Rainworth started as a settlement close to a Roman road that went through Mansfield and Newark, and provided access to the coalfields of Derbyshire for the Roman settlements in the area to the east of Nottinghamshire. The sheltered location and access to clean water from the River Idle (now called Rainworth water), meant that the the area was often used by travelling Romans as a camp site.
In the year 617 AD, a mighty Roman warrior, Readwald, stayed at the site prior to a battle with Ethelfrith, King of Mercia. In the battle, Readwald`s son, Regehere, was killed, and from that day, the area was known as Regehere`s Wath (Wath being a ford or crossing point over a river). Over the years, many changes in the spelling of the name have been recorded, from the original Regehere`s Wath to Reynwath by 1268, then Raynwath, and then to the present day name of Rainworth.
Rainworth Lodge was first built in 1190 as a hunting lodge. Rufus Clarke lived their in 1212 and was with King Johns hunting parties in the forest.
Little more is known about the village until the 16th century, when it is recorded that it was a peaceful hamlet with 13 dwellings:-
That was all!
- Three Thorn Hollow Farm,
- Six houses in the Old Square known as Ramsden Croft,
- The original `Robin Hood Inn` named the "Sherwood Inn",
- The toll house nicknamed `The Inkpot`
- and a handful of houses on the road leading to Mansfield.
The people who lived in Rainworth were farmers or nursery men.
Until the opening of the railway line linking Mansfield to Southwell in 1871 there was no public transport and the only way to get from place to place was to walk.
In 1879 an elm tree, later to be called the `Tree of Knowledge` was planted on the village green in front of the Robin Hood Inn. It became a favourite place for people to meet and talk. The tree eventually had to be cut down in 1962 when it became diseased.
In 1890 Rainworth`s first church, a wooden building was built. However it was later replaced by a brick building which was opened on the festival day of St Simon and St Jude in 1939.
The building of the Pumping Station in 1895 meant that householders no longer had to get their water from wells and springs but from the pump outside the Robin Hood Inn.
In 1911, two mineshafts were sunk marking the start of work at Rufford Colliery. Only two years later the colliery suffered its worst pit disaster when 13 men were killed in an accident. As the pit prospered so the need for housing grew and new housing was built along Kirklington Road.
In 1914 the first school to be built in Rainworth, Heathlands, was opened and soon after Python Hill School in 1924. It wasn`t until 1962 that Joseph Whitaker School was built and Rainworth had its own secondary school
As well as growth, Rainworth has also seen decline. The local railway service was stopped and the station closed in 1965. Also along with many other pits in the area, Rufford Colliery stopped producing coal in 1993.