In 1987, when celebrations for the five hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Stoke Field were being planned, the Rector, Graham Firth, had the idea of forming a permanent history society to cover the five parishes that he served – East Stoke, Elston, Shelton, Sibthorpe and Syerston. Harry James, the Head Teacher of Elston School, who wasextremely knowledgeable about local history and an experienced archaeologist, supported the idea. And so a society was duly formed and named “Pentagon”, after the five parishes.

Twenty one people attended the inaugural meeting on Wednesday, 22nd January 1987 in Elston Village Hall and elected a committee comprising Harry James as Chairman, Robert Barclay as Treasurer, Graham Pope as Secretary and a representative for each of the five villages – Rev. Graham Firth for Elston, Betty Spiers for Shelton, Jim Livingston for Sibthorpe, and David Ditcham for Syerston. East Stoke was unrepresented.


Objectives and format

The objectives of the Pentagon remain as they were at the Society’s founding, namely to provide a focus for those who wish to study and gain information about local history. After a somewhat low key start and several committee changes, the Society began a steady development under a revised leadership of Harry James as Chairman, Eric Ellis as Secretary, and Bill Harris as Treasurer.

The Society still follows the format adopted by the founders.  It meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month. Each year the Committee agrees a programme put together by the Secretary, consisting of monthly meetings in the winter months (September to April) with guest speakers on a wide range of local historical topics and, during the summer months (May to July), visits to places of historical interest. The latter are generally to places close enough to be reached in the evening, those at greater distance being visited on Saturdays or some other day. Nothing is arranged for August when many will be on holiday and the December meeting is given over to an annual dinner when the guest speaker normally provides a quiz. Members pay a modest annual subscription plus an entrance charge to each talk (visitors slightly more), which also includes tea or coffee and biscuits.

Forthcoming talks are advertised in the Parish Magazine by the Secretary.

Development of the Society

The format gained popular support in the villages and membership increased from around 25 to about 50 between1990 and 2003 – a peak which hasn’t been achieved since – making the Pentagon one of the most successful voluntary organisations in the five villages. Unfortunately at this time, declining health obliged Harry James to resign the Chair and Eric Ellis, the former Secretary, took his place ; Derek Cartledge took over as Secretary, assisted by Stan Firth : Ann Sankey had superseded Bill Harris as Treasurer some few years before.  At the 2005 AGM Eric and Derek stood down and Sam Rabjohn was elected Chairman and Stan Firth as Secretary : Ann Sankey remained as Treasurer. Representative members of the Committee were Jean Hopkinson (Elston), Doug Arnold (Shelton), and Jim Livingston (Sibthorpe). There were no current representatives from Syerston or East Stoke. Sadly, Harry James died in August 2007 and Eric Ellis in June 2008.

See The Society Today ➡️