How did it start?
An antiquarian society was founded in Lincolnshire in 1844 based on the Lincoln Diocese and concerned firstly with architecture, then archaeology as well. It eventually assumed the title The Lincolnshire Architectural and Archaeological Society (LAAS).
Links were formed with neighbouring counties, at that time within the diocese, and a series of ‘Reports and Papers’ were published, under the editorship of Rev. Edward Trollope, Archdeacon of Stow. After the foundation of the Diocese of Southwell the LAAS reports became exclusively concerned with Lincolnshire architecture and archaeology.
In the early days twice-yearly meetings of several days’ duration were located around the County. Churches and archaeological sites were visited and talks given on Lincolnshire topics. The Society had both a library of books and manuscripts and a museum collection of artefacts.
Between the Wars interest in history and in particular local history increased. Lindsey County Council established the Lindsey Local History Society (LLHS) and, as with the LAAS, week-end and week-long conferences became part of the programme. In addition a collection of historical artefacts was begun, as was publication of local histories and regular magazines.
The Counties of Kesteven and Holland and the County Boroughs of Lincoln and Grimsby later joined Lindsey to form the Lincolnshire Local History Society. By 1965 antiquarian interests were flagging and LAAS were amalgamated with LLHS.
In the 1930s LAAS was given Jews’ Court on Steep Hill in Lincoln when it objected to local council proposals to demolish the building. It also received by donation the site of Bardney Abbey and in 1965 the LAAS formed a trust to administer the two properties. This still functions and SLHA now rents Jews’ Court from the Jews’ Court Trust.
Among the new organisations formed to foster the interest in archaeology in the 1950s was the Lincoln Archaeological Research Committee (LARC). This functioned until 1974 when LARC joined LLHS. The name changed yet again to become The Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology.
Today the Society has a membership of about 700 worldwide and caters for a wide span of interests. In the 1960s and 70s archaeology was very popular; many members were diggers and researchers. The 1970s and 80s witnessed the birth and huge expansion of family history studies leading to a new Lincolnshire society (The Lincolnshire Family History Society) which was formed after a break away from SLHA.
From the 1960s industrial archaeology attracted members in both research and fieldwork and is one of the most active of the groups within SLHA to-day. In 2009 FLARE (Friends of Lincolnshire Archaeological Research and Education), originally based in Lincoln, joined the society and soon reinvigorated its contribution to archaeology across the county.
Publications on a wide variety of County topics have flowed from the presses in recent years and many more are in the planning. Since the millennium there has been closer liaison with the many history, archaeology and heritage groups across the County, and plans are in place to improve the links to these.
The study of heritage is ever more popular and it is the key aim of the Society is to foster this and do all in its power to be of service to the people of Lincolnshire.
The insignia of the original Lincoln
Diocesan Architectural Society