Meeting Report January 2014

A New Year and many exciting events and opportunities need planning in this 850th anniversary year of the trial of Thomas Becket at the Castle. It is full steam ahead for this small busy working group of volunteers.

Talks and Tours
There has been a very high demand for FONC to give talks to various local groups. Although it was fantastic that FONC had achieved interest amongst local heritage groups, it was agreed that it would not be possible to accept every request to give a talk.

The possibility of putting on talks and tours similar to those for the Open Heritage weekend during one weekend in the Spring-time was agreed as a way to meet the need of interested groups. Those groups who had requested a talk would be contacted to see if any would be interested in the possibility of attending a talk and tour.

When asked recently ‘What should FONC be like?’ The response from members was that FONC should continue to be:-

A…. merry…fun…eclectic…dynamic….and voluntary run group.

It was felt that ideally there should be more members to spread the work load. However, an identified important strength of FONC was that everyone could, and were, prepared to work together as a cohesive force. Therefore anyone who joined FONC would have to understand this – it was not a group for sleepers or egos. There had been an update audit of members’ skills to assist in assigning tasks for various events and/or opportunities that may arise for the group during the year.

A recent example of FONC members’ sense of humour and dedication was the fun Christmas festive posting on Facebook and twitter of the FONC logo; and the Postern Gate sporting a Santa’s hat and later a New Year sparkling greeting that generated over three hundred ‘likes’.

FONC in 2014
Members had submitted their thoughts for discussion at this meeting on how the group should proceed forward in 2014.

Apart from continuing the central aim of FONC to raise awareness of the Northampton’s medieval heritage for the future good of the town and people in 2014, a desire to get young people involved – they are the future – was strong amongst members. Although FONC has plans to involve young people; to what extent this can happen in 2014 will depend on whether the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is successful. Marie hoped to hear mid-January.

However, whatever the outcome of the bid, there were projects ongoing and new to discuss.

Museum Exhibition
An offer for FONC to have a dedicated gallery in the Central Museum from the 21st June to 31st August had been received. Given that FONC had already organised a month long display in May 2012, of museum held artefacts found over the years in the Castle site area, in the ‘Peoples Gallery’ and therefore had this previous experience to draw upon, there was a consensus that this would be an ideal opportunity to further promote the Castle in this 850th anniversary year of the trial of Thomas Becket at the Castle. A number of ideas were aired on structure of such an exhibition especially to attract young visitors during the summer school holiday period. The offer would be taken up along with a request to meet with key museum staff as soon as possible to start planning.

Becket at the Guildhall
John informed the meeting that he had taken on the role of FONC liaison with the Masque Theatre group for the staging of Becket at the Guildhall in October – a role initiated and competently fulfilled by Paul Geeson before his untimely death. A recent discussion with Masque had included the charge for tickets and the production of a top quality programme. To cover the cost of production, John would canvass for sponsors to advertise in the programme. In tribute, a fitting dedication to Paul would be placed in the programme.

Further information will soon be available on how to sponsor this special event. In the meantime to register an interest in sponsoring please contact

New Railway Station
National Rail had agreed to have recognition of the Castle incorporated in the new station building and surrounding area. Accordingly, FONC would assist the Heritage Gateway Project team, by supplying specifications of the Castle structure as a basis for a proposed model of the Castle; and an initial review of significant historical figures and events associated with the Castle.

Training for FONC Members
In order to further research on the Castle and related historical issues along with associated heritage work, an opportunity for suitable training had been requested by some members. It was hoped that Peter Aiers offer, made during his talk at the AGM, for FONC members to be invited to train alongside members of Friends of St. Peter’s would be followed up.

Dates of future FONC Meetings in 2014
Our monthly meetings which are open to all are usually held, on the first Friday of the month where practicable, in the upper room of the Old Black Lion, Marefair, Northampton.

The meetings start at 6pm and usually over by 7.30pm at the very latest. If you are travelling by car, there is ample parking in the nearby Doddridge and Chalk Lane car parks (access to both car parks is behind Sol Central); please note that there is an evening parking’ pay and display’ fee of £1 – after 5pm.

February       7th
March           7th
April             4th
May               9th
June               6th
July               4th
August           1st
September     5th  
October         3rd  
November     7th
December     5th   AGM

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