HIFARS

Out and about

HiFARS Talk at the HubMarch 2024

Olwen gave her talk 'In Search of Samian Ware' at the Discover Northamptonshire Visitor Hub at Rushden Lakes on the evening of Friday 22 March. The talk was followed by a clay workshop and everyone went home with a souvenir. This talk follows on from the Higham Ferrers medieval town exhibition, where the discussed Samian ware was on display for 3 months, and the heritage craft sessions held at the hub at the end of February. 

Image: Olwen starts her talk at the hub (photo Discover Northamptonshire)

Site Visit • Autumn 2023

HiFARS members were invited to visit an archaeological site in Higham Ferrers on Saturday 11 November 2023.

Image: Mary and Tom studying the site map

Discover Northamptonshire Visitor Hub • Autumn 2023

Higham Ferrers Tourism had a display at the Discover Northamptonshire Visitor Hub at Rushden Lakes as part of the Northamptonshire Heritage Forum exhibition area in 2023. Titled 'Higham Ferrers . . . a beautiful medieval town on your doorstep' it highlighted the work of the volunteers who promote the town and its heritage. HiFARS contributed Roman Samian ware from the Kings Meadow Lane excavation and replica bowls recently made in France based on their design. The display came to an end in Februray 2024.

Image: Part of the Higham Ferrers exhibition at the Discover Northamptonshire Visitor Hub at Rushden Lakes

You Are History: A History Day to Remember • September 2023

Several members of HiFARS attended a Heritage Open Days event funded by Historic England in partnership with the National Trust and organised by the Friends of Kettering Art Gallery & Museum in the Cornmarket Hall, Kettering on Saturday 9 September. A programme of talks included The Fall of the House of Sawyer by Jonathan Badger, the London Road Garden Cemetery by David Turner, The Kettering Pioneer Maggie May by Bernadette Millar and Making History Local by Michael Wood. The event included lunch, a guided tour of the cemetery, church or town, and a concert by local folk band Frumenty.

Image: Michael Wood talks about the importance of local history

Canterbury Cathedral • March 2023

A few members of HiFARS joined a group with Higham Ferrers Tourism and the Chichele College Garden Volunteers to visit Canterbury Cathedral on Thursday 23 March. Canterbury Cathedral became one of Europe's most important pilgrimage centres after Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered there in 1170. It is the resting place of Henry Chichele, born in Higham Ferrers, and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1414 to 1443. 

Image: The tomb of Henry Chichele in Canterbury Cathedral

All Souls, OxfordDecember 2022

Representatives of the Chichele College Management Committee and HiFARS made a visit to All Souls College, Oxford on Tuesday 13 December 2022. Henry Chichele founded All Souls College 16 years after he founded Chichele College. The large oak gates which still face College Street were presented by All Souls to Higham Ferrers in 1962.

Image: All Souls, Oxford

Northamptonshire Heritage Forum • 2022

HiFARS are group members of the Northamptonshire Heritage Forum. Members of HiFARS attended the annual NHF awards ceremony on Thursday 6 October at Northampton Museum & Art Gallery. The NHF and Irthlingborough Historical Society teamed up to host a History Day in Irthlingborough on Saturday 15th October, also attended by HiFARS members. More recently HiFARS entered a team in the NHF Quiz on Tuesday 22 November held at The Lilacs in Isham. 

Image: The HiFARS Quiz team

HiFARS visit to the ARC at Chester House • September 2022

HiFARS members and friends visited the Archaeological Research Centre (ARC) at Chester House on the evening of Wednesday 14 September. Archaeological Archives Curator Ben Donnelly-Symes gave the tour and there was an opportunity to look at some of the finds from the Roman shrine site at Kings Meadow Lane, Higham Ferrers. Go to www.chesterhouseestate.org to find out more about using the archive for your own research and other events, tours and talks.

HiFARS visit to Kathy Brown's Garden • June 2022

Kathy Brown kindly gave HiFARS members and friends a guided tour of the Manor House Garden in Stevington, five miles north of Bedford, on Saturday 4 June 2022. The site of the Old Manor dates back to the mid 1200s when a Hospitium or guesthouse was erected to house the pilgrims who came to visit the nearby Holy Well. The Hospitium lands came into private ownership in the mid sixteenth century, and the present-day garden of over 4 acres was begun in 1991. Go to www.kathybrownsgarden.com for more information and tickets.

The Brixworth Lecture

Since 1983 an annual lecture based around medieval history, and in particular the Anglo-Saxon period, has been held in All Saints' Church, Brixworth, on the nearest Saturday to All Souls' Day. On Saturday 27 October 2018, broadcaster and Professor of Public History, Michael Wood was the speaker, his lecture 'King Aethelstan and the Making of England'. In 2022 the lecture was 'Where was Mercian spoken?' given by Dr Christine Rauer of the University of St Andrews on Saturday 29 October. Go to www.friendsofbrixworthchurch.org.uk for more information.

Image: Olwen and Michael Wood in 2018 

Meet the Settlers • September 2018

'Meet the Settlers' was an event held at Stanwick Lakes as part of the Settlers of the Nene Valley Project on Saturday 22 September 2018. HiFARS, Irthlingborough Archaeology Society and Northampton Archaeology Society were among the many stalls and displays. There was living Viking history with The Bifrost Guard, as well as axe throwing, archery, cookery, weaving, archaeology, wattle & daubing and pottery. Go to www.stanwicklakes.org.uk or visit Facebook @settlersofthenenevalley for more information.

Image: The reconstructed roundhouse gets some fresh daub 

Irthlingborough • February 2018

On Saturday 24 February 2018 members of HiFARS and ISE-DIG, along with local scouts, helped Irthlingborough Archaeology Society with some pot washing in the Salvation Army Hall in Irthlingborough. There were many bags of finds to be cleaned from the Summer Digging carried out to the south of the town, in conjunction with Oxford Archaeology, in 2017. There was also a chance to see the large carved stone block dating to Roman times which was found close to one of the buildings they had been excavating. The surface of the block is highly worn but shows a sea creature and a human figure, possibly pointing with a trident.

 Image: Olwen and Pat lend a helping hand in Irthlingborough 

Restoration at St Peters Church, Raunds in 2017 and 2018

HiFARS members made several organised visits to St Peter’s Church in Raunds (Monday 22 May 2017, Thursday 16 November 2017 and Thursday 15 February 2018) to see the progression of the restoration work undertaken by the structural engineers and stone masons to stabilise the building from subsidence. The visits included guided tours and permission to climb the tower. St Peter’s is a stone church with origins dating back to the 12th century, it has impressive wall paintings and carvings, a rare medieval 24 hour clock and beautiful stained glass windows. 

Image: Wall painting in St Peter’s Church 

HiFARS visit to Chester House • July 2017

HiFARS members and friends made an evening visit on Wednesday 26 July to Chester House for an update on the excavations by archaeologist Ian Meadows and the volunteers which included several HiFARS members. 

Image: Ian points out recent trenches at Chester House


Northamptonshire Heritage Forum Awards 2017

The 2017 Northamptonshire Heritage Forum Awards were held on the evening of Thursday 20 July at Sulgrave Manor. Sulgrave Manor is a Tudor building in the south of Northamptonshire, the ancestral home of George Washington. Among the winners were Clive Wood for his book 'Rushden Hall', the Irchester Narrow Gauge Railway Museum and Rushden Museum. 

Image: Olwen and Mike at Sulgrave Manor

HiFARS Visit to Piddington Roman Villa site and Museum

On Sunday 21 August 2016 a group of HiFARS members and friends were given an in-depth tour of the Piddington Roman Villa Museum and excavation site by Roy Friendship-Taylor, who has been excavating there for 38 years. The award-winning museum, which is housed in a former Wesleyan chapel, displays many finds from the site and a model of the Roman Villa. The villa itself has been excavated and backfilled, but in the adjoining field an army of volunteers were busy digging for a Roman fort and its stables. On Monday 23 January 2017 Roy came to Higham and gave a HiFARS talk: The Villa of Tiberius Claudius Severus – a peep into the past. 

Image: Roy and Diane Friendship-Taylor

HiFARS visit to Prebendal Manor • May 2016

A group of HiFARS members and friends visited Prebendal Manor in Nassington, Northamptonshire on Saturday 21 May 2016. The Grade 1 listed manor has a history dating back to the Anglo-Saxon period. Jane Baile gave a guided tour of the house and gardens, including the 16th century dovecote. Go to www.prebendal-manor.co.uk for more information about the history and visiting.

Image: Prebendal Manor in 2016

HiFARS Visit to Wellingborough Museum • March 2016

Mark organised a visit to Wellingborough Museum on Saturday 12 March 2016 to see The WW1 Trench Experience. There was a talk about life in the trenches for the soldiers, it covered everything from rifles and grenades to underpants and socks. Thanks to Jack, Tracey, Dan and everyone at the Museum. 

Image: WWI medic’s pack

Chester House in 2015

HiFARS members continue to volunteer for the Summer excavations at the Chester House estate. Lead archaeologist Ian Meadows gave a talk for the Wellingborough Civic Society in the Dulley Rooms at Wellingborough Museum on Thursday 15 October in 2015.

Image: Mark and Ian Meadows at Wellingborough Museum

HiFARS Visit to Piddington and Easter Digging2013

Several members of HiFARS made the journey to Piddington for a day of excavation with the Upper Nene Archaeological Society on Monday 1 April. It was bitterly cold but a great opportunity to be digging on the site of a Roman villa. Later in the year a group of HiFARS members visited the site and the museum on 17 August. Roy Friendship-Taylor gave a guided tour. Recent finds from the site included a large part of a poppy-head beaker, a small 1st century brooch and the end of a bone needle. The award-winning museum was opened in 2004 by Tony Robinson and has a library, study area and a large archive store. 

Image: Roy with a recent find on site at Piddington

HiFARS Visit to Kimbolton Castle, Cambridgeshire • March 2013

HiFARS members and friends enjoyed a guided tour by Mr and Mrs Butler around Kimbolton Castle on Sunday 17 March 2013. It has a fascinating history from a wooden motte and bailey castle in Norman times into the building it is today, home to Kimbolton School. The family seat of the Dukes of Manchester from 1615 to 1950 and famous as the final home of Katherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII. Part of the Castle is said to be built using stone taken from the castle site in Higham Ferrers.

Image: The oldest part of Kimbolton castle

CBA South Midlands Autumn Conference • October 2012

The Council for British Archaeology: South Midlands held their Autumn Conference and AGM at The Stanwick Lakes Visitor Centre on Saturday 13 October 2012. The talks included From Barrows to Bypass - The Raunds Area Project Revisited by Andy Chapman; The Heritage Trail and the Stanwick Lakes roundhouse by Stuart Taylor; Iron Age and Roman Stanwick by Vicky Crosby and Recent Work on the Roman small town of Irchester by Ian Meadows. The day ended with a guided walking tour around the lakes following the Heritage Trail visiting the surviving round barrow, the reconstructed roundhouse and the sites of Stanwick Roman villa and West Cotton medieval village. 

Image: The round barrow at sunset

HiFARS visit to Water Newton, CambridgeshireAugust 2012

On the evening of Wednesday 22 August HiFARS members and friends made a visit to Durobrivae, a Roman fortified garrison town at Water Newton, 5 miles west of Peterborough, excavated by Dr Stephen Upex and his team. The visit was followed up with a talk by Stephen at the HiFARS AGM on Saturday 26 October 2013.

Image: Dr Stephen Upex at the excavation in Water Newton