News for Winter 2015

Geoffrey Bond Research Award

The Society was extremely pleased to have received five excellent applications for this, the inaugural year of the Geoffrey Bond Research Award.

The standard of applications made the choice for the award difficult for the appraising panel. It was therefore decided to divide this year's award between the two projects which the panel considered outstanding. These were Hannah Nicholson's work on the development of political thought and political ideas, and the work of Matt Beresford and his volunteer group on Kelham in the Civil Wars. We look forward to hearing more of the findings in future articles and maybe lectures too. We hope to receive reports on these projects in due course, and to full reports appearing in our Transactions when their research is completed.

We are very grateful to Geoffrey Bond for his generous support for this award and look forward to next year's round of applications.

Barbara Cast, Honorary Secretary

Anniversaries and the Thoroton Society

As I wrote in this newsletter a couple of years ago, the team which draws up the programme of lectures, excursions and other events uses a register of events relating to Nottinghamshire to guide their planning. As you will now know, each year the major centenaries or 50th anniversaries are, wherever possible, marked by lectures, articles in the Newsletter, visits or speakers at our annual luncheon or spring meeting.

This is how our dates register has been used in 2015 - and I include a note on those we haven't managed to include.

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

Barbara Cast

Good news from the Thoroton Response Group

The Response Group has continued to make representations on various matters over the last few months. One of these was on the ongoing situation at Southwell where it looked as if development was to go ahead on a site next to the Minster and Archbishop's Palace despite exciting Roman and Anglo-Saxon remains having been found there. A number of letters were sent to Newark and Sherwood DC and English Heritage (now Historic England) from August 2010 to the latest in July this year. Now the great news has come in late October that a generous benefactor has bought the land from the developers and given it to the Minster with the condition that the Minster will act as custodian and ensure that it is used for public benefit and for "educational, conservation and cultural purposes only". This is really good news for Southwell, archaeology and the county as a whole.

Ongoing representations have also been made to Nottinghamshire County Council on the proposed sale of part of the Kirkby Hardwick Manor site in the Ashfield area. No success there yet but our contribution last year to the Public Enquiry on two wind turbines which it was proposed should be erected at Brackenhurst overlooking Southwell chimed with the Inspector's views and the appeal was upheld. In 2008 we wrote to Nottingham City Council about concerns at the unwritten and unpublished archaeological work undertaken in Nottingham - it is now under way! And there are other areas where progress has been made - and some where it has not!

Please let me know if you have any concerns re historic buildings or landscapes or about sites of archaeological interest. We will endeavour to make representations where possible.

Barbara Cast (

Quotes from Thoroton letters re the Southwell site

"It should be unthinkable to develop this site at all and it is hoped that the Planning Committee will realise the utmost importance of retaining the integrity of this area in order that further investigations and interpretation can take place which will not only enrich our knowledge but enhance the very important Minster town of Southwell by keeping it as a permanently open part of the town's historic landscape." (August 2010)

"The Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire wishes to express concern that this most important archaeological site, near to some of the most significant historic buildings in our county and in a conservation area, is in such a condition that it is an affront to the people of Southwell and of Nottinghamshire and to all the many tourists and visitors who come to what must be considered as the loveliest and most unspoilt of any towns we have.

So many people and organisations in Southwell and elsewhere previously campaigned to retain the site intact and to give it the status it warranted, as a centre of interpretation and historic interest which would greatly enhance Southwell. This was most unfortunately unsuccessful. Instead the area is a distressing eyesore which makes a mockery of appropriate planning and is disrespectful to those who care about the town and county's history. Surely it now behoves the developers and those charged with dealing sensitively with such a site to look again at what can be done to resolve its future." (July 2015)

News of the survey of Harvey's Field in Southwell (9.10.2015)

In March 2015 members of the Roman Southwell Community Project and the wider local community undertook a geophysical survey of the Harvey's Field site in Southwell, Notts. Harvey's Field is adjacent to the site of the large Roman villa at Southwell, and the Potwell Dyke runs alongside its north-westerly perimeter. Preliminary test pit analysis on the site in the summer of 2014 suggested the potential for in situ (undisturbed) archaeological deposits, as artefacts spanning Medieval to Roman were uncovered, sealed in by geological deposits. The community volunteers were supported by MBArchaeology in undertaking a resistivity survey of the area where excavation was to take place in July and August 2015. A survey area measuring 20m by 60m was marked out and data collected at 1m intervals across the entire grid. These data highlighted a couple of anomalies and target areas, including a potential ditch feature that could also be noted on the ground, just visible at the base of a sloping bank that runs from Farthingate to the south and northwards onto Harvey's Field. A possible building feature was also noted close to the current Potwell Dyke, as well as an area of resistance that suggested stone or brick, most likely building rubble or debris from demolition, and possibly relating to the building feature. Some of the areas were briefly investigated in the 2015 excavation season, the Interim Report of which is currently in preparation and will be made available to the public in late October 2015.

Further investigation of the ditch feature is planned as part of the summer 2016 season.

Matt Beresford (MBArchaeology)

The siege and destruction at Shelford Manor - 1st to 5th november 1645

There are many events worthy of note that happened in Nottinghamshire during the 17th century English Civil War - one of the noteworthy ones was the massacre of Royalist defenders at Shelford in November 1645, three hundred and seventy years ago. In the closing months of the First Civil War, the forces of General John Hutchinson and Major General Sydenham Poyntz surrounded Shelford Manor, fortified by the Royalist Stanhope family during the war. The siege started on 1st November following the rejection of the summons to surrender by General Philip Stanhope. The house was stormed on 3rd November and quickly taken, leading to the death of Stanhope and many of his men: many others were taken prisoner. Lucy Hutchinson in her account of the war described the attempts made to hold off the Parliamentarians from the church tower; "There was a trapdoor that went into the belfry, and they had made it fast, and drew up the ladders and the bell-ropes, and regarded not the Governor's threatening to have no quarter if they came not down, so that he was forced to send for straw and fire it and smother them out". Following Shelford's defeat, Wiverton Manor was the next to suffer a similar fate - this time the defenders surrendered.

Barbara Cast