Programme 2016 - 2017


All talks start at 7.30 pm (doors open 7 pm) on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at The Roman Way Community Centre, 36, Roman Way, Market Harborough, LE16 7PQ.


Additionally, a Summer Excursion takes place in June each year. The Society also organises a full day Local History Seminar - The History Day -  on a Saturday in October each year, at The Roman Way Community Centre.



To download this handy tri-fold printable copy of the program in .pdf format please click



Summer Break


Sep 14th 2016

John Thomas

The Burrough Hill Excavations

Burrough Hill near Melton Mowbray is one on of the best preserved and spectacular Iron Age hillforts in the East Midlands but relatively little was known about it. In 2010 archaeologists from Leicester University began a 5 year research project focussing on the hillfort to discover more and to find out how Burrough Hill fitted into Iron Age occupation of the wider landscape.   John Thomas, co-director of the Burrough Hill Project will give an account of the project and its fascinating results which give an unparalleled picture of life in an East Midlands hillfort.  


Oct 12th 2016

Malcolm Deacon

The Courtier and the Queen (Sir Christopher Hatton and Queen Elizabeth I)

Continuing our interest in local Tudor History, Malcolm Deacon will discuss the unique relationship between Hatton and Elizabeth.  Hatton (1540 – 1591), a member of the Northamptonshire gentry from Holdenby, enjoyed a meteoric rise to power,  becoming Lord Chancellor in 1587 and Knight of the Garter and Chancellor of the University of Oxford the following year. Hatton developed a unique relationship with Elizabeth that was different in kind from her other favourites such as the Earl of Leicester and Sir Walter Raleigh. When Hatton lay dying Elizabeth visited him to feed and comfort him.   The stately ruins and grounds of his great house at Kirby Hall near Corby remain to impress us. 


Saturday 29th October

History Day


The Buildings of Market Harborough: Their Origins and History

 All day event, £15 fee includes buffet lunch & refreshments


Nov 9th 2016

Dr John Sutton

The story of the Unknown Warrior

Dr John Sutton is chairman of the Leicestershire and Rutland Western Front Association. Formerly an engineer serving with the RAF he is a keen amateur historian whose special interests include many aspects of the Great War. His talk tells the story of where the idea of an unknown warrior was first conceived, the differing reactions of George V and his government, how the Unknown Warrior was selected and the impact of his burial on a grieving nation.   


Dec 14th 2016


Tim Clough

Oakham Castle, its history and archaeology

Oakham Castle is the finest example of 12C domestic architecture in England and is   remarkably intact, but its context has been lost, modified and reduced. The building has some fine original sculptures. It was in use as a courthouse until the 1990s. In the 20C various archaeological investigations discovered the remains of domestic service areas.  But from September 2015 – May 2016 there has been a £2.5m restoration and investigation. Tim Clough, for 28 years the curator of Rutland County Museum, will give an account of this important building and demesne, bringing it up-to-date with the results from its refurbishment. 


Jan 11th 2017

Malcolm Britton

A story of Brooksby

Brooksby, nestling in the Leicestershire valley of the Wreake, is today a church with Brooksby Melton College occupying its adjacent great house and 350ha estate. This story of Brooksby follows its progress from a deserted mediaeval village to a 21st century College by following the   influential families who have resided in Brooksby Hall and the traces of their occupation remaining in the Hall and in the adjacent parish church of St Michael and All Angels. Malcolm Britton, who came to Brooksby as a lecturer in agriculture in 1971 and is now its churchwarden, will enlighten us with its history.


Feb 8th 2017

Dr Richard Jones

Living with Water: Past, Present, and Future

Water has had, and still has, a great significance on our settlements. Early medieval place-names reveal much about water and the environment.   This talk explores what these names tell us about water consciousness in the past. How did people understand water?  What measures were taken to control water?  In short, how did people successfully live at the water’s edge?  From this historical base, this talk asks whether the information from historical place-names can now help to address the contemporary threat of flooding.   The emphasis will be on evidence from Leicestershire and Northamptonshire although drawing on evidence from across the country. Richard Jones is Senior Lecturer in Landscape History in the Centre for English Local History, University of Leicester.


March 8th 2017


George Marshall


Francis Hammond and his Arboretum

The Arboretum next to the Robert Smythe School is a little-known gem of Market Harborough.  Francis Hammond, headmaster of the Grammar School 1887 -1923, having successfully overseen the move in 1909 from the Old Grammar School in Church Square to Herbert G Coales’ new school premises in Burnmill Road,  began to plant trees in 1913  on land he had purchased. He continued planting until the 1930s making meticulous notes of his work.  Hammond has bequeathed the town a legacy of national significance. George Marshall will tell the story of the Hammond Arboretum. See



April 12th 2017

(Society AGM)


Mike Frost

AGM followed by

The Revd Dr William Pearson, Rector of South Kilworth, Astronomer

William Pearson (1767 -1847) was one of those educated 19thC parsons who from private research added knowledge to the world. From 1817 – 47 he was Rector of South Kilworth, where he found time to pursue his astronomical interests, building an observatory wing on to the Rectory and then a separate observatory in the village, both of which still stand. In 1820, through his efforts, the Astronomical Society of London was formed; a few years later it received a Royal Charter to become the Royal Astronomical Society. Mike Frost, Director of the British Astronomical Association's Historical Section, will talk about William Pearson and his achievements.


May 10th 2017

Nick Hill

The Buildings of the Manor of Lyddington

Nick Hill has been involved with the Lyddington Manor Project (Rosemary Canadine MHHS April 2015) physically investigating the many buildings in the four villages of Lyddington Manor to complement the discoveries of village history found in manuscripts. Nick, who lives in the Welland valley and works for Historic England, has an incomparable knowledge of the vernacular architecture of the Welland valley and beyond formed by surveying and examining so  many of its buildings in detail.  His exposition of them is always revealing and enlightening.


Thursday June 15th 2017

Summer Outing

Warkton Church near Kettering, to see the monuments to the Montagu family discussed by Prof Philip Lindley last season.


Please note: Change of date to THURSDAY 15th June 2017  (Wednesday 14th June previously). Full details of this evening event, including optional post-visit Pub meal will be circulated to members in early May.


Summer Break

Sep 13th 2017


Ian Aldis

The story of Wicksteed Park Kettering

In 1913, Charles Wicksteed, a Kettering industrialist with strong northern Unitarian roots from a prominent philanthropic family, purchased some land on the edge of Kettering to provide a safe space for families to go for recreation. It formally opened in May 1921. It remains to this day a large parkland area with space and attractions, including the recently listed 1926 water shoot.  Wicksteed Park has pioneered children’s playground equipment. Ian Aldis will tell us the story of this special place.


Oct 11th 2017

Daniel Connor

Roman and Iron Age settlement on Lubenham Hill

Daniel Connor of Allen Archaeology Lincolnshire was in charge of the extensive archaeological investigation at Lubbenham Hill in the summer of 2016.  This study was made in advance of the major housing development due to take place there.  While much of the site is under houses built in the 1980s, evidence of Neolithic and Bronze Age activity and the remains of Iron Age and Roman field systems and industrial sites were discovered. Daniel will explain why and what was found and how it tells a previously unknown story of settlement in the Harborough area


Saturday 28th October

History Day

(details to be finalised)

Crime and Punishment in Leicestershire

All day event, £15 fee (to be confirmed) includes buffet lunch & refreshments

Nov 8th 2017


Brian Johnson

Their name liveth for evermore – the work of the Imperial War Graves commission

Millions of men died during the great war; the Imperial (later Commonwealth) War Graves Commission was set up to provide cemeteries and memorials for this lost generation.  Brian Johnson, a family historian, discusses how the IWGC came into being and the different forms of the cemeteries along the Western Front. The talk will show some of the monuments and how they were made and designed; it will discuss some of the individuals commemorated, and the wording on the monuments. This is a moving talk which is very pertinent in this centenary of the Great War.


Dec 13th 2017


Peter Liddle

Mercian Leicestershire

Mercia was the powerful  large Anglo-Saxon kingdom covering central England from the Wirral to London, and from the Welsh border to the Wash. Amongst its leaders were Penda and Offa, amongst its treasures the Staffordshire hoard and the sculptures at Breedon-on-the Hill. It was dominant in the 8 -9th Centuries. Leicestershire was at the heart of Mercia.  Peter Liddle, from his lifelong experience as an archaeologist in the county, will discuss how archaeology is revealing more about this important ancient kingdom.