Heritage Weekend at Our Old Meeting House

In 2016 our theme for the Heritage Weekend was "Animals in War" and many visitors enjoyed the exhibitions when a War Horse sculpture was centre-piece of the varied artifacts and photos on view as well as looking around our historic chapel building. This article appeared afterwards in the Inquirer Magazine.

By Paul Frost
A range of events took place at Mansfield Old Meeting House,connected with September's Heritage Open Days. Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale opened the three days of events and exhibits on Friday morning. There was an exhibition on the topics of Mansfield in World War One and Animals in War, with the centrepiece of a statue of 'Warrior', a World War I Warhorse. Warrior, created by artist Kat Larissa Elwell,was displayed in a dramatic setting created and crafted by Michael Higgins and Karen Holloway.

Judith Ward of Animal Aid gave illustrated talks on animals in war on the Friday and Saturday mornings, focusing on the use and suffering of animals in World War I, but also referring to more recent history. Neil Fisher gave talks on the history of the Old Meeting House on Friday and Saturday afternoons. Refreshments were served in the recently refurbished John Harrop White Room of the Old Meeting House School Rooms. Unitarian History Tours of Mansfield were led on Friday afternoon by the Rev Derek Smith and on Saturday afternoon by Paul Frost.

Also on the Saturday the chapel and its grounds hosted performances by members of the Gramaphones Theatre Group who portrayed two women connected to the history of the Old Meeting House - Johanna Williams and Mary Mallatratt. They were part of a drama tour of Mansfield where participants stopped off at different locations to hear short dramatic monologues from historic women of Mansfield. After the Mary Mallatratt performance participants were given Hot Cross Buns as a tribute to the charitable annual Good Friday distribution that was commenced with Mary Mallatratt's bequest. Johanna Willams was a poet, daughter of a minister of the Old Meeting House, and wrote the poem 'Sherwood Forest'.

Michael Higgins embarked on a fund raising bike ride on the Saturday to raise money in support of Nottinghamshire Historic Churches Trust and Old Meeting House funds. Whilst the weather was kind for much of the three days, he was waved off on his way from the Meeting House stalwartly cycling in driving rain!

On the Sunday afternoon there was a superb concert by Harmony Choir and guests. Despite the poor weather on Saturday the Heritage Days events were a great success and brought many new people into contact with and awareness of Mansfield's Unitarian Church. Vivienne and David Brown put in much excellent organising effort to achieve a positive outcome. Many thanks to all who worked so hard before and during the events and to all who attended and participated.

(Paul Frost is a member of the Mansfield congregation.) -> ->