The growth of Christianity in Roman and Saxon Britain – William Burke – November 2023
Our former rector, William Burke took a full house on a journey of early Christian missionaries and examined the origins and merger of the Celtic and Roman traditions of Christianity in England with a close look at the Waternewton Hoard and its purpose.
A History of the English – the First 1000 years – Stephen Pollington – October 2023
Author and broadcaster, Stephen Pollington made a return visit and took us on a journey through Anglo Saxon times 450-1066 about language, history and culture of life in Mercian Castor around 550-700 during which time Cyneburh (Our Kyneburgha) was living here. Steve’s ability to speak Early English was a special treat.
Harold Hardrada – The Last Viking Don Chiswell – September 2023
The exploits of Harald Sigurdsson, called Hardrada (Hard ruler), King of Norway were the stuff of legend and were recorded in the Icelandic Sagas. His exile in Kiev and Byzantium, his return and rule of Norway, and his invasion of England warrant him the title of ‘The Thunderbolt of the North’.
Dr Stephen Upex entertained a small group to a visit to the site of Roman Durobrivae. Participants met at Waternewton and proceeded over private farmland (The Trust has exclusive access for events of this type) to the Roman Town where Dr Upex gave an account of the latest findings about this busy Roman town and its industrial suburbs along Ermine Street.
About 90 folk attended this Saxon event in the lead up to the St Kyneburgha Centennial in 2024. Families enjoyed trying swords, axes and games from those times. A hog roast and a bar kept the fun flowing. A tug of war took place between Saxons and Vikings but sorry to say, the rope broke. There was a ‘holmganger’ (Mediaeval way of settling disputes) over the stealing of St Kyneburgha’s relics and happy to say the Saxon lord won. Peace reigned!
On Friday the 23rd of June, over 100 people enjoyed the balmy evening and the super hospitality of 17 garden hosts on four garden routes across our two villages, expertly co-ordinated by Helen Jarvis. Everyone gathered at the end in the Grys’s garden where Steve and Val put on an endless flow of wine and Chubby Castor restaurant provided a superb spread. In excess of £200 was raised which will go to boost our ring-fenced fund to improve access to the church porch – a very costly project (See Projects timeline)
Stuart premiered his new talk to an audience of about 50 on the medical aspects of Roman life especially those professionalised by the Army. This talk looked at medical professionals, ideas and surgery of 2,000 years ago, including a fascinating look at replica surgical instruments.
Peterborough has some of the most remarkable Bronze Age archaeology in the world, from the amazingly preserved prehistoric causeway at Flag Fen, to the incredible find of a burnt village dating back some 3,000 years at Must Farm. Stuart Orme brought this to life for 70 or so live attendees and 20 or so Zoomers at the Village Hall. This raised in the region of £400.
On a frosty evening in the magnificent setting of the Long Gallery at Milton Hall, the Wandering Minstrels entertained an audience of 90 or so, to excerpts from the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, some well known and some not so well known. Many thanks to Sir Phillip and Lady Isabella for hosting the event.
What a super evening we put together with the generosity of Sir Philip and lady Isabella. About 100 guests braved the icy cold to be welcomed by a roaring fire in the entrance hall and entertainments which included a marvellous presentation by a group of Ukrainian folk who are being sponsored by the Sir Philip and Lady Isabella, and Jingle Bell Rock by the wizard of the ivories, Will Craven. The event raised £2870.
Professor Upex, a regular visitor to our group’s events, spoke to a large audience about the enormous impact the Romans made on their Empire from the Nene Valley and especially around Durobrivae and the Praetorium at Castor. His findings are to be found in his new book to be seen above. The event was jointly managed by SKBPT and our friends from Waternewton Church.
Widely travelled expert on English Parish Churches, John E. Vigar, entertained an audience agog with some of the images to be seen in 2D and 3D form. His presentation was amusing and at times quite shocking as to what can be seen in certain church buildings. We had an audience of Zoomers and those attending in person.
Helen Tovey, Editor of the Family Tree magazine and former Castor resident entertained and informed an audience interested in family trees by using real case studies from Castor & Ailsworth families. Apologies to those who experienced poor Zoom reception. We aim to correct this.
On Sunday the 24th of July, Dr Susan Kilby of Leicester University. introduced Trust Friends to the stories about the local Anglo-Saxon landscape revealed by the tower capitals. Afterwards we enjoyed afternoon tea provided as a thank you to those who make a financial contribution to the running of the Trust
Professor Stephen Upex hosted a talk to 22 members of the Huntingdon Historical Society and gave a potted history of the site’s history through from the Roman Empire through St Kyneburgha and Saxon times. This was followed by excellent refreshments provided by our volunteers.
An illustrated talk by Stuart Orme, curator of the Cromwell Museum, Huntingdon, who enabled us to understand in exciting detail, who the local supporters of Parliament an King were and the upshot of local skirmishes and negotiations.
During the October school half term we had a request from local teacher, John Bangay for a personal tour of the history of Castor so William Baxter duly provided a tour of the church including the tower and Nigel Blanchford accompanied John on a walking tour of Normangate Field, Ermine St and other Roman sites in our village. We can always accommodate groups or individuals for events such as this. Please contact email@example.com
This marked a first for the Trust in that it was a live event at The Cedar Centre in Castor and online at the same time. Dr Avril Lumley-Prior talked about the known life and times of the Saxon princess who became St Kyneburgha. 30 people attended the talk and 28 watched online. £50 was collected. This was a learning experience for the Trust but one which has given us confidence to repeat. Try watching the talk by clicking and downloading from Dropbox below
On Sunday the 1st of August, we welcomed a group of 30 folks from Study Tours Travel, accompanied by their leader Dr. Alan Crosby. They were touring East Anglian ecclesiastical architecture and Alan had chosen St Kyneburgha’s as his choice parish church. Three groups enjoyed guided tours after a scene setting introduction, finishing with welcome tea and cake.
On Friday the 2nd of July, Five groups of 30 (150 in all) garden and wine enthusiasts, each visited four very different but so attractive gardens. The balmy weather helped making for a delightful evening thanks to the hosts, the organisers Brian and Helen and the sponsors (Casworth Motors, McIntyre Hudson and Sloan Plumb Wood) £2500 was raised in a Covid-lean year, (which may be a record), for the Trust’s funds in supporting our beautiful and historic church.
Dr. Paul Stamper took us on an historical journey from the 14th to the 20th century showing how artists have depicted archaeological monoliths such as Merlin building Stonehenge to Paul Nash’s landscape of monoliths.
Dr. Richard Jones introduced us to the phenomenal paintings in Longthorpe Tower, Peterborough, which are regarded as “the best collection in western Europe”, given their period (pre-1340) .
Lady Isabella Naylor-Leyland told the stories behind her collection of diaries inherited from Alathea Fitzalan-Howard, some of which are now published in a book and which told of times at Windsor with the Royal Family in the War Years. Lady Isabella’s book is out now published by Hodder & Stoughton.
Saxon v Dane? Dane’s weed
One of the beautiful tower capitals in Castor church features a medieval lady witnessing a fight. In modern times, this has been interpreted as the patron saint, Kyneburgha or Cunebuhr, running away from ruffians. Dr Susan Kilby’s research suggests an alternative explanation – far more interesting and more Danish than Norman. And how Dane’s weed became dwarf elder, an essential element in the story. Once again emphasising the landscape as a repository for local culture and beliefs in medieval Castor, north-west of Peterborough. This time we had 68 subscribers from all over the world.
Dr Susan Kilby gave 38 of us from as far afield as Los Angeles and Montreal an insight via Zoom into the stories behind the beautiful tower capital carvings in Castor Church. They feature an array of creatures from both the natural and supernatural worlds, and Susan guided us through the scheme and placed it within its contemporary landscape context, as experienced by the early twelfth-century rural inhabitants of our village. This was our first event of this kind and its success means that it will not be our last given the circumstances.
You can book free tickets for the next event via the Eventbrite website You will need a ticket for the webinar log in details.
Although these events are free, we will be inviting donations through our website after the event.
On Sunday the 30th of August, in an attempt to do something in the light of the Pandemic which has brought most things to a grinding halt, a simple Treasure Hunt event was organised. Nine teams set off from Ailsworth Rec. in search of various clues and although the dull weather precluded our idea of a post event picnic, the event was voted a great success with four teams successfully navigating all the clues.
This event is cancelled for 2020. Look out for news of its return in 2021.
Steve Pollington, author and broadcaster, entertained a receptive audience of about 70 to a fascinating talk in two parts. The first being a background as to who the Anglo Saxons were and their culture, the second helping us to understand a bit more about Kyneburgha. We also discovered that Kyneburgha was a Latin/Norman attempt to say her name whereas it should be Cyneburh (Old English) and pronounced Coonebur! Excellent food and a bar made the evening a great success.
On Sunday evening the 23rd of June, an orchestra of 100 musicians, entertained about 300 guests in the charming grounds of Castor House in celebration of the Winfreys’ 100 year tenure of their historic home. There was a bar, hog roast and excellent prom music provided by a combination of the Rutland and City of Peterborough concert bands plus others. The evening was a delight despite the overcast skies. It was a triumph for team work by all those involved.
Local expert Dr Steve Upex accompanied a group of between 40 and 50 attendees over the site of Durobrivae, the Roman town and he shared the new details revealed by recent geophysical investigations. Exploratory excavations are about to be undertaken following a geophysical survey by Cardiff University. For details contact https://www.nenevalleyarchaeology.co.uk
On Saturday the 6th of June, we welcomed to St Kyneburgha’s a group of 13 American cultural tourists led by Dr. William Cook, visiting notable churches and other religious buildings. William Burke led the group around the fascinating history of our church and we were delighted to receive a cash donation of £1265 because Far Horizons choose the Trust as their charity of choice .
The Nene Valley Archaeological Trust 2019 Conference took place at Castor, near Peterborough, on Saturday 30th March.The conference provided a unique opportunity to showcase the wealth of Roman archaeology in the Lower Nene Valley. Six eminent speakers addressed the topic of “Your Roman Past” to 150 delegates who also enjoyed an excellent lunch in delightful surroundings.
On Saturday the 25th August a group of FEAG members and others came to St Kyneburgha’s Church in the morning for a tour of the church highlighting particularly the Roman context to the site. After a splendid lunch in the Cedar Centre, the group were given an excellent guided tour around the site of Durobrivae Roman town by Dr Steve Upex.
See this link below to see what the FEAG members thought
Saturday the 9th of June saw the return of our biennial and now legendary, garden safari. A team consisting of Helen Jarvis, Brian Gibson and Anne Perkins put together four routes of five gardens each, all ending in Steve and Val Grys’s garden six. The beauty of this event is in the opportunity to view a range of gardens from small to large and from traditional to modern. A huge thank you to all those who opened their superb gardens to the 80 or so participants and expecially to Steve and Val for their generosity. I huge thank you to our sponsors, Quentin Marks Estate Agency, The Coffee House, Vartan Ravenscroft, MacIntyre Hudson and Sloane Plumb Wood together with various anonymous sponsors. The event raised a magnificent £1750 which will go some way to paying for the work to be carried out shortly on the church spire. Thanks to all who took part.
William Burke entertained a full house of well over 100 in the school hall to a fascinating talk on the English Civil War and particularly how it affected our villages and the surrounding area. We learned of some of the characters involved and the physical impact, or not in the case of Upton Church, on St Kyneburgha’s building fabric such as the scraping off of decoration to the eastern most column of the arcading between the south aisle and the nave. A profit in the region of £1400 represented an excellent night all round.
A great crowd made it to the Village Hall for an evening of music, drink, food and general conviviality despite competition from ‘Strictly’ and live music at The Feathers. Music from Captain Backwash, The Intonations Choir, The Claimed and more, kept the evening rolling along. There was great chilli from Andrew and Brian, excellent hot toddies from Chris and Chris, great beer from Charlie and Bruce, hard-working sound crew (Ian and Andy). A superb mine-host Antonia and many more, worked hard to ensure excellent entertainment.
30 of us from the Benefice and beyond had a superb day visiting Lady Juliet Tadgell’s Home in Kent (Daughter of Peter, the 8th Earl Fitzwilliam) Lady Juliet has assembled her late father’s superb art collection in marvellous style – Stubbs, Reynolds, Van Dycks etc.
About two dozen friends and supporters enjoyed a Sunday afternoon of musical, culinary and liquid delights by kind invitation of our Chairperson, Antonia Pounsett, by way of saying thank you to those folk who contribute financially or with their own time and skills. Music was provided by Anne and David from Cambridge playing professional piano, clarinet and saxophone. There was an array of tasty canapes with a choice of gins and wines. All in all a most convivial afternoon among friends.
Enthusiastic amateurs, long distance experts and families all had a great day riding one of 4 different routes (45 miles, 20 or 12 miles and 5 miles). Extremely well organised, beautiful day, tea and cakes at the end. The Trust and a local charity benefitted.
This was an event for anyone interested in the Trust and what we do, as well as any potential Friends of St Kyneburgha Building Preservation Trust. About two dozen folk tuned up and turn up on a beautifully sunny Spring afternoon and enjoyed learning about the Trust over an afternoon tea and a guided tour of the church’s finest features. We have stimulated interest in a number of people who are keen to join us and get involved.
A large group of Friends of St Kyneburgha Buidling Preservation Trust and their guests enjoyed a beautifully seasonal evening of carols and poetry in the Great Hall at Milton by kind invitation of Sir Phillip and Lady Isabella Naylor-Leyland. Taste buds were tempted by a tasty selection of canapes prepared by the kitchen staff accompanied by wines and soft drinks.
We were delighted to entertain 35 friends (regular subscribers to the Trust) to a complimentary Sparkling afternoon tea on Sunday 13th November hosted by Jackie and Jonathan Cook. Everyone was entertained by poetry – a selection on autumn and by John Clare read by Jasper Cook; Keely Mills is a Peterborough poet from Eye and she read her own work covering growing up in Eye, swimming in the Lido and reflections on her mum and dad. Everyone was refreshed by homemade sandwiches, cakes, tea and prosecco.
Our aim is to thank Friends once a year with a complimentary event – if you would like to become a regular subscriber please complete the form (Available in the Friends’ section) The Trust relies on this regular income to support our projects to protect and enhance the church building of St Kyneburgha’s and her setting.
52 of us enjoyed a superb guided tour around the Fitzwilliam Family’s enormous former home in South Yorkshire. This house, the largest private dwelling in Europe, is very slowly coming back to life under the care of the Newbold family and supporting Trust after many years of neglect. Along with the fabulous garden centre, the church and excellent eateries it made for a splendid day out.
Despite the variable weather, each of four groups of hardy garden (or should it be wine?) enthusiasts took a tour of four garden routes in different parts of the village. Each group was impressed by the huge variety and style of gardens. Thanks to the Grys Family for their hospitality at The Ems where all four groups ended the evening.
A group of ten prospective church and Roman walk tour guides met in the Cedar Centre on the 7th of November in preparation for a day’s training. The morning session was a highly informative insight into the more interesting aspects of the church’s architectural history led by that veritable mine of knowledge, William Burke. After a convivial lunch in The Prince, we embarked on a fascinating walk around the village’s Roman sites led by local historians Andrew Nash and Nigel Blanchford. We now have an increased capacity for escorting individuals or groups around our church and Castor.
The event was in support of Cambridgeshire Historic Churches Trust and our benefice churches. Here are David and Antonia awaiting with hospitality for those participating and the other David and his faithful hound who walked around all six churches and one chapel.
An descendant of local archaeologist Edmund Tyrell Artis, Carol Sharples kindly travelled from her home in Bridlington to unveil the restored E.T. Artis headstone.
The Great Hall at Milton Hall, the magnificent setting for a farewell to William Burke, our Rector and thanks for all he has done for The Trust in its 14 years of existence
Christmas sing-a-long success at The Village Hall got the festive season of to a lively and friendly start
A hundred or so expeditionists enjoyed one of three separate routes visiting a total of nine different gardens finishing up at Steve and Val Grys’s house.
A well attended talk by Geoffrey Dannell and Dr Steve Upex on this remarkable man. The cake illustrated was sold to boost funds to renovate Artis’s headstone
Christmas Carols in the magnificent setting of Milton Hall
The opening of Theo’s Byre built in traditional style providing invaluable storage of equipment
A tour of the site of excavations at Waternewton Roman Fort with Dr Upex showing the mini-copter used for the aerial photography (see image on right)
Father Ray Simpson and Cannon William Burke spoke authoritatively on Celtic culture and traditions and its impact on local Christianity.
The event was in conjunction with the Gardeners Society and raised a magnificent £12,000
Enjoyed by walkers, cyclists and motorists around Milton Park and neighbouring villages.
Many of us paid our first visit to the site of the great Roman town of Durobrivae with Prof Upex and Canon. Wm Burke