REPORT ON RECENT LECTURES, WINTER 2000
11 November 2000: Nottinghamshire History Lecture: Neighbours from Hell? The fourth Duke of Newcastle and the people of Nottingham’ - Dr Richard Gaunt, University of Nottingham
The fourth Duke of Newcastle was not one of Nottinghamshire's more loveable characters. Although a devoted husband, and the father of numerous children (with whom he systematically fell out) Newcastle was a politician through and through. His electoral stranglehold on early nineteenth-century Newark hardly endeared him to the locals, and while his influence in Nottingham may have waned by the time his Castle was fired in 1831 as a protest against his anti-Reform views, he could still prove offensive. He first insisted on compensation for the Castle firing, and then pocketed the money rather than rebuilding the mansion. All this, and much more, was revealed by Richard Gaunt, in an excellent lecture based on his recently completed PhD thesis. With apt quotations from Newcastle's personal diary and his numerous letters, Richard painted a deft portrait of the political activities and personal proclivities of one of the county's great landed magnates. Read the full story in the forthcoming Transactions.
8 December 2000: ‘Nottinghamshire from its Origins to the Eve of the Black Death, c.1000 to 1340’ – Dr David Crook, Public Record Office
The last lecture of the 2000 series was given by Dr David Crook. His subject was one of the series of three looking at eras of Nottinghamshire during the last thousand years. David's period was the earliest, commencing around the beginning of the second millennium. He dedicated his lecture to the memory of Sir Frank Stenton, the eminent Anglo-Saxon and mediaeval historian who lived for many years in the Prebendal House at Halloughton, a house built in the time of David's subject period. Starting with the key year of 877, and the 5 Boroughs set firmly in the Danelaw, Dr Crook traced early references to the shire and its changing fortunes during the Danish period. He explained the function of the wapentakes as assemblies of free men and the uniqu e nature of the combined county court and sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. At the time of Robin Hood, the early 13th century, Eustace of Lowdham would have been Sheriff. The 2 shires shared a sheriff until the 16th century. Kings visited Notts often, partly because of accessibility, partly due to the important properties here. John and Edward II were particularly partial. Parliament was held at Clipstone Palace and it was then that Edward I's queen, Eleanor of crosses fame, took ill. Another royal association of the period which David highlighted was the death of King Edwin which probably occurred near Edwinstowe Chapel. This lecture provided a high point on which to end the programme for the year, the century and the millennium. A wealth of interest and information was given on a defining period for this county. Particularly of interest to Society members was the section on wapentakes which tied together knowledge gained during the year's wapentake visitations.
13 January 2001: ‘Nottingham Housing in the 20th Century’ - Mr Geoffrey Oldfield
The first lecture of the 21st century was on a subject with which Geoffrey Oldfield is very familiar, as he worked on housing finance in the City Council’s Treasurer’s Department for many years. Starting with The Victorian Legacy, Geoffrey covered Homes for Heroes returning from World War I; Post-War Building 1946-54, including the development of Clifton; The Rebuilding of The City 1955-75, when St Ann’s and the Meadows were redeveloped; and New Horizons after 1975, when the City Council’s functions changed radically. The lecture revealed a period of great change, housing within the City boundaries increasing from 55,000 in 1901 to 120,000 today, though the population is much the same: the average household in Nottingham fell in size from 4.33 in 1911 to 2.37 in 1991. The 20th century saw the emergence – and demolition - of high-rise housing. The role of the City Council has changed from providing housing for the poorer working class, through phases of massive building programmes including ‘prefabs’, managing a reduction in the housing stock in the public sector under the Right to Buy policy, and the requirement to cooperate with housing associations, to improve the environment and provide sheltered accommodation.
Geoffrey gave a fascinating picture of the changing styles of building and construction methods – did you know that many houses in Clifton were built by a ‘no fines’ policy of pouring rough concrete into shutters to make walls, due to the post-war shortake of bricklayers? Millions have been spent on refurbishing Council stock to make it fit for the higher standards of living expected today. The audience was spellbound throughout the lecture, which aroused much interest.