Events and excursions, Summer 2007

Saturday 12 May: Nottingham Arboretum

In fine weather, trees that have both generous and benevolent canopies allow us 'to stand and stare' and to pinpoint a particular tree. Who can forget the Amur Maple from the river of that name, or another Russian species Mr Parrot's, Persian Ironwood; fair exchange for what the Russians got in the shape of the architects Rastrelli and Campbell? On the first of the two visits to the Arboretum it was umbrellas that provided canopies; very forbearing members huddling together to accept that 'over there' was a Turkey Oak or an Indian Chestnut. One of our members provided information about her family's involvement in the manufacture of the cannons for the Chinese Bell Monument. Information on Friends of the Arboretum and a revised tree trail can be obtained from Woodthorpe Grange, tel 0115 9155555; fax 0115 9152766. Shire Publications' Public Parks by Hazel Conway is highly recommended. Claire Wells

Saturday 9 June: Peterborough Cathedral and Flag Fen Bronze Age Site

Iron Age Roundhouse, Flag Fen]

In early June Thoroton Members visited Peterborough Cathedral and Flag Fen, the Bronze Age site a mile or so away. Alas, when the cathedral came into view - disappointment: the great west front was covered with screened scaffolding. This demonstrated the last stage of a programme of about ten year's restoration, interior and exterior. There was no disappointment, however, in the wonderful interior and its beautiful and unique painted medieval ceiling. From the west door there is a stunning, uninterrupted view of the whole length from nave to choir, presbytery and apse. We were divided into parties and taken around by Cathedral Guides; the parties gave high praise to the guides for their expertise. We felt an enormous amount had been learned, our very varied questions excellently dealt with and a great many quite complicated architectural sequences in the building made plain - and all with a human touch. Our thanks go to all of them.

We then moved on to Flag Fen, the site excavated for many years by the well-know archaeologists Francis Pryor and Maisie Taylor. This site was built in the fenny countryside by people living 3000 years ago: it is a vast timber platform with massive associated palisades built at enormous human effort. Although its purpose is not entirely clear, it indicates some possible domestic use and also the ubiquitous ritual activity. Interesting artefacts have been excavated from watery preservation and can be seen in the museum at the site, as well as part of the timber structures kept in perpetual dampness, and also reconstructed bronze and iron age houses. Rosalys was particularly taken by the prehistoric Windsor chair! The whole day was excellent and varied, ending with a Thoroton tea served in the Flag Fen visitor centre before the return journey to Nottingham. Rosalys Coope and Barbara Cast


Repton church.

Trowell church.

Friday 13 July was a day of heavy rain, which seemed ominous to all those who had booked to go on this excursion. However, the following day dawned fair, and as the day progressed the sun shone more and more brightly. Our first stop was Repton, capital of the Kingdom of Mercia, and one of the earliest Christian sites in the Midlands dating from AD653, when the king's son returned with a Christian bride.

The description of the history and items of interest of Repton Church was given by a local historian, Mr David Guest. The descent into the crypt, where once the bones of Saint Wystan were venerated by pilgrims, provided a real experience of moving into one of the mysterious places of England's early religious history. After a tour of the outside of the building we enjoyed a real bonus - entry to part of the Old Priory which now houses a section of Repton school.

After lunch we travelled to Trowell, another very old foundation, but with evidence of significantly more additions and alterations over the centuries. Despite having to compete with a peal of bells being rung by a visiting team of American bell-ringers, Mr Colin Shock gave us a very detailed survey of the history of the building, together with an outline of some planned extensions to make a more effective us of the site for the demands of the twenty-first century. A splendid tea in the new Wollaton Community Hall completed a very happy day.