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Founded in 1884 by Louth Naturalists',
Antiquarian and Literary Society
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Ruth's Blog 2017

Welcome to Ruth's 2017 Blog, where I'll tell you about what we have in Louth Museum. You can also read and discover more from last year's blog.

4th December 2017

'Louth Gay Nineties Club'

Louth Gay Nineties ClubLooking at this 1956 invitation in the museum, I realise how much the usage of certain words has changed in the last 50 years.

The Gay Nineties was a nostalgic term referring to the decade of the 1890s. According to Wikipedia, the term Gay Nineties began to be used in the 1920s in the USA when the decade was nostalgically seen as a period of pre-income tax wealth for a newly emergent "society set". It was also the name of a nostalgic radio program in the 1930s.

Gay meaning ‘homosexual’ became established in the 1960s as the term preferred by homosexual men to describe themselves, and is now the standard accepted term throughout the English-speaking world. As a result, the centuries-old other senses of gay meaning either ‘carefree’ or ‘bright and showy’ have more or less dropped out of natural use.

8th November 2017

'Famous Men and Women'

Sarah Churchill I came across a copy of a document by Rev Alfred Hunt MA (1863-1937), listing a large number of famous people in Lincolnshire.

Although I was familiar with some, many I had not heard of before and I have added further information in the [square brackets].

Pictured left is Sarah Jennings, 1st Duchess of Marlborough.

Those associated with the Louth area are:

  • Cardinal Robert de Somercotes. Born at South Somercotes, died 1241; poisoned at Rome on the eve of Papal Election, 1241.
  • William de Luda. Born at Louth, died March 27th 1298. Prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral London; Prebendary of York Minster; Prebendary of Lincoln, Archdeacon of Durham; Dean of St Martin’s le Grand; Keeper of King’s Wardrobe; Bishop of Ely, May 4th 1290.
  • Nicholas de Luda. Born at Louth, died 1364; Capucian Friar; Canon of Beverley; Canon of Salisbury; Rector of Cottingham near Hull. Brass in Cottingham Church.
  • Sir John Bolle of Thorpe Hall, Louth. [Born c1561, died November 3rd 1606]. The hero of the ballad of “The Spanish Lady”; present at the capture of Cadiz; knighted by Queen Elizabeth; served under the Earl of Essex in Ireland; appointed Governor of Kinsale.
  • Gervase Scroop [or Scrope]. [Born 1594], died 1655, buried at South Cockerington. Royalist; fought on the side of Charles I at Edgehill, where he received sixteen wounds.
  • Dr Robert Mapletoft. Born at North Thoresby, 1609; [died August 20th 1677]. Master of Pembroke College Cambridge, 1664; Rector of Bartlow Cambridgeshire; ejected by Parliamentarians; Dean of Ely; founder of school at North Thoresby. [Educated at Louth Grammar School; in 1676 founded a free school in Northgate Louth.]
  • Sarah Jennings, 1st Duchess of Marlborough. [Pictured here.] Born at Burwell 1660 [niece of naturalist Martin Lister, other sources state she was born in Hertfordshire], died 1744; married in 1678 Colonel Churchill; friend and companion of Queen Anne, daughter of James II.
  • Charlotte Alington Barnard [known as “Claribel”]. Born Louth December 23rd 1830, died at Dover January 30th 1869; musical composer; daughter of Henry Alington Pye; wife of Rev Charles Cary Barnard.
20th October 2017

'Flintlock Pistol'

Written by work experience student Adam from De Aston School

Flintlock PistolMy name is Adam and I am undertaking work experience at Louth Museum . One of the tasks I been set is to write about an exhibit at the museum.

I have chosen the flintlock pistol which can be found in a weapon cabinet next to the panorama as I find it fascinating.

The flintlock pistol is a gun that was used in the mid-19th century. It was made from parts of older weapons as a way to protecting against highway robberies. This was because it was inexpensive to make. The reason the flintlock pistol was called a flint lock pistol was because it used a flint striking ignition mechanism which means it would use flint to ignite. To load the gun you pour gun powder down the barrel of the gun followed by a lead ball.

Even though flintlock pistols were used in the mid-19th century they were also used in 1700-1739 and other dates as well. There were also different models of the flintlock pistol such as the French flintlock pistol circa 1790-1795. The largest sizes of the gun would be carried in holsters across the back of horses. There were also flintlock pistols with multiple barrels. These guns, such as the pepperbox revolver, were expensive, dangerous and even took 15 seconds to reload for an expert.

20th October 2017

'Trophy of Spring'

Written by work experience student Levi from De Aston School

Trophy of SpringThe carving, Trophy of Spring, was created by a man in 1850; the piece took him approximately 8 months to produce. The wood carver who created the Trophy of Spring was Thomas Wilkinson Wallis.

Thomas was born in Hull; he attended drawing classes and other art classes at Hull mechanics institute. His carving, Trophy of Spring was his most detailed pieces. His piece was created from a solid chunk of lime wood. He made each part of the design from this wood. None of the parts were cut off and stuck on, all were hand made by Thomas from one piece of wood. Thomas' carving was on display in 1851 at the great exhibition.

Thomas was an ordinary man like you or me but had a unique talent to make intricate carvings of wood. He used his talent at a young age, at the age of 13 he was an apprentice to a wood carver and soon took over his shop once he had passed away.

Unfortunately, Thomas damaged his eyesight in 1858 and gave up carving detailed pieces of wood in 1874. After this, Thomas began to teach himself how to do land surveying and began to work with the drainage commissioners for the next 8 years, after this he took up being a public health inspector for the next 20 years.

25th September 2017

'Soap making in Louth'

Louth Soap House and FactoryA recent query from the USA regarding Louth soap maker William Chatterton made us look in more detail at the soap making industry in Louth.

In the late 18th Century the soap works in Church Close off Gospelgate were owned by William Chatterton. The buildings are shown on the 1840s panorama drawings by William Brown. The soap warehouse is indicated in red and the soap factory in blue. The yard is labelled “Hyde’s Yard”. This is because in 1792 William Chatterton’s daughter Sarah married William Hyde who took over the soap works and established a grocery business on Upgate. William Hyde was a successful businessman and by the 1820s lived in a large house close to his Riverhead warehouse, which later became ‘The Lincolnshire Poacher’.

From the 1850s the soap and grocery business were run by the Smith family, and older residents of Louth will recognise the name C G Smith.

17th August 2017

'David Robinson, Masons Arms Hotel and William Brown'

Masons ArmsTuesday 25th July 2017 was a sad day for us as David Robinson, our Honorary Life President, died at the age of very nearly 90 years. His support of Louth Museum was tremendous, and we will greatly miss him.

But 25th July also marked a new beginning; the Masons Arms Hotel in Louth Cornmarket opened its doors after extensive renovation by Charles Nickerson. The hotel has a beautifully restored restaurant, cocktail bar and ballroom, and bedrooms. On tiles in the restaurant and on a tapestry in the upstairs cocktail bar you can see reproductions of early Victorian coloured drawings, 'Wonders of Nature', by William Brown, the man who painted Louth's panorama from the top of St James' Church. Brown was a Sunday-School teacher and it is likely that he drew these pictures to educate his pupils. As he had no personal experience of the animals he depicted – crocodiles, giraffes, elephants and kangaroos - he probably copied them from illustrated books in Louth's Mechanics Institute.

It was David Robinson who arranged for William Brown's drawings to be displayed in the Masons Arms, but sadly David didn't manage to see them in situ. The Masons Arms is well worth a visit; if you can't then have a look at their Facebook page where you can get a glimpse of Brown's drawings.

20th July 2017

'Zoological Observations, 1885'

Zoological ObservationsThe “Ants and Nats”, the organisation responsible for Louth Museum is one of the oldest learned societies in Lincolnshire. It began in 1884 when a group of teenage boys interested in Natural History began to meet each week to discuss their findings. Recently we have come across an original document dated 1885 that lists some of their “Zoological Observations”, including the following:

  • Jan 17th. Two otters seen near the pond at Tathwell.
  • Feb 11th. Cart load of sprats being drawn through the town to be used as manure.
  • Feb 24th. Two white stoats are now being shown in the bird-stuffer’s window. Three have been caught this winter.
  • Apr 3rd. On vermin tree in Burwell Wood were 26 weasels and 3 stoats.
  • Aug 4th. Natterjack toad seen on the sand hills at Mablethorpe. Easily distinguished from the common toad, which is also present on the sand hills, by the white dorsal line.
  • Aug 21st. School of porpoises seen off Mablethorpe.
29th June 2017

'Fossilized Shark Teeth' - by Edward

Written by work experience student Edward from Cordeaux Academy

Sharks TeethFor my work experience I have chosen to spend the majority of this week working at Louth Museum. As well as other tasks, one thing that I have been asked to do is choose an item or collection at the museum and write about it.

One that immediately caught my eye was the fossilized shark teeth in the fossil exhibit. I chose these items because I have always took a massive interest in fossils and the prehistoric era. These also give us an idea of what the past was like and what creatures were like millions of years ago and how time has taken its toll on the teeth. I reckon these came from the Jurassic era because at that time, the ocean was at a much higher level and more land was more submerged in water and what ever lived in it was able to get to Louth. This is probably how the sharks got here in the first place and over time, their bodies rotted away and all that was left were the teeth.

I believe I can identify the sharks that died from the shape, colouring and features on the teeth. Two of them are black in colour and are quite large, about the size of your fingers. Two are a bit smaller and a lot thinner, probably used for gripping and biting instead of cutting. And the last is light brown and is very serrated and was used for cutting. The two I have rounded down to are the mako shark and the great white shark. The two teeth on the left could be mako shark teeth as they have small and quite narrow teeth, but could be smaller teeth of a great white shark. The two on the right could be from a great white as they have very large and wide teeth. And the tooth in the middle is very serrated which could belong to a great white or any other shark which needs to tear up large prey. Both these sharks have thin teeth and have serrated teeth and could have landed here because of the warmer climates back then and the fact Louth is quite close to the coast. Now however the climate is much colder (but heating up) and Louth is now no longer submerged in water.

16th June 2017

'Saundersons' Windmills'

Saundersons' WindmillsAre you interested in windmills? If so, you MUST get the recent book by Jon Sass, a copy of which he kindly presented to the museum. Entitled "Saundersons, Millwrights & Engineers of Louth, Lincolnshire", if focuses on three generations of engineers, each called John Saunderson or Sanderson (born 1789, 1819 and 1858 respectively) who had their works at various locations in Louth; the largest can be seen on the 1840s Louth Panorama located in Charles Street, at what is now the southern end of Hawthorne Avenue.

As Richard Gurnham said in his panorama stories, it was largely owing to the work of men like the Saundersons that multi-sail tall brick tower windmills were widely adopted across Lincolnshire. The millwrights of the early 19th Century had to be masters of many skills, from carpentry and smithing to gearing wheels with wooden cogs and dressing millstones. One technological improvement was the fan tail which moved the cap of the windmill automatically when the wind changed direction, so that the sails always faced into the wind. Another was an automatic device to reduce the dangerous effects of very strong winds.

Jon has vast knowledge about windmills, and this book is a great read.

22nd May 2017

'Hot water bottles'

Water BottleWater BottleBefore the days of electric blankets and central heating, the only way of warming your bed on cold winter nights was to put something hot into it.

Early bed warmers varied according to economic status. Rich households had a flat brass pan with a long handle, a “warming pan”, which was filled with embers from the fire and then put in the bed to warm it. The poor on the other hand might heat a brick in the fire, then cover it with a cloth and put it in the bed.

The hot water bottle came into use during Victorian times – it was simply a robust heat-resistant bottle which was filled with hot water, and had a watertight seal. Ceramic bottles were the most common type until rubber bottles were invented.

The illustrations show an early 20th Century stoneware hot water bottle bearing the inscription of Morton, Son & Lock of Eastgate Louth, and an elegant white porcelain hot water bottle used in Louth Hospital in the mid-20th Century. We are grateful to Peter Kerman for recently donating the hospital bottle.

24th April 2017

'Louth Sewage Works, 1911'

Louth sewage works foundationThis photo by Arthur James of Ramsgate shows a group of people around a foundation stone. Examination of the inscription on the stone and searching in contemporary newspapers revealed that this was the opening of Louth sewage works on Thursday 20th July 1911.

“Members of the Corporation were conveyed to the works, which comprise an outfall sewer and sewers by which the existing sewers connecting with the River Lud will be intercepted and conveyed down the valley of the Lud for a distance of about a mile and a half beyond the borough boundary. From detritus tanks, in which the more soiled matter will be interrupted, the sewage will pass into continuous flow tanks … and afterwards is subject to the action of nitrifying organisms in six filter beds.

“The mayor [George Blaze] was presented with a silver trowel and mallet by Mr Latham [elderly civil engineer based in London] and the party was afterwards entertained by the mayor to luncheon in the Town Hall.”

Unfortunately, there were numerous reports in subsequent years of the disappointing performance of the sewage works, with disputes between the Council, the Contractors and the Engineers. And in 1929 it was reported that “The system which is in operation has been far from satisfactory, but the heavy debt that remains on work has made the Public Health Committee very chary of embarking on the expensive scheme which is necessary to put things right.”

We thank David Robinson for donating this item to the Museum.

27th March 2017

'Grandfather Clock'

John P Pearson ClockWhen you come into the Panorama Gallery and look to your left there is a welcome addition: an attractive longcase (i.e. “grandfather”) clock made in Louth. It tells us the time and date, and it chimes.

John P Pearson ClockThe clock was made in the nineteenth century by watchmaker and silversmith John P Pearson (b 1797) who had premises in the Cornmarket near the Mason’s Arms. His obituary in the Stamford Mercury newspaper of 13th February 1880 reads, “An old resident of Louth passed away, in his 83rd year, on Sunday last, viz, John Pearson, who for many years was a jeweller and watchmaker in the Market place. Mr Pearson had been connected with the Methodist denominations for over 60 years, and was highly respected. His death was the result of bronchitis.”

The clock belonged to the donor’s grandfather William Harold Burditt (b 1887) who was a photographer. William’s early life was in Louth where his father Thomas Henry Burditt (b 1843) had his printing shop at No 2 Mercer Row - this was located at the extreme end of the road, just west of what is now Co-Jo’s.

We are very grateful to donor Matthew Thomas, to horologist Andy Doe for restoring the clock mechanism, and to Geoff Hill for restoring the woodwork.

25th February 2017

'Louth Halfpenny 1671'

Louth halfpenny 1671The museum is fortunate to have been given an unusual diamond-shaped copper-alloy token bearing a rose and crown, and stamped “LOWTH HALFE PENY 1671” and “TO BEE CHANGD BY YE OVERSEERS OF THE POOR”.

Why was Louth minting tokens with monetary value?  The official small coinage of England from Saxon times was of silver.  Over the centuries the increased value of silver meant that the size of silver coins had decreased until in the 17th Century the lower denominations were inconveniently small and easily lost.  Some copper farthings had been produced under King James I and Charles I but not enough, and more coins of a useful size and weight were needed for everyday monetary transactions.

Louth halfpenny 1671Towards the end of the reign of Charles I and during the Commonwealth Period of 1649-1660 monetary tokens were minted and dispensed by tradesmen and officials in many towns. Tokens formed “money of necessity”, and were extremely useful to the community. This continued until 1672 when King Charles II issued regal copper coinage and forbade any usage of tokens.

Our token was one of a batch issued in 1671 by the Overseers of the Poor in Louth and noted in the archives of St James’ Church.  The Overseers kept records of the poor persons of the town, collected compulsory contributions from the townspeople, and used the money to feed the needy and to apprentice the children of the poor.  These tokens would have been used by the recipients to purchase items from local traders, and eventually would have been returned to the church in payment of parish rates and contributions.

We are very grateful to Mr Kenneth Harvey for donating this interesting coin to Louth Museum.

7th February 2017

'Shoplifting in 1805?'

Shoplifting in 1805We have recently been given an assortment of old documents that were found behind a fireplace surround in a house that was being renovated.  They are of course old, rather dirty and fragile, and some are difficult to read.  Several relate to the Louth Association for the Prosecution of Felons, a mutual subscription society that prosecuted criminals before the creation of a national police force.

The image shows part of an invoice dated April 1805 from Louth solicitor William Wilson for work he had undertaken on behalf of the Association. It states the expenses incurred for the prosecution of Mary Brooks who had committed felony against William Eve.  I have not managed to find out anything about Mary Brooks, but the name William Eve rang a bell immediately.  He was the proprietor of the Louth drapery business, now known as Eve & Ranshaw.  It sounds as if Mary was being prosecuted for shoplifting.

16th January 2017

'Robinson’s butchers in Vickers Lane'

Robinsons Butchers LouthLouth is well-known for having several excellent butchers’ shops. Sadly the butchers at M N Robinson & Sons retired at the end of December 2016.

The business in Vickers Lane (the little road opposite the Post Office) was established by Markham Robinson in the 1940s. Initially the shop occupied premises on the western side of the road, but after redevelopment of the street 38 years ago, they relocated across the road to the present site.

Business such as this play a valuable multipurpose role in the community. Robinson’s provided high quality meat products from named farmers, an interesting selection of traditional products such as pheasants and rabbits, and cooked dishes freshly prepared on the premises. Just as appreciated, was their friendly customer service, part of the knowledge network in the town, and providing an informal support service particularly to elderly and vulnerable customers.

As I walked out of Robinson’s shop for the final time carrying a bag of chilled meats and clutching warm custard tarts, I was reflecting on the value of personal service. Thank you Philip, Richard and Paul for being there for us. We will miss you.

Ruth's blog 2016
Ruth's blog 2015
Ruth's blog 2014


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