Thursday, 30 June 2011

Event - Fun times at village fayre (Letwell)

One of South Yorkshire’s smallest country villages is ready for a big party this Saturday with free admission for everyone - and lots of family attractions on offer, from ferret racing to sword dancing and brass band music.

World Cup referee Howard Webb is the guest of honour at the annual Letwell Village Fayre, near Rotherham, which starts at 1.30pm.

Entertainment includes dray rides, maypole dancing, a living history display, an exhibition of farm machinery new and old, and a display of vintage double decker buses and military vehicles from the South Yorkshire Transport Museum.

Homemade teas will be served throughout the day in the village hall.

All the profits from the show will go towards the upkeep of Letwell’s medieval church, St Peter’s.


News - 'First black footballer' celebrated (Arthur Wharton)

The life of a goalkeeper who played for Sheffield United and Rotherham town, and is considered to be the world's first black professional footballer, will be celebrated in a series of events after campaigners won a £100,000 lottery grant.

Arthur Wharton played for Darlington, Sheffield United and Rotherham Town as well as other football clubs in the north of England in the 1890s.

He also set the world record for the 100-yard sprint in 1886 at exactly 10 seconds.

Some have suggested he might have played for England if it was not for his race.

Sheffield-based community organisation Football Unites, Racism Divides (Furd) has championed Wharton's memory and in 1997 placed a headstone on his grave in Edlington, South Yorkshire.

Now it has secured a £117,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project aimed at making sure his story is more widely known.

Activities planned include a proposed film, which would be distributed to schools, community groups and football clubs, drama workshops, a travelling exhibition, a Victorian sports day, teaching packs and an interactive website.

The players' union, the Professional Footballers Association, has also backed the project financially.

Furd director Howard Holmes said: "Furd has championed the incredible sporting life of Arthur Wharton for many years but there is still so much that remains hidden.

"Arthur spent the majority of his adult life in South Yorkshire so it is fitting that young people from Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield will help produce educational materials that will spread Arthur's story far and wide."

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Website - Notts County Council Community Archaeology

Nottinghamshire County Council have recently updated their Community Archaeology website at this is much more accessible than the previous incarnations.  It includes details of their forthcoming work including the dig on the Romano-British site at Besthorpe in August

There is also a new online volunteering form at This will help them to get more volunteers and is a great way to get updates on what's happening in our county.  Please join as the more people willing to help will hopefully mean they will do more projects in the future

Event - Roman Nottinghamshire by author Mark Patterson (Bassetlaw Museum)

FREE talk at Bassetlaw Museum

Roman Nottinghamshire by author Mark Patterson

Meet the author and book signing this Saturday 2nd July 2011 2-3pm

Places are limited so ring the museum on 01777 713 749 to book yours!

Book - Life and death choices in the Great Flood (Sheffield Flood)

FOR Joseph Dawson, the Bradfield village tailor, the choice was stark but simple.

As flood waters tore around him he tried carrying both his ill wife and their two-day-old baby to safety.

Battered by the rising current, he had not the strength to keep hold of both.

“I was obliged,” he later recounted, “to leave the child to its fate, or I could not have saved my wife.”

Thus, the still-unnamed baby – whose body was found days later in a coal cellar – became the first of some 240 Sheffielders killed in the city’s largest Victorian tragedy: the Great Flood of March 11, 1864.

The statistics from that stormy Friday night are still astounding.

An estimated 650 million gallons of water – travelling at 18 mph and in some places more than 24 foot high – destroyed or damaged 800 homes, 100 factories and 15 bridges.

It surged down the valley from the newly-built Dale Dyke Reservoir, where a collapsed dam released the torrent, through Hillsborough, into the city centre and on to Attercliffe. One body was found as far away as Mexborough. A witness, Samuel Harrison, declared “a bombardment with the newest and most powerful artillery could hardly have proved so destructive”.

It is against this catastrophic backdrop that a new novel by city writers Maggie Lett and Geoff Rowe is set.

Flood Waters, published by ACM Retro, is a multi-layered love story which tells the tale of a community torn apart by the devastation.

It is a work of fiction but many real people appear, including John Gunson, the reservoir’s engineer who many blamed for the disaster.

“When I first arrived in the city in the 1970s, I stumbled on some plates commemorating the flood in Weston Park Museum, and I’ve been fascinated ever since,” says higher education tutor Maggie, of London Road.

“This was such a huge disaster yet the more I spoke to people about it, the more I realised very few people had any idea about it. There isn’t even a monument.

“I researched it for years – vaguely thinking I might publish a leaflet – but when I found myself unemployed in 2005 I sat down with Geoff and we thought a novel was the best way of telling the story.”

Certainly, there was no lack of harrowing drama during the incident.

Among the victims, entire families were wiped out, including the Armitages, a family of 11 who ran the Stag pub in Malin Bridge, and the Tricketts, a farming family of 10 from Loxley.

Dozens of children were drowned in their beds, including the two sons of the paymaster sergeant at Sheffield Barracks, and 17-year-old Jonathan Turner, in Nursery Lane, city centre, who awoke to find himself trapped in his ground floor bedroom as water poured in through the window.

And yet, if the victims were many and tragic, there were also great tales of heroism and bravery from the flood.

At Damflask, a woman known only as Mrs Kirk refused to leave her home until she found her cat and dog, eventually carrying both pets to safety only seconds before the water washed her house away.

William Watson, meanwhile, had been washed from his bed at Malin Bridge and said later he feared certain death only to be literally plucked from the torrent by a stranger hanging from a first floor window.

"The records of the flood are so complete and so vivid, it made describing the scenes difficult because they are so harrowing,” says one-time Sheffield Telegraph reporter Maggie.

“But I do think this is something to be commemorated more in Sheffield.

“Of course I hope our book is popular but I also hope it can help the city sit up and take notice of its past.”

News - Another brick in the wall for miners’ monument (Edlington)

WORK is under way on a wall which will commemmorate a former Doncaster colliery.

Workmen are building the wall in Edlington to remember the Yorkshire Main pit, which was closed 25 years ago following the miners’ strike.

Several former NUM officials including Andy Summers, Frank Arrowsmith and Jim Kelly devised the plan for the wall in a bid to revitalise the area.

They formed The Yorkshire Main Commemorative Trust, with the aim of honouring the culture and heritage of the mine for present and future generations.

They are also building a paved landscaped area, near to the Edlington Community Centre.

A further aim of the Trust is to erect a monument, with the design set to be created by pupils at the Sir Thomas Wharton College.

Plaques will honour miners who have died from industrial diseases as a result of their lifetime of work, as well as those who were killed in industrial accidents at Yorkshire Main.

News - Give our women the statue they deserve (Sheffield)

The Star’s campaign to win recognition for the women who kept the steelworks going during World War II was greeted with the promise of a permanent memorial in a prominent place in the city centre.

The pledge was made more than a year ago and today the women who made bullets, bombs, planes and ships for our boys on the frontline are demanding answers.

Kathleen Roberts, aged 89, started the campaign - which was backed by Parliament and the Prime Minister - and stressed time is of the essence.

More than 100 women still survive, aged in their 80s and 90s, but most died before receiving any thanks.

“The idea came from the council, not from us, and most people think it is a lovely idea but they have really got to get a move on,” Kathleen said.

“All the women involved in this campaign would dearly love to see it come to its conclusion but we may not be around when that happens because it is taking so long.

“This is not for us, we are doing it for all the women who worked in the steel industry in Sheffield.”

The proposal was given cross-party support in April 2010 and one suggestion was for a statue to be placed on the corner of the City Hall steps.

Both Labour and the Lib Dems are still fully behind the idea and £28,000 has been set aside but more money is needed.

The administration has since changed hands and today Labour pledged to move it forward as soon as possible.

Council leader Julie Dore said: “I find it profoundly disappointing that the previous Lib Dem administration failed to deliver on a promise made over 12 months ago to the Women of Steel to provide a memorial as recognition by the city of the contribution made by thousands of Sheffield women who worked in the steel industry during World War Two.

“The Lib Dems recognised the need to move this forward as a matter of urgency, as it said in the report itself in April 2010 that ‘there was a need to bring this project to fruition during their lifetime’.

“To now find that they took over a year to identify a sum of money to kickstart the project and also failed to commence any sort of consultation means that they have wasted precious time which I think the people of Sheffield will find unforgivable.

“This Labour council are now putting together a plan to ensure that this promise to the Women of Steel and Sheffield people is delivered as soon as possible. We thank The Star for their continued support and will be working with them to keep the people of Sheffield informed.”

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield added: “I’m shocked that the Lib Dems used the Women of Steel to make a big public commitment just a month before the general and local elections and then failed to proceed for over 12 months, but I’m now pleased that the new Labour council are determined to sort the matter out and I will be doing all I can to help and support the project.”

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, renewed his support for the monument but said serious questions had to be asked.

“Whilst in power Liberal Democrats got the ball rolling by taking the decision to go ahead with this important memorial. We earmarked £28,000 for the project, with a signed-off plan to raise the rest through donations from local businesses and other donors. That was just before Labour took over at the May 5 elections.

“Since Labour took power it seems as though not much has happened to take this important project forward. I’m not even clear if any businesses or potential donors have been approached. Serious questions have to be asked about why the council has taken their eye off the ball.

“Sheffield women made great sacrifices for the war effort and it’s important that, as a city, we recognise their contribution. I’m disappointed that our Women of Steel are being badly let down by Labour.

“Labour complain about a lack of investment but the fact is only the other week they outlined £2m of extra spending on their priorities, the Women of Steel memorial wasn’t one of them.”

Save Doncaster Libraries - Mayor critical as Miliband backs library closure protest

MAYOR of Doncaster Peter Davies has hit back at MP Ed Miliband’s criticisms of Doncaster’s planned libraries cuts.

Mr Miliband, who is backing protesters who are fighting the planned closures, said he was adding his support for the campaign to keep 14 libraries initially named on a list of threatened closures.

He said they were an essential part of the community in Doncaster.

But Mr Davies said: “The real culprits for the closures are Mr Miliband et al whose Labour Government got us in the mess the country is in.

“He is jumping on the bandwagon without recognising the part his party has played in the mess we are in.

“The decision has been made that 12 libraries will stay open and be improved to make them more attractive to get more people in them. Central Library, for instance, has been neglected over the years.

“We will keep as many open as possible, working with the community. But we already have too many libraries in the borough. There are certainly some libraries where no-one has come forward as a community saying they are interested in keeping them open.”

Mr Miliband is due to meet campaigners from pressure group Save Doncaster’s Libraries next month. The campaigners have collected 26,000 names on a petition.


He would say that though!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

News – Priories Historical Society new committee members (Oldcotes)

The Priories Historical Society are proud to announce that we have a new Chairperson; Maureen Broadhead, previously the Vice-Chairperson, will be taking over the reins with immediate effect.

Alan Gisbourne has now become the Vice Chairperson.

News - Archaeologists furious over councillor's 'bunny huggers' jibe (National news)

Archaeologists have condemned a Tory council leader's threat to dismantle all archaeological controls on development, saying that the regulations are necessary to protect the UK's unique national heritage.

Alan Melton, leader of Fenland District Council, dismissed opponents of development as "bunny huggers" in a speech last week. Archaeologists fear his views reflect a national threat to all heritage protection as a result of the government's determination to simplify the planning process to encourage development.

The principle that developers must pay for archaeological excavation – before construction work destroys sites – has led to a string of major discoveries in the past 20 years, including the "Prince of Prittlewell" (a royal Saxon grave on the outskirts of Southend), a pit full of decapitated skeletons that may have been victims of a Viking massacre in Dorset, the first purpose-built Tudor theatre in London, and a 5,000-year-old enclosure under Heathrow's Terminal 5.

Archaeologists now fear that the threat to give developers free rein in East Anglia's Fenland – known for the spectacular preservation of waterlogged prehistoric and later sites – may be part of a wider national trend, particularly at a time when many local authorities are losing their conservation officers and archaeologists.

Dr Tony Pollard, director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Glasgow, reflected the anxieties of many: "My worry as someone far away from the Fens – though I fully appreciate their archaeological importance – is that this could mark the thin end of the wedge, with the recession being used as an excuse to trash our national archaeological heritage in the name of economic recovery."

Melton, who delivered his speech last week in Wisbech, said: "The bunny huggers won't like this, but if they wish to inspect a site, they can do it when the footings are being dug out."

The speech was widely reported by local papers including the Wisbech Standard and the Eastern Daily Press, and as word spread the Council for British Archaeology, the Archaeology Forum and the Institute for Archaeologists expressed outrage.

Both the Forum and CBA have been in discussions with English Heritage about the implications for archaeology. The issue will also be raised by members of the parliamentary all party archaeology group in debates in the House of Lords on the government's Localism Bill.

According to the online version of the Eastern Daily Press article, Melton emailed Conservative party colleagues to say: "I don't tweet, but what a wonderful day. To be attacked by bunny huggers, historic lefties, and the vested interested professional classes. Eric Pickles will be extremely proud of me."

Article - Debauchery, workhouses, child labour, gin palaces – welcome to 19th century Sheffield . . .

In the mid-19th century there were 110,000 people living in Sheffield

Squalor, child labour and debauchery – that’s the Sheffield history revealed by one family tree, as Star reporter Rachael Clegg discovers

WHEN Suzanne Bingham started looking into her family history, she had no idea what was in store.

For years Suzanne worked in Sheffield Central Library’s Local Studies department, helping other people research their ancestors. Until recently, she had never explored her own family history.

But her research revealed more than genealogy.

Through the lens of the Bingham family’s history, focusing on her great-great-grandfather, James Bingham, Suzanne discovered not only how he lived, but how the majority of working class Sheffielders lived in mid 19th century.

Her findings could rip the rose-tinted spectacles from the face of anyone delving into the past.

James Bingham was born in 1847 in one of Sheffield’s workhouses – complexes designed for housing the poor.

Workhouses could accommodate thousands of paupers and their children. Women did domestic chores such as laundry and cooking while men worked long days doing heavy labour – jobs such as bone-crushing for fertiliser or stone-breaking.

Suzanne doesn’t know the precise circumstances that led to her great-great-great-grandmother giving birth in the workhouse, but she speculates there could have been a variety of reasons for her being there.

“The whole family could have been in hospital or she could have been kicked out of service in her ninth month of pregnancy,” said Suzanne. “Or she could have been sent there as punishment. Unfortunately, like a lot of things with genealogy, we’ll never know.”

By 1851 the young James Bingham had made it out of the workhouse to live with his grandfather, Samuel Bingham, on Ropery Row.

His grandfather shared a house with young women, all of whom worked as white metal rubbers.

By 13 years old James had moved in with his employer, working as an apprentice pearl and ivory fluter. “He lived with his employer and worked for food and lodgings – he didn’t get a wage,” said Suzanne.

“That was common in those days – many young lads lived with their employers and would work in their employer’s backyard or workshop.

“My great-great-grandfather shared a house not only with his employer, but with the employer’s wife and their four children. And these weren’t big houses – they were bigger than back-to-backs but they were modest terraces. It must have been cramped.”

James’s apprenticeship lasted seven years. By the time he was 20 he was a fully-trained ivory and pearl fluter.

By today’s standards, it seems criminal a 13-year-old should endure a full-time, physically exhausting job, but by mid-19th century standards, James was relatively old when he started his apprentice. Children as young as five worked in the cutlery trade, working 60-hour weeks in terrible conditions. The average life expectancy of an adult in Sheffield was just 27.

But there was relief: debauchery and drinking. In 1844 the social scientist Friedrich Engels reported that “immorality among young people is more prevalent in Sheffield than anywhere else”.

“The younger generation spend the whole of Sunday lying in the street tossing coins or fighting dogs, go regularly to the gin palace where they sit with their sweetheart until late at night, then take walks in solitary couples.”

Thousands of people lived like James, in cramped conditions. There was no sanitary infrastructure – all waste was dumped in the street and flowed through an open sewer.

This was less of a problem for Sheffield’s wealthier classes who, according to Suzanne, generally lived at the top of a hill. But, for the poor dwelling in squalid tenements at the bottom of the hill, disease was rife as sewage and waste surrounded them.

“You can’t imagine what it was like. It would have been like a different planet – absolutely filthy,” said Suzanne.

Contrary to our perception of the Steel City with its huge steelworks and colossal industrial complexes, much of the work done in the mid-19th century was piece work, completed on a small scale, self-employed basis.

“Sheffield wasn’t like Manchester in that we didn’t have the huge ‘satanic’ mills at this stage,” said Suzanne. “Instead people were completing their work at home, in their backyards or little mesters’ workshops, with a steam engine powering the machinery.

“Many of the workmen would collect their commissions on a Saturday, have Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off, work half a day on Wednesday and then put the hours in before they returned the work on Saturday, often working all the way through on a Friday night.”

This gritty but fascinating history is the result of Suzanne’s research into her family history, looking at census records, death and birth certificates.

“You’d find all this out looking at any family tree and now there is more and more information online,” she said.

“You’d never be able to find this sort of detail out so easily 15 years ago but now it’s all at the touch of a button. And more and more people are becoming fascinated by their own history these days.”

But the capacity of the internet has its limits. “It would be wonderful to go back in time, wouldn’t it?” says Suzanne.

“But looking at the state in which most Sheffielders lived back then, you wouldn’t want to stick around.”

Suzanne Bingham has just launched a website – – to help people discover their family history.

rise of the little mesters
In the mid-19th century there were 110,000 people living in Sheffield

Most men and women were employed in the cutlery industry, working on a piecemeal basis in little mesters’ workshops or somethimes in their backyards.

Suzanne’s great-great-grandfather worked as a pearl and ivory fluter. We know there were at least 2,000 men working this particular trade, as after the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864 as many as 2,912 ivory and pearl fluters made small claims for damaged property as a result of the flood.

Many paupers lived in Sheffield’s workhouses. Northern General Hospital was originally built as Fir Vale workhouse, and provided schooling, food and accommodation for hundreds of Sheffield’s poor.


Monday, 27 June 2011

Article - Castle opportunities (Sheffield)

NOW is the moment for Sheffield people to grasp an excellent opportunity to push their city further on two fronts.

The first is, following the mandatory archaeological examination of the castle remains, hopefully with some worthy opinions from Time Team, to secure the creation of a heritage basement.

This would contain the remains of the foundations of the castle and what still exists of the walls which are to be found under the market.

It could be a state-of-the-art multi-media explanation of the site and its functions throughout the ages.

The second opportunity we have before us is to build over the basement, on the first floor and upwards, creating whatever facilities the experts think will be useful and necessary for modern-day Sheffielders.

This would be in the spirit of Helen Mirfin-Boukouris’s aims of bringing business, jobs and growth to the city.

The castle basement would without doubt be a big hit.

It would attract tourist interest, be of educational value and, at last, give back to the people of Sheffield a much-needed feature in the heart of the city which goes back to medieval times.

This, along with the modern development suggested, should satisfy the different perspectives that exist and sometimes conflict on what Sheffield should be about.

There are far more remains of the castle under the market than is openly publicised.

It was one of England’s largest castles in its day and it played a major role in Tudor and Stuart times.

Would Time Team be interested?

I’m sure they would.

Particularly if you could get Tony, Phil and Mick back to a certain hostelry in Kelham Island and the deal is secured.

David Youle, Blow Road, Epworth, Doncaster

News - Nottingham Great War centenary exhibition call for help

Family historians with an interest in World War I are being asked to help with an exhibition in Nottingham.

The Nottinghamshire Great War centenary exhibition will mark the contribution ordinary people made to the war.

It will open at Castle Museum in August 2014, the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI.

Organisers have appealed for volunteer guides to help visitors with their own research as well as personal mementos, letters and war diaries for the show.

Exhibition curator and military historian Major John Cotterill said: "We want our exhibition to be a living exhibition.

Continue reading the main story

"An exhibition where people can come in and ask about their Great War ancestors and we can produce the photographs, the maps and the information that brings their query to life."

Hidden histories
Maj Cotterill, a serving soldier with the Mercian regiment based at Chilwell barracks, said: "I've been talking to people who have some incredible diaries - military and civilian - that have never been published.

"Some have been transcribed and some are stored away in people's attics," he said.

The military historian is appealing for war artefacts.

"Trench art that soldiers brought back, German helmets, all sorts of things," said Maj Cotterill.

"Normally museums take only stuff that has been donated but we are happy to take stuff that has been loaned."

People who have time or possessions to contribute to the exhibition are asked to write to RHQ Mercian at Foresters House, Chilwell, Nottingham NG9 5HA or email directly.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

News - Castle campaigners awarded grant for amphitheatre work (Rotherham)

Campaigners who successfully fought for the restoration of a landmark building have been given a second grant which will pay for the overhaul of an exterior courtyard.

The Friends of Boston Castle faced several obstacles in their bid to have the former hunting lodge refurbished for community use, including uncertainty over promised council funding.

Council bosses said the plan for the building, in Rotherham’s Boston Park, overlooking the Don Valley, would have to be re-examined in the face of spending cuts.

But eventually agreement was reached over a scaled-back version of the original vision, and the Heritage Lottery Fund agreed to provide more than £500,000 towards the £1.2m project.

Waste firm Biffa has now come forward with the second cash sum of £50,000 through its Biffaward scheme, which the Friends will use to transform the courtyard into an amphitheatre.

Janet Worrall, secretary of the Friends of Boston Castle and Park, said the group “was thrilled” with the Biffaward grant.

She added: “It will provide unique opportunities at the historic site – allowing a wide range of uses for the courtyard area.

“We are now looking forward to the work finally starting and in preparation we are currently recruiting volunteers to act as tour guides when Boston Castle opens to the general public next year.”

Work on the vandalised castle’s refurbishment, which will see its 18th century battlements and windows repaired, is due to start later in the summer.

Anyone interested in tour guide training should contact Mrs Worrall on 01709 361861.


Event - Take a stroll back in time (Doncaster

evening heritage walks have been organised by Doncaster Council so working people can enjoy them.

Staff from the Tourist Information Centre hold regular walks on the first Friday morning of every month, which offer visitors a chance to take in historic building such as the Mansion House, see the remains of the Roman wall and hear tales from Doncaster’s rich history.

Now special Summer Heritage walks are planned to leave the Tourist Information Centre on High Street at 6pm on Wednesday, July 27, and Wednesday, August 27, and cost £3 per person.


Friday, 24 June 2011

News - Fears Sheffield's Traditional Heritage museum may close

Volunteers at a Sheffield museum fear it may have closed its doors for the final time.

The Traditional Heritage Museum closed in February after concerns over health and safety.

Volunteer Gordon Murfin said he was unable to find any information about its future.

Sheffield University, which owns the building, said no-one was available to comment.

The museum, which has been open since 1985, has given visitors an experience of Sheffield from years gone by in the former church hall of Endcliffe Methodist Church.

Based on Ecclesall Road, the hall has a variety of walk-through displays, including a replica kitchen from the 1920s and a variety of Sheffield shops, such as Pollard's tea and coffee and Renwick's Basketmakers.

Mr Murfin said other volunteers had shared their dismay and it would be a shame to close the 'wonderful reconstruction" of Sheffield's past.

"We can't get a lot of sense out of anybody. We understand that there was a health hazard but it's been going on forever and we can't get anywhere," Mr Murfin said.

Volunteer curator Prof John Widdowson said the university had planned to hold a meeting on its future in June.

Despite Sheffield University owning the museum and the displays, the venture has been entirely run by volunteers.

News - Council-owned mansion under hammer (Thorne Hall)

AUCTIONEERS behind the sale of a mansion which was last used as a council office and depot yesterday said they expected the property to fetch up to £400,000 when it goes under the hammer next month.

Grade II-listed Thorne Hall was built in 1818 for a local farmer and was a family residence but was eventually bought by the local council and used for meetings and administration.

The building, in Ellison Street, Thorne, near Doncaster, is now owned by Doncaster Council, which is selling the building to help it find money towards £71m in savings demanded by the Government.

Graham Johnston, of London-based Lambert Smith Hampton said the sale had been delayed after local MP Caroline Flint called for a re-examination of options for the site’s future.

But it has now been included in a catalogue for a sale on July 11 and a number of buyers have apparently shown an interest, with a viewing day planned at the landmark building for next Thursday.

Mr Johnston said: “A particular point of interest in the building is the ballroom, which has been used in the past for council meetings and there are other bits and pieces which are significant.

“Potentially we would expect buyers to perhaps be looking at using it as a hotel or perhaps a nursing home, and there have already been buyers contacting us to ask about it.”

Mr Johnston said other architectural features of note included a cantilevered stone staircase with iron balustrade and an entrance hall with a Doric columned screen.

Thorne Hall has been disused for several years, and a campaign, led by local councillors, has been mounted to bring the hall, which is opposite the town’s park, back into community use.

Coun Martin Williams, who represents the town on Doncaster Council said he was pleased to see the sale finally going ahead, and added he was “fed up” with other building in the town being left to rot.

He added: “I have got Tim Leader, a planning barrister who is the former chief executive of Doncaster Council, looking at the way the council has handled empty buildings in the town.

“If nothing is done about some of them, particularly those around the market place, I am going to take the authority to judicial review over the way they have let some of this town go to rack and ruin.”

Earlier this year, Lambert Smith Hampton auctioned two other buildings for Doncaster Council, including a house known as the Priory in Conisbrough and a listed school building in Arksey.

The Grade II-listed Consibrough property fetched £312,000 at the sale held in February, while the school building was bought for £155,000.

The Thorne Hall auction will take place on July 11 in London. For more details about the sale contact Lambert Smith Hampton on 020 7198 2278

TV - Spooner gives us window on past (BBC1 Hidden Paintings Sunday 10.25)

AS a painter, Arthur Spooner was a historian's dream. Notts' great painter lived from 1873 to 1962, so his early work was done at a time when photography was more rudimentary and less readily available.

So when strapping TV historian Dan Snow began looking into the artist's work, he liked what he saw.

"It's an incredible treasure trove as to what Nottingham and Nottinghamshire looked like at that time," he said.

"It was a surprising bit of research and it was so exciting to find out how rich and full of detail his paintings were. He was painting like a photographer. As a historian it's the most fantastic source. We were just thrilled to have him,"

"We" includes the team Dan brought to film Hidden Paintings, a BBC documentary airing on Sunday in partnership with the Public Catalogue Foundation, an organisation working to track and display images of all publicly owned oil paintings across the UK.

When the foundation released its Notts book several years ago, it was a revelation – thousands of paintings, some hidden in plain sight in modest public buildings. They tell the story of a place.

And few tell that story better than the works of Arthur Spooner, as Dan found when he began exploring Notts with local historians and art experts.

"They took us on like a treasure hunt around the region," he said. "Armed with those paintings, we had a real understanding with what the region looked like at the time."

Spooner's most famous painting, the image of Goose Fair that hangs in the museum at Nottingham Castle, gets a look-in. But his painting of Welbeck Abbey plays a more important role in the programme.

"It was a fascinating one," Dan said of the Welbeck work. "I've known about the Goose Fair paintings for years and my dad (TV presenter Peter Snow) lived in Nottinghamshire for years so we knew a bit about what happened there."

Dan's a huge fan of the Public Catalogue Foundation and the work it does making publicly owned artwork easier to find and more accessible for the people who own it.

Which is, of course, all of us.

"It's just a fantastic project," he said. "It's a brilliantly logical project.

"We own this artwork, and it's amazing that it's there for us."

Hidden Paintings airs on BBC One this Sunday at 10:25pm.

To learn more about the Public Catalogue Foundation, visit

News - 'Haunted' portrait in Your Paintings online archive

A portrait of Lady Ossington, said to be haunted by its subject, is one of 200,000 publicly-owned oil paintings being made available to view online, as part of a BBC campaign.

For nearly 100 years, it hung in the Ossington Coffee Palace in Newark, Nottinghamshire.

But when the establishment began to sell alcohol, some claim the ghost of Lady Ossington became offended and there were reports of the oil painting "flying off the wall".

The Victorian artwork is now kept in stores, like 80% of the oil paintings in the UK's national art collection, but can be seen and its story read, on the Your Paintings website.

Haunting history
Viscountess Ossington built the coffee palace on Beastmarket Hill in 1882 as a charitable concern.

Its aim was to provide a hostel where travellers could find accommodation for the night without the temptation of drink on the premises.

The Viscountess was to be its manager until her death and was to be succeeded by a group of trustees to maintain the building "in a crusade against the demon drink", according to its title deed.

But in the 1960s a court decided the trust was not a charitable institution as the hotel had always been run on commercial lines.

The heirs of Viscountess Ossington were traced as the true beneficiaries and the coffee palace was sold in 1978.

Shortly afterwards it became a public house.

The Coffee Palace was to be run "in a crusade against the demon drink" It is then the portrait is said to have started to repeatedly "fly off the wall".

Newark and Sherwood District museum service purchased the artwork - believed to have been painted by a Miss Hawkins - at auction in 1981.

"It is a hefty piece which may be a more rational explanation for why it fell off walls," said the museum service's Kevin Winter.

The oil painting is kept in the district council's resource centre stores on Brunel Drive, one of 700 artworks in its collection, along with sculptures by Robert Kiddey, woodcuts from Sir William Nicholson and two prints by the internationally-acclaimed artist Bridgett Riley.

The Resource Centre is open to the public by appointment. To book a visit call 01636 655777 or e-mail

Online archive
The UK has a national art collection of 200,000 oil paintings, held in a vast range of public institutions.

Though they are owned by UK publicly-funded organisations, 80% of the paintings are not on display, either hidden away in storage or in buildings the public cannot access.

Your Paintings brings together these artworks, with the stories behind them, and where they can be viewed.

The project is a partnership between the BBC and The Public Catalogue Foundation which has spent the last six years photographing and cataloguing the works of art.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Event - Local Area History Group's Heritage Fair (Creswell Crags)

Priories Historical Society will be attending the Local Area History Groups Heritage Fair on 1st October 2011.  We’ll be selling books as well as creating a display for the event.  Last year it was held at the Turbine Centre in Shireoaks and was a great success.
The event opens at 08.30 and car parking for the general public will be in the La Farge car park with shuttle buses transporting the public on-site.

Event - National recognition for work at key Barnsley landmark (Wentworth Castle)

A PROJECT to restore prominent South Yorkshire gardens has reached the final of a national competition to find the UK’s best Lottery-funded heritage scheme.

Over the last nine years £17 million has been spent on Wentworth Castle near Barnsley, with funding coming from a variety of sources including the Lottery.

The money has enabled a number of historic buildings and monuments to be restored on site including Stainborough Castle, Wentworth Castle, the Corinthian Temple, the Sun Monument, the Gun Room and Duke of the Argyll’s Monument, the North Ha Ha.

The most recent restoration was the Rotunda while the 60- acre pleasure gardens have also been restored including the Union Jack Gardens.

The national collections of rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias have also been enhanced while around 35,000 trees have been planted in Stainborough Park.

Steve Garland, interim heritage director, said: “I am delighted to hear that the Phase 1 restoration of Wentworth Castle Gardens has been voted through to the finals of the 2011 National Lottery Awards. It is a wonderful achievement for everyone who has helped us to become a real jewel in Barnsley’s crown.

“The Lottery funding has enabled us to bring the estate back to life and growing numbers of visitors are enjoying it every year.”

A lecture on the work is to be held at 2pm next Thursday, in St James’ Hall at Wentworth Castle Gardens.

The talk will be given by the estate manager of Wentworth Castle Trust Dr Michael Klemperer, and will give an insight into the landscape history of the site, how the site looks now and how the current developments reflect the area’s history.

Volunteers - Volunteers needed for Nottingham City Museums and Galleries

Nottingham City Council is seeking volunteers to help at Nottingham Castle, Brewhouse Yard, Green's Windmill, Wollaton Halland Newstead Abbey.

To celebrate the European Year of Volunteering, Nottingham City Council is supporting local people to be able to volunteer and engage with the work that is done in museums and galleries. Volunteers play a very valuable role, enhancing the visitor experience, whether they carry out work directly with the public or behind the scenes.

We are looking for people who can spare some time to join our friendly team of volunteers in a variety of exciting new roles across the museum sites. These roles range from helping with fun family learning activities, working at events, supporting our local industrial heritage, or working with our fascinating collections.

We will be holding two induction days for volunteers on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July at Wollaton Hall. These induction days will introduce potential volunteers to the museum service and the specific roles available to them. Booking in advance is essential - please call Jenna Stevens on 0115 876 2205.

The volunteering opportunities offer many benefits:

• Meet new people and make new friends
• Increase your confidence and gain new skills
• Gain valuable work experience within a museum
• Have a fun and enjoyable experience!

We welcome applications from all sections of the community. No experience is necessary, just an enthusiasm to want to help out. Training will be provided, and reasonable travel expenses are paid.

Whatever your interests or skills, we would love to hear from you.

Emma Lowton, Family Learning Volunteer for the backpacks at Nottingham Castle, said: "For me, volunteering with the Museum Service is a great way to enjoy Nottingham's unique heritage, and share that enjoyment with others. I love seeing families enjoying their visit to the Castle. And knowing that I've contributed to that is extremely rewarding."

Councillor David Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said, "Nottingham City Council values the fantastic work done by volunteers. The Museums' volunteering programme offers an excellent opportunity to introduce many people to what Nottingham has to offer and to enable them to develop lifelong skills."

For further information on the opportunities available and how to apply please contact: Jenna Stevens, Volunteer Programme Co-ordinator, Nottingham City Museum and Galleries. Email: Tel: 0115 876 2205