Events and excursions, Autumn/Winter 2006/07

Jennie Jordan

Saturday 11 November 2006: The Nottinghamshire History Lecture: Men Behaving Badly? Gentlemen, Rogues and Fellows in Seventeenth-Century Nottingham – Jennie Jordan

Jennie Jordan (pictured right) is currently writing up her PhD at Nottingham Trent University on ‘Becoming a Man: Prescriptions of Manhood and Manliness in Early Modern England’. She is also convenor of a successful early modern social history forum called FORWARD. In her lecture Ms Jordan presented some of her research which was quite wide-ranging. Seventeenth-century men were concerned with order and stability to maintain their patriarchal authority in their everyday lives, whether at home or in society outside it. How this was carried out could cause a great deal of anxiety, as men were required to exert control over themselves in order to gain control over their wives, children and others. Marriage was seen as the ultimate state of social acceptance, and unmarried men were regarded as not fully able to participate in society. The test of manhood was the ability to provide for a wife and family, and failure to do so could subject a man to various (largely economic) penalties. Great efforts were made to get a man to acknowledge and support his illegitimate children, in order not to burden the (often meagre) resources of the local parish. Drunken husbands were vilified, particularly in contemporary popular ballads, as this was an obvious demonstration of lack of control, and being drunk was ‘the shipwreck of the mind’. The lecture was illustrated by examples of the charmingly primitive, often amusing, woodcuts found with the printed ballads of the time. These aroused a great deal of interest, and the many questions after the lecture demonstrated how Ms Jordan had gained the audience’s attention. 
Trevor Foulds

Peter Gibson

Saturday 9 December 2006: The Christmas Story in Stained Glass – Peter Gibson

This last lecture of the 2006 programme attracted a large audience. We were transported by a series of excellent slides on a journey not only through many ecclesiastical buildings of Europe, but also through the New Testament accounts of the Nativity story. We were handsomely treated to a delightful and moving journey, as well as to living examples of the photographic skills and religious faith of the presenter, Peter Gibson, FSA, OBE. Peter has lived most of his life under the walls of York Minster and, like his father before him, has lovingly cared for and restored the stained glass of York, as well as that of twelve other cathedrals and over two thousand parish churches. We followed the journey around some of the windows of these buildings, and were able to observe the spiritual message and nuances provided by the many craftsmen across the ages in their depiction of the Biblical accounts of the Annunciation and the Nativity.

Peter has been justifiably awarded a range of honours for his significant work by countries throughout Europe, as well as being awarded the Freedom of the City of London, and the St William's Silver Cross of the Archbishop of York. The Thoroton Society has been most privileged to have enjoyed such a memorable afternoon.
Alan Langton

Saturday 13 January 2007: Archaeology Lecture. The Newark Iron Age Gold Torc - Rachel Atherton and J D Hill

Rachel Atherton
J D Hill

A full house got the year off to an excellent start with a fascinating lecture on the Newark gold tore, given jointly by Rachel Atherton (right), Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) officer for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and curator at Derby Museum, and J D Hill, an Iron Age specialist and director of research at the British Museum. Also on hand was Maurice Richardson, the metal detectorist and keen amateur archaeologist who found the tore in a ploughed field near Newark in 2005 - not surprisingly, the most spectacular find of his thirty-five years in archaeology. Rachel outlined PAS's work, which deals with the reporting and identification of casual finds of archaeological objects, 92% of which are made by detectorists. The Newark torc, a gold and silver alloy neck band weighing 700g (nearly 2lb), was made around 100 BC in the Snettisham area of Norfolk. Excavations following its discovery suggest it was buried adjacent to a ring-ditch and a rectilinear ditched feature, which looked enticingly like a small Arras-type square barrow; however these interesting features produced no finds on excavation. JD Hill (left) described his initial disbelief that the torc was genuine, and gave the science team at the British Museum two weeks to prove it was a fake. However, analysis and detailed examination proved it to be an authentic middle Iron Age object, almost identical to an example from Sedgeford in Norfolk. Probably both were products of the same craft workshop, and part of a later prehistoric tradition of intricate neck ornaments intended to convey the status of the wearer and their community, rather like a modern mayoral chain. The Newark torc probably found its way from Norfolk, where it has many parallels, to a Newark field via many generations of gift giving, perhaps moving several miles from its original owner's community with each generation. Exactly why such tores were buried is unclear; it might have been a religious offering made at a time of change and uncertainty in Britain, when many similar objects were deliberately interred. Thanks to a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, this magnificent piece of Iron Age art has been acquired by Newark and Sherwood District Council, and will eventually go on display in one of the town's museums.
Keith Challis

Saturday 10 February 2007: The Nora Witham Lecture. Non-Conformity in South Nottinghamshire – Howard Fisher

Howard Fisher’s research into the nonconformists in the Wolds villages of Keyworth, Normanton-on-the-Wolds, Stanton-on-the-Wolds, Plumtree, Widmerpool and Wysall, has taken him into the records of Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists. What he has found made a fascinating lecture in which he considered buildings, people, schools, and the whole culture of nonconformity. It transpired that the Indian Knights curry house in Keyworth was the original Congregational chapel in the village. It was replaced in 1903, and like many of the other chapels in the area, cost money the members could ill-afford. Problems with the Anglicans, problems paying the minister, problems with members who strayed from the rules,  and problems with the Band of Hope, all figured in the lecture –  but it was not just about what went wrong. The role of the Sunday Schools in providing education, at least before the 1870s, the social life of the chapels, the importance of framework knitters in the congregations of Primitive Methodist chapels, and other fascinating little vignettes about life among the Wolds nonconformists, all figured in the talk, which we can hope to see written up for our Transactions in the near future. 
John Beckett