Following months of preparation we are prepared for the first of 2 presentations of “How Old is Cottesmore”. This will take place between Midday and 3pm on Saturday 5th November in the Village Hall, Cottesmore.
The exhibition will show photographs of some of the older village buildings with explanations of how their age has been calculated and interesting facts for each property.
Both Cottesmore schools have been involved, visiting 2 properties, preparing their own views and their contributions will be included.
This is an opportunity for attendees to see details of some of the buildings which have defined the history of their village in an easy informal way.
Preparations are going well for our November presentation of “How Old is Cottesmore”. This will be the first of two and will take the form of an interim report on each of the properties selected.
The exhibition will show an external photograph, a plan and brief details af an architectural fact. Also included will be a text of some interesting information for each property eg there could be a ghost or some famous or infamous historical character lurking in the depths of a Cottesmore property.
In June this year the year 6 pupils of the two Cottesmore schools – Millfield Academy and St. Nicholas Primary met at the Village Hallwhere they were introduced to Dendrochronology They worked in groups to count the rings on slices of tree trunks to calculate their age.
This was the start of a week’s activities which included visits to the Church and the Grange where different schools worked on separate projects. Several drawings were done, one of which was framed and presented to the Grange. The work was later mounted, in preparation for part of our presentation to be held in the Village Hall in November to which the community will be invited.
This month we had the pleasure of a guest speaker – Dr. Vanessa Doe, who gave a fascinating talk on some aspects of the history of Cottesmore and Greetham, illustrated by a map of 1619. This map detailed the various properties in the villages and the highways connecting them. The route of the Great North Road (A1) was shown, which was little more than an unenclosed track for most of its route through our part of the county.
The talk also included some old photographs of Cottesmore, the identity of some of which required some thought and imagination. The grandeur of Cottesmore Hall and Cottesmore House was shown with sad contrast to their demise due to lightning and subsequent fire.
This month saw the Group’s involvement with the Year 6 children of St Nicholas and Millfield Academy schools in the Dendrochronology project.
Both schools visited the Church and the Grange where the principles of tree ring dating were explained together with details of the origins of the buildings and their progress through the centuries. Interesting facts were included such as when the church was Roman Catholic, the priest spoke in Latin whereas the majority of the congregation would speak Anglo-Saxon and that neither language would be understood by the children nowadays in any case.
The schools are now undertaking a separate project on each property comparing how developments in Cottesmore were taking place alongside the rest of the country. They will also study interesting occupancies of the properties. The intention will be for an exhibition/display to be produced demonstrating their involvement in the project.
Our “How Old is Cottesmore” project progresses with the involvement of the 2 Cottesmore schools whose year 6 pupils have been invited to take part.
They will be introduced to Dendrochronology and be able to study the core samples taken from older properties in the village, together with slices of tree trunks. They will be able to count rings and estimate the dates and climate conditions of the samples.
The children will be invited to visit 2 buildings in the village and study their development over the centuries and compare the development with the rest of the country e.g when the church's chancel was extended in 1215 the Magna Carta was being signed by King John.
We have been spending many months on a project called "How Old is Cottesmore" and on Saturday 16th April we gave our first presentation to members, invited guests and property owners.d
There were visual displays of properties being investigated, with external photographs and floor plans of the buildings.
Nick Hill of Historic England has kindly given his time voluntarily for this project and gave a fascinating architectural explanation revealing how the windows, roof, doors and layout were good examples of the era of construction.
Fir Tree Farmhouse is a well built farmhouse of stone and thatch. The original house having had a "standard" three room plan of which the hall and parlour have been tree ring dated to 1709. The kitchen, built at the same date, has an older beam dating back to the late 16th century and was probably reused from an earlier house on the same site. The converted outbuildings can be traced back to the early mid-19th century but the roof structure in part is original. One of the chimney stacks is also original being stone-built with a chamfered plinth and a stone slab stalk. Most of the original roof structure survives being constructed of oak with ash rafters.
In 1909 Lloyd George, the Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer, needed to increase taxation to fund old age pensions. He passed the Finance Act, which required a survey and valuation of all land and property in the UK.
Four types of record were produced for each Parish, one of which was the Surveyor Field Book. This gave information of location, ownership, tenancy, building and land descriptions. We now have copies of the Cottesmore Surveyor Field Books and can match these with the properties being investigated.
We have been involved in a project to renovate the St. Nicholas' Church Rectors Board and it has been interesting to see just how far back records go. The first "Incumbent" as they were originally called was Robert De Hertford who was designated Chaplain for 2 years and then became a "Warden of the Hermitage of Cottesmore" for 1 year in 1229.
There are also some more flamboyant names such as Master Nicholas De Bascho, possibly from Kingston, Jamaica and Robert of Saint Bridget, who served the parish in 1230 and seems to have taken part of his name from Saint Bridget (one of Ireland's Patron Saints from Kildare).
Jane Greenhaigh gave an interesting presentation for our "How Old is Cottesmore" project, commencing with a copy of the 1913 Valuation Office plan which shows some of the 116 Cottesmore "land parcels". Over 70,000 Field Books were prepared for this country and these reveal the address, owner, occupier and full details of the property, land and its value and rateable value. The surveyor also gave an opinion on property condition such as "shoddy". It is sad to see some buildings described as "hovels" i.e. squalid or poorly constructed.
Our next action will be to link the Field Book plans to modern-day addresses and obtain full details of the occupiers from the 1911 Census to build up a full scenario of particular Cottesmore addresses. These will be published on our website later in the year.
Our "How Old is Cottesmore" project continues well and we shortly hope to be able to consolidate information gathered with the original village plans and their present day addresses.
We have now been able to analyse the extent of access on our website and are pleased to see an average of about 300 "unique visitors" per month. What is interesting is the variety of the country of the visitors and these include a significant number from The United States, Germany, Russia and Israel. The most popular "hits" would appear to from genealogists researching family records from the parish records of baptisms, marriages and burials but there has also been interest in the list of Rectors and the Village Welcome Board amongst others.
Our December meeting comprised a celebratory buffet at which we received encouraging news of the number of "hits" on our website.
At this time of year it is interesting to know that at Christmas 1942 the main excitement was the performance of Aladdin by the evacuees. This was staged in the Junior School down what was then known as "Back Lane", now The Leas. The Sun Inn provided a stage of table tops supported by empty beer bottle crates. The theme song was "Boom, why does my heart go boom?" for those of you who may remember it and the magic lamp was an oil can used for oiling binders in the harvest fields. This was polished down to it's brass casing so it shone like gold. There were very few opportunities to see live shows during the war years so this was an occasion to remember.
Our main 2015 project of "How Old is Cottesmore" progresses well. Early results, using tree ring analysis (Dendrochronology) has revealed three properties where the date at which the timber used in the building was felled can be estimated at being in the 16th century, one being possibly as early as 1500.
We have visited the Records Office at Kew to obtain many details including those necessary to identify the "plot" numbers corresponding with modern day addresses.
Other reports include school inspectors reports dated 1927 and 1932 for Cottesmore Central School which was situated on what is now the Wenton Close estate. The first report was quite unfavourable revealing the presence of rats and rabbits as well as one unsuitable teacher.
To assist us with our main 2015 project of "How Old is Cottesmore" we enjoyed a presentation from Nick Hill of Heritage England on the architectural development of houses in Rutland, illustrated by photographs. These showed that, from the early 17th century, construction was typically of ironstone or limestone block. Incorporated were stone mullion windows, many of which have date stones as a feature and some include the initials of the family of the time. Doorways were typically Tudor Arch up to the mid 17th century, changing to Renaissance style thereafter. Roofs would be either straw or Collyweston slate, dependant on the family's wealth. Chimney stacks by their very nature have not survived well. Internally, there would have been large stone square fireplaces changing to classical mouldings as the century progressed.
In the 18th century there was a move away to stone framed or timber windows as the development of glass technology progressed.
We now have some further guidelines to continue with our project.
Our main project this year of "How Old is Cottesmore" is developing as four properties have been visited for dendrochronology purposes. Samples of the wood in the beams have been taken and another five are scheduled for the same process by September/October. These will be analysed for computerised tree-ring dating and the results given to us. The project will continue using the services of a Leicester post-graduate student who will collate information relating to the properties and their occupants. Architectural details and ground floor plans will be produced to provide a comprehensive description and history of these properties, the oldest in Cottesmore.
We have been fortunate to have received the original of the Military Honorary Discharge of a former resident of The Grange, Cottesmore. This was Lieutenant F A Roughead who was born in Edinburgh in 1893 and died in Leicester in 1977. He suffered shell-shock in World War 1 and was invalided out of the 17th (Duke of Cambridge's Own) Lancers. He continued to live at The Grange for 20 or so years supported by some of the villagers and is remembered in Bernard Harper's book "The War Years of my Youth" as a giant of a man with reddish short-cropped hair, most feared by the village children. This was probably due to their winter sledging in the grounds of The Grange which made enough noise to prompt Lieutenant Roughead to charge out of the house with dogs and shotgun threatening to shoot them.
For those of you who wish to read more, please look at The War Years of My Youth document link in the Around The Village/The Sun Inn section of Buildings.
The Group has been awarded a grant from English Heritage for a new project "How old is Cottesmore and how has it developed". The project will concentrate on 8 or 9 buildings in the village including the church and the Sun Inn. Through the use of tree-ring dating (dendrochronology) we hope to find the exact date when these buildings were built and how they developed to be what we see today. This work will be backed up by an architectural inspection and the story of their inhabitants. The end result will be a historical presentation in a small book to each occupier plus one for the village. From an educational point of view we hope to involve the two local schools and encourage their knowledge of how the village gas developed into what it is today. More information will appear here: How Old is Cottesmore
Our Annual General Meeting took place at which our notable activities during the preceding year were summarised.
- Participation in the World War 1 event at the Kendrew Barracks
- Visit of The Nuns Of The Sacred Heart
- The Village Show
- Our Christmas Dinner at which Peter Liddle MBE spoke on "Roman Rutland".
- Successful application for funds and progress made for restoration and conservation of the Rectors' and Church Charity Boards.
Visits from Tommy Coggan and Shirley Smith M.B.E for their reminiscences of Cottesmore.
The present Group officers were re-elected.
Our monthly meeting centred on the forthcoming Dendrochronology project and a special meeting of those involved including the experts and occupiers of the properties selected which include The Sun Inn and St. Nicholas' Church.
April's meeting reviewed the progress of our 2015 projects including the Dendrochronology dating proposals for certain village buildings. We are also pleased to report that the project to conserve a board in the St. Nicholas church which records an ancient charitable donation has commenced thanks to funding having been received.
We have obtained copies of some ancient Ordinance Survey maps dated 1884, 1902 and 1931 as well as one dated 1614 for exploration of ancient pathways and perusal of the village in its "previous lives".
Welcomed to the meeting was Shirley Smith MBE who is one of Cottesmore's senior residents and who had some interesting tales to recount of our village life.
We are excited about a major addition to our website of a diary written by Bernard Harper entitled "The War Years of My Youth". Mr Harper was the son of the "Sun Inn" publican at the outbreak of the Second World War and wrote a fascinating journal describing the pub, the village, its buildings and personalities at that time. As might be anticipated the pub had its own ghost and the village its own special characters including the Cheetham family billy goat which was capable of terrorising all and sundry when he escaped. The sound of gunfire invaded the village every 11th of May with the annual Rook hunt organised by the Reverend to ensure the numbers were kept under control. Rook pie became a Sun Inn speciality at that time. The journal progresses to describe Cottesmore during the war and we shall be retelling other stories in future articles, including boys' bomber chases and a remarkable meeting at Arnheim bridge.
Dendrochronology, our proposed investigation into the age and history of certain interesting and old village buildings is moving forward with the agreement of potential property owners.
Examination of Parish records has uncovered a request in the 1980s for restoration of The Cottesmore Village Green which stood in front of The Sun Inn. The Village Green was the subject of surprise removal one Saturday morning in the 1950s and replaced with tar-macadam for the present parking area. We do have a picture of The Village Green from the side but would be interested to see any other views or receive any comments.
It has been learnt that during the Millennium Celebrations it was planned for a wall hanging to be made of village scenes to be mounted in the north door of the church. Does anybody know if this was done and of it’s present whereabouts?
Tommy Coggon and his wife Gwen were invited to our meeting to give some recollections of his life in Cottesmore. Tommy was a boy originally living in Rotherham in 1941 when bombs were dropped at the top of his street and it was considered safer for him to live with his grandmother in Cottesmore where he has lived ever since. His reminiscences were fascinating, covering topics such as the village buildings, village characters, the old Central school, life as a choirboy and pumps, ponds & water courses in the village. He has many memories of The Sun Inn including that the landlord knew the birthdays of all the village boys and welcomed them with a free pint on their 18th birthday having thrown them out beforehand.
The Church Charity Board Restoration grant is progressing and conservators have been asked to quote. Rutland museum have provided a list of suitable people.
The Village Feast Week records have made references to a video, photographs (a competition and an archive of the village in 2000) as well as a wall hanging (formerly in the Church).
Dendrochronology, Ron had a lot to report and there was much discussion on how the project could be managed to spread the load, involve everyone and disseminate the information between ourselves and it was thought that one of our meetings in the near future should focus entirely on getting to grips with this project.
Ron and Jane had a very helpful meeting with the people who did
Much has been learnt from the Lyddington Dendrochronology Survey. The Lyddington History Group produced a file for each property and have given us a sample to act as a template for our own findings. They also provided a map from the sixteen hundreds showing field names in Cottesmore which can be directly compared to a map from 1850.
For some time we have been trying to obtain further information on Cottesmore Central School which was located on what is now the Wenton Close estate. We have now discovered that log books for the school are on an Archive site and can be perused for interesting contents.
Saint Nicholas' Church, Cottesmore has been in existence since the 13th Century and we already have a full list of Rectors dating back to 1227AD. Many of these have fascinating names such as Master Nicholas De Bascho and John of Londonthorpe. Some served for a considerable period. John Barry M.A., for example, was the incumbent from 1617 to 1660 and Nicholas Onley for an even longer period of 55 years , commencing in 1670. Charles Edward Ellwood who started his tenure in August 1888 was a member of a well-known Cottesmore family. We hope to discover further details of interest on some of these Rectors and suitably commemorate them.
We also hope to explore the history of some of the older village buildings such as the Sun Inn including the use of Dendrochronology to ascertain their likely construction date.
Since the beginning of this year the Club has been very active with a number of exhibitions, presentations and web updates. However there was an exciting discovery when a relative of a previous Sun Inn owner gave us a copy of a history of the Sun Inn and the Village written by the son of the then owner. It covered the period of the Second World War and so was of interest from a number of angles. Two copies are held by the Club and can be made available to residents of the Village. In it you will find many interesting anecdotes about the Village (although some people have given a different interpretation of events). We also rediscovered a tablecloth that had been embroidered with the names of all the villagers in and around 1939. Each person paid 1/-shilling and the sum raised went to buying a cupboard for the Church. The tablecloth was mad e by a nurse Walker, who came from the West Indies and whilst in Cottesmore lived at Fountain Cottage.
In February we gave a presentation to the Cottesmore Women's Institute. There was a lively discussion after the presentation and many new stories appeared some in conflict with each other.
New panels were made, two for the exhibition we were going to have as part of the First World War commemoration whilst a third was a new panel for Janet Erskine Stuart.
As 2014 was the 100th anniversary of the death of Janet Erskine Stuart this was an important year for the Society of the Sacred Heart and they held a weekend remembrance conference in Roehampton which include a pilgrimage to Cottesmore. About 80 members of the Sacred Heart came and conducted two services of remembrance. They were also able visit the old rectory, where Janet was born, by kind permission of the current owners.
Earlier in the year the great nephew of Janet, the Earl Castle Stewart and his wife the Countess were able to visit Cottesmore, and saw for the first time where their great aunt had been born and grew up.
After the main visit by the Sacred Heart we had another visit. This time from Brisbane where 15 ex-pupils from a Sacred Heart School were following the route of the development of the Church and Cottesmore was high on their list of places to visit.
In the same month we attended the commemoration exhibition at Kendrew Barracks with the Rutland Museum. It was a very successful day with thousands of visitors.
Currently we are in the process of developing an interpretation board, in conjunction with the Parish Council, which will be placed opposite the Church this summer. The art work is done and currently it is with the company who will be erecting it.
We have continued with recording local villagers and this process will carry on throughout the year.
Finally the summer dinner, including guests, had the pleasure of listening to Robert Tregay, and his partner, describing how their home, the Grange, was developed during the 19th century. It was developed in three stages, the first being in 1811 with two further extensions built by Richard Westbrook Baker, who was the Steward for the Exton Estate. One of the most interesting features of the house was the vaulted ceilings built to support the flagstone floors of the upper rooms. It was supposed that this process was put in place to protect the records and any monies from being destroyed by a potential fire. The grounds also contained a Ha Ha, unusual for a house of this size.
We are looking forward to the second half of the year when we will be mounting further exhibition in Cottesmore and Oakham as well as continuing our research into Village life, in particular some of the families that have been here for 200 years.
If anyone would like to contribute to these records we would be delighted to hear from you. Just send us an email to the address in the contact page.
At the end of November we will be holding a two week exhibition at the Rutland Museum in Oakham. This will be our first major event outside the village and we are delighted that the Museum is affording us space and time for this event.
Next year we have been invited to give a presentation to the Cottesmore Women’s Institute which we are looking forward to.
In the beginning of October we attended our first interactive presentation with St Nicholas School in the village which both the children and members of CHAG enjoyed enormously. This is part of an on-going programme at the school on the history of the village. Their questions were both interesting and surprising and most important of all great fun. We will be doing a similar exercise at the Cottesmore School on the Kendrew army camp in November. We hope this will lead to a greater collaboration between the two schools.
The end of August saw the Village’s annual produce show and the Cottesmore History and Archaeology Group took the opportunity to put on an exhibition ‘The Living Village. The weather was against us but we were able to show our work which resulted in two more members joining the Group.
Work continued on the project and in particular we started on the web site. We showed our exhibition at Gainsborough Court ,which is the local residential home, and was able to have an interesting discussion with the residents from whom we gleaned more information about the village.
The audio recordings from local residents continued and we hope to publish the result later on in the year in the form of a disk and they will also be available on the website. The recordings give an insight into village life over the last 70 years from people who were there.
In July the village had a visit from the Society of the Sacred Heart as part of a pilgrimage ‘In the steps of Janet Erskine Stuart’, such an important figure in their church. 100 members of the society arrived and held 2 services in her commemoration. Next year, the 100th anniversary of her death, many more will be arriving in the village, mainly in July.