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Dr Dennis Mills (1931-2020)
A celebration of his life and work

A large number of former colleagues, students, and friends of the late Dennis Mills joined an on-line conference on Saturday 4 December. The event was jointly sponsored by the British Association for Local History, Lincoln Record Society, Survey of Lincoln and SLHA. Dr Andrew Walker was the conference's coordinator; sessions were chaired by Prof David Stocker (LRS), Dr Paul Dryburgh (BALH), Catherine Wilson (SLHA) and Beryl George (SoL).

The introductory talk, presented by Dr Kate Tiller, Reader Emerita in English Local History, Kellogg College, Oxford, considered Dennis's legacy. She referred to several of his published books in illustrating the varied nature of his interests and output. Some of his work was pioneering and was to have a lasting impact in historical geography and related fields. As well as the quality and volume of his research, Dennis will be remembered by many students and fellow researchers for his generous support and encouragement - and his engaging sense of humour.

Dr Sarah Holland, Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham, has recently published a book entitled "Communities in Contrast: Doncaster and Its Rural Hinterland, c.1830-1870". The framework and initial impetus for her work came from Dennis Mills' book "Lord and Peasant in Nineteenth-Century Britain", published in 1980. Refining and developing his model, Dr Holland has analysed the complex relationship between rural communities and the town.

Dennis Mills' analysis of open and closed parishes was also the starting point for Dr Martin Watkinson's study of Humberston from 1750 to 1850. (Dr Watkinson is a former colleague of Dennis's at the Open University.) This parish had a single landowner, Lord Carrington, who never lived in the village, though he occasionally made visits. Day to day village affairs were tightly controlled by the vicar, the landowner's agent and the small group of wealthy tenant farmers - much as Dennis's model postulated.

Dr Rob Wheeler collaborated with Dennis Mills in the publication of "Historic Town Plans of Lincoln" (Lincoln Record Society, 2004), which includes the important city maps by J S Padley beginning in the 1840s. Close comparison of Padley's surveys with the published maps gives insight into his methods and provides an understanding of the occasional errors and inconsistencies.

Dr Shirley Brook emphasised the importance of the collection and application of farmyard manure in the successful 'industrial' operation of a farm in the period of High Farming of the mid-nineteenth century. Developments of farmstead design not only addressed the economical use of manpower but also enabled the collection of manure from shelter sheds and crew yards to be conducted efficiently on a large scale.

Lincoln's Building Application Database was the focus of Dr Andrew Walker's presentation Dennis had co-ordinated The Survey of Lincoln's website pages relating to this source. The paper covered the period from the 1860s to the 1930s, and examined how this collection of plans, specifications and other documents enabled changes in housing density and improvements in sanitation and drainage to be tracked. The early twentieth-century material shows when and where bungalows first appeared and how garages were introduced.

A significant period of Dennis Mills' life in the early 1950s was spent as a Russian linguist working for the Royal Navy's Special Coder branch. Dr Claire Hubbard-Hall, Programme Leader in Military History and Postgraduate Study at Bishop Grosseteste University, spoke about the general context of this work and described the recruitment, training and practical experience that Dennis underwent, including his spell at Cuxhaven in the then West Germany.

December 2021

Historic Designed Landscapes
Managing and Informing

Erika Diaz Petersen, Landscape Architect with Historic England, spoke about her work in Lincolnshire at an on-line SLHA meeting on 8 December. The range of her work includes public spaces such as arboretums and cemeteries as well as the formally designed gardens and parks of country houses. The underlying archaeology of the medieval and earlier periods is given due recognition.
Erika introduced two significant sources of information accessible through the Historic England website: an interactive map with details of landscape work by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown and Humphrey Repton (Humphry Repton Landscapes | Historic England); and a map providing LIDAR scans of designed landscapes, thus revealing layers of archaeology. (Aerial Investigation: Using Aerial Sources to Map Archaeology and Landscapes | Historic England)

December 2021

Lincolnshire Local Lists
Significant buildings and sites

Felix Mayle is the officer at Heritage Lincolnshire for a project developing Local Lists for Lincolnshire. He gave an on-line presentation of the project to an SLHA audience on 17 November.
Working with local groups, Felix is identifying buildings and other permanent features in the environment that do not have statutory listing but ought to be offered some level of protection. In due course an on-line reference source will be set up. This will help inform local authorities in their planning decisions.
A number of currently unlisted sites and buildings were considered in this on-line presentation. There was general support from the audience for local listing of all the examples shown by Felix. These included alms-houses, Nissen huts, moated sites, windmill, chapel and estate cottages.
(Richard Croft, member of the SLHA Building Recording Group, is currently working with others to produce a Local List for the City of Lincoln.)

November 2021

Torksey after the Vikings
A large town and its pottery

After the Society AGM on Saturday 23 October Professors Julian Richards and Dawn Hadley of the University of York gave a joint presentation on Torksey in the ninth and tenth centuries.
A large group of Vikings - possibly as many as 5000 - camped in an area north of the modern village close to the Trent over the winter of 872/3. These were aggressive invaders who had an entourage of smiths and other necessary support workers. A wide range of objects (tools, gaming pieces, weights, rivets and processed 'loot') have been recovered from the site.

Shortly after the brief stay of the Vikings a large settlement developed to the south of the current village. Fieldwalking and archaeological techniques have revealed extensive cemeteries, though surprisingly few domestic buildings.  Many pottery kilns have been located and it is apparent that Torksey pottery (which can be incontrovertibly identified) was made in large quantities and traded beyond the region, especially to the north. 

The link between the over-wintering Vikings and the subsequent establishment of Torksey is a matter of speculation.
Photo: St Peter's Church Torksey. There were at least 3 churches in the early medieval town.

October 2021

SLHA Annual General Meeting, 2021
Reports and elections on-line

The Society's AGM for 2021 took place on line on Saturday 23 October. SLHA President, Naomi Field, took the chair. About 40 members were in attendance.

The meeting approved the Society's general report for 2021 and the Treasurer's 2020/21 financial reports for both Lincolnshire Heritage and SLHA.

Patron:Ursula Lidbetter, Chief Executive Officer, Lincolnshire Co-Operative Limited, was introduced as the new Patron of SLHA.

Officers elected for the coming year were as follows:
President: Naomi Field
Chairman: Ian George
Treasurer: Chris Hewis
Committee/Team Chairmen: Archaeology: Ian George; Building Recording: David Stocker; History of Lincolnshire: Andrew Walker; Industrial Archaeology: Stephen Betteridge; Local History: Mark Acton; Publications: vacant
Additional members of Executive Committee: Caroline Crane, Ken Hollamby, Michael Jones, Eva Moore, Ken Redmore, Stewart Squires, David Start, Neil Wright, Jonathan Fitzgibbon

Honorary Vice-Presidents: Thora Wagstaffe, Pearl Wheatley, Catherine Wilson
Trustees: Stewart Bennett (2021-25),Stephen Betteridge (2020-24), Michael Daly (2020-24), Rosalind Mellows (2019-2023), Nicholas Moore (2018-22), Stephen Stefaniuk (2018-22), Andrew Walker (2021-25), Neil Wright (2021-2025)

The Flora Murray Award for 2021 was made to the Horncastle History and Heritage Society for their exhibition and events 'Horncastle Railway: 50 Years since Closure'. West Lindsey District Council and Louth Museum received Awards of Excellence for their projects 'Pilgrim Roots - Gainsborough's cultural programme for Mayflower 400' and 'Ruth's Blog', respectively.


October 2021

SLHA Awards for 2021
Presentation at 2021 AGM

The Flora Murray Award for 2021 has been presented to the Horncastle History and Heritage Society for their exhibition and events on the theme 'Horncastle Railway: 50 Years since Closure'. The award was announced at the on-line Annual General Meeting of the Society on Saturday 23 October 2021. The presentation of the award was made by Ian George (SLHA Chairman) to Ian Marshman (HHHS Chairman) at the Sir Joseph Banks Centre, Horncastle, on 25 November. It was attended by several members of the Horncastle Society.

The exhibition had been held in the town's Sir Joseph Banks Centre from late July to early September 2021 and attracted over 2000 visitors. Display boards gave information about the construction of the railway, its 100+ years of operation, the railway's closure and today's surviving features of the line. A wide range of documents, artefacts and other general railway memorabilia were displayed as part of the exhibition. The project also produced a new illustrated guide to the popular Spa Trail for walkers and cyclists.

An Award for Excellence was made to West Lindsey District Council for their project "Pilgrim Roots - Gainsborough's cultural programme for Mayflower 400". This celebration delivered on-line information, creative projects and community activities.

An Award for Excellence was also made to Louth Museum for 'Ruth's Blog', a regular feature on the Museum's website. This provides illustrations and information about the museum's artefacts and other local heritage topics.


October 2021

Ben Whitwell (1936-2021)
Passing of eminent Roman archaeologist

Ben Whitwell, former Keeper of the City and County Museum (1963-69) and author of Roman Lincolnshire, died on 21 September. His funeral took place near to Lincoln on 16 October.
After reading Classics at Cambridge, Ben became a Museum Assistant at Chester, before following his predecessor Dennis Petch into the job at Lincoln. As Field Secretary for the Lincoln Archaeological Research Committee, he oversaw excavations on the Roman defences in East Bight and on the north tower of the Roman and medieval East Gate, whose 3rd-centurey tower was preserved on display. This second project was published in a substantial article jointly written with another former Keeper, Hugh Thompson, as "The Gates of Roman Lincoln", in Archaeologia volume 104 (1973). A report on the East Bight dig was incorporated into a monograph on the upper defences published by the then Lincoln Archaeological Trust (1980).
There was other fieldwork on the pottery kilns at Swanpool, as well as investigations during the late 1960s in Bailgate, Flaxengate, and Spring Hill, all of them disappointing to Ben in terms of the survival of Roman deposits. He had better luck at The Park in 1968, where house clearance in advance of the construction of new municipal offices revealed a late Roman gate. The pace of redevelopment in the city was increasing and the Society's efforts were increasingly turning to rescue sites, a trend that ultimately resulted in the formation of the Lincoln Trust in 1972.
Ben also undertook some work in the county, including a medieval moated site near Saxilby, later published in the Journal of the British Archaeological Association. The job had, however, become increasingly demanding: he was also responsible for the museum's display work and the annual compilation of the "Archaeological Notes". The appointment of Catherine Wilson as his assistant helped to share the burden.
Following Ben's departure, the roles of Museum Keeper and Field Director were split, with Nicholas Moore taking over as Keeper, while work at The Park  resumed in 1970, supported by the then Ministry, directed by Christina Colyer. Ben visited those excavations and was delighted to see how much was being revealed. He also left a legacy in terms of training local volunteers, including, notably, Ken Wood, who continued the work on the East Bight Roman water-tank and the associated aqueduct.
Ben's last major achievement as Keeper was to produce Roman Lincolnshire, published in 1970 as the first volume to appear in the History of Lincolnshire series. A revised version, with a new Introduction, appeared in 1992.  Meanwhile Ben had moved initially to be Keeper of Antiquities at Leicester Museum, which made him well placed to extend the geographical scope of the book as part of a doctoral thesis on the East Midlands in the Roman period. It was published as a monograph in 1982 as The Coritani: some aspects of the Iron Age Tribe and the Roman Civitas.
Ben left Leicester for work again in the field with the York Archaeological Trust, and then went on to become the first Director of the Humberside Archaeological Unit. Living on the south bank, he followed up his research interests on the Roman settlement of that area. He retired a little early, and several years later moved with his wife Betty to Spain, from which they only returned in March of this year.

October 2021

Kathleen Jefferson (1938-2021)
Librarian and Tennyson enthusiast

Yorkshire-born Kathleen Jefferson, who died on 18 August, began her library career in Leeds before moving to Lincoln where she worked for several years in the Sam Scorer building at Brayford Pool. By the time of her retirement she was a senior figure in Lincolnshire County Council's library service.
Kathleen was a member of SLHA  for many years and was a quiet but astute presence at Local History team meetings. She belonged to the Lincolnshire branch of the Betjeman Society as well as the Wordsworth Society whose annual events in Grasmere she attended without fail. Her main focus though was with the Tennyson Society which she served as Secretary for more than 30 years, gaining a well-deserved British Empire Medal for her work.
A private individual, Kathleen enjoyed meals out with friends and had a love of horseracing with regular visits to Doncaster racecourse.
Mark Acton
In September 2014, on behalf of HM The Queen, the Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire bestowed the British Empire Medal on Kathleen Jefferson. This well-deserved Honour was for her services to Lincoln and Lincolnshire in a number of ways. She was actively involved in many organisations, including the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, Lincolnshire Association of the National Trust, the Lincolnshire Branch of the Betjeman Society, the Enquiry Desk at Lincoln Cathedral, and above all, the Tennyson Society.
When Kathleen accepted the position of Honorary Secretary to the Tennyson Society in 1987 she was still employed by Lincolnshire Library Service as Assistant County Librarian, Bibliographical and Special Services. Since then, and throughout her retirement, the Society flourished with a healthy membership in this country and with members, both personal and institutional, in the USA, Japan and Europe. The Society's finances have been in steady surplus, largely due to Kathleen's watchful eye on expenditure and her drive to increase membership.
Tennyson's poetry, his reputation and that of his friends, and the context in which he wrote have become increasingly well-known and valued; from a decline in reputation in the post-war period Tennyson is now viewed as one of our greatest national poets. His work is popular with the general public and is also a lively subject for scholarly activity. This is due in no small measure to the central role of the Society in promoting his work and to Kathleen's part in being the mainstay of the Society.
The Tennyson Society draws on many individuals to support its activities. These include citizens of Lincoln and academics from across the country and abroad, particularly the USA. Kathleen's contribution was outstanding in relation to these individuals by virtue of her central organising and managing role, which she fulfilled with exemplary firmness and efficiency. She was the hub round which the Executive Committee and the Publications Board revolved. She was also responsible for the oversight of the conferences, the visits and the commemorative occasions. 
She will be very much missed.

Rosalind Boyce

September 2021

Bygone Harvests
Lincolnshire traditions in the autumn

A large on-line audience was entertained by a lively talk given by Maureen Sutton on 15 September. Her theme was 'Bygone Harvests: Superstitions, Customs and Rituals'.
In her inimitable style Maureen told us how - not so very long ago - our forbears picked and pickled samphire, made frumenty, boppies and hopper cake, put pigs away, sang and danced, kick boxed, shot the guy - and a score of other now-forgotten late summer and autumn "goings-on", much lamented by Maureen and other upholders of Lincolnshire traditions and dialect.

September 2021

A Weekend in Hampshire
The annual SLHA Study Tour

The annual SLHA study tour, led by Ken Hollamby and arranged by TravelWright of Newark, took place over the weekend 2-6 September. Accommodation was provided at the University of Winchester. (This tour was to have taken place in July 2020 but was postponed because of the Coronavirus pandemic.)
The long coach journey down to Hampshire was broken by a guided tour at the Bombay Sapphire gin distillery in Whitchurch.
The first full day was spent in Winchester where group members explored local heritage attractions such as the Cathedral, Wolvesey Castle, City Mill, Hospital of St Cross, Winchester College and the City's museums. After the evening meal David Ashby of the University of Winchester gave a stimulating talk about Stanford in the Vale (Oxfordshire) where a wide range of archaeological techniques have revealed remarkable detail about a small settlement.
Nearby Southampton was the destination for Saturday morning; Glyn Coppack, retired English Heritage officer, was the guide. A walking tour took in several medieval structures in the lower town - a surprising number - and included an exclusive visit to the restored medieval merchant's house in French Street (English Heritage). After lunch a visit was made under Glyn's leadership to Netley Abbey, a Cistercian foundation, which has many surviving structures, as well as elements of the Tudor brick mansion created from the abbey after its dissolution.
Sunday's programme was devoted to the Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth. A guided tour of the Mary Rose in the morning was followed by a choice of other fine nautical attractions (HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, harbour tours and several museums). The evening was enlivened by a stimulating talk from Dr Scott Anderson on the history of luxury liners sailing from Southampton, especially those before the Second World War.
The return journey to Lincolnshire on Monday was broken by a visit to Butser Ancient Farm, near Petersfield. In hot sunshine the group were introduced to a range of buildings - Iron Age to Saxon -  constructed speculatively from detailed archaeological evidence on sites elsewhere in the region.
Photos: Top right - Winchester Cathedral; above right - Medieval Merchant's House, French Street, Southampton; below left - Netley Abbey; below centre - Mary Rose, Portsmouth; below right - Butser Ancient Farm 


September 2021

Woolsthorpe Manor and Isaac Newton
The 'Annus Mirabilis' of the great man

In this SLHA on-line talk on 8 September Professor Rob Iliffe looked at Isaac Newton's lifelong relationship with his childhood home.

Newton retained an ongoing interest in the Manor through local agents, and periodically he was able to return from Cambridge and London to manage the property (and his tenants).

He often referred to himself as a country boy, and the knowledge and skills he gained from his rural upbringing would provide significant foundations for his later work.

Above all, the Manor was the place where Newton's ingenuity flourished, whether as a boyhood site for making natural sundials out of the various walls in his house, or as a sanctuary from the plague where he did epoch-making work in optics, physics and mathematics.

Towards the end of his life, Newton viewed the house and its garden as an almost mystical setting for all the great discoveries of his annus mirabilis.

Robert Iliffe is Professor of History of Science at Oxford, co-director of the online Newton Project and Director of the online Newton Mint Papers Project.

He has written widely on Newton, and is the author of 'A Very Short introduction to Newton' (Oxford 2007) and Priest of Nature: the Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton (Oxford 2017).

Photograph: Woolsthorpe Manor


September 2021

Chris Lester (1945-2021)
Untimely death of a leading SLHA member

The Society has been deeply saddened by the death of Chris Lester on 14 August following a long period of illness. Chris was a man with a passion for industrial archaeology and involved with our Society in many ways and on several levels for a remarkable 50 years.
Lincolnshire was his adopted county. Born in Liverpool, his early years were spent in South America where his father was working, firstly in Peru and then Argentina. He came back to an English boarding school and eventually determined on a career as a Chartered Engineer working in the microwave electronics industry. Employed initially in Chelmsford, he came to Lincoln to work for GEC in 1971. That was when he joined the Society and he remained a member despite a short period working in Devon, after which he returned to Lincoln.
In 1972 he became a member of what was then the Lincolnshire Industrial Archaeology Group and he remained a member of the IA Team until his death. During that time he served for a period as the Chairman and throughout he played a very full and active role.
At the same time he joined a WEA class on Industrial history led by Dr Michael Lewis of Hull University. This met regularly in Lincoln and, after Michael retired in and the course closed in 2000, Chris organized an annual reunion in Barton on Humber where friends from Michael's Lincoln course met their Hull counterparts for a stimulating lecture by their former tutor. The last of these was in 2018.
Chris was a very strong team player. Not a man to seek the limelight he was a strong believer in the right person for the right job. He would lead our work where it was appropriate or take an enthusiastic back seat where it was not. But in either role he was equally sound. If you needed someone to organize a survey, a visit or a conference, he was the man. He was equally at home with research and was prepared to travel anywhere to accomplish this. He was also keen to support other Team members in their activities and would usually be there in the room to listen to a talk or out in town or country for a guided visit.
One of Chris's specialisms in survey work was going into holes in the ground, however dark. Nothing put him off. If it involved baling out a flooded underground chamber, he would be at the bottom passing the bucket up. On one memorable occasion he was crawling through a very restricted and dark cable-tunnel to get inside a building to open it up when he came across a very dead fox - but he carried on.
He was also always keen to ensure that once survey work was completed the results were published. He was rarely named as the author but, credited or not, his influence was always behind it somewhere. Much more high profile will be the book on the Industrial Archaeology of Stamford. This was largely researched and drafted by Neville Birch before his sad death in 2018 but it needed some comprehensive editing which Chris took on with his usual commitment, completing it recently and working on it throughout his illness whenever he was able. Publication will follow later this year.
He was not just an ideas man. He could be practical as well, demonstrated by his restoration of a waterwheel at his Branston home, a wheel which was a critical component of the Victorian water supply to Branston Hall.
And what a breadth of subjects he was interested in: brewing and malting; bricks and brickmaking; canals and waterways; Cold War technology; country house water supply; farming history; gas works; iron and steel; land drainage; mechanical engineering; mills, wind and water; mining and quarrying; and roads and railways; in short, almost everything industrial.
It was not just through the IA Team that Chris contributed to the Society. He was on the Executive Committee for many years. He was also a Trustee and from 2013 contributed a great deal to put the Society on a sound footing and bring in the new constitution to ensure our future. He was the Society's unofficial IT expert, though latterly he kept saying that he was not up to date with the latest developments.   Nevertheless, he knew more about computers than most people in the Society and spent many hours setting up new software and machinery in the SLHA office and sorting IT problems. He also made a major contribution to the development of our website. When the Society took on the management of Bardney Abbey site, he also became a member of the Property Team. He was also a keen supporter of the Sleaford History Group.
Many of these contributions were in management, administration and technology. While they are not such high profile or as interesting perhaps as doing a survey down a hole on a wet day, he brought the same enthusiasm and support to the roles. He would draft a Health and Safety policy or analyse a legal document, for example, with the same dedication to detail. And once he said he would do something he did it. You never had to chase him up.
For 22 years Chris represented the Society on Heritage Lincolnshire's Heritage Open Days Steering Group. He played a key role in determining the annual theme and then encouraging specific organizations, groups and private owners to organize their events. Each year there was also a booklet on the Open Days theme to leave a legacy and for two of those years he was the joint editor: in 2001 with Paula Judson for Twentieth Century - What Heritage and in 2005, with Jean Howard, Lincolnshire on the Move.
His other interests outside the Society were also significant. The Welsh slate survey work was organised originally by Michael Lewis in 1971 and from 1975 Chris went on the annual week-long summer surveys for over 40 years. After Michael Lewis retired, Dafydd Gwyn took on the role and it was he who wrote the report that led to the Welsh Slate Industry being added recently to the World Heritage Site list. If it hadn't been for this 50-year survey the World Heritage award may well not have happened. Chris was in at the beginning and stayed through to the end.
Chris had been involved with the Dogdyke land drainage pumping station since the mid-1970s. First providing occasional help, especially on the engines' open days, later he worked tirelessly to establish the Trust as a Charitable Company in 2009 and became the Company Secretary. He continued working with the Charity Commissioners resulting in the Trust being awarded full Charitable Status in 2018. A Committee of Trustees was formed to oversee the overall running of the Trust. Chris became the Chairman of the Trustees and held this post until April 2021.
The Grimsby Ice Factory Trust was formed in 2010 to secure the future of the Ice Factory which the Victorian Society considered to be one of the ten most endangered important buildings in England. This became another project dear to Chris; he joined the campaign, became a Trustee in 2017, and gave over 50 talks to local organisations to raise its profile.
I asked his Society friends and colleagues for their thoughts about Chris. Energetic; friendly; committed; supportive; stalwart; tenacious; energetic; enthusiastic; knowledgeable; encouraging; a lovely man; indispensable; determined. These were some of the adjectives used.
So his legacy for us is all around. It is in our activities and publications over the last 50 years as well as in our sound organization and management into the future. On the wider level he had the satisfaction of hearing only recently about the success of the Welsh slate World Heritage status, and also that the Grimsby Ice Factory has been bought by a local businessman, a move that does appear to be a new and positive start for the building.
Chris Lester was truly a remarkable man who will be missed by us all.



August 2021

Geoffrey F Bryant (1935-2021)
Great loss to Barton and North Lincolnshire

We note with sadness the death on 25 May of Geoff Bryant FSA OBE of Barton upon Humber. He was a longstanding member of SLHA and an accomplished local historian and archaeologist. He was also a keen campanologist.
Geoff worked as WEA Tutor-Organiser in Barton from 1971 where he formed an outstanding creative partnership with the late Rex Russell. He undertook important archaeological work on pottery kilns and was an acknowledged authority on the history and architecture of Barton's two outstanding churches. He also became very knowledgeable about the brick and tile making industry on the Humber Bank.
Geoff will be remembered in SLHA circles for his organisation and leadership of archaeology conferences at Horncastle College each February through the 1970s until the event was taken over by SLHA. His name also lives on as the editor of - and contributor to - the widely acclaimed series of local books published by the Barton WEA on the history of the town.

August 2021

Charles Seely
Lincoln's Forgotten Victorian Entrepreneur

Mark Acton, Chairman of the SLHA Local History Team, gave an on-line presentation about this nineteenth-century Lincoln businessman and politician on 14 July.
Charles Seely was born in 1803, the son of a Lincoln baker. He began a milling business in his home town before becoming a mine owner in Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire and owning a share in one of Lincoln's major agricultural engineering companies. With the wealth created from these businesses he bought up land on the Isle of Wight and, at his death, was the largest landowner on the island.
Seely was an MP for Lincoln for almost a quarter of a century, taking a particular interest in Admiralty expenditure. He began a political dynasty which continues to this day.

July 2021

The Battle of Winceby, 1643 ...
... and the making of Oliver Cromwell

On 21 July 2021, Dr Jonathan Fitzgibbons, Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln, gave an on-line lecture about this famous English Civil War battle, on which hinged, it could be argued, the fate of Britain's future.
The battle took place in the open countryside at Winceby, near Horncastle, on 11 October 1643. (Because no detailed archaeological investigation has taken place, the exact site is uncertain.)
Dr Fitzgibbons explained that, not only did Winceby mark an important turning point in the English Civil War, but it also came close to witnessing the death of a man who went on to become one of the most infamous characters in British history: Oliver Cromwell.
He also examined the impact of the battle on local memory and folklore from the seventeenth century down to the present day.
Illustration: Oliver Cromwell in his prime

July 2021

Louth's Built Heritage
A short walking tour

Dr Richard Gurnham led a morning's tour of some of Louth's notable buildings on Saturday 3 July. The event was organised by SLHA's Building Recording Group (RUBL).

The tour began with a brief introduction to the early history of the town and the inspection of the Saxon cross displayed in the parish church.

Buildings of interest were noted and described by our guide as the tour proceeded slowly along Upgate, Mercer Row, Cornmarket and Little Eastgate.

The time allotted for the visit overran, so the intended walk along Westgate had to be omitted after a brief look at the Tudor-Gothic Vicarage of 1832.

Photograph: A view of the Vicarage 

July 2021

Keeping our Feet Dry
A short history of Anglo-Dutch land drainage through engineering

An on-line talk about land drainage was given by Roger Backhouse, a retired engineer living in York, on Wednesday 9 June; there were about 50 who tuned in.
Scoop-wheel pumps powered by windmills were followed successively by steam, diesel and electric power which operated increasingly sophisticated mechanical pumps, each development allowing land to be drained more quickly and effectively.
The technology of draining in Holland and English fens has followed parallel lines; the Dutch were early pioneers but later innovations by English engineers were transferred to Holland.
There are notable Dutch drainage museums near Rotterdam and Haarlem, while in this country the small but historically significant Lincolnshire drainage museum at Dogdyke is well worth a visit.
Photo: Building at Cruquius, Holland, which houses the huge drainage engine for draining the adjacent polder and enabling a large area of land below sea level to be reclaimed.

June 2021

Medieval Spalding and the Fenlands
Growth and decline, 1050-1550

Dr Michael Gilbert, a keen student of the Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire Fens, gave an on-line talk for a 40+ group of SLHA members on Wednesday 26 May 2021. His talk built on research using the archives held by Spalding Gentlemen's Society and elsewhere.
By the end of the thirteenth century Spalding was a wealthy market town that had grown rich on the wool trade exported through the nearby Hanseatic hub at Boston. In fact, in 1330 the Lincolnshire Fens was one of the most prosperous regions in the country, only comparable with London and the Cotswolds.
The town and its hinterland in Elloe were dominated by the Benedictine Priory who controlled many aspects of public life, but the region was changed by the crisis of the fourteenth century with the power of the church declining and that of the new yeoman/merchant class growing.
Illustration: The Abbey Buildings, Spalding (Edwardian postcard) 

May 2021

Evolution of the Fossdyke
New geophysical research

Jo Westlake of the University of Lincoln gave an on-line talk to SLHA members on Wednesday 12 May about the evolution of the route of the Fossdyke between the Trent and Lincoln. Over 50 members tuned in.
The Fossdyke is the oldest canal in Britain, though the date of its origin has never been settled, despite extensive study of documentary sources. It follows a low-lying route from the Trent at Torksey and passes through wetlands to the western end of Brayford, a natural pool.
Jo's study of Lidar evidence together with a stratigraphic analysis of samples taken in sections across the shallow valley near the city reveal that the Fossdyke did not utilise the channel of the River Till in its approach to Lincoln as might have been expected.
The study has also shown the varying rates of change to the Lincoln area wetlands over the period from 9000 BC; they were greatest in the Bronze and Iron Age periods. Extreme floods originating from the Trent, an occasional occurrence, have had an impact on the topography.
Illustration: The area immediately to the west of Brayford is shown in a LIDAR image

May 2021

Charter of the Forest
Historic document held in Lincoln

Erik Grigg, Lecturer in History at Bishop Grosseteste University, gave an illustrated on-line talk on 28 April about Charters of the Forest, one copy of which, dating from 1217, is held at Lincoln Castle.
Royal Forests were protected areas in the early Middle Ages under the control of the Crown. At one time these forests, which embraced woodland, moorland and also open uncultivated areas, along with the associated chases, covered 25% of England.
Forests were the natural habitats for game animals and birds, and hunting was an important activity, but the woodland areas were also a significant resource for everyone, not only as a source of timber but as valuable grazing and pannage for swine and sheep.
The Charters of the Forest, which became codified in parallel with the Magna Carta, reduced the size of forest areas and eased the restrictions on their use by the general population.
Some of the principles - and even some of the functions - set out in the charters remained in place until the late 20th century. Many of the today's National Parks and AONBs have developed from the original Royal Forests.

April 2021

Time Travel for the Armchair Archaeologist
A Visit to Toynton, Lincs in 1614

On 14 April members joined an on-line exploration led by Jenne Pape. She demonstrated how our knowledge and understanding of a community can be expanded without leaving the comfort of the armchair at home.
Jenne offered a time traveller's visit to Toynton All Saints and St Peter in 1614. It was a critical time both in Lincolnshire and on the national scene, but what was going on in a rural place like Toynton? The exploration of free online resources demonstrates just how much can be readily discovered.
Photograph: The eighteenth-century church of Toynton All Saints (which encases some of the earlier medieval structure).


April 2021

Grantham's Churches and Chapels
Victorian church building in a Lincolnshire town

The latest on-line talk arranged by SLHA was given by John Manterfield on the evening of Wednesday 31 March. John's subject was Churches and Chapels in Victorian Grantham.
Grantham, like other Lincolnshire towns, grew rapidly in the Victorian period, which, partly as a consequence of this growth, was an era of chapel building and church improvement. The Census of church worship in 1851 records that about 30% of Grantham's 10870 inhabitants attended a Sunday morning service, of which 45% were Anglican and 39% Methodist.

St Wulfram's, Grantham's principal Anglican church, was extensively renovated at considerable cost under the eminent architect G G Scott in the 1860s. A new church (St John's) was built in Gothic Revival style by Salvin in 1840 at Spittlegate, close to the Hornsby's engineering works and its associated housing. The church at Manthorpe (also St John's, 1847-48), to the north of the town centre, was designed by Place of Nottingham and largely funded by the Brownlows of nearby Belton.

Grantham's Roman Catholic church (St Mary's), designed by Edward Willson of Lincoln, provided 500 seats and was opened in 1833.

The Wesleyan Methodists built a chapel in Finkin Street in 1803. To keep pace with a steep rise in numbers, a new chapel - the present building - was erected across the road in neo-classical style at a cost of £5000 with strong financial support from Richard Hornsby. The Primitive Methodists built a much more modest chapel in red brick on North Parade in 1886.

Other non-conformist chapels were built in Grantham, some with relatively short life span. The most notable of those surviving is the former Congregational Church at the corner of Castlegate.
Photographs: St John's Church Spittlegate (top) and Finkin Street Methodist Church

April 2021

Britons & Anglo-Saxons
Light on the Dark Ages

Caitlin Green has recently revised her book Britons and Anglo-Saxons: Lincolnshire AD 400-650, published by SLHA in 2012. The new edition was published in 2020.

Dr Green surveyed the new evidence and new ideas that have expanded or modified her earlier publication in an on-line talk arranged by SLHA on Wednesday 10 March. The audience for the talk exceeded 60.

Lincolnshire - especially the northern part of the present county - was at the heart of cultural and political changes in the period after the Romans departed and before the Anglo-Saxon society was established.

A great many artefacts point to the continuation of the crafts and skills associated with the Roman period. The etymology of several Lincolnshire place names reflect important trading, political or military activities in the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries.

Illustration: A 'hybrid' domestic jar from Greetwell Villa, Lincoln, showing Roman technology with Anglo-Saxon form

March 2021

Sir Joseph Banks
From Agrarian to Industrialist

Paul Scott of the Sir Joseph Banks Society gave an on-line talk to the Society on Wednesday 24 February; it was attended by over 50 members. Paul explored the significant contribution made by Joseph Banks to the beginning of the Industrial age.

Banks travelled widely and frequently across Britain and became heavily involved in several powerful society groupings - often as leading member - as well as maintaining informal contacts with many influential individuals.

He became well informed in a wide range of day-to-day issues and often acquired considerable practical knowledge of the technologies of the time. His wealth also enabled him to influence many important initiatives.

Paul Scott's illustrated presentation dealt with examples of Banks' achievements and how he became involved with such eminent individuals as Josiah Wedgwood, Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Smith. Reference was also made to Banks' wife and sister, both intelligent and knowledgeable collectors (porcelain and coins respectively).

Sir Joseph Banks, Aged 30 (Sir Joshua Reynolds)

February 2021

Lincoln Cathedral
New insight into its architecture and decoration

Dr Jonathan Foyle, author of "Lincoln Cathedral: The Biography of a Great Building", was the guest speaker at the SLHA AGM on Saturday 6 February. The title of his talk was 'New Observations on Lincoln Cathedral'.

Dr Foyle recounted the early history of the Cathedral and emphasised the significance of its dedication to St Mary. The many fine carvings of roses, other flowers and leaves in the Cathedral are symbolic of Mary and the contemporary view of her supreme position in religious observance.

February 2021

SLHA Annual General Meeting
Report and elections on-line

The Society's AGM for 2000 took place on line on Saturday 6 February. Former SLHA President, Catherine Wilson, gave an introductory welcome and the Acting Chairman, Ian George, took the chair. About 60 members were in attendance.

The meeting approved the Society's general report for 2020 and the Treasurer's 2019/20 financial reports for both Lincolnshire Heritage and SLHA.

Officers elected for the coming year were as follows:
President: Naomi Field
Chairman: Ian George
Treasurer: Chris Hewis
Committee/Team Chairmen: Archaeology: Ian George; Building Recording: David Stocker; History of Lincolnshire: Andrew Walker; Industrial Archaeology: Stephen Betteridge; Local History: Mark Acton; Publications: vacant
Additional members of Executive Committee: Caroline Crane, Ken Hollamby, Michael Jones,  Eva Moore, Ken Redmore, Stewart Squires, David Start, Neil Wright, Jonathan Fitzgibbon

Honorary Vice-Presidents: Thora Wagstaffe, Pearl Wheatley, Catherine Wilson
Trustees: Stephen Betteridge, Michael Daly, Ian George, Rosalind Mellows, Nicholas Moore, Stephen Stefaniuk, David Start, Neil Wright

The Flora Murray Award for 2020 was made to the Heritage Trust for Lincolnshire for their project 'Layers of History'

Particular thanks were expressed to Kathy Holland, SLHA Secretary, and her husband Colin for their dedicated work under difficult circumstances at Jews' Court during the pandemic.


February 2021

SLHA Awards for 2020
Presentation at 2020 AGM

The Flora Murray Award for 2020 has been presented to the Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire for their project 'Layers of History' led by Cola Jennings. The award was announced at the on-line Annual General Meeting of the Society on Saturday 6 February 2021.

This project involved over 200 volunteers who were given the background knowledge and trained in the skills to investigate, record and understand landscapes at a variety of sites in the county.

February 2021

Maidenwell Manor
An historic house and estate in the Wolds

On Sunday 31 January a large on-line audience enjoyed a presentation by Naomi Field about Maidenwell Manor. The tiny hamlet of Maidenwell, 5 miles south of Louth, was mentioned in the Domesday survey but did not grow beyond a handful of houses and never had a church - or at least the site of one has never been established.

The principal manor in the parish - a substantial holding - came into the ownership of Sir James Lancaster in the early 17th century. He had a distinguished naval career and served as a director of the East India Company. Through Lancaster's will the estate was passed on to the Worshipful Company of Skinners and subsequently to Basingstoke Corporation.

Surveys of the Maidenwell estate in 1713 and 1803 with accompanying plans give useful information about the house, garden and adjoining farmstead. The house fell into disrepair and was rebuilt by Basingstoke in 1903. It was the imminent demolition of this early 20th century property in 2000 that led to a professional survey by Naomi, the outline of which she went on to describe in her talk.

The house was of appropriate size and style for a prosperous tenant farmer, with attractive reception rooms and accommodation for several servants. Details of the house's impressive contents were set out in the advertised sale particulars which followed the tenant's death in 1908.

Basingstoke sold the estate in 1977  and now a new house is being built by the current owner. It is pleasing to note that the commemorative plaque of the 1903 house will be incorporated in the walls of the new on its adjacent site.

Maidenwell Manor - built 1903

February 2021

John Sass, MBE
Lincolnshire Windmill expert honoured

We were delighted to hear that Jon Sass has been awarded the MBE in the New Year's Honours. He is a longstanding member of the Industrial Archaeology team at SLHA and leading light in the Lincolnshire Mills Group.

Jon is widely acknowledged as the foremost authority on the windmills and watermills of Lincolnshire, and over the years he has generously shared his expertise and knowledge with countless mill owners, local historians, molinologists and others.

Jon's knowledge of mills is based on practical experience. He was part of the team that restored Lincolnshire's last surviving post mill at Wrawby in the 1960s and has had direct 'hands on' experience of many mills since.

He has also written numerous articles about Lincolnshire windmills, watermills, millers and millwrights. His book 'Windmills of Lincolnshire' (2012)  brought together much of his accumulated knowledge in concise text and historic photographs. It is a superb lasting tribute to Jon Sass and his recording of this aspect of Lincolnshire's unique heritage.

Jon Sass, MBE - Lincolnshire molinologist

January 2021

Lincolnshire Anniversaries 2021
People, Events, Buildings

* Anne Askew, Protestant martyr, born at Stallingborough

* Severe storm on Lincolnshire coast; 60 ships stranded between Boston and Newcastle
* John Whitgift, later Archbishop of Canterbury, became Dean of Lincoln

* Fossdyke between Lincoln and the Trent improved and Torksey Lock built
* Act of Parliament for improvement of River Witham for navigation
* Thomas Cowley, landowner and benefactor of Donington, died, aged 96 (17 July)
* Thomas Thistlewood, plantation owner and diarist, born at Tupholme (16 March)
* Chaplin family bought the Riseholme estate from the St Pauls and subsequently built the Hall
* West tower of St Botolph's Church, Lincoln, rebuilt by Henry Grix

* The Carholme on Lincoln's West Common first used as a racecourse
* George Bass, surgeon and navigator of Australia, born at Aswarby (30 January)
* First Stamp End lock built on the Witham in Lincoln
* Reconstruction work begun at St Luke's church, North Carlton
* The re-building of St Peter's church at Doddington, funded by Lord Delaval, began
* Cogglesford Mill built on the River Slea

* Thomas Scott (born at Bratoft), theologian and author, co-founder of the Church Missionary Society, died
* Coal mine shaft started in Coal Pit Wood, Woodhall Spa, by John Parkinson
* The Crescent at New Bolingbroke started by John Parkinson for weavers in his factory
* St Peter's Church at Frithville built
* Congregational Chapel in Horncastle built, Grade II
* Wainfleet All Saints church built on site of medieval church
* Whaplode St John church built by Jephtha Pacey
* Torksey St Peter nave, aisle and chancel rebuilt
* Sibsey Wesleyan Methodist chapel built
* Swineshead North End windmill built
* Messingham Wesleyan Methodist chapel built
* Horncastle St Mary's south aisle rebuilt
* Sleaford Primitive Methodist: first society formed

*Lincoln Corporation acquired Hartsholme Lake as source of the City's water supply
* GNR railway line opened between Firsby and Wainfleet, for goods (11 Sept) and passengers (24 October)
* Passenger services ceased on the Little Bytham to Edenham railway after only 19 years
* New C of E churches built: Apley, St Andrew; Fosdyke, All Saints; Lincoln, St Mark;
* Anglican churches remodelled or restored:  Burgh on Bain, St Helen; Claxby, St Mary; Freiston, St James; Helpringham, St Andrew; Salmonby, St Margaret; South Ormsby, St Leonard; Tealby, All Saints; Thornton le Moor, All Saints
* New Methodist chapels built: Belchford (Wesleyan); Kirkby on Bain (Primitive); Lade Bank (Wesleyan);
* New school buildings: Brant Broughton; Brattleby; Saxilby infants. Belchford school board formed and laid plans for the first school in the village
* Gainsborough Temperance Hall on Spital Terrace opened
* Mablethorpe's Lincolnshire Seaside Convalescent Home, built by James Fowler of Louth, opened
* Butterwick windmill built; it had four storeys and four sails
* Boston gasworks extended by J T B Porter & Co of Lincoln
* Boston People's Park in Boston opened by W H Wheeler
* Louth town water supply from Hubbards Hills began
* Boston Cottage Hospital opened, the forerunner of Pilgrim Hospital

* Liz Smith (film and TV actress) born, Crosby (Scunthorpe) (11 December)
* Many First World War memorials unveiled and dedicated in Lincolnshire towns and villages
* Robert H Crawford & Son, agricultural engineers of Frithville, founded
* Belton House gardens remodelled
* William Dennis, potato grower, died Kirton in Holland (7 January)
* Steve Race (composer, pianist and TV presenter) born Lincoln (1 April)

* Theddlethorpe gas terminal opened
* Samantha Cameron, who grew up at Thealby Hall on the Normanby estate and became business woman and wife of UK PM, born (18 April)
* Horncastle-Woodhall Spa railway line finally closed to goods traffic (5 April)
* Lincoln City Council offices built by John Roberts Associates
* Methodist chapels closed: Haltoft End (Freiston), Owmby by Spital, Moorby, Little Steeping, Keal Coates, Susworth, East Kirkby, Swaby, Frampton, East Stockwith, Amber Hill, Partney, Beaumont Street (Gainsborough).
* Lincoln St Marks church demolished
* Village school closures: Swarby, Stainby, Wickenby, Timberland, Silk Willoughby, West Deeping, Stainfield, Stubton, Dowsby, Claxby, Old Somerby, Irnham, Upton cum Kexby, Kirkby Underwood, Pickworth,
* Laceby Road Methodist Church, Grimsby, opened
* Bracebridge Heath became an independent parish
* First phase of new Pilgrim Hospital in Boston opened

January 2021