by Rosemary Canadine

In 2009, English Heritage started to improve their presentation of their display material in Lyddington Bede House.  They asked the Tree-ring Dating Laboratory at Nottingham to visit to the Bede House in October that year to assess its potential for a programme of dendrochronology so that the guidebook could be updated with more specific dating.

Whilst here, Robert Howard of the Tree-ring Dating Laboratory was struck by the number of old, listed buildings in the village, some of which had already been surveyed and drawn up by Nick Hill, a vernacular architecture enthusiast.  Robert wanted to know if any heritage, history or survey projects were being conducted locally or whether any keen locals might be interested in setting one up.  The Laboratory had recently completed such a project in the village of Norwell, in Nottinghamshire, and another similar project had been started in Wiltshire.  The local availability of a considerable amount of re-usable timber from part of the medieval bishops' palace in Lyddington was, Robert said, all the more reason for undertaking a proper survey and recording of the buildings here.

The other factor which was significant was the extent of the documentary evidence of available on Lyddington.  Manor court rolls and rentals for the Manor of Lyddington with Caldecott, dating from the middle of the sixteenth century, are all held at Burghley House, where I was archivist.  These had recently been catalogued and were available to the Society.

To undertake such a project, we would need help.  Training, would be important, perhaps for tree-ring dating, though that was largely a task for the professionals, but definitely for drawing, survey, and documentary work.  It seemed obvious that a local organisation was needed to manage such a project and the formation of a Lyddington History Society was suggested.  The ancient Manor of Lyddington with Caldecott had included the villages of Snelston (which has disappeared), Stoke Dry and Thorpe by Water.  Caldecott already has its own History Society, but their members would be very welcome to join us, whilst still carrying on with their own activities.

An open meeting was called in Lyddington Village Hall at 6pm on 25th November 2009 to discuss the possibility of forming a history society.  The meeting attracted a good turnout and indicated sufficient support for the formation of a society to act as a focal point for a major project.  An Inaugural Meeting was held in the Village Hall on Friday, January 15th at 7.30 p.m. Forty-four people indicated that they would be interested in joining the society and a committee was formed.  At the first Committee meeting, held on 22nd January 2010, at 22 Main Street, officers of the Society were duly elected and the name of the society was decided, Lyddington Manor History Society, to make it clear that it was not just for the village of Lyddington but included all the villages in the manor. Subscriptions were set at £10 for individuals and £12 for family membership. It was also agreed that members should receive regular Newsletters and discounted entry to meetings; admissions to meetings for members were to be £1 and for non-members £2. All committee members then paid their subscriptions and the Society was formed.


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