“The 1613 And all That!” project team is coming back to earth after a fabulous heritage trip to London at the end of June.
The Ballysally-based project, generously supported by both the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Irish Society, aims to explore the story of the Coleraine Plantation. The trip to London was all about bringing the links between London and Coleraine to life.
“It was a fabulous experience from start to finish!” said Sammy-Jo, a key project member. “Not only did we get to see places that we’d only heard about up until now but we also had a whole heap of new experiences that have opened up new avenues of possibility for us!” she enthused.
Navigating their way through Heathrow airport and negotiating London’s notorious “Tube” were all part of a day’s work for this intrepid bunch who boldly went where many Plantation historians would love to venture over the course of 3 days.
Accompanied by local historian, Dr Bob Curran, the budding researchers (who would give Time Team a run for their money!) checked out the Museum of London, the Clothworkers’ Livery Hall, the Lord Mayor’s Mansion House, Guildhall, an evening Gresham Lecture about the Plantation and the London Metropolitan Archives.
“It was lovely that the Lord Mayor was in residence – and remembered us from the photoshoot at Cloonavin,” said Elaine (whose daughter is the project illustrator) “And John Davies ,who gave us a private guided tour of the Mansion House, was really funny and engaging!” she went on to say.
“The warm welcome by Kathryn , the archivist, at the Clothworkers’ Hall was lovely. She told us all about the Clothworkers’ Company and then gave us a guided tour of the opulent hall – including seeing the actual signature of James 1st!” said Sally, a natural historian with an incredible eye for detail.
The Guildhall tour was led by Rob Jeffries. “He was so enthusiastic and he really made sure that his tour was relevant to our project. As we looked upwards in the Great Hall and saw all the crests of the Livery Companies, it was like being transported back to the very beginning of the story!” exclaimed Lauren, the project photographer (who had a definite “love- at- first- sight” experience with London!)
After their tour of Guildhall, the group were looked after by Candya Farmer of The Honourable, The Irish Society . “We were so glad to see Candya on Wednesday afternoon! We were exhausted and we really appreciated a good London cuppa!” said Jane, the Project Co-ordinator. “We can’t thank Candya Farmer and Edward Montgomery from the Irish Society enough for their support. Candya gave lots of brilliant advice about organising our itinerary and the wonderful grant we received allowed us to see very special places and experience a once-in-a-lifetime window on our own heritage,” Jane went on to say.
After taking in the evening Gresham Lecture in the Old Library at the Guildhall (delivered by Professor Ian Archer about the early years of the Plantation), there were big smiles all around as a very big penny dropped. “We know this stuff!” exclaimed Sally.
The group’s final day was spent with Howard Doble at the London Metropolitan Archives. They saw transcripts of the Coleraine Charter, maps and very old books which gave the team a really good feel of what life was like in Coleraine at the time of the Plantation. “We went into a special room where documents and books are restored. It was a real privilege to see “behind closed doors”. I love maps and the intricacy of the artwork – I could have spent days in that room!” added Elaine.
The project team are now back at base at Focus on Family in Ballysally. “We’ve our sleeves rolled up for a full-on summer of activity : writing our book , developing a heritage presentation to take on tour and working with Ulster University to learn all about professional publishing!” exclaimed the Project Co-ordinator.
For more information about the project – or to get involved – visit www.1613andallthat.wordpress.com or email here firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jane, the Project Co-ordinator, here 028 7032 9550