March 2009

Some very sad news to report this month. Our president, Mrs Anne Ashley Cooper MBE of Hexton Manor, has died after a long illness. She was a keen local historian and published several widely-admired and well-received books on the history of her own village, Hexton. Her interest in and support for our society was invaluable and she will be greatly missed. We send our condolences to her family.

Other news

We have a book launch on 31st October for Phebe Lucas’s Diary, and the Sun Street Walk leaflet will be launched on 12th September in the Market Place.

The Radcliffe Arms is to re-open after refurbishment as a pub/restaurant, keeping the same name.

Our webmaster has set up a new page for a library section on the website and the library catalogue will be uploaded to it soon.

Membership now stands at 341.

The March of history

As news is in rather short supply this month, you may enjoy some news from more distant Marches.

On 18th March 1669 the first minute in the Tilehouse Street Baptist Church Book was recorded. The exact date of the founding of the church is shrouded in the secrecy of the times, when people were persecuted if they refused to conform to the practices and doctrines of the established church and could be fined or imprisoned for using their houses as dissenting meetings. John Bunyan had frequently visited the area around Hitchin and preached in places like Wain Wood, but always in secret.

Robert Bentley, the English botanist, was born in Hitchin on 25th March 1821. He became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1847 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in 1874. An authority on morphological and physiological botany, he published the now-classic work Medicinal Plants in 1880. It contained over 300 hand-coloured plates by botanist David Blair and became the standard work on the subject.

Next Society meeting

Our next meeting is the AGM which will take place on Thursday 26th March at Church House, Churchyard, Hitchin at 8pm. After the official business and the presentation of the Reginald Hine Award there will be light refreshments, then members will give short presentations on some of their current Hitchin projects and activities.