AGM 2023 - Report of meeting

Report of the AGM held on 28 November 2023

At the AGM all resolutions set out in the notice of meeting were passed without demur.  During the meeting the Chairman thanked Gavin for having been chairman since 2011, a difficult period for the Society, being without a museum.

The business of the AGM included technical amendments to the Constitution.  We are now able to have honorary officers and are delighted to announce that Annie Brewster, High Sheriff in Nomination of Hertfordshire, 2024-25 has accepted the position of Patron and Councillor Fiona Gaskell, Mayor of Harpenden, 2023-24 has accepted the position of Honorary President.

The Chairman’s Vision for the Society

Roger Butterworth, Chairman, thanked Gavin Ross for writing the First 50 Years History of the Society, this year being the 50th anniversary of its founding.

Roger drew attention to the charitable object of the Society being to “educate the public in the local history of Harpenden and district and to undertake research … and to publish the results of such research.”  In addition, the Society’s primary aim is to “make a valuable contribution to the cultural life of Harpenden.”

As we are on the verge of opening our new Museum, with thanks to those who have worked hard to that end, it is an opportunity for the Society to both re-explore its roots (object and aim above) and to relaunch itself to become more proactive in reaching out to the public and re-energise and extend the depth and range of our activities.

We are having an official opening on 20 April 2024, when, with the kind permission of the Eric Morecambe Centre management, we will be utilising the entire EMC for the day as a Local History Community Event, to announce our presence, and that of the Museum and Archive, to residents and to broadcast the breadth of activities available to engage with our local history.

The official opening will be conducted by Annie Brewster, High Sheriff in Nomination of Hertfordshire.  We aim to include activities for adults and children, encompassing, we plan, performances by children, exhibitions of historical artefacts, plans and documents, from a range of exhibitors and talks on local history topic.  All arrangements are subject to confirmation. The event requires a lot of organising, with a core team of over 20 enthusiasts already engaged.

John as Treasurer spoke about the finances and membership fee.  Whilst the finances of the Society are sound, to protect for the long term we need to increase membership fee income, the easiest way to do this being through more members joining.  Several other members spoke enthusiastically about plans for the opening event.

Members and anyone interested in local history, or the community of Harpenden, can help us in the following ways:

1.We are looking to fill some vacancies for key roles in the Society and organising team for the April event.  Tell your friends.
2.We are looking to augment our team of volunteers for 20 April to meet and greet members of the public, act as guides around the EMC and generally as marshals.
3.Visit the Museum when it opens.  Also, please diarise 20 April, come along and bring your friends.
4.Tempt your friends to join the Society: Membership Form

If you wish to be more involved in the Society or simply on 20 April, or if you have queries or feedback, get in touch with Roger at

A mausoleum near you – Lexi Diggins

Lexi Diggins, an archaeologist, having lived in Harpenden all her life, spoke illuminatingly about the suspected Roman mausoleum site at Collye’s Grove within the Rothamsted Estate, which was investigated in 1936.  In her talk, Lexi Diggins described the context and possible significance of the structure.

Investigations found that the mausoleum was set within a square walled precinct of some 30m2.  The site was bounded on three sides by a 0.8m2 wide wall and berm. An entrance way through the walled precinct was indicated and there was evidence of a trackway leading to the entrance.

Within the precinct, two cremations were found dating 100-200 AD yielding finds of pottery evidencing some wealth. At the centre of the precinct stood a mausoleum with a diameter of 5.5m, with the height of the structure estimated at 6m. Fragments of a draped statue made of limestone were found estimated to have been almost lifelike in size.

The Mausoleum could have been built by a Roman citizen from across the Channel or a Romano-British high-status individual. Further archaeological survey work would be worthwhile.

For more information, see Lexi’s article.

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