Treeton Local History Group

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July meeting report

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Visit to Manor Lodge, Sheffield

Our July meeting was a field trip, in the form of a visit to the Manor Lodge, Sheffield for a guided tour of the site and a visit to the recently-opened Discovery Centre.  The trip was well-attended, with 29 of us in all and we were treated to a very interesting and informative tour in the company of Peter Machan and David Templeman, both of whom will be familiar to many readers as recent visiting speakers to the group.  

High points of the trip included a tour of the recently-renovated Turret House, with its beautiful original sculpted plaster ceiling in the upstairs chamber, which would have been used in Tudor times and after as a dining room for entertaining guests, including no doubt the Manor's most famous if unwilling guest, Mary Queen of Scots herself.

We were also treated to a delightful cameo appearance by lady of the manor Bess of Hardwick herself, who entertained us with her tales of her times at the Manor and at her other homes at Chatsworth and Hardwick Hall.

All in all, a memorable and very enjoyable trip that was much appreciated by our members. 




Last Updated on Monday, 23 August 2010 11:58

June meeting report

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June meeting

The Annapurna Circuit: Walking the Himalayas by John Swift


At our June meeting, John took us - through talks and slides - on a spectacular 200 mile walk through the Himalayas. The journey started in the fascinating city of Kathmandu with its Buddhist and Hindu Temples, with prayer wheels and flags and sacred monkeys running amok and finished in Pokhara. The walk followed the trail of a Buddhist pilgrimage, through the Annapurna Mountains and seemed to be always in sight of the sacred and unmistakable Fish Tail Mountain. It was interesting to get a glimpse of another world were all supplies, including animal fodder needed to be carried up the mountain, occasionally on a Yak, but mostly on someone’s back. The pictures of mountains, glaciers and deep mountain passes and the flora were wonderful. Thanks go to John for a very interesting evening.


March meeting report

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Our meeting for March 2010 was the occasion for a first visit to the group by Fred Coupland, a professional Archaeologist who trained at Sheffield University and came to talk to us about air photography in archaeology in his presentation entitled ‘History from the Air’.

In a talk well-illustrated with examples he explained that photography and flying aeroplanes became popular at around the same time at the turn of the 20th century and that it wasn't long before the archaeologists of the day, fresh from their aerial experiences in the first World War, realised how they could put their experience to use in peacetime.

It soon became clear that they had stumbed upon a very useful new tool not only for discovering new ancient sites but for looking at existing sites in a different way and revealing more than could normally be seen from the ground.

Fred showed us many photographs taken from the air which showed evidence of ancient remains, from dykes to entire Roman towns, that were marked out by shadows cast by slight indentations in the ground when the sun was in the right position, or by the way crops grown differently due to buried ditches or the stone work footings of ancient walls. 

Fred clearly knew his subject well and was happy to answer questions both on this subject and on the broader subject of his experience as an archaeologist and a site director afterwards, from members of the group.



Last Updated on Thursday, 19 April 2012 18:45

May meeting report

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St Helen’s, Understanding a Medieval Church 
By Archaeologist Dr David Mercer

At May’s meeting, the group was joined by the Friends of St Helen’s Heritage Trust and it was held in the ancient church of St. Helen’s Treeton. Visiting speaker David Mercer started by separating the fact and fable about St Helen, after whom the church is named. It is fact that she was a British princess who married a Roman General, Constantius Chlorus, and became the mother of Constantine the Great, (who legalized Christianity), but stories that her father was ‘Old King Cole’ are groundless. On a trip to Jerusalem, she is said to have found the ‘True Cross’ of the crucifixion. This would be difficult to prove, but she did play a vital part in the spread of Christianity and many churches are named after her.

David carried us back in time to show us what the church would have been like in 1550, concentrating mainly on the Chancel which was the area of the church only accessible to the priests and the choir. The church at this time would of course have been Catholic and would have covered a larger parish including Ulley and Whiston; it was operated quite different from today. Eucharist or Communion would have been celebrated every day and it is likely that there were more than one priest as is suggested by the seats in the chancel and the piscinas. These are stone wash hand basins set into the church wall for the priests to wash their hands and would have been near the Altar Tables where Eucharist was served. There are two of these in the chancel and one more in the South wall, so there were probable at one time three priests serving the bread and wine. He showed us slides of many other medieval articles that would have been used at that time, but there is no evidence of any of these at surviving at St Helen’s.

He showed us slides of interesting medieval Reredos, this is the decorative panel behind the altar, there are not many of these left as they were destroyed in the Reformation, but some survived by being buried and are now coming to light (That of St Helen’s is Victorian in date).

Also in the Chancel was an Aumbry or safe, which is actually a cupboard in the wall. Here church valuables would have been stored and possibly other valuable items belonging to parishioners.

He pointed out many other things of interest in the church; among these was the knight effigy. He was of the opinion that this would at one time have been in the Brampton Chapel. He also pointed out the grave covers that can be seen around the church built into the walls. One prime example of these is behind the pulpit and has a cross and a sword on it denoting that this was the grave of a knight. He also pointed out the oldest pew in the church, now unused, which has a Latin inscription on it. He translated this to read “Pray for the soul of Master William Holme cleric, formally Rector of the church”.

It was a very informative evening and David spoke well on a subject that he was very familiar with.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 June 2010 18:48

February meeting report

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Our February meeting was a return visit by David Templeman, on the subject of  'Two Queens and a Countess'

David gave an impressive talk about three powerful, formidable and important ladies of the 16th century, their lives, loves and the comparisons and connections between them.
All of them had unfortunate beginnings to their lives, but they all rose above them despite living in an age where women were held in very low regard as a rule, being considered the weaker sex and encouraged by the church to adopt a servile role.
Queen Elizabeth the 1st was born in 1533 the daughter of King Henry the VIII and Anne Boleyn, but she lost her mother at the age of three when she was executed. Later she was declared illegitimate by her father. She was passed around from stepmother to stepmother until, due to the kind intervention of Henry’s last wife Catherine Parr she was reinstated into the line of accession to the throne.
Queen Mary Stewart (of the Scots) was born in Scotland in 1542 the daughter of King James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise, she lost her father when she was 5 years old and King Henry wanted her to go to London to be brought up as a protestant, so her mother – a devout Catholic who was now ruling Scotland - sent Mary to France, where she was groomed to be the wife of the French Dauphin.
Bess of Hardwick was born to a wealthy family who had connections to the royal family, but she lost her parents when she was very young and due to ‘Wardship’ rules, two thirds of their estate was taken to be managed by the crown until her brother was mature enough to manage it himself. This made the family very poor.
    Despite the troubles and turbulence in their early lives and the lack of formal education, neither of them let this hinder them. They were all intelligent and learned quickly despite being, on the whole, self taught.
Elizabeth was an avid reader and was able to speak Latin and other languages fluently; her tutor said that she was equal to any man.
Mary was brought up in France but she was indoctrinated to believe that she was the rightful Queen of England, because she was Catholics and they didn’t recognise Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and considered all subsequent marriages to be illegal.
Bess learned from life and all of her four husbands, she grew into an astute business women and was very good and property management and accounts.
    The main difference between the three women was their marriages.
Elizabeth never married, perhaps she had seen enough of the mess her father made of marriage or perhaps she thought that she could make a better job of monarch on her own, as marriage would have relieved her of some of her power. She did have a long relationship with Robert Dudley her childhood friend, but he was married and when his wife died in mysterious circumstances, she severed all connections with him. She acceded the throne in 1558 after the deaths of her brother Edward VI and her sister Mary I (Bloody Mary) and restored the protestant faith after Mary Tudor had attempted by cruelty to restore England to Catholicism. Elizabeth began her 45 years of reign, marred by the thorn in her side, her cousin Mary Stewart.
Mary was first married to the dauphin of France when he was 14 and she was 16years old. She was widowed by 18 and returned to Scotland and married her cousin, Lord Darnley, who was mysteriously killed. The man believed to have murdered him was Lord Bothwell, Mary’s secretary Lord Bothwell. When Mary, not long after married Bothwell Queen Elizabeth was very angry with her cousin. Her behaviour also shocked the protestant Lords of Scotland, who already held it against her that she was Catholic and as a result of this Mary fled for her safely to Elizabeth and through her self onto her mercy.
Bess had four husbands, who were her stepping stones to success. Her first was Robert Barlow, who was a sick young man she was caring for. He only lived three months. Then she married William Cavendish and had eight children to him, the beginning of the Chatsworth dynasty, the Dukes of Devonshire and Newcastle. He died after 11years of marriage, but taught her a great deal. Her next husband was Sir William Loe, a very wealthy man who was poisoned by his own brother. Finally and the most prestigious was her marriage to George Talbert, the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, giving her the title of Countess.
    These three women who were connected by the era, their gender and their sense of determination, purpose and power and they were now drawn together by the events of history.
    Mary fled to Elizabeth, who didn’t know what to do with her, so she chose a couple of people who she respected and trusted, the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury to be her minders and in effect her jailers. Mary was shunted about from Castle to Castle to Stately Home. Bess and Mary had a common interest in needlework and some of the tapestries they worked on together are to be seen at Hardwick Hall. But Mary was an embarrassment to Elizabeth as she refused to renounce her claim to the throne and she reluctantly allowed her to be tried and executed for treason in 1587. Elizabeth became a powerful queen and took England from a very weak state to be a dominant power in Europe, through conquering Spain, a then super-power, in the Spanish Armada.
The cost of housing Mary put a strain on the finances and the marriage of George and Bess and he died in 1590, but Bess continued with her empire building until her death in 1608 outliving her queen by 5years.
David’s talk was interesting, enthralling and delivered with professionalism. This is obviously a subject he knows and loves.
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 April 2012 18:45

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