31 December 2010

New book on the Pierrepont family

Ashbracken of Radcliffe-on-Trent has recently published a lavishly-illustrated, comprehensive history of one of Nottinghamshire's most illustrious families, the Pierreponts. Their extensive estates were centred on Holme Pierrepont and Thoresby and members of the family were prominent in military, political and sporting fields. Amongst their strong-willed women were "a daughter whose broken marriage laid the way for modern divorce; another who introduced inoculation against smallpox; and a bigamous duchess."
Further information is available on the Ashbracken website.

30 December 2010

Recent publications from Nottinghamshire County Council

The County Council has recently published the following:
  • Turning Back the Pages on Nottinghamshire Canals by Ray and Joanne Bickel (see article in the Nottingham Evening Post)
  • An outline history of the Railways of Nottinghamshire by Michael A. Vanns
  • Map of Nottinghamshire from The English Counties Delineated by Thomas Moule, 1837
  • Politics, Law and Society in Nottinghamshire: The Diaries of Godfrey Tallents of Newark 1829-1839, edited by Richard A Gaunt
See the local studies publications page on the County Council website for further details and an order form.

Watson Fothergill's buildings in Nottingham

The BBC Nottingham website has an interesting article on the exhuberant buildings of Victorian architect, Watson Fothergill, which are a characteristic feature of Nottingham. The article is accompanied by two short videos presented by Dominic Heale:
  • A bus tour of central Nottingham to show some of Watson Fothergill's finest buildings
  • A look at the restoration of the impressive former Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Bank on Thurland Street
For further information on the architect and his buildings see:

    10 November 2010

    Archaeologists to study Viking meeting place near Warsop

    A mound in Sherwood Forest ("Thynghowe") is to be investigated in January by archaeologists from Nottinghamshire County Council and University College, London. The County Council team will be conducting a topographical survey of the mound and its surrounding landscape and the University College archaeologists will undertake a magnetometry survey.
    Thynghowe is said to be a Viking meeting-place, also known as a "Thing", and was discovered five years ago by a couple from Rainworth.

    5 November 2010

    BBC's Turn Back Time Flickr project

    "Turn Back Time is a new BBC TV living-history series that transports four empty shops and a group of contemporary shop-keeping families back to the high street's heyday in the 1870s." The series will also cover the families through the following 100 years.

    The BBC have a number of projects and activities accompanying the series, including a group on the photo-sharing website, Flickr, that allows people to upload "then and now" photos of high street shops in their area.

    Nottinghamshire museums, libraries and the archives office are also running events (workshops, talks, walks and exhibitions) in association with the project.

    22 October 2010

    Nottingham University Local History Seminars 2010-11

    Nottingham University's School of History is running a series of Saturday Local History Seminars this autumn/winter. They start at 10am and admission costs £5. The programme is as follows:
    • 9th October 2010 - Prof J V Beckett: The state of local history today
    • 13th November 2010 - Sue Clayton: Counters and conflicts? Village shops c.1880-1954
    • 11th December 2010 - Dr Kate Holland: The forgotten world of the choir-band
    • 12th March 2011 - Prof David Hey: Surnames, DNA and family history
    Further information is available on the School of History website.

    19 October 2010

    Durban House, Eastwood, under threat again

    It is depressing to read that the future of Durban House in Eastwood, home to the D H Lawrence Heritage Centre, is under threat yet again. Broxtowe Borough Council, who owns and runs the building, is trying to save money in the face of severe cuts to its budgets. Prominent figures in the arts such as Salman Rushdie, Glenda Jackson, Martin Amis, Lord Putnam and Ken Russell have published an open letter arguing "DH Lawrence is one of the world's most important writers and that he has a unique place in British culture that should be celebrated" and expressing their disquiet at the council's proposal to close the DH Lawrence heritage centre in his home town of Eastwood.

    3 October 2010

    Laxton on TV

    The open field system at Laxton was featured on the second episode of Michael Wood's fascinating series, the Story of England. The episode (and the previous one) can be viewed on iPlayer. Further details are available on the BBC FOUR website.
    Other websites on Laxton:

    28 September 2010

    TO THE CASTLE! A walk through Nottingham retracing the 1831 Reform Riots, 10th October 2010

    The Nottingham and Notts Radical Histreh group have organised a walk retracing the 1831 Reform Riots on Sunday 10th October at 2pm. 

    11 September 2010

    Council plans to set up new museum and national centre for the English Civil War in Newark

    Newark & Sherwood District Council have applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a £2.8 million grant to support a project to turn the 16th century Magnus Buildings on Appletongate into a museum incorporating galleries devoted to the English Civil War.

    26 August 2010

    Prehistoric and Roman remains uncovered during widening of the A46

    Archaeologists working as part of the Highways Agency scheme to widen the A46 between Newark and Widmerpool have uncovered prehistoric flint tools and flint knapping debris dating from 11,000BC, beaker pottery and a Bronze Age ring ditch near Stragglethorpe. Roman buildings, including a stone-lined well and building foundations have also been excavated.

    14 August 2010

    New exhibition on the history of Nottingham Castle

    A new exhibition, 'Fragments from Nottingham Castle', tracing the history of this city landmark from medieval fortification to the country's first municipal art gallery outside London, has recently opened. 100 objects from the site, including stone, furniture and furnishing along with models and paintings tell the story of the castle. The exhibition is in the Nottingham Story gallery.

    Further information is available on the Nottingham City Council website:

    Who do you think you are? Monty Don's Retford connections.

    I was interested to see my old home town of Retford make an appearance on this week's edition of "Who do you think you are?" Monty Don's great-great-grandfather, the Reverend Charles Hodge, was vicar of St Saviour's church on Welham Road in the 1840s and 1850s. Monty found several of his printed sermons at Nottingham University manuscripts department, one of which was a "fire and brimstone" tirade against the poor of his parish for not being sufficiently pious!

    Intriguingly, his wife Anne emigrated to New Zealand in the early 1850s, leaving Charles and their nine children behind. A few years later she came back to Retford and most of the family emigrated to New Zealand. However, in 1859 Charles left the family and headed back to England but tragically drowned when the steam clipper Royal Charter sank off the coast of Anglesey on its way to Liverpool. Anne remained in New Zealand and died there in 1890.

    The programme can be viewed on the BBC's iPlayer site:

    9 August 2010

    BBC Hands on History website

    The BBC Hands on History website has recently been launched. Initially the website focuses on the Normans and includes an interactive map of the UK featuring walks, trails and great day trips to Norman sites and buildings around the country: Southwell Minster and the early Norman church of St Mary and St Martin in Blyth are included.

    The website also includes free activity packs which families can download, including 'I Spy' guides for Norman churches and castles.


    24 July 2010

    New Nottinghamshire Heritage Gateway entry on railways in Nottinghamshire

    I've added a section to the Nottinghamshire Heritage Gateway website on how to go about researching the history of railways in the county. The introduction offers an overview of railway developments, from the construction of Midland Counties Railway's line from Derby to Nottingham in 1839 to the opening of the East Midlands Parkway Station near Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in 2009. I've also produced a series of maps of the railway network in 1880, 1922, 1946 and 2010 to demonstrate the rapid growth of the lines in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the dramatic shrinkage of the network by the close of the last century.

    18 July 2010

    The Road to Fotheringhay, 21st - 29th July 2010

    Wakefield Historical Society is organising a journey starting this week to commemorate the 550th anniversary of the death of Richard, Duke of York, at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460. The journey will follow the route along which his body was later taken for reburial from Pontefract to Fotheringhay, staying each night at the places where the body rested. The Nottinghamshire section of the journey include the following events:
    Friday 23rd July 2010 at the Church of St Mary and St Martin, Blyth

    6 pm Vespers of the Dead

    6.30 pm Talk Seeing salvation and sacred imagery at Blyth Priory Church by Dr Jenny Alexander

    Saturday 24th July 2010

    Morning walk west of Retford

    Two-mile walk led by local historian Joan Board, along a most atmospheric section of the route to the west of Retford, little altered by the developments of the last centuries but part of the main road to London at the period of Richard's funeral. Two ancient inns with a colourful history, now private houses, mark the start and finish of the walk. The walk is open to anyone, but please contact us in advance to arrange final times and place to meet on 01924 373658.

    At the Church of St Nicholas, Tuxford le Clay

    6 pm Vespers of the Dead

    6.30 pm Talk Laxton - a medieval agricultural survival by Professor John Beckett

    Sunday 25th July 2010

    Afternoon walk at North Muskham

    Walk led by local historian Madge Brown and the North Muskham History Group from North Muskham to South Muskham just north of Newark. The walk is open to anyone, but please contact us in advance to arrange final times and place to meet on 01924 373658.

    At the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Newark

    6 pm Vespers of the Dead

    6.30 pm Talk Medieval Pilgrimage by Dr David Marcombe

    See the Road to Fotheringhay website for further information.

    29 June 2010

    Politics, Law and Society in Nottinghamshire: The Diaries of Godfrey Tallents of Newark, 1829-1839

    An edition of the diaries of a Newark solicitor which throws light on the early days of the future Prime Minister, William Gladstone, when he was a local MP is being launched today.

    Dr Richard Gaunt of Nottingham University has edited the diaries of Godfrey Tallents into one volume which mentions Tallent's friendship with Gladstone in the 1830s. "The diary also presents a vivid picture of local and national politics at the time of the Great Reform Act of 1832 and details some of the violently contested parliamentary elections in Newark."

    Further information is available from the Nottinghamshire County Council website:

    28 June 2010

    Thoroton's History of Nottinghamshire online

    Dr Robert Thoroton's History of Nottinghamshire, originally published in 1677 and re-published by John Throsby in three volumes with additions in the 1790s, has been transcribed and the full text made available on the British History website:
    Two volumes of this edition of the book are also available courtesy of the Google Books digitisation programme:

    24 June 2010

    Online exhibition on medieval Nottingham

    Nottinghamshire Archives have put together a fascinating online exhibition on medieval Nottingham. Subjects covered include:
    • the town's topography
    • governing the town
    • churches
    • guilds
    • markets
    • law and order
    • trades
    A wide range of historic documents have been included to provide insights into life in the town. I particularly enjoyed reading the complaints to the Mickeltourn Jury in 1395: it appears that Nottingham was full of traders overcharging the townsfolk for poor quality goods and the inhabitants were being reported for flinging "ordure" all over the place! Some things never change...

    5 June 2010

    The Festival of British Archaeology 2010 in Nottinghamshire

    Details of events in Nottinghamshire are now available on the CBA website. These include open days at the Besthorpe and Langford excavations to the north of Newark, sessions with Finds Liaison Officers, an open day at the Calverton Iron-Age roundhouse, behind-the-scenes visits to museums, family-orientated activities etc.

    Go to the What's on page of the CBA website and type in "nottinghamshire" in the search box (the interactive map doesn't seem to be working at the moment!):

    23 May 2010

    Event: Landscape History of Sherwood Forest and Nottinghamshire, 11 September 2010

    "This one day meeting will consider new and exciting research by archaeologists, geographers, historians and other scholars on the landscape history of Sherwood Forest and Nottinghamshire from the Bronze Age to the Twentieth Century. The meeting will be at The Space in the Nottingham Contemporary art gallery in the Lace Market, Nottingham."

    Booking form and further details can be downloaded from here:

    17 May 2010

    British Pathe newsreels - help wanted for Nottinghamshire collection

    The archive of over 90,000 British Pathe newsreels has been digitised and made available online. Approximately 75 clips of Nottinghamshire-related material has been identified and grouped together here:
    British Pathe are keen to engage with local historians and experts in the county to develop a more accurate description of these clips. The attached letter from Jack Cullen, Media Officer at British Pathe, provides further information on the project:
    Jack's contact details are:
    Email: notts@britishpathe.com
    British Pathé Ltd
    The Media Centre
    3 – 8 Carburton Street
    W1W 5AJ
    Tel: 0207 665 8349

    16 May 2010

    Project to laser map Nottingham's ancient caves

    Dr David Walker of Nottingham University is running a two-year project to map the exact shapes of all Nottingham's sandstone caves by using laser technology.

    The plan is to produce an online virtual tour of all 450 caves.

    The project website is here:

    Transactions of the Thoroton Society, vol 113 (2009)

    The latest Transactions of the Thoroton Society - the journal for Nottinghamshire history and archaeology is now available. Contents include:
    • A Late Third-century Coin-hoard from Little Morton, Babworth, Nottinghamshire by Malcolm J. Dolby, Jen Eccles, Daryl Garton, Ruth S. Leary and Gwladys Monteil
    • Excavations outside Church Hole, Creswell Crags: The First Three Seasons (2006-8) by Paul B. Pettitt, Roger M. Jacobi, Andrew T. Chamberlain, Alistair W.G. Pike, Danielle Schreve, Ian Wall, Robert Dinnis and Rebecca Wragg Sykes
    • The Nottinghamshire History Lecture 2009. Stevenson Revisited: A Fresh Look at Nottingham's Borough Records, 1400-1600 by Judith Mills
    • Timothy Pusey of Selston Hall, Nottinghamshire (c. 1560-1647) by Clive Leivers
    • Landlord and Tenants: The Impact of the Civil Wars on the Clare Estates in Nottinghamshire, 1642-1649 by Peter Seddon
    • Early Nineteenth Century Weather Records taken at Bromley House, Nottingham by John Wilson
    • A Nottinghamshire Historian: Arthur Cossons (1893-1963) by Neil Cossons
    • The Thoroton Society and the Victoria County History by John Beckett
    • Archaeology in Nottinghamshire 2009 edited by Christopher Robinson
    Further information on the Thoroton Society website.

    11 May 2010

    World War 2 Heritage at Wollaton Hall

    Having just revisited the Trent & Peak Archaeology Trust website I was interested to learn of their recent project to explore the WW2 history of Wollaton Park in Nottingham. I was aware that the elite 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment of the US 82nd Airborne Division was based there in 1944 prior to taking part in D-Day but hadn't realised that a POW camp for 4,000 German prisoners had been built in 1945.

    A report, brochure and podcast can be downloaded from here: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/tpa/news_and_events/index.htm

    24 April 2010

    Heritage Day in Jacksdale, 24 April 2010

    Spent an interesting hour or so wandering around the stalls at Jacksdale's Heritage Day this lunchtime. It was a fascinating mix of themes and periods: from medieval finds uncovered by Channel 4's Time Team at Codnor Castle a couple of years ago to lengths of late 18th/early 19th century iron rails (for transporting coal from pit to canal wharf) discovered locally a few weeks ago. It was delightful to see so many people milling about!

    23 April 2010

    Robin Hood Month, May 2010

    The county and city councils are busy promoting a wide range of Robin Hood-related events planned for next month. 'Robin Hood Month' is designed to tie in with the release on 14 May of the blockbuster movie, starring Russell Crow and Cate Blanchett.

    There are talks on Nottinghamshire in the middle ages, the medieval architecture of the county, medieval herbs, a day school organised by Nottinghamshire Archives, story walks in Sherwood Forest, archery lessons and much, much more:

    14 April 2010

    Evelyn Gibbs and the Murals at St Martin's Church, Bilborough (14th April 2010)

    Robin Hood in The Guardian

    There's an very interesting and entertaining article in today's Guardian newspaper about the Robin Hood legend. Among the several experts the journalist talks to is David Crook, editor of the Thoroton Society Record Series publications and former assistant keeper at The National Archives. David is currently writing a book about Robin Hood and thinks he has traced him to Yorkshire in 1225 (not music to the ears of Nottinghamshire's tourist industry!). He has discovered a character called Robert Hod (described as 'an outlaw and evildoer of our land') who may be the same person as Robert of Wetherby who was hunted down by the Sheriff of Nottingham and his men.

    Fascinating stuff so I recommend you take a look at the whole article:

    9 April 2010

    Pentagon Local History Society exhibition at Elston: 8-9 May 2010

    Over the weekend of 8th and 9th May, the Pentagon Local History Society will be holding a second exhibition to display the results of their Lottery-funded heritage project. The exhibition will include a photographic archive, oral history from the last 100 years, the history of the parish church and details of burials, and a computerised archive containing details of a wide range of historical material and press releases from 1900 to today which are relevant to Elston. The Society would particularly welcome visitors from other local history societies in the county.

    The exhition will be held at Elston Village Hall between 10.00am and 4.00pm. For more information contact Stan Firth, Secretary of the Pentagon Society, on sfirth7@talktalk.net.

    The Pentagon Society covers the following villages in south-east Nottinghamshire: East Stoke, Elston, Shelton, Sibthorpe, Syerston, Flawborough, Kilvington, Alverton and Staunton.

    13 March 2010

    Recent additions to the Nottinghamshire Heritage Gateway

    The latest research pathways to be added to the Nottinghamshire Heritage Gateway website are:

    • Sherwood Forest by Andy Nicholson
    • Police and Policing by Dr Denise Amos

    Go to: www.nottsheritagegateway.org.uk/

    23 February 2010

    The Nottinghamshire Historian (Spring/Summer, 2010)

    The latest edition of The Nottinghamshire Historian has just been published. Articles include:

    • Two Daves and the 1984 miners' strike
    • On the campaign trail Georgian style: the Newark by-election of 1829
    • Nottingham and the great influenza pandemic of 1918–1919
    • Matthew Clay
    More information is available on the Local Historian website: http://www.local-history.co.uk/nlha/nottshistn.html

    18 February 2010

    Grants for Nottinghamshire churches

    English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund have awarded grants amounting to £250,000 to restore a handful of Nottinghamshire churches. £107,000 will be given to St. Martin of Tours church in Bilborough and smaller awards will be given to St. George's in North Clifton and St. Wilfrid's in South Muskham and The Roman Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd in Woodthorpe, Nottingham.

    English Heritage press release: http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/detail.aspx?NewsAreaId=2&ReleaseID=411359&SubjectId=15&DepartmentMode=true
    Nottingham Evening Post article: http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/homenews/Notts-churches-given-163-250-000-boost-preserve-heritage/article-1842283-detail/article.html

    2 February 2010

    Blue plaques for Nottingham buildings

    Nottingham Civic Society is starting a scheme to commemorate famous people and places in the city by erected Blue Plaques. The first two plaques will go up in the Spring on the Primark Store on Long Row (to commemorate the long-demolished Black Boy Hotel) and on a house on Manton Crescent in Lenton (marking the birthplace of Alan Sillitoe, author of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning).

    The society is compiling a plaque list and asking for suggestions: please email hilarysilvester2002@yahoo.co.uk.