18 Jul ‘What a County, and what a Forum!’
Half a millennium old, the carefully restored Threshing Barn at Chester House was the perfect venue for the annual Awards presented by the Northamptonshire Heritage Forum. The sparkling fairy lights illuminated both the ancient roof timbers and the guests, who included members of the Forum, and Charles, Lord Spencer, the Patron. Other guests included Charlotte Brudenell deputising for the Lord Lieutenant, and the Leaders and Chairs of West and North Northamptonshire Councils. Rachel Mallows MBE DL represented the Northamptonshire Surprise website, and the whole event was expertly compered by John Griff DL.
Cllr Helen Howell, Deputy Leader of North Northamptonshire Council and Executive for Sport, Leisure, Culture and Tourism welcomed everyone to the Chester House Estate, and Charlotte Brudenell DL spoke of the importance of protecting, preserving and promoting our unique Northamptonshire Heritage.
After the winners were announced, (listed below) Lord Spencer expressed his pride in those who work to support Northamptonshire’s heritage. He recognised the passion and the commitment shown by communities of like-minded people working together in a county ‘heaving with history’. He described the event as an uplifting celebration of heritage made accessible, rich with stories of past communities. He especially complimented the work of the volunteers who make so much more possible. He ended by offering his congratulations to Wicksteed Park who won ‘Heritage Organisation of the Year 2023’ for their positivity and commitment to the community during difficult conditions in recent years. He ended with the comment, ‘What a County… and what a Forum!’
Many of the winners are taking part in Heritage Open Days during September, so do look out for them.
Winners of the Northamptonshire Heritage Awards 2023
Heritage Organisation of the Year 2023
Wicksteed Park is the legacy of Charles Wicksteed, a wealthy industrialist with a social conscience who after making munitions and military equipment during the First World War turned his attention to creating quality robust children’s play equipment, recognising the value of play and recreation for the well-being of the local community. In 1914 he had purchased land on the edge of Kettering to create the garden suburb of Barton Seagrave, but his primary focus was on developing the park at its centre. In 1921 Wicksteed Park opened to the public as a freely accessible public space designed to improve the lives of the people of Kettering and the local area.
The Wicksteed Trust and the Wicksteed family of today continue this tradition and despite recent challenging conditions have worked hard to continue to fulfil the original philanthropic vision of Charles Wicksteed. The centenary was marked with celebration, the volunteer team is growing, and the Park is continuing to offer the community somewhere to get outside and enjoy quality leisure time together in a wide variety of ways.
This award recognises the energy and effectiveness of the current team to maintain both the ideals of the founder, Charles Wicksteed, and the close links to the wellbeing of the people in the Kettering area.
Judges Choice Special Award Winner
Northants Open Studios
Northants Open Studios is a visual arts community group, giving members of the public access to art throughout the county, both at exhibitions in wonderful historic places such as Lamport Hall, and in artists’ own studios. NOS are inclusive, believing that art should be celebrated and enjoyed by everyone. The annual month-long festival not only gives artists the opportunity to engage directly with art lovers, collectors and enthusiasts of their work, but also allows them to demonstrate their practice, discuss new work and sell or accept commissions. There is no selection process allowing artists of varying abilities, ages and disciplines to be part of the community.
Best Event: Winner
Northampton Museums and Art Gallery
‘Transport Day 2022’
Utilising their ideal location of Abington Museum within Abington Park for an outside event and building on their experience of a previous delivery of the event, the 2022 Transport Day was the biggest event so far. They exhibited around 35 individual exhibitors of vehicles from local organisations and private collectors, creating a real family day out. The day proved to be one of the most popular events ever held at Abington Park and Museum.
Best Event: Highly Commended
Desborough Heritage Centre
‘The public unveiling of a Memorial to the crew killed in Wellington Bomber HF670 in Desborough 5th September 1944’.
In October 2022, 78 years on, attended by descendants of the three airmen who were killed in a WWII Wellington Bomber crash in a Desborough field, Desborough Civic Society and Heritage Centre provided a Memorial event and service, having provided a new Stone on the site. A special exhibition with refreshments (coffee and lunch) was provided in the Heritage Centre.
Best Exhibition: Winner
Canons Ashby – National Trust
‘A Christmas Quest’
This Christmas display was inspired by John Dryden’s semi-opera King Arthur. Visitors followed the story of brave King Arthur and his quest to rescue his beloved Emmeline, encountering magic, battles, enchanted woods, spells, the enchanter Merlin and of course dragons. A real team effort, with the environment in mind, many of our decorations were handmade by the volunteers.
Best Exhibition: Highly Commended
Borough Hill and its History
Inspired by the centenary of the publication of William Edgar’s book ‘Borough Hill Daventry and its History’, this exciting exhibition brings the historic ages of Borough Hill alive and reflects on the findings and excavations in Edgar’s book through fascinating displays.
Best Project by a Group or Society: Winner
The Friends of St. Mary’s, Higham Ferrers
Gateway to the 600-year history of the Bede House
The Friends of St Mary’s (FoSM) is a volunteer organisation, dedicated to supporting the preservation, restoration, improvement and ornamentation of the three medieval buildings. The gate project was organised from concept to completion by the volunteers, and involved fund raising, and liaison with the church authorities, the carpenter and stone masons.
Best Special Long-Term Project: Winner
Northamptonshire Battlefields Society
Battle of Northampton 1460 Interpretation Panels
The aim of the project was to install heritage industry leading interpretation panels to explain the Wars of the Roses battle fought at Delapré Abbey in 1460. This was a founding aim of Society and was left incomplete on the death of our chair, Mike Ingram, in 2021.
Best Volunteer Project: Winner
‘The Cluniac Nunnery of St Mary de la Pré exhibition’
In February 2021, a new exhibition celebrating Delapré Abbey’s medieval past opened. Little was known about the history of the women who lived at the Abbey during medieval times until now, thanks to the research of a small group of female volunteers undertaken during the Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020/21. In September 2022 Delapré Abbey hosted the 8th UK Cluniac Conference with the volunteers drafting the programme and sharing the stories of Delapré
Winner Community Wellbeing Award: Winner
Crafternoon is a project that was formed in the wider Heritage Lottery Funded @Play project. It is a programme of ‘have-a-go’ style weekly craft sessions aimed at adults to build confidence in skills and help tackle social isolation in retirement age as well as 18-24 in a calming, supportive environment.
Hindsight Award for Best Published Book: Winner
Michael Brown, the Historic Gardener
MEDIEVAL PLANTS AND THEIR USES
The book is the result of many years of research for the Prebendal Manor Medieval Gardens at Nassington, Northamptonshire. The book shows the importance of plants to daily medieval life, and since publication, it has been used as a guide to the medieval plants that could be grown at other Northamptonshire sites, such as Stanwick Lakes Settlers Garden and the medieval Gardens at Delapré Abbey.
Hindsight Award for best published Book: Highly Commended
‘Rockingham: The Village under the Castle – A social history of a closed Northamptonshire village’
This first history of the village focuses on the social lives of the residents. Topics covered include population, wealth, health, employment, housing development, utilities, education and leisure opportunities. National trends are outlined then illustrated by original case studies drawn from the estate archives.
Hindsight Award for Best Published Other Materials: Winner
Higham Ferrers Tourism
Film: ‘Chichele College Celebrates 600 Years’
As part of the special anniversary celebrations and, in the interests of sharing Chichele College with a wider and more diverse audience, this film was created. It shows the everyday life of the College and features all those who use and care for this scheduled monument on a regular basis. It is available to all on YouTube.
About the Northamptonshire Heritage Forum
Our purpose is to celebrate Northamptonshire’s past by supporting and promoting Museums, Galleries, Historic Houses, Heritage Sites and History Societies across Northamptonshire. We are run by a committee of volunteers and meet several times a year to provide advice, access to grants and training, joint marketing and promotion, and the opportunity to network with like-minded people.
For more information about us, our work and our members, please visit www.northamptonshireheritageforum.co.uk