On a dull evening we congregated at 6pm at St Giles Church, Holme which was packed, to learn more about this unique, fascinating building – and the intriguing history that lies within it.
The sun shone, annoyingly just when we wanted the audience to see the screen set up with a background video showing St Giles from the air, and focussing on its various features. No matter – it did not last and we were soon being thoroughly entertained by Nigel Priestley who has been the warden of St Giles for many years, and knows every inch and cranny.
A walk around the northern end of the village led by Nigel Priestley
Report by Pat Smedley
Another hot day as the July heat wave continued to make us all feel tired, lethargic and really not feeling like taking on a walk through the north end of Low Street from the All Saints’ flood markers up to The Cat Asylum. Nevertheless, I am very glad I did venture out for what proved a most entertaining tour by Nigel Priestley, following on from the last Village Walk now two years ago.
Lincolnshire’s Greatest Tudor Woman a Zoom presentation by Adrian Gray
This was the second talk by Adrian Gray and proved very informative and enjoyable. Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk is a little known figure in Tudor history but, as our speaker demonstrated, she led an extraordinary, exciting and at times, dangerous life in those turbulent times.
Born into a very wealthy, Catholic, Lincolnshire family, her mother was a close friend of Queen Katherine of Aragon and was present at her death. Katherine became a very wealthy woman on the death of her father and married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, the close friend of Henry V111 – she was 14 years old and he 49 years. Despite the age difference the marriage was successful and the couple had two fine boys.
Dr Ian Ross gave a fascinating talk on the world of the Hunter Gatherers who, 14,000 years ago in the Upper Palaeolithic period, paused on their travels near modern day Farndon. He covered essential questions, the ice age and its impact on geomorphology, the hunter gathers, their origin, their journeys across Doggerland to Farndon. Why did they choose this area?
But first of all Dr Ross told us how Farndon was uncovered as such an important archaeological site. This was due to the development of the A46 that led to the discovery of a rich hoist of flints. Deep ploughing has uncovered more. Farndon is now acknowledged alongside Cresswell Crags and Bradgate Park in Leicester as a key Upper Palaeolithic site of international importance.
The Hunters Gatherers came across Doggerland from mainland Europe. They would choose the ‘least cost pathway’ for their journey so as to limit their energy loss. Having arrived at the Lincolnshire Wolds – a rich chalk seam embedding precious flint, they harvested the flints they would need and moved on about 17 miles to the Farndon area. The River Trent at that time was braided or multi channelled, undisciplined waters that enveloped the whole area. Present day Farndon lay between the converging the rivers Trent and the Devon It yielded a stretch of land that could be used to lay the camp – hunt the wild animals trapped on islands, nap the flints, live their lives until they moved on again.
Our local Roman Villa, its importance, up to date findings and the threat that it faces. A Zoom presentation by Richard Parker
Richard is secretary of the Norton Disney History and Archaeology group. A long-term resident of the area, his interest in the villa site had developed in the last three years. He told us that the Potter Hill site, which stretches across the Lincolnshire/Nottinghamshire border has revealed numerous artefacts from the Iron Age through to the Romano-British period, which are now held in places as diverse as Lincolnshire, Newark Museum, possibly Oxford and the British Museum. The history of the 1930’s discovery of the first tesserae and investigation of the Roman Villa was described. Its relationship to the surrounding landscape, with evidence of extensive iron smelting, was explained. (Read more in Irregular 5) The L shaped Villa is a Scheduled Ancient Monument of National importance but it is unlikely to be excavated again as the process is so damaging. Modern techniques such as Geo-Phys and LIDAR can reveal much that is hidden from view, and neither metal detectors nor digging are allowed within the field boundary.
Lincolnshire Proteins now owns the field and the neighbouring farm, so their second planning application to build a rendering plant so close to the site is of great concern. Richard asked that we tell other people about the importance of the whole site, look at the Lincolnshire County Council heritage assessment (HER) and, most importantly, write letters of objection, as appropriate so we can help to protect this important historical area.
[In our March Newsletter entitled ‘Time for Action’ we outlined the proposal, its heritage impact, our objection and how people could object. There are also items on the villa in our journal ‘Irregular 5’ (November 2020).]
After the talk, Richard answered several of our questions and was intrigued to hear a couple of anecdotes about the area.
The Local Story of the Pilgrim Fathers a Zoom presentation by Adrian Gray
This was an excellent presentation delivered by an expert on this subject. Adrian Gray has written extensively on the local history of the East Midlands area his latest books being ‘Restless Souls Pilgrim Roots’ and ‘From Here We Changed the World’.
The focus of this talk was not the actual Mayflower voyage but the heritage of protestant religious radicalism in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire from where our Mayflower Pilgrims descended and which enabled and inspired their passion for religious freedom to worship outside of the boundaries of the Elizabethan religious settlement.
Adrian took the audience back to the time of Henry VIII, and particularly to the importance of Thomas Cranmer, the architect of the English Reformation who came from Nottinghamshire. This was already a radical area from the time of the Lollards, particularly around Boston. Cranmer maintained local East Midlands connections for life so that this local area had direct connections to radical church reform at the top. The dissolution of the monasteries in this area created a new breed of protestant land owner with vested interests in the new protestant status quo. These gentry would appoint local radical priests thus sustaining the growth of radical religious reform.
The talk expanded to involve many key East Midlands figures, connected by family, marriage and church patronage and all committed to the Protestant cause, many radical. The actual Mayflower voyage is really just a post script to this fascinating story.
There is a lot of detail explained in excellent slides in this talk, which certainly deserves to be given a second viewing. If anyone wants to see this presentation again, or for the first time, get in touch with our Chair, Pat Smedley, via the Contact Us page.
We will send it by email to you for your personal viewing.
The Story of the International Bomber Command Centre and Bomber Technology
On 15th October CDLHS had its first ‘virtual’ presentation via Zoom. Dave Gilbert gave an extremely interesting and moving talk on his work leading the losses team at the International Bomber Command Centre. The response to the appeal for more information on the 57,000 or so airmen killed in Bomber Command has been truly phenomenal and Dave shared his personal journey of involvement with those lost airmen, and his determination to find out more about their lives and celebrate them.
A lecture presented to the
Society on 2nd October 2019 by local historian Ian Morgan, tracing the 34 miles
of the old Great North Road through Nottinghamshire.
This illustrated talk opened with a look at strip maps of the medieval period and how in 1555 the first law came into being to repair roads – something that had been the responsibility of no-one until then.
The audience heard
how for centuries the dangers of dark and isolated roads led to their
restricted use at night when only the Royal Mail and those on urgent missions
would travel on them. Most highway men were local and very few were well-known.
In the mid-18th
century Retford took a novel approach to its ambitions to enhance business and
income when decided to move the road so that it went through the town and
across the market place.
It seems that
travellers dreaded journeys across Nottinghamshire when the weather was bad and
it was known to have the worst roads, due to the land consisting of clay and
sand which washed away when it rained.
As the lecture
continued, memorable events and places of interest were traced along the route.
For example the importance of Newark during the Civil War; the terror of the
Nevison Gang; the genius of Smeaton who built the road out of town with its
flood-beating arches; the fire that destroyed Tuxford in 1701, and sundry
murders and progressions.
Sophie Clapp, the Archivist at the Boots
Company was due to deliver this lecture on the 10th of April but unfortunately
was unable to attend. More fortunately, she was able to ensure that we had the
power point presentation and accompanying notes in time for our Chairman, Pat
Smedley, to step up to the podium and to deliver a fascinating picture of a man
of great character.
Jesse Boot had little in the way of early
advantages except an exceptional father whom he described as “…without wealth, without money,
without any business experience; his only asset was character”. John
Boot moved his family to Nottingham when his health deteriorated and he had to
give up his work as a farm labourer. There, he established the city’s first
herbalist store, preparing and selling remedies and giving consultations, so
preparing the way for a future retail empire.
Captain Geoff Dyer’s presentation on March
13 drew one of the Society’s largest audiences; perhaps unsurprising given the
local importance of the RAF. In fact, those present included other past crew
Given his 10,000 hours of pilot experience
and his studies in aviation history, Captain Dyer was more than qualified to
give a rounded and fascinating view of life behind the scenes in the RAF during
the Cold War.
In 1946 it was understood that any future war
would be nuclear and that the potential enemy would be Russia. Captain Dyer
highlighted the enormous and rapid development during that crucial period;
there were just seven years between the Lancaster and the Vulcan. The World War
ll Lancaster carried around five tonnes of bombs whilst the Vulcan carried two
million tonnes of TNT; and in the event that just one got through to Russia it
could have wiped out Moscow.
Issues around the Vulcan’s design and its
construction , as well as the responsibility of the captain for the rear crew
who didn’t have the safety of ejection seats were also covered as were the
experiences of being a test pilot and demonstration flying.
But this presentation also had its lighter side;
we heard about how the captain’s biggest responsibility was to stop the crew
from misbehaving during stop-overs and how exercises over Canada provided
opportunities to bring back large quantities of whisky – custom officers’
inspections were thwarted by hiding the bottles up the nose in the scanner bay.