News for Summer 2012

Gunthorpe in 1755

Gunthorpe in 1755. Photo by permission of Gunthorpe Parish Council.
Gunthorpe in 1755. Photo by permission of Gunthorpe Parish Council.

In March 2012 a painting of Gunthorpe made in 1755 was unveiled in Biondis Bistro and it will be permanently hung in Gunthorpe Church of England Primary School.

The painting was seen on eBay by Councillor Cam Pearson and with contributions by Parish Councillors and County Councillor Andy Stewart, the painting was bought for the village. The councillors also paid for the restoration of the picture and collection from a warehouse in Portsmouth.

The artist was Harry Ellis who is thought to have been a church warden at Shelford.


Runners and Riders: the rise of modern horse racing

Showing until February 2014 is an exhibition at the Harley Gallery, Welbeck, Worksop is an
exhibition telling how the Cavendish Bentinck family of Welbeck helped change the face of horse
racing, to become the sport as we now know it.

The horse box was invented by the 4th Duke of Portland’s younger son, Lord George Bentinck.
Lord George realised that horses would race better if they were transported to races, and started to
use a van to move them. This gave his horses an advantage, and his competitors quickly followed
his idea. Lord George immersed himself in the sport; he was a renowned gambler, esteemed
owner and encouraged reforms to better regulate the sport – including the use of a starting flag.
The exhibition shows the history of horse racing at Welbeck. It includes the rocking horse
belonging to Lady Anne Bentinck (1916-2008). Lady Anne was a dedicated horsewoman who was
still riding at 90 years of age; the rocking horse was named after Donovan, the 6th Duke of
Portland’s favourite horse. Also on display will be ornate racing prizes such as an elaborate silver
‘George and Dragon’ trophy, alongside personal items. The hooves of the legendary sire, St.
Simon’s which were gold plated and made into ink wells together with the 6th Duke’s racing colours
and paintings by renowned equestrian artists will be on show.

The exhibition will tour to the National Horse Racing Museum at Newmarket and be the first
exhibition in their newly refurbished H.L.F. funded gallery.


Showing at the Weston gallery, Lakeside Arts Centre until 16 September 2012 this exhibition is curated from the collections of the University of Nottingham Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections D. H. Lawrence archive.

D. H. Lawrence, Nottinghamshire’s most famous modern writer, has proved an endless fascinating, and controversial, subject for memoirists, literary biographers and the general public. Since his death in 1930, his legacy has been subject to continual re-evaluation in line with shifts in his literary reputation and changing perceptions of his impact on twentieth-century British culture. The exhibition traces the origins and development of the biographical preoccupation with Lawrence. It begins with examples of Lawrence’s own occasional self-reflective words and describes how quickly public confrontations arose in the early 1930s between friends, family members and other biographers who offered starkly differing accounts of his life and legacy. The story continues through the beginnings of modern scholarship on Lawrence to the present, showing how recent discoveries are offering fresh perspectives and generating new biographical narratives.

The display draws on original manuscripts and correspondence, contemporary memoirs and other resources in the University’s nationally designated D. H. Lawrence collections. It features particularly the local celebration of Lawrence from the first major exhibition in 1960 to the presentday annual Eastwood festival.

A series of lunchtime talks take place in the Djanogly theatre at 1300:

An uncut version of a documentary film produced and directed in 1968 by the Canadian, Peter
Davis, will be screened. It features Lawrence’s contemporaries in discussion about his life and
legacy in New Mexico.

In the context of the early biographers, Emeritus Professor John Worthen looks at the particular
contribution of Richard Aldington, who not only knew Lawrence but was the occasional subject of
his sarcastic wit.

Colleagues from Nottinghamshire heritage institutions discuss their experience of curating
Lawrence’s local legacy. (Including Manuscripts and Special Collections, University of Nottingham,
Nottinghamshire Archives and Eastwood’s D. H. Lawrence Heritage).

Writing our history and digging our past

The School of Humanities at the University of Nottingham has received a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under its Connected Communities Initiative. The project, Writing Our History and Digging Our Past: Enhancing and Expanding Community History and Archaeology Through Academic Engagement builds on existing collaborations between the University and community groups with the aim of assisting voluntary groups in the East Midlands and beyond to investigate their local history by providing access to the expertise and resources of professional arts and humanities researchers.

The project is holding a series of events for voluntary groups with the aim of identifying and helping to develop community-led research projects for submission to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) recently launched All Our Stories grant and other funding programmes. The project has been able to provide small ‘pump-priming’ grants for a range of projects with the aim of supporting bids to the HLF and other funding bodies. Work funded by these grants includes a pilot project to record the memories of miners and the remains of the mining industry in the East Midlands; visits to libraries and archives in scoping exercises to identify resources for further research into stone quarrying and the history of barges on the river Trent. The grant is also contributing to the costs of providing training workshops being organised by the Southwell Community Archaeology Group and a public event organised by the Friends of Nottingham Arboretum. The money will also be used to assist with the costs of planning further projects on the Poor Law, the former Raleigh factory (now Jubilee campus)m and producing an updated version od a handbook for voluntary researchers working for Victoria County History.

Visit the web site for information and existing projects: communities/index.aspx

For information about the HLF All Our Stories initiative:

Dr. Judith Mills

Friends of Nottinghamshire Archives

The official launch of the Friends of Nottinghamshire Archives (which has already acquired the acronym FONA!) took place at Nottinghamshire Archives on Saturday, 24th March 2012. After a short business meeting, at which a constitution was adopted, subscription rates set and a committee for the year elected, Elain Harwood, the well known historical researcher and writer who has worked on a number of projects for English Heritage, delivered a characteristically lively, well-illustrated and enthusiastically delivered talk to the assembled membership about the importance of archives for researching and understanding historic buildings. This drew upon Elain’s published work as well as current research interests relating to the built heritage of Nottingham.
The Friends has been created to act as a body with its own distinct identity and purpose – it does not seek to replicate the existing Archives Users Group (which is a representative and deliberative body that is consulted about the day-to-day operation of the Archives service), nor as another historical society of talks and walks. Membership will not only demonstrate tangible support for the archives service but help to accrue funds which the organisation will be able to commit to specific purchases which will enhance the collections and services which Nottinghamshire Archives offer. FONA will also act alongside the Users Group and other bodies as advocates for the Archives Service. FONA is clearly keen to gather as many members as possible and offers several categories of membership: individual, joint (two adults at the same address), family (two adults and children under 18), junior (16-18), institutional (for historical societies and groups) and corporate (commercial bodies, businesses and profit-making organisations). Individual members will be invited to attend the programme of events and members’ benefits are currently being planned. Institutional and Corporate members will be able to help influence the direction of FONA through sending representatives to the group’s AGM.

FONA’s programme for 2012-13 includes a visit to the Southwell Minster Library (in May), an opportunity to explore accessions from Southwell deposited in Nottinghamshire Archives (in July), a talk by David Hey (in September) and a pre-Christmas social event relating to documents which help tell a story in the lives of individual members. FONA hopes this programme will provide a pattern for future years but would love to hear from anyone with offers or suggestions of archive-related events or visits to sites of interest. A website and e-presence is in active preparation. In the meantime, anyone with enquiries or suggestions as well as membership enquiries, may address them to FONA’s chairman, Richard Gaunt at

Dr. Richard Gaunt

Nottingham’s City of Caves

The City of Caves attraction re-opened on Saturday 11 February 2012, having been closed pending the re-development of the Broadmarsh Centre. The entrance has been made brighter and airier than before, but the most startling thing before going down into the caves themselves is the screen that shows a 3-D visualisation of the many caves under Nottingham. People of all ages have been entranced by it. Dr. David Strange-Walker and the team at Trent & Peak Archaeology have done an extraordinary job in uncovering the caves for the public, making the inaccessible accessible through their survey.

The 3-D visualisations show how striking and unexpected the caves truly are. We can see underneath St. James’ Street, and then, randomly, we move to Rouse’s sand mine on Peel Street, the Park Estate, passing through Victorian architecture to the sandstone underneath, and the Willoughby House caves. These clips can be watched on YouTube. We do not need underground rivers when we have these extraordinary, man-made caves. They can be simultaneously sinister, charming and practical, as well as gloomy, depressing and uplifting places to work (or spend time) in.

The City of Caves shows how the caves were used throughout the centuries, explodes some myths, and encourages people to think about Nottingham’s history in general.

James Eady

Nottinghamshire Archives

The County Archives have a monthly programme of monthly Wednesday Workshops; on 20 June the subject is ‘Record of Royalty’ to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; 25 July is ‘Apprenticeship Records’ and 15 August ‘Nottingham City and its Records’. There are also ‘Archive Skills’ Workshops in June and August. Between 15 May and 10 June is ‘Rufford’s Right Royal Extravaganza’ where a selection of Archives is on display together with workshops and activities.

On 10 July there is a talk entitled ‘Nottinghamshire’s Sporting Heritage’ and on 18 July is the Youth Heritage Conference at Lakeside for 16 to 21 years olds.



It has been suggested that the Bibliography written by Michael Brooks had some items relating to the County omitted. Whilst the current review and update is being undertaken, the team concerned would like members with knowledge of any items not included in the earlier version to contact them with details. Please contact the Society’s secretary.


Peter’s article The library world of Nottinghamshire in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, published in Transactions last year, has been highly commended (i.e. runner-up) for the Library History Essay Award for 2011, in what was apparently a particularly strong competition. This award has been made annually since 1996 by the Library & Information History Group of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP) and is sponsored by Emerald publishing.


Denise Amos reports the addition of sections relating to Tollerton, Luddites and Canals.


The last programme in the series by John Sergeant included an interview with our Chairman, Professor John Beckett who was talking about the old Nottingham racecourse on the Forest.


The project has now identified, described and listed records of the monastic houses of England. Available at, searches can be made in various ways including parish level. There is a similar web site relating to wales at:


History of Parliament is now available online at and is the authoritative record of MPs and elections starting from 1386 and extending well into the 19th century.

Researchers are still writing articles about the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries plus some from the 15th century but there are already more than 21,000 biographies and 3,000 articles available about politics and elections across the country on the site.

This is an ongoing project with new items being frequently added.


Our Treasurer has had a paper entitled Studies On Weather and Public Health in Nottingham 1905 to 1926 accepted by the Royal Meteorological Society’s journal Weather.


Next meeting is at The Mechanics in Nottingham on Saturday 2 June starting at 10.30 am.