9th December 2013:
We are grateful to Sturton Village Hall Committee who have purchased a new projector and screen, soon to be installed.
This will be available for use by our Speakers during in 2014.

7th December 2013:
We attended Sturton Village Hall Christmas Market
Our stall was managed by Sharron and Pauline, (still in their lovely hats), and also Louise & Irv

30th November 2013
Sharron & Pauline on our stall at
Stow Church Christmas Market
20th November 2013
Message from our Secretary.....  On this Wednesday Mavis began her evening talk by thanking one Tom Smith, a London confectioner who in 1847 is said to have introduced England to the joy of the French bonbon, a sugar almond wrapped in paper with a twist at both ends. Smith built on this by adding a 'love motto', then made the packaging larger and replaced the bonbon with a small gift, then in 1860 he added the 'crack' which obviously led to the name we know today.  His son Walter, later added the paper hat we all wear on Christmas day - don't we????
I know you will all be busy writing your cards at the moment and Mavis was able to tell us that it was Sir Henry Cole, the founder of the V&A Museum who commissioned the first Christmas card in 1843 which sold in Bond Street for 1s each and 1000 were sold in that first year.
In 2001 an old Christmas card came up for auction in Devizes, Wiltshire and the bidding began at £4,000, moved swiftly on to £12,000 but with two further telephone bids coming in, the end sale was £22,500.  Let's hope whoever bought it hasn't sent it on to a friend by mistake!
Of course we all say we won't over-indulge but we do - so hard to turn down that mince pie or piece of cake.  To make us feel bad Mavis went on to tell us that the poor celebrated by eating 'humble' pie - offal! The rich people were better off as we know, and in 1526 the Turkey was introduced from America.  When Queen Victoria came to the throne she decided she much preferred turkey than swan so this enhanced the tradition of eating this particular bird.  Turkeys were walked from Norfolk to London ready to be sold and this took four weeks and the turkeys actually wore leather boots to protect their feet!
Christmas or Xmas?  It was with interest that Mavis pointed out that the shortened word XMAS has in fact been around for 600 years.  Some people think this may have been because December used to be counted as the tenth month.  However the Greek letter for Kris is an X and that equals Cross.
Generally we have a huge mix of traditions from the Midwinter Solstice and the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia in honour of the god Saturn which was held on December 17th.
The Romans were also responsible for the Wreath.  When they visited friends they would take a bunch of evergreen as an offering and as these bunches grew the householder on the receiving end would make a wreath and it would tell people who saw it how popular that particular householder was. Today there are many forms of wreaths to be seen on front doors - all of a similar size thank goodness!
Mistletoe - the all healing foliage and said to be good for fertility if taken from an oak tree.  The Druids used Mistletoe a lot in their rituals and even today you will not find Mistletoe in a church.  If you do kiss anyone or you are kissed under the Mistletoe this Christmas be sure to take a berry off each time.
Shoot through to 1647 and Oliver Cromwell banned everything to do with Christmas.  But it was the huge influence of Prince Albert who brought with him from Germany many of the traditions we hold on to today.
Christmas Tree - Our early ancestors thought that when the leaves fell from the trees the spirits had taken them away so they then proceeded to decorate the trees with fruit, seeds and flowers.  Then early in the 16th Century Martin Luther brought a tree indoors and decorated with candles.  But it was Prince Albert and Queen Victoria who got the majority of people following in their footsteps when it became apparent that the Royal Family had a decorated fir tree in their palace.
Now we have trees of all sizes, colour and description gracing our houses depending on personal choice.  My preference is for a real fir tree; the smell and presence of pine denotes Christmas for me.
Mavis referred to the huge tree which graces Trafalgar Square in London; a yearly gift from the people of Norway to thank our country for its help to their King during World War II.
The majority of trees both inside and out are adorned with fairy lights.  Thomas Eddison's laboratory in New York came up with these in 1882 in the form of small angel figures made out of wax which originally covered the whole of the tree.  Over the next few years these small figures diminished until eventually there was only one which sat at the top of the tree. Perhaps you think of this small but important figure as an angel or fairy; again it is a personal choice.
We all love giving and receiving presents at this time of the year.  This of course derives from the religious aspect of the Wise Men taking the Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to welcome baby Jesus.  Move on several thousands of years and we find Father Winter and then St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra in Turkey in the 4th Century, who was persecuted by the then rulers, the Romans.  He gave away all of his money to the poor and was renowned for his love of children. Today Father Christmas is the universally recognised symbol of the festive season in his traditional robes of red and white.
But the red suit and hat with the white fur trim have given rise to the belief among some that Santa's outfit was the culmination of the publicity department within the Coca Cola emporium placing him in a red and white suit instead of green and white.
However while there is some truth in this suggestion because Coca Cola ran a campaign for 30 years featuring a jolly fat Santa, his colour scheme owes more to ecclesiastical vestments than a brainstorm in an American company.  The colours are still thought however to derive from the original Saint Nicholas, as above. Red and white were the colours of traditional bishops robes.
Whatever and whoever, we continue to celebrate Christmas however and wherever we were brought up, perhaps adding bits and pieces from different members of the family and so these go into the general melting pot for generations to come.

16th October 2013:
Message from our Secretary........The word smuggling can conjure up quite a few pictures in your mind - the romantic side epitomised by authors such as Daphne du Maurier in one of her novels Jamaica Inn as referred to by our speaker on the night and not forgetting J. Meade Faulkner who wrote Moonfleet in 1898, a tale of smuggling near the sea in the south of England.  Or of course it can present the seedier side of the business as it is reported today with the smuggling of drugs and even people!
However the talk given to the history group last Wednesday by Rod Fanthorpe presented a semi-romantic look at the business of smuggling on the Lincolnshire coast.  Not a coast you usually connect with smuggling really due to the lack of those caves where contraband was usually hidden and cliff paths where the lines of people were possibly seen toiling up the hillside with barrels of brandy on their backs.  But Lincolnshire in the 19th Century was an isolated county where  boats at that time could get fairly close to the shore for the drop-off points.
And this coastline was once considered a major focus of smuggling in Britain with its hey-day being between 1700 and 1850. The terrain was perfect for the illegal activity:  small tidal creeks which could be navigated easily by small boats but were almost impossible to access by foot, salt marshes where illicit goods could be hidden from snooping eyes and recovered by those who knew how to safely make their way through them, as well as the area facing the Dutch coast which was perfect for access to Dutch gin and tobacco.
The economic conditions were also right for smuggling. Most people on the Lincolnshire coast lived in poverty, making a living in fishing, salt-panning or samphire gathering. Smuggling was a way of both making extra money and obtaining luxury goods extremely cheaply.  Endless wars around this time caused the government to raise taxes to pay for these and when tax duties rose this in turn gave a sharp rise to smuggling.
So in short, smuggling was a community-backed business.  Most people were involved so the secret was well kept.  From the vicar and doctor who accepted the odd bottle at a good price to the landowner whose land was crossed when the contraband was taken from the shore.  Intrigue and brutality were par for the course; people's mouths were kept shut forever on occasions.  There were penalties if you were caught of course; a £10 fine to a vicar who was caught in possession of a bottle of brandy and even a smuggler was fined up to £50 if caught on the job but obviously the risks were worth it.
At the Vine Hotel in Skegness there is a corner near one of the dining rooms which is covered in glass and it was here in 1902 when restoration work was being carried out that a skeleton of a male was discovered which still retained fragments of clothing which apparently showed the Royal Insignia meaning it was part of a uniform of one of the Preventive Men or Customs Officer who obviously stumbled across something he shouldn't have!
Today police officers and MI5 officials have identity pictures of suspects easily passed around the world via the latest technology, back in the 18th Century a Preventive Officer would keep small portraits of suspected offenders inside their watch fobs!  A weight to carry around on their search of the countryside!
The smuggling operations were thought through and everyone had their own particular job to ensure the goods were landed without knowledge. Cartwheels were covered in tar to enable them to be pulled into the shallows so not so far for the unloaders to carry from the boats.
Hemp was used to muffle the sound of the horses hooves pulling the carts as they made their way through the lanes and villages.
Groups of people were used to lure the Preventive Men away from the source of action by tying lanterns to horses legs and leading them along the beach well away from the smuggling area of the night.  These lanterns from a distance would look like a boat bobbing up and down out at sea.
Rod mentioned areas along the coast as well as inland all connected with smuggling which most of us have heard about at some time or other -
Chapel St. Leonards
which at the time we are writing about was known as Mumby St. Leonards - here the boats could edge in shore because of the shelving beach and the shallows went out a long way.
Oliver's Gap near Mablethorpe.
Alford - renowned for where the smugglers came together to sort out their booty.
The Midge Inn on the road between Wragby and Horncastle (now closed down).

To end his talk, Rod took us through a re-construction of a smuggling run, detailing some of the characters who had existed in Lincolnshire  -
Ned Bell of Bleak House near Oliver's Gap and William Twigg of North End Farm in the same locality.  A Thomas Hewson and Joseph Lowe of Jackson's Corner; all characters who had other jobs as well as smuggling to their names.  Rod built up a detailed picture of these characters sailing their contraband down from the Grimsby area to Boston, all ready to do battle with the Preventive Men should the need arise.
Back to the landowners and one with the name of Charles whose land had several tracks crossing his land and who, it appears, managed to turn a blind eye to the regular goings-on around his farm.  A telescope has been in his family for many years and it is wondered whether this telescope was used to watch the illegal actions which he didn't report on?  Or was he actually part of the nefarious dealings?  This Charles died in 1877 at the age of 77 leaving a legacy of what would amount to £90,000 today. Where had all this money come from as farming may not have been that profitable?  An interesting question and puzzle for Rod because it turns out that Charles was a relation!
Another full and interesting talk from Rod with once more, a twist to the end of his tale.

18th September 2013:
Message from our Secretary........At the September meeting of the History Society twenty three adults filled their evening playing with clay!  Under the eye of Jane Young and Jo Gray all participants tried to copy images displayed on the wonderful jugs and urns brought in by Jane and Jo, which took pride of place on the tables.  Some of these specimens were original (all found in Lincolnshire) and some were very clever copies but all far surpassed the items which the audience turned out!  Actually that is not correct because as I cast my eye around the hall I could see quite a few well turned jugs and dishes, some of which had been decorated quite smartly.  The act of trying to produce an item which you could be reasonably proud of is actually quite therapeutic and is certainly a conversation maker! The evening was an excellent mix of mirth, education and ability and I know everyone who spoke to me afterwards had a thoroughly good time. As per usual, Jane had an immense amount of information on each item she handed round and it was with regret that we had to close the meeting just after 9.30 otherwise I think most of the gathering would have stayed the night!  Many thanks again to Jane and Jo.

26th July 2013
A small group of History Society members enjoyed a visit to Lincoln Guildhall.
Message from our secretary......The Society's visit to the Lincoln Guildhall saw 15 members queuing up outside this magnificent building waiting to gain entry on a beautiful July Friday morning.
Joe Cooke, the Mayor's Officer, was our guide for over two hours.   Joe has a wealth of information about and a deep affection for the Guildhall and Lincoln which he told us is his adopted city and he has been at his post for over 30 years.  His knowledge of dates, events and people who have visited this iconic building is imparted with jokes and anecdotes which made the tour even more entertaining.
How many of us have walked underneath The Stonebow and Guildhall (The bow spans High Street) and not really thought about what it means, what it holds and why it is there?  Well the Stonebow is the south gate of the City, dating from the late 15th Century to early 16th Century. It was built on the site of the Roman South Gate, which remained a medieval gateway for many years until it was demolished in the late 14th Century for being unsafe. In 1390 Richard II ordered a new gateway to be built to replace the demolished arch. However the Council and citizens of Lincoln were slow to act on their King's wishes. Building materials were purchased on a number of occasions but all disappeared and the Guildhall was not completed until 1520 by William Spencer, a city Freemason, over 100 years later.  The name 'Stonebow' comes from 'stennibogi', a Norse word meaning stone arch.
In the medieval times the Lincoln Guilds met at the Guildhall to administer Lincoln's city government. This 'guild government' was called the burwarmote.  For a long time the city gaol was located at the Guildhall, with dungeons for felons, and a small debtor's prison at street level. This room has now been turned into the Insignia Room where a variety of the City's treasures are now housed including a sword given to the city by Richard II and Charles I's Mace of Office.
There was a lot of admiration for the treasures, particularly towards the ancient swords and the Caps of Maintenance. The latest one of which cost £5,000 was presented to Lincoln by Joe.  The name of this type of head wear may sound strange but is in fact a city tradition.  Previous caps were made in 1734, 1814 and 1937 and Joe arranged to have this latest one made to celebrate 800 years of Mayors in the city.
He told us that the cap was made by two firms in London - Patey Hats made the shell and then all of the embroidery was done by Hand and Lock.  These are two of the top firms for this kind of work in the country. Caps of Maintenance are first mentioned in historical records in 1485 and Henry VII received three during his reign.  In Lincoln the Caps are now regarded as part of the sword bearer's uniform and worn for ceremonial purposes like the Battle of Britain and Armistice Day.
The Guildhall is the official home of the Mayor of Lincoln and we examined photographs of all past Mayors and saw where the Mayoral Robes were stored and heard a few amusing stories from Joe surrounding these past dignitaries.
The 'mote' bell, struck in 1371, is still used to signal council meetings.    The Guildhall has been used since 1520, occupying the whole second floor of the Stonebow, and still plays host to Full Council meetings and City Council events.
The Mayor’s posy ring is amongst the City's treasures.  This is only worn on two occasions; one when the Mayor is married to the city at the annual Mayor Making event and secondly, when it is the Mayor’s ‘official’ birthday, a custom dating back to 1852.
Tours are given every Friday and Saturday - 10.30 and 1.30 and you are requested to be outside the main door ten minutes beforehand and generally they last for approximately two hours.
Our two hour slot sped by with us all being spell bound by the amount of information Joe passed on to us. So next time you are walking along the High Street towards the Stonebow raise your eyes above the shop frontages and look at the lovely carved statues and heads of mythical beasts which adorn the south face and stop to think about all of those people this iconic building has touched along the centuries.

17th July 2013
Message from our Secretary:
ith the Society's Open Day barely in the wings, our July speaker took centre stage on this Wednesday evening to entertain on the subject of Almshouses.  Linda Crust is extremely well known to everyone who attends our meetings and also to many people throughout the county for her huge knowledge of historic Lincolnshire; research into family trees; author of books as well as  articles written for Lincolnshire Life magazine.  She is of course our President and is most supportive in all of our activities and was more than happy to be present at our Open Day at the weekend so another visit by her last Wednesday was much appreciated.
Linda's latest book was the subject of her talk - Almshouses.
The book lists every medieval foundation and almshouse known in Lincolnshire and there are nearly 200 establishments covered, from leper hospitals founded in the early 12th century to modern bungalows still being provided by almshouse charities in the year 2000. The book is illustrated with 80 photographs, plans, and drawings.She made it clear that originally this task was merely a project she decided to undertake but it soon became apparent that there was a lot more meat on this bone than otherwise thought.  For a start, there were more almshouses built in Lincolnshire during the 20th Century than at any other time - surprising fact.
However to start her research Linda went much further back into the 12th Century when the first almshouse was founded at the end of the Bishopric of Bishop Remigius - the first Bishop of Lincoln.  Linda went on to explain about the Leper Colony on South Common and how these colonies formed the first umbrellas of almshouses.  Leprosy was rife between the 12 & 14th Centuries and a much feared disease and it was the church initially who undertook the care of those affected. At that time these places were more like hospitals where the inmates were cared for although nothing like our description of hospitals today.  The name 'Spital' is actually an abbreviation for hospital so if you look on a map of the county you will see Spital in the Street near Caenby Corner.
A Bede House was a type of almshouse run to a set of strict rules, typically run by a church. "Bede" is Old English or Saxon for "priest". Each Bedesman (or woman) was given a daily allowance of one penny plus a weekly or monthly allotment of clothing and fuel (normally coal), for which they lived by a timetable of prayer and manual work. On Sewell Road in Lincoln are St. Anne's Bedehouses, 13 residences built in 1847 with the design by Augustus Pugin.
Linda stated that the three towns in Lincolnshire which are rich in almshouses are Stamford, Spalding and Grimsby.  In Stamford William Browne (a rich medieval merchant) founded one of the many almshouses and this one remains one of the best surviving medieval almshouses in England complete with stained glass and are open to the public.
Spalding is a town rich in architectural history with the almshouse of Sir John Gamlyn founded  in Spalding in 1650. These were rebuilt in 1844 for 34 men and women. Each inmate received 3s. 6d. weekly in 1900, along with one ton of coal each year.  In 2008 the Duchess of Gloucester opened ten new almshouses in the town adding to the 450 year old history of such buildings within Spalding. Grimsby's input to the county's list started with contributions for fishermen when Fishermens' Chaplain, a Mr Davis, provided for homeless fishermen and their families.
Sir Joseph Banks of Revesby had homes built for his workers too because he wanted them to be fit and help with work on the land. 
Usually almshouses had an endowment of land with them which proved to be a good investment so many of the homes were rebuilt or improved in the 19th Century because the endowments had grown. Residents were normally expected to wear a uniform to indicate where they lived and this practice held up until the 1930's.  The men normally wore a tailcoat and top hot whilst the ladies generally wore cloaks.
Linda supplemented her talk with a variety of slides showing those almshouses she had referred to as well as additional buildings such as those built by Robert Carr in 1636 in Sleaford and the two buildings in Harlaxton, a closed village (sold in 1937) owned by the Grey family.  Closer to home Linda mentioned a group of buildings in Willingham by Stow which had been known as almshouses but were in fact poor houses. There is a reference to Poorland in Sturton in a Church Commission Report dated 1837 as well as a reference to Poor houses in the village which were paid for out of the rates by the Overseers of the Poor.  However those present in the meeting were not sure where these had been sited.  Does anyone know?
Surprisingly even today there are almshouses now usually run by Trustees who now charge a maintenance fee and not a rent - see reference to Spalding above.  Each group of almshouses have different rules and requests but normally the condition of residence is that the person applying to live in a residence has to have lived in the parish in question for a number of years.

Linda summed up her subject by saying it all started with Monks, through Kings, Bishops, Landowners, Merchants so in a way it was a downward ladder of help but one that fulfilled the needs of the ordinary people. 

13th July 2013
Open Day - Local Trades & Trades People
In spite of the unusual heat of the day, over 150 people entered the village hall to view the displays, artefacts and costumes which made up this year’s Open Day.
With all the displays on view it was obvious that Sturton by Stow and Stow had been self-sufficient villages with local butchers, general stores, builders, joiners, haulage contractor, blacksmiths and all manner of farming related businesses.
Stories of these trades were shown in document form together with well-researched photographs and relevant artefacts, some of which had lain hidden for some time.
On display was a well-documented history of Nurseryman Richard Pennell who was born in 1735 at Tillbridge Lane, Sturton-by-Stow. 
He was the founder of the Pennell family business in 1780.  Today Pennells are probably the oldest Lincolnshire family run business and they have large garden centres located at North Hykeham, Cleethorpes, and Scunthorpe.
As is always the case, everyone enjoys recognising items they themselves or their parents/grandparents used on a daily basis and this in turn makes for an excellent community get-together.  A
 continuous slide show displaying aspects of village life was permanently rolling so visitors could sit down and view these over a delicious piece of home-made cake and a drink – mostly cold to keep the temperature down!  These photographs are available on CD, and are listed on this website.
To purchase please contact............ Sharron Banham on 01427 788254 or

Thanks to everyone who helped set up the displays on the Friday evening and Saturday morning and to those who supplied information previously unknown.
Dave Curtis was happy to write up about his father’s shop on the High Street as well as the interesting history of Judges Butchers and the exploits of ‘Milky Bill’ the delivery milkman who served the area for 30 years.
Norman Burkett provided original Gelder's cans and various items of yester-year including the Lucas delivery bike.  This bike complemented John Crust’s police bike which his uncle used on a regular basis when he was the village ‘bobby’ during the 50’s and 60’s.  A three-some of bikes was then made up with a milk delivery bike being displayed by kind permission of Roy Saxton of Sheffield who also brought along a small part of his personal display of milk bottles, milk barrow and milk churns.
Our Society is obviously enhanced by the enthusiasm of the local community and without their input we would not be able to pursue the history of the villages at all.  Thank you to everyone who made the day a success.

25th June 2013
Message from our Secretary:

The Chairman of the Friends of The Lincoln Tank is Richard Pullen also historian and author of ‘The Landships of Lincoln’ and ‘Beyond the Green Fields’ and he was this month's guest speaker to our group.
Together with excellent slides, Richard spoke about how, for the first time the women of Britain left their traditional role of looking after the home and children and went to work in the Munition factories and also joined the Armed Forces, earlier than most of us realise.
Until this time females had really only been employed in 'service' or office work but now they were prepared to help their Country during a time of need.
Richard initially moved back a few years to the Suffragettes, quickly going over how they had really prepared the way for wmen to leave their homes and become more independent.  By the First World War the Suffrage Movement was huge and the fight for women's rights continued and a lot of the time not peacefully either.  At the outbreak of war it was decided by the Movement that the unrest would stop and they would help to fill the gap the men had left when they departed for the Front.
However although there was a skills shortage, food shortage and practically a shortage of everything to keep the country turning over, the government of the day still refused to acknowledge that women could help.  By 1915 there were 'Right to Work' marches throughout the country.  But then Conscription was brought in in 1916 and suddenly women were invited to do the jobs which were increasingly becoming vacant with the men being taken away to fight.
This was indeed men's work but the women did not flinch away from it - heavy engineering, making castings for tracks on tanks; drilling holes for these castings and generally making them fit for purpose all performed in 12 hour shifts in alien conditions; mechanics; working on munitions trains full of explosives; paint spraying on bombs and sewing two pieces of skin together for airships fifty feet in the air!  A few of the jobs which were taken on by 'mere females'.
A Dorothy May Hare was recorded in 1984 - 'I was 15 in 1915  and worked at Fosters in Lincoln drilling rough cast steel for shoes for tanks.
Millions of shells were needed every day and women worked on the factory floor ensuring these were ready to go out.  There were a lot of deaths within this area of work because moving these shells was a tricky business.  Women working here were known as 'canaries' because their face and hands became quite yellow owing to the chemicals used.  Of course all of these chemicals were carcinogenic so the outcome was not good at all.
Of course there was no protective clothing so a simple scarf tied around the mouth was about all the protection given from tasks such as shovelling huge loads of ash; cutting glass and as mentioned above, drilling holes in metal.
As stated, Richard had some wonderful pictures to highlight his talk and in particular there was one taken in 1917 at Rustons with ladies, some of whom would be school age, making wing spars which were very fragile, for the Sopwith Camels. Without these women the aircraft would not have been built and as we heard from Charles Parker when he came to speak to us earlier in the year, one in fourteen of all aircraft at this time was produced in Lincoln for WW1.
Other slides showed the lighter side of life at that time; a fund raising event taken at the old cattle market site on Monks Road where the women would go round the city and raise money for the war effort.
Similarly on a lighter note, there were local football teams with the women filling in the gaps for the men and showing they could entertain those who came to watch.
Another picture shows hundreds of women in a local factory canteen having a break from their arduous tasks - the noise level must have been horrendous!
Seven million women were working on war production by late 1918; anything the men had done before, the women stepped in and took it on.
Several factories started to produce their own War Service badges to show that men wearing these were working towards the war effort to help them from being singled out as conscientious objectors.  These were unofficial because for quite some time the government would not recognise their significance but by 1915 this altered and even women were given a badge.  This was an official thank you and also to give them credibility in the workplace and proof that they had worked hard during the war. However they were supposed to hand these back after the war owing to the shortage of brass!
Richard then moved to another slide showing a group of people weaving.  Apparently woven baskets were used to carry shells in and thousands of these baskets were needed so communities would get together and have a weaving circle to make these much needed baskets.  Richard has one which he treasures as they are now exceptionally rare.
1915 onwards saw women joining nursing organisations and the Armed Forces although they were not allowed frontline duty.  However we mostly think of women in these positions from WW2 but Richard pointed out that they were very active during the First World War too.  A slide showed a female in the Women's Royal Naval Service and here they held official rank and power.  The Queen Mary's Auxiliary Corps went to France and built huts for military use.  The WRAF had many experienced female motor cyclists.
The list continued - railway porters, ticket collectors, clippies, Royal Mail coach drivers, dock workers and farming.  There were Land Girls in WW1 - whilst 80,000 females joined the Armed Forces, 250,000 found themselves working on the land.  As we all know, working on the land was hard for the men but the women took this on as well driving traction engines and tractors, making sure the food chain continued for the country.
One of the final slides shows a London bus conductress  handing her bus over to the man who has returned from the war.  Women now had to stand aside one more, let the men take over again and prepare themselves for re-entering the home!
This new way of life also had a big impact on women's fashion.  Prior to 1915 it was not 'normal' for women to wear trousers; hair was not worn short but of course if you are operating a lathe it would be dangerous to have your long hair dangling in the way!; smoking was not considered feminine in a lot of circles and very importantly, the Bra was born!  Corsets had been the main form of support for ladies prior to this time but you could not comfortably drive lorries or work a lathe if you were being held upright by a corset, not being able to breathe, so the Bra was designed.
We all owe such a lot to the men who fought in both wars but we also owe a lot to the determination and strength of the women who took the step and left their homes and usual roles and showed the country what they could achieve (with the help of a Bra!).

15th May 2013:
Message from our Secretary:
We welcomed back Loretta Rivett who this year gave us a talk entitled -  Lincolnshire Plants and their Historical Uses'.  Owing to the fact that I had slightly misinterpreted the title of the talk in my flyer (!) Loretta initially gave us a run down on some of the past uses of various plants most of us have come across at one time or another.
Hawthorne Shoots - known as Bread and Cheese - were eaten by a lot of us when younger.
The good old Bramble - used for jam making and wine making as were Cowslips, Elderflowers and more unusually,
Walnut Leaves.
On the subject of wine making, Loretta read a small passage from the 1959 classic 'Cider with Rosie'  by Laurie Lee which chronicles a childhood spent in a remote Cotswold village; life well before the advent of the rush and subsequent development of the 1960's onwards.
Bindweed which all gardeners hate and find extremely difficult to get rid of - well years ago it was put to good use and the strong stems were used to tie up other plants.
Nettles - These were gathered and placed in water and 'retted' - extracted the fibre in order to make clothing.  During World War I German children were sent into the fields to gather nettles and these were in turn used to make clothing because the country could no longer import the necessary fibres for the clothing industry.  Two and a half million kgs of nettles were gathered during this period; it took 40 kg to make one shirt.
Horsetails - used to scrub pans owing to the silica contained within.
Heather - used to make rope.
Broom/Silver Birch twigs - used for broom making/besoms.
Goose-grass (another pain for gardeners) - the seed balls when dried were put onto the end of pins to make heads for ease of holding - now of course we buy pins with plastic heads.
Thinking how we now welcome any medical breakthrough which halts or slows down the main diseases we suffer from today, It is a sobering thought that apparently only 4% of plants worldwide have been checked for their uses in this field so there may be lots of plants we have already lost which could have given us the answers we still desperately need.
An hour and a half was far too short to sit and listen to Loretta's deep knowledge accentuated with stories and I know many members of the audience could have willingly let her carry on.  Watch out for my list of speakers for next year because without doubt Loretta will

24th April 2013:
Carol Heidschuster, Head of Lincoln Cathedral Works Department - gave an interesting talk on the role of the Clericus Fabricae, an ancient title meaning Clerk of the Fabric of the Cathedral.  The holder of this role is given the privilege of a stall in St. Hugh's Choir.
The Clerk or Works Manager is assisted by team leaders who are responsible for a craft skill and a team of 25 experienced craftsmen and women are based in the Cathedral's specialist workshops.  As we all are aware, work on the Cathedral is never-ending and represents a constant challenge to all those involved in maintaining this wonderful building.  Investments in training and rofessional development is high priority and strong links have been made with training providers in the UK, Europe and America with the offer of work placements for students and craftsmen and women.
Most of the stone required for the Cathedral comes from the Works own quarry within the city boundary on Yarborough Road.  Stone which is not suitable for use around the Cathedral and the Close is offered for sale through Lincoln Cathedral Quarry Limited with profits from these sales being put back into the Cathedral to help cover the cost of repairs.
The Cathedral is something none of us can miss on our daily travels around the area.  I can even see it from one of our bedroom windows, during the winter when the leaves are not on the trees of course, and only then if I lean out precariously and stretch my neck at an uncomfortable angle, but I know it is there standing sentinel as it has been for over 900 years.  So perhaps next time you have visitors or even have time to wander around 'uphill' Lincoln, go and visit this Lincolnshire icon - The Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln - and see for yourself the art, architecture and the symbolism this amazing piece of history holds for us.

21st March 2013:
Message from our Secretary......
Last night's talk given by Charles Parker was enlightening and entertaining.
Increasingly as we read and hear about the current demise of Britain's manufacturing industry it may come as a surprise to those people who are not local, or who have moved to the area fairly recently, that at the time of WWI Lincoln was one of the largest aircraft production centres in the world.  Yes, the world!  Approximately 6,000 men and women were engaged in 'war service' on aircraft work in the city.
Names synonymous with the city in the past such as Ruston, Procter & Co., Robey & Co., Clayton & Shuttleworth Limited, all played an enormous part during WW1.
Charles provided us with so much information supported by wonderful archive photographs I can't replicate the talk to its advantage really but to give you a flavour I shall try and put down the main points. I am sure most of you have heard the name of Ruston in connection with the city - and to be exact Joseph Ruston who was one of the first entrepreneurs of his day.  It was in 1857 that he became a partner in a small Lincoln millwright's business of Burton & Procter.  Joseph's marketing abilities were ahead of the time and he began building machines to stock instead of acting upon order requests.  By doing this he increased his market because customers didn't have to wait so long for their particular piece of equipment and so they in turn spoke to their neighbours and friends and hence the order books began to fill up.  The company soon became Ruston, Procter & Co. Limited and expanded rapidly.  In 1914 the works covered 100 acres and had over 5,000 employees.  This expansion was just in time for the outbreak of war and they were the first company to venture into aircraft production in response to a call from the government.  All companies who took on orders for the government became 'controlled establishments' a kind of semi-nationalised company for the war effort.
With a lot of young men rushing off to join up this depleted the workforce considerably.  However this problem was solved in two ways, the government stopped the recruitment of skilled labour and women were taken on to do a lot of the 'mundane' work.  The idea of women working in these factories was initially fiercely opposed by the Trade Unions so the government came up with what we would today call PR thinking.  These women were called 'Munitionettes' - a play on the word  'Suffragette'  to give the women an idea that they were meeting an important role in the war - which we now know they actually did!  It also meant the men still felt in charge because they were only allowing the women to tackle the more mundane jobs!
In 1915 only one year into the war there was an issue - 'The Shell Crisis', a shortage of artillery shells on the front lines and David Lloyd George was put in charge of the new government department of the Ministry of Munitions.  The Shell Crisis was a significant factor in the fall of the Liberal Government of the day, in favour of a coalition, and also in the rapid rise to power of the new Minister of Munitions, Lloyd George, who would replace Asquith as Prime Minister the following year.  Lloyd George recognised you had to get the best people in the best positions and he went out into the country to find these 'best' companies and came to Lincoln.  He is quoted as saying…… 'This is an engineers war'.
After Ruston Procter & Co., Robey & Co. early in 1915 became the second Lincoln firm to go into aircraft manufacture closely followed by Clayton & Shuttleworth Limited.  Robey & Co were however the only company to design and build their own prototype aircraft.  Most people have heard of the Sopwith Camel in relation to WW1 and Clayton & Shuttleworth became the fourth contractor to build this aeroplane having received an order in March 1917.  These aircraft were produced in the famous Titanic Works until 1919 - these works were named as such because they were built at the same time as the infamous ship and were also the same length as the Atlantic Liner.
20th February 2013:
On this Wednesday evening over 40 people decided they wanted to know more about tracing their family roots and where to start and Irving Woolley was the man to put them on the right path.
Irving's enthusiasm soon rubbed off onto those present and he had the audience in the grip of how easy it is to retrace your steps over 200 years AND without having to pay huge sums of money to do so - something we all wanted to know!  After a few minutes we were all beginning to realise that this project we have had hanging around for years may just now be possible.  We were introduced to three or four internet programmes all of which would offer results at very little cost, if not for free and Irving used part of his family to show how we could easily find family members by learning to read Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates and using the information contained within them to our advantage.  Irving has a head full of really useful information together with little snippets which may have eluded most of us.  For example, it wasn't until after 1911 that the mother's maiden name was added on a Birth Certificate and the 1911 Census Returns show the length of a marriage which in turn helps to then look for a wedding date of said person.
Throughout the whole of the presentation Irv kept everyone involved and added in the odd piece if humour.  Basically he made us all realise that tracing your family is a huge but thoroughly enjoyable mystery programme and more often than not you find out much more than you possibly bargained for and you definitely get hooked.
Many thanks again to Irv for his time in both putting the presentation together and giving us all a most enjoyable evening.

17th January 2013:
Message from our Secretary.......
It was a delight to see so many people at our first talk of 2013 last night particularly as the freezing temperatures don't really encourage you to leave the warmth of your homes.  Nevertheless we welcomed 34 friends who came along to listen to Graeme give his informative talk on a subject close to his heart but which few of us are familiar with.
As is the usual case, we pass by a lot of long-forgotten historical sites and never really give them a second thought as to why they are there but on this occasion Graeme enlightened the audience as to the existence of two canals in the county - Horncastle and Louth - now only remnants of their former glory but providing a haven for wildlife and interesting walks as well as a learning tool useful for finding out more about our industrial heritage.
Graeme's talk was complemented by superb slides shown for the first time on the newly erected screen; now a permanent fixture of the stage in the village hall which the village hall committee has made available and thanks has to be offered once again to Chris Stable for making this possible.
Graeme opened his talk with the Louth Navigation which runs 11 miles from Louth to Tetney Lock and onwards to the North Sea. Opening in 1770 at a cost of £28,000 it was in effect a canalisation of the River Lud with 8 locks between Louth and Tetney. Six of the 8 locks were built in an unusual way with the sides of the lock chambers consisting of 4 scalloped-shaped bays; an engineering construction to apparently make the bays stronger  This is a unique feature in the whole of the water-way system of the British Isles. Some of these locks still survive and the remains of one can be clearly seen at Alvingham. The two other locks have conventional straight walls.
The coming of the railways lead to a decline in the use of the canal and the First World War killed what traffic was left. The final blow was the devastation caused by the Louth Flood of 1920 to the Riverhead area, the terminus of the canal and the canal eventually closed in 1924.
The monotony of the landscape around this area was alleviated by the locks and points of interest which Graeme caught on camera.
Beacon Fire Farm, Fen Bridge & Transfer Warehouse and the attractive Alvingham Mill close to Alvingham Priory.  The Priory is an interesting place to visit, it having been an important Gilbertine Priory and quite unusually there are two churches on site, one of which is open to visitors.
At the Riverhead in Louth you reach the 18th century warehouse which is a symbol of the town's prosperity in the days when the wool and corn trade played a leading role in the economy and is now well worth a visit after extensive refurbishment. The Louth Navigation Trust has its headquarters here and the building is also used an educational, social and meeting venue with presentations and talks given relating to the canal's past, present and future.
Graeme then sailed us down towards Horncastle to enlighten us on the history of another local canal, one which many of us probably drive over and alongside quite often during the course of the year if we are in that area or travelling towards the coast. Again accompanied by superb slides, Graeme filled us in on the history of the broad Horncastle Canal which ran for 11 miles from Horncastle to Dogdyke through twelve locks and largely following the course of River Bain. This was a business venture which was not a success with the canal opening in 1802 and then being abandoned in 1889 with the coming of the railways causing its eventual demise. The prime movers for the venture were Sir Joseph Banks and Lord Fortescue.  Sir Joseph was a man of both local and national standing who had a keen interest in agriculture and trade and was intent on bringing wealth and success to Horncastle.
At this time there was already a short canal at Tattershall to the River Witham which had been constructed in 1786 by John Gibson, a merchant from Tattershall and it was known as 'Gibsons Cut'. Sir Joseph Banks canvassed the support of local merchants and the owners of the estates that bordered the river to formulate this business venture and a Parliamentary Bill for the proposed canal was put forward in 1792, with approval for an Act of Parliament giving the go ahead later that same year. The Act also included a clause to enable the channel beneath Lincoln High Bridge which prevented navigation from the River Witham to the Brayford Pool, to be made deeper. In addition the Act also regularised the position of the Gibson Cut which had been built without an Act of Parliament on land owned by Lord Fortescue and ensured that he would be compensated when the cut was taken over by the new company.
However in spite of names in high places and new ideas this venture was fraught with problems from the beginning and it never realised its potential. Although the day of its opening on 17th September 1802 was declared to be a public holiday in Horncastle and boats were decked with bunting and flags and the navvies given free food and beer on boats, it was not such a success with the operation having cost nearly four times the original estimate.
Once open tolls were collected, but for the first ten years these were used to pay back the mortgage taken out in 1800, and it was not until 1813 that the first dividend was paid. Dividends were then paid every year as profits gradually increased. In the early 1850s, the canal carried around 9,710 tons of coal to Horncastle, and around 5,420 tons of goods, including corn and wool, in the other directions. However as mentioned earlier the canal was officially abandoned on 23 September 1889, but sand and gravel continued to be transported from Kirkby on Bain for another ten years, while the lower reaches of the canal remained in use until 1910 with boats taking coal from Goole to the Coningsby wharf of Laythorpe and Son, Coal Merchants. But with the aid of Graeme's slides we could see that this is another area worth visiting to explore the county's industrial heritage or simply take a walk along an attractive tow path. 
Thanks again to Graeme for passing on his knowledge once again.

7th January 2013:
During the coming year ssHs will benefit from new presentation facilities
installed in the Village Hall during the Christmas / New Year break.....

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