County-Wide, Society-Led Research Project ?

We would like to gauge interest in the idea of establishing a county-wide research project that offers members the opportunity to participate in a Society-led project. Ideally this project would be interdisciplinary, to allow members to contribute to it from different perspectives and draw on their own research skills and interests. Furthermore, it should also be a project which offers opportunities for local studies undertaken by small groups or individuals which, when aggregated, might result in a county-scale study.

While discussed in the Research and Publications Committee, we have no formal proposals to present.Rather we would like to hear from you and gather a range of suggestions for consideration. However, a single unthought through idea might be helpful to establish the kind of approach that might be taken. Could we focus, for instance, on the use of brick across the county? Not only would this provide opportunities to study vernacular architecture, but also to trawl the archives for evidence of local brick-making industries. For late medievalists and early modernists, their focus might be on the introduction of brick to the county. Does the old notion of the 'Great Rebuilding' remain appropriate in a Nottinghamshire context or is it now entirely redundant? For railway enthusiasts, what impact did the railways have on the use of brick and the types of brick used? Where and how was decorative brickwork used in municipal and public buildings, particularly during the Victorian period? Where and when was brick used in churches and chapels, or in farm buildings? For photographers, can you provide a record of the principal brick buildings in your towns or villages. And so on and so forth.

In short, we are looking for ideas for projects that would be wide ranging, multi-dimensional, preferably multi-period, and thus potentially inclusive and of interest to a broad constituency of members. Any ideas should be sent to me in the first instance. I shall be happy to discuss these with you:

Richard Jones

David Durant - Historian and Author

With sadness we report the death of David Durant on 30th October at the age of 98, having been born on 29th July 1925. David was a member of the Thoroton Society for many years and was still in membership at the time of his death,along with his wife Christabel. David was also a member of the Thoroton Society Council.

He was an eminent historian and well-known author of a number of excellent books, including the very popular Bess of Hardwick and Arbella Stuart.

Indeed the staff of Hardwick Hall commemorated his passing in noble style, so great was his contribution to recording the history of Bess's Hall. The Smythson Circle, Ralegh's Lost Colony, Life in the Country House and where Queen Elizabeth Slept were also of his oeuvre. David also contributed to the Transactions with an article entitled "Wollaton Hall: a rejected plan".

David and Christabel lived for many years in one of the county's oldest domestic buildings, the 15th century Old House in Bleasby, moving in latter years to Southwell. David was a keen and knowledgeable local historian, being a founder member and early President of Bleasby Local History Society.

Barbara Cast


The first excursion for 2024 is on Thursday 16th May 2024 to Laxton, the last place in England, and possibly Europe, to use the early medieval open field farming system. Details about the visit and booking form are enclosed with this newsletter. The Thoroton Society has had a long association with Laxton in the guise of Professor John Beckett, who wrote the official guide book, 'Laxton. England's Last Open Field Village' and the book ‘A History of Laxton: England's Last Open field Village' in 1989. The Spring newsletter of 2020, before the horrors of Covid-19 were known, includes Professor Beckett's report on the change of ownership of the Laxton Estate from a Crown Estate to a Thoresby Estate, appropriately taking effect on 25th March 2020 or Lady Day a traditional day for the payment of rents and enclosure agreements. The book 'The Open Fields' by C.S. and C. S. Oswin (1938, 2nd edition 1954) also describes Laxton. It is now out of print but may be found in second-hand bookshops.

On 12th June, the excursion is to the 1620s House and Garden near Coalville. This visit links to the presentation given at the annual lunch in November which described aspects of the Gunpowder Plot or as called at the time, the Powder Treason. The house belonged to one of the executed plotters and is a recreation of the house and garden at the time. June was planned for this visit because the garden will show to its advantage.

For the 18th July, the excursion was planned in response to the results of a short survey in which Beauvale Priory was suggested for a repeat visit. The day includes the Priory's connection with D.H. Lawrence.

I hope that members will find these excursions enjoyable and interesting. Suggestions for other places to visit are always welcome. Please look out later in the year for more excursions.

Ruth Strong


Dr Thoroton heritage board and coffin

Richard Gaunt (Chair) and Adrian Henstock (President) (photographs courtesy of Kevin Powell)

The Dedication of the Bells, the Thoroton area in the West Nave and the Armorial Plaque to King Charles III by the Lord Bishop of Southwell, with the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire and Sir Robert Hilyard among those attending.

The Thoroton Society was well represented at this Service of Dedication. Any event that involves Car Colston attracts the Society's attention because this was the home of Dr Thoroton himself. The Society last visited Car Colston for its Annual Meeting in 2022 and promised a grant towards the restoration. Members of the Society attended this rededication.

The Car Colston bells have been silent for forty years but the renovation was an opportunity not just to bring them back to life, but also to undertake other necessary repairs in the church. The four original bells were lowered by Taylors of Loughborough. They returned to Car Colston on 22nd March 2023, in time to be rung for the King’s coronation. King Charles sent a note that he was deeply touched to know that they were first rung to mark his Coronation. The four original bells have been supplemented by two new ones. The Thoroton Society contributed to a new information board above the stone coffin which was once believed to have contained Dr Thoroton's remains.The service also included the dedication of a commemorative coat of arms by Henry Blagg.

John Beckett

The University of Nottingham City of Caves project

The University of Nottingham's City of Caves team has a project to capture memories, histories and stories about Nottingham's caves. 'Echoes' will record a selection of oral histories to find out more about what the caves mean to the people of Nottingham and how they have contributed to the development of Nottingham's urban identity, through both fact and fiction! They will record a selection of people's stories relating to the caves in Nottingham. For example, these could be stories about the below:

Essentially, they welcome any cave-related stories! They won't be able to record all stories submitted, but they will still read every response and it will add to our knowledge of the city's important and unique caves. You can also contact the team on if you have any questions.

Paul Baker