Ye Olde Leathern Bottle

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The park where the body was found

A Nottinghamshire folk song

By R B Parish

In Mansfield library are some typed notes of various folk songs recorded by a Malcolm Seymour of Mansfield. Although I am unclear of the age and provenance of each, but as they record local legends and stories, I believe our worth recording here. The following summarises a well known outrage concerning a pub on the Mansfield Nottingham road, called Ye Olde Leathern Bottle or Bottel. It records:

“Of Ye Olde Leathern Bottle, At Mansfield I will tell, It happened one dark winter’s morn, As the white snow fell.

As the bell tolled three o’clock, Upon the icy morn, A postman came from Nottingham, And he was tired and worn.

As the snow whipped round his face, And ice clung to his chin. He hammered on the old inn door, Crying ‘Landlord let me in.’

The landlord lay in bed, To move he did not care, To his entreaties turned death ears, And left him standing there.

Yet the postman hammered, And made a dreadful din, “I’m frozen, tired, and hungry. For Christ’s sake , let me in!”

In anger, then the landlord, Unto the window flew, “Be gone, you scurvy rascale!  I have no room for you”

And so the landlord left him. He lay down on the ground, The police came by next morning, His body there they found.

Before the local Justice, The landlord did appear Said he, “Of a more callous act I never yet did hear.”

You shall no more be landlord, No inn heneceforth you’ll own, And ‘Ye Olde Leathern Bottle’ must, Be razed unto the ground.”

Mayfield (1979) states that the postman’s name was Baggaley, and was found dead not as the song suggests but in Titchfield park water meadows, near where the railway bridge crossed the Nottingham road. He was indeed frozen to death, holding the King’s mail. Mayfield also notes that at one time there was a stone in the road which read:

“John Martyn’s stone I am, Shows ye great roade to Nottyngham 1621”

Whatever happened to this stone is unclear and the date is confusing for the Mansfield church records give 1797 1st March as a burial date giving his name as John Bagguley aged 69, buried. It is possible that this is another man of course, the name is still current in the area. The death of the postman was a local scandal of course, and there was an enormous crowd at the funeral which as the song suggests precipitated a meeting forcing the ‘compulsory’ purchase of the property and its closure. 

The author is preparing a book on Nottinghamshire folklore. Any correspondence on this matter is greatly received.


Seymour, M., (undated) Ye Olde Leathern Bottle

Mayfield, P (1979) Legends of Nottinghamshire

This page was added by R B Parish on 20/02/2013.

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