Why did they come from here?

26th November 2020

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.

Making of a Memorial

15th October 2020

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.

The talk was recorded and can be viewed on our Recorded Presentations webpage.

Nottinghamshire Settlers, 1820

This year is the bicentennial for a national scheme in which about 4,000 people emigrated to the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Some 190 people from Nottinghamshire joined the scheme and made the crossing in four ships.

The leader of the main group from Nottinghamshire was Dr Thomas Calton from Collingham. His group, known as the ‘Calton’ or ‘Nottingham Party’ were representative of typical settlers and were involved in all of the very turbulent history of the district.

Kindly donated by the Author, this book  can be downloaded free of charge here:

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE SETTLERS & LOCATIONS IN THE EASTERN CAPE OF GOOD HOPE, 1820 (pdf, 639 pages, 8Mb)

Footpads, Kings and Highway Men

2nd October 2019

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.

WW2 Memories Group

Meet – Discuss – Share

We are setting up a new group to look at our area and the people who lived here during WW2 and the surrounding years. If you are interested in joining us or have any memories, stories, photographs, documents or objects from this period please talk to Ann Akrill or Jeremy Lodge. Alternatively, talk to any of our committee members at our events, or contact us through the contacts page on our website.

This will be an informal discussion group for anyone interested in the period, but we will also aim to provide a drop-in facility for people to bring in items of interest. The group will also offer information and support for anyone researching these important years of our history.

Everyone will be welcome to the first meeting at 10.00am on Wednesday 9th October in the Collingham Archives, Swinderby Road, NG23 7PH.

Further information from: Ann Akrill:  r.annakrill@outlook.com
Jeremy Lodge:  jeremylodge@yahoo.co.uk

Jesse Boot – an Ethical Entrepreneur

10th April 2019

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.

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The Confessions of a Vulcan Bomber Pilot

13th March 2019

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 members.

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.

Society members and visitors at Captain Geoff Dyer’s talk

Plants, Processions and Ran Tan Tan

6th February 2019

Presented by Jeremy Lodge

This was the intriguing title of Jeremy’s talk which followed the Society’s AGM. He opened with a reminder of just how many traditions and rural events had disappeared over the last 60 years or so. Some of these could be seen in the way village people ‘sorted out their own’. In other words, dispensing justice to local miscreants. We all know about the humiliation of the stocks, but ‘Ran Tan Tan’? Alice Bealby, recording her memories in 1960, remembered a man being punished for abusing his wife with ‘ran-tanning’ or ‘rough music’. This was when a band of villagers assembled outside a house armed with sticks and old tin cans to make a lot of noise and would sing, for example:

‘Ran Tan Tan with an old tin pan,
This man’s been beating a good woman’.

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Armistice Dinner

17th November 2018


The Society organized a formal dinner to remember the Armistice on 17th November 2018 to bring a close to our commemorative events. Over 50 people enjoyed a very good evening and a wonderful meal of roast beef carved at each table. Everyone dressed up for the occasion and following the meal poems on the Great War were read out by Marion Collins, Helena Narracott and Nigel Priestley. Well known favourite songs from the period including ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ and ‘Mademoiselle from Armentieres’ were sung as a finale, with Anne Speed leading on the piano. Several hundred pounds was raised for Help for Heroes from the raffle and dinner. The final sum will be announced shortly and at our AGM.

[Afterword: the amount sent to Help for Heroes was £535.]