About peterdewrance

Blogger, dad, grandpa, husband, local councillor, town twinner, nuisance. Formerly baby, schoolboy, student, teacher, emigrant, TV producer, university lecturer, trainer, distance learning author.

Old maps tell the story of Lincolnshire

I recently came across a fascinating blog post by Dr. Caitlin Green, featuring a collection of early maps of Lincolnshire. Caitlin describes herself as a historian and writer whose professional interests lie in the history, archaeology, place-names and literature of late Roman and early medieval Britain.

She explains: “This post is primarily intended to share images of some of the interesting early maps of Lincolnshire that still exist, dating from the medieval era through until the early seventeenth century. Details of each map and a brief discussion of the principal points of interest—including the curious region-name ‘Ageland’ that appears in eastern Lincolnshire on many of them—are provided in the captions to the following image gallery, which I aim to add to over time.”

Some interesting early maps of Lincolnshire Continue reading

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No cucumber unsliced, no camp chair unfolded, no pop bottle uncorked…….

In the words of W. Somerset Maugham “There are few things so pleasant as a picnic eaten in perfect comfort”

No cucumber unsliced, no camp chair unfolded, no pop bottle uncorked at the first Kirkby on Bain village picnic last summer (August 18). At 1.45, the school field looked just like any other day, except for some bunting, a table and a couple of chairs, but within an hour or so about thirty villagers, undaunted by the KoB wasp brigade, were happily tucking in to traditional English picnic grub and chatting to friends and neighbours.

The idea, suggested by Margaret Dewrance, was inspired by a similar event in a French village a few years ago. It had a lot going for it – no complicated arrangements or red tape, just bring your own picnic and spend a pleasant afternoon in good company. We were lucky though – the sun came out just on time after an overcast morning.

Since we packed up our empty picnic baskets, we have had some really good feedback on this initiative, and even a welcome offer of an alternative venue for next year, so it looks like the event is set to become a local tradition. Continue reading

Roman life in Kirkby on Bain revealed

On a fine day in December last year, Kirkby on Bain Parish Councillors were invited by Alan Stephenson, Quarry Operations Manager at the Woodhall Spa Quarry, to attend an open afternoon following the recent discovery by local archaeologists of a Roman settlement. It was a fascinating event, led by Lydia Hendry, Community Archaeologist, Heritage Lincolnshire, and her team. She took us round the site in small groups and explained what they had found so far, demystifying numerous trenches, artifacts and data.

I understand that there will be another opportunity to discover more secrets of this ancient settlement, later this year. Lydia has very kindly written an account of the December event for us:

Quarry Discoveries Continue reading

Ethel Major – A Lincolnshire village murderer?

Not long after we moved into Kirkby on Bain in 2001, somebody said to me something along the lines of “Of course you must know about our famous murderer, Ethel Major”. Of course I had never heard of her, so I did some very superficial research and found that this Kirkby on Bain lady was convicted of killing her husband (a nasty piece of work, allegedly,) in 1934 and hanged in Hull gaol.

A little later Betty Dixon, who was born that year and until recently was one of Kirkby’s oldest residents, kindly lent me a bundle of newspaper cuttings and a book about this case. Like a lot of accounts of past murders, quite a bit of this material was written in sensationalist styles, with little by way of references or source attributions. I also noticed that some accounts were word-for-word copies, apparently lifted from one original newspaper write-up.

During subsequent searches, I stumbled across a real surprise – macabre testimony to the everlasting obsession with murder, a knitted representation of Ethel’s house, made by Jean Arkell, originally installed at the Minories Art Gallery, Colchester. Believe it or not there really is a website featuring knitted representations of houses lived in by female murderers. Midsomer Murders scriptwriters, please take note.
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A recipe from Helsinki – and more besides

One of the benefits of blogging is that you discover the work of other bloggers. One such is Asli, who calls her blog “My Dear Kitchen In Helsinki”. She describes herself as “a designer based in Helsinki, who turned into a food blogger / eating designer / baker and finally found the meaning of life by cooking, baking and eating together.” Asli follows this blog, so I get loads of recipes – let me share her latest vegan creation with you – Upside Down Pineapple Cake

What I like about Asli’s blog is that as well as some interesting recipes, she tells stories about her life. Like this incident:
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Jobsworth

When our local Woolworths closed down it seemed that the heart of the town stopped beating. It’s true that our beloved high street retailer had been ailing for some time, but nevertheless, the fatal blow came as a national shock. My first thoughts were for all those who worked there, suddenly out of a job. This reaction was probably coloured by my own memories of working as a part-time Woolworths Saturday boy in Neasden, London NW10, sweeping floors, bailing cartons and tending the boiler.

The collapse of Woolworths triggered a train of thought; I began to think about all the part-time jobs I had as a hard up teenager, either on weekends or, later, during school holidays. One thing has become quite clear. Though the need for employment back then, between about 1958 and 1962, arose simply because I needed money to buy things which my parents could not have afforded, l now see there was an unforeseen bonus – these were learning experiences which I now value as highly as any amount of official education. Continue reading