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The History Group

Leader is Jane Harris. Phone 01530 838025 or email history@ashbyu3a.co.uk

Any U3A member is welcome at our meetings.

See below for details of future talks and trips

A talk on The Houses of The Grey Family by Peter Liddle.

23rd November
Peter is always a good draw and we had 31 to listen to his piece on the houses of the Grey family.
The Grey family can trace its family back at least to the Norman Conquest. It is not to be confused with the family of Early Grey of Northumberland, an equally ancient line.
They became ennobled in the Middle ages and progressed through the ranks of aristocracy by judicious marriages.
In the process they acquired a series of grand houses.
Groby Hall (originally (Grooby) was built by the Ferrars/Ferrers family. There were several incarnations of the building, and the Hall and Barony passed to the Greys around 1432 on marriage.
Elizabeth Woodville and Lady Jane Grey were two of the most famous scions of this house.
Peter took us through the various aspects of the buildings, both extant and excavated, using old maps and photos, and excavation documents.
He showed us how the ruins relate very closely to a pre-existing Norman Motte and Bailey castle. He discussed various ideas as to the interrelationship of the structures thought to have been there, using such clues as the Ferrars Coat of Arms on a brick tower, and the way in which the stone structures seem to be of later date than the brick ones. This is possibly the oldest brick built quality house in England.
Particularly interesting was the fact that the roof timbers of one part, now above the later ceiling, show that it must have been a traditional Great Hall, open to the central fire down below.
So interesting that Time Team used the site for a significant dig in 2010.
The other House was Bradgate House in the Park.
This was built by Henry Grey in the 1530's. Peter explored the evidence from various sources for this date, including a splendid coin of Henry VIII's reign.
The site is currently the venue for a three year training exercise for students at de Montfort University. The Short Walkers had the privilege of watching them at work last year, and listen to them describing their finds.
Strangely the first mention of the Hall is as a Lodge, and the grounds did not cover all of the present Park.
Just as with Groby Hall, the archaeology presents several conundrums which Peter expertly navigated for us. The plan is clearly of a great house, with a broad 'U' shape. However the remains of odd structures were discovered in the main courtyard which seem to pre-date the main hall.
A particular feature was the presence of several structures with the highly technical designation of 'sticky-out-bits', one of which, it became clear, was an ancient en-suite. Or Toilet Tower!
There was much more but there isn't space for it!
A splendid return visit. Thank you Peter!

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Future programme

NB: All meetings with speakers will be held at Packington Memorial Hall. Doors open for Packington meetings at 2pm, with a start as soon as possible after that, hopefully by 2.10pm..
Details of visits will be advised closer to the time.The following dates have been arranged, but may be subject to changes which will be announced on a rolling monthly basis.
January 25thDavid Oakley - 'Seek and you may find'
February 22ndColin Ellis - 'Twice as fast and three times as big - the life and work of Isambard Brunel'
March 22ndJane Harris - 'Finding the Foundling'
April 26thStephen Flinders - 'Terror from the skies'
May 24thCoach trip to Bristol
June 28thMalcolm Bird - 'Aspects of slavery from the Old Testament to the modern day'
July 26thSelf Drive visit to The Holocaust Centre
August 23rdWendy Freer - Ravenstone Hospital - Film and Info
September 27thSelf Drive visit to the Century Theatre Coalville
October 25thYogi Godwin talk - 'The eating habits of Henry VIII's court'
November 22ndTim Coltman - 'William Harold Coltman VC'

Earlier history meeting