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Mansfield is a large market town and the administrative centre of Mansfield District in Nottinghamshire, England. It is the biggest town in the wider Mansfield Urban Area. Mansfield gained the Royal Charter of a market town in 1227. The town lies in the Maun Valley, 12 miles (19 km) north of Nottingham, and is near Sutton-in-Ashfield. Most of the 106,556 population live in the town itself (including Mansfield Woodhouse), with Warsop as a secondary centre. Mansfield is the one local authority in Nottinghamshire with a publicly elected mayor.
The Royal Manor of Mansfield was held by the King. In 1042 Edward the Confessor possessed a manor in Mansfield. William the Conqueror later owned two carucates, five sochmans, and thirty-five villains; twenty borders, with nineteen carucates and a half in demesne, a mill, piscary, twenty-four acres of meadow and pasture' in Mansfield. In 1199 the Manor was owned by King John. The Manor then owned by King Henry III passed the Manor to Henry de Hastings. In 1329 Queen Isabella, mother of Edward III, was the Lady of the Manor of Mansfield.
Settlement dates to the Roman period. Major Hayman Rooke in 1787 discovered a villa between Mansfield Woodhouse and Pleasley; a cache of denarii was found near King's Mill in 1849. Early English royalty stayed there; Mercian Kings used it as a base to hunt in Sherwood Forest.
The Domesday Book (1086) recorded the settlement as Mammesfeld and market-petition documents of 1227 spelt it Maunnesfeld. King Richard II signed a warrant in November 1377 to grant tenants the right to hold a four-day fair each year; the spelling had changed to Mannesfeld. There are remains of the 12th-Century King John's Palace in Clipstone, between Mansfield and Edwinstowe, and it was an area of retreat for royal families and dignitaries through to the 15th Century. Access to the town was by road from the city of Nottingham, on the way to Sheffield. In the town centre, a commemorative plaque was erected in 1988 together with a nearby tree to mark the point thought once to be the centre of Sherwood Forest. The plaque was refurbished in 2005 and moved to a ground-plinth.
In 1516 during the reign of King Henry VIII an act of parliament settled the Manor to Thomas the Duke of Norfolk. The Manor was then passed to the Dukes of Newcastle and Portland.
Travellers in the 16th and 17th centuries had several inns and stable yards dating from the medieval period to stop at:
the Harte; the Swan, with 1490 dating stone; the Talbot; the White Bear; the Ram, with timber from before 1500; and the White Lion.. Several timber-framed cruck buildings were demolished in 1929; and in 1973 a local historical society documented another during demolition dated to 1400 or earlier. Other Tudor houses in Stockwell Gate, Bridge St, and Lime Tree Place were also demolished to make way for development before they could be viewed for listing. Most remaining buildings are from the 17th century.
In 1894 William Horner Groves described Mansfield as 'one of the quaintest and most healthy of the towns in the Midland counties, is the market town for an agricultural district of eight miles around it. It is the capital of the Broxtowe Hundred of Nottinghamshire, and gives its name to a Parliamentary Division of the county'
Mansfield is a market town with a 700-year-old market tradition; a Royal Charter was issued in 1227. The present market square was created after demolition under the Improvement Act of 1823. In the centre is the Bentinck Memorial, built in 1849, which commemorates Lord George Bentinck (1802–1848), son of the William Bentinck, 4th Duke of Portland, a local landowner.
A nearby area called Buttercross Market in West Gate, the site of an old cattle market, has a centrepiece of local stone dating from the 16th century. Mansfield District Council closed this section in 2015. Adjacent is Mansfield Library, officially opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1977 and refurbished in 2012. The old Carnegie Library, founded in 1905 in Leeming Street, was used from 1976 as an arts and performance centre.
Mansfield railway station is on the Robin Hood Line, a link connecting with Nottingham and Worksop. From 1964 until 1995, Mansfield was by some definitions the largest town in Britain without a railway station, until the line was officially reopened by Secretary of State for Transport, Sir George Young. From 1973 to 1995 the nearby station at Alfreton was named "Alfreton and Mansfield Parkway", to encourage use as a railhead for Mansfield. A Sunday rail service was restored to Mansfield in December 2008.
The town was originally the terminus of the Mansfield and Pinxton Railway, a horse-drawn plateway built in 1819 and one of the first acquisitions of the newly formed Midland Railway. The Midland used the final section to extend its new Leen Valley line to the present station in 1849.
The Midland Railway extended its Rolleston Junction–Southwell branch to Mansfield in 1871; continued the line north to Worksop in 1875; opened a link from Mansfield Woodhouse to Westhouses and Blackwell in 1886; and completed another link from Pleasley through Bolsover to Barrow Hill in 1890. The locally promoted Mansfield Railway between Kirkby South Junction and Clipstone Junctions—opened in stages between 1913 and 1916 for goods trains and in 1917 for Nottingham–Ollerton passenger trains, calling at a second Mansfield passenger station—broke the Midland Railway monopoly. Though nominally independent, the Mansfield Railway connected at both ends with the Great Central Railway, which worked the trains.
Mansfield had two railway stations: Mansfield Town, the former Midland station on Station Road; and Mansfield Central, the former Mansfield Railway station in Great Central Road, near Ratcliffe Gate. Central station lost its scheduled passenger services at the beginning of 1956 and Town station closed to passengers in 1964, leaving Mansfield without passenger trains until the Robin Hood line restored them in 1995.
Mansfield & District Light Railways ran a tram service between 1905 and 1932.
Mansfield is home to Mansfield Town FC, known as the Stags or yellows. Relegated to the Conference National after 77 years in the Football League at the end of the 2007–2008 season, Mansfield Town returned to the Football League after winning the 2012–2013 Conference National title. Non-League club AFC Mansfield plays in the Forest Town area of Mansfield.
Mansfield Rugby Club is a rugby union club based at Eakring Road and currently plays in Midlands 1 East, a sixth-tier league in the English rugby union system. It won the Notts Cup for five years in succession and for a record 18 times.
Mansfield Giants is Mansfield's Premier Basketball Club, and has a three-star Accreditation and Club Mark from the English Sports Council. The team plays in the England Basketball (EB2).
The annual half marathon held for more than 30 years was cancelled after 2011 due to escalating costs, after changes to Health and Safety legislation meant professional services were needed to address road-closure measures, instead of volunteers. Mansfield local business networking group 2020 had hoped to restore a race by September 2014, but this event, reduced in length to 10 kilometres, was postponed, initially until spring 2015, and took place in August.
Angling is well supported in the Mansfield district, where ponds remain from the former textile milling industry.
Tennis is catered for by Mansfield Lawn Tennis Club located at the same site since 1883, with two grass courts and four asphalt courts, three of them floodlit. Further hard-surface courts are found in the district at six Mansfield District Council park locations.
Mansfield is home to Mansfield Roller Derby, Mansfield's premier Flat Track Roller Derby league.
One issue for local residents is Mansfield's lack of a central Leisure Centre. Mansfield District Council decided it would rubber stamp the sale of the existing Leisure Centre and extensive public car park to Tesco, which opened a large Tesco Extra store in 2007. The Council asserted that this would be replaced by a brand new Leisure Centre, but nothing has been built or is planned. It received over £5m from Tesco for the Leisure Centre site, but decided to spend this on refurbishing Sherwood Baths instead.
Mansfield has two indoor swimming centres and a third, smaller pool attached to a school, which has been under threat of closure since 2011. These facilities give Mansfield the largest square meterage of indoor water-sports facilities per capita of any town in the United Kingdom with less than 100,000 inhabitants.
Mansfield is one of three outlets for the Nottinghamshire County Council Swim Squad, which competes as Nova Centurion. The Sherwood Swimming Baths adjacent to the former Sherwood Colliery was refurbished and opened in January 2010 as the Rebecca Adlington Swimming Centre. The 25-metre pool was widened at the expense of losing tiered public seating and has a new, small, endless stroke-improvement training pool with variable-resistance water flow. The complex reduces its carbon footprint by using a ground-source heat pump backed by a biomass boiler burning wood pellets prepared from waste by a local wood yard.
At the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, a Mansfield contestant, Rebecca Adlington, won two gold medals, for 400 and 800-metre freestyle swimming. After her record-breaking success, Adlington was welcomed home to Mansfield by thousands lining the streets to applaud as she passed in an open top bus. This culminated in an appearance at the old Town Hall in the Market Square. Her success boosted swimming interest in the area, leading to expansion of swimming classes to encourage young people to begin swimming. At the 2012 Olympic Games in and around London, Adlington won two Bronze medals again for 400 and 800 metres, the best performance of a generally disappointing Team GB swimming squad. She retired from competitive swimming in February 2012.
Water Meadows swimming complex opened during the Christmas holidays of 1990 in Bath Street, on the site of the former Mansfield Baths and defunct cattle market. It has a gym and a soft-play area for children with an adjoining café, as well as one 25-metre competition pool, two other pools, and a small teaching pool. The leisure lagoon pool has an artificial wave machine operating periodically, and also a slide and a shallow area like a beach. The complex is popular with family groups, and many surrounding schools make use of its facilities.