The Society’s annual February conference at Horncastle College on Saturday 8 February explored the origins of SLHA and the context – both local and national – in which church architecture and antiquarian issues became such a marked focus of study and interest.
Lincolnshire Architectural and Archaeological Society and its Properties
The LAAS (earliest forerunner of SLHA) was formally established in 1844 and had its first HQ in Louth. It soon moved to Lincoln, a more convenient location, and successively occupied premises in Silver Street, Eastgate, Central Library, Bailgate and Exchequergate. As well as having a place to meet, it was necessary as time went by to store museum items (including a splendid set of brass rubbings) and house a library.
LAAS intervened in 1931 to save Jews’ Court from demolition and the Trust set up to own the property also became responsible for Bardney Abbey.
The Society, despite its modest financial resources, has been well supported and active throughout its history.
The speakers: Chris Johnson, Carol Bennett, Rob Wheeler, Pearl Wheatley, Chris Mackintosh-Smith
J S Padley: Archaeology and the Lincoln Diocesan Architectural Society
James S Padley, from relatively obscure origins, received early training as a surveyor and became involved in large-scale drainage work in the Lincolnshire Fens. Through this work he collected many significant archaeological finds – especially Roman, but also the Witham Shield.
Padley did not join the short-lived Lincoln Topographical Society but eventually became a member of LAAS, where some of his finds were deposited. The Topographical Society, possibly too inward looking and non-conformist, did not suit him; he was also initially wary of LAAS (dominated by C of E clergy) until it broadened its interests to embrace all matters antiquarian.
E J Willson: Antiquarian and Architect
Born to a Lincoln architect-builder and with several distinguished siblings, Edward James Willson (1787-1854) had an exceptional career as both antiquarian and architect. He worked in the Cathedral (Bishop’s Eye, organ case) and remodelled Exchequergate and the Sub-Deanery.
Among the pupils he took on at his practice were Frederick Jobson (1812-1881, artist, architect and Methodist minister) and James Smetham (1821-1889, pre-Raphaelite artist). Willson went on to remodel several Lincolnshire churches (both C of E and RC) and did work for the Heneage, Pelham and Chaplin families.
He also pursued a political career in the City; he is buried at Hainton.
The Fall and Rise of Anglican Church Building in the 19th Century
The changes in fashion in church architecture from Classical to Gothic in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – so well chronicled on the national scene – can be traced through the village churches rebuilt or restored during this period in Lincolnshire.
The Classical style is demonstrated in the churches at Langton-by-Spilsby (1720-30) and Gautby (1754-56). In the mid-nineteenth century the profession of architects became clearly established and at the same time national movements brought a strong preference for medieval or Gothic styles for both churches and secular buildings.
Churches were rebuilt or remodelled in this style at Dalby (James Fowler, 1862), Nettleton (Fowler), Raithby (Nicholson, 1839), Hatton (Fowler, 1870-74), Lincoln St Mary Magdalene (Bodley, 1882), Freiston (Fowler, 1871), North Elkington (Fenton, 1852) – examples the speaker knew well from his professional work.
Drawings by J C Nattes commissioned by Sir Joseph Banks
Jean Claude Nattes (1765-1839) was a gifted French artist who specialised in topographical subjects using pencil or pen with colour wash. He was commissioned by Banks to produce drawings of Lincolnshire churches and other buildings which were later collated and bound in 4 volumes.
These volumes passed though members of the Stanhope and Fane families before being deposited at Lincoln Central Library.
Although most of the drawings are incomplete, they form an important record of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century buildings, especially churches which were shortly to be demolished or extensively remodelled.