News for Autumn 2008

Stonehenge - the mystery/history continues!

SU1242 : Standing Stones, Stonehenge, Wilts by Vera Baber
Standing Stones, Stonehenge, Wilts  © Copyright Vera Baber and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Out of our county - but of vital national importance - is the ongoing saga of how to best conserve and showcase Stonehenge, the internationally unique and splendid testament to the ingenuity and skills of our ancestors. Should we do it on the cheap and spend all our money on (in some eyes) more important but ephemeral institutions - or should we really seek to find a solution worthy of such a magnificent place, which will enhance and protect it in a fabulous setting which will draw visitors and 'worshippers' of all kinds for years to come?

If you would like to join in the debate, you can find out more on English Heritage's website at

Bestwood Country Park - call for information

A major project is beginning on Bestwood Country Park, which will include restoration of the listed winding engine house, engine and headstocks, and the building of a new adjacent visitor center and education facility. The new centre and engine house will contain interpretation and exhibition areas regarding Bestwood.

Paul Norton, who is Project Officer for Interpretation at Nottinghamshire County Council's Community Services Department, is interested in any historical material on Bestwood to add to the existing archive, which would help to portray Bestwood's history in greater detail - particularly its later industrial heritage of coal mining and iron production. If any members have imagery or written material that they feel would be of interest, and are willing to let Paul have copies (or for him to copy it) - or if they know of further information sources, would they please contact him at, tel 01623 822944 ext 228, or write to him at The Abbey, Rufford Abbey Country Park, Near Ollerton, NG22 9DE Paul is also interested in obtaining relevant mining tools, personal miners' equipment and other coal mining ephemera to make a three-dimensional display.


You will have received a booking form with this Newsletter. In honour of Southwell Minster's 900 years celebrations we are returning to Southwell's Saracen's Head. The date is Saturday 1 November - why not visit the Minster in its birthday year and/or the Workhouse, and make it a whole day out?

Balderton - Past and Present

Balderton church, c.1910.

Three years ago a Heritage Lottery Fund grant was made to Newark and District Photographic Society to undertake a project to record Balderton in the present day, in comparison with what it was like in the past. The Society placed adverts in the local press to seek contributions from Balderton residents by way of photographs and recollections of the village from their youth. This DVD is the result of the completion of the project and is highly recommended to anyone interested in Balderton, and is a very good example of how to present such a project to the general public. The DVD runs for about thirty minutes and plays on domestic DVD players or through a computer DVD player.

The older photographs are merged into the recent ones and then shown side by side with appropriate placing caption. Sometimes there are just two images but often three or more, which provide the viewer with an interesting comparison of the building and places depicted. Perhaps a weakness is that the older pictures are not dated, but most contain good clues that allow for an approximate date - I think they are all twentieth century with several post-World War Two. There is a musical background over which is played the voices of several people giving personal recollections of Balderton past.

This is an excellent example of what can be achieved in a modern idiom to produce an educational and entertaining snapshot of the history of a village via images. The DVD is available at £6 (inc p&p) from Ralph Bassett, 43, Riverside Road, Newark, Notts, NG24 4RJ. Cheques payable to Newark Photographic Society.
Howard Fisher

Thoroton Response Group

Since the last Newsletter several representations have been made on national policies that affect our county. Comments were made on the Society's behalf on the Draft Heritage Protection Bill. It was made clear that the general direction of the draft bill was welcomed in making heritage protection clearer and more transparent and the processes involved simpler for all parties; however local authorities should have a well resourced and skilled conservation team to deal with heritage matters on behalf of the people they serve, and the advice of these officers should be considered material in any decision made on heritage matters: this is not always the case in the Society's experience. We also said local authorities should be obliged to take action on works undertaken to heritage sites without consent: again, not always done. And finally, that county history and archaeology societies should be included as consultees; since they bring together professional and amateur expertise and knowledge that is focused on the county as a whole.

The group drew to English Heritage's notice a number of buildings considered at risk, in the hope that they be included in the new Buildings at Risk Register, or at least be looked at by EH officers.

The other major policy paper responded to was 'History in Views', Nottingham's skyline and its hillside location being pointed out as reasons for being careful about the impact of tall buildings on a historic city's skyscape.

There have also been a number of planning applications commented on and application lists are scanned for potential problems. However, we cannot pick up on everything, so please let us know of your concerns if you feel the Society should make representation. Tell us your local concerns about planning applications, changes in land management, threats to local landmarks etc. We will try to investigate and comment to the appropriate authority if we feel that would assist. Contact me, preferably at, or at the usual address.
Barbara Cast

Delving the Society's Archives

Recently we looked at the earliest Journal of the Nottingham Archaeological Society dated December 1948. Following the article mentioned in the last Newsletter, the Journal went on to look with R M Butler at Nottingham Friaries. Noted was that of the White Friars sited around Friar Lane. The writer regretted the demolition of the old houses at Friar Yard, which it was felt might have preserved some of the walls and overlain the foundations of other buildings, but no investigations were done. Little was known about the Franciscan Friary located between Greyfriar Gate and Carrington Street: at the time a new store was proposed to be built there, and it was hoped something of the Friary might be found. According to the article, the Chesterfield or Greyfriars Cross was demolished in 1612 to repair the Hethbeth (Trent) Bridge, but the author hoped something of the base might be found during pipe laying - does anyone know if it was? There is a lot of interest in this article: how much has been found out since then about the friaries and the Rowell, a stream which ran until 1785 between Friar Lane and the Leen and made the area around St Peter's and Houndsgate very muddy in wet weather; and the Athilwell Spring from which a conduit was made by the friars: what of these is known today?
Barbara Cast

Bromley House

On 28 May Bromley House launched a new website containing details of its users and their borrowing activities between 1816-1916. Compiled by Neal Priestland, the information provides a snapshot of middle-class life in Victorian Nottingham. Cheek by jowl, as it were (at least in the pages of the records, if not actually in the building at the same time) were to be found the leading businessmen, lace entrepreneurs such as Thomas Adams, and Richard and Thomas Isaac Birkin, Lewis Heymann and Ernest Jardine, hosiery entrepreneur Matthew Needham, the banking Wright family, architects such as TC Hine and Nottingham's great water engineer Thomas Hawksley, together with its borough surveyor Marriott Ogle Tarbotton. Leading town figures such as George Coldham, Henry Enfield, and Thomas Wakefield were also on the roll. There is much more to it than this, since Neal has provided an introductory assessment of members' backgrounds, and their addresses - 30 per cent of them lived in The Park! To find out more log on at: 1816-Index.html. If the web is not to your taste, you can browse Neal's work in hard copy in the library.
John Beckett