16th March – The first session on the Combine project, students from The Dukeries College were taken to the Laxton Visitors Centre, to view a short film about the uniqueness of the village’s history. Stuart Rose, who farms in the village, explained the open field system, manorial courts and how it still works today. There is a wonderful copy of a 1635 map of Laxton, showing how the fields were divided and with depictions of farming activities in certain parts of the map. Stuart then took the group on a walking tour of the village, taking in the earthworks of a castle and then manor house, followed by a visit to the church. Along the way we stopped by the village hall (which used to be the school), to hear of the sad account of a school teacher being killed in WW2 by a bomb that was dropped over the village due to the lights of her vehicle being on as she arrived at her home next to the school. A chilling reminder of this incident can still be seen in the form of shrapnel embedded in the village hall brickwork.
In the afternoon, the group continued to document the village with the camera’s and sketchbooks. During this activity, the group happened to walk past a farmstead, where Philip Buxton was preparing his birds of prey for a demonstration the next day. An impromptu opportunity arose to talk about falconry and for the students to handle the birds, under the ever watchful eye of Philip. An interesting link was made with hawking that was illustrated on the 1635 map and the present falconry in Laxton.