Chairman’s Report 2017/18

Presented at the AGM on 15th March 2018

It has been another excellent year with a series of good speakers and two lovely days out during the summer.

The speaker, Mr E Jenkins, at our AGM on 16th March 2017 gave a very interesting talk on the workhouse followed by an entertaining evening by Mr Roger Powell on 18th May regarding Royal Mistresses. The summer saw two outings, the first on 19th July to Southwick Hall where the owners showed us round, and later in the afternoon we travelled to Apethorpe Hall (now rather ostensibly called a “palace”) which has some of the finest restored Jacobean ceilings in the country. The second trip on 3rd August took us to Stanford Hall on the Northants/Leicestershire border where we enjoyed a guided tour and some delightful refreshments.

Meetings began again on 21st September with a look at the immense social changes brought in during the 16th century; under the title, itself a quotation from Sir Thomas More, “Sheep that eat up men” our speaker [Mr Martin Sirot-Smith], suitably attired in Elizabethan costume, outlined the impact of wide-spread sheep-farming during that period of English history. Mr Philip Morris spoke at the meeting on 16th November on Firemarks and Insurance. On 15th December a highly successful Buffet & Drinks party was held at the Village Hall. The meeting on 18th January 2018 had a fascinating talk by Mr Jon Paul Carr on Victorian Northamptonshire’s Inventors and Inventions.

Membership of the Society is now 47, and we welcome new members. Membership fees have remained at £10 per annum, and we continue to meet at Raynsford House on the 3rd Thursday on alternate months ie: January, May, September and November with a couple of summer trips and the annual Buffet & Drinks party in December. This pattern seems to suit everybody and the atmosphere of our meetings is cordial and light-hearted; we also delve into some fascinating historical themes.

During the year we were saddened at the death of Alan Digby whose initiative and generous donation founded the Society way back in 2004. Many of our members attended Holy Cross Church for his funeral, which I was privileged to conduct and make a public tribute to him. Also during the year Steven Hunt has been very active in passing on his considerable knowledge of information technology to others on the committee. Steve has quietly got on with the job of setting up and managing our society’s website, a task which we greatly appreciate. In spite of his difficult health situation he has been extremely co-operative with others on the committee [David Brogden, Sarah Fraser and John Brice] who have met many times to discuss the future of our website

At the end of 2017 the committee made the decision to re-design the web site and have it managed by a commercial company, DigitalNOW based in Northampton. This should ensure the long-term viability of the site, and allow minor updates to be made by Society members without detailed technical knowledge of the site. The new site went live in February and is worth exploring [miltonmalsorhistory.org.uk]. Sarah will shortly be entering some recent images of Milton Malsor and photos of the Open Gardens Day held earlier, to the website. The committee takes the view that paying for the task of setting-up the new website and its continuing maintenance is a wise use of the Society’s funds. Our Treasurer will give details in his report.

Steve tells me that: “There was a marked increase in activity registered by the web site compared to 2016; the number of visits was up by 78% to 25,000, and the number of pages viewed was up by 27% to 49,000. The most popular area of the site was again the photo archive. The phrases entered into search engines that lead to our site are always interesting: “milton malsor school in victorian times”, “talks by malcolm deacon” and “easts of hope brewery milton” might well be expected, but why “milton malsor manure” should lead to us is a bit puzzling?

The manure is nothing to do with me, and maybe it’s a mis-spelling of manor due to predictive texting on mobile phones. However, this just shows how much Steve has done for us over the years and we heartily thank him for his incredible technological skills and public spirit. I thank the committee [John our Secretary, David our Treasurer, Sarah, Ray, Kathy and Edith for all their continued support throughout another successful year.

Malcolm Deacon