Events and excursions, Autumn 2007

13 September – Nottinghamshire Archives and the Papers of Sir Frank and Lady Doris Stenton

Sir Frank Stenton, the noted Anglo-Saxonist and one-time vice chancellor of Reading University, died forty years ago, and his wife Lady Doris, a noted medievalist in her own right, four years later. Subsequently many papers in the family archive relating to Nottinghamshire, where Sir Frank’s forebears had been Southwell solicitors, were deposited in Nottinghamshire Archives. Thoroton members took the opportunity to view some of the collection, and to hear a talk by Dr David Crook on the scholarly work of Sir Frank and Lady Doris. David, who was a student at Reading but never met the Stentons, mentioned some of their more endearing family habits – the poached egg for Friday tea being particularly memorable! Stenton was responsible for the discussion of Nottinghamshire Domesday in the Victoria County History volume on the county, and was also joint editor of the place-names volume. Both Stentons were buried at Halloughton.

During the evening Mark Dorrington, Nottinghamshire County Archivist, told members of the Society about the work of the Archives, and David Ackrel, chief conservator, talked about his work which includes conserving damaged archives and rebinding historic books; and members also had a chance to view the strong room. John Beckett

9 October – The Keith Train Lecture (in association with Nottingham Civic Society)

This year’s Keith Train lecture was given by Jerry Spencer, a town planner and urban designer. He came from Hackney in 1992 on his appointment as Head of the Conservation and Design Team within the City’s Planning Department, and left in 1999 to become Head of Planning Services with Gloucester City Council. He now has a private practice.

Jerry came back to Nottingham earlier this year to see how the city had changed, to see how his projects were faring, and to take some recent photographs. All of this preparatory work helped to make his lecture both instructive and entertaining. He opened with a visual tour of some of the mistakes, disasters perhaps, of the 1960s and ‘70s where buildings were often out of human scale. He continued, with relish, giving an overview of his time in the city, with particular attention to his team’s work in the Lace Market, on the canal side and with the location of street furniture.

Whilst giving personal approval to a few of the more recent developments in the city, Jerry offered some criticism of the aggressive nature of several taller buildings, which he felt were not ‘people friendly’. A fair sized crowd considered this a good night out.
Ken Brand

13 October – ‘Two Centuries of Observers and Recorders of Weather in Nottinghamshire’

Our Treasurer John Wilson, who has had a lifelong interest in meteorology, lectured on 200 years of weather recording in Nottinghamshire. He first considered the general aspects of weather recording, the original being found in old diaries and letters from such people as Major Hayman Rooke in Mansfield. There were reports of people freezing to death in 1776 whilst walking between Redhill and Seven Mile Bottom. In the second part of his talk John named a number of amateur scientists with a passionate interest in meteorology, including Edward Lowe of Highfield House (now part of Nottingham University), a founder member of the British Meteorological Society in 1850, and James Archer, appointed librarian to Bromley House Library in 1821. The library contains a Treatise on Atmosphere Phenomena (1846), which records a great hailstorm of that year. Other local meteorologists included Henry Mellish (of Hodsock Priory) and John Deverill Walker of Forge Mill and Ruddington. John concluded his fascinating lecture with Watnall Weather Centre, which operated between 1941-95 and was the training ground for Jack Scott and John Kettley of BBC fame.
Penny Messenger

10 November –The Nottinghamshire History Lecture:‘The Medieval Stained Glass of Nottinghamshire’

Our annual Nottinghamshire History lecture allowed us to recall our gratitude to the county council for their financial aid towards its costs. Our speaker Dr Allan Barton studied at York for his PhD on ‘The Stained Glass of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire 1400-1550’. These are on his website at Although not as rich in remaining stained glass as some adjacent counties, Nottinghamshire has excellent examples: sites include Fledborough, Newark and Southwell. The images in his excellent PowerPoint presentation allowed us close examination of details. He took us chronologically through the stained glass either remaining or now destroyed, but recorded in written accounts or drawings such by as the 17th century antiquarian William Dugdale. Differences in execution were explained from yellow staining, international gothic or soft style, stipple shading and linear style. In the later medieval period stained glass can often be related back to known individuals – indeed its purpose might be described as an ‘intercessory machine’, being part of an endowment to a church for prayers for the soul. Dr Barton is currently working on the medieval stained glass of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire for the British Academy project Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi (CVMA) We can visit this website in the months ahead to see how his work progresses, and we look forward to eventual publication. 
Leslie Cram.