News for Winter 2014

The County Societies Symposium

JOHN WILSON reports on the meeting held on 13 September 2014 at the Institute of Historical Research, London

The first part of the Symposium was dedicated to looking at publishing in the digital age. Representatives of various societies talked about 'what we are doing'. Dorset Records Society have overcome the problem of occasional requests for back volumes by scanning the paper volumes and making a PDF image file of each page. The images are sent to a 'print on demand' publisher on-line who then prints off a hard-back copy of the volume and mails it to the customer. The hard-back volumes are not sewn but the example I saw seemed fairly robust, at least as robust as our recent volumes such as Archbishop Drummond and The Gedling Town Book, which are softback volumes. The books are printed on demand by Lightening Source, an international company whose UK operation is based in Milton Keynes.

The academic publishers Boydell and Brewer are now using this route for some of their older publications. Indexing can be done using OCR (optical character recognition) software.

There was considerable discussion of the problems raised by the new rules on open access publishing. Some of this went over my head, but I gleaned that the situation is not as dire as originally thought. The Royal Historical Society's website has a useful information sheet on Open Access. However, Open Access is now to cover monographs such as scholarly editions in addition to papers in journals.

The final session was on use of social media such as Facebook and blogs.

A Medieval Concrete Floor in Bingham

PETER ALLEN, Chairman of the Bingham Heritage Trails Association discusses an exciting archaeological find at Bingham.

A piece of the concrete floor. Photo supplied by Peter Allen - original in colour.
A piece of the concrete floor. Photo supplied by Peter Allen - original in colour.

During a test pitting project in Bingham a concrete floor was found that could date to the 13th or 14th century. The 1 - metre test pit was dug by Bingham Heritage Trails Association in June 2014, during the celebrations for the 700th anniversary of the granting of the market charter to Bingham. It was sited in a garden on the north side of Bingham Market Place where it is believed that the original manor house was.

The lord of the manor lived in Bingham only for about 100 years. Sir Richard de Bingham, the first occupant, probably built the manor in, or soon after, 1266. He died early in the 14th century leaving his widow, Dame Alice, and their son William. He is believed to have died in the Black Death in 1348-49. Thereafter it is uncertain how long the manor house remained unoccupied, but it is recorded in a manorial survey of 1586 as being a ruin.

A test pit dug in a neighbouring garden in 2012 revealed good evidence of the existence of a manor house at this site during the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Thus, when the test pit was dug in June 2014 about 6 metres to the east of the first pit, it was expected to show further signs of the manor house.

At a depth of 80cm the diggers encountered a concrete floor. Half of it was removed to examine what was beneath it and the pit was then extended to the south to trace the floor. It stopped against a well built, external stone wall, some 20 inches thick. The stone used in the wall is the local Triassic Hollygate Sandstone and it is fixed with a sandy mortar.

The concrete floor is about 15cm thick. The section, from the top down, is:

The brown basal layer of sand is about 2.5 cm thick and rests on the contemporary soil. A layer of flat stones, which mostly seem to be skerry, is set in it. Most of them are carefully set flat, but one or two overlap with each other.

The lower concrete appears to have been poured over the stones and fills in spaces between them. It is a grey, very crumbly material containing small pieces of charcoal aggregate. A skim of gypsum plaster was laid over this concrete and the upper concrete laid on this.

The upper concrete consists of an aggregate of charcoal, gypsum, red shale, bits of plaster, some dark sandstone and miscellaneous items including a sherd of green-glazed pottery. Most of the gypsum is white and compares well with examples from local outcrops. A few pieces of finely crystalline orange-brown material have not yet been identified. The size of the aggregate varies from a few mm to 4 cm.

The grey, fine matrix fizzes with 10% hydrocholric acid and appears to be a mixture of lime and gypsum plaster, though the ratio has not been measured yet. A visual assessment of the matrix suggests that it makes up 40-50% of the concrete.

Because the lower concrete was so poorly made, with little load-bearing strength, it is possible that it was covered with a skim of plaster and then the upper concrete was laid on it as a second attempt to get it right.

Shelly Ware and Nottingham Splashed Ware pottery found in the soil beneath the floor suggest an older age in the 13th century. The younger age cannot be dated closer than c1600. Several large pieces of a Midland Yellow Ware bowl were found in a pile resting on the floor. The pieces make up about 40% of the vessel. It is 108 cm external diameter at the rim and only 8 cm of it are missing. The way the pieces were stacked suggests a primary deposit.

Taking all the physical and documentary evidence together it seems that a possible early date for this floor is late 13th or early 14th century. However, so far I have not found any references to concrete having been used for flooring in England in this period. Gypsum plaster was used for flooring in Nottingham Castle as early as the mid 13th century and plaster and lime ash floors are recorded in Elizabethan times. More research is planned including a petrographic examination of the concrete and we are looking into possible ways to date the material. We are also interested to know if the concrete was a mix of dry lime and plaster plus aggregate or whether quicklime was used. It would be useful, however, to hear if there are any similar cases to this in other parts of the country.

John Manley

Recently announced on the BBC web site is the information that a memorial has recently been unveiled in Carlton cemetery to John Manley.

John was a soldier who fought in the famous battle of Rourke's Drift in 1879 during the Zulu Wars. John died on October 1924 and was buried in an unmarked communal plot with no memorial.

He was born in Ireland and served with B Company of the 2/24th Warwickshire Regiment which defended the hospital and stores at Rorke's Drift. John received no medal recognition for his part in the battle.

After the war he became a house painter, married Ellen Carroll and had six children.

Rorke's Drift was made famous by the film starring Michael Caine.

The new memorial was organised by military historian Tony Higton and the unveiling ceremony was attended by Private Manley's great-granddaughter, Jan Jarvis and members of the Diehard Company re-enactment group.

1914 in Nottingham

BARBARA CAST has found events for this year

We have commemorated the Great War in Nottinghamshire in several of our events, especially in the Joint Day school with the NLHA. Here are a few of the other notable dates of that momentous year.

On 24 June 1914 King George V and Queen Mary visited Nottingham. A month later the war started and on 10 August the Robin Hoods left from the Midland Station bound for active service. It was less than two months later that the first casualties arrived at Nottingham's General Hospital.

Malt Cross Caves

A Nottingham filmmaker is collaborating with the Malt Cross Historical Music Hall to produce a short film to run parallel with their heritage funded refurbishment.

Ellie Wake will direct Under the Music Hall which she also wrote. It is an historical fantasy-based drama set in the cave under the Malt Cross and within the historical buildings that lay under the cafe bar. The short film tells the story of a local girl who is invited into the cave by a documentary film crew and she discovers the beauty of the cave, its history and is visited by characters from the past.

More information is available on-line at


Forthcoming events and news items


University of Nottingham, Department of History, Lenton Grove, University Park, Nottingham.

Doors open at 9 am with coffee available and the seminars commence at 10 am and continue until 12.30 pm with a break for coffee.


New legislation places a time limit on claiming lost ways and having them placed on the Definitive Map - the legal record of public rights of way.

While Parliamentary inclosure provides strong evidence for the existence of these lost routes, there are many other historical sources which are able to add to the story.

We will be looking at the historical background to the early ways and the legal jungle of proving their existence in order to have them restored.

Steven Hollowell is an historian and Public Rights of Way Consultant.


The White Book is a collection of the privileges, title deeds and other records relating to the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, Southwell, the Chapter which governed it and their estates. Begun around 1335, it was largely completed by 1460. Many relate to lands acquired by the Chapter, especially along the Vale of Trent. The White Book thus furnishes valuable evidence not simply for medieval ecclesiastical history but for social and economic developments, including local impacts during the period of the Black Death


The seminar will survey the debate about law, magistrates and summary justice in the eighteenth century as the context for the study of the notebooks of Thomas Dixon of Riby (1787-1798).

The second part of the seminar examines the unusually full sources available for the study of crime, courts and policing in the wapentake of Bradley Haverstoe (the rural hinterland of Grimsby) between 1839 and 1850.

Brian Davey is a local historian with a special interest in crime and policing. He taught Regional and Local History courses for the University of Hull and the University of Lincoln.



Tours of the Bestwood Colliery Winding Engine House are free and, for the first time, will continue through the winter months this year every Saturday from 10 am to 12 noon on a drop-in basis.

At the same time the Community Cafe run by the Friends and Bestwood Village WI is open in the Dynamo House which is adjacent to the Winding Engine.

Events to come:

Saturday 6 December 10am to 1 pm at the Dynamo House - Make an illuminated Victorian fireplace to light up the dark afternoons, along with other crafts. £2.00 per child and suitable for age 5+. Contact Adele Williams at email: or on 0115-976-2422.

Wednesday 10 December, 2 pm to 4 pm - Christmas Past. Gather round the tree in the Dynamo House for a mince pie and look back at how Christmas used to be. To book a place contact Adele as above or David at email or the same telephone number.



An exhibition of packaging and advertisements for local and iconic brands and businesses.

To 31 January 2015 - OVER BY CHRISTMAS. THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918
An exhibition displaying an overview to World War 1 with artefacts, local photographs, documents, military equipment and uniforms from the museum's collection.

Saturday, 22 November -10 am to 4 pm (with an hour lunch break) - SOFT CUT LINO PRINTING FOR BEGINNERS with artist CAROL EASON
The day includes help with sketching a design and transferring it to lino, cutting the block and printing with colourful inks onto various papers. Attendees will have original prints to frame or make into cards at the end of the session. Cost £35 and suitable for adults and children over 11 years. Enquiries to:



Many readers will be regular or occasional users of trade directories, as an invaluable source for local historians. In 2003 the University of Leicester launched a directories website with 675 directories from all over the country. This has now been revamped and transferred to a different site so that it can be maintained and updated: The site is fully searchable and individual directories can be downloaded as PDFs.

With libraries increasingly prone to removing directories from open shelves, and sometimes reluctant to fetch them from store if they have become dilapidated, this is an invaluable source.

The site includes several directories for both Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.




An exhibition cover the life and times of George Green, possibly best known for his connection to Green's Mill (his father's mill) in Sneinton which is now a Science Centre.



To 24 December 2014 - A SYMPHONY OF CURVES Geoffrey Preston: A Tradition in Plaster

Geoffrey Preston is one of the UK's leading architectural sculptors, specialising in sculpture and decorative plasterwork and in particular the art of stucco.

He has been at the helm of many award-winning projects and this exhibition highlights his work and places it in its historical context.

14 February 2015 to 12 April 2015 - THE HARLEY OPEN EXHIBITION

For the Open Exhibition the Gallery invites artists from far and wide, whether professional or amateur, to enter their work in this biennial competition.

14 February to 12 April 2015 - SILENCE SPACE SHADOW

New drawings and mixed media work which reflects an ongoing critical investigation and exploration of how intangible elements can be made tangible through particular materials and forms.

NOTE - the Gallery is closed during early 2015 for refurbishment.



The Archives building closed on 18 October 2015 and will re-open in Spring 2015.

Work is progressing on the £2.5 million investment project to extend the building to preserve the County's rich documentary heritage for future generations.

When the building re-opens there will be increased storage capacity for historical archives, a new refreshments area, two meeting rooms and exhibition spaces.

There will be volunteering opportunities and a chance to join the Friends Group.

During the closure period the archives can be contacted on 0115-958-1634 or by email A reprographics service will be available so it may be possible for reproductions of documents to be available. Contact as above for more information.



Saturday 22 November 11.15 am to 1.15 pm and 2pm to 4pm - HELP THE MUSEUM CURATE ITS CELTIC COINS

Attend to find out about the Museum's collection of coins from the Iron Age, then help to identify them and add their details to the permanent Museum records.

This event is part of the museum's project to record its coin collections.

Groups of 10 people per session; aged 14 and over.

For details and booking call the Box Office on 0115-846-777.



On Saturday 8 November a new, free, exhibition opened exploring memories of Cresswell's mining past.

The exhibition brings to life oral history recordings of local people which were recorded as part of a Heritage Lottery funded Limestone Journeys project.

The exhibition explores day-to-day life of the miners and their families as well as looking at the tragic disaster of 1950 in which 80 men lost their lives.



In a recent announcement it has been confirmed that English Heritage will separate into two organisations in Spring 2015.

A new independent charity with the name of English Heritage (with a government grant of £8om) will continue the

work of looking after the ancient monuments, castles and abbeys, historic houses and the present unique sites in its direct care.

The second organisation to be called Historic England will conduct the statuary role of giving expert advice to owners, local authorities and the public.

The intention is that the charity will become fully self-funding over an eight year period.