29 September 2012

BBC Radio Nottingham's 'Lost Houses of Nottinghamshire' features

BBC Radio Nottingham's series of features on the lost houses of Nottinghamshire has started. Sadly, I missed the one on Clumber which went out on the 20th September but thanks to the BBC iPlayer you can still hear the one on Nuthall Temple which was broadcast on Andy Whittaker's show yesterday morning. Be warned - it includes a fair amount of me droning on!
Dates for future episodes (plus some information and photos of Clumber and Nuthall Temple) are available on BBC Radio Nottingham's Facebook page.

22 September 2012

Welbeck Abbey tour

The Red Drawing Room in 1906.
I spent a fascinating couple of hours on Thursday afternoon on a guided tour of the state rooms at Welbeck Abbey. This summer is the first time the house has been open to the public for many years and places on the tours sold out within a day or so.
The state rooms (including the Swan and Red drawing rooms, the dining room, the library, the print gallery and Gothic Hall) are very impressive and portraits of Holles, Harley, Bentinck, Ogle and Cavendish family members cover many of the walls. Our guide, Cheryl, was excellent and I was amused to see that someone in the family enjoys Jamaican Ska - I spotted the CD cover in the Gothic Hall!
Sadly, we didn't get to see the underground ballroom (which needs major restoration work) or any of the 5th Duke's tunnels but what we did see was well worth the £10 ticket.

19 September 2012

Nottinghamshire Archives news

Nottinghamshire Archives programme of events and activities this autumn/winter is now available on their website. This includes:
  • Behind-the-scenes tours of the archives building
  • Lunchtime talks on the different architectural styles of buildings in the county, Nottingham architect T C Howitt, the development of Forest Fields in Nottingham, the history of Nottinghamshire churches
  • Workshops on parish records, Southwell Minster archives, sources for the English Civil Wars in Nottinghamshire, occupations and trades of our ancestors and wills and inventories
  • Archive skills workshops
  • Workshops on The Old Streets of Nottingham (using photographs and maps) and Wikipedia Workshop (updating heritage content online)
Full details and booking information is available here.

A new finding aid to business records held by Nottinghamshire Archives has recently been made available. It is organised by business name and also by business category.

Documents of the month:

The Nottinghamshire Historian, Autumn/Winter 2012

The latest edition of The Nottinghamshire Historian journal has just arrived. Contents include:
  • Notes on a nineteenth century childhood (memories of Nottingham by Sam Kirk who emigrated to the United States in 1880)
  • The twice-celebrated peace 1918-19
  • Growing up in the vicarage in the 1930s (memories of childhood in Sutton-in-Ashfield)
  • Book reviews
Further information from the NLHA website.

The Power and the Glory: churchmen of note in Nottinghamshire', 22 October 2012

The Nottinghamshire Local History Association are holding an event entitled 'THE POWER… AND THE GLORY: Churchmen of Note in Nottinghamshire' on Saturday, 22 October at The Village Hall, Ravenshead. Please note that Dr David Marcombe has kindly agreed to speak in place of Canon Michael Austin who is currently unwell.

Rethinking Luddism in Nottinghamshire: 22 September 2012

Dr Matthew Roberts will be giving a talk revisiting the Luddism of Nottinghamshire framework knitters on Saturday, 22nd September 2012, at 2pm in The Sparrow's Nest, St Anns.
"As is well known, the epicentre(s) of Luddism was not in Nottingham itself but in the surrounding villages. Many of these villages were still essentially rural communities. The Luddism of the villages was part of a repertoire of protest acts (arson, poaching, even robbery and attacks on rural property), the origins of which were to be found in the traditions and customs of the English rural community. The Luddites were not semi-professional criminals divorced from their wider community. Rather, Luddite cells grow organically from kinship, neighbourhood and trade connections. The talk will also challenge the view that Luddism in Nottinghamshire was constitutional and moderate."
To entice you further, the poster for the event states "there WILL BE TEA. There MAY BE CAKE"!

15 September 2012

D. H. Lawrence and the Nottinghamshire countryside feature on BBC's Countryfile (Sunday 16 September 2012)

Moorgreen Reservoir, near Eastwood
BBC 1's Countryfile programme to be broadcast at 7.30 tomorrow night will feature D. H. Lawrence and the countryside around Eastwood that inspired him. The programme will also explore how the county's old industrial landscapes are now being transformed into havens for wildlife.

Further information and the programme itself (after broadcast on Sunday) are available here on the BBC iplayer.

12 September 2012

Nuthall Temple and Aspley Hall

I spent yesterday morning with Andy Whittaker of BBC Radio Nottingham wandering over the sites of Nuthall Temple and Aspley Hall for a series on Nottinghamshire's 'lost houses' to be broadcast in October.
Strictly speaking we didn't wander over the site of Nuthall Temple as that would suicidal - it lies under the M1 just north of Junction 26! Instead, we had to stand near the one publicly-accessible remnant of the house, an imposing but weather-worn gate pier from the 1750s which still stands by the roadside in the centre of Nuthall.

Nuthall Temple is a major architectural loss. It was one of only four houses in England inspired by Andrea Palladio's Villa Rotonda (which is located just outside the Italian city of Vicenza) and the only one built outside the south-east. The local landowner, Sir Charles Sedley, commissioned architect, astronomer and garden designer Thomas Wright to build him the house in 1754 and by 1757 Sir Charles had moved in.
One of the glories of Nuthall Temple was the domed octagonal hall which was 18 metres high and decorated with exquisite plasterwork by Thomas Roberts of Oxford depicting the subjects of music, sport, science, and warfare; there were also medallions representing eight of Aesop's fables.
The estate was owned by the Holden family from 1819 to 1926 when Rev Robert Holden died and both house and land were put up for sale. At the auction in November 1927 various farms and parts of the estate sold but no one was interested in buying the house itself so, in April 1929, the fixtures and fittings were sold at auction in 528 lots and the fabric of the house itself was bought for £800 by J. H. Brough, a firm of housebreakers from Beeston. On 31 July 1929, J. H. Brough and a reporter from the Nottingham Evening News set fire to wooden props under-pinning the walls of the west wing and this part of the house was demolished. Further demolition work continued over the following weeks but the house was solidly built and parts of the east front remained standing for the next 37 years until contractors building the M1 bulldozed them in advance of the road.
The eminent architectural historian, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, called the destruction of Nuthall Temple "a disgrace" and it is difficult not to agree with him.
By contrast, Aspley Hall was on the surface a fairly unprepossessing three-storey house on the north-west outskirts of Nottingham. However, appearances can be deceptive and the fabric was found to incorporate a late medieval brick tower. A 1554 rental of lands formerly belonging to Lenton Priory mentions the house (which was by that time in a semi-ruinous state) and it is likely that Aspley Hall was originally a hunting lodge for the Prior. The brick tower is specified in the rental and it would have contained the Prior's solar or private bedchamber. Even heads of monastic houses needed a retreat to escape to!
The house belonged to the Willoughby family for many years until it was sold in 1925 to Alderman G. E. Taylor. Taylor died in 1965 and despite his son's best efforts to find someone to take the house on no one was interested and the house was demolished in 1968 to be replaced by an estate of 4-bed detached houses.

11 September 2012

Nottinghamshire stories featured in The BBC's The Great British Story

I've only just got around to watching the last few episodes of Michael Wood's splendid series, 'The Great British Story: a People's History' which was broadcast this summer and was delighted to see that Nottinghamshire stories are featured in two episodes:
  • Episode 5, 'Lost Worlds and New Worlds', visits Scrooby and north Nottinghamshire and discusses the importance of the Pilgrim Fathers (according to one local, "America began here in Scrooby", so ponder on that claim!)
  • Episode 6, 'The Age of Revolution', includes a sequence shot in Upton parish church with Professor Martyn Bennett of Nottingham Trent University, which used the entries in the Upton parish constable's accounts to illustrate the impact of the English Civil Wars on village life in the 1640s
Regrettably, these episodes can no longer be viewed on iPlayer. The BBC microsite is here: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00vyqz7

3 September 2012

Save Trent Lane Depot campaign

Chris Matthews is running a campaign to save the distinctive buildings of Trent Lane Depot from demolition. The site was once described as "Nottingham's Highway to the Sea" and consists of two impressive concrete warehouses and a basin built between 1928 and 1931. Further information on the depot and the campaign is here: