We had an excellent turnout of 40 at our January meeting for a talk by David Bryant, a local Education Officer from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
"The RNLI from Then to Now" began with a short video of a lifeboat at work in heavy seas and included a sequence of short videos throughout. David took us through the history of the RNLI, which was originally formed in 1824 by Sir William Hillary as the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck with the motto "The Saving of Life at Sea", and explained that, as a charity, the RNLI is totally reliant on donations to fund a national service of 237 stations and 444 lifeboats that now costs about £40 a minute to run.
The history of the RNLI is fascinating. David talked about the progression and development of lifeboats from the early rowing boats that had to be hauled by hand into the sea to the modern all-weather craft capable of doing 40 knots in order to achieve the target of being 20 miles off shore within one hour of a "shout" (call out). We also saw the variety of boats the RNLI now run to meet the varying needs, including inshore lifeboats, hovercrafts and even modified jets skis to aid the RNLI lifeguards that cover 240 beaches around the country.
The presentation concluded with some interesting statistics. In 2015 there were over 8,000 launches, 18,181 people were assisted and 94 lives saved. The real cost to the RNLI over its 194 years in existence is 35 lifeboat disasters and 137 lifeboat crew lost, with the last major disaster being the loss of the Penlee lifeboat in 1981 when all 8 crew perished.
24th February: Annual Society Fun Quiz Night. All tables have been booked by our Members. However, if you think you would like to join in (Member or not), please contact Alistair Taylor (Tel. 886387) in case any of the tables have spaces available. We also have a prize draw. The entry price includes fish and chip supper.
All profits will go to the R.N.L.I., Sheerness Station. Details from Alistair.
21st March: 8pm: Stained Glass of Kent. A good sized audience met in Lynsted Church on 21st March, to hear Dick Bolton (a Freeman of the Worshipful Company Of Glaziers & Painters Of Glass) unfold the story of stained glass windows in our Kentish churches and cathedrals. The journey took us from the cradle of glass-making on Continental Europe (the location of the most suitable sand), through the migration to England and its technical evolution over the centuries. We were told of the transformation of glass from clear glass through to colouring by application of colours to the surfaces, thin laminations of colours to achieve transparency in dense colours (red) or blending primary colours (e.g. to create orange). Victorian inclusion of materials into the molten mass moved the art forward to bake colours and iridescences into the glass. We learnt that Switzerland and France evolved as centres of excellence.
Images found in windows were of stunning detail and complexity. Everything from biblical story-telling, through to family crests, the creation of sundials, animals and birds and, in the 20th Century, glimpses of impressionistic and abstract art. Techniques of decoration included the use of silver oxides bonded with the glass in greys ("Grise"). Other visual techniques rendered 3D images through fading colours and painting on both sides of a sheet of glass. The latter technique explains deterioration in some windows as they are weathered by the elements on the outside of the church.
We heard how flat glass was produced from blown ‘pots’ that, when topped and tailed, were scribed down one side to enable the glass-blower to ‘unzip’ the wall of the pot/bottle in an annealing oven, to unroll and flatten the glass into sheets. A variation in technique (Crown Glass) was to blow and spin the molten glass to create a disc thinner at the outside that could be used in stained glass leaving a ‘lump’ in the centre of the circle (familiarly featuring in "ye olde teashops"). Glass was produced of varying impurity and bubble content.
We were invited to close our eyes, to picture a world in which darkness descended at dusk, only interrupted by tapers, candles and fires – and those sparingly. Places of worship began to display a riot of colour and form, designed to create a sense of wonder.
Dick Bolton then took us through some of his favourite locations in Kent. Inevitably, Canterbury Cathedral contains some of the most developed story-telling and greatest expanses of glass, supported by metal frames. Of course, Rochester Cathedral has a magnificent rose window that throws scattered light onto the body of the congregation.
On a more intimate scale, Dick invited the audience to take time to visit some of his own favourites in Kent: Teynham, St. Mary displays some truly ancient (14th century) and beautiful glass panels; Lynsted, Sts. Peter and Paul has a more modern main window (1950) installed to include fragments of the original window after a stick bomb fell through the church roof in WW2. Lynsted also has a Millennium window in the Roper Chapel; Dover Town Hall contains a Victorian depiction of King Henry VIII’s "Field of Gold" as a fine example of commemoration through stained glass; Bishopsbourne, St. Mary, displays coats of arms and fascinating lanceolate windows; Patrixbourne, St. Mary; Ightam, St Peter contains etched glass; and finally, Tudely, All Saints, which is unique in the abundance of Marc Chagall’s uplifting art.
Dick Bolton held us with his mastery, energy, and story-telling. Most enjoyable.
By the time you read this the fate of England’s World Cup campaign will be known. Those of us who anticipated the return to normal service in the Belgium match [promise, stagnation, disappointment, defeat] were amply rewarded by an enthusiastic and informative talk on breadmaking, sadly sparsely attended by 16 Members. Monique Bonney from Green Cottage Kitchens in Rodmersham told us about retiring from the city and setting up her business renting 2 holiday cottages, and a bakery school in her home. Clearly a busy life with a young family, as well as being a borough councillor. Some peoples energy is remarkable! Monique talked us through many tips for improving our baking, such as how to use sourdough and rye flour, when to add steam, and how to stick seeds on the loaf to stop them decorating the kitchen floor [spray the dough with water before sticking the seeds]. Throughout, she treated us to generous samples of the bread she was discussing, with various toppings including her delicious rhubarb and ginger jam. There was discussion of the difficulty of making gluten free bread, and general agreement that although hers was the best we had ever tasted, it was not a comparable product to normal bread! The most popular products seemed to be her revival of traditional Kentish Huffkins, a cross between a scone and bread, and some fantastic cinnamon buns with vanilla topping- absolute heaven. The audience joined in enthusiastically with questions ranging from my simpleton, to Paul Berry’s exotically technical enquiries, but everyone tucked in to the breads!
This all made for an interesting, informative, and tasty talk. It continued our series on local businesses, and local food, in a very enjoyable way. I for one am booking a baking course for the autumn.
www.green-cottages/baking or 07973 443527.
We are recording here the welcome news that Sean and Colin Welch were given an Award by the Council for Kentish Archaeology - our thanks go to Member, Bob Baxter, for this note (also in the Society Library).
In the Picture: Sean Welch (right) receives the Award from Sir Robert Worcester while brother Colin looks on. Nigel Fox is at the left.
The Lyn Valley story about the rocket was the subject of a fascinating presentation and exhibition on 13th November 2017 - read using this link.
Welch Brothers and Nigel Fox win Archaeology Awards.
The last Annual Conference of the Council for Kentish Archaeology was held at Rutherford College, University of Kent, on 13th October, in the presence of the Chairman of Kent County Council, Cllr Michael Angell. At this Final Celebration Conference, the founder, chairman and leading spirit of CKA, Dr Brian Philp, presented a fascinating illustrated retrospective of the achievements of the CKA over the 54 years of its existence. This was supplemented by a description of the archaeological discoveries at the Roman temple site at Springhead, Gravesend, presented by Victor Smith.
The programme included presentations from many archaeology and local history groups across the county. Research Resources, in the form of Colin and Sean Welch, gave a brief outline of the results from their recent excavations of the 1945 V2 impact site in Lynsted. Many readers will remember the excellent presentation and displays they arranged for us at the meeting organised by the Lynsted with Kingsdown Society at Norton Village Hall last November. They received an award in the Preservation category, in the form of a cheque for £300, presented to them by Sir Robert Worcester, past Chancellor of the University of Kent and Friend of the CKA. Colin announced that the grant would be used to develop a virtual imaging method for the interpretation of their WWII discoveries. Associated with this was the presentation of a Cooperation from Industry award to Nigel Fox, of Amethyst Horticulture, for granting ready access to the site and providing mechanical excavation equipment.
The Conference marked the end of the CKA, and was bitter-sweet for me and many other amateur 'diggers' who had been involved with this leading county group over the years. But it was satisfying that Colin and Sean were able to 'squeak in at the death' to publicise their work, receive some funding and make useful contacts among the county's military history fraternity.
Colin’s animated photo films have always been popular so a good audience gathered in the church. We had a slightly anxious wait due to a faulty HDMI cable but kick off was only 5 minutes late.
Colin’s first film was about the early days of aviation. The Wright Bros had achieved powered flight in 1903 and I had always thought that Eastchurch was the birthplace of British aviation, but apparently the first airfield was at Shellbeach near Leysdown. The land was bought by Frank McClean in 1908 and work quickly started to build a factory for his partners the Short Bros. Muswell Manor was to be the HQ for the Aero Club of Britain. Though the airfield is long gone this is now a holiday park with a small museum. In December 1908 John Moore-Brabazon became the first man to fly a powered craft in Britain when he flew 500 yards in his French Voisin aircraft, assembled at Shellbeach, and named Bird of Passage. In April 1909 the Wright Bros were brought by Charles Rolls, in one of his cars, to inspect the Shorts factory and a contract was agreed to build 6 Wright Flyers. The factory was by now employing 80 men, who if the photos are to be believed worked in suits and ties and flat caps. In October 1909 Moore-Brabazon won a £1000 prize from the Daily Mail for the first flight in Britain over a circuit of 1 mile at Shellbeach, and in November he flew his new plane Icarus with a pig as passenger----- proving that pigs can indeed fly. Flights by Moore-Brabazon, Charles Rolls and Frank McClean paved the way for aviation to become more mainstream, the rate of development being truly staggering. On the 8th March 1910 Moore-Brabazon and Charles Rolls were granted pilot licences 1 and 2 by the aero club of Britain, Rolls being killed later that year when he fell from his plane during an air display.
By 1910 it was decided Shorts needed a bigger factory. It was also becoming too dangerous to fly at Shellbeach as the dykes in the area tended to catch the planes wings as they turned and made landing with undercarriages difficult. And so the move was made to Eastchurch where flying went from strength to strength.
Colin then showed a short film on the work of the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society at Rochester airport which looked really fascinating. I for one will be off on a Sunday soon to see more about this.
Everyone agreed this had been a fascinating presentation.
This year's Lynsted with Kingsdown Society bus trip took us to the south coast on a glorious, early autumn Saturday. First port of call was Martello Tower No. 24 at Dymchurch, followed by the RNLI lifeboat station, located on the surreal, shingle beach at Dungeness.
Martello 24 is one of 74 of its kind on the south coast – only three of which remain open to the public. With its round structure and 13-foot deep walls, it was originally built to guard against possible invasion from France, at the time under Napoleon. Tower No. 24 is unique in that it is more or less unchanged and still has its own cannon mounted on the flat roof. In its heyday it had a garrison of 24 men and one officer. Incidentally, the word "Martello" originally comes from the "Torra di Mortella" in Corsica; due to its effectiveness, this design was copied by the British when they withdrew from the island – only they misspelt it slightly upon leaving.
Guarding the Channel from Rye Bay to Folkestone, Dungeness Lifeboat Station was the first to receive the RNLI's Shannon Class lifeboat – the "Morrell" – with its own state-of-the-art launch and recovery system. Back in the 1940s, the station's "Sir Charles Cooper Henderson" helped evacuate Allied troops from Dunkirk. Through the 50s, the station was famous for its "Lady Launchers" – local women who helped haul the lifeboat up and down the famous shingle beach. We were fascinated to hear about the various call-outs (or "shouts") and the tremendous job done by the volunteer crew, often in atrocious sea conditions.
We would like to express our thanks to bus driver David Powell, as well as to the welcoming and informative volunteers at Martello 24 and RNLI Dungeness.
On Sunday 11 November the centenary commemorations of the First World War came to an end and with it the culmination of the Lynsted with Kingsdown Society’s 8 year project.
We were overwhelmed by the response and attendance at our event in Lynsted Church on Saturday 10 November. The display and screening of short films attracted a lot of interest and we are grateful for all the warm words of thanks offered by the families of the casualties and the Parish. The films were made available to us though our partnership with the Imperial War Museum (IWM) Centenary Programme as part of their WOMENSWORK100 commemorations. Our free Great War recipes leaflet proved so popular we ran out. As promised the recipes are now available on the Society website. Donations for the First World War themed refreshments raised £62 for The Royal British Legion.
The Society’s book "They Shall Grow Not Old", telling the stories of the men of the Parish who gave their lives in the war, was published to coincide with the event. We are astonished to report it sold out on the day. We shall be going for a short reprint, so please do contact me if you would still like a copy (firstname.lastname@example.org or 01795 522842).
Our aim was to ensure that the men of the Parish would not be forgotten—a permanent record of those we lost. To this end, as part of our Partnership with the IWM, donated copies will be held in the IWM archive and libraries. In addition, we have been able to donate a copy to Lynsted Church; Lynsted and Norton Primary School; the British Library; Kent History and Library Centre; our local libraries in Teynham, Faversham and Sittingbourne; the Faversham Society and the Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne. We must thank the Swale Borough Council’s WW1 Centenary Grant Scheme that made this possible.
A précis of the biographies has been produced for use of visitors to Lynsted Church. Our research has also enabled us to produce a Book of Remembrance listing those from Lynsted with Kingsdown, Norton and Teynham who lost their lives in both world wars. This is now displayed in an oak cabinet donated by Lynsted with Kingsdown Parish Council in commemoration of the centenary.
The Society was pleased to hear that Lis Heriz-Smith who compiled the book and arranged the commemoration events, was invited to attend the National Service of Thanksgiving for the Centenary of the Armistice, in Westminster Abbey in the presence of the Her majesty the Queen, on the evening of Remembrance Sunday. This invitation was a result of IWM nomination in recognition of Lis’s work over the Centenary period. I was merely a "plus one". It was a fitting way for Lis to round off this project that has dominated her life over the last 8 years.
With the Society AGM being held the following day when my tenure as Chairman came to an end, both Lis and I both stood down from the Committee, the events of the weekend meant our 16 years came to a very memorable end.
Speaker, from Gardening by Design, Alison Marsden. Our short and sweet AGM was followed by an enjoyable and enlightening talk from Alison Marsden on gardening for wildlife (and people too). Alison is a professional gardener, specialising in garden design, particularly therapeutic gardens. Alison’s enthusiasm shone through her talk and was certainly infectious! Alison is a keen conservationist, with a lifelong love and involvement in conservation and creating wildlife gardens. She was keen to show us how a wildlife-friendly garden doesn’t have to be an untamed wilderness, but can be beautiful, sustainable, family friendly and ornamental too.
She explained how lots of people doing just a little bit for our wildlife makes a huge difference. There are a few simple golden rules that we can all apply to help just a bit:
Alison talked about what we might see in our gardens, what already lives there and how simple measures to support the residents in severe weather such as drought or frost are so important. We might also see creatures from nearby who include our gardens in their range. Our gardens can provide an essential corridor between pockets of populations in the built up south east of England.
The colourful visitors we all enjoy include different species of tit, lovely to watch enjoying a meal from a bird feeder, bumble bees (some of the 25 different species we have in the UK), and some of the over 200 species of solitary bees – and of course our busy honey bees. Butterflies and moths add a stunning splash of elegant colour.
Frogs and newts are fascinating residents of ponds and pools. Water attracts plenty of aerial attractions too, with dragonflies and darters in spectacular colours.
Our resident mammals include grey squirrels, foxes and badgers. Not however always the gardener’s best friend! But often wonderful to watch, except when they have just dug up your newly planted bulbs (put a bit of chicken wire in the patch or in the pot to keep them out).
Our gardens most of all have a variety and huge number of invertebrates, bugs, mini-beasts and creepy crawlers all working hard to build and maintain a fantastic ecosystem.
So how do we balance those functional needs we have, like sitting in the garden, somewhere for the children to play, a plot to grow fruit and veg with gardening for wildlife? And we want colour, texture, scent and sound all year round. That’s simple then!
In an all year round garden we can get colour and texture from flowers in every season, from fruit, berries and seed heads in autumn and winter, shrubs give us structure, greenery and privacy too.
Dense planting, with staggered flowering in summer borders give great environment for invertebrates as well as beautiful sights and scents for us (and dense planting means less weeding).
In the autumn, this dense planting still provides cover and colour, cutting back in the spring ready for next year.
Winter berries, such as cotoneaster and ivy have wonderful berries and leaf colour and give cover and provide food. A wall with shrubs covering it provides a wonderful spot for a butterfly to hibernate.
In the spring, those early flowers, snowdrops and crocuses not only cheer us up, but the crocuses especially are an important early food source for bumblebees waking up in February after hibernation.
With just a little thought and effort and some simple management, we can keep and encourage our local wildlife and enjoy our gardens.
A few extras provide even more habitats and opportunities. Frog or hedgehog houses, birdhouses, compost heaps and walls and log piles are favourite places for our wildlife neighbours to live.
Adding water is not only a wonderful feature for us humans, but somewhere to drink and bathe for birds and, if you have a pond, lots of water creatures including amazing invertebrates and amphibians will quickly move in and thrive.
We don’t have to do everything; our gardens have to be practical for us too. Remember though, each of our gardens, joined together provide a huge and essential resource for our wildlife, so everything we do, however small, makes a positive difference. A wildlife garden and a lovely garden don’t have to be two different things.
Wednesday, 19th December: Members Only Christmas Party. Invitations have gone to our Members for this popular annual event.