A meeting of the Thoroton Research Group was held on Saturday 1st April 2017 at the Nottingham Mechanics, with twelve members present. Five reports on current and ongoing projects were given by members.

A sundial at Hodsock Priory, by John Wilson

John described his study of the sundial at Hodsock Priory. This had been brought to Hodsock in 1986 from St Anne’s Manor, Sutton Bonington. The dial had probably been made by Joseph Thomas Wilson of Stamford. John described the various connections to the sundial. Unfortunately, it is not orientated correctly so will not show accurate time.

Mary Ann Winfield Bannister (1897-1970) a nurse from Beeston, by Jill Oakland

Miss Bannister was born in Beeston, and Jill had come across her when researching various aspects of the history of Beeston. Miss Bannister held a number of nursing positions and served as a nurse in France from 1914 to the end of the Great War. She then moved to various other posts, and was awarded a decoration for her services to Nursing.

Nottinghamshire Gardens, by Megan Doole

Megan described the East Midlands Gardens Trust Recording Project, with which she is involved. The Project covers Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Rutland. The object of the project is to record all historic gardens in the East Midlands. Megan then presented a study of the park and gardens at Shireoaks Hall, near Worksop, the home of the Hewett family from 1546 to 1811.

Was Francis, Viscount Lovel, buried at Gedling Church? by Ted White

Following defeat at the Battle of Stoke Field, Viscount Lovel disappeared. There have been numerous accounts of his fate by different authorities. The most plausible is that he reached Gedling, possibly severely wounded, and died there. There is an alabaster tomb in the church, the carvings on which are now almost illegible. There is possible evidence of vandalism to the shield on the tomb (by a Tudor sympathiser or agent?). A recent project has used specialist lighting techniques in an attempt to render the carvings more legible and thus to settle whether this is actually Lovel’s tomb.

Salterford in Nottinghamshire by Brian Rich

Brian started with reference to Salterford near Ravenshead. This refers to the movement of salt, an important mediaeval commodity. Salt for local monastic communities may have come from either Worcestershire or Cheshire, or alternatively from salt production in Lincolnshire around the Wash. Brian circulated a number of maps which showed the routes of various mediaeval roads, and described the most likely route for the salt to have taken.

The main objective of the Research Group is to encourage Thoroton members to undertake research and then publish the results. Hopefully some or all of the talks given at the Research Group will result in short papers in future issues of the Newsletter.

The next meeting of the Research Group is scheduled for Saturday 30th September 2017, 10.30am in the Boardroom at the Nottingham Mechanics.

Archaeology in Nottingham (January to April 2017)

At the time of writing, less than four months into the year, 2017 is proving to be an exceptional year for archaeology in the city. Already ten sites have been archaeologically investigated in the city centre, Lenton, Clifton, St Ann's and Radford. Further, major, excavations are expected within the city centre over the coming months.

In recent years limited archaeological work has taken place, with the exception of works for the NET2 tram and some exploratory works at Nottingham Castle, and so it is pleasing to see some exciting projects once again taking place. Importantly several of the sites have provided significant information which is helping shape our knowledge of the development of parts of the city.

The fieldwork has been undertaken by Trent & Peak Archaeology, University of Leicester Archaeological Services, Network Archaeology and Pre-Construct Geophysics.

Details of fieldwork with positive results (where archaeological remains have been encountered) will be provided in the annual round-up of the next volume of the Transactions. In the meantime the following is a short summary of the projects.

At Lenton two sites have encountered remains believed to be associated with Lenton Priory and provide some evidence of what happened at the Priory site following the Dissolution in 1538. An evaluation excavation on the site of the former Red Cross building has offered the opportunity to investigate what was happening immediately outside the Priory precinct during the medieval period.

A small excavation in Clifton, close to St Mary's Church, hoped to find evidence of medieval settlement but disappointingly no remains of archaeological interest were encountered. Nearby a geophysical survey found evidence of possible ditches and could contribute to our increasing knowledge of settlement in this part of the city. It is hoped some excavation of the site will take place.

Watching briefs of small works at Holy Trinity Church, Lenton, a small residential development in Radford, and other small-scale groundworks in the city have had disappointing results.

However, in the city centre excavations have been much more exciting.

At Nottingham Castle, the Outer Bailey Gatehouse Bridge was investigated with two small trenches and a test pit excavated to gain a better understanding of the full width and the construction of the bridge. The excavation revealed, beneath modern surfaces, a number of services including a brick drain of probable early 19th century date. Importantly, at a depth of approximately 1m, the northern wall of the bridge has been found, having been covered for more than two centuries. We know from documentary sources that part of the bridge originally consisted of a timber drawbridge, which was rebuilt in 1575. During the late 17th century the bridge was again rebuilt, at the time of the construction of the Ducal Palace, and the excavation has revealed evidence of this rebuild. The excavation has revealed a late medieval window jamb, which probably originated from the demolished castle, forms part of the construction of the bridge.

An evaluation excavation at Cliff Road found well-preserved organic remains and evidence of late medieval or early post-medieval tanning. Structural remains were also encountered.

Excavating one of the mediaeval ditches at the Lower parliament site - photo courtesy of Scott Lomax.
Excavating one of the mediaeval ditches at the Lower parliament site.

Left: Mediaeval cave, Lower Parliament Street. Right: Woodlark cave with in situ beer containers.
Photos courtesy of Scott Lomax.

The greatest discoveries of this year, and indeed arguably of the past decade, have taken place at a site on Lower Parliament Street. Ditches and pits of probable 14th-15th century date have been found on land which once belonged to St John's Hospital, immediately north of the medieval town defences.

The features were filled with large quantities of medieval pottery and tile and there is some evidence that pottery and tile manufacturing took place within close proximity of the site. An oven or kiln and a possible hearth date to the late medieval period. The site is significant in revealing important information about what was happening immediately outside the medieval defences up to 700 years ago.

Also at the Lower Parliament Street site a storage cave, believed to be of medieval date, was found to contain a deep well which again had a large quantity of pottery within it. A second cave was created between 1831 and 1841 to act as a cellar for the Woodlark beer house. At some stage the Woodlark's cellar knocked through into the earlier cave. The Woodlark cellar fell out of use in February 1906 and was bricked up soon after, leaving beer barrels and a container filled with ale, untouched until the archaeologists excavated the site.

Caves continue to be discovered in the city, with 44 caves having been added to the Nottingham City Historic Environment Record since 1st July 2016.

Scott Lomax (Acting City Archaeologist)


After some twelve years in the post, I am hoping to retire as the Society’s Treasurer this year. This will allow me to concentrate on other things, such as developing the Newsletter and leading the Research Group. There are certainly advantages to being Treasurer, such as getting to know most of the membership and being closely involved in the management of the Society. A full job description will be available and I would be happy to induct a new treasurer into the work. If you are interested in the post of Treasurer, please get in contact with me - by telephone 0115 926 6175 or by email at

John Wilson


The Nottingham Victoria Station, which had been designed by the architect Albert Edward Lambert, closed on 4th July 1967. It had been opened on 24th May 1900.


Captain Albert Ball VC, DSO and two Bars, MC was killed in action on 7th May 1917 over Douai, France. He was leading a flight of aircraft from no 56 Squadron, and had a score of 44 German aircraft destroyed.

The Thoroton Society, because of wartime restrictions, dispensed with their usual full-day excursion. A proposed visit to Linby and Papplewick was abandoned owing to the impossibility of making the necessary arrangements, and the Council decided not to organise any other excursions that year. It was hoped that excursions would be reintroduced in the following year if circumstances permitted. At the end of 1917, there were 271 subscribing members, three honorary and three associate members. The annual subscription was 12/6d (62 1/2p). His Grace the Duke of Portland KG, GCVO was President.


The Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire was formed on 1st June 1897, at a meeting in the Grand Jury Room of the Shire Hall. The Chair was taken by the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, His Grace the Duke of St Albans, with some 50 people present. The annual subscription was fixed at half a guinea (10/6d, or 52 1/2p).