I work with communities and community-level councils, charitable trusts, community-managed libraries and neighbourhood planning groups.   I write books on social history and undertake research and heritage projects.

If you have a project I can help you with, please get in touch.  You can use my CONTACT FORM or send an email.

Commemorating John Kenney

The Thomas the Tank Engine artist

Last June, I unveiled a commemorative plaque to honour the work of John Theodore Kenney, the artist best known for illustrating several of the Thomas the Tank Engine stories for the Revd Wilbert Awdry as well as many Ladybird books.   

The initiative was part of Leicestershire County Council's Green Plaque scheme and involved the artist's family and friends, parish, district and county councillors, and children from the local primary school. 

Dementia support in the community

How local councils can help

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and the University of Plymouth are undertaking ground-breaking research into dementia by asking England's parish and town councils to contribute information.

The research will look at how local councils are helping to support people living with dementia in their communities.  

When the data has been collected and analysed, a report will be published, summarising the findings and offering recommendations on further actions that councils could take.

The deadline for responses has been extended to 31 May 2020.

A new book about Leicester

Celebrating a city's heritage

Amberley Publishing's latest local history title is a celebration of our towns and cities.  Some histories focus on what has been lost.   Instead, this series will celebrate the cultural and built heritage we enjoy today.   I have been asked to write about Leicester.   

I am writing about the inventors, pioneers, writers, scientists, actors and artists, the institutions that educated and supported them and the industries which provided generations of Leicester families with employment.  I  am including the traditions, carnival processions, and sporting achievements that placed Leicester on the world stage.

The Story of England

One village through time

Image ©Andrew Carpenter
Image ©Andrew Carpenter

Ten years ago,  television historian Michael Wood and his team from Mayavision International came to Kibworth in Leicestershire to create a ground-breaking series on English Local History.  

I worked with Michael and his team, helping to organise the Kibworth Dig, undertaking some research and accompanying a film crew to many of the test pits.  

The series is being repeated on Wednesday evenings on BBC4 at 8.00pm and is available on iPlayer.  

The Woodforde Story

Through 700 years of history

I am occupying some of my spare time by researching my mother's family history.   She is the smiling little girl in this photograph taken in 1934.

Members of the Woodforde family have been writing about their lives and creating documents in the course of their professions as lawyers, clergymen, artists, musicians, soldiers and writers for over five hundred years.

Please browse my family website to read about love affairs, shipwrecks and subterfuge!

Link to The Woodforde Story website.

Geo-physics reveals cemetery history

Twenty-first century technology as used by television's Time Team has helped the Billesdon & Rolleston Joint Burials Committee understand how their cemetery was laid out by their Victorian predecessors.

A team from the Nottingham-based Technics Group used ground-penetrating radar and other techniques to survey an area where there are no records of burials.

Billesdon Cemetery open space
Billesdon Cemetery open space

The land for the cemetery was acquired in 1870 and divided into two areas separated by a central path.  Members of the Anglican tradition were buried to the west and those of non-conformist denominations to the east.  On this eastern side, there is an open space with no memorials which was the subject of the investigation.

The survey took readings from different depths, and although there is always some uncertainty over interpretation, it seems that most of the area has not been used previously for interments. More research is planned but it seems that this area can be used for future interments.

The survey only indicated where ground had been previously disturbed.  

Content and images © Stephen Butt 2020.

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