News for Winter 2013

Creswell Crags - new exhibition The Secrets of the Baltic ‘Gem’

Visitors at Creswell Crags have the exciting opportunity of exploring one of the items from the main gallery in more detail: a small amber pebble. The new, temporary exhibition, 'A Baltic 'Gem'' has opened its doors and will be on show until March 2014. Admission is free.

Creswell Crags is hosting a brand new, temporary exhibition which explores one of the most unassuming Ice Age artefacts found at the site. Although at first glance, the rough amber pebble seems to be nothing special – the mysteries that it holds are quite fascinating.

The small, amber pebble is a unique find to the Crags and is thought to have been brought to this location during the Ice Age. The ‘gem’ was found by Victorian archaeologists in the largest cave at Creswell Crags, Robin Hood Cave.

“We have enjoyed the opportunity of bringing the amber pebble out of the permanent exhibition and exploring its signifcance in more detail”, explains Hannah Boddy, Exhibitions Offcer at the Crags. “Why it was brought here by visiting Ice Age tribes is uncertain, and it just makes the ‘gem’ all the more intriguing.”

The exhibition explores possible uses of the amber including medicinal and decorative purposes and was funded by a grant from Museum Development East Midlands.

The Social World of Nottingham’s Green Spaces: Invitation to two conferences in January 2014

During 2013, a team from the Department of History at the University of Nottingham led by Professor John Beckett and members of community groups, including the Friends of Nottingham Arboretum, Friends of the Forest, Nottingham Women’s History Group and the Very Local History Group, have been investigating the ‘green spaces’ created by the 1845 Enclosure Act. In January 2014 we are holding two events to celebrate the collaboration and share what we have discovered.

10 January 2014: Highfeld House, University Park, University of Nottingham
The Cultural History of Urban Green Spaces in Britain and Ireland during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.

In addition to presentations on the work of the project, the programme will include a programme of talks:

18 January 2014: Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham
The Social World of Nottingham’s Green Spaces

The focus of this meeting is the work of community groups from across Nottingham on its green spaces. It will feature poster displays and video presentations, as well as some informal talks, and is an opportunity to share information about the green spaces as well as hear about the work of the last year.

Both events are free and a light lunch will be provided, but for catering reasons you will need to register to ensure there is a place for you. Deadline for Registration is no later than 15 December 2013.

If you would like to come to either or both of these, please email Judith Mills, or complete the registration form on the flyer mailed to you with the Newsletter. Joining instructions and more details of the programme will be sent out nearer the dates.

Setting up of a Newstead Abbey Friends’ Group: Press Release

Newstead Abbey is an important location in Nottinghamshire and needs the support of a group which will take an interest in this historic monument with its close connections with the poet Lord Byron.

In March 2013, the World Monuments Fund held a seminar at Newstead abbey to promote the idea of a Friends of Newstead Group. Over sixty people, representing a number of different bodies, attended, and heard talks on several historic buildings in which Freinds’ Groups had been instrumental in promoting the buildings as successful venues.

A further meeting was held in early August at which twenty-eight people met, along with representatives of Nottingham City Council and the World Monuments Fund. Alexis Chema, a Yale Scholar working with the World Monuments Fund, gave her impressions of Newstead, and together with an appraisal of other existing literary houses in the UK gave recommendations for the improvement of Newstead and exploiting the Byron connection.

As a result of this meeting, a small steering group was set up, charged with taking forward the concept of a Friends’ Group for Newstead. The group is presently examining the most appropriate organisational arrangements for such a group, including establishing a draft constitution and arranging for a bank account to be set up.

Once these initial discussions have been completed, it is intended that there will be a more formal open meeting at which these are agreed. The Steering Group is also planning a Vision Day for early spring and more details about date, time and programme will be made available as soon as possible.

In the meantime, if you are interested in becoming involved in the Friends’ group please do not hesitate to contact the Secretary, John Wilson on 0115-926-6175 or by email at

Excursion to Rufford, 1898

This photograph, supplied by David Hoskins, is a print from a Thoroton outing to Rufford Abbey in 1898.

The figure on the extreme left (in the hat) is Cornelius Brown, historian of Newark; next to him is Colonel Mellish of Hodsock, and the fourth figure from the left (above the bicycle wheel) is Robert Mellors; the noted Nottingham antiquarian.

The bearded figure near the centre is W.P.W. Phillimore, and on his left (wearing a clerical collar) is the Rev. John Standish. The young man with a coat on his arm in the centre of the picture is T. M. Blagg.

The man on the back row with a black moustache is the Rev. R. Jowett Burton. Other figures are identifed in Transactions L (1946), 21.

WW1 Commemorations 2014 - BBC Appeal

BBC Radio Nottingham producers, Sarah Julian and Celia Kellet have made an appeal for help.

‘We have been asked to look at stories linking people and places in Nottinghamshire in the the First World War, as part of a huge National project by the BBC to map its infuence and affect around the country. The stories will evenutally be broadcast on BBC Radio and online and we are working closely with BBC East Midlands Television.

We are looking to reflect a whole range of stories, from heroes like Captain Ball VC to looking at letters and the Nottingham Tannery to the explosion at Chilwell.

We are keen to use the expertise of local historians to tell some of these stories, which is why we are very keen to get in touch with people who are already involved in researching local stories.

At this point we are exploring a whole range of ideas but we particularly need help with these stories:

We would also value any other ideas or contacts which would be useful to us. Our contact details are:

Celia Kellett BBC Radio Nottingham 0115 902 1896 07707 354467
Sarah Julian BBC Radio Nottingham 0115 902 1896 07505 843294

Cuckney Church: possibility of site of a king’s death

As reported on the BBC Nottinghamshire web site in October 2013

A full excavation of a Nottinghamshire church’s grounds could prove where an Anglo-Saxon king was killed in battle, a team of historians has said.

The Battle of Hatfeld Investigation Society believes St. Edwin died at Cuckney, near Mansfeld in AD 632 and not in Yorkshire as has been claimed.

Their theory is based on 200 skeletons found beneath St. Mary’s church at Cuckney in 1951.

Society chairman Joseph Waterfall said a dig could “re-write English history”.

History books have previously stated Edwin, the first Christian king of Northumbria, was killed on a battlefeld north east of Doncaster in Yorkshire.

Mr. Waterfall said while English Heritage believed the skeletons found in a mass grave at the church were from a medieval massacre, the Society believe they belonged to King Edwin’s army from the Battle of Hatfeld.

“From 1951 to the present day, there has been no excavation at the church, he said. It has just been left for 62 years and we just don’t know for definite which of the sites was the location of the battle. King Edwin was the first Christian King of Northumbria and no-one knows for definite where he was slain. We need to know this. Certainly for Nottinghamshire, this will re-write English history. It should be corrected.”

He said an application was being submitted to the Parochial Church Council for permission to excavate at the church. Mr. Waterfall is certain a study of the bones can provide evidence that Cuckney was where King Edwin died and where his son was buried.

The Society is to work with Mercian Archaeology on the project and is currently in the process of sourcing up to £60,000 in funding.

Anniversaries and the Society by Barbara Cast

The team which draws up the programme of lectures, excursions and other events uses a register of events relating to Nottinghamshire to guide its planning.

Each year major centenaries or 50th anniversaries are, wherever possible, marked by lectures, articles in the Newsletter visits or speakers at our annual luncheon.

Sometimes we do have to miss some of the anniversaries so I thought I would let you know how our dates register has been used (or not) in 2013.

If you have any dates you think might have been overlooked for forthcoming years, do let me know.

Sir Andrew Buchanan

Sir Andrew was Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire for many years before his recent retirement. The Society’s Council agreed that it would be a ftting gesture to his years of service locally to invite Sir Andrew to become an honorary member of the Thoroton Society. I am pleased to be able to say that Sir Andrew has accepted our offer. In accepting he has added:

I would like you and the members to know that we have committed ourselves to further work on the Gatehouse [at Hodsock Priory] and are applying for a HLF Grant to give access and get publicity for the documented visit of Henry VIII to Sir Gervase Clifton at Hodsock on 9 August 1541 to see the newly completed Gatehouse and the visit by Ben Johnson on his walking tour in August 1681.

John Beckett

All Change in the World of Archives

As members of the Society are aware, Dr. Dorothy Johnston retired last december as keeper of Manuscripts at the University of Nottingham.

Dorothy has now been replaced but her successor is a familiar face because it is Mark Dorrington, currently County Archivist of Nottinghamshire. Mark takes up his new position at the university on 18 November.

Meantime, the County Council have interviewed for a replacement for Mark, and have appointed Ruth Imeson, currently a Records manager at Nottinghamshire Archives. Ruth will formally switch role at a date still to be decided, but we shall certainly hope to work with her in the future.

However, if you are visiting the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections, do not be too surprised if you see a familiar figure.

John Beckett