Gretton is a spring-line settlement situated on the Jurassic ridge overlooking the Welland Valley. The area has yielded evidence of human occupation since the Iron Age and items of Roman origin have been found in the parish.
The first documentary evidence is the Domesday Book, complied in 1086. At that time the King held Gretton and the mill was valued at three shillings.
The church has Norman origins though there was probably an earlier building on the same site. In the Medieval period the parish was administered by a Prebend from Lincoln cathedral
where one of the choir stall still bears the village name. The Prebend’s residence when in Gretton would have been a manor house next to the church. The remains of the fish ponds and tithe barn are still to be found.
The Stafford family acquired the estate and built Kirby Hall. They sold it to Elizabeth I’s favourite, Sir Christopher Hatton and it then passed down through the family and eventually the Finch-Hattons and the earls of Winchelsea. It is currently administered by English Heritage and most of the land has been sold off to a variety of landowners.
The village boasts a number of fine 17th century houses with mullioned windows, all built on the sited of earlier dwellings. Two of them, built in the early 1600s, were provided with en-suite facilities to the owner’s chamber, or master bedroom. Part of the Hatton Arms, or the Lord’s Arms as it was once known, has been proved to date from the early 14th century.
Gretton has always been a predominantly agricultural village until the coming of the railway in the 1870s. Railway building provided alternative occupation and this was superseded by quarrying after the discovery of large quantities of iron ore during the boring of the railway tunnel. Farmers, graziers and agricultural labourers made up most of the census returns of the
19th century. There were also the very necessary shop and beer-house keepers, shoemakers, wheelwrights, carpenters and stonemasons. There was also a parchments works which, according to tradition, provided quality parchment for Hansard.
In 2008 the village school will celebrate 100 years in its present building. The previous building, ext to the church, was donated by Lord Winchelsea in 1853 and there’s documentary
evidence of an earlier school, at least since 1818.
More information about the history of the village can be found in ‘taking Stock’, the magazine of the Gretton Local History Society.