Recent events and lectures, Summer 2005


Middleton Hall

Saturday 21 May - Middleton Hall and Middleton Church, Warwickshire Leaders: Dorothy Johnston and Leslie Cram

The approach through gravel works did not prepare us for the striking first view of Middleton Hall (pictured right), the seat of Wollaton's Willoughby family, with its restored sixteenth-century and Georgian wings. Professor Ian Dillamore gave us an excellent presentation on the history of Middleton, and on the Willoughby family's links with Nottingham, and their connection with iron working. We were then shown plentiful evidence of growth through 500 years of this rambling house, followed by walks in the grounds and lan's guided visit to the early ironworks. The Willoughby family owned Middleton Hall from the late Middle Ages, but through circumstances reduced by death duties in the early twentieth century were forced to sell it, along with Wollaton Hall.  By the 1970s much of Middleton was crumbling. Fortunately a team of dedicated local people formed a Trust to raise funds and preserve the site, with its various buildings, water, wildlife and emerging industrial history. At St. John the Baptist Church, Dr Johnston related the Willoughby family's history, and pointed out features of interest, including an enormous 17th-century monument to Francis and Cassandra Willoughby and their naturalist son Francis, founder member of the Royal Society.

Thanks go to our Leaders and to our Middleton hosts for a first-rate visit to a site little known in Nottingham. Not only was the location of great interest, it was good to see the many activities involved in the successful preservation of a historic house. The day was great fun and enjoyed by all, with regular refreshment, especially a delicious tea close by the grand staircase.
Pauline Miller

Tympanum at Austerfield church

Saturday 25 June - North Nottinghamshire Churches Leaders: Jean Nicholson and Michael Jackson

Our first stop on this tour was at Osberton's immaculate church. It was built in 1833 by George Foljambe as a memorial to his wife, and was originally a private estate chapel, but was later converted into a parish church. Here our jovial coachdriver Graham, organist and choirmaster of Edwalton, gave an impromptu recital!

We then had time to take a quick lunch at Retford, where many members enjoyed the Farm & Country Festival in the garden of the Museum, before moving on to visit Yorkshire's Austerfield, with its lovely twelfth-century church. An unusual feature of the church is the tympanum over the south doorway (pictured left), depicting a dragon. Our journey then took us on to Finningley church, whose sturdy wooden roof attracted much attention, as it was not made for this church, and might have come from Mattersey Priory. Misson was the next place on our agenda, which proved to be a lovely flower-filled surprise, before we travelled on to Scrooby for tea and strawberries. The day ended with a tour of Scrooby church with its medieval wood carvings, and a walk to the Manor House. This was a very full and enjoyable day, which was sadly Michael and Jean's swan song.