Members’ Evening – “Sir Thomas Tresham and his Buildings” with Douglas Goddard

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Tonight, for our October Members’ Evening, we welcomed Douglas Goddard and his illustrated presentation:-

“Sir Thomas Tresham and his Buildings”

Sue Johnson introduces the evening

Tonight’s event took place in the Lounge in the Conservative Club in Rothwell and with almost 30 Rowellians eagerly taking their seats – including Rothwell’s Mayor, Cllr Ray Davis – we were looking forward to an educational evening about the rise and fall of Sir Thomas Tresham but more specifically, information about his iconic local buildings.

Meanwhile, our legendary Rowell Fair Raffle was as popular as ever under the experienced stewardship of Bailiff to the Lord of the Manor, Frank York.

With prizes consisting of wine and chocolate – to be announced at the end of the evening – the scene was set for an enjoyable couple of hours soaking up more about our local history – and thoughts of winning a raffle prize!

Sue Johnson, Secretary to the Rowell Fair Society welcomed everyone to the event bringing us all up-to-speed on recent Society activity, including the planting of the recently purchased (and rare) Rowell Fair Daffodil Bulbs earlier in the day (web-page coming soon – watch this space!).

Sue also reminded those present of our forthcoming events.

Rowell Fair Daffodil Bulb
The Rowell Fair Daffodil

At just before 8.15, Douglas began his presentation. It was soon clear that he was very knowledgeable about ‘all things Thomas Tresham’ and didn’t hold back on sharing his passion for the subject. Supported by the obligatory PowerPoint presentation, he brought the life and times of the Treshams in great detail covering their family life and the buildings commissioned by them. We learned that many contained religious symbolism at a time when to be a Catholic resulted in fines and imprisonment – and even the ultimate sacrifice! Tresham’s buildings included Rothwell’s very own Market House, Rushden Hall, Hawkfield Lodge, The Triangular Lodge and finally tonight, Lyveden New Bield.

The Market House

Located pretty-much opposite where we were meeting tonight, the Market House is a popular landmark here in the town. Here’s what we learned:-

  • Designed by William Grumbold
  • Used local labour and materials
  • Completed in 1577/78

Rushton Hall

For non-locals reading this, not to be confused with nearby Rushden Hall. Every day a school day…

  • Home of the Tresham family
  • Grade II Listed
  • Bought by the family in 1438
  • Now a luxury Hotel & Spa

Hawkfield Lodge

A curious hexagonal structure of which little is known. Useful background here

  • Constructed on the Rushton Estate in the 1590s, demolished in the 1700s
  • Built to serve as a hunting lodge
  • Architectural aspects have strong religious symbolism

The Triangular Lodge

The Triangular Lodge is a uniquely shaped building that looks incredible from ANY angle!

  • It’s a folly and owned by English Heritage
  • Designed by Thomas Tresham whilst in prison!
  • Built in 1593 and completed in 1597
  • Almost an obsession with the triangular shape, including the windows and turrets

Lyveden New Bield

Sadly, Thomas Tresham didn’t live to see Lyveden New Bield completed.

  • Designed by Robert Stickells
  • Owned by the National Trust, who have recently improved the area for visitors
  • The area contains a dry moat
  • …and an orchard containing cooking apples, damsons, plums, prunes, pears, walnuts and medlars

Sir Thomas Tresham died with debts amounting to £11,495 16s 1d – that’s almost £3m in today’s money [September, 2023] – partly due to his lavish lifestyle and love for parties that sometimes saw over 100 people. He died in 1605 where his widow, Muriel, eventually was able to pay off his debts. History records that the family name finally disappeared in 1643.

At just before 9pm, Douglas, concluded his talk to a well-deserved round of applause. I think we all felt a stronger connection to the Treshams and in particular, Sir Thomas Tresham, as a result of tonight’s presentation.

The Raffle

Sadly, not paid for by the Treshams!! But the gifts were just as popular nonetheless! With our RFS President, Paul Johnson on prize-giving duties and Frank York manning the number generator, it was a great example ‘men-and-machinery’ in perfect harmony!

The RFS’s trusty random number generator did its work, initially favouring one corner of the room, but where the winners were happy to forego their plethora of prizes in favour of donating them back into the ‘pot’. It was fair to say that enthusiasts for the grape and chocoholics had a good night!

And in a surprise act of generosity, one of our guests anonymously donated some money towards the Rowell Fair daffodil bulbs! Thank you so much, from all of us here at the Rowell Fair Society. If you would like to add to the donation (and you have a PayPal account, scan the QR code below to support us.

Thank you!

Sue summarised the event, by again, thanking our guest and setting the scene for our final Members’ Evening for 2023, on Thursday, 23 November.