Events and excursions, Autumn 2019

Excursion report: Fotheringay, Lyveden Church and Kirby Hall.

Thursday 12™ September                    Leaders: Alan Langton And Pete Smith

After our coach turned off the A1, the octagonal tower of Fotheringhay Church became clearly visible to us. We were warmly greeted by Mr Bill James who had prepared coffee and tea and cake for us, before he told us about the extraordinary history of this magnificent building - now only half the length that it once had been. A considerable cleaning and refurbishment programme has created a most excellent church, helped by the large number of clear glass windows which on this sunny day helped the vision. The details about the royal connection with Fotheringhay were usefully explained by Bill, especially with reference to King Richard III and Mary Queen of Scots. After an opportunity to walk around the church, and the possibility of walking to the Mound where the famous execution took place, we enjoyed lunch at the Falcon Inn. Our journey to Kirby Hall through delightful Northamptonshire countryside gave us a very different initial view of Kirby when compared with Fotheringhay. The Thoroton Society’s own historical buildings expert, Peter Smith, then led us systematically through the various stages of the growth of this once significant country house, Through evidence of years of neglect, the work of English Heritage and Pete were able to reveal the efforts of a sixteenth and seventeenth century family endeavouring to make their mark on the fashionable society of their day. Not only the size of the structure, but also what was left of the spectacular decoration of the rooms, and the extent of the gardens, makes it clear that here was once a significant example of one family ‘keeping up with the rest of high society’. Peter’s expert knowledge gave members a vivid image of a once glorious ‘palace’. We are most grateful Peter for his part in such a memorable day.

Alan Langton


This year we had a superb lunch in a superb venue - Kelham House (aka The Red House). The staff were most attentive, efficient and friendly. Seventy members and guests were booked for the lunch and despite concerns about nearby flooding, all attending were extremely happy with the event.

After lunch, as is our custom, we raised our glasses for the toast to the Queen, proposed by John Beckett, followed by the toast to the Society proposed by Robert James - a short, succinct and very appropriate tribute to the Society and its namesake, Dr Robert Thoroton and his inspiring antiquarian friend, Sir William Dugdale of Warwickshire, which is Rob's home county. President Adrian Henstock responded to the toast with an interesting and amusing piece on a link with Portugal and a strange meeting.

Following our meal Dr Richard Gaunt gave an illustrated talk on the life and career of William Ewart Gladstone, at one time Member of Parliament for Newark, which was most interesting and raised a number of comments and questions.

A most enjoyable lunchtime spent in Kelham House.

Look out for details of the next lunch to be found on your 2020 programme, in the newsletter and on a flyer sent out in a future mailing - it will be held on November 7th 2020 - put the date in your diary now!


Only six members were able to attend, and there was some discussion as to the possibility of a ‘virtual’ group, on Facebook, or a blog attached to the Society’s website. No decision was reached.

Current research reported included:

1       A study of the membership of the Society during the first 25 years of its existence. This might form the basis of a publication for the 125th Anniversary of the Society in 2022;

2       An 18th century Nottingham clock and watchmaker, Joseph Kirk, whose daughter and grandson continues the business. There is a longcase clock by Joseph Kirk in Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire;

3       The history of Wollaton Hall and Park 1680 to 1925;

4       The navigability of the River Leen;

5       Lord Lovell and the Battle of East Stoke;

6       Enclosures around Nottingham;

7       The boat houses by the River Trent near the Forest Football Ground;

8       A lifeboat, the Robin Hood, which was purchased by subscriptions from Nottingham people and brought to Nottingham in 1867 for a demonstration on the Trent.

Anyone interested in the Research Group, which meets twice a year, please contact John Wilson at You will be very welcome to join us.