News for Winter 2012

Unlocking the archaeology of Nottingham

Halifax Place, Nottingham: excavations from 1978 to 1980 revealed a dense concentration of medieval and later structural remains, including post-hole settings interpreted as the foundations of Pre-Conquest bow-sided buildings and a host of medieval to modern caves, pits, wells and building foundations. The photograph shows Gordon Young triangulating the northern edge of a pre-Conquest boundary ditch running from east to west. ©Nottingham City Museums and Galleries.Halifax Place, Nottingham: excavations from 1978 to 1980 revealed a dense concentration of medieval and later structural remains, including post-hole settings interpreted as the foundations of Pre-Conquest bow-sided buildings and a host of medieval to modern caves, pits, wells and building foundations. The photograph shows Gordon Young triangulating the northern edge of a pre-Conquest boundary ditch running from east to west. ©Nottingham City Museums and Galleries.

David Knight, Scott Lomax and Gordon Young have prepared a short summary of their recently commenced project of the Origins of Nottingham which, essentially, is focused upon excavations from 1969 to 1980 in the pre-Conquest Borough. An extended version is being submitted to the Transactions but it was considered members would be interested in a summary in the Newsletter.

Work commenced earlier this year on an assessment of the archives from six sites excavated by Nottingham City Museum staff between 1969 and 1980 in the heart of medieval Nottingham. These are located inside the pre-Conquest Borough, at Drury Hill, Woolpack Lane, Fisher Gate, Boots Garage and Halifax Place, and just beyond the northern perimeter of the Borough at Goose Gate.1 This work is being carried out by David Knight and Scott Lomax of Trent & Peak Archaeology in close collaboration with the Nottingham City Archaeologist, Gordon Young, and is being funded by English Heritage and Nottingham City Council.

These excavations were carefully positioned with the aims of locating and characterizing the Borough defences and of investigating areas of the interior with potential for the preservation of significant archaeological remains. Important insights into the early development of Nottingham were obtained, but until now very little of the information acquired during these excavations has been published. The archive derived from this work represents a major untapped resource for study of the early development of Nottingham, which since its rise to prominence as one of the Five Boroughs of the Danelaw has played a key role in the history of England, and the principal aim of this project is to unlock this resource for future researchers.

This work will provide the foundation for a project aimed initially at securing and consolidating the archives, and will involve essential conservation work, repacking of finds and documentary records, the creation of a secure copy of the documentary and photographic archive and reorganization where appropriate of the extant archive. This first stage of work will provide a springboard for a stage of archive enhancement aimed at increasing the accessibility of the archive as a research resource. As part of that work, we will prepare a signposting report assessing the potential of the archive as a resource for future research and a general synthesis of the results of excavation.

1 Young, C.S.B. 1982. Discovering Rescue Archaeology in Nottingham. Nottingham: Nottingham City Museums; Young C.S.B. 1986. ‘Archaeology in Nottingham: the pre-Conquest Borough’ in S. Mastoris (ed.) History in the Making: Recent Historical Research in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire 1985, 1-4. Nottingham; Young, G. 1987. ‘Archaeology in Nottingham: the Halifax Place excavation’, in S.N. Mastoris (ed) History in the Making: recent Historical research in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire 1986, 1-6. Nottingham 1987.

The Thoroton Society Research Group

Seven members of the group met in the Boardroom at the Mechanics Institute, Nottingham on Saturday, 20 September 2012 and it was good to welcome John Wilson back amongst us to take over the meeting leadership.

After a general discussion we enjoyed presentations from Christine Drew, Elizabeth Robinson, John Wilson, Ted White and John Beckett, all of which raised questions and discussion. The sharing of knowledge and mutual encouragement in individual projects is a large part of the group ethos and much appreciated by everyone.

Our next meeting is to be held on Saturday, 19 January 2013, in the Boardroom of the Mechanics Institute starting at 10.30 am.

Members are encouraged to come along and see what the group is up to and then, hopefully, join the group. John Wilson is Chair of the group ( please get in touch for more information and to be added to the email list.


Historians like anniversaries, particularly centenaries and bi-centenaries, as there is plenty of material to sort through. So what will 2013 throw up locally? One of the most significant will be the bi-centenary of the birth of Thomas Chambers Hine, the pre-eminent Nottingham architect of the C19th, born on 31 May 1813. A lesser known anniversary relates to the Nottingham Universal Exhibition that never opened – most likely through the gathering of the war clouds in the spring of 1914. On 6 November 1913 the Mayor of Nottingham, with great ceremony involving a silver spade, ‘turned the first sod of the Universal Exhibition’, which was to be the largest exhibition outside London and anticipated to attract at least four million visitors. Located adjoining Victoria Embankment; it was scheduled to open on 28 May 1914 and close at the following Goose Fair.

However, in 1913 a series of rather different activities took place, direct action by local Suffragettes. The Nottingham Red Book, 1914, lists the following incidents:

12 February:

Window smashing and pillar boxes attacked by Suffragettes at Nottingham

18 February:

Suffragettes attempt to damage golf links at Bulwell

24 February:

Pillar boxes attacked

11 March:

Suffragettes’ meeting at Circus Street Hall broken up

11 May:

Suffragettes blamed for £2,000 damage at Nottingham Boat Club

28 July:

Wild disorder at Suffragettes’ meeting in the Market place

All of these events were reported in local newspapers. It is sufficient here to quote from the Nottingham Daily Express (29.7.1913) covering the affray in the Market Place. The column heading set the scene:

STORMY SCENES IN MARKET PLACE Wild Disorder at Demonstration by the Local Militants YOUTHS ARRESTED 100 Policemen Engaged in Coping with Crowd.

Noisy and exciting scenes resulted from the attempt of the militant suffragettes to hold open air meetings in the Nottingham Market-place last night. Debarred the use of any of the public halls in the city they brought four waggonettes into the open square, and in each of them for over an hour a couple of women defied a great crowd of hostile men and women. Luckily the police had taken ample precautions and the antagonism of the young fellows who formed the bulk of the crowd was vented in good natured rowdyism and no personal injuries were caused.

And so the report continued in the same vein, as far as serious oratory was concerned the meetings were considered a farce. Speeches, when attempted, were drowned out by loud choruses from popular songs Oh you beautiful doll and Who were you with last night? interspersed with cries of ‘Who burnt the boathouse?’.

After a number of incidents including trying to dislodge the waggonettes and carrying off the suffragettes’ banners, at the end of the ‘meeting’ most of the suffragettes made their escape one way or another, whilst the ringleaders of the attacks turned their attention to seeking out any stray supporters of the suffragettes.

Ken Brand

Thoroton Response Group

A number of matters continue to require comment or response from the Response Group. Recently the Blyth Conservation Area appraisal has been commented on and welcomed. Bassetlaw seems to be the most active Nottinghamshire authority on conservation matters and long may it continue in these straightened times.

Representations have been made to the Nottinghamshire MPs on lead and metal theft and on the Trent Lane Depot, which unfortunately was not designated as worthy of listing. Comments have been made on the HMRC consultation on VAT for listed buildings and support has been offered to the campaign to save the Manor House at Bingham.

Can I ask members to let me know if there are any concerns re historical building or landscape, or about sites of archaeological interest? We will endeavor to respond where possible.

Barbara Cast (

Eric Coddington

Seventy-five years to the day after he was born on 10 September 1937, Eric Coddington’s family and friends gathered in the Methodist Church in Tuxford to remember him and his many contributions to life in the towns and villages of North Nottinghamshire.

Eric’s father was a farm worker and, as a boy, Eric became adept at the various jobs about the farm, which was usual for lads at the time. Leading horses, driving cattle, helping at harvest time, all were regular tasks of his boyhood. His education at the local village school, and the King Edward VI Grammar school at Retford, was later supplemented by business studies at nearby centres of further education.

It was what Eric did outside of working hours that marked him out as someone out of the ordinary. As with many young men, sport was a great interest, and cricket was the sport which appealed to him the most. He played for Milton and was good enough, on one occasion, to clean bowl the young and aspiring Derek Randall. His playing days over, Eric continued to umpire until his legs told him it was time for him to stop. Even then, his administrative and financial skills were not lost to the game.

With no active involvement in cricket, this inevitably left a gap in Eric’s life. His farming background, together with a schoolboy interest in history, led him to join the Retford History and Archaeological Society. Within a short time he was its secretary and he served it well for a number of years. One of the innovations he introduced was the annual Celebrity Lecture. Few who attended will forget the occasion when Michael Wood, at the peak of his television popularity, spoke on Saxon times to a packed audience in Retford Town Hall.

Eric joined a number of other societies in both Tuxford and Worksop, and even crossed the Lincolnshire border to enjoy the activities of the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. Most of all, he enjoyed being a member of the Thoroton Society. Whether it was the talks or the excursions, the AGM or a quiet hour with the Transactions, he relished them all, especially if he could share the pleasure in the company of friends. Like many members, Eric particularly enjoyed Thoroton teas; in fact, no day out with Eric was complete without pausing for tea on the way home.

Over the years, Eric built up a collection of books, ephemera, and post cards on all aspects of local history. Even when immobility prevented his active pursuit of this interest, he was able to add to his personal library via the internet. It is doubtful if there was a better collection of such books in private hands anywhere in the county. Many were rare, and at least one was unique. This was a copy of John Shadrach Piercy’s History of Retford (1828). The copy was obviously prepared for the author, each printed pair of pages being interleaved with a blank sheet on which Piercy had written, in pencil, additional information, corrections and amendments as they came to his notice. Typical of Eric, rather than let his books be scattered to the four winds of antiquarianism he bequeathed them to the Nottinghamshire Library service. Similarly, he arranged for his extensive collection of old postcards, both local views and pictures of farming scenes, to go to the Bassetlaw Museum where enlarged copies of some of the latter are already on display.

I have known Eric for thirty years or more. I found him an interesting companion with whom it was always a pleasure to share a mutual interest in Nottinghamshire history. He was a good and faithful friend, and I will miss him.

[Note: Eric Coddington made several financial gifts to the Thoroton Society in his lifetime, and these are being used to help sponsor the Welbeck Atlas volume in the Record series, which is being prepared by Steph Mastoris. Sadly, this will now be a memorial volume.]

Michael Jackson

The new Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire

Our chairman and Mrs. Beckett represented the Society at a service of Celebration and Commitment in Southwell Minster on 6 October 2012 to welcome the new Lord Lieutenant of the County, Sir John Peace. John Beckett introduces Sir John to us. Sir John will be invited to become a member of the Society, and we may wish to invite him to speak at a future annual lunch.

Sir John Peace is a former High Sheriff and was knighted for services to business and the voluntary sector last year. He is Chair of Standard Chartered plc, Burberry plc and founder and Chair of Experian. He was Chair of the Board of Governors of Nottingham Trent University for ten years and has been a trustee of the Djanogly City Academy in Nottingham since 1999.

Sir John chairs the Nottingham economic Resilience Forum, focusing on issues associated with the recession and local unemployment., He is the East Midland’s ambassador for Business in the Community and is a keen advocate for maximizing opportunities for young people.

He had previously served as Deputy Lieutenant for the last seven years. Sir John lives at Caunton with his wife, Christine, and has three daughters.

The Victoria County History in Nottinghamshire

The county editor, Philip Riden, explains what work is being done in the county at present and invites members to become involved in the project.

Work has been in progress for nearly three years on VCH in the county, following its revival thanks to funding from Nottinghamshire Archives. Since Spring 2012, the work has been under the auspices of the Thoroton Society.

A small but effective group of volunteers has been meeting regularly at the record office (on alternative Tuesday mornings between 10.30 and 12.30) to work on the history of a parish of their choice, following guidelines set out in a Nottinghamshire VCH Handbook compiled by the county editor, Philip Riden. A growing quantity of draft text, completed to the usual high standards of VCH, is becoming available on the Nottinghamshire section of the VCH website.

We would be very glad to see more members of the Thoroton Society becoming involved with the project. Anyone with an interest in a particular parish, who may already have collected a good deal of information needed for a VCH history, is very welcome to come along and find out what is involved in completing a text on VCH lines. This can then be mounted on the VCH website. Anyone who feels they might be interested in joining us after the Christmas break may like to contact Philip Riden ( for more information about what is involved.



The Church History Project continues to ensure that there are comprehensive entries for all churches in the Southwell and Nottingham Diocese. The entries completed to date can be found at

However, there are still many churches without an entry and researchers for these are needed.  The list of those still to be covered has recently been published in the project’s October newsletter and can also be found at

Training, guidance, expenses and support are given to researchers – contact the organisers via the above web site if you feel you could help.


The latest list of buildings at risk includes 31 in Nottinghamshire. On the list are some of our most interesting and well-loved buildings such as Worksop Priory Gatehouse, the Church of the Good Shepherd at Woodthorpe, Newstead Abbey, Ollerton Hall, the north range of the Saracen’s head in Southwell and several churches. You can find out more at


Many of you will know that Sue Clayton compiles a list of speakers which is updated quite regularly. If you need some help with ideas for talks at your own society you may wish to obtain a copy of this list which is available from Sue at a reasonable price. Contact

SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING – the authentic moment in British Photography

An exhibition at the Djanogly Art Gallery, Lakeside Art Centre, University Park, Nottingham which continues until Sunday, 10 February 2013. Weekday opening 11 am to 5 pm and on Sundays 12 noon to 4 pm.


A series of talks and handling sessions that focus on current archaeological work.

These talks allow professional archaeologists, related specialists and community groups to share their exciting work with us as it is happening and include local, regional, national and international projects.

All take place at 1 pm in the Visual Arts Space in Lakeside Art Centre with follow-on activities in the Museum afterwards.

All events are free but places can be booked by calling 0115-846-7777.

Wednesday, 27 January 2013. Unknown, Virtually: Nottingham’s Sandstone Caves. David Strange-Walker of Trent & Peak Archaeology.

Since 2010 staff from Trent & Peak Archaeology have been exploring, surveying and visualizing Nottingham’s 550 man-made sandstone caves. Some of these are well-known fixtures on the tourist trail but most of these hidden gems are little-known, privately owned, and hard to visit.

In this talk we will find out how the caves shaped Nottingham, and how the Nottingham Caves Survey is using the latest technology to bring these caves to a whole new virtual audience. Following the talk David Strange-Walker will demonstrate the surveying equipment in the Museum.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013. The Hallaton Treasure: An Iron Age Mystery. Helen Sharpe, Leicestershire County Council Archaeology Officer.

The Hallaton Treasure is one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made in the East Midlands. It comprises over 5000 Iron Age and Roman coins, one of the highest quality Roman cavalry helmets ever discovered in Europe, the remains of over 400 pigs and mysterious silver objects. The objects were buried at a native British shrine in the years surrounding the Roman invasion of Britain.

This talk explains what was found and what this incredible array of objects can tell us about life in the East Midlands 2000 years ago.

The talk will be followed by a chance to handle beautifully preserved gold and silver coins from the Hallaton treasure and to find out what amazing stories these tiny objects can tell us.