Categories for 2017
SLHA News ...
News 2017
Lectures and Conferences

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Lincolnshire Men in New Zealand
Thoma Kendall and others

At a ‘Sunday Special’ meeting in Lincoln on 19 November Dr Erik Grigg gave a short illustrated talk on Lincolnshire men who played a part in New Zealand’s early history.

Several of the early explorers who landed on New Zealand or navigated its waters had Lincolnshire crew members, mainly from the Boston area.

Thomas Kendall, born at North Thoresby 1778, settled in New Zealand as a schoolmaster under the auspices of the Church Missionary Society in 1813. His great achievement was the publication of a pioneering book on the Maori language.

Kendall was a colourful character and he was sacked by the CMS following his affair with the daughter of a Maori leader.

November 2017Thomas Kendall, North Thoresby, New Zealand

A Dig in Harpswell
Pondering a Medieval mystery

For two successive summers Bishop Grosseteste University have managed the investigation of a site close to the former Hall in Harpswell, once the home of the influential Whichcote family.

Dr Duncan Wright of BGU spoke about the project at a meeting at Jews’ Court on Sunday 19 November and began by describing the surviving features of the Hall and its associated landscape.

Resistivity and magnetometry surveys have identified areas which have now been investigated to reveal unexpectedly extensive stone structures and paved areas.

Of particular interest is a long ‘channel’, about six feet wide, bounded by parallel stone walls, that may possibly stretch from Middle Street (modern B1398) down to the Hall, a distance of 600m. Was this a sheep run?

November 2017Harpswell, archaeology, sheep run

Sixhills Nunnery
A building's history revealed

The Grade II listed stone and pantiled building, known as the Nunnery, in the centre of Sixhills village continues to be the focus of detailed study by the SLHA Building Recording team along with members of the Hainton and Sixhills communities.

Ken Hollamby gave a brief progress report to SLHA members on Sunday 19 November. He showed finely detailed drawings of the main elevations and floor plans. Specialists have been brought in to help understand the brickwork, masonry, timber and paintwork of the building.

Documentary sources are also revealing who owned and occupied the building over the centuries and how it fitted into the village and the wider Heneage estate. Gradually the complex and protracted development of the building is being understood.

November 2017Sixhills nunnery, Heneage

Wheels, Sails and Rails
Day of talks in Gainsborough

The SLHA Industrial Archaeology team held their annual day conference in Gainsborough at the town’s Methodist Church on Saturday 4 November. The theme of the day was Wheels, Rails and Sails - Aspects of Trade and Transport in Lincolnshire. The audience of over 50 enjoyed an excellent day provided by the following presentations:

Trade through the Port of Gainsborough - Philip Riden

Gainsborough’s location on the navigable Trent and close to the entries to the Chesterfield and Fossdyke (Lincoln) canals made it an important transhipment port, especially before the railway era.

From a study of port books and shipping lists, available for Gainsborough for the period 1775 to 1835, it is possible not only to follow the overall level of trade and hence general economic fluctuations but also identify the products that were imported and exported.

Detailed analyses of commodities indicate growth and decline of industries and also changes in agricultural practices.

Peat Railways: Workhorses on the Moors - Bob Evens

Peat extraction on Thorne and Hatfield Moors on the Isle of Axholme was a long-established industry which expanded rapidly in the late nineteenth century when peat was used extensively for horse bedding, as a packing material and in horticulture.

Narrow gauge railway track was laid down to link excavation sites to the five processing and distribution plants and a series of locomotives were brought in to haul the peat wagons. The early steam locos (made in Goole) were replaced by petrol powered engines by Howard. Then followed a sequence of diesel locos: Ruston & Hornsby (1959-1994), Lister (1964-87), Hunslet (1974), Diema (1974-86), Simplex (1978), Schoma (1990).

Environmental concerns led to the closure of the industry in the 1970s. A few locomotives have been rescued and restored.

The Railways and Tramways of the Claxby and Nettleton Mines - Stewart Squires

Ironstone was taken away to Yorkshire steel-making plants from Claxby Mine (1868-1885) via a branch line linked to the LMSR main line at Holton le Moor station. A rope-hauled incline from the mine entrance took the calcined stone down to the head of this branch line. Inside the mine itself rail wagons or tubs were horse drawn.

The later mines at Nettleton (1934-1969) were served by diesel locomotives which worked underground and also linked the two main mine areas. For a number of years an aerial ropeway carrying buckets ran down the hillside to Holton le Moor. From here the ironstone was carried by rail to Scunthorpe via Barnetby.

Coachwork from Lincolnshire - Adam Cartwright

There were a small number of firms in the County who built bus and coach bodies from the 1920s. These included Bracebridge Motor Works, Lincoln (1920-1950) founded by William Crack, employing 70 men and building buses for customers as far afield as Scotland, Devon and Surrey.

William Rainforth, Lincoln (1920s-1954), built on their earlier production of agricultural implements, wagons and carts, and made, for example, 26 vehicles for Lincolnshire Road Car. Allen of Brigg had a garage business and built vehicles with interchangeable bodies, i.e. small buses or trucks. Applewhite, Lincoln (1920-1932) made cars and lorries as well as buses.

Lincs Trailer Co, Scunthorpe (1940s-1951) built innovative two-level coaches, including some for airport use. F M Thompson, Louth (1922-1925) made double-deck buses for Birmingham. Ruston & Hornsby are known to have made one bus in the early 1920s.

Dunham Bridge : Up to Date - Stephen Betteridge

The first bridge on the Trent downstream of Newark was at Gainsborough (1790/1) to be followed by the Dunham Bridge in 1832, a cast iron construction designed by George Leather and built by Messrs Hamer, Pratt and Booth for £14,219. Additional funding was required to complete the bridge and no dividends were paid to shareholders until 1886. Tolls were farmed out 1834-1918.

With much increased traffic loads, the bridge became over-stressed in the mid-twentieth century. It was demolished in 1977 and replaced two years later by the present steel bridge which was built on the original piers and abutments. Current traffic volume is about 300,000 crossings per month.

Stagecoach Services in Lincolnshire before the Railways - Barry Barton

White’s Directory of Lincolnshire and Hull of 1826 contains details of stagecoach movements in and out of Lincolnshire towns in the period immediately before passenger trains were introduced. Many coaches travelled regularly to London; all towns in the county and region were part of an extensive network of coach travel.

Timetables for routes can be worked out from Directory entries, showing that the mail coaches, as expected, were the fastest. It is also apparent that timetables of services on road and water (ferries, for example) were usually coordinated for the traveller’s benefit.

Speakers: Top l to r - Bob Evens, Adam Cartwright, Barry Barton; Bottom l to r - Stephen Betteridge, Stewart Squires, Philip Riden


Aerial ropeway, Nettleton mines


Fenwicks bus - body made by Rainforths of Lincoln , 1950s


The first Dunham Bridge, 1832-1977





November 2017

Lincolnshire's Coastal Archaeology
Submerged forests and shipwrecks

The Society’s archaeology talk on 11 October by Andy Sherman was concerned with discoveries along the coast that are being made during survey work following winter storms and high tides, which are revealing – and then destroying - new features on a regular basis.

A team based in York is tasked with much of the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire coast, as part of a national project - CITiZAN – covering much of the east coast of Britain that is most at risk.

Remains of submerged forests that some of us will have visited in past decades are being swept away; they had been noted as long ago by Gerald of Wales in 1188, and were a tourist attraction in the 1920s. There are also many shipwrecks, some deliberately abandoned, as well as other features including prehistoric footprints.

Notably, the team, supported by volunteers, has identified three peat shelves in the Cleethorpes area, with forest and underbrush, and trackways.

New volunteers are welcome, and will receive training in surveying and recording. Please see the project web-site and see how you can make a real contribution is preserving a record of important remains that are being lost for ever.

October 2017

Tudor Lincolnshire Families
Eminent men of national significance

A surprising number of eminent men of the Tudor period had homes in Lincolnshire. They ranged from statesmen and government officials to leading military and naval figures, many of them inter-related by birth or marriage.

The impressive memorials for these men and their families found in churches across the county are an indication of their wealth and importance. In some instances their fine houses survive.

These men, their careers, houses and monuments were described in an absorbing illustrated lecture given by Dr David Neave to a large audience at the Joseph Wright Hall in Barton upon Humber on 15 September.

The event was arranged jointly by SLHA with the Barton upon Humber Society in memory of Rex Russell (1916-2014), highly regarded Lincolnshire local historian and resident of Barton for many years.

Dr David Neave

September 2017

Society Chairman and senior Lincoln Castle Guide Nigel Burn presented accounts of this significant event in the country’s history to several audiences during the second week of September.

As part of the Heritage Open Days weekend he led walks which followed the action in May 1217 when William Marshal, King Henry III’s regent, mustered forces in Newark and attacked the Rebel Army (rebel barons under Prince Louis of France) who were keeping the Castle under siege.

The ebb and flow of the battle and the ultimate routing of the Louis’s forces were graphically described on the very sites around the Castle and Cathedral of the 13th century action.

Nigel also gave a more detailed account of the battle and its political significance in a talk to SLHA members at St Hugh’s Hall in Lincoln on 13 September.

Nigel Burn addressing the 'troops' near the West gate of Lincoln Castle

September 2017

Sir John Franklin
His life story told in Spilsby

Catherine Wilson delivered the annual Brackenbury Lecture on ‘The Life of Sir John Franklin’ to an appreciative audience of some 50 people on 8 July in the appropriate venue of Spilsby Methodist Church, a stone’s throw from her subject’s birthplace.

Catherine began her talk by suggesting that Franklin was known more for his death and its circumstances rather than the rest of his remarkable life. She guided the audience through Franklin’s naval career which included his presence at the battles of Copenhagen and Trafalgar and the expedition with Matthew Flinders to Australia which discovered the Bass Strait and circumnavigated Tasmania.

Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars Franklin began his series of great North American expeditions including the epic Coppermine River journey between 1819-22, which earned him the nickname ‘the man who ate his boots’.

From 1836-43 Franklin was Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), no sinecure post with its large convict population. Catherine paid tribute to the work of both Franklin and his intelligent and indomitable second wife, Jane, during their time on the island.

After Franklin’s disappearance on the 1845 North West Passage expedition Lady Franklin was indefatigable in her efforts to seek the truth. There is still great interest in Franklin’s last voyage and the Canadian government has done much to research it.

SLHA would like to thank all who made this event a success, particularly Cecil Mundy and Bunty Martin. Donations on the day raised more than £100 for Raithby Chapel.

Catherine Wilson and Mark Acton (Chairman of SLHA Local History Committee)

July 2017

Flinders and Banks
The interaction of two eminent Lincolnshire men

Dr Patrick Kaye gave a well-received talk on Captain Matthew Flinders RN and his friendship with Sir Joseph Banks to an audience of around 50 members and friends of SLHA and the Sir Joseph Banks Society at St Hugh’s Hall Lincoln on 17 May.

Dr Kaye’s interest in Joseph Banks developed through trips to Kew Gardens to indulge his love of photography. He has met Banks scholars and travelled on the replica ‘Endeavour’ in Sir Joseph’s cabin.

Whilst Flinders described Banks as his ‘greatest and best friend’, this was far from a friendship of equals either in age or station. Flinders needed a patron for advancement through the navy and to sponsor expeditions.

Banks may have enjoyed the flattering attention he received from the younger man. Their relationship was badly dented by Flinders’ marriage and attempts to take his wife on his Australian voyage.

During his imprisonment on Mauritius, Flinders felt that Banks was not doing enough to secure his release whilst the reality was that Banks had far less influence with the Admiralty than Flinders imagined.The friendship was rekindled on Flinders’ return to England but was curtailed by his illness and early death.

May 2017

On Saturday 13 March a large group of SLHA members and others met in the Old School Rooms in Nettleham for an entertaining and informative day of talks on historical aspects of physical and mental health. The programme was:

Grantham Plague

John Manterfield

Working from local records, such as parish registers, wills and Corporation minute books, the pattern of plagues can be traced in Grantham during the early seventeenth century, for example in the summer and autumn of the years 1617, 1625 and 1637.

Grantham Corporation set up a pest house in Manthorpe Road for isolating victims and they also increased rate assessments to provide relief funding for those afflicted by the plague.

At the time of the major London plague of 1665 the Corporation also set up a system of watches and took steps to keep out travellers – a successful operation because the town was kept free from the plague on that occasion.

Plants that Kill and Heal
Lorretta Rivett

A surprisingly large range of common garden and hedgerow plants have beneficial properties, most of which have been well known since time immemorial.

Other plants are thoroughly poisonous, even when small quantities are ingested or come into contact with the human body, though there are those like laburnum whose poisonous nature is overstated.

Another group of plants have both benign and malign properties as far as humans are concerned, depending perhaps on the concentration of the essential component or on the degree of ripening of the plant in its annual cycle of growth.

George III
Mike Lewins

The frequently repeated assertion that King George III suffered from porphyria originates from a report by eminent psychiatrists in the British Medical Journal in 1966.

This report was accepted and widely promulgated by leading historians at the time and later formed the background to Alan Bennett’s hugely successful play and film The Madness of King George.

However, the scientific community in the 70s and more recently has always found the original BMJ article deeply flawed. It is clear that all aspects of George’s illness are only correctly explained by bipolar disorder followed by terminal dementia.

Lincoln Asylum
Judith McLaughlin

Lincoln Corporation’s lunatic asylum, later known as The Lawn, opened in 1820. Designed by Richard Ingleman and costing £15,000, it was built on a 3-acre site to the south-west of the Castle overlooking the lower city.

It was a relatively small asylum with 50 bedrooms and 80 beds. Nevertheless it gained a national reputation through the pioneering work of Edward Charlesworth and Robert Hill who developed ways of managing the mentally ill without the use of constant and oppressive physical constraint.

The Hospital of the Holy Innocents
David Marcombe

This leper hospital, of unusual dedication, was situated close to St Catherine’s Priory just to the south of Lincoln. Possibly founded in the late eleventh century, it was one of the earliest of what became a large number of similar ‘hospices’ across England.

It was funded by endowments but over the years its viability and occupation declined; attitudes to leprosy also changed, generally becoming less sympathetic and supportive.

In 1535, at the time of the Reformation, the hospital finally closed with only one resident remaining. Most of the site has been destroyed by nineteenth century railway and housing construction.

Doctors in Georgian Grantham
John Manterfield

As with other professions in provincial towns, members of the medical profession had specialist knowledge, wore distinctive clothing, used Latin, and generated a mystique.

The public believed in their special authority and powers. Nevertheless, cartoons of the time lampooned doctors unmercifully.

In the mid-eighteenth century there were four doctors and two surgeons practising in Grantham. Monuments in the parish church of St Wulfram indicate the wealth and high family connections of some of these members of the medical profession.


Bust of George III at Lincoln Castle

The Lawn, former Lincoln City Lunatic Asylum

May 2017

Forty SLHA members and friends met at St Hugh’s Hall in Lincoln on 19 April to hear Angus Townley give a detailed account of the drainage of the Isle of Axholme.

The Romans dug two significant channels across the Isle, principally for transport rather than drainage. Sluices and other minor drainage improvements were made in the medieval and Tudor periods but it was only in the 17th century that a comprehensive scheme under Cornelius Vermuyden changed the whole nature of the area.

The principal rivers (Don, Idle, Torne) were channelled and re-routed and subsidiary drains laid to carry water ultimately into the Trent (to the east) or Ouse (north). Further improvements were made by Smeaton and others in the 1760s and some 60 years later by Rennie.

Steam powered pumping engines were first introduced in the 1820s, to be replaced by diesel and later electric pumps. Currently there are 2 major pumping stations, 14 smaller stations and 90 km of flood embankment protecting the Isle.

Owston Ferry Pumping Station

April 2017

Stamp End Railway Bridge, Lincoln
Its hidden significance

Barry Barton gave a talk on the Stamp End railway bridge to a large group of SLHA members and friends at Jews’ Court on 12 March.

This bridge was built in 1846 over the Witham, just to the east of Stamp End Lock, to carry the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway’s line from Lincoln to Barnetby. The bridge was the first in England to be constructed using wrought iron boxed girders.

The engineer behind the construction was John Fowler (who more famously designed the Forth rail bridge in Scotland). Stamp End bridge was in effect a prototype for the bridges Fowler built over the Trent at Torksey and Gainsborough the following year.

Stamp End bridge, listed Grade II, is in urgent need of repair and in February Lincoln City Council gave Listed Building Consent for replacement of the bridge.

SLHA has campaigned for the original girders to be used to create a footbridge across the R Witham since the adjacent crossing (Titanic Bridge) has been closed to pedestrians on safety grounds. Resolution is awaited.

Stamp End Railway Bridge, Lincoln

March 2017

Sixhills Nunnery
Recording an historic building

Chris Page, one of the Society’s Building Recording Group working with Hainton community members to investigate and record this ironstone building, described the project at an SLHA Sunday Special meeting on 12 March.

The principal external walls of the building comprise masonry and bricks of various periods, some of which have apparently been re-used from earlier buildings. Internal elements – fireplaces, roof timbers, stair balusters, paint layers – also present challenges of interpretation.

Documentary research has traced ownership and occupation over the past 300 years and a probate inventory indicates room usage. Thus the understanding of this building's history and its function is becoming more complete.

Sixhills Nunnery - a building of great interest

March 2017

The ‘Arch and Arch’
SLHA’s earliest forerunner

Pearl Wheatley, SLHA Vice-President, spoke to a packed audience at a ‘Sunday Special’ in Lincoln on 12 March about the early history of the Society.

In the 1840s many Lincolnshire churches faced the need for restoration and the county’s clergymen formed a society to study architecture and monitor local developments. Within a short time it broadened its remit and became the Lincolnshire Architectural and Archaeological Society.

From the onset the society organised talks and visits for its members. Conducted tours of churches – often several in one day - were the common and popular features of the programmes throughout the nineteenth century.

In the twentieth century the Arch & Arch was an active campaigner on several important planning issues in the city. In 1932 they acquired Jews’ Court from the City Council, thus saving the building from demolition. In 1965 the Arch & Arch amalgamated with the Lindsey Local History Society, and in due course this became SLHA (1974).

The insignia of the LAAS, founded 1844

March 2017

80 people met in the fine early sixteenth-century hall of King’s School in Grantham on Saturday 11 March for a vibrant conference on the vernacular buildings of the town.

Walking tours were led by members of Grantham Civic Trust, with special inputs from Professors David Stocker and Philip Dixon, visiting the Blue Pig (late C16, half-timbered), Vine Street, the Artichoke (C15), Market Place, Conduit, Westgate, George Inn and the Angel Inn.

Afternoon talks were as follows:

The Little-Known Historic Buildings of Grantham
David Stocker
Grantham has a rare example of a C13 ‘stack’ building in Butcher Row at the corner of the Market Place. This survives only as a fine vaulted undercroft below what was a mercer’s shop exposed by late C19 building work.

The Blue Pig is an example of a linear building with a shop end-on to the street, dating from the C16. By contrast, a ‘side-on’ building, with its entrance from a passage at the side of the building, is seen at the Malt Shovel and The Artichoke.

There are records of numerous other significant buildings in the town which have been demolished but there is also much that remains to be discovered – often with timber-framing – behind brick or stucco frontages.

Using Probate Inventories to Establish House Types
John Manterfield
Probate inventories, which only relate to households above a certain size, list the possessions of the deceased room by room. Dr Manterfield’s detailed analysis of 500 inventories of Grantham households reveals changes in both room terminology and function between the C16 and C17 periods.

The number or rooms per household also increased; additional chambers were recorded and cellars appeared for the first time. It will be instructive to relate these documentary sources to the surveys of surviving buildings of the same periods.

What does Building Recording Involve?
Ken Hollamby
This experienced retired professional fieldworker shared his wide experience of recording a variety of buildings, emphasising the simple basics which enable him to generate a floor plan and elevation drawing.

A successful project may bring in more advanced skills – photography, dendrochronology, archive research, archaeology, report writing – but building recording creates opportunities for contributions for anyone with an interest in the construction and history of old buildings.

Photographs: Top - The original C16 Grammar School Hall, venue of the conference
Middle - The Antelope, Swinegate. Prof. David Stocker outlines its significance.
Bottom - The Angel, Watergate. Prof. Philip Dixon with conference members prepare to enter the late C15 inn.


March 2017

Railway Buildings celebrated
The M&GNR in Lincolnshire

Nigel Digby entertained an audience of over 60 at St Hugh’s Hall in Lincoln on 15 February to an illustrated talk on the buildings on the Lincolnshire stretch of the Midlands and Great Northern Joint Railway.

This cross-country line ran from Norwich (with an important ‘main’ branch from King’s Lynn to Peterborough) via Sutton Bridge, Spalding, Bourne and Little Bytham to Saxby in Leicestershire, opening in 1893 and closing in 1959.

Nigel, a leading student of this line, showed many of his outstanding and unique collection of early photographs of the railway structures – stations, signal boxes, goods sheds, crossing-keeper’s cottages, bridges, name boards – and commented in detail on their construction and design features. Regrettably, virtually all this railway history has been swept aside and very little remains to be seen today.

Spalding Station today

February 2017

Buildings of Southwell
The early fabric of an historic town

Dr Chris King of the Department of Archaeology, University of Nottingham, spoke to a well-attended meeting of SLHA members in Lincoln on 25 January about the recent English Heritage funded project in Southwell.  Survey work involving the local community group (Southwell Community Archaeology) has examined and recorded a wide range of the town’s buildings.

Southwell has a considerable collection of fine, large houses once associated with the Minster. Parts of some medieval structures survive within one or two of these buildings; some Tudor and Jacobean brickwork can also be seen; but much was rebuilt in the eighteenth century and occupied by new gentry families.

The town also has a good range of early vernacular domestic buildings, several with plain exteriors hiding finely crafted interior details and many with unexpectedly early timber framing, especially in the ‘suburb’ of West Thorpe.

New information about the timber-framed Saracen’s Head has emerged (an open hall). Dr King’s work has also recently taken him outside Southwell to Hallaughton Hall Farm, where the well-known tower is now considered to be a solar tower, once linked to a medieval house (as at Longthorpe, Cambridgeshire).

Westhorpe Cottage, Southwell

January 2017Southwell, Hallaughton, Chris King

Portable Antiquities, Palimpsests, and Persistent Places
The work of the Lincolnshire Finds Liaison Officer

Adam Daubney is the Lincolnshire Finds Liaison Officer for the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme. He talked about his recent work to Society members at a 'Sunday Special' at Jews' Court on 22 January.

He has been recording archaeological objects in Lincolnshire for over fifteen years. The analysis of finds, mainly made by amateur metal-detectorists, has resulted in a massive increase in our knowledge, particularly about multi-period sites ("persistent places”).

Adam likened these sites to palimpsests, documents which have been over-written but where the original writing can still be discerned and he used Bardney Abbey as an example.

Here, finds dating from the Iron Age to the 6th century, which have not been replicated elsewhere on the "island” estate, tend to indicate that the abbey could be the site of the Saxon cemetery, known to have existed in the area.

January 2017

Captain William Cust ...
"... unfortunately killed by a cannon ball”.

John Manterfield gave a talk with this intriguing title to SLHA members at a 'Sunday Special' in Lincoln on 22 January.

William Cust (1720-1748), a member of the Cust family of Grantham, was a naval officer of great promise who was killed aged 28 in the attack on Port Louis in the West Indies, having previously served with great distinction and noted bravery in battles against the French and Spanish fleets on both sides of the Atlantic.

He had the potential to become an admiral had his career not been cut short. He is commemorated on a fine memorial in St Wulfram’s Church, Grantham, which was made by Sir Henry Cheere, the greatest monumental sculptor of his time.

Whilst not wishing to downplay the bravery and commitment of this young man, the speaker observed that the inscription considerably inflates his deeds.

January 2017William Cust, John Manterfield

Boston’s Grand Sluice
A huge improvement for the town in 1766

Neil Wright was one of three speakers at a 'Sunday Special' at Jews' Court on Sunday 22 January.

He sketched the background to the improvement of the R Witham and the building of the Grand Sluice which was officially opened on 3 October 1766. This work allowed the adjacent fens to be drained thus considerably increasing their agricultural yield, permitted reliable transport between Boston and Lincoln and the establishment of a port on the river.

This resulted in a great increase in prosperity for the town of Boston which is exemplified today by the many fine Georgian buildings of the late eighteenth century.

The Society was involved with marking the 250th anniversary of the sluice last year.

January 2017Boston Grand Sluice