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Christmas Entertainment in Spalding
Local musicians provide a Christmas festive concert for local SLHA group

South Holland Local History Group was entertained at their Christmas social on 16 December by Margaret Lee and the Haven Singers from Boston. They sang a number of Christmas carols with voices like angels and everyone was delighted with their performance. A buffet was provided complete with a Christmas cake and wine, and a good time was had by all.

After the obligatory raffle the evening concluded with a lady member of the group giving a monologue about the festive season and health and safety. It was very well presented and enjoyed by all.

December 2011

Winter Work: Recording Locks on Horncastle Canal
Rare poling holes in a lock chamber are the highlight of a day's survey

On Sunday 27 November a group from the SLHA Industrial Archaeology team measured and photographed two locks on the Horncastle-Tattershall Canal. Horncastle Lock, 3/4 mile south of the town, has not been as extensively rebuilt as most of the others and the west face of the chamber mostly comprises original stonework, complete with unusual regular depressions thought to assist with "poling" through the lock - or are they Lewis Holes used in lifting the masonry blocks into place during construction?

Near to both the minor road which crosses the canal and the former Horncastle-Woodhall Junction Railway line at Thornton is a brick-capped farm reservoir (probably early 20th century). Fragments of the base of a steel-framed wind-pump which was employed to bring water to the reservoir were noted a few metres to the east.

The remains of a second lock were examined at Kirkby on Bain. All the flow of water in this section of the canal is now channelled into what was originally a by-pass to serve Kirkby Watermill.

The short section of "main" canal has been removed and the area landscaped, but a small part of the lock which includes the recesses for the upstream gates has survived in a grassy field.

Of particular interest in the stone structure is the gated opening and short curved channel of the sluice which enabled the lock chamber to be filled via a ground paddle when boats were raised in the lock as they travelled upstream towards Horncastle.

November 2011Horncastle Canal, lock, wind-pump, poling holes

SLHA members were entertained by three excellent illustrated talks at Jews’ Court on Sunday 20 November.

Derek Broughton described the pumping station at Wiggenhall St Germans where four huge pumps made by Gwynnes in Lincoln had lifted water from the Middle Level Drain to the river Ouse three miles south of Kings Lynn.

Constructed in 1934 in concrete with simple but attractive Art Deco features, the two pumping houses latterly contained a mixture of diesel and electric motors and, located between them, a substantial sluice. The building was surveyed and photographed by the SLHA IA Team in February 2010 shortly before its demolition and replacement by a larger electrically powered station downstream.

David Start spoke about the project on Lincolnshire Medieval Crosses he and Hilary Healey are working on. Many of the crosses with religious connotations were destroyed or severely damaged during the Civil War but a surprisingly large number survive (e.g. Gelstern, Whaplode, Marton).

Other crosses relate to activities such as markets (Burwell, Spilsby, Metheringham) and preaching (Holbeach, Epworth); some are boundary stones (Crowland) or are memorials (Whaplode/Moulton).

There are plague stones (Alford, Somersby, Partney); Deeping St James has a lock-up inside (illustrated right); and the stone at Wrangle has been converted into a sundial.

David and Hilary are tracking down all Lincolnshire crosses and, through Heritage Trust for Lincolnshire, intend to publish an account and gazetteer of their work.

John Wilford traced the development of Standing Stones in the British Isles. Examples have been found from the Bronze Age of huge wooden posts with uncertain significance.

Standing stones, about 3 metres high, survive on Anglesey; they are thought to be related to ritual activities or serve as boundary markers. In the churchyard at Rudston, East Yorkshire (illustrated left), there is an 8 metre stone dating from 1600 BC; legends abound about this stone and the reasons for its proximity to the church.

Inscriptions on stones became common from the 5th century AD and examples from around the country - including Lincoln - demonstrate the development of the cross (chi-rho) and use of decoration in the form of interlacing patterns and anthropological depictions.

November 2011

Archaeology in the Lincolnshire Wolds
Iron Age and Roman finds near Nettleton and Hatcliffe Top

At St. Hugh's Hall in Lincoln on 16 November, Dr Steve Willis of the University of Kent gave the final archaeology talk of the year, describing the fieldwork that he has been undertaking in the Lincolnshire Wolds since 1998. There have been two main focuses: at Mount Pleasant near to Nettleton, and at Hatcliffe Top further east, near to Barnoldby le Beck (where he has been aided by volunteers from the NE Lincolnshire Archaeological Society).

The principal focus of the work has been on the Iron Age and Roman periods, Dr Willis’s main area of expertise. Both areas were capable of being exploited for the production of food, metal objects and pottery for shipping to the Northern frontier or even to the Roman Rhineland.

But there was probably also a ritual centre at Mount Pleasant, with possible prehistoric precedents. At Hatcliffe, there appeared to be farming – both arable and pastoral - well into the latest Roman period, again possibly linked to supplying the army.

November 2011University of Kent, Iron Age, Roman, Mount Pleasant, Nettleton, Hatcliffe Top

Technology in the Countryside
How country houses received essential services. Also reports on recent SLHA fieldwork

A conference, organised by the SLHA Industrial Archaeology Team, was held in Lincoln on 5 November 2012. Over 60 members and others attended.

In a morning devoted to country house technology, Dr Ian West of Leicester University traced the use of gas and electricity as lighting and energy sources; Chris Lester examined the various means of delivering potable water to houses and farmsteads; Ken Redmore gave an account of the sewage treatment plant at Canwick Hall, which had been surveyed by the IA team; Stewart Squires spoke about the unusual tramway at Harlaxton House.

Surveys and studies by the IA team were reported after lunch through presentations on Stamford Canal (Barry Barton), Caistor Canal (Chris Padley), Holdingham Watermill (Ken Hollamby), Horncastle Wheelwright’s Oven (Ken Redmore), Pulhamite in Lincoln (Ken Hollamby) and Grimsby Ice House (Chris Lester)

November 2011gas, water, electricity, sewage,

Lincolnshire and the Potato
Book launch by Lord Lieutenant at Holbeach National Centre for Food Technology

A splendid new book published by SLHA, Growing Better : Lincolnshire and the Potato, was launched at the National Centre for Food Technology, University of Lincoln in Holbeach on Saturday 22 October. The guest of honour was Tony Worth, Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire and SLHA Patron, who for years has been a leading potato grower and food producer in south Lincolnshire.

The book’s editors (Catherine Wilson and Stewart Squires) were joined by other contributors, SLHA members and friends for the celebration. The University provided excellent hospitality and after a potato-themed lunch laid on tours of the Centre’s production lines and laboratories.

October 2011Lincolnshire and the Potato, Tony Worth, Catherine Wilson, Stewart Squires

A Late Roman Fortress in Bulgaria
An impressive fortress with C5 Roman coins and a megalithic Brnze Age monument

October’s archaeology talk in Lincoln provided Professor Andrew Poulter of Nottingham University with another opportunity to bring members up to date with his current research studying the end of the Roman period in Bulgaria.

Excavations in the past two years have concentrated on a small fortress with impressive walls at Dobri Dyal, where the Roman coin series ended in the mid-5th century, as this region was attacked by Attila the Hun. An added bonus in 2011 was the remains of a megalithic Bronze Age monument.

Particularly impressive was the dedication of the student workforce, garnered from various British universities, who had to rise daily at 5am and work in searing heat, and watch out for vipers!

October 2011Bulgaria, Roman fotress, coins, Dobri Dyal, Andrew Poulter

Science and Archaeology: New Applications
A well-attended conference explores current technical issues in archaeology

Over 100 people attended the annual SLHA Archaeology Conference at the Riseholme campus of the University of Lincoln on Saturday 15 October. Several of the current applications of science to the practice and understanding of archaeology were explored by a team of well-qualified speakers.

Speakers and their topics were:

  • Steve Malone (Archaeological Project Services, Heckington) - Lidar Survey in the Fenland;
  • Peter Marshall (Archaeologist) - Recent Advances in Radiocarbon Dating;
  • Robert Howard (Nottingham Tree-Ring Dating Laboratory) - Tree-Ring Dating;
  • Ian Bailiff (Durham University) - Use of Brick by Medieval Builders;
  • Gundula Muldner (Reading University) - Population Diversity in Roman Britain;
  • Naomi Sykes (Nottingham University) - Animal Bones and Archaeology;
  • Ron Dixon (Lincoln University) - Forensic Sciences;

The event was organised by Dr Mick Jones (City of Lincoln Archaeologist) and Rod Callow (SLHA).

October 2011science archaeology

Rose Clark
New life member of SLHA

The first chairman of the South Holland Local History Group based in Spalding, Rose Clark, has been made a Life Member of SLHA. She provided strong and well-informed leadership to the group for 20 years before stepping down early in 2011.

October 2011Rose Clark

Lincolnshire and the Origins of Anglo-Saxon England
The important part played by the Lincoln district after the Romans left

On 21 September, Louth-based expert Thomas Green spoke about Lincolnshire and Anglo-Saxon England. His primary message to the audience in Lincoln was that this area was not peripheral, but a symbolic prize that was fought over by other kingdoms.

The Lincoln district itself remained a major political centre under the control of sub-Roman Britons, not Anglo-Saxons, well into the 6th century AD. There are also indications that groups from this area colonised parts of North-eastern England, including Lindisfarne (‘people from Lindsey).

Tom’s book on this controversial topic, the subject of his Oxford doctoral thesis, will be published in a few months’ time by the History of Lincolnshire Committee. 

September 2011Thomas Green, Britons

Manchester Ship Canal Cruise
SLHA group take the journey from Birkenhead to Salford

On the 17th September 29 members and friends joined the Mersey Ferry "Snowdrop” for a 6-hour cruise from Birkenhead along the Manchester Ship Canal to Salford Quays. Leaving Birkenhead, they sailed six miles up the river Mersey past Liverpool’s famous historic waterfront and into the canal at Eastham.

Opened in 1894, the 35-mile canal linking industrial Manchester with the sea has many interesting features including swing bridges, aqueducts, five sets of very large locks and several docks. There was also plenty of gentle countryside and many species of bird to be seen en route.

There was a comprehensive commentary throughout the voyage which supplemented some 30 pages of tour notes prepared by Ken Redmore, who also organised the trip. The party returned to Lincoln by coach after a long but thoroughly enjoyable day.

September 2011Manchester ship canal,

Popery and Papists in North Lincolnshire
The story of Catholic dissent from the Reformation to the present day

John Wilford, Roman Catholic deacon and SLHA vice-chairman, gave a fascinating account of "catholic dissent" in north Lincolnshire from the Reformation to the nineteenth century in a lecture at Caistor Town Hall on 13 September. This was the annual Leach Lecture, held in memory of the eminent local historian Terence Leach (1937-94), arranged this year jointly by SLHA and Caistor Community Archives and Heritage Group.

One of the strongest opponents of Henry VIII's claim of supremacy in 1535 was Augustine Webster of Axholme Priory; in the following year Caistor men joined the Lincolnshire Rising. In the years that followed several wealthy families of the area (notably Tyrwhitt, Heneage, Constable, Fitzwilliam) maintained the old faith as recusants at considerable risk.

Young Lincolnshire men trained on the Continent to be priests (often under the Jesuit order), but life expectancy was very short when they returned to England to practise their profession. In the 17th century Twigmoor Hall (near Scunthorpe) was a centre for the area's papists - the Gunpowder Plotters are associated with it.

Under the reign of the Catholic James II (1685-88) information about papist numbers and distribution becomes available: there were significant groups in or around Market Rasen, Clixby, Kingerby and Hainton.

After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Catholics were again driven underground but over the next century oppression gradually eased and informal gatherings took place. The Relief Acts of the late eighteenth century allowed dissenting religious groups to meet in public.

Among the Catholic churches of north Lincolnshire built in this period were those at Market Rasen (1791, the first public one in Lincolnshire) and Osgodby (1793, occupying the first floor of a domestic building). Caistor's RC Church, established later in the 19th century, has been created from a former printing works.

September 2011catholic, dissent, recusant

Railway Architecture and other Special Heritage Visits
A wide range of tours led by SLHA members over the Heritage Open Days weekend

As part of the Heritage Open Days events this year (September 8 to 11) Stewart Squires, Chairman of SLHA, led a 2.5 mile walk along part of the former railway line between Bourne and Saxby to look at two of the main engineering features and how they were built. These were the 300-yard Toft Tunnel (TF078190) and the Lound Viaduct (TF062186).

Other tours over the weekend led by SLHA members were: Bytham Castle (Ken Hollamby); Boston's Railways (Neil Wright); Lincoln's Victorian Cemeteries (Derek Broughton); Carre Street, Sleaford (Simon Pawley); Kirk & Parry, Sleaford architects (Mike Turland); Victorian Remodelling of St Denys Church, Sleaford (Douglas Hoare). 

September 2011Toft Tunnel, Castle Bytham, Kirk, Parry, Victorian cemeteries,

Horncastle Canal
A visit to locks and other surviving features of the canal

On Sunday 14 August a group of SLHA members visited some of the surviving features of the Tattershall to Horncastle Canal, which was constructed in the period 1793-1802.

The North and South Basins of the canal at Horncastle (developed from the Rivers Bain and Waring respectively) show few traces of their once important commercial use. One or two warehouses remain in the town, notably the wool warehouse in Bridge Street.

The Staunch or Stanch, close to the former railway station, was located near the confluence of the two rivers and the beginning of the canal proper. Its role was to control water levels throughout the town, which was necessary not only for the successful operation of the canal but also to avert flooding.

Most of the eleven locks along the canal have been modified to form sluices, and variable amounts of original brick and stonework remain alongside modern in-situ concrete. A short section of the canal has been filled in at Kirkby-on-Bain (though a fragment of the lock structure survives) allowing the original by-pass channel to the adjacent mill to receive all the water passing down.

Apart from the mill pond formed by a junction off the canal, all traces of another large mill (Tattershall Mill) north of Coningsby Lock have been lost. However, this brick-built lock has survived remarkably well, and to the south is a fine railway bridge over the canal. (This carried the Kirkstead to Little Steeping line, the so-called 'New Line', of 1913-1970.)

At Tattershall the original Gibson Cut of 1784 formed the final link to the Witham. Here a surviving C18 grain warehouse in dark-red brick was long ago converted into 3-storey housing.

August 2011Horncastle Canal, Tattershall, locks, Coningsby, New Line, Gibson Cut, Kirkby on Bain

Weekend Visit to Edinburgh and Scotland
A study tour includes outstanding heritge sites

A very large and comfortable coach transported the small party to Edinburgh in July 2011. The main stop en-route was at Alnwick where there was a choice for the afternoon. Some spent time in the gardens and saw the grand fountain display on the hour, others visited the castle and its environs, whilst others visited the town and the famous station bookshop. Those with more energy packed several visits in.

The accommodation in an Edinburgh University hall was excellent although it took some time to sort out the best of the menus on offer in the melee of Chinese and other nationalities.

Ken Hollamby, our tour organiser, had arranged an interesting and varied programme again. Saturday morning saw us poring over old maps in the National Map Collection, and in the afternoon there was the opportunity to choose venues in Edinburgh. Some visited John Knox House, the Cathedral, the new Parliament and/or other stops on the Royal Mile, but others ventured further into the new town, the Royal Yacht or the Botanic gardens.

Sunday morning we had a mini-cruise on the Falkirk Wheel followed by a guided tour of the Museum of Rural Life at East Kilbride. On Monday morning we enjoyed a guided visit to Corbridge Roman town followed by an excellent pub lunch.

Thus ended a most varied four days with something to satisfy everyone. It poured with rain whilst we pored over maps but Ken managed to ensure the weather was clement the rest of the time. Many thanks go to Ken for organising for another successful trip.

July 2011Edinburgh, Falkirk Wheel, National Map Collection

Lord Hussey and the Lincolnshire Rising 1536
Simon Pawley challenges the accepted view of Hussey's involvement in the rebelklion against Henry

Dr Simon Pawley delivered the annual Brackenbury Lecture at Raithby Methodist Church on Saturday 9 July. His subject was ‘Lord Hussey and the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire Risings of 1536’. Dr Pawley, an expert on Lord Hussey’s home town of Sleaford, explained that his continued research had altered his views as to why Lord Hussey had been executed on Henry VIII’s orders – not, as generally thought for his conduct before and during the initial rebellion in Lincolnshire, but in fact for his close personal and family ties to the leading Yorkshire rebels.

The speaker offered interesting evidence that Hussey was set up by the Duke of Norfolk and walked into the trap. Dr Pawley made a good job of explaining the complicated family and political connections between the leading players of the day and the audience showed their considerable appreciation at the end of the talk.

Our thanks go to Dr Pawley, the local Methodist minister, and the ladies of Spilsby and Old Bolingbroke Methodist churches for the excellent tea.

July 2011

Country House Technology
Technology introduced into English country houses from the mid-nineteenth century onwards

On 29 June Marilyn Palmer, Emeritus Professor, Leicester University, gave a fascinating illustrated lecture in Lincoln to SLHA about the technology introduced into English country houses from the mid-nineteenth century onwards.

Professor Palmer is currently working with the National Trust to identify water supply, sewage disposal, gasworks, lighting, heating and communications features in their properties. Though often overlooked, a surprising amount of material evidence remains in many notable houses and the associated outbuildings.

It is hoped that managers of NT sites will make more of these features, which throw much light on the daily life patterns of owners and their staff.

June 2011technology, Palmer, water, sewage, gas, lighting, heating, communications,

Willow Tree Fen
A talk about an historic area, now being developed as a wildlife reserve

Marcus Craythorne spoke to the Spalding History Group on 24 May about Willow Tree Fen, part of the fenland which stretches from Rippingale to Bourne, bordered by the river Glen to the south and a number of flood drains to the north. (Willow Tree Farm is actually at the point where the South Forty-Foot Drain decants into the Glen.)

There is evidence of Roman settlement in the area.

Currently the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, new owners of the area around the farm, are introducing a public information centre in derelict farm buildings and setting up bird observation hides.

June 2011willow fen

AGM, Annual Awards and Tours of Burgh Le Marsh
SLHA Annual General Meeting in Burgh le Marsh

SLHA held its Annual General Meeting in Burgh le Marsh on Saturday 18 June. The Burgh History Group acted as hosts for the day and the town's Women's Institute Hall was a comfortable and well-equipped venue. The W.I. also served an excellent lunch.

At the AGM, conducted by SLHA President Dr Michael Jones, the following key officers were elected for 2011/12: Stewart Squires - Chairman; Chris Lester and John Wilford - Vice-Chairmen. A satisfactory year, both financially and in terms of activities, was reported.

The Flora Murray Award for 2010 was made to Sue Edlington and Dr David Rose for their book Rose Brothers (Gainsborough) Ltd, and SLHA Awards of Excellence were presented to David Robinson for Adam Eve and Louth Carpets; and the Story of Eve and Ranshaw Ltd, and to the Fiskerton History and Archaeology Group (Sally Scott) for Yellowbelly Youth: A Fiskerton Boyhood by Fred Thompson. A special presentation was also made to Steven Betteridge for 20 years continuous service as Secretary of the SLHA Industrial Archaeology Team.

After lunch members of the Burgh History Group led tours around the town, which included the fine medieval church and the windmill. We are grateful to our hosts for providing an excellent day - and for somehow keeping the showers at bay.

June 2011Burgh, Marsh, Jones, Flora Murray, medieval, church, windmill,

Ancient Treasure from the County's Soil
28,000 finds in Lincolnshire soil since establishment of the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Adam Daubney of Lincolnshire County Council, whose job is to collect all the information on casual finds from the county, many made using metal detectors, spoke to the Society on Wednesday 8 June. To date, 28,000 finds have emerged from Lincolnshire soil since the establishment of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Adam explained the legal background to the scheme, and the impact that it was making on our understanding. He argued that many of the finds were made in the ploughsoil and as such were prone to damage from further ploughing. There is certainly a range of stunning finds from every period, from prehistoric to Modern. They include Iron Age gold coins, many Roman metal objects including jewellery, an important Saxon site at Heckington, Islamic artefacts brought by Vikings to their winter camp at Torksey, a hoard of Edward I silver coins, and even Spanish-American coins probably belonging to the British Secretary of State for War in the Napoleonic period.

Adam has made particular studies of certain categories, especially for the Roman period. He has demonstrated that rings inscribed 'TOT', for the god Mars Toutatis, have a distribution limited largely to the Corieltavi tribe of the East Midlands.

June 2011treasure, antiquities, Daubney, soil, Iron, Roman, Saxon, Heckington, Viking, Torksey, gold, coins,

Lincolnshire's Monasteries Re-examined
Dr Glyn Coppack, an authority on medieval monasteries, spoke about Lincolnshire's monasteries

On Wednesday 18 May, Dr Glyn Coppack, an authority on medieval monasteries, spoke about Lincolnshire's monasteries, on which he is currently researching a book for the History of Lincolnshire series. He covered briefly the Anglo-Saxon sites, which David Stocker had shown to have lain on 'island' sites and often associated with prehistoric features, as well as the great number of medieval establishments.

Among these were Bardney (currently the subject of fieldwork), a monastery with sculptural detail more akin to York Minster than to Lincoln Cathedral, Partney, his own excavations at Thornholme, and of course Gilbertine monasteries including not only Sempringham but also North Ormsby.

Among the urban friaries, Glyn discussed his ideas on the Lincoln Greyfriars. This certainly whetted our appetite for the book to come next year!

May 2011monasteries, medieval, Coppack, Anglo-Saxon, prehistoric, Bardney, Partney, Thornholme, Ormsby,

Lincolnshire and the Tolpuddle Martyrs
David Lambourne talked about this topic to an audience at the South Holland History Group

David Lambourne talked about this topic to an audience of over 50 at the South Holland History Group in Spalding on 15 April.

The Martyrs were Methodists from a Dorset village trying to help people get a fair wage to live on. The Authorities and the Courts would not tolerate any type of rebellion and took steps to ensure that the five men were made an example of and they were sentenced to deportation. Four were sent to Botany Bay in Australia and the fifth man, who was classed as their leader, was sent to Tasmania. They all served many years before being pardoned.

The men all had to make a difficult decision before they were sentenced, to apologise to the Court for their actions and see their families starve or stick to their beliefs and be deported.

Those who want to know about their association with Lincolnshire must refer to David Lambourne's book.

April 2011Tolpuddle, martyrs, Lambourne, methodists, rebellion, deportation, Australia, Tasmania,

New Discoveries at Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral
Recent investigations at Lincoln Castle and Cathedral reveal some remarkable new evidence

On Wednesday 13 April, Professor Philip Dixon described some of the recent investigations that he has been undertaking or overseeing at Lincoln Castle and Cathedral, which have revealed some remarkable new evidence.

A trench inside the castle's east gate had brought to light a substantial stone wall, and a circular staircase tower. This had a buried doorway in its west side, leading to what must have been a covered passageway.

Another investigation, related to the improved presentation of the castle's Lucy Tower, had found retaining walls in the bank, to help minimise slumping. Under the lawn north of the east-west road, the regular site of marquees, indications of a medieval building and Saxo-Norman timber structure were found at a shallow depth.

At the cathedral, emergency excavations were undertaken when resurfacing outside the west front revealed graves. Some of these were in coffins of Norman date, and in at least one case a coffin had been cut through by the west wall of the first cathedral, confirming that an important church already stood here in the Late Saxon period. The new Norman front recalls late Roman and Saxon arched strucutres. Professor Dixon has written a booklet on the design of the frieze and its analogues, available from the Cathedral Shop.

April 2011Lincoln, castle, cathedral, trench, tower, Lucy, medieval, Saxon, Norman, graves, coffin,

Heritage For All in the Heart of Grimsby
St James's Minster Grimsby was the venue for this vibrant Heritage Fair

St James's Minster Grimsby was the venue for a vibrant Heritage Fair arranged by SLHA on Saturday 9 April. Thirty societies and groups had stalls with attractive displays about Lincolnshire's heritage - including archaeology, local history (Grimsby and several villages), family history, churches, RAF stations, windmills and watermills, pumping stations, archive film, Wesley, Tennyson and Joseph Banks. The local Civil War re-enactment group, Sealed Knot, camped on the green outside and demonstrated warfare techniques.

The event, formally opened by the Mayor of North East Lincolnshire (Cllr Mrs Norma Lincoln), was regarded as successful and enjoyable.

Thanks are due to Jo Middleton, Community Projects Officer, St James's Minster, and to David Robinson (NELALHS) for local liaison. The event was organised by Rodney Callow, SLHA Administrator.

April 2011Grimsby, James, minster, fair, church, RAF, windmills, watermills, Wesley, Tennyson, Banks, war,

A Windmill, Church Windows and a Roman Villa
Sneath's Mill at Lutton Gowt; Stained glass windows; Investigation of Sudbroke Roman villa site

A varied programme of three short illustrated lectures was enjoyed by a packed audience at Jews' Court on Sunday 27 March.

David Clowes spoke about the Grade 1 Sneath's Mill at Lutton Gowt near Long Sutton. This brick-built mill dating from 1779 has a hexagonal plan similar to that of a smock mill. It is recognised as providing a link in the development of post-mills into tower mills. The structure, after years of almost total neglect, has recently been restored through generous local and Lottery funding. The current concern is to find a viable future use for the building.

The stained glass windows designed by Albert Lemmon were the subject of Jean Howard's presentation. Lemmon, a designer based in the West Midlands, was responsible for windows at Helpringham (whose rector had previously served in the Birmingham area), Anwick, Metheringham, Quadring and Wrangle over the period 1937-1950. Although not regarded highly by Pevsner, the windows are very thoughtfully designed and contain intriguing local contemporary detail.

Craig Spence, senior lecturer at Bishop Grosseteste University College, has led an archaeological investigation of a Roman villa site at Sudbrooke, five miles east of Lincoln. This has involved large numbers of students, school pupils and members of the community.

Over four seasons of digging evidence has built up for a small building (perhaps a "pavilion") with associated cistern or water feature. Artefacts (still being assessed and catalogued) include many tesserae, painted wall plaster fragments, coins, pottery and lead piping.

March 2011windmill, Sneath's Mill, Lutton Gowt, Stained glass windows, Sudbroke, Roman villa,

Honour for Dennis Mills on his 80th Birthday
Members and friends met in Branston Village Hall to celebrate his 80th birthday

A large group of members and friends of Dr Dennis Mills met in Branston Village Hall on 26 March to celebrate his 80th birthday and launch a book - a festshrift - written and published in honour of Dennis's achievements.

Dennis has himself published a large number of books and articles over a 50 year period and he is particularly admired for his willingness to share his wide experience and knowledge.

Mick Jones, SLHA President, welcomed guests and Andrew Walker, formerly of the University of Lincoln and joint editor of the festschrift, spoke about the book and its contributors.

Kate Tiller, University of Oxford, gave her own personal tribute to Dennis and formally presented him with a copy of the book.

Dennis, having expressed thanks, gave an illustrated account of his early life and career.

Neil Wright, SLHA Chairman brought the formalities to a close with a vote of thanks. An excellent tea followed and Dennis and Joan Mills cut a celebratory cake.

Copies of the new book, Lincoln Connections, are now available on sale. It is a collection of essays written by Dennis's academic friends on aspects of Lincoln and its neighbourhood covering the period 1700 to the present day. Buy a copy

March 2011Dennis Mills, Branston, festshrift, book, publication, Lincoln Connections,

The Great War and Belgian Refugees
South Holland History Group enjoyed another well presented and informative lecture

The South Holland History Group enjoyed another well presented and informative lecture on Friday 25th March 2011 when Katherine Storr talked about The Great War and the Belgian Refugees. The audience was touched by the plight of these people and was very interested to learn that a number of the children and families were housed in Spalding, some with local families others in church halls and Ayscoughfee Hall.

(Ayscoughfee Hall is a beautiful house built in the mid-fourteen hundreds which still stands today and is a highlight of Spalding for any visitor.)

To learn more about the refugees and their stay in Lincolnshire Katherine Storr's book is well worth reading.

March 2011Great War, Belgian, refugees, Storr, Spalding, Ayscoughfee,

Walking A Lost Railway
SLHA members walk the length of the former Little Bytham to Edenham railway

A small group of SLHA members walked the length of the former Little Bytham to Edenham railway on a warm day in late March.

The line was laid down at his own personal expense by Lord Willoughby to bring passengers and goods - especially coal - to the centre of his estate at Grimsthorpe and to nearby Bourne.

It opened in 1856 and ran for a relatively short time. Three stone buildings of the terminus survive at Edenham: the station building, engine shed and tiny weighhouse, all now subsumed within an extensive farmstead.

The 4-mile route of the line itself can be readily identified and quite easily followed to its junction with the main line at Little Bytham. It passes through significant cuttings and along high embankments; gradients are unusually severe (up to 1:35.

There is one surviving road bridge (minor road from Little Bytham to Witham on the Hill) over the line, but all features at the Little Bytham junction have been long swept away by improvements to the East Coast main line.

March 2011railway, Bytham, Edenham, Willoughby, Grimsthorpe, Bourne,

Archaeology of Navenby Revealed
Recent excavations at Navenby reveal an impressive range of prehistoric and Roman remains

On Wednesday 16 March, Colin Palmer-Brown, Director of Pre-Construct Archaeological Services, spoke to an SLHA audience in Lincoln about the recent excavations at Navenby that have revealed an impressive range of prehistoric and Roman remains.

Colin articulated a complex sequence of occupation from the early prehistoric period. There are slight indications of a henge monument, c.130 metres in diameter, still to be explored. Finds of Bronze Age urns could mean that there was a barrow cemetery in the area. Late Iron Age discoveries included enclosure ditches containing large round-houses that probably represent a homestead occupied as late as the early Roman period.

As with several similar sites in the county, no Roman fort has yet been discovered in spite of finds of early military artefacts, reinforcing the idea that there was a prehistoric predecessor to Ermine Street. The main Roman settlement, from the second century AD, took the form of ribbon development along Ermine Street, with a possible official posting-station (mansio) set back to the east of the road.

Several adjacent buildings on the western side of the road were excavated in 2009, and burials, possibly in family plots, were found to their rear. An estimate suggests a built-up area c.900m long, with a population in excess of 500. There were also signs of ritual behaviour, including feasting. Some burials and occupation appeared to belong to the early Saxon period.

Detailed publication of the investigations is now at editorial stage.

March 2011excavations, Navenby, prehistoric, Roman, monument, Bronze, urns, barrow, cemetery, Iron, Roman,

Lincolnshire At War: Weekend Conference
Annual residential conference held at Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln

The Society's annual residential conference was held at Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln over the weekend 18 to 20 February. The speakers on the wartime theme were:

  • Steve Malone (Archaeological Project Services, Heckington) - The Roman Occupation of Lincolnshire;
  • Jonathan Clark (Field Archaeology Specialists, York) - The Battle of Lincoln Fair (1217) and Lincoln Castle;
  • Clive Holmes (University of Oxford) - The Civilian Experience of War in Lincolnshire, 1642-46;
  • Mike Osborne (author/researcher) - Defending Lincolnshire in the 20th Century;
  • Terry Hancock (author) - The Lincolnshire Bomber Airfield, World War 2;
  • Peter Robinson (retired engineer & author) - Lincoln's Industries in World War 1;
  • Chris Lester (retired electronics engineer) - Stenigot: a Pioneering Radar Station;
  • Claire Hubbard-Hall (OU and BGC tutor) - POW Graffiti in Lincolnshire: 1939-48.

February 2011war, Heckington, Roman, bomber, airfield, industry, Stenigot, radar,

"Building A Railway" - The Final Chapter
Award-winning book published jointly by the Lincoln Record Society and the SLHA

The award-winning book Building a Railway: Bourne to Saxby, published jointly by the Lincoln Record Society and the SLHA, was based upon a unique album of photographs taken by Charles Stansfield Wilson who was the principal civil engineer of the line.

The album was passed down through his family to his great granddaughter, Mrs Hogan, who brought it to the attention of the SLHA IA Team in 2007.

Now, the final chapter has been "written" when, at a small ceremony at the Wren Library at Lincoln Cathedral, Mrs Hogan's husband presented this important album to Lincolnshire Archives for safekeeping and public access. The ceremony was attended by the Hogan family, the two editors and representatives of the SLHA, the Lincoln Record Society and the Lincolnshire Family History Society.

Copies of the book are still available.

February 2011railway, Bourne, Saxby, photographs, Stansfield Wilson

The Staffordshire Hoard
Largest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard since Sutton Hoo seventy years ago

On 16 February, Kevin Leahy spoke about the Staffordshire Hoard in his engagingly lucid and droll style to an appreciative audience of well over a hundred. Kevin is currently one of the national experts studying the finds - the largest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard since Sutton Hoo seventy years ago.

There were 240 bags of objects, as well as many tiny fragments in earth, adding up to 5kg of gold (more than three times the amount found at Sutton Hoo) and 1.44kg of silver. The largest object was a processional cross, but most consist of military equipment, including hilts from sword pommels with remarkable decoration, but no blades.

There were no objects associated with women, nor any male dress-fittings.

This all suggests trophy collection, perhaps following successful battles, dating to somewhere in the 7th century.

The circumstances of the hoard's burial remain uncertain, but it all appears to have been ritually deposited, and only cast up by the plough in the previous year to its discovery in 2009.

For images of objects in the hoard go to the Staffordshire Hoard Website.

February 2011Staffordshire, Anglo-Saxon, gold,

Lincolnshire Windmill Artist
Illustrated presentation on Karl Wood, the artist renowned for his painting of windmills

On the same occasion as the Branston history talks on 30 January, Catherine Wilson gave an illustrated presentation on Karl Wood, the artist renowned for his painting of windmills.

Wood, born in Derbyshire, served in WW1 and then lived in Gainsborough as teacher, musician and artist. From the 1930s he undertook many trips around the UK - usually by train and bicycle - and at a phenomenal rate made water colour sketches of surviving windmills (over 1200 of them).

Much of his collection of paintings and his meticulously kept notebooks are at The Collection in Lincoln.

Note: The Karl Wood paintings held at The Collection can be viewed on the County Council website.

January 2011Karl Wood, windmill, artist, paintings, Wilson,

Branston Industrial History and Archaeology
Ken Redmore and Chris Lester talk about gas and water supplies in Branston

On Sunday 30 January a packed audience at Jews' Court heard Ken Redmore and Chris Lester talk about gas and water supplies in Branston, near Lincoln. The Melville family at Branston Hall erected a private gasworks, initially to light their home and later extended to the parish church and parts of the village. Gasholder pits remain but other firm information about the gasworks (built in the 1850s) is patchy.

Water supply to the Hall and other principal houses in the village also creates an intriguing story; a very fine water-wheel, once supplemented by engines of various types, remains as an important monument. Ken Hollamby described the assemblage of buildings in the vicinity of the gasworks; he argued that this was originally the site of a farmstead in the 17th or 18th century, complete with barn, shelter/shed and farmhouse.

January 2011Branston, Redmore, Lester, Melville, gas, water industrial, church, Hollamby, farmstead, barn

Lincoln Sewerage Scheme in 1877: The Archaeology Revealed
Dr Michael Jones described records made of Lincoln's archaeology

On Wednesday 19 January at the monthly SLHA meeting on archaeology, Dr Michael Jones, SLHA President, described the records made of Lincoln's archaeology by local architect and surveyor Michael Drury during the construction of the city's sewers in 1887-78.

Drury's notebooks show how Roman features in various parts of the Lincoln were exposed by the excavations and what interpretation Drury put on them.

His conjectures were generally sound, and this account of the city's hidden evidence is both fascinating and valuable.

January 2011sewerage, Lincoln, Michael Jones, Roman, excavations, Drury,

South Holland (Spalding) Branch Report
First half of 2010/11 series of lectures was a great success

The first half of our 2010/11 series of lectures, held monthly at St John's Church Hall, Hawthorne Bank, Spalding, was a great success. This was due to the interesting subjects and the excellent speakers giving talks on history, archaeology, our heritage, farming and much more.

Our Committee works very hard to ensure that a high standard is kept at all times. It is getting more difficult to find speakers, but with help from SLHA in Lincoln we manage very well. The attendances at our meetings average 48 over the ten-month season. We would like to increase this number, so anyone out there will be very welcome to join us. If anyone wishes to contact me regarding the group meetings please do so through the SLHA main address or by email through this website.

Our season of local history meetings starts in September and runs until July, when we break for the summer period. In December we have our Christmas social to show our appreciation to the members of the public who attend our meetings.

At all our meetings we serve tea and coffee and give everyone chance to talk or buy books and chat to the speaker. The books we sell are a good selection from the society - available of course at 20% discount to SLHA members.

Look for further news and reports of the South Holland Group here on a regular basis.

Dennis R Wolfe, Chairman

January 2011Spalding, report, farming,

Lincolnshire Pots And Tiles
FLARE/Archaeology Team re-examine large quantity of ceramic tiles

The FLARE/Archaeology Team at SLHA is hoping to work with local pottery and tile experts to re-examine the large quantity of ceramic tiles deposited in the Lincolnshire Museum's store.

The aim is to re-assess and evaluate what is held in store, to devise a stardardised typology, and produce a Lincolnshire type series against which all local tiles can be identified and recorded.

This would be an invaluable tool for all future excavations where tile is found.

Final details of the project are currently being worked out; it will depend on a team of untrained volunteers.

January 2011pots, tiles, pottery, ceramics,