Great families in the Dukeries were key to establishing the local militia volunteer regiment, the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, which helped to lay the foundations for the modern Army of today.
The Dukeries area of Nottinghamshire, with its grand houses and great estates, is now best known as a tourist area.
But look back to the heyday of these great families, and the influence they exerted over public life, and you learn how Nottinghamshire was at the forefront of the nation’s social and political history.
That is what retired solicitor and former honorary holonel of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry Jonathan Hunt discovered when he set out to update a pamphlet on Nottinghamshire’s volunteer cavalry regiment the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry over a Christmas holiday.
Fuelled by a desire to learn more, he spent the next five years researching the many local families and estates associated with the regiment - and that led to Jonathan’s first book.
Unicorns, The History of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 1794-1899, reveals how the history of the regiment is inextricably linked with that of its home county of Nottinghamshire.
Among many local references are to the Cavendish, Bentinck, Pierrepont, Manvers, Byron, Middleton, Pelham and Portland families and well known Nottinghamshire landmarks including Nottingham Castle, Bestwood Lodge, Newstead Abbey, Clumber Park, Welbeck Abbey, Wollaton Park, Thoresby Park and Rufford Abbey.
Jonathan chose Unicorns for the title because of a poem written about the regiment and those who served in it by the renowned war poet Keith Douglas who served in the Sherwood Rangers in the Second World War, in which he compared their courage in action to that of unicorns.
“I always knew that the Sherwood Rangers had a most incredible record in the Second World War and so I felt sure, given who had served in it down the centuries, there must be a story in the early history of the regiment as well.”
‘Unicorns, The History of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 1794-1899’ is available online at www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/ for £30. Jonathan’s second book, ‘Hard Fighting: The History of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 1900-2014’, and will be published in 2014.