Past and present

Words by:
Kathy Holland, Project Officer for the Past and Present Project
Featured in:
September 2014

‘Past and Present’ is a new exhibition produced by the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, which was launched at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life. It is designed to celebrate 170 years of a flourishing society that seeks to study, record and encourage the enjoyment of the rich heritage of the historic county of Lincolnshire from the Humber to the Wash.

The exhibition is part of the ‘Past and Present’ project, which will make up a full year’s programme of events and activities that will take place around the county during 2014-15. The programme includes talks, visits, guided walks, interactive events, vintage film shows, competitions, music, projects for schools and for community groups and much more.

The Society is keen to continue to collect and record information and resources that reflect life in Lincolnshire from the past to the present, and to interpret this information for everyone to enjoy. A photographic and descriptive competition inspired by the heritage of Lincolnshire will be launched later in the year.

Schools will be invited to participate in a project to explore and record how grandparents and parents celebrated national and local traditions to consider if things have changed!

The Society is delighted to announce that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the project a total £9,000 under the Sharing Heritage Programme to help develop a programme of events and activities.

The foundations of the present day Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology (SLHA) date back to 1844 when there was a growing national interest in gothic architecture and in forming learned societies. The main focus of interest in Lincolnshire was church architecture, preservation and restoration.

National interest in architecture and antiquities became popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with a focus on church architecture. The Lincolnshire Society for the Encouragement of Ecclesiastical Architecture was founded by a group of clerics in 1844. It was the foundation of the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology.

The first meeting of the Lincolnshire Society was on 21st November 1844 in the Albion Rooms in Louth. In 1845 there were 107 members, fifty-six of whom were clergymen. The Bishop, John Kaye was president and the patrons were Earl Brownlow, the Duke of Rutland and the Marquis of Northampton, and Lord Monson. The aim was ‘to promote the study of church architecture, antiquities and design.’

Members did take an interest in other buildings and later in archaeological subjects connected with Lincolnshire. During this period there was a strong feeling that gothic church architecture must be recorded, repaired and preserved at all costs. Many churches were in a dilapidated state and numerous surveys and restoration work took place.

Throughout the nineteenth century, interests widened to include local history and archaeology. Over the years, societies around Lincolnshire joined together under different names and new groups emerged with specialist interests.

The Society has undergone many changes both in name and focus since the mid-nineteenth century but continues to flourish and develop. The organisation covers the historic county of Lincolnshire and has members drawn from across the whole of the county and beyond. It now covers many aspects of our heritage and continues to evolve.

Specialised branches within the Society were established. These included Industrial Archaeology introduced in 1964 and Family History in 1990. The latter later moved from the Society to form the successful Lincolnshire Family History Society. Local history groups formed throughout the county. The Sleaford and Spalding groups are part of the Society.

It is now fifty years since the Industrial Archaeology team was established. This team has played a key role in recording the changes to the sites and buildings where people have worked. Without these records, many buildings would have been lost without trace.

In addition to the long-standing interest groups devoted to archaeology and local history, a brand new group has just been formed. The Buildings Recording Group will record and publish information about vernacular buildings.

Over the years the Society has published books on topics as diverse as country houses, farm animals, archaeology, World War One, industry, transport, potatoes, implement makers, papermaking, and the workhouse. The Society also publishes an annual Journal and a quarterly magazine.

Some publications have dealt with particular towns or areas of Lincolnshire; others have had a countywide scope. Every book has aimed to put into print some aspect of the county’s history that deserves to be recorded permanently.

Under the guidance of an expert committee, the Society has published a twelve-volume series covering the main historical periods of the county’s development. These are the flagship publications of the Society, each written by a leading expert in the field and, at the time of their writing, taking account of the latest research and understanding.

New technology is affecting the way that people learn about and enjoy heritage. It also offers the prospect of exciting new services. The Society is embracing these opportunities and will continue to provide members with high quality events, well-researched and well-written publications and the other benefits of a flourishing Lincolnshire-wide society.

As part of its development, the Society will continue to engage with new audiences. This will include developing projects and activities suitable for young people, families and schools, and is an exciting initiative offering opportunities for volunteers to develop new skills and help create new, accessible resources.

The ‘Past and Present’ exhibition is on show in Grantham Museum until the end of October and at Caistor Heritage Centre in December 2014. The exhibition will tour other venues during the early part of 2015.

If you are inspired to find out more, wish to join the Society or attend any events or activities you will be made very welcome.

The Society Bookshop at Jews’ Court is open Monday to Saturday 10am–4pm. Please visit or call 01522 521337 for further information. Selected SLHA publications are available through the Lincolnshire Life shop.

Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology
Jews’ Court
Steep Hill,
Lincoln LN2 1LS

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