Categories for 2013
SLHA News ...
News 2013
Lectures and Conferences

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Navenby Archaeology
A village explores its Roman past

Navenby Archaeology Group provides an excellent example of a successful community excavation project.  The village is 10 miles south of Lincoln close to the line of Roman Ermine Street.

NAG Chairman, Ian Cox, spoke at an SLHA meeting on 24 November about the work of the group over the past 13 years. Fieldwalking, geophysical work and excavations have revealed much about Roman and earlier occupation of the area. Pottery shards, coins, building materials and flints are among the items sorted and interpreted.

The extensive involvement of local people of all ages has been backed up by a HLF grant.

November 2013

Thomas Shipman, Lincolnshire poet
Story of an ignored local celebrity

"An Ignored Local Celebrity” was the title of a talk given by Douglas Hoare to the Sleaford History Group on 21 November. The celebrity in question was Thomas Shipman, born in 1632 at Scarrington (Notts) and educated at Sleaford and Cambridge.

Through marriage he acquired a small estate at Bulcote and he associated with London poets and wits; he was very friendly with the poet and painter Thomas Flatman. He wrote hundreds of poems and one play in rhyme.

Douglas recited the opening lines of some of his poems, much to the amusement of his audience as they were largely awful doggerel. He was prolific and wrote about a wide range of topics but it is not surprising that he has been lost in obscurity. He died in 1680.

November 2013Thomas Flatman, Thomas Shipman

Lincoln Castle Excavations
Structures from many periods - and a coffin

In a talk arranged by SLHA on 13 November, Dr Jonathan Clark, Director of York-based FAS Heritage, the organisation which has undertaken the recent excavations at Lincoln Castle, outlined the most important recent discoveries.

The work in the area of the former prison had revealed details of the prison's heating and drainage systems, which, for all their technological achievement, combined to make prisoners ill! In this area, a sequence of two medieval buildings had been found, with a nearby wall on a different alignment that could have represented a separate kitchen.

Further east, where Professor Philip Dixon had previously discovered a circular tower, more remains of the same structure were uncovered. It appeared to run beneath the Observatory Tower, thought to have been constructed in the 1140s, further south, while its east wall had been incorporated into the east wall of the castle itself.

Together with the structure uncovered in the 1980s by the west gate, and further stone walls revealed beneath the north lawn a few years ago, we now have evidence of several large stone structures of Norman date.

The most easterly building had sealed the demolished remains of an earlier stone building, dated by pottery to the 10th-11th centuries, containing some graves, and presumed to be an unsuspected late Saxon church.

In the south section of the trench was a stone coffin, possibly one re-used from the Roman period, likely to have contained the corpse of someone of considerable importance. [This was due to be investigated on the day following the lecture.]

Deeper down in both areas were the walls of Roman buildings, probably aristocrats' houses, but these could not be explored in detail. Dr Clark speculated on the possible significance of the various Norman buildings, and also discussed the later history of the castle when the structure was in physical decline.

November 2013

Oil in Sherwood Forest
East Midlands event led by SLHA near Newark

About 60 people enjoyed learning about the history of oil production in the East Midlands at the SLHA-organised EMIAC Heritage Day held at Winthorpe, Notts, on Saturday 26 October 2913.

In the morning the delegates, some of whom had travelled from London and further afield, heard from Cliff Lea about the earliest discoveries of oil and an account of the 1919 oil finds in Derbyshire, followed by Kevin Topham describing the secret Nottinghamshire oil production project which was carried out during WW2. Finally, the Lincolnshire scene was brought up to date by Julie Barlow of I-Gas, the leading oil and gas producer in the county.

In the afternoon the delegates visited the Dukes Wood Oil Museum at the site of the WW2 oil wells and heard a talk by Les Reid of the Newark Heritage Barge Project about oil barges on the R Trent which for many years played a major role in the distribution of fuel.

The East Midlands pioneered oil exploration and production in the UK and the four excellent speakers did it fine justice while Dukes Wood is the only museum dedicated to the topic.

Donkey pump in Dukes Wood

EMIAC Group on site

October 2013

Lincolnshire's Prehistory
A conference in Lincoln offers new perspectives

The annual Lincolnshire Archaeology Day, arranged by SLHA, was held at Bishop Grosseteste University on Saturday 21 September.  Six papers were presented:

1. Prehistoric Lincolnshire: a view from the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Adam DaubneyPortable Antiquities Officer for Lincolnshire.
The first half of Adam's paper presented a broad overview of the evidence from the Lower Palaeolithic to the end of the Iron Age.

The second half introduced his current PhD research which explores how finds can be used to explore longer-term trends in landscape use.

2. Monuments and Landscape c.3500-1500 BC

Peter ChowneSenior Lecturer the University of Greenwich, independent archaeologist and heritage conservation consultant. 
Dr Chowne's paper considered the development of monument building in Lincolnshire during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. In the first part of the paper the relationship of Neolithic monuments to landscape was explored.

The second part of the paper focused on barrows in riverine locations where the development of remote sensing technologies such as light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and geographical information systems (GIS), are providing new insights on the relationships between round barrow complexes, ancient watercourses and wider patterns of movement and settlement.

3. The New Stonehenge Interpretation Centre

Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge Director, English Heritage

Ms Knowles gave the background to the project, which has been an ambition of English Heritage since its creation in 1984, what it will deliver and how things are progressing with this 'monumental' project.

Completion of the Interpretation Centre is expected in 2014.

4. Hill forts outside the hill fort zone: recent work in the East Midlands

Jeremy Taylor, Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Leicester
Dr Taylor provided an update on the results from Burrough Hill in Leicestershire and other recent projects such as Fin Cop in Derbyshire in order to help re-evaluate our understanding of hillforts in the East Midlands and their role in Iron Age society.

5. Prehistoric Salt making Update and Lincolnshire's 'Hill' Forts

Tom Lane, Senior Archaeologist, Archaeological Project Services
Having summarised prehistoric saltmaking in Lincolnshire in a previous Archaeology Day, Tom provided an update on recent information. This took the form of a brief look at the distribution through time and the evidence for techniques used, starting in the Middle Bronze Age and working through to the Iron Age/Roman transition.

A somewhat tenuous link between salt and Borough Fen 'Hill' Fort led into comment on the other Iron Age camps/forts of the county, their locations and possible functions.

6. The Boar in Iron Age Lincolnshire

Antony Lee, The Collection Museum, Lincoln
Antony's talk was partly inspired by the recent loan of the Witham Shield by the British Museum for an exhibition in The Collection this spring. The boar is a significant cultural motif in art from across Iron Age Europe.

His paper explored artistic representations of the animal from Iron Age Lincolnshire within that wider context and the potential symbolic and ritual importance of the animal to the Corieltavi tribe.

Tom Lane, Adam Daubney, Loraine Knowles

Antony Lee, Peter Chowne, Jeremy Taylor

Robert Hardy Building, Bishop Grosseteste University - the conference venue

September 2013

All about Gunby Hall
The story the building and its owners

The annual Terence Leach Lecture was held in Sleaford on 19 September when a large audience was treated to an excellent illustrated lecture on the Massingberd family and Gunby Hall. The speaker was Astrid Gatenby, House Manager of Gunby Hall.

The Massingberds, who had lived at nearby Bratoft Manor, built Gunby Hall in 1700, a delightful brick house between Spilsby and Skegness. The sequence of ownership of the estate passed though both male and female members of the family - some eminent, many interesting - until it was acquired by the National Trust in 1944.

Following the departure of the last tenant in 2010 the Trust has greatly extended opening hours and increased the experience for visitors. It is a splendid house, complete with family portraits and furniture; the garden and ancillary buildings add greatly to its charm.

Gunby Hall: West Front

Astrid Gatenby, Gunby Hall House Manager

September 2013

Robert Grosseteste
Remarkable bishop and scientist

Dr Jack Cunningham, Head of Theology at Lincoln's Bishop Grosseteste University, gave a stunning account of the life and work of Robert Grosseteste to a packed audience at the annual Hosford Lecture in Sleaford on 18 July.

Dr Cunningham prefaced his talk with a statement that there was renewed interest in Bishop Grosseteste and it soon became apparent why. Although known primarily as a religious figure, Grosseteste spent several of his earlier years in Paris developing scientific theories about light and its constituent colours.

Owing to an error in transcription the value of his scientific work has not been recognised until recently and it is now realised that he probably anticipated the Big Bang Theory of the creation of the Universe.

This remarkable man was approximately 68 years old when he became bishop in 1235, an age that many people in England never reached. Whilst he continued to be a forthright and controversial figure, he kept his scientific work to himself as it would have been considered heretical. Instead he embraced his work in the bishopric which extended from the R Humber to the R Thames.

The speaker's enthusiasm for his subject was very obvious and we look forward to the results of his continuing research.

July 2013Bishop Grosseteste, Jack Cunningham

Tennyson and his Doctors
Early medical practice

The annual Brackenbury Lecture, held in the tiny historic Methodist chapel of Raithby by Spilsby, was given on Saturday 13th July when Prof. Marion Shaw presented "Tennyson and his Doctors; Medical Practice in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire in the Early 19th Century" to an attentive and intrigued audience of 40.

Professor Shaw's description of the medicines and other treatments employed at the time was quite frightening and clearly one would have had to be desperate to call a physician, also very rich because they charged substantial fees. There was a pre-occupation with bowels and "purging" and frequent use of mercury together with other dangerous chemical and herbal concoctions.

Notwithstanding the vivid descriptions of treatments, the audience went on to enjoy a substantial tea in Spilsby afterwards and a very good time was had by all.

July 2013Tennyson, medical, Marion Shaw,

Lincolnshire Farmsteads
A workshop led by English Heritage

A half day workshop was held in Lincoln on 21 June about the managment of Lincolnshire's historic farmsteads.

The main aim of the workshop was to gather information about Lincolnshire's agricultural landscapes, including the range of farmstead and building types across the historic county.

Several SLHA members attended the workshop and the strong contribution already made by the society in the study of local farmsteads was recognised. A meeting to review the evidence collected by Locus Consulting is expected to take place in Spring 2014.

The Boothby (Welton le Marsh) Barn,
now at The Village Farm, Skegness

June 2013farmsteads

Lincolnshire Parks and Gardens
A conference in Lincoln

Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, was the venue for a conference arranged by the Local History Committee of SLHA on Saturday 18 May.  An appreciative audience enjoyed a wide range of talks on the theme of gardens and parks in Lincolnshire.

Lincoln's Arboretum

Gill Wilson, landscape architect, Lincoln City Council
Lincoln’s Arboretum, designed by the renowned Edward Milner, was opened in 1872 at a cost of £4500.  Small additions to the 8 Ha site were made in later years, one of which was designed by Milner’s son Henry.

In the 1990s the City Council secured funding to renew much of the park as originally laid out, including terrace, bandstand, lodge, bridges, maze and flower beds.  It is now an attractive area which merits wider use by residents of the city’s Monks Road area.

The Arboretum bandstand, recently refurbished

Lincoln’s Allotments

Geoff Tann, field archaeologist
The earliest allotments in Lincoln were in the Newport area of the city, where 5 acres were set aside in 1848.  Similar developments soon arose in Skellingthorpe, Yarborough Road, Greetwell Road and Boultham – in each case with the aim of encouraging the profitable use of leisure time.

Landowners found that allotments generated a higher and more reliable income than other use and the City Council became tenants of large areas of land across the city.  In the 1920s the number of allotments stood at 400+; wartime pressure on food production raised the number to 3,600 occupying about 150 acres.

The number of plots has now dropped to below 1000, but the ratio of allotment area to population in Lincoln (7 acres per 1000 residents) remains well above the national average.

Capability Brown in Lincolnshire

Steffie Shields, Researcher for Lincolnshire Gardens Trust
Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716-1783), born in Northumberland and married to a Lincolnshire girl, very likely spent time at Grimsthorpe Castle at the beginning of his career. After he made his reputation at Stowe he worked at several major Lincolnshire properties during his glittering career.

At Burghley, over a period of 30 years, he built a brewhouse, rebuilt the west wing of the house and created a fashionable landscape.

His grand plan for Brocklesby was only partially realised; the park was laid out afresh, the lake at Newsham was dug and he made plans for the famous rotunda/mausoleum.

The layout of buildings and landscape at Hainton, with its identified vista lines, is an outstanding example of Brown’s work.

The Lost Gardens of Walmsgate

Jean Howard, lecturer and local historian
Walmsgate House was built in 1824 for the Yorke family.  The ambitious gardens covered a sloping 7 acre triangular site and incorporated a variety of features, including rock and bog gardens.

A refreshment room for cyclists was opened at the edge of the gardens and the adjacent A16 in 1902.  A splendid memorial chapel was added to the house in 1901 (from which some Art Nouveau fittings were later incorporated in St Hugh’s, Langworth).

Between the wars the house was sold and at a later sale (1950) all the garden's contents – plants, ornaments, tools – were dispersed.  The house itself was demolished in 1959.

Walled Garden, Normanby Hall

Paul Beetham, landscape architect, Normanby Hall
The Sheffield family have occupied the hall for many generations; the current building dates from 1825.  The walled garden, about 1 acre in extent and smaller than many, was planned to provide the household with fruit, flowers and vegetables throughout the year.

It shows many of the typical features of walled gardens: high south-facing brick walls; internal smoke flues in walls; tool sheds, potting sheds, and bothies; and hot beds and frames.  The location of the garden - some distance downwind of the house – is also typical.

The walled garden at Normanby was restored in 1997; there are now 5 full-time gardens and estate workers, compared to the 28 who worked there in 1900.

Hubbards' Hills, Louth

David Robinson, OBE, writer and local historian
A deep valley, known as Hubbards’ Hills, was created on the south-west edge of Louth in a relatively short period at the end of the Ice Age.  During the nineteenth century it was owned by the Chaplin family and in 1871 water from the clean chalk-fed stream in the valley was pumped to a nearby reservoir for the town’s supply.

The valley, with its steep sides, small grassy meadows, lake and splendid trees, became a popular venue for walks and other recreation.  These uses were secured for the long term in 1907 when money from the estate of Auguste Alphonse Pahud, a Louth grammar school teacher, was used to purchase Hubbards’ Hills for the townspeople.  Huge celebrations ensued.

This wonderful space, ‘England’s Second Country Park’, has attracted scores of photographers ever since, as illustrated by David Robinson’s unrivalled collection of postcards.

May 2013

The Luttrell Psalter
Superb illustrated lecture in Lincoln

Professor Michelle Brown, former curator of illuminated manuscripts at the British Library, enthralled a large SLHA audience in Lincoln on 17 April with a illustrated talk on the Luttrell Psalter.

Geoffrey Luttrell of Irnham, near Bourne, commissioned the psalter in the 1330s. It was probably produced by scribes in Norwich and cost £20-£25, a princely sum in those days.

The manuscript is of the highest quality and is notable for the wide range of superb coloured images placed in the margins. These illustrate the day to day life of both nobles and peasants and also provide trenchant comment on political events in the early fourteenth century, both national and local.

April 2013luttrell psalter, michelle brown

Cordwainers' Hall, Lincoln
The story of a lost medieval building

On Sunday 17 March Chris Johnson described the short history of a medieval building in Lincoln demolished in the 1890s to make way for Corporation Street (between High Street and Hungate).

This large building, accessible from Hungate Passage and positioned behind 246 High Street, was subdivided into ten or more households during the nineteenth century when it was known as the Old House.

Through the examination of terriers, deeds and the remarkable Lincoln Cordwainers' Guild book Chris had pieced together evidence of much earlier and more distinguished use.  It seems very likely that it was the Cordwainers' Hall in the sixteenth century.

March 2013

Under The Premier Inn
An eighteenth century skeleton unearthed

Houses and commercial properties in an area of Lincoln to the east of Broadgate and south of Unity Square were demolished in the early 1970s to make way for new office development. (The western half of the site is now occupied by the Premier Inn.)

Mick Jones, City Archaeoogist, described the excavation of this site (just beyond the city ditch in the suburb of Butwerk) to an SLHA audience on Sunday 17 March.

Access to the deeply buried archaeology was made through the cellars of 18th and 19th century properties.  The most outstanding - and controversial - find was a skeleton, orientated E-W and probably from the eighteenth century (a Quaker burial?)

March 2013

The Secret of Sherwood Forest
Oil exploration at Eakring

Chris Lester gave a short lecture on the oil field at Eakring, Nottinghamshire, at an SLHA meeting on 17 March.

Oil was discovered at Eakring in 1939 at a depth of about 2500 feet.  Its potential value to UK in the time of war was immense.

A team of American specialists from Oklahoma were engaged for 12 months to drill wells (over 100 of them) and set up the necessary surface infrastructure.  Over 3.5m barrels of oil were extracted during the war.

The Americans lodged at Kelham Hall with monks and struggled to cope with wartime Britain.  A monument has been erected at Eakring and there is also a small museum commemorating their work.

Oil exploration and the familiar "nodding donkeys" came to Lincolnshire in the 1950s (Gainsborough) and later (Welton, Sudbroooke).


March 2013

Defending the Fenland
Wartime bombing raids in the Spalding area

"No Place for Chivalry" was the title of a talk by aviation historian Alastair Goodrum given to the South Holland Local History Group on Friday 22 February.

Alastair described Lincolnshire's night fighter activities in both World Wars in defending the country from bombing raids by German Zeppelins and, later, aircraft. The first attack by a Zeppelin was during the night of 19/20 January 1915 but it was September 1916, after the introduction of incendiary ammunition, before one was shot down at Dowsby Fen.

Alastair went on to describe how in WW2 the introduction of radar, both on the ground (Ground-Controlled Interception) and in aircraft (Airborne Interception) significantly improved the effectiveness of the area's night fighters to the extent that bombing raids were effectively ended. He also described some of the personalities involved and the aircraft and airships which they piloted.

The talk ended with the description of three bomb attacks on Spalding in 1941 and 1942.

February 2013zeppelin radar Alastair Goodrum Dowsby Fen Spalding

Grimsby Ice Factory
Illustrated talk about a major industrial feature of the port

The Ice Factory in Grimsby Docks, a huge building with impressive - possibly unique - equipment, closed in 1990. An appraisal of future options for the factory, which is much valued by the local community, is about to be published.

Chris Lester, who has represented SLHA at several meetings about the future of the building, outlined its history and showed images of the large-scale ice-making process at a meeting in Lincoln on 20 February. Short clips from a DVD produced by the Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust helped the large audience appreciate some of the key stages of the process.

Compressors in Ice Factgory

Interior of the Ice Factory, showing 3 of the 5 massive compressors
Photo:Liz Humble, Purcell Miller Tritton


February 2013Grimsby, Ice Factory

Lincolnshire Castles
Conference hears fresh views and absorbing information

The annual late winter conference organised by the SLHA Local History Committee was held at Horncastle College on 9 February. An audience of more than 70 enjoyed contributions from five speakers on various aspects of Lincolnshire Castles and related structures.

Modernising Tattershall Castle

Dave Start (Director, Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire)
Ralph Cromwell’s brick castle keep, begun 1434, was added to a mid-thirteenth structure not unlike Framlingham Castle. It displays some rare and costly features, e.g. fireplaces, brick vaulting, and was intended as an impressive symbol of Cromwell’s wealth and importance, not for defensive purposes.  Thanks are due to Lord Curzon for restoring the castle (1912-14) and the National Trust for its continued care since 1925.

Conference speakers

Conference speakers:
David Stocker, Mary Powell, David Start, Mary Anderson, David Roffe

Brick Towers in Lincolnshire 

Mary Anderson (Conservation Architect)
Hussey Tower (Boston) and Rochford Tower (Fishtoft), once part of larger dwellings, date from the sixteenth century and demonstrate some of Tattershall’s features, albeit on a more modest scale. Ayscoughfee Hall (Spalding), though much altered, has a similar tower and staircase of the same period. Another example with similar construction is To'r o' Moor in Woodhall Spa, built by Cromwell as a hunting lodge. There are ambitions to stabilise the fine Torksey Castle ruin (brick above ground floor stone) and arrange public access.

Early Lincolnshire Castles

David Roffe (Honorary Research Fellow, University of Sheffield)
Although new landowners were appointed by the Normans for almost all the large estates, most English rights and laws remained in place after the Conquest. Many castles had been built in Lincolnshire during the Anglo-Scandinavian period and these were commonly extended or fortified by the Normans. Castles continued to provide a range of functions: defence, residence, estate headquarters, demonstration of status and power. Read the full text of David Roffe's presentation.

Use or Ornament?

How seriously should we take Lincoln's Walls?

David Stocker (Visiting Professor, University of Leeds)
Substantial stone walls were built by the Romans to surround the Upper City at the time of the Colonia. Over the centuries this relatively small enclosure was retained in order to contain the city’s high status buildings, but ordinary dwellings remained outside. In medieval times the Cathedral established a new walled enclosure to the east and north, whilst the markets on the edge of the city were bounded by ditches.

Lincoln Castle in the 21st Century

Mary Powell (Tourism Officer, Lincolnshire County Council)
The County Council, with substantial input from the Heritage Lottery Fund, is embarking on a huge development at Lincoln Castle. Walls and towers are being repaired, with an extension to the wall-top walkways, all of which will be much more accessible. Lincoln’s copy of Magna Carta will be housed in a new building. A Heritage Skills Centre, with workshop spaces, has opened this month. When the project is completed in 2015, there will be much updated visitor facilities and the Castle site will be open to all free of charge.

February 2013

SLHA's Redoubtable Victorian Ancestors
A talk about the energetic activity of our founders

Almost 50 people came to Jews' Court on Sunday 27 January to hear three interesting and informative talks, one of which, by Ken Hollamby, was a taster for the annual study-tour visiting Canterbury and East Kent in July. See details on the Events page.

Pearl Wheatley spoke about her researches of the early years of the Lincolnshire Architectural and Archaeological Society, the fore-runner of the SLHA. Formed in 1844, this society's programme was clearly only for the fittest, as many of the events were very intensive, perhaps visiting eight or ten sites in a day to be followed by dinner and one or more speakers.

In the early days the majority of members were clergymen and prominent members of county society and elsewhere, although women were admitted as guests. Pearl has not yet been able to find the resolution admitting them as members. Whilst the LAAS suffered from many of the problems besetting the SLHA today, where would we be without our women members?

Read more information about LAAS and how it evolved into today's SLHA.

January 2013

The Story of Bardney Sugar Factory
The inside view of an important Lincolnshire landmark

A large audience at Jews' Court on Sunday 27 January was absorbed by David Miles's account of Bardney Sugar factory from its construction in 1927 to its closure in 2001.

During the life of the factory much of the originally-installed plant was replaced by more modern equipment reflecting contemporary thinking, such as the large horizontal diffuser which replaced the five vertical batteries for extracting the "juice" from the sliced sugar beet. David's excellent photographs charted these changes.

The factory typically employed 75 full-time workers and a further 75 temporary employees during the beet 'campaign'. Its closure brought to an end sugar production in Lincolnshire (Spalding and Brigg plants having already closed) although storage and some product processing still takes place at Bardney.

Interestingly, the four surviving factories in East Anglia nationally produce more sugar than the 19 factories which existed at one time.

Bardney Sugar Factory

Entrance to Bardney Sugar Factory

January 2013