Musings from the Museum 15 150 150 SGSocAdmin

Musings from the Museum 15

              Bible chain or is it?

A Universal Goddess?

       by Patty Harris

Long, long ago, in a place called normal life, I was asked to try and investigate a museum piece.

I bet, like me, you have walked past this dozens of times without sparing it a second glance as it hangs on the wall to the right of the Maples Gallery door.

A short description: It is labelled as a Bible chain but it has two figures, the larger one at the top, linked to a smaller one and a few links down it terminates in a fan-shape rather like an upside-down peacock tail.

The figures are rather crudely modelled cast in metal, the top figure being female with wings and holding what look like snakes, or dolphins, she has a tall head dress and full gown.

The lower one is much stranger in that she has two faces, a Greco-Roman dress with breasts exposed.

My first thought was to look at as many bible chains as I could, museums collections, church relics and auction sites, not one out of many hundreds looked like this.  Not only does ours have pagan half-naked goddesses, it also has none of the fixings required to keep a bible chained, so I abandoned that line of enquiry.

As the peacock is the symbol of Persia, I started there and immediately came upon a goddess called Astarte, not exactly as depicted on our chain, but she did have wings and held two lion cubs. I then went on to Minoan, Zaroastrian, Hittite, Greek, Mesopotamian and as many others of middle Europe and Asia and, amazingly, found versions of her almost everywhere.

The name in its Canaanite form is Astoreth and is mentioned in the Book of Jeramiah, to the Caananites she is the Goddess of War and Sexual Love, a strange combination. She may also a very old Egyptian Goddess, one of the first children of the creation myth.   The name appears to stick with her and she is,variously, Goddess of the Harvest,  Mother Goddess (that is, like Isis in the Egyptian pantheon, the first mother) Goddess of Nature and others.  I was amazed that despite my love of all things ancient I had never heard of her!

I then tried the other figure,  there are some two-faced and even three faced deities in the above pantheon, but none are like the chain figure, Janus is the only Greek god with two faces and he is definitely male .  I found absolutely nothing that resembled this figure.

So, sadly, I feel I’ve failed in this quest, there is no definite evidence pointing to what this object actually is, my feeling is that it may be some kind of souvenir albeit with some age, possibly from Istanbul, which would have been a good spot for amalgamating all things ancient godlike for tourists, rather like the things you can buy today, only less phallic. (In joke, for those who have visited this City).

If there are any among you who are particularly interested in this era of history and can shed any more light, I would love to hear from you.  For my own sanity I must refrain from looking at any more pictures of Goddesses, my brain is addled!

Conclusion.  Is it almost definitely not a bible chain, but what would you call it?




Heritage Network 21/11/2020 150 150 SGSocAdmin

Heritage Network 21/11/2020


The third Heritage Network event was held online on Saturday 21st November 2020 and, building on the success of the earlier events, there were 23 people participating from 15 different organisations. 

I think we have all been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic and by the latest national lockdown that has meant that museums have been closed and meetings and events have all had to be cancelled. The response has been to increasingly move activities online by developing website access and holding remote talks and lectures that have attracted large audiences. The focus of this Heritage Network Event was to share experiences and ideas on how to manage during the pandemic as well as how we as a group can work together in the future. 

Some of the possible ideas discussed at the meeting are shown below. 

Fen and Wold Heritage Network:

To build a network of mutually supporting organisations as a ‘centre for fenland studies’ to share information and knowledge as well as promote the the heritage and attractions of the region.

Fen and Wold Heritage Website:

To develop a shared website with access to all participating organisations enabling them to link and promote their activities and projects.


To put in place a programme of training initially focussing on the development of IT skills including website development and management and the use of social media to raise the profile of organisations. 

Joint Projects:

To investigate the possibilty of joint projects including training, education and engagement, e.g. joint exhibitions, publications and conferences. 

Grant Funding:

To seek funding opportunities to help develop and support the heritage network.

The date for the next online networking event is Saturday 20th February 2021, details to follow. If you know of other groups or individuals to include in the network please let me have their contact details and I will send them an invitation.  The aim of the next session will be to build on the ideas from this meeting and hopefully to discuss   launching the programme of training. If there any other topics you would like to talk about at the next session let me know and I will include them on the programme.


The table below shows the contact information for the organisations involved in the Local History Network sponsored by Spalding Gentlemen’s Society. If any of the details are incorrect or you would like to provide more information then please email If there are any other group who would like to be added to the list then please get in touch.

Organisation Interests Contact (email)
Ayscoughfee Hall Medieval merchant’s house and local history museum. 

Boston Hanse Group History of the Hanseatic League in Boston 

Chain Bridge Forge Museum Blacksmith’s museum and local history archive. 

Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum Aviation and local history. 

Deepings Heritage Local history of the Deepings. 

Fane Road Archaeology Group (FRAG) Archaeology of Peterborough. 

FenArch Archaeology of the Fenlands. 

Fleet Delvers Local history of Fleet and surrounding area. 
Gosberton Local History Group History of Gosberton and South Holland. 
Heritage Lincolnshire History and heritage of Lincolnshire. 

Organisation Interests Contact (email)
Holbeach Cemetery Chapels Local history. 

Louth Museum History of Louth and surrounding area. 

Oxford Archaeology East Archaeology.

Clemency Cooper 

Peakirk Archaeological Survey Team (PAST) Local history and archaeology of Peakirk. 

Avril Lumley-Prior 

Peterborough Archive Services Archive of Peterborough records. 

Pinchbeck Engine Museum Industrial Archaeology. 

Red Barn Creative Heritage, creativity, craft and digital skills. 

Lorena Hodgson 

Sleaford Civic Trust Heritage and history of Sleaford. 

Sleaford Museum Local history. 
Spalding Gentlemen’s Society Museum, archive and research hub for general and local history 

Spalding U3A History Group General and local history. David Lawson 

Strawberry Glass Stained glass crafts. 

Gillian Wing 

Organisation Interests Contact (email)
Trigge Library Sixteenth century library. 
West Deepings Heritage Group Local history and heritage. 

Wisbech and Fenland Museum Local history of Wisbech and the Fenland 

‘Numbers’ Quiz Results 150 150 Dave Jacobs

‘Numbers’ Quiz Results

The latest Spalding Gentlemen’s Society quiz ‘Numbers’ has now closed, and the results are in.

Many thanks to all those that took part, a total of £197 was raised, which is a great achievement during these trying times.

A special thank you to all those that sent in a donation as well.

The prizes were as follows, with a maximum of 101 points.

1st D Nash of Coleford with 101 points

2nd J Joyce of Wellingborough with 99 points

The £5 random prize went to F Hodson of Spalding

I hope you enjoyed the challenge, a new quiz is already available.

Kind regards,


SGS Member

Charity No. 216131

New SGS Charity Quiz 150 150 Dave Jacobs

New SGS Charity Quiz

New SGS Charity Quiz Announcement

A new quiz has been released, to help pass the time, and exercise those little grey cells etc.

The theme is ‘Double Letters’, every answer is two words, and each word begins with the same letter. There are 100 questions in total.

Please email and you will be emailed the quiz and instructions, or download a copy from the following link: SGS Double Letter Quiz

Please consider printing the pages back to back, to save paper.

It will be the usual £1 entry fee. Although additional donations are always welcome.

There are three prizes, 1st place £20, 2nd place £10, and a £5 random prize from all entries.

The closing date will be the 1st March 2021.

You will also be able to purchase a copy from Bookmark in Spalding.

Good luck everyone, and stay safe.

Many thanks,


SGS Lanternist

Musings from the Museum 14 1024 768 SGSocAdmin

Musings from the Museum 14

Daniel Cross Bates (1868 – 1954) Clergyman and Meteorologist

by Richard Buck, Curator of Archaeology

It is sometimes interesting to observe the way that small things from your past develop into something much larger and more interesting in later life…

As a child my paternal Grandparents lived in a bungalow along Hawthorn Bank in Spalding. The bungalow, sadly, is no longer there, but I remember visiting my Grandparents in the early 1970’s and meeting their neighbour, a rather pleasant fellow they called Arthur, but who I knew as Mr Bates. I hadn’t thought of Arthur Bates for many years, until it became my pleasure to become a member of the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society and latterly curator of Archaeology, that the name began to crop up again and I decided to investigate, not only for my own satisfaction, but to allow some artefacts in the Archaeology cabinet to gain provenance and discover something about their history.

The Moa bones were the catalyst, and my investigations began.  The Moa was a tall, flightless bird from New Zealand, long considered extinct, its remains being found on both North and South Islands and being one of the society’s more popular exhibits. From information on labels either attached to the bones or displayed nearby, I determined that the artefacts had been presented by Daniel Cross Bates but knew nothing more except the name.

                                      Leg bones of the giant moa donated to the SGS by Daniel Cross Bates.

The easiest place to look was on the internet and I must admit to being quite overwhelmed at the information I was able to find. Bates was far more well known in the antipodes than in the country of his birth and is often referred to there as ‘The Weather Man’.

He led a very long and interesting life, being born in Spalding and passing away in Wellington New Zealand. Bates was born on 9 June 1868 to Noah Bates, a farmer of 48 acres from Spalding in Lincolnshire and Louisa Bates (nee Cross) and was eventually one of seven siblings. He was educated at Spalding Grammar School and later Salisbury Cathedral school. By 1890 Bates had decided that he would make a career of the Clergy and entered the College of St Augustine in Canterbury. After ordination as a priest in Newcastle, Bates soon found himself heading towards Australia and by 1893 he was curate of St John, Wagga Wagga.  In late 1893 he married a girl from Sydney, Elise Abigail, with whom he was to spend the rest of his life.

By 1898 he and his wife had settled permanently in New Zealand. From here Bates became an Army Chaplain. He served with the 9th New Zealand Contingent and attained the rank of Chaplain-Colonel. The Boer War proved to be a changing point in Bates life. He contracted Enteric Fever in which one symptom was impaired voice and as a result he was obliged to retire from the church in 1903 as he was no longer able to deliver sermons. On his return to New Zealand his interest in all things meteorological gave him he opportunity to join the staff of the Colonial Museum, in which he was able to assist in helping to sort out a large amounts of climatological work for the Weather Reporting Office, of which he became Director in 1909 until his retirement in 1927. During this he was Director of Meteorology for the Army, specifically concerned with the meteorological requirements of military aviation. On his retirement he was appointed consulting Meteorologist to the New Zealand Government.

Bates probably became re-associated with Spalding sometime between 1919 and 1920.  On 5 July 1919 he and his wife set sail on the Commonwealth and Dominion Line Steamer the SS Port Denison bound for London. He was heading for the Meteorological Conference to be held in Paris, stopping over in England and presumably making his way back to Spalding. When you consider that Europe was at this time engaged in a pandemic of Spanish Flu, it was a very brave thing for him to have done! He left Europe, bound home for New Zealand in January 1920 and the records of the Gentlemen’s Society show that he was made an honorary member in October that same year.

From the Society acceptance books post 1920, Bates becomes a keen donator to the society, including many antipodean artefacts. We do not know if Bates brought anything with him in 1919, intending to donate to the Society, or whether the majority were sent over from New Zealand as gifts after his return.  It is clear however, that the Society forged an important link by making Bates an honorary member.

Daniel Cross Bates was indeed a remarkable man. In later life he helped establish the Wellington Zoo and became the first President of the Numismatic Society.  He was also a fluent speaker of Greek, being interested in the Greek Orthodox Church and its community in New Zealand. From humble beginnings Bates became a very learned and well-travelled man, he had connections with both the Church and the Army, he became known as ‘The Weather Man’ for his interests in Meteorology and he found time to return to his roots and acquaint himself with the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society, the museum of which benefit greatly from his donations and gifts from the other side of the World… I am sure his descendants, including the late Arthur Bates, would be duly proud of their illustrious ancestor and his great achievements.

He passed away on 7th August 1954. In an obituary in ‘The Lincolnshire Free Press’ he was described as being one of the finest students Spalding Grammar School ever had. So next time you browse in the Archaeology cabinet and see the Moa bones, spare a thought for Daniel Cross Bates, a forgotten son of Spalding.

SGS Numbers Quiz 150 150 Dave Jacobs

SGS Numbers Quiz

New SGS Charity Quiz Announcement

I thought it would be a good idea to bring out another quiz, to help pass the time, and exercise those little grey cells etc.

It is a Numbers quiz, and every answer is a number.

Please email and you will be emailed the quiz and instructions, or download a copy from the following link: SGS Numbers Quiz

Please consider printing the pages back to back, to save paper, and in black & white to save ink.

It will be the usual £1 entry fee, and the usual prizes of £20 first, £10 second, and a £5 random prize.

The closing date will be the 1st December 2020.

You will also be able to purchase a copy from Bookmark in Spalding.

Good Luck everyone, and stay safe.

Many thanks,


SGS Lanternist

Words Quiz Results 150 150 Dustin Frazier Wood

Words Quiz Results

Many thanks to all who took part in the latest Society quiz – the results are now in.

A total of £205 was raised, which is a great achievement.

Also, a special thank you to those that donated a bit of extra money. All proceeds go to the Society.

There were two people sharing first and second prize, with 197 points out of a possible 200.

They were:

C Chantler from Bath

J Baker from Chesterfield

The £5 random prize was won by S Gernert of Spalding

Congratulations to the winners, and again thank you for taking part.

All emails and SAE’s have been sent out with the results.



SGS Member

Musings from the Museum 13 1024 348 SGSocAdmin

Musings from the Museum 13

Captain Christopher Middleton’s Map and Book

-Jonathan Dobbs, SGS Member & Volunteer Coordinator

A couple of weeks ago my Father was given a birthday present from his family to enable both him, and my Mother, to keep in touch with their grandchildren.

Advertised as an easy to use video calling device, Portal from Facebook also has the slogan: ‘If you can’t be there, feel there’.

I am not too keen on the advertising slogan – I am more impressed with Facebook’s portal – but my favourite portal lies elsewhere. Since I first entered its Broad Street home Spalding Gentlemen’s Society has become my portal to the past.

One Tuesday morning at the Society I came across a map of Hudson Bay, Canada. A couple of handwritten lines at the bottom of the map informed me that it had been donated together with an account of a voyage to discover a Northwest Passage. Our librarian Dustin found the accompanying book which transported me to a frozen eighteenth century landscape where I began to learn about Spalding Gentlemen’s Society member Captain Christopher Middleton.

Middletons Map of Hudson Bay, labelled by an early SGS member


                   Middleton’s Map of Hudson Bay, presented to the SGS in 1743

He was the first sea captain to become a Fellow of The Royal Society and also the first to receive its most prestigious award the Copley Medal.

He became a captain in 1725 when given command of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s ship Hannah. The following year The Royal Society published his paper on the variation of the magnetic needle in Hudson Bay and he continued to supply the Society with similar observations collected during a dozen annual trading voyages from England to Canada.

These Royal Society papers changed Middleton’s life as they attracted the attention of Arthur Dobbs, an influential Irish politician and hard-line free trader.  Dobbs wanted to end the Hudson’s Bay Company’s trade monopoly by finding the Northwest Passage, a route westward from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean through Canada.

One of several editions of the “Vindication”, with an inscription recording its donation to the SGS library by Middleton

Dobbs found an ally in Middleton as the captain was one of a long line of seamen who dreamed of finding the Northwest Passage.

What followed was years of lobbying by both Dobbs and Middleton before they finally got the blessing of King George II in 1740 for the first-ever British naval expedition to set sail the following year in search of the Northwest Passage through Hudson Bay.

In order to lead the 1741 expedition Middleton had to give up his long and successful career with the Hudson’s Bay Company to take up a temporary commission in the Royal Navy.

After sailing further in Hudson Bay than any previous vessel, the two ship expedition returned to England the following year with Middleton concluding that there was no Northwest Passage to be found.

It was the Society’s copy of Middleton’s map of the expedition’s discoveries that introduced me to him. He presented both the map and his self-penned book ‘A Vindication of The Conduct of Captain Christopher Middleton’ to the Society in 1743.

Musings from the Museum 12 1024 683 SGSocAdmin

Musings from the Museum 12

I Felt Like Alice in Wonderland (Italian & English)

Irene Regolo

[*We are delighted to have many international members, volunteers and correspondents. To ensure their voices are captured, we present their posts in their own words, followed by a translation where necessary.]

Durante il mio viaggio attraverso l’Inghilterra, casualmente scoprii la SGS e il suo museo, ero abituata a visitare grandi e rinomati musei, ma quando vi entrai pe la prima volta, fu come scoprire un piccolo gioiello celato a sguardi indiscreti.

Era come essere proiettati nella Storia, in un tempo sospeso che si mostrava poco a poco.

Quello che mi colpii di più fu l’atmosfera particolare che vi regnava e la moltitudine, la varietà e la preziosità degli oggetti esposti che mi fece pensare ad una sorta di Wunderkammer, ordinata ed esposta con grazia, perizia ed eleganza.

Tutto era come doveva essere, aveva il fascino di una partitura musicale, non coglierlo era quasi impossibile, almeno per me.

Questo contribuì a capire meglio il mio personale rapporto con l’Arte ed il Restauro, le motivazioni e la curiosità che mi spingono in quella direzione ed attraverso le quali mi sento appagata.

In quell’occasione, al termine della visita e aver parlato con i volontari presenti presi la decisione di aderire alla SGS e di attivarmi per contribuire per quanto mi è possibile, collaborando e contribuendo a far conoscere ed apprezzare ciò che ci deriva dal passato, sul quale si basa il nostro presente.

An 18th century deck of playing cards from the SGS museum (SPAGS 65000047).

During my journey across England, I casually came upon SGS, and its museums.  I was used to visiting large and famous museums, but when I entered there for the first time, it was was like finding a rare, tiny and precious jewel.

It was as if I had been sent back in time, to a place where time itself was suspended, edging out a little at a time.

What struck me the most was the particular atmosphere that reigned there, and the vast variety of precious items exhibited, that made me think of a kind of Wunderkammer (cabinet of curiosities) carefully exhibited with grace, skill and elegance.

Everything was it should have been, it had the charm of a musical score, to not fall under its spell was impossible, at least for me.

This helped me to understand my personal rapport with Art and Restoration, and justify the motivation and curiosity that drives me in that direction, giving me great personal satisfaction.

On that occasion, at the end of my visit and after speaking to the volunteers present, I decided to join SGS.  My aim is to help, where possible, to collaborate and contribute in making known and to appreciate that what derives from our past, is also the foundation of our future.

Musings from the Museum 11 1024 768 SGSocAdmin

Musings from the Museum 11

Combat Over the Trenches

Alistair Goodrum

Their donor sadly unknown; tucked away among the treasures in our Library are two unique books that, to an aviation historian, are little gems.  These are a pair of Log Books – not of the more familiar, personal, aircrew type – but of two individual aeroplanes that flew during the First World War.  Each book contains the service history of an aeroplane known as the FE2b (Farman Experimental 2, model ‘b’).  Over the Western Front in 1917, these were used for bombing and photo/reconnaissance and even – rather optimistically – as an escort fighter.  The FE2b was the main production model of this two-seat, single-engine, ‘pusher’, aeroplane manufactured by the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough and outsourced to Boulton & Paul; Weir; and Ransome, Sims & Jefferies who between them built about 1,900 b-models.

Due to the high rate of loss in combat or accidents, life-span of these rapidly mass-produced aeroplanes was short enough, but one machine can only be described as ‘a real Friday-afternoon job’, since it gave nothing but trouble every time it flew.  Serial A5472, built by Boulton & Paul in Norwich, was issued to No.11 Squadron in France on 7 January 1917 but saw no combat action.  Various wing components were faulty and replaced and its engine was unreliable.  On 18 March the engine seized up in the air and A5472 was wrecked during the ensuing landing.  After nine weeks service, the RAF gave up on it, packed it in a crate on 28 March and shipped it back to ‘Blighty’ for spares!

Royal Aircraft Factory FE2b, serial number A5478, presentation aircraft ‘Gold Coast No10’; from same batch as SGS aircraft logbooks for A5472 & A5485

The second log book relates to FE2b, serial number A5485, also Boulton & Paul-built. It was what is known as a ‘Presentation Aircraft’.  It had ‘BOMBAY No.1’ painted on the side of the cockpit nacelle and had been ‘bought’ by the gift of money from wealthy citizens of that Indian city.  As an indication of the attrition rate, no less than nine aeroplanes bore that particular name – as each one was written off, its replacement was given its predecessor’s name.  On shipment to France in parts, in a wooden crate, A5485 was assembled and issued to No.23 Squadron based at Baizeau airfield on 15 February 1917.  On 13 March it was flown by pilot, Sgt James Cunniffe and his gunner Airman First Class (AM1) Strong, before Cunniffe was posted away from No.23 to No.11 Squadron.  In action with No.11 on 13 April 1917 he encountered the famous Red Baron (Manfred von Richthofen) flying an Albatros DIII fighter.  Sgt Cunniffe was shot down and wounded but was one of the few Red Baron victims (Cuniffe was his 42nd) to survive and quite coincidentally this Welshman spent two years in Johnson Hospital, Spalding recovering and recuperating from his wounds.

At 2.15pm on 24 March 1917, pilot Sgt Edward Critchley, a twenty-four-year old American from Ohio and his observer/gunner, Airman First Class Frank Russell, aged twenty, took off in A5485 as part of an escort for a group of photo reconnaissance aircraft.  The lumbering FE2b was far from an ideal aeroplane for fighter escort duties and was certainly no match for the nimble German fighters currently opposing them.

That day, it was bad luck that Critchley and Russell should run into the next best air fighter in the German Air Service at that time, Leutnant Werner Voss of Jagdstaffel 2 (Fighter Squadron 2).  Voss was a fighter pilot ‘ace’ with 20 air victories to his name already and his victory tally would climb to 48 before he was killed in action.  Flying an Albatros DIII, Lt Voss swooped at the RAF aeroplane; his gunfire was deadly accurate and his twenty-first victim dived to the ground.  AM1 Russell was killed outright and Sgt Critchley was wounded in the leg but despite his wound, Critchley managed to crash-land the stricken aeroplane behind British lines.

A5485 was damaged beyond repair and the logbook records its demise: “Forced down in combat near Achiet-le-Grand with extensive damage by machine gun fire.  Total time in the air since ‘purchase’: 7hours 45minutes.  Operational flying time: 2hours 0minutes.  It was dismantled, packed in a crate and sent back to England on 28 March 1917.  It had lasted just six weeks at the Front.

Why don’t you have a browse through our Library – you just never know what you might find.