Museum & KHSoc News No. 2

March/April 2019

According to the calendar, winter is almost over so we thought it timely to update you on our activities and plans for the season 2019.

The Museum has the use of the charity shop unit in the High Street week commencing Wednesday 20thMarch.  We are looking for donations of clean clothes, household items, books and pictures in good condition for sale with the Museum benefitting from the proceedings.  Last year we had an overwhelming amount of clothes donated for the shop week which then had to be dispersed around the other charity shops and outlets in the town and further afield which meant the Museum did not benefit from the donations. This year we have therefore decided to accept a limited number of clothes and ask you understand if we cannot take donations of clothing made after 4pm on Monday 25thMarch. Anyone wishing to make donations of either goods or money can do so at the shop from Thursday 21stMarch at 10.30am until 11am Wednesday 27th, or at the Museum on Thursday morning 14thMarch between 10.30 and 12.30. Many thanks.

A call out to volunteers or friends of volunteers who can help us out for our selling days during that week to please email or phone Denise.

Sally Boyce placed a very useful press piece in Hereford Times about changes at the Museum and plans for the future once joined formally with the History Society. Many thanks Sally once again. We are also looking to have a piece in the Mid Wales Journal to promote our drive for more volunteers.

As we are already in March we need to confirm the Museum rota for our opening from Tuesday 23rdApril onwards. Thanks again to all our great volunteers who helped us keep the doors open and visitors engaged from Easter to end September last season.

For those who wish to stay with the days they worked, please let me know as soon as possible and Ann can then work on the gaps we need to fill.

We are looking for volunteers to help with all kinds of tasks during our open season.  Whether you are interested in conducting research, helping with our cataloguing of artefacts and photographs, being part of the team on rota during April to end September, have a flair for display layout or possibly becoming an active member of our committee, do contact us either on Thursday mornings at the museum between 10.30 and 12.30, or email Denise, details as above. Or, by all means, pop into the shop during our week and we will be happy to talk about opportunities.

As you will all be aware by now, the Kington History Society as an entity has ceased to function, however, now supported by the Museum team, three events are confirmed and in future our posters will be carrying the banner of both logos. Our season opener is on Friday 29thMarch with speaker Ellie Sømme talking about her father’s book of his escape from occupied Norway in 1944 and her and her sister’s emulation of his route in 2004. Ellie last visited KHS nine years ago and is a respected speaker and former broadcaster.  She spoke to a packed tent at Hay Festival in 2017!

On Friday 17thMay we have Duncan James coming to talk about historical finds in Herefordshire and in July Alan Stoyel will be leading an excursion to local mills.  Always popular and early reservations of places advised. Details of this visit will be released as soon as possible. September onwards will be speakers yet to be confirmed but promotions for these will be made at our season early events. Whilst we are undertaking a review of the former KHS and Museum Membership schemes we would ask all to bear with us as we unify our membership lists, contact details and appreciate that we need to levy a small charge for the speaker events to help cover costs of venue hire, speaker fees etc. Current Members who have paid this year’s subscription should let the door team know on arrival at the 29thMarch event.

At the event we will be asking for your suggestions about subjects or speakers for later in 2019 or early 2020.  If you cannot be there, please email me to let me know your ideas.

Our Museum Thursday working team have been refreshing our displays, cleaning cases and updating our catalogues. All volunteers are invited to come along on Wednesday 17th April at either 3-4 or 6-7 to refresh on what is on show, procedures for our open doors days and meet up with colleagues not seen since doors closed end September.  Email to confirm your attendance to Margaret Atkinson.

We look forward to seeing many of you, whether volunteers, Friends or supporters of the History Society and or Museum on 29thMarch. We would really appreciate your continuing support as we move on into forming as one body. If you have skills we might use, please approach one of the Committee members. We are looking to boost our committee skills and number, and to engage those who can help us with short term pieces of work and research to enhance the appeal of the Museum and History Society functions.

Denise North and Members of Museum and History Society Committees

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Museum & KHSoc News No. 1

December 1018

Greetings from the Committee at Kington Museum to our supporters, volunteers and friends.

A good deal has happened in the last few months and it seems appropriate now to update you on the changes and things to come in 2019 and beyond.

For the first time in several years we opened the museum for 2018 and ran with a rota of volunteers most of whom had joined us recently. Thanks to all those who did extra sessions in order to keep our doors open as regularly as possible through the season and especially to Chris Jones who undertook many extra shifts, helped unearth artefacts to loan to St Mary’s for the town remembrance events and manoeuvred his vintage tractor into pride of place as an exhibit for vintage days. This and for so much more we owe you Chris. We shall miss you in the coming season.

Peter Collins retains his title as storyteller extraordinaire on the rota as comments in our visitors book attest.

Alan Stoyel opted to stand down as Chair at our November AGM but retains his role as accessioning stalwart and committee member. I agreed to take the role as Chair as of 20thNovember, and also continue to lead the group working on how the modernised organisation will run short and longer term. With the consistent help of Margaret Atkinson, Angharrad Morgan our curator who joined us in spring this year and the committee, we all have many challenges to face but we will handle them. As a mere newcomer of two and a half years in Kington I am not a native, but an enthusiastic historian who has experience of the charity sector which will help us in the coming months.   Guidance will be sought from the Charity Commission and voluntary sector support organisations to ensure we have all our essential requirements covered and can move forward into 2019 and beyond with clear purpose and enthusiasm for our role in Kington and local community.

The future?

In the last few months we have asked members of the History Society and the Museum respectively for their views on merging the functions of the two organisations into one. The Society was struggling to thrive due to lack of active volunteers to form a committee and run an engaging programme of talks and visits for all to enjoy. Whilst many people voiced concern at its potential disappearance from Kington it was not sustainable and the members voted overwhelmingly to support a merger with the Museum. The Museum members supported the proposal as well and a merger working group has been formed with representatives from both organisations. Our purpose is to form a modern charity with the necessary legal protection for Trustees, some capacity to seek external funds for resources and improved display spaces and to offer an open doors invitation to coincide with dates of community events.  We also intend to reforge old links with local schools and engage with others not involved before now. Likewise to offer reminiscence resources for care homes supporting people with a dementia. The History Society purpose of assisting with family research will continue along with a programme of interesting talks and visits and hopes are high that we will attract new members and volunteers to assist with the promotion of both organisations.

Eventually there will be a new name to unify the merged organisations and a new logo to make it stand out. We will be seeking ideas as we progress and look forward to hearing from you with yours and any offers of help along the way will certainly be considered.

For those of you who have volunteered for either organisation in the past and might be interested in joining us again do please contact me. In 2019 the curator and I will be running a number of training sessions for volunteers to ensure that we are all familiar with our systems, confident in assisting people with enquiries, and have the chance to handle and learn more about treasures we hold for safekeeping.

Meantime the ‘closed season’ working group who use their Thursday mornings in the winter season to change displays, catalogue artefacts and update our resources, are pooling ideas for changes for the coming season. We also want to have displays in keeping with local anniversaries, such as the 75thanniversary of the hospital opening at Kington Camp and others. We may be missing other key anniversaries into which we should tie our displays, so do let us know.

In March the Museum will be opening the charity shop once again and we look forward to meeting bargain hunters and prospective new volunteers alike.

In the meantime  we wish you and your families a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. See you in 2019. Next news update in later January.

Denise and all committee members at the museum

Bulletin 427

December, 2018          

UPDATE

From the  Extraordinary General Meeting in September it was clear that a merger with Kington Museum was likely, due mainly to the lack of interest from the membership in helping to run the Society. In particular, since Nancy Wheatland resigned as our programme secretary, nobody has been willing to take this on, so we had no programme beyond the Annual General Meeting. At this point a working group was formed to look at the way ahead and to consider the steps needing to be taken, however the final vote went. This group comprises Julia Reid, Margaret Atkinson and Alan Stoyel, all of whom serve on both committees, Nick Robinson who is on the History Society committee, and led by Denise North, a Museum committee member with considerable experience of charities management. A ballot was held at the end of the History Society’s Annual General Meeting in October. The choice was a stark one – either the Society was to merge with the Museum, or be disbanded. By the time all the votes had been received, including those sent by email or post, the final result was 46 in favour of a merger and 3 against.

This confirmed that, from the History Society’s point of view, an amalgamation of the two bodies would be the better outcome. Caroline Giles and Mary Tolhurst did put themselves forward as being willing to be part of a group to plan any future talks and visits, but this had no bearing on the result. The working group has had a subsequent meeting at which the next steps were formulated. The reasons received from any members as to why they had voted against the merger were discussed.

It was now up to the Museum to determine the feelings of its committee, friends and volunteers. On November 20th, at its AGM, another ballot was held, and the results favoured an amalgamation.

In the meantime, since the Society had no ongoing programme, Vera’s quiz and the Christmas social were brought forward to occupy the space that, in the past, would had been occupied by a talk. This was the very last meeting of the Society, and an opportunity to socialise, but it was poorly attended. Many members missed a particularly good quiz and excellent refreshments. As usual we have John Rerrie to thank for providing the drinks.

At the Annual General Meeting our treasurer, John Potts, resigned, both from the treasurership and the committee. We owe him a tremendous debt of thanks for so many years of service. Our thanks, too, go to his wife Thelma, who, along with John, has done so much to further the interests of the Society in so many ways. We are fortunate in having Margaret Atkinson to take his place. Margaret is also treasurer of the Museum, and is to be assisted by Gill Wilson, the Museum’s former treasurer, who will be doing all the book-keeping.

From the two bodies will emerge a single organisation, and the working group will guide both committees through this transition, ensuring that every step is democratic, that all statutory regulations are followed, and that it is in the common interest. For the last three years I had had in my mind that this was likely to be the way ahead, and subsequent developments have shown that this has to be the best outcome.

Now that this stage has been reached, I have resigned from the chair of the Museum, and Denise North has taken the position on. She is younger and more able to see things through, and I am confident the new organisation has an exciting future, combining the assets of both bodies. What is important to us all is that precious local records and artefacts stay here in Kington for the benefit of the Kington area’s inhabitants and visitors.

In due course a further updating Bulletin will be circulated.

(Alan Stoyel, chairman)

WISHING ALL MEMBERS A HAPPY CHRISTMAS

Bulletin 426

October – November, 2018

History Society Annual General Meeting
This is a reminder that the Kington History Annual General Meeting will be on Friday October 19th at 7.30pm. at Kington Primary School. It is important that as many members attend as possible because, at the end of the meeting, there will be the official ballot to decide whether it is the wish of the Society to amalgamate with Kington Museum, or to be dissolved.
At the Extraordinary General Meeting held on September 21st secret votes were cast, ahead of the Annual General Meeting. This was to obtain an indication of the feelings of members about the proposal of amalgamation as otherwise the future looked unsustainable. The results from this, and other votes received in writing were 35 in favour of amalgamation and 5 against. The main problem was the lack of members willing to help run the Society and, in particular, to organise a programme of lectures and visits. Despite pleas, no offers of assistance have yet been received.
A working party has been set up to discuss the way forward and, although the will of members appears to be strongly in favour of amalgamation, it is necessary to have an official  ballot at the AGM as a final determination of our future.
If you are unable to attend the meeting you will receive a voting slip. Please return this to Julia Reid, Kington Museum, Mill Street, Kington, Herefordshire HR5 3AL or submit your vote by email to kh.soc@hotmail.com. The closing date for receipt of votes will be Monday November 5th.
Please make sure you let us have your vote. This is vital in order for the working party to take us forward in the right direction.

Vera’s Annual Quiz and Social Evening
Since no further talks are scheduled, Vera’s Quiz will now take place at 7.30pm on Friday November 23rd. It will be followed by buffet refreshments, so please bring contributions. If each person provides at least as much as they intend to eat, it should complete an enjoyable evening.
Alan Stoyel.
(Please remember that we need items for the raffle too!   I shall make the questions easy this year, so don’t be put off).   Editor:  V. Harrison. Please spread the word with regard to the AGM and the Quiz.

Bulletin  425

October, 2018-10-03               EGM. History Society 21.9.2018

(This EGM is probably the most important in the 41st year of the Society’s history.   Printed below is the summary of our present position, which was put to the meeting by our Chairman, Alan Stoyel).

We are at a crossroads and we have to decide which turning, or turnings, we take. A working party was set up comprising Margaret Atkinson, Nick Robinson and me, to analyse the Society’s problems. You have seen our recommendations regarding combining forces with the Museum, and we will be taking a vote on this later. The following is our assessment of the present position with regard to this Society.

Our financial problems were set out in the previous Bulletin, and the future looks unsustainable.

The basic problem, however, is that members are so unwilling to help in the running of the Society that we cannot continue in the same way as we have in the past. We have tried to fill committee places, but to no avail.

Following our Constitution, in our committee we are supposed to have Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Programme Secretary, Treasurer & 6 other members. The present situation is very different. We are really struggling. I cannot cope with being chairman for much longer, we have no Vice Chairman, no Programme Secretary, our Treasurer is retiring in October and we have only 3 other committee members.

To make matters worse, our secretary is having to do much more than she should. Apart from her secretarial duties she runs stalls to raise money for the Society, answers queries and carries out research for members of the public on our behalf.

Nancy Wheatland, our former programmes secretary worked extremely hard to come up with an excellent series of very good talks and visits. She gave plenty of notice of when she was going to leave, but nobody would take the job on, so we have no programme, even for this season. Her husband Mark, who is no longer on the committee, has been incredibly supportive, preparing the room for talks and acting as chauffeur for some of the speakers

John Potts, our Treasurer, and his wife Thelma (who is not on the committee), have done way more than would be expected of them. Apart from keeping immaculate accounts, between them they maintain membership lists, past & present, and see to it that all members receive their Bulletins, postingand even delivering by hand. They are both invaluable, but they are retiring at the AGM.Nearly all this activity on behalf of the Society has either finished, or will finish next month.

Our President, Vera Harrison does the editing and organises the printing of bulletins and annual papers, as well as doing the Christmas Quiz.   She also maintains the Bulletins by email to members who have opted for this method.

Margaret Atkinson has kindly agreed to take over as Treasurer, but she has many other commitments and cannot be expected to do the extra tasks which John & Thelma have taken under their wing. For a start she has already stepped into the breach of being Treasurer for the Museum.

Now, If we have no more talks or visits, we cannot expect members to pay a subscription. Who is prepared to arrange these to justify our existence? Maybe we should have fewer talks and visits, but we still need someone to organise them. Most of all we need a programme secretary. The committee will give whatever encouragement and help they can. If anyone feels able to give this a try please come and see us

The next most important vacancy is a vice chairman. As I said before, I cannot cope with being chairman for much longer, and I have other commitments which mean I cannot always attend functions, also, continuity is so important. Again, if there is   anyone here tonight who would be prepared to step in, please make yourself known. In addition, we still require more members of committee with particular skills to offer.

I hope you have all read the text which was circulated with the Bulletin about  the possible amalgamation with the Museum. Be quite clear, however, if our decision is to go ahead with this, we still need to build up our strength now so that we can continue as a partner with the Museum rather than be swallowed up by it. If you feel able to help in any way, please let us know.

I now open the meeting for discussion, followed by a secret ballot. The results will be announced at the AGM.

 

[To date nobody has offered to fill any of the vacancies].                                         Editor:  V.Harrison

Bulletin 422

May 2018

Highways and Waymarkers In the Three Counties from a talk by Jan Sorbie

Highways are roads with a legal “right of way” to all, in either direction, as opposed to By ways, and are governed by various Acts of Parliament through history, but from prehistoric times, travel routes across the Country have existed, and constant usage has made them identifiable as such.

The earliest were probably drover’s pathways – as they were well established before the Romans came.  It is said that a prominent fir tree was a later indicator of a site ready for a ‘stop over’.

Any frequently used pathway by all and sundry became so worn down, that they were noted as ‘holloways’ – but often happily with a stone verge for pedestrians.

Once settlements were occupied, some sort of trade could begin, and that in salt is very ancient.  Saltways usually followed high ground, and were named ‘white ways’, and it could be fair to assume that “white horses” cut into chalk, high on the South Downs, were a form of ‘waymark’ for salters on their way from the Midlands into Wessex. Near here, the saltway crossing the Teme at the Ashfords, ran between hill tops on either side – both labelled “white heads”.

Once the Romans arrived, swift communications were necessary, and as there was now much vehicular traffic, proper ‘built roads’ were laid out, being mainly in straight lines, as that was less expensive than going round and about, and stone paved roadways (streets) were defined by ditches alongside.  This profusion meant that markers of some sort had to be provided, which gave rise to ‘milestones’ (mile = 1000 steps), which often gave distances and names for travellers.

As there were 7.400 miles of Roman Roads, milestones must have been plentiful, but as they were of good quality stone, many eventually were found other uses, and only 100 still survive – and if not in a museum – are found at the extremities – like Wales and the North of England.

Maintaining roadways has always been a problem, and at first manors, then later Parishes, were obliged to attempt it – eventually enforced by Parliament in a ‘Statute of Labour’ of 1555, and in 1697, guide posts at crossroads were enforced also.  Eventually, the Highways Act of 1835, allowed Local Authorities, and late County Councils to use a Highway Rate to provided more organized and on going upkeep and development.

Turnpikes, to finance busy road upkeep, started to appear after 1700, and they were obliged to provide mileposts with useable information, at first just stone pillars, later cast iron posts with mileages and names of nearby towns, and many have survived until now – supplemented by ‘finger posts’ variously of cast iron, or even just wood, at Road Junctions.

Tolls were collected at Turnpike Cottages, and many of these survive, especially around Kington, and some have even been resited into museums!

Maps with roads started early, the nearest equivalent being the “Antonine Itinery”, of Roman times, from 214 A.D., listing 200 different roads, with the towns and settlements named, and in England, was noted that there were 15 different roads leading out of London into the country, (however not available locally!).

The first proper English map of roads, that survives showing considerable detail and extent, is now 650 years old (rescued by Richard Gough in the 1800s) but was more or less a ‘one off’, as when more maps of Britain were prepared and published in Tudor times – there were lots of towns shown, but noroads – only obstacles to transport noted – i.e. rivers and mountains (and private parkland!), and it was not until the mid 1600s that a proper set of Road maps appeared, as Ogilvie’s “Brittania” of 1675 with separate strips for each main road, with town labels, and nearby connections shown.

So, now there is a plethora of road maps available, but new means of finding your way about on the move exist, possibly the most interesting legacies of earlier times, are the surviving A.A. signs of the early 1900s at the entrance to each town.

JR.

The second of our Summer Visitsis on 30thJune from 3pm when we go Back to School at Goff’s Endowed School, Huntingdon (1791 – 1953), led by Mary Whittall. There will be a Chapel tea afterwards. Booking is again essential : Nancy Wheatland 01544 230691 or Julia Reid 01544 231663. Cost £5, and as parking is limited, car share would be advisable.

Editor: Vera Harrison

Bulletin 421

April 2018

On the Trail of the Mortimers from a talk by Philip Hume

The Mortimers were “big” in the Border area, and don’t really need a ‘trail – they were everywhere, even if now the only common surviving use of the name is Mortimers Cross, on the way to Wigmore, but it was only a late addition.

We know of the Mortimers as a family introduced to this area following the Conquest by William of Normandy, who was a friend of the very first Mortimers, (who took his name from a transitory Castle in Northern France) but who was not present at Hastings, and it was his son, Ralph, who came across 10 years later, and was offered property hereabouts, and who entered the annals by dealing with the rampaging Eric Streona – “the wild”, some time before Domesday.  He was offered Wigmore, after a frequent occurrence – a revolt by the original family, and at Domesday, was shown to have 12 manors across Hereford and Shropshire, and 100 manors altogether across England – from Somerset to Lincolnshire!  This actually fits in with King William’s scheme in rewarding his feudal nobility – in spreading their ownership so widely, to possibly prevent them from being such large local landowners, that they could become the focus of localized dissent against the Crown.

During the “Anarchy” of the mid 1100s, Hugh was loyal to Stephen, but when Henry II materialized, switched his allegiance.  He married a Welsh lady of noble descent, and this began their entry into “Wales”, via Radnor and further, which gave him some extra clout which he was soon able to use.

This was nicely demonstrated later, when during the reign of King John (who couldn’t be more unpopular), Hugh I gathered a group of local Barons nearby, to offer support to the beleaguered King, – this was probably at Baron’s Cross near Leominster, which did actually happen elsewhere as well!

During the reign of King Henry III, who was not a bright spark, there was much unrest, lead by Simon de Montfort, who actually captured the King and Prince Edward, who escaped with the help of the Mortimers, and then who brought them his new Welsh allies to support the Crown at the Battle of Evesham.  Prince Edward put captured local territory into the care of Roger Mortimer, which included Kington, and he introduced a Welsh friend as the new occupant of Hergest Court, lately vacated by the de Braose family after King John’s attentions.  However, Roger’s brother in law Humphrey de Bohun, who had also married a de Braose heiress, was able to split the inheritance which included Kington, for him, which was how the Mortimers really influenced the history of Kington.

This was one feature of the Mortimer family – advantageous marriages to heiresses (some very young) plus often long lived chiefs, and lots of sons in case of trouble.

This happened again when Roger IV, aged 14yrs, married Joan, aged 15, (heiress of Ludlow Castle,) in Pembridge Church, which the Mortimers then had rebuilt, and by the same team which had just completed the rebuilding of the nave of Kington Church.

However, the most enduring legacy of the Mortimer marriage occurred in the early 1400s when a daughter married a Royal Prince, whose descendent was Edward of York, of Ludlow, which kicked off the Wars of the Roses, later eventually wound up when the Lancastrian victor (Henry VII), a de Bohun descendant!, married a York Princess, a descendant of the Mortimers, and the rest is history.

(That young Roger IV, when he became truly important in the reign of Edward III, selected the title, “Earl of March”, rather than just plain County name, and this fell into disuse in Tudor times, but in fact still exists, but is from the descent of a Scottish title, coming into prominence in the reign of Charles II.)

Review JR.