Re-discovering Belton’s Forgotten Gunners

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Belton House in Grantham is steeped in history. Originally built and owned by Sir John Brownlow the house has been host to some rather famous guests over the years none more so than King Edward VIII and twice divorced American Wallis Simpson.

P1050654The house was also played an important role during World War I. A year of warfare on the Western front proved that, to be fully effective, machine guns must be used in larger units and crewed by specially trained men.

To achieve this, the Machine Gun Corps was formed in October 1915. A depot and training centre was then established at Belton Park. Shortly after the Machine Gun Corps was formed thousands of men began arriving at Belton Park Camp to train in this elite company.

Belton House has received £24,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting new project to re-discover the history of the Machine Gun Corps at Belton Park, through archaeology and interpretation.

Young Journalists from Walton Girls’ High School and The West Grantham Academy St Hugh’s have been offered the chance to report on the Big Dig from the launch event in March all the way through the Community Dig and to the project’s conclusion in December.

The project will be led by a team of local volunteers, aged between 14 and 24 years old, and will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Machine Gun Corps training camp at Belton.

Volunteers will work alongside archaeologists and storytellers at the House to discover more about the camp site, which housed tens of thousands of soldiers, and the lives of the men who trained there.

Are you aged between 14-24? Ever fancied learning how to work in a trench, recording and processing interesting finds and writing an archaeological report? Then why not apply for the chance to develop skills in archaeology – carrying out investigations into this nationally significant First World War archaeological site – and exploring different ways in which the soldiers’ stories can be told.

Melissa Maynard, Learning Manager at Belton House, said, “Throughout 2015, Belton House is commemorating the centenary of the Machine Gun Corps and we’re honoured to be working with our local Explorer Scouts and the HLF on such an important project.”

If you love history and would like to get involved click here to fill out an application form.


Walton Newsroom

Walton Girls’ High School 

2 Responses to Re-discovering Belton’s Forgotten Gunners

  1. Melissa Maynard January 20, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Thank you for being part of this project and for a great article – I’m looking forward to meeting some of you soon

  2. admin January 20, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    Knew nothing of machine gun training at Belton. Very interesting.

    Good reporting Walton!

    YJA Senior Editor