Society events and lectures, Summer 2004

Guests at Thoroton Society Summer Garden PArty

SUMMER GARDEN PARTY: Bromley House, Nottingham, 20 June 2004

A new event on the Thoroton calendar: a summer garden party. Pick the middle of June and what do you get? Well, rain, of course. So the plans for sitting outside in the garden of Bromley House had to be amended to standing outside, and having the food inside. Being British, we coped. Seventy-seven members and guests attended. Music was provided by Ian Reeve and supporters, and tea was served by Heather Wilkinson and her helpers. The rain did produce one bonus - Julia Wilson, librarian at Bromley House, kindly opened the library, and led several tours of the building. Members were able to see and, if they chose, to have their tea in the Thoroton Room. Several took away membership applications for this splendid library set in the heart of Nottingham and yet apparently untouched by the buzz of the city. Grateful thanks go to Neville Hoskins and his team of helpers, which included David Hoskins, Peter Reddish, Alan Langton and others, for making the day such a success. Last but not least, thanks go to Elizabeth Robinson, who maintains the garden at Bromley House, and for looking after the tree we planted a couple of years ago.
John Beckett


Nottingham's Eighteenth-Century Town Houses - 30 May and 27 June

Following on from his lecture on 10 January, Peter Smith led walks around Nottingham to visit the 18th-century town houses, with numbers being limited. Peter's eloquent explanations of the buildings and his ability to maintain his voice meant that on both occasions he kept up our interest.  
Leslie Cram

Note: Newsletter No. 31 drew members' attention to a series of papers by Peter Smith in the Georgian Group Journal. His latest addition to the history of Wollaton Hall is a 28-page paper in the Spring 2004 Journal of the Garden History Society. With the intriguing title The Sundial Garden and the House-plan mount, two gardens at Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire, by Robert (c1535-1614) and John (?-1634) Smythson, it explores a little-known aspect of the Willoughbys' activities. In Peter's usual authorative style, it is well worth looking for - though not every library has a copy. 
Neville Hoskins

Coughton Court

Coughton Court - 12 June

Coughton Court is a National  Trust property near Alcester in Warwickshire. It is one of England's finest Tudor houses, and has been the home of the Throckmorton family since 1409, and houses a fine collection of furniture and porcelain. The Throckmortons are Roman Catholics, and there is a particularly interesting exhibition which, while being a testament to the steadfastness of their faith, graphically illustrates the saga of the relationship between Protestants and Roman Catholics over the centuries. The story of the Gunpowder Plot is vividly displayed - as is the account of the life of Nicholas Owen, master priest hole builder - so fine a craftsman that some of his work probably still remains to be discovered. The walled garden, with its herbaceous borders and rose labyrinth, was a great attraction to our members. After tea at Tutbury we moved on to Melbourne church, a mini-cathedral, with its magnificent Norman interiors. Built by the Bishops of Carlisle when the Scots border raiding parties came too close for comfort, its massive Norman pillars and arches seem oddly out of place in this quiet little Derbyshire town. The day ended with a magnificent display by the Red Arrows at nearby Donington Park. We are grateful to leader and guide, Dr Ann Hope.
Keith Goodman

Norman tower of South Leverton church

North Nottinghamshire Churches - 3 July

Five more North Nottinghamshire churches were visited on July 3rd - those of Gamston, North Leverton, South Leverton, Laneham and Rampton. Each brought its own fascination; each was impressive. The broad high tower of St Peter's Gamston drew us to our first church. Fifteenth-century clerestory windows ensure that the first impression is one of light. We appreciated being able to handle the beautiful Gamston chalice made in 1569. Next was St. Martin's church, North Leverton, which incorporates a range of styles-the south doorway, being magnificent late Norman. The church of All Saints, South Leverton, dates back to the 12th century [see picture above]. Graceful arcades are thirteenth-century originals. By contrast, beautiful quilted pictures honour the recent millennium. This is a much-loved building kept in tip-top condition.

Our next church, St Peter's, Laneham has a porch built in 1932 housing a Norman south doorway. Its ancient original door hangs on the adjacent wall. In the chancel herringbone masonry indicates the Saxon-Norman transition. Of note were the solid oak pews, the Markham memorial and the 14th century stained glass. Finally, the church of Rampton All Saints is essentially medieval in origin, and the wall type piscina is thought to be one of the earliest in the county. Five solid, ancient buildings - architecturally interesting, but telling us also of the unknown thousands of worshippers whose faithful love sustained these churches over centuries. Our excursion leaders Jean Nicholson and Michael Jackson did us proud. We were also very well fed, thanks to Jean and her team. It was a stimulating day.
Barbara Maddison

Report of visit to Brewhouse Yard

10 June Brewhouse Yard, or - to give it the official title - the Museum of Nottingham Life, is known to many local people, but what happens behind the scenes, notably in the adjoining Waterworks Building which is part of the complex? Members who booked early - apologies to those who were disappointed - found the answer to this question rather more complex than they imagined. Under the careful guidance of Suella Postles and Ann Inckster,  we  were  introduced to  a range  of resources seldom seen by the public, including artefacts from Africa and other parts of Europe. We learned about how the museum service classifies everything it owns, and about some of the hidden treasures which are only occasionally on show to the public. We also learned about Mr Campion, the motorbike man who led Thoroton archaeological work in the 1930s - does anyone remember him? - and about the massive backlog bequeathed   to  the   service   by   the   last  city archaeologist. If and when it gets written up, the material will provide many of the missing links in our understanding of medieval Nottingham. And, finally, Suella and Ann are always on the lookout for volunteers - so if you are interested and able to offer them any help with their work, please give Suella a ring on 0115-9153602.
John Beckett