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Louth Museum

Lectures and Outings

2024 PROGRAMME

Our lectures and visits in 2024

The lectures in 2024 will be held either in the Methodist Church in Nichol Hill, LN11 9NQ, or online using Zoom. Visitors or members may request a Zoom link by emailing start.david@btinternet.com.

Prostitution, Crime and Disease in Victorian Louth

Sunday, 21st July 2024 2:00pm by Caroline Rood and Dr Lynda Payne

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Prostitution, Crime and Disease in Victorian Louth

On this guided walk we visit places and hear stories to reveal the largely forgotten lives of the poor and marginalised in Victorian Louth.  Starts at 2 pm from Louth Museum and ends at the Fish Shambles.  Easy 1.5 mile walk on level ground with a halfway sit-down.  Please note, only suitable for adults over the age of 16.

The cost of the walk is £5 per adult.  Funds benefit Louth Museum.  Maximum number for each walk will be 15 persons.  To secure a place on this walk, come to Louth Museum and pay the £5 booking fee.  Numbers on each walk are limited, so if you arrive at the starting point of the walk without a prior booking, you will be allowed to join only if spaces are available.  Louth Museum is open Wednesdays to Saturdays, 10 am to 4 pm.

Guided visit to Little Steeping

Sunday, 18th August 2024 10:00am by Dave Start and Jean Howard

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Guided visit to Little Steeping

A guided tour of the marsh village of Little Steeping to visit (inside as well as outside) Mill Hill Cottage, a mud-and-stud cottage restored by Heritage Lincolnshire during Dave’s time as Director; the church; the embanked River Steeping; and view ridge and furrow remains.  We will be able to gain access to Mill Hill Cottage by kind permission of the tenant.  Besides seeing also the former village school, Steere’s vicarage and the well-converted chapel, the visit offers an opportunity to see how the topography influenced the village to move away from the danger of flooding.

Please wear good footwear as we will walk along a footpath across a grass field.  Total distance about 2½ miles in easy stages.

Please park at the village hall (PE23 5BQ; approval.forgives.lanes) – Steere’s former village school, where we will start with tea/coffee before setting out on our walk, and return to eat packed lunches (not provided) and further hot drinks.  Facilities available there throughout our visit.

Cost £15 per person.  Booking essential.

Louth Cricket Club

Tuesday, 1st October 2024 7:30pm by Adam Grist

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Louth Cricket Club

This lecture will be held in Louth Methodist Church, Nichol Hill.

Adam is Louth born and bred and has always been a keen amateur sportsman. He first played for Louth Cricket Club in 1988 and since that time has been involved in the Club as a player, team captain, coach and has undertaken various Committee roles. He is currently chairman of the Club as they look to further develop cricket opportunities in Louth and the surrounding area.

2022 was the 200th anniversary of Louth Cricket Club. As part of the year-long celebration, they undertook extensive research into the Club’s history and discovered a great deal about the history of cricket in the town and surrounding area. This talk will journey through those 200 years and cover some groundbreaking matches such as Louth XI vs the Rest of England XI, early women’s matches and the many locations around the town where cricket has been played.

Albert West of Louth  and Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, 8th October 2024 7:30pm by Heather Hughes

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Albert West of Louth  and Mahatma Gandhi

This lecture will be held in Louth Methodist Church, Nichol Hill.

Heather was born and brought up in South Africa.  She trained as a historian at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. She taught at the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa, and was a researcher for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  In 2001 she moved to Lincolnshire to join the University of Lincoln. Since then she has overseen the heritage interpretation for the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln and continues to head up the digital archive associated with that project. Other research interests include uncovering marginalised and neglected stories from Lincolnshire’s past – such as Albert West’s!

Albert West was born in Louth in 1879. He trained as a printer in Leicester, before travelling to South Africa after the Anglo-Boer war. A chance encounter with the young Mohandas Gandhi in Johannesburg changed the course of his life. He was to play a founding role in Mahatma Gandhi’s first ashram and was central to the elaboration of Gandhi’s philosophy of passive/non-violent protest against injustice. In turn, it was through West that Gandhi twice visited Lincolnshire. The talk concludes with a look at West’s later life and return to Lincolnshire in retirement.

Purgatory: Heaven’s Waiting Room or the Antechamber of Hell?

Tuesday, 15th October 2024 7:30pm by Brian Hodgkinson

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Purgatory: Heaven’s Waiting Room or the Antechamber of Hell?

This lecture will be held in Louth Methodist Church, Nichol Hill.

In 1995 Brian ‘retired’ from his previous employment as a bus driver and started courses at the Nottingham WEA, mostly in history, before entering the School of Continuing Education at the University of Nottingham. This ultimately led to a PhD (2013) on the subject of the dissolution of the monasteries in Lincolnshire.

Today the term Purgatory refers to an unpleasant situation that is both lengthy and unavoidable, e.g., contacting a utility company by phone. In the Medieval period however, Purgatory was much more consequential. According to Church doctrine, Purgatory was believed by Christians to be an intermediate state between Heaven and Hell, where souls were painfully cleansed of unconfessed sins and uncompleted penance prior to the Day of Judgement. The Church did little to disabuse parishioners that, other than its assured conclusion, the purgatorial process was nothing other than lengthy, tortuous and harrowing.  This talk will discuss the history of Purgatory and its gradual progression to become officially acknowledged as Church doctrine. Also considered will be the emergence of the concept of indulgences, designed to reduce time spent in Purgatorium; a process finally outlawed in England by Henry VIII as part of the Reformation process.

Botanical Illustrations of Dr J T Burgess & Fungi Illustrations of May Lane-Claypon

Tuesday, 22nd October 2024 7:30pm by Stuart Crooks

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Botanical Illustrations of Dr J T Burgess & Fungi Illustrations of May Lane-Claypon

This lecture will be held in Louth Methodist Church, Nichol Hill.

Stuart is the former CEO of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust; Trustee of the Sir Joseph Banks Society; Secretary of the Lincolnshire Branch of the Betjeman Society; and member of the Advisory Committees for Snipe Dales and Gibraltar Point Nature Reserves.

The Sir Joseph Banks Society has unearthed a stunning collection of botanical paintings in a cloth bag where they had lain undisturbed for over a century.   They are the work of Wyberton born May Lane-Claypon who married Revd E M Cheales of Friskney.   May had trained at the Slade School of Art and also in Germany.  A knowledgeable botanist from an early age, she developed a passion for illustrating the wild flowers and fungi she found growing around her home.  In later life she turned her talent to portrait and landscape painting and religious subjects for Friskney church.    Our speaker will illustrate her talents.

The Burgess collection consists of a large number of postcard sized plant watercolours arranged by botanical family.   The watercolours were painted by Dr. J. T. Burgess of Spilsby, Lincolnshire in the 1890s and donated by Miss Norah B. Burgess (his daughter) in July, 1955 to the Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Union.   In 2021 the collection was transferred to the Sir Joseph Banks Society for cataloguing and digitisation.

Lincolnshire’s Fen Chapels

Tuesday, 29th October 2024 7:30pm by Denise Wheatley

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Lincolnshire’s Fen Chapels

This lecture will be held in Louth Methodist Church, Nichol Hill.

Denise is one of the founder members of the Spirit of Sutterby, a community heritage project which has been running now for nine years.   The project is based on the tiny church and Deserted Mediaeval Village of Sutterby in the Lincolnshire Wolds and has gathered people and skills to enable a wide range of research into the history of Sutterby and its archaeological landscape.

One of the most curious episodes of Georgian church provision in Lincolnshire concerns the Fen Chapels built between 1812-1840. Built as a direct result of the draining of the last three Lincolnshire Fens  - East Fen, West Fen and Wildmore Fen – theirs is an interesting, yet salutary tale.

The Mystique of Hair and Wigs

Tuesday, 5th November 2024 7:30pm by Felicite Gillham

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The Mystique of Hair and Wigs

Wallis Lecture:  Pearson Bellamy’s Architecture in Louth & Rivalry with James Fowler

Tuesday, 12th November 2024 7:30pm by Nicholas Moore

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Wallis Lecture:  Pearson Bellamy’s Architecture in Louth & Rivalry with James Fowler

This lecture will be held in Louth Methodist Church, Nichol Hill.

Nicholas was the Keeper of the City and County Museum in Lincoln from 1970-75 and then the Curator of the Grosvenor Museum in Chester until 1990. After this he joined his wife Eva‘s antiquarian bookselling business and they moved to Mid Wales, where they specialised in selling books on Archaeology, Architecture and Wales. Moving back to Lincoln in 2016 he has become very active in the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology and in the Local List Group, which works with the Lincoln City Council in compiling a list of buildings and heritage assets that are not covered by Statutory Listing.

Born in Louth in 1822, Pearson Bellamy trained as an architect under William Adams Nicholson in Lincoln and also in Manchester and Liverpool. He returned in 1845, setting up a practice in Lincoln, but also having an office in his parents’ house in Upgate, Louth.   Until the early 1860s he was designing nearly all the new buildings in Louth. These included the Louth Town Hall, the rebuilding of the Mansion House, the Corn Exchange, Cemetery Chapels and the Free Methodist Chapel, many new shops and numerous houses. But c1860 he ceased to work in Louth, though his work elsewhere blossomed with the building of Ipswich, Grimsby, and Retford Town Halls, many buildings in Lincoln, impressive Corn Exchanges, and cemetery and Methodist chapels, in an area stretching from Lancashire and Cheshire to Hertfordshire and even to Jersey. There are traces of friction with James Fowler from the building of Louth Town Hall, then Grimsby Town Hall, which was supposed to be jointly designed, but Fowler withdrew. Finally, there was a very public dispute in 1869 with Fowler over the costings for St Swithin’s Church in Lincoln. 

Recent Discoveries of Medieval Timber Buildings in Lincolnshire

Tuesday, 19th November 2024 7:30pm by Prof Mark Gardiner

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Recent Discoveries of Medieval Timber Buildings in Lincolnshire

This lecture will be held in Louth Methodist Church, Nichol Hill.

Mark Gardiner has worked in University College London (where he was the Deputy Director of Archaeology South-East) and Queen’s University Belfast (where he was joint head of Archaeology-Palaeoecology). He is currently Professor of Medieval Archaeology at the University of Lincoln and Director of Lincoln Conservation. He has particular research interests in medieval buildings and in the twelfth-century peasantry in Lincolnshire. Publications include over 130 papers on aspects of the archaeology of the Middle Ages and five edited books.

Few timber buildings survive in Lincolnshire from the Middle Ages. Outside the towns of Lincoln, Grantham and Boston, it is hard to find more than one or two buildings remaining in most areas of the county. Compared to other counties in the Midlands, this is a depressingly sparse record. However, recent work has begun to identify some remarkable surviving structures and has begun to fill in the enormous gaps in our understanding. The talk examines why we have lost so many medieval buildings, and some of the extraordinary structures which still remain. From these fragments, we can begin to identify the character of medieval Lincolnshire houses.

Victorian Stained Glass 

Tuesday, 26th November 2024 7:30pm by Dr Jim Cheshire    

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Victorian Stained Glass 

This lecture will be held in Louth Methodist Church, Nichol Hill.

Jim’s research examines the literary and visual culture of the nineteenth century and thematically is centred on Victorian medievalism. He has worked on stained glass, the Gothic Revival and publishing history especially the literary and material culture surrounding the career of Alfred Tennyson including a recent monograph about Edward Moxon (Tennyson’s publisher) and his impact on Victorian poetry. He is currently working on chapters for the Oxford Handbook of Victorian medievalism (‘Civil and Domestic Design’), the Routledge Companion to William Morris (‘Stained Glass’) and the Bloomsbury Cultural History of the Interior 1800-1920 (‘Public Buildings’). He works closely with colleagues in the Conservation subject area on object analysis and interpretation and acts as Historical Consultant to Lincoln Conservation.

A Victorian Medical Family at Home and Abroad: the Gresswell Family of Louth

Tuesday, 3rd December 2024 7:30pm by Prof Lynda Payne

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A Victorian Medical Family at Home and Abroad: the Gresswell Family of Louth

This lecture will be held in Louth Methodist Church, Nichol Hill.

Lynda grew up on a farm near Louth and read history at Edinburgh University. She spent forty years in America and is professor emerita of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She has published books and articles on the history of surgery and gender. Before becoming an academic, Lynda had careers as a social worker in the UK, and as a respiratory therapist and trauma nurse in the US. In 2020 she and her American husband retired to Grimoldby.  Lynda was appointed Chair of the Volunteers at Louth Museum in 2023.

This talk focuses on the fifteen children of Ann and Dan Gresswell (veterinary surgeon and Louth mayor in 1871) for what their stories can tell us about the desire for professional education and long-distance travel in Victorian Louth. The Gresswell siblings included veterinarians, lunatic asylum attendants and infectious disease doctors, several of whom studied and lived in the Middle East, South Africa and Australia. Some wrote books on topics such as the ox and the horse, snake venom and spirituality, and there is even a fairy tale romance about evolution by two of the brothers. Although they may be largely forgotten today, the Gresswells were among Louth’s leading families 150 years ago and theirs is a tale worth telling.