Over fifty people attended the presentation on the latest findings of the Association.
Nigel Howe opened the evening with a comprehensive review of the many sites of Roman occupation in the parish that he has surveyed. The surprise was the extent of the settlements, there seemingly being few fields where artefacts of one kind or another have not been found. He identified a parcel of land between the A605 and Nene lake (more specifically, behind the Fisherman’s lay-by on the A605) as being the most significant site, identifying its location at the junction of two major routes as the reason for its importance. Nigel backed up his talk with an impressive display of Roman pottery that he had uncovered.
In her talk on the hundred year-old apple trees, Sylvia Prestwich outlined the purpose, scope and progress on this fascinating project. Whilst it is difficult to find hard evidence of the rector’s original gift in 1918 of trees to returning soldiers, questionnaires returned by villagers have identified a number of candidate specimens. Sylvia then went on to describe a meeting with an eminent pomologist – a specialist in apple trees – who toured the village and confirmed that possibly 70% of the trees could indeed be of the target age. The next stage in the project is to produce saplings from material taken from the trees in readiness for the commemoration in November next year of the end of the conflict.
Clive Carter brought the evening to a close by taking everyone on a journey through sixteenth century history as revealed by the documents of the time that he has amassed and analysed. He described the complexities of working with the material – deciphering medieval handwriting, reconciling conflicting accounts etc. – before revealing his reconstruction of the family tree of Gilbert Pickering I, the Lord of the Manor in the 1550s. His research shows that Gilbert Pickering’s rise to fortune was more than simply as a result of marrying well (to James Staynbanke’s daughter): he was bailiff of Titchmarsh, of Oundle (owned by Katherine Parr), collector of taxes for the hundred, deputy collector of the Queen’s rents, and involved with provisioning Henry VIII’s ships. Much of this in one way or another relates to Katherine Parr, probably via the Tyrwhitts and other Pickering family connections.
Clive concluded his talk by outlining the tantalising evidence of the existence of a Pickering family vault somewhere under the church floor. He also believes he knows where it is!