Thoroton Society Research Group

Meeting held in the Boardroom at the Nottingham Mechanics Institute, 19 January 2013

PRESENT: John Wilson, John Beckett, Elizabeth Robinson, Howard Fisher, Keith Fisher, Ted White, Judith Mills and Chris Grainger, Sheila Leeds.

APOLOGIES: received from Sue Clayton, Christine Drew, Trevor and Pam Lewis.

John W advised that Christine has had her long awaited operation but has needed to return to hospital for further treatment. The group extended its best wishes to her for a good and speedy recovery.


Sheila Leeds visited the group to talk about the VCH project in Nottinghamshire.

Sheila advised that the work fell into six sections to encompass a complete story about a particular parish. The VCH project requires adherence to strict guidelines thus producing a standardised entry for every parish.

There are presently seven volunteers working on the project under the guidance of Philip Riden. Philip had written a detailed handbook for the volunteers in which sources to be consulted was listed. The group meets fortnightly in term time at the Nottinghamshire archives. More volunteers would be welcome.

The sub-headings for each listing are: The parish map, geology and geography. population, communications, landscape and settlement, history of the manor, economic history, social aspects, charities, community life, religious history, local government.

Sheila is working on 13 small parishes in Rushcliffe but others are looking at single parishes. Sheila has completed Plumtree and estimates that she will have completed all 13 in between six and twelve months. She finds that local contacts are very valuable. She obviously enjoys the work and is full of enthusiasm for the project.

A discussion ensued during which Chris Grainger offered his help when Sheila looks at Hickling and Ted has a great deal of information about Gedling which he would be happy to share with the project.


John W explained that contact has been made by Professor Johan Koppenol of the VU University at Amsterdam who is researching a Dutchman, Jacob Cats who is well-known in Netherlands as a 17th century poet, who was known as Sir James Cats, the Dutch diplomat, in England. He was an investor in the company of Sir Cornelius Vermuyden, the Dutch engineer, who drained the Hatfield Chase area. Cats lived in England, near Finningley, and at one time apparently bought the manor of Finningley. There are no details of the English phase of Cats’ life in Dutch archives, hence the query to Thoroton.

John B said that there was a lot of information in the Hatfield Chase archive at the Manuscript department of the University of Nottingham.


Keith Fisher showed pictures of monument in store at Nottingham Castle. He is trying to identify the person and to establish where the monument was originally placed. It is perhaps Huntingdon Plumtree, a physician and atheist, and might have originally been in St. Mary’s church. Elizabeth wondered if it might be Daniel from The Park caves.


Chris told the group that he is investigating the family of Thomas Hawkesley and intends to write the story which is very interesting.


Howard is working on the history of Mary Ward College, Keyworth.

He has spent a day in the archives at Bar Convent, York and has a lot of information about Mary Ward herself. However, the branch of the Loreto nuns which established the college is the IBVM whereas Bar Convent is the Society of Jesus branch. The archives of the IBVM are at Llandudno but are presently closed due the death in 2012 of the archivist and access will only be allowed when a replacement archivist has been appointed.


John W said that the idea of forming the group was the possibility of a group project.

John B suggested that it could act as a reference group for the VCH project which was agreed.


Elizabeth asked about the plans for the WW1 events of 2014.

John B explained that Thoroton and the NLHA were holding a joint day event on 25 October 2014 at Ravenshead. There would be an introductory talk followed by shorter talks from other speakers and it would be looking at the effect the war had on the Home Front.


28 September 2013, 10.30 to 12.30 in the Board room at The Mechanics.

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