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News 2013
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Paul Hunter
Retirement of a long-serving volunteer

Shortly before Christmas SLHA said goodbye to Paul Hunter, who has acted as building manager at Jews' Court for 15 years. 

Also working with Pam Darcy, Book Purchasing Officer, Paul has been responsible for restocking the bookshop.  He will be much missed. 

Paul Hunter, second right, with colleagues at Jews' Court

December 2013

Thora Wagstaffe
Long service recognised

At the annual party for SLHA volunteers on Sunday 1 December Miss Thora Wagstaffe was presented with a gift by the Society Chairman to mark her many years of work as an SLHA volunteer, especially in the bookshop.

Before the Society moved to Jews' Court she organised the Society's bookstalls at outside events.  Since the opening of the shop in 1990 she has served behind the counter every week, where her expert knowledge of the County's history and local books has been invaluable.

As one who set the highest standards as a volunteer, Thora trained most newcomers who came to work in the bookshop.  Her contribution there will be much missed, but we are delighted that she has taken on the role of Society Archivist.

Thora Wagstaffe with Chris Lester, SLHA Chairman

December 2013

Brian Dawson
Loss of a great Lincolnshire talent

All those in with an interest in Lincolnshire folk traditions - especially its song - are saddened by the sudden death of Brian Dawson.

Brian, a retired teacher, with roots in east Lincolnshire, had a deep knowledge of Lincolnshire's folk songs.  He sang and played from a considerable repertoire, giving great pleasure to a wide range of audiences over many years, whether or not they fully understood Lincolnshire dialect!

November 2013

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

Echoes of the Past
A day at the Showground with Lincolnshire's heritage

The SLHA was represented at the very successful 'Echoes of the Past' event held at the Lincolnshire Showground on Sunday 27 October 2013.

We had a bookstall and membership display, which attracted considerable interest, and also staged three talks which complemented the theme of the event, Genealogy.

The first talk, by Chris Lester, described SLHA's role in the context in which our ancestors lived and worked. He was followed by Stewart Squires's talk 'The Way we Worked' looking at SLHA's recording of industrial and workplace remains. Finally, Pearl Wheatley spoke about one of Lincolnshire's greatest sons, Sir Joseph Banks, and his activities in Lincolnshire.

The Society stall was busy all day with book sales and enquiries by researchers looking for help with buildings, people and publications.

Society stand at the event

October 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

Joan Thirsk
Death of historian with close knowledge of Lincolnshire

Dr Joan Thirsk CBE, a leading agricultural and economic historian, died on 3 October 2013 aged 91.  Whilst a research fellow at the University of Leicester in the 1950s she wrote the highly regarded book on the agrarian history of Lincolnshire, English Peasant Farming.  She was General Editor for the History of Lincolnshire series (published by SLHA) and oversaw the publication of the first three volumes.

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

Heritage Open Days
SLHA members lead events

The annual Heritage Open Days, arranged by Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire over the weekend September 13 to 15, were busy and enjoyable. SLHA members led several events.

Derek Broughton gave illustrated talks on Victorian cemeteries at St Nicholas Church, Lincoln. A wide range of photographs from across the country - especially the major cemeteries of London, the East Midlands and West Yorkshire - gave evidence of huge and elaborate memorials, now too often neglected and forgotten.

Wrought iron bridges was the theme of Barry Barton's talk at Saxilby on Friday evening. He explained how bridge building developed up to the early 19th century and was then transformed by the introduction of wrought iron. Railway bridges at Torksey and Stamp End Lincoln - both from the mid-1840s - are historically of great importance.

The Sleaford Group of SLHA arranged several events over the weekend. About 30 attended Christopher Micklethwaite's talk in Sleaford Library on the Saturday, on some C19th stone-built chapels in Sleaford, including one projected church at New Quarrington that was never built.

Later that afternoon Carre's Almshouses, Eastgate, Sleaford opened up their chapel for visitors, a rare occurrence. Barbara Marriage, the warden arranged for this gem from the 1840s to be opened up and gave a talk on its history.

David Bramford set up a display of photographs in St Lucia's church, Dembleby about the village and church.

A visit to the rare brick kiln at Sutton on Sea was arranged by Ken Redmore and Chris Lester. Visitors discovered how bricks had been made on the site and also saw the fine surviving wind pump alongside the brick pit.

Visitors at the wind pump, Sutton on Sea brickworks

Torksey Railway bridge 1847-49, with wrought iron box girders

The rare pillar piscina at Dembleby, alongside a village & church history display

September 2013

Medieval Inspirations
Exploring St Mary's Guildhall, Lincoln

St Mary's Guildhall on the lower High St in Lincoln played host to a joint event between the Society and Lincoln Civic Trust on Thursday 8th August. Visitors were offered a guided tour of this intriguing medieval building which is one of the oldest buildings in Lincoln with a very interesting history.

It is thought it may have been the property of King Henry II constructed for the crown wearing ceremonies of 1157. Beneath a glass floor visitors can also see part of the earlier Roman road into Lincoln preserved and displayed for all to see.

In addition to exploring the building, visitors were invited to make jester sticks, discover some facts about herbs used in the middle ages and make some medieval style jewellery from craft materials.

The Society had a bookstall with an abundant display of books for perusal and potential purchase.


St Mary's Guildhall, Lincoln

August 2013

Kathleen Johnson
Passing of Local Historian

We are sad to record the passing of Kathleen Johnson, former local government officer with Lincolnshire County Council in the County Secretary's department. Kathleen was a member of the Lincolnshire Local History Society and followed SLHA from its inception. She was, in addition, a member of the Local History Committee for most of that time.

With her vast knowledge of Lincolnshire and her wonderful memory she was a most valuable member and ever ready to make her contribution. Kathleen was the one that checked the dates, the facts and speedily corrected all errors. Over the years she has helped with numerous people and organisations with bits of research but always refused to go into print herself; nevertheless, she shared her findings with everyone.

Kathleen Johnson's funeral will be at Lincoln Crematorium on Friday 23 August at 1.50 pm.


August 2013Kathleen Johnson

Celebrations in Bardney
Focus on the archaeology of the abbey

The National Archaeology Festival 2013 was celebrated by SLHA with two very different events both held in Bardney and inspired by the Abbey.

Craft and the Abbey: An event for all the family was organised for Friday 26 July and hosted by Bardney Heritage Centre who made us very welcome. Visitors were invited to participate in a selection of craft activities with a medieval flavour. These included investigating real and replica artefacts, painting a medieval tile design, making a face in clay inspired by examples of weird and wonderful carvings from the Abbey, and last but not least making a Jester's hat!

Stones and the Abbey site: The event on Saturday 27 July began with an introductory talk by the Rev. John Wilford in the church of St Lawrence. The church is home to a small but very interesting exhibition about the stones and carvings originating from Bardney Abbey. The group then walked to the Abbey site where they enjoyed a very informative talk by John about the history of the Abbey, the site itself and the excavations which have taken place over the years.

Our thanks to both Bardney Heritage Centre and St Lawrence's Church for supporting and hosting the two successful and enjoyable Society events arranged to celebrate the National Archaeology Festival 2013.

Clay faces made by youngsters at Bardney Heritage Centre

July 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,

Canterbury and Dover
Visiting outstanding heritage sites

A large group of SLHA members enjoyed four days of hot sunshine viewing historic sites in east Kent over the weekend 12 to 15 July.

The long coach journey was broken by a visit to Lullingstone Roman Villa, a large and complex building with fine mosaics and excellent information boards. Saturday in Canterbury began with a guided tour to some of the city's earlier history, leaving members free to spend the afternoon to visit the Cathedral, museums and other attractions.

The full day in Dover on Sunday included a tour of the extensive structures of Western Heights, representing almost 200 years of defence; continued with a visit to the remarkable Bronze Age boat in Dover Museum; and concluded at Dover Castle with its wide range of historic features.

On Monday a talk and tour at the Cartoon Archive at the University of Kent provided an entertaining end to the weekend.

Thanks to Ken Hollamby for his planning and leadership.  We are also indebted to the excellent guides and speakers for their contributions to a memorable weekend.

On Western Heights, Dover

At Lullingstone Roman Villa

On the city wall, Canterbury


July 2013

Picnic in the Wolds
A summer visit to farm and village

On a day of hot sunshine some 50 members of the Society spent a leisurely Saturday (6 July) in the tiny Wolds village of Withcall, 4 miles south-west of Louth.

The visit was at the invitation of Henry Smith of Home Farm.  He introduced us to his large collection of old farm machinery - some in working order - and other bygones connected with the farm and village.

Henry and colleagues took groups by tractor and trailer along the former Louth-Bardney railway line (now a private farm road) to the mouth of the Withcall tunnel, a rare experience.

David Stocker provided an on-the-spot account of the settlement's history - of considerable interest and significance - and also introduced the group to the large late-19th century church built by Arthur Blomfield for Nathaniel Clayton, the then owner of the Withcall estate.

Chris Lester, newly elected SLHA Chairman, took the opportunity of thanking Stewart Squires for his energetic spell in the chair and presented his wife Julie with a bouquet of flowers. 

Chris Lester presents a gift of SLHA books to Henry Smith of Withcall

Entering St Martin's church at Withcall


July 2013

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

Sleaford Walk
The River Slea west of the town centre

On Thursday 20 June twelve hardy souls braved the gap between two torrential downpours of rain to attend Sleaford Group's annual Les Gostick Memorial Walk looking at the main features of the River Slea to the west of Sleaford town centre.

The walk, expertly guided by Michael Turland, looked at the sites of watermills, a lime kiln and land drains amongst many features of the river as far west as the RAF Cranwell railway.

Somehow the rain held off and Mike's encyclopaedic knowledge and meticulously researched notes made it a thoroughly enjoyable and informative event.

The photo depicts the group with Mike fourth from the right. On the extreme right is Tony Gostick in whose father's memory the walk is arranged. 

June 2013sleaford walk river slea

Walks reveal the town's history

After the SLHA AGM on 15 June members of the society enjoyed walks around the Kirton to view the main features of interest.

The town has a wide variety of interesting historic buildings - domestic, religious, commercial and civic. Quarter Sessions for north-west Lindsey were once held here and there was a house of correction, remains of which can still be identified.  The whipping post fittings are also an unusual survival.

The church of St Andrew has a massive west tower and a fine clerestory.  Of particular note is the priest's doorway on the south side of the chancel with its Norman arch and twelfth century tympanum of close beaded interlace.

Thanks are due to Martin Hollingsworth and colleagues of the Kirton in Lindsey Society for leading the tours


June 2013

Awards made by SLHA
Local achievements recognised

Awards for 2012 were announced and presentations made to winners at the AGM in Kirton in Lindsey on 15 June.

The Flora Murray Award was given to the Sir Joseph Banks Society for the musical play "Joseph and his Amazing Dreamboat".  This enterprising production, giving an amusing and informative account of Banks's travels, is written by Alan Meadows and has been performed by the Young Stagers at the Red Lion Theatre, Horncastle. It will be wide interest to youth theatre groups.

A video recording of a performance was played to the SLHA audience.  A certificate and cheque marking the award was received by Dr Cheryle Berry, Chairman of the Sir Joseph Banks Society.

An SLHA Award for Excellence was made to Sally Badham and Paul Cockerham, editors and contributors to the outstanding book: The Beste and Fayrest of al Lincolnshire: The Church of St Botolph, Boston, Lincolnshire, and its Medieval Monuments.  The award was presented to Paul at the meeting.

An SLHA Award for Excellence was also made for the restoration of Chain Bridge Forge, Spalding.  Geoff Taylor of the Friends of Chain Bridge Forge, active in achieving the restoration and setting up a long-term business plan, received the award.

Award winners: Keith Seaton & Geoff Clark (Chain Bridge Forge), Cheryle Berry (Sir Joseph Banks Society), Paul Cockerham (Boston)
with SLHA President Mick Jones (3rd left) and SLHA Chairman Stewart Squires (2nd right)

June 2013

Annual Meeting of SLHA
Large turn-out in Kirton in Lindsey

SLHA held its 2013 Annual General Meeting in Kirton in Lindsey's recently refurbished Town Hall on Saturday 15 June. Over 50 members attended.

Dr Michael Jones, SLHA Pesident, took the chair; Society Chairman Stewart Squires presented an illustrated report on the year's activities and Chris Hewis, Honorary Treasurer, presented the accounts. The society has had an active and successful year but the financial position remains difficult.

A book was presented to John Wilford, former SLHA Chairman, to mark his retirement as Chairman of the Archaeology Committee.

Appointments for 2013-14 are:

  • President: Michael Jones
  • Chairman: Chris Lester
  • Vice-Chairman: vacant
  • Treasurer: Chris Hewis
  • Executive Committee: Ken Hollamby, David Robinson, David Stocker, Neil Wright
  • Local History Committee, Chairman: Brenda Webster
  • Archaeology Committee, Chairman: Craig Spence
  • Industrial Archaeology Committee, Chairman: Stewart Squires
  • Publications Committee, Chairman: Ken Redmore

John Wilford

June 2013

Branston's History
An evening walk around the village

On a cool early June evening a group of SLHA members enjoyed a walking tour around the older parts of Branston.

Dr Dennis Mills gave a general introduction to the village's history and then the group visited the buildings and other structures featured in the Branston Arts and Heritage Trail. There was much to admire and enjoy.

One unexpected highlight was the recently restored waterwheel (actually turning under water power when the group visited). This was installed by the Leslie-Melvilles of Branston Hall to supply their house and estate with water.

The group was very grateful for the lively and well-informed leadership of Tony Hunt, Secretary of Branston History Group.

Impressively carved tree boles tell a story of Branston's past

June 2013Branston, village history, leslie melville

Lincoln Engineering on Show
Weekend display in the Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral hosted an exhibition about Lincoln engineering past and present over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend.

A Foster traction engine and wagon stood outside the west door and two Ruston cars greeted visitors in the nave. Lincoln Engineering Society presented a display of old photographs, and a superb time-line gave details of the development of Lincoln's engineering heritage over the past 200 years.

Today's local firms - still making successful engineering products for an international market - were well represented.  The University of Lincoln also promoted their highly regarded engineering faculty and engaged the younger generation in some practical activities.

The SLHA bookstall and display attracted attention and stimulated plenty of conversation.


The SLHA stand in the Cathedral nave

May 2013

On Foot through a Railway Tunnel
A rare experience in the Wolds

Stewart Squires of SLHA led a large and enthusastic group of walkers along the former Louth to Bardney railway line on 22 May.

The walk began in the former station yard at Donington on Bain, followed the attractive cuttings and embankments of the track bed, skirted round Benniworth Haven and ended with a walk through High Street or South Willingham tunnel (560 yards long).

The walk, largely on private land with special permission of the owners, was part of the 2013 Wolds Walking Festival.

Stewart addresses the group at High Street tunnel

May 2013

Stamford History Fair
A lively exchange of information

On Sunday 19th May the SLHA took a bookstall and PowerPoint display to the Heritage Fair in Stamford's Arts Centre.

This was a very well-attended event with some 20 stalls representing different heritage interests drawn from a wide area.

Public attendance was high and it was a real pleasure to explain the work of the SLHA to many out-of-county visitors who were holidaying in the area in addition to Stamfordians. It was an enjoyable day for all.

A hive of activity with bookstalls, information points and a bit of dressing up

May 2013

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

Hilary Healey
Sudden death of much valued member

We were both shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden death of Miss Hilary Healey at her home in Bicker on 13 May.

An Appreciation
From an early age Hilary was an expert on cold and draughty rectories in Lincolnshire. Her father, a Church of England clergyman, moved about the County and finally took the living at Algarkirk when he was Bishop of Grimsby. Hilary qualified as a teacher of art and taught at Spalding Girls' High School. She left there in the late 1960s to become a professional archaeologist working for South Lincolnshire Archaeology Unit with Brian Simmons.

Hilary Healey 1935-2013
Photo courtesy of Spalding Guardian and Lincolnshire Free Press

Winter Fenland scene - Hilary Healey

By that time she was also involved with several history and archaeology groups about the County and beyond.  She became an authority on medieval pottery after working with Ethel Rudkin at the Toynton All Saints and Old Bolingbroke excavations.  Her wide interests included fenland dialect and place names, salt making and gravestones.  She contributed many articles on aspects of archaeology and local history to a variety of publications.

She was an active member of the Lincolnshire Local History Society and then SLHA. She has edited Past and Present since the loss of Chris Sturman and was responsible for the Society's Bulletin for many years. She was Vice-Chairman of the SLHA in the late 1980s.

Hilary will be remembered with affection and respect for her many contributions to Lincolnshire's history and archaeology.  We shall also continue to treasure her sketches and drawings which captured the flavour of the landscape and buildings of the fens.

May 2013hilary healey

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

Competition for SLHA Award
Books & heritage sites in contention

SLHA recognises the achievements of local groups, societies and individuals in the fields of Lincolnshire history and archaeology through the annual Flora Murray Award and the occasional Awards of Excellence.

Eight entries have been received for the The Flora Murray Award for 2012.

  • The Beste and Fayrest of al Lincolnshire: The Church of St Botolph, Boston, Lincolnshire, and its Medieval Monuments. Book edited by Sally Badham & Paul Cockerham
  • People and Property in Medieval Stamford.  Book edited by Alan Rogers
  • Geese, Gowts & Galligaskins: Life in a Fenland Village, 1560-1660 [Pinchbeck]. Book by Judith Withyman
  • The Last Baronets of Old Gainsborough.  Book by Darron Childs
  • RAF Binbrook Heritage Centre
  • Restoration of Chain Bridge Forge, Spalding
  • Display of Artefacts at St Lawrence Church, Bardney, plus desciptive leaflet and booklet
  • Joseph and his Round the World Dreamboat.  Musical play about Sir Joseph Banks

Judging takes place shortly and award winners will be announced at the SLHA AGM on 15 June 2013

April 2013

From Spring to Farm
A Wolds farm water supply

Members of the SLHA Industrial Archaeology team spent a day in Withcall in the heart of the Wolds on 18 March.  The principal interest was the extensive water supply system installed by Nathaniel Clayton after he bought the estate in the 1870s.

Water from a spring-fed reservoir was lifted by a waterwheel powered pump to several farmsteads, each a considerable distance and elevation away.

Henry Smith, owner of Home Farm, was host and guide.  The visitors were also shown around his collection of farm implements and other local items.

Withcall water supply

Henry Smith with some of his visitors

March 2013withcall water Henry Smith

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

Recording Vernacular Buildings
Training day for new county group

Ten SLHA members met in Thorpe on the Hill on Saturday 16 March to learn the basic techniques of recording vernacular buildings.

Experience was gained in measuring and drawing a simple floor plan (an eighteenth century wagon shed) and recording the elevation of a building of multi-phase construction with the aid of photography.

Inside work focused on timber beams, joists and purlins with mortice holes and other features indicating re-use from earlier medieval timber framed building.  It is intended to "reconstruct" the original building from the carefully measured detail of these re-used timbers.

The day was led by David Stocker (owner of the house), Ken Hollamby, Naomi Field and Graham Beaumont.

David Stocker and Naomi Field with students at Thorpe

March 2013

Ruston Archive
SLHA welcomes the new home for local material

SLHA was represented at a special ceremony held at The Collection, Lincoln, on 8 March to mark the recent deposit of the Ruston Hornsby (Siemens) Archive.

This huge archive includes documents, plans, photographs and films spanning 150 years of Lincolnshire's engineering history. The project to secure, catalogue and display the material is being led jointly by heritage specialists and enthusiasts from Siemens, Lincolnshire County Council and the University of Lincoln.

An appeal is being made for help to catalogue and identify items. Some members of the Industrial Archaeology team at SLHA members have already expressed interest.

Stewart Squires & Eddie Poll

Stewart Squires (SLHA Chairman) and Councillor Eddie Poll examine a document

March 2013

Changes at SLHA
Two important new postholders

From the beginning of March we have some new faces within the Society. The Chairman is seen here welcoming Kathy Holland (right), our Society Secretary and Fern Wilder (left), our Volunteer Coordinator to Jews Court.

The Society looks forward very much to working with them.

Stewart Squires with Fern Wilder (left) and Kathy Holland (right)

March 2013

Historic Boston Buildings
Visits to timber-framed houses and other gems

Neil Wright shared some of his extensive knowledge of Boston's historic buildings on a walking tour along the town's High Street on Saturday 2 March.

The exterior of several C15 and C16 timber-framed buildings were examined and the owner of No.76 generously gave access to the first floor and roof space of his property.

An extensive inside tour of the recently restored 116 High Street had also been arranged. This was most impressive.

The tour finished with an external appraisal of No.120, a large town house, and the unexpectedly massive C18 terrace known locally as The Barracks.

Rear of 116 High Street, Boston

SLHA group at the rear of 116 High Street

35 High Street, Boston

Neil Wright at 35 High Steet, Boston

March 2013

Farewell to Rod Callow
Retirement of SLHA Administrator

A special event was held at Jews' Court on Sunday 24 February to mark Rod Callow's retirement after 12 years as the SLHA Administrator. He was presented with a large cheque which he is devoting to a locally commissioned windsor chair.

Stewart Squires gave a warm tribute to Rod for the high quality of his work and his unstinting commitment of time. Entertainment was provided in the form of a light hearted quiz by Chris Hewis.

Rod & Jan Callow and Stewart Squires

Rod and Jan Callow with Stewart Squires, SLHA Chairman

February 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

Gunby Hall Water Supply
Puzzle posed by spring, reservoir and pump

On 18 February six members of the SLHA Industrial Archaeology team visited Gunby Hall and struggled to understand how water was supplied to the Hall and other buildings in late-Victorian and Edwardian times.

A chalybeate spring rises in the park (medieval village site) a few hundred metres south-east of the hall.  Close by is a cement-lined brick-encased reservoir, apparently containing a sand filter, and alongside are the remains of the base of a wind pump (presumably once lifting water from a well beneath).  A short distance down the slope is a ram pump set a few feet below ground level.

The relationship and respective functions of these features is not clear and it is not possible to be sure where water was pumped to. A further visit for a detailed site investigation is planned later in the year and in the meantime documentary sources will be examined.

The visit took place at the invitation of Rachael Hall, National Trust Archaeologist.  The group also benfited from the extensive local knowledge of Clive Ironmonger, Gunby's Head Gardener.

Gunby Hall dovecote

SLHA Group at the Dovecote, Gunby Hall

February 2013

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

Will Grimsby Ice Factory be saved?
SLHA offers strong support

Grimsby Ice Factory, which commenced production in 1901, provided the crushed ice which was required to preserve the catch in Grimsby trawlers during their lengthy journey back from the fishing grounds of the North Sea. More ice was then needed to pack the fish for its rail journey, for Grimsby fish was widely distributed around Britain.

There is no doubt that the success of the fishing fleet, making Grimsby the world's premier fishing port, was  helped by the plentiful supply of ice. Today, whilst the fishing industry has shrunk dramatically, much of modern Grimsby can be traced back to that industry.

The Ice Factory has stood empty and vandalised for many years. Listed by English Heritage as Grade II*, and on their "At Risk" register, the huge building still contains most of its plant.

The SLHA has been concerned about the future of this iconic building for many years and supported the formation of the Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust ( in July 2010.

Since then the Trust has achieved remarkable success, securing the attention of the Prince's Regeneration Trust, the Victorian Society and the Architectural Heritage Fund, amongst others. Over £18000 has been raised to fund an Options Appraisal which analyses proposed uses for the building put forward by the community.

This report will be presented to the public for comment at an event to be held at Grimsby Town Hall on 1 March (details on the Great GIFT website) and the SLHA is delighted to support this initiative.

See further information about the Ice Factory.

The Ice Factory is the subject of an illustrated talk by Chris Lester on Wednesday 20 February, at 7.30 pm at St Hugh's Hall, Monks Road, Lincoln.

Grimsby Ice factory


Grimsby Ice Factory

Two views of the Ice Factory
(Photos by Sue Stone, Great Grimsby
Ice Factory Trust

January 2013Regeneration

Horncastle Buildings Listed by English Heritage
Grade II status for rare tyre oven and workshop

A wheelwright's tyre oven and workshop at 45 Foundry Street, Horncastle, has just been awarded Grade II listing by English Heritage.  The oven is one of very few structures of this type which survive in the UK, and it is currently in good condition.  It was used for heating wrought iron tyres (or hoops) before they were fitted on wooden wagon, cart or barrow wheels.

In 2011 it was photographed and measured by an SLHA group, and a report was subsequently published in Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, Volume 45 (2010).  The listing came as a result of an application promoted by SLHA.

Tyre oven at Horncastle

The tyre oven

January 2013