Sunday, 21 May 2017

Loughborough local history rooted in Charnwood

So, lynneaboutloughborough has been out and about and a bit busy again this week! Let me tell you about it!

During the week there was a meeting about the Old Rectory Museum: don't forget, they are open most Saturdays from now until the end of October, and the new display is about the Civil War at Cotes. Check out their facebook group to keep up with the latest news!

Pop-up cinema at the Charnwood Roots Festival

Cinema is big on my list of interests, so I was really enthralled to listen to Brian Johnson talk about the village cinemas of Leicestershire and Rutland. Ok, so this didn't cover any of the cinemas in Loughborough, but it was fascinating to learn about all the little cinemas in the surrounding villages, the ways they were run, and the antics that both people running them and people visiting them got up to! 

The Roman mosaics in Leicester with GCR behind

Saturday we ventured further afield and had a tour of the excavations taking place in Leicester under what was the Stibbe building (the one in town, opposite the Highcross, not the one near De Montfort University that was demolished about 10 years ago). Yes, on one side was the Highcross shopping centre, but on the other side was the former Great Central Station. According to our guide, the company responsible for building the new premises will also be renovating the station, so that's something to look forward to. Anyway, we saw some stunning Roman mosaic floors, some surviving Roman wall, layers and layers of road surfaces, including the Roman one, and glimpses of the hypocaust. All this will be eventually displayed in the Jewry Wall Museum.  

Today, I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Charnwood Roots Festival, and gosh, did I have a great time!!! Charnwood Roots is a lottery-funded project to delve into the history of the towns and villages in Charnwood - so that includes Loughborough - uncover the facts and the stories, which will eventually be written up as part of the Victoria County Histories. These VCHs were originally created in the early 1900s and were a comprehensive guide to each parish in the country. However, although other counties have published updated versions of their histories, Leicestershire's, which was originally published in 1907, was briefly updated by W G Hoskins in the 1950s, but has not revised recently.

According to Professor Chris Dyer, Emeritus Professor of History in the Centre for English Local History at Leicester University, the idea to revise the Leicestershire VCH was re-born around 2007, and after applying for Heritage Lottery Funding, the Charnwood Roots project took off in about 2013. This project has seen hundreds of volunteers from across Charnwood get involved in researching the history of the area, from religion to work, from archaeology to education, from crime and punishment to health, from the land-owning gentry to the lowly peasant. 

In his lecture, Professor Dyer stressed that every place has a history, but that that history is more than just the infamous little Civil War skirmish, or the famous person who hails from the place. History is more than this. History exists partly because of the people who lived, worked and died in a place, so it's a combination of the experience of hundreds of people over thousands of years. People's experiences make history, and if we care to look around us we can find information about our hamlet / village / town history by simply looking - think of buildings and their architecture, place, street and field names, the village plan, the archaeology, the landscape etc.. When this is added to interpretation of the wealth of written records that exist - parish registers, wills, census returns, newspapers, memoirs etc. - the history can be extensive.   

The Charnwood Roots Festival was staged to present some of the research that has been done, this presentation being achieved through lectures, films (on laptops and in the pop-up cinema - pic above), storyboards, displays and interactive opportunities. Alongside this "story of the stone wood", local history societies and local heritage sites, local researchers and other organisations showcased their own work, information being presented in banners, artefacts, leaflets, books, noticeboards, and some very passionate people!

I spent most of the day talking: talking to people I know and love, and to people I've never met before; talking to people about things I was also passionate about, and I talked to people about things for which I only had a passing interest. I found out who some of blog readers are, and I promised to include some posts from new angles, so do look out for those over the coming months! I even managed to talk to some people about the #delaytheonsetofdementia initiative I run as part of my role as a DMU Dementia Ambassador!

So, enough writing, let's get to the pics!! Some didn't come out too well, as Beaumanor Hall can be quite dark downstairs and I didn't like to put my flash on, and some of my angles were a bit odd, so here's the best selection!

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Dyer, Lynne (2017). Loughborough local history rooted in Charnwood. Available from: [Accessed 21 May 2017]

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