ELHAS News - October 2009

This month has proved to be very busy for ELHAS taking in four very different events.

Our first event was on Thursday 8th October when committee members were invited to take part in a Community Evening at Lotherton Hall. The evening was part of a series of events to celebrate 40 years since Lotherton Hall was donated to the City of Leeds by the Gascoigne family. The family loved the place but had no heir, and because they did not want to see the estate broken up, donated it to the city. The evening was organised by the staff at the Hall in order to forge links with the local community, and Barwick in Elmet Historical Society, Sherburn in Elmet Historical Society and Garforth Arts Club were also amongst those invited. Following an introduction by Michael Thaw, Keeper at Lotherton Hall, we were introduced to the rest of the team including staff from Leeds Libraries and Museums and Galleries. Michael described all the events which were taking place at Lotherton and explained that the purpose of the evening was to find out how Lotherton could interact with the various groups, and how we could help support them. Following an interesting tour of the house by Adam White, Curator, we were treated to canapés and wine and had an opportunity to network with all the attendees. This was most fruitful and we came away with contacts for future guest speakers and promises of information for the journal. The traffic wasn't all one way though as we committed to putting a Lotherton Hall display in the Heritage Centre some time in the future, so watch this space.

On Saturday 10th October members visited the Yorkshire Museum in York to view "The Viking Hoard". We were keen to see this exhibition as we had had a most interesting talk about it last year by Amy Cooper, the finds liaison officer who received the hoard from the finders. This major Viking hoard was discovered intact near Harrogate by metal detectorists David and Andrew Whelan in January 2007, Packed inside a silver gilt bowl, the hoard contains a mixture of Viking treasure, including precious metal objects, coins, ornaments, ingots and chopped-up fragments known as hack-silver. Although we had been excited by the photographs shown to us by Amy, this was nothing compared to seeing them in reality. The Hoard, worth over £1,000,000, will be on display at the Yorkshire Museum until November 1st and will then transfer to the British Museum in London..

Friday 16th October saw Jacki and Bob Lawrence visiting Manston St James Primary School to give a talk to year one pupils. A selection of photographs of Cross Gates past and present were shown, to accompany a brief history of the area over the last 200 years. The half hour presentation was very well received by the children, and teachers who were intrigued to see old pictures of parts of Cross Gates they know today.

On Sunday 18th October, the last of this sequence of events was an invitation to Jacki and Bob Lawrence to attend the sung Eucharist at St Mary's Church, Whitkirk, to commemorate the life of John Smeaton, and the 250th anniversary of the completion of the Eddystone Lighthouse. Among the invited guests were the Deputy Lord Mayor of Leeds, George Mudie MP, a representative of Trinity House, (the organisation responsible for the care of lighthouses) and Christopher Severn, author of the historical novel, 'Smeaton's Tower'. Before the service the choir from Austhorpe Primary School sang hymns, and during the processional hymn, two children from the choir laid a wreath on John Smeaton's grave. James, Bishop of Knaresborough, gave an eloquent sermon emphasising the personal qualities of John Smeaton, which enabled him to complete such a dangerous and difficult project.

This meaningful service was followed by refreshments in the Church Hall, where we had the opportunity to distribute copies of the society's booklet 'Smeaton of Austhorpe'.