News for Summer 2006


As is reported on the front page of this Newsletter, Rosalys Coope was elected as President of the Society at the Annual General Meeting in April. Many of you will know Rosalys well, and others will have heard her lectures to the Society. However, this is a good opportunity to tell members a little more about our new President. And so, in good journalistic style, I tracked Rosalys down to her home in Epperstone, and gained the following fascinating account of her richly interesting life.

Rosalys's association with the Society started with a friendship between her tutor and the Holland-Walkers (Mr Holland-Walker was at the time Secretary of Thoroton). When Rosalys married and moved to Nottinghamshire in 1951 she was introduced to Mr and Mrs Holland-Walker by her tutor, and she and her husband Peter were invited to their house for a meal. The outcome of this visit was that Rosalys became a member of the Society and was elected to Council in 1955. There she was - a young woman with two young daughters to care for - amongst the august and austere group of learned and, in the main, men who ran the Society in those days. Since that time, Rosalys has contributed a great deal to the Society, including being Chairman of Council, lecturing, and leading excursions.

But a little more about her personal history. Rosalys's academic credentials are impressive for one who never took her School Certificate, due to an inability to grasp the rudiments of mathematics: 'uncommonly strange', as Rosalys herself said. After an education in a variety of schools, both here and in Switzerland, Rosalys was sent to Italy in 1938. She stayed in a villa in Florence with twelve other English girls and had a 'lovely time in what was not a finishing school but a beginning school'. After this she joined her sister in Paris during the Munich crisis, and then came the War, and she endeavoured to 'do her bit', finally becoming a Wren. After spending some of the latter part of her naval career at Chatham, Rosalys was sent to Ceylon towards the end of 1944 when preparations were in hand for the invasion of Japan. She was there during 1945, and remembers everyone in the 'wrennery' listening to the news of the dropping of the atom bomb.

Once home, Rosalys decided that her chosen career would be working in an art gallery, and she wrote to the Director of the National Gallery who at that time was Kenneth Clark (later Sir). His advice was to take a degree in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute and, having applied and without having matriculated, she was accepted, due mainly to her experience of art in Italy. One of her tutors was Anthony Blunt, and through his teaching she became interested in architecture, in particular French, and spent some time in France following her graduation, specialising in 16th and 17th-century French architecture. However, Rosalys's first job back in England was as personal assistant to Kenneth Clark.

She then met her husband to be, Peter Coope, they married, and two daughters, Helen and Clare, were born. When the girls went to school Rosalys decided to continue her academic career and work for a PhD, which she gained through her writing on early 17th-century French architecture.

Travelling to and from France was not the easiest way to continue studies, so Rosalys looked for something nearer home, and, due to a series of lucky incidents, her eye lighted on Newstead Abbey. The lucky incident included the interest the then Chief Librarian, Mr Tighe, was taking in Newstead, which was at that time in his care. He was documenting the history of the building in the Middle Ages, but had little knowledge of its history post-dissolution, and was looking for someone to work on this period. Rosalys volunteered - and the rest is, as she says, history. Later, responsibility for Newstead moved to the Museums Department and she worked with the first curator, Pam Wood, having gained the permission of the Arts Director, Brian Loughbrough, to be involved. Well, I said it has been, and still is, an interesting life full of incident and academic achievement - to hear Rosalys tell it herself brings it all to life. And, as a Society, it is pleasing to know that we have another eminent and erudite President to join and enrich the tally of her distinguished predecessors.
Barbara Cast

In Brief

There has had to be a change of plan for this year's lunch arrangements. Boughton Pumping Station had been booked for our venue but, due to the pumping station's difficulties, an alternative has had to be sought. We will be returning to the Great Hall in Southwell after an absence of some years. And there will be a change of date - please note in your diaries that the annual lunch will be held on Saturday 18 November, and not the first Saturday in November, as in your programmes. The price of eating out creeps up and up, and containing costs at a fairly low level is becoming more difficult. Alternative social events may have to be considered - do let me know your ideas: please email Barbara Cast at

Register of Nottinghamshire Events and Special Dates - 2006
What happened in the sixth year of any Nottinghamshire decade? - we read in the last Newsletter that the 200th anniversary of Henry Kirke White's death falls this year. Also this year we have the end of the Civil War - 1646 - and the date of 956 when the charter of King Edwy was drawn up, granting land to fund the building of a minster at Southwell. Albert Ball was born in August 1896. Many more things happened, so please forward information, on this or any year, to Hon Secretary Barbara Cast. Dates could be of births, deaths of notable Nottinghamshire people, battles, celebrations, when buildings of note were erected etc. Write or email

Sutton Bonington Local History Society

In her will, Mrs Catharine Crawford of Sutton Bonington left a sum of money for charitable purposes. This sum her husband, Dr David Crawford, was keen to see used in connection with the Sutton Bonington Local History Society's collection of historical material, of which he and his wife had been two of the principal collectors and compilers. As a result the money was given to the Thoroton Society, and it was agreed that it would be used to employ an archivist to catalogue the collection, which had been deposited in Nottinghamshire Archives (ref: DD SB). The collection falls into three sections: archives, Sutton Bonington Local History Society papers, and research papers.

The archives date from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They include copy deeds and sale particulars, parish council papers, and of particular note a school admission register (albeit not in the official format) for the period 1875-1926. Unfortunately the school is not specified, and comparison with other school records already deposited in the Archives has failed to identify it.

The Society papers concern the setting up of the society and its activities while the final section contains Dr and Mrs Crawford's research notes. These include subjects such as local families, place names and streets. The largest section is of photographs that provide a superb record of the village. In many cases the information has been analysed; for example, 'Repopulating Sutton Bonington 1928-9' was undertaken by Dr Crawford using the rate book for 1928 (DD SB 3/36/3).

Nottinghamshire Archives is very pleased to have received this collection and the financial assistance towards its cataloguing. Not only does the archive reveal much about the history of a small Nottinghamshire village, but also how the records can be used and interpreted.
Nottinghamshire Archives


The group was formed in November 2005, largely in response to the interest in Norwell's local heritage generated by the Festival of the Beck, and the work done for the Southwell & Nottingham DAC Church History Project. The primary aim is to record the past and present heritage of Norwell Parish for the benefit of present and future generations. The parish includes Norwell, Norwell Woodhouse and the deserted hamlet of Willoughby. It also has the distinction of including five, or possibly six, moated sites.

The group applied to the Local Heritage Initiative* for a grant to support the production of a Heritage Trail, five topic booklets about the heritage of the parish, and resources for children to raise their awareness of their local heritage. Local Heritage Initiative has generously awarded £24,970.

The project is due for completion by 2009. Between now and then the group will run a series of open meetings related directly, or indirectly, to the parish's heritage, with training sessions and workshops for members to develop skills to produce material of as high a quality as possible. The grant will also allow the purchase of equipment needed to build up archives, both actual and digital, for a permanent and accessible record.

Each household in the parish, along with the village school, will receive a copy of the materials produced. The group is very grateful to Coddington History Society, which has also received a Local Heritage Initiative grant, and whose members have willingly shared their expertise. This is a challenging but enormously exciting project for the Norwell Parish Heritage Group.

*The Local Heritage Initiative (LHI) is a national grant scheme that helps local groups to investigate, explain and care for their local landscape, landmarks, traditions and culture.  The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) provides the grant but the scheme is a partnership, administered by the Countryside Agency with additional funding from Nationwide Building Society.