Meeting Report July 2012

Apologies were received from Ellen Clifford and Howard Yeend.

The finalised details were reported on the planned ‘Big Dig’ during Archaeology week in the grounds of Spring Lane School. It will take place on the weekend 21st/22nd July; 9am – 5pm Saturday and 10am – 4pm Sunday. A pre-dig meeting will be held in the school annex on Wednesday July 18th at 2.30pm for volunteer supervisors. Jon has produced a poster, to be widely circulated in the local area, inviting young people to take part in the Dig. He will liaise with John and Julia to buy the equipment needed, such as buckets and trowels. All Dig costs will be funded from the Community First Fund grant of £2,000. Marie emphasised the need to keep all receipts. The school annex will be available for the two days providing toilets and drink facilities plus shelter if weather is disruptive. John is arranging media coverage. The Northampton Chronicle and Echo wish to write a feature article. The Mayor will arrive at 9.15am on the Saturday to do the ‘first sod-turning’ and Brian Binley MP will present participation certificates on the Sunday afternoon. It has been agreed that any ‘finds’ will be initially exhibited at the school. The desired aim is to create a young archaeology group in the future.

The date of the Alison Weir Book Event has been confirmed for Friday 28th September 7 – 8.30pm at Castle Hill United Reformed Church. The reading will be preceded by a cheese and wine event for VIP guests at 6.30pm. Ellen has produced a publicity poster which is available on the web-site to print and share. All members present were requested to promote the event. The seating capacity of 600 in the church will, if filled, raise a sizeable amount for the FoNC research fund. A place for the book-signing will be arranged outside the main worship area of the church and refreshments will be available. The church will be given 20% of total amount received for providing the venue and assistance during the event.

The English Heritage Open Days are being held on 6th to 9th September. Marie has successfully signed up FoNC to providing heritage trail tours. Jon gave details of the coinciding Northampton Heritage Fair on the 8th September at Holy Sepulchre church (St. Sep’s). Those present at the meeting were requested to volunteer to man the FoNC stand at the Fair and/or lead a heritage trail tour. It was proposed that, depending on volunteer response, tours would take place at noon and 2pm on the Open days. Jon will provide crib notes for assist tour leaders to supplement his Castle Heritage Project Trail (available on the website).

Marie and John have arranged to meet Peter Ayres of the Churches Conservation Trust. Hopefully, governance arrangements, which would include FoNC, would soon be set up for the proposed Social Enterprise Partnership of the Old Black Lion (OBL) and St. Peter’s Church. Jon had further news on the closure of the OBL. He had been assured that the FoNC Castle beer had been put to one side and that he was hoping to contact the owner to arrange collection.

Marie still awaited further news from the leaders of NBC and NCC and Brian Binley on the promised £500,000 for the heritage gateway following the announcement that redevelopment of Castle Station had been approved.

Sanaa announced that the 3D image and video had just been put on the web-site. Given the need to maximise its visual potential, Marie and John will look into how best to publicise it in the media. It could also be fed into the Social Enterprise Partnership.

Joe reported that there were still some details to be sorted out in activating the bank account. He gave out membership forms to those present so that they could sign up for an initial half year membership fee of £5; as agreed at the last meeting.

John gave an update on the displaying of Tom Osborne Robinson’s panels of Northampton history at St. Peter’s Church. The matter will be raised at the next meeting of Friends of St. Peter’s with a view to an exhibition before Christmas.

The possibility of the Masque Theatre putting on an open-space scene about St. Thomas Becket to coincide with the date of his trial at the castle next year was raised. This could be a precursor to a larger production in 2014 which will be the 850th anniversary of the trial. The Masque Theatre will be approached to see if interested and suggest ideas.

Further to the four areas of research that Tom highlighted at the last meeting, a number of ideas were raised about different aspects of research. Including, the pooling of researches to obtain more information; looking at what needed funding; and what could be achieved without the need for funding. Also, there is trouble accessing local records partly due to uncertainty about where relevant records are currently being held; what is still at the Borough and what has been moved to the County Record Office. Two experienced archivists at the Record office being made redundant had exacerbated the problem.

The nature and venue of future meetings was discussed. It was agreed that where possible meetings would be held on the second Friday of the month. Accordingly, the dates of the next three meetings were agreed (10th August; 14th September; and 12th October). With the OBL being closed for the foreseeable future, a more permanent arrangement would be sought with the Castle Hill church as the venue for meetings. Suggestions for subsequent meetings included inviting someone to talk, for example from Northampton University history department; or the Masque Theatre to discuss ideas;and research training for FoNC members.

The next meeting will be at 6pm on Friday 10th August at the Castle Hill United Reformed Church Doddridge Street, Northampton.

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