time allowed me to trace was under the letters T.W., 1754'.


The growth of Nottingham into a city has inevitably threatened the Groves character over the last fifty years.  Even in the mid 1800s the Grove must have seemed a remarkable piece of countryside to lie so close to the town. The heavy industrialization of Clifton colliery at nearby Wilford in 1871 paved the way for expansion into the surrounding areas.  A large green buffer of playing fields limit the proximity of commercial buildings on the west bank of the Trent to a moderate intrusion.  The huge gray slab of Clifton Bridge carrying the A52 over the Trent in the North beside the little Fairham Brook bridge is an eyesore. Somehow the young green trees and shrubs that wall the path into the Grove manage to absorb and hide its presence. 

View Of The Trent From The Top Of The Grove Cliff 
(Photographed May 1997)

The ground is a little bare around the bridge after a recent summer of small fires that were thankfully controlled before to much damage was done. The Clifton village has grown dramatically in size since the forties and can no longer be really called a village as is now a sprawling housing estate populated by around 30,000 people.  The houses, inevitably, and new Trent University buildings have been built right up to the corridor of trees along the top of the cliff thus robbing the Grove of its detachment from urban life.  To make matters worse the ancient Elms have all gone, ravaged by Dutch Elm disease in the 1970s.  New trees have been planted but are many years away from the splendor of the previous generation.  Today the Grove is still a peaceful, rich area of woodland worth exploring.  It does not have the same crowd pulling reputation as in previous years but is still popular with the locals.  Its an ideal place for exercising dogs (I walk my dog there most weekends), cycling, fishing, summer strolls and winter tobogganing. Canoes and rowing boats regularly cruise the Trent in the mornings. 

East Bank 1/1/97
The River At The Foot Of The Grove
(Photographed January 1st, 1997)

The Legend Of Clifton Grove


Legend has it that a young squire in the service of Sir Gervase Clifton and a maiden of Clifton fell in love just before the Battle Of Bosworth in 1485.  The maiden gave the squire half a gold piece as a token of her love and pledged to wait for his return when they would marry.  She retained the other half of the gold coin as her own momento of love.  The squire followed William Clifton to fight in France.  Eventually he returned to marry his beloved only to find the maiden had broken her promise and married a wealthy local man.  He is then said to have killed himself by plunging into the Trent in dispair. 

The guilt ridden maiden was soon after dragged into the river by a demon at the great 'chasm' in the the grove below Clifton Hall.  The Nottingham poet,  Henry Kirke White wrote the poem called 'Clifton Grove' that has a number of verses devoted to the legend.   Click here to view extracts from Kirke White's Clifton Grove along with more grove pictures.

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