The Ulster Folk Museum at Cultra, between Belfast and Bangor, County Down, is a particularly fine example of a ‘skansen’ type of open-air museum (named after the world’s first example, at Skansen on the edge of Stockholm). Numerous original historic buildings from across Northern Ireland—farms, cottages, hovels, a schoolroom—have been dismantled and rebuilt, dotted among the lanes, copses and fields of the sprawling site or reconstructed as part of a growing ‘town’ which includes a seventeenth-century church, police station and courthouse, Victorian terraced housing, a Catholic chapel, rows of shops, and a real Edwardian tearoom.
Like its Welsh sister at St Fagans, or the Weald and Downland Museum near Chichester, it’s very well done, and unexpectedly convincing ... no such exercise can ever truly replicate life in such buildings in the past, but the thick haze of peat smoke, the geese in the pen, the pigs in the muck and the inkstains on the school desks (just like the ones I remember from infant school) all help to conjure up at least an impression.
Here, as in many such places, there are some folk in costume, to add further authenticity to ‘the visitor experience’. About that I am a little more sceptical, since it can potentially be seriously overdone and runs the risk of being twee, all too much like a ‘Merrie England’ pageant (or ‘Merrie Ireland’, to be accurate in this case). But at Cultra that element was low-key and unobtrusive, great for children and not an irritant to this particular adult.
Indeed, as we walked along the row of tiny terraced cottages that had come from Sandy Row on the west side of Belfast city centre, not far from the Falls Road, a voice called out from inside one of the houses and asked had we not seen the landlord, a wee man with a face like he was sucking on one of those sour lemons? We denied all knowledge but the lady, who was perhaps a little stout and was wrapped in a shawl, invited us to step inside, explaining that had the landlord been around she’d have had to hide upstairs as she hadn’t the rent money on her.
Another couple of visitors came and she talked to us all, telling her life story. Her Jimmy had worked in the shipyards like so many another in Belfast, and they’d been married a while before the first baby came along. And then a while longer, six years, you know how it can be, before the surprise of another child. Her man was a mechanic working on the Titanic, and surely wasn’t it the grandest of sights when the great ship was launched and all the tens of thousands of people stood and cheered. And wasn’t it a matter of the very greatest pride when her Jimmy was among those selected to sail on the great ship, to serve as a mechanic on its maiden voyage to America?
It was absolutely riveting (to use an appropriate word for a ship-mechanic’s story). The costumed lady was a superlative actress. We all began to believe in her as she spoke—even sceptical me. We were caught up in the drama of an everyday tale that turned to tragedy, told to us in a chatty undramatic fashion which made it far more compelling. We knew what was coming – of course, she never saw Jimmy again – but when she said it I am sure we all felt the pricking of tears in our eyes. As in any great stage performance, she had made us forget the reality of a cold sunny day in May 2017 and taken us back to those dramatic events of April 1912.
A group of historians headed by leading map historian Dr Catherine Delano-Smith of the Institute of Historical Research is studying a 600 year old map of Britain, and is appealing to local historians for help. Known as the Gough map from its eighteenth-century owner Richard Gough, it names over 600 places, making it virtually unique for its date, thought to be around 1400, plus or minus ten years or so.
Over half the 600 places are marked by a simple sign, comprising a shed-like building with pitched roof, which may or may not have indications of doors and windows. This Settlement sign is used for everything from isolated manor houses or abbeys, to hamlets, villages and even towns. Other signs show a Spire or Tower, which might represent a village with a parish church and a castle respectively: but in many cases there is no obvious linkage between the sign used and the settlement type. There are also stand-alone Castle signs, with various designs, mainly in Scotland and the north. More elaborate signs, showing a Walled Settlement, are used from quite small towns all the way up to London. Finally, there are some unique signs, possibly later inserts. In addition, the map bears a fragmented pattern of red lines, only partially centred on London, linking an eclectic selection of places, with distances indicated by a Roman numeral.
What we now need is for local historians to have a close look at their locality and let us know of anything that strikes you as odd about the geography depicted on the map. Are minor places given undue prominence? Are major places missed altogether? Do the place-signs used make sense? What about places of pilgrimage? Do the distances between places make sense? Are there any places which seem anachronistic – perhaps a name that wasn’t in use around 1400?
Look at the extract on the front cover, showing part of Cumbria (north is to the left!) The large Walled Settlement sign, with spire and tower, is Carlisle, alongside which is written (in Latin) the Forest of Inglewood. Note the ‘red lines’ going from Carlisle to a Settlement with Spire (Penrith), then dividing, with one branch going to a Settlement with Spire (Shap), and the other to a Settlement with Tower (Appleby). So far so unexceptional. But notice the two green-coloured areas. These represent lakes, only two of which are marked in the Lake District. The lower one is Wenandremere (Windermere) – but the other is marked The Wathelan. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s no surprise: it was a tiny tarn, now drained, which is only on the map because it featured in a story about King Arthur’s Court at Carlisle (not Camelot), written down early in the fifteenth century. Perhaps there is a similarly strange story for some place near you on the map.
If you'd like to have a go, go to the Gough Map website http://www.goughmap.org/map/
Find your area on the map (remember - north is to the left!) - or put a name into ‘Search’. When you find the place, click on ‘Gough Map Features’ (top right) and turn on 'Settlements'. Click on the button alongside the place, which will bring a pop-up with our current interpretation. Click on View Full Record for more information. Then contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org, to share your findings. All contributions will be acknowledged in the book which will eventually be published.
Finally, if you get the chance, go and see the original. It’s on permanent display in the Weston Library, part of the Bodleian, Oxford.
2018 will be the centenary of the single largest demographic disaster of the 20th century – the ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic. This came in three waves from March 1918 to early 1919, the most lethal second wave being in October-December 1918. The virus swept around the world in the space of nine moths killing in excess of 50 million people, many more than the total casualties of the Great War.
This centenary presents a good opportunity for local history societies, groups, and individuals to research, examine, and analyse the impact of the pandemic on their locality. In doing so they will be looking at an often neglected aspect of our national history and thus contribute to building a broader picture of how the pandemic impinged on people’s lives at the end of the First World War. The pandemic is a manageable local project in that it observes and records a major event not only in local, but also national and global, history over a relatively short period of time
Many of the resources for this local research are readily available
Areas for investigation
The pandemic has many a poignant story of people dying suddenly in the street, or in their home having gone to bed that night feeling unwell, of soldiers who survived four years of war and then died en route for home, and of children in boarding schools dying away from family and home. So there are possibilities of graphic accounts accompanied by photographs and other images.
A map or maps of the district showing the spatial distribution of morbidity and mortality.
Statistics and graphs of morbidity and mortality and of the age profiles of victims given that a large number of fatalities were among men aged between 20-40 years of age.
What was then known scientifically about the causes and transmission of influenza (the previous pandemic had been in 1889-1890; and viruses were not identified or understood until 1933).
The way local people responded: panic; religious responses; closure of public meeting places; official notices and warnings; letters and views in the local press; and children’s songs and rhymes.
Images of local advertisements claiming how to prevent flu or arrest its effects.
And why was this serious pandemic ignored or overlooked by historians and other scholars until relatively recently.
A written and illustrated account (a local publication) of the course and consequences of the flu pandemic in the locality. The flu outbreak had a long tail after 1919 which might also be explored.
Perhaps also a public exhibition in the local library or museum in late 2018. This would help promote to a wider audience a knowledge of the pandemic, and also raise questions about fears of future outbreaks and how they were managed.
Possible sources of finance might be
e.g. self-funding by a local history or other similar society, local town or county funds (e.g. for a publication); the Heritage Lottery Fund; and the Wellcome Trust in London.
Some secondary sources: Richard Collier, The Plague of the Spanish Lady (New York: Atheneum, 1974); Howard Phillips and David Killingray, eds, The Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19: New perspectives (London: Routledge, 2003); John M. Barry, the Great Influenza: The epic story of the deadliest plague in history (New York: Viking, 2004); Nial Johnson, Britain and the 1918-19 Pandemic. A dark epilogue (London: Routledge, 2006); Mark Honigsbaum, Living with Enza: The forgotten story of Britain and the Great Flu pandemic of 1918 (London: PalgraveMacmillan, 2009), and A History of the Great Influenza Pandemics: Death, panic and hysteria, 1830-1920 (London: I.B. Tauris, 2014).
David Killingray is Professor Emeritus, Goldsmiths, and Senior Research Fellow, School of Advanced Study, both University of London. He had written a number of chapters and articles on the influenza pandemic of 1918-19.
Only specialists know that over 50,000 British Territorial soldiers served in India during the Great War. Australian historian Prof. Peter Stanley is writing the very first study of their experience, drawing on letters, diaries, memoirs and photograph albums in local and regimental collections, few previously used. The Terriers, overwhelmingly from southern English counties, returned to their homes in 1919, almost immediately virtually forgotten. Prof. Stanley is keen to hear from these men’s descendants, especially about how they remembered India after the war. Territorial units had intensely local identities, so local historians may be most helpful. Please contact Peter at email@example.com
In 2015 I examined papers that Norman Richardson had inherited from his father, William, a Conscientious Objector (CO) in World War One. Norman shared his father’s story with local historian Bill Laws whose summary account was published in In Our Age (http://www.herefordshirelore.org.uk/ issue 39, winter 2016).
Most military tribunal records of World War One COs have been destroyed and the story of Herefordshire’s COs awaits research and telling. In the past year I have uncovered details of 70 local men who applied for exemption from military service. In addition I’ve researched thirteen COs from elsewhere who were sent to work in the Herefordshire agriculture sector, and fifteen who were held in military detention in Hereford.
Herefordshire’s online archive of newspapers (http://www.herefordshirehistory.org.uk/archive/herefordshire-newspapers) offer detailed accounts of tribunal hearings. Other sources include the Pearce Register of COs (https://search.livesofthefirstworldwar.org/search/world-records/conscientious-objectors-register-1914-1918), the Peace Pledge Union (http://www.ppu.org.uk/coproject/coprojectindex.html) and the Quaker journal The Friend (https://thefriend.org/archive).
I would welcome information on Herefordshire COs from readers.
Dr Elinor Kelly e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here, are the stiffening hills, here, the rich cargo
Congealed in the dark arteries,
That hold Glamorgan's blood.
The midnight miner in the secret seams,
Limb, life, and bread.
- Mervyn Peake, Rhondda Valley
Mervyn Peake’s poem, Rhondda Valley, describes coal mining as the life blood of the Welsh Valleys. Indeed, the rapid growth of the coal industry during the 19th century led to the development of a whole new society in South Wales, with a focus on the local colliery. As such the South Wales coalfield has an important part to play in our understanding of the Industrial Revolution and of the history of Wales and Britain more generally.
This significance means that the archival records of the coal industry are also important as primary documentation of South Wales’ heritage. The National Coal Board (NCB) collection at Glamorgan Archives spans the 19th and 20th centuries, documenting the development, changes and decline of an industry synonymous with South Wales and charting the impact of the collieries on the lives and health of the people who worked in the industry. It is with this in mind that Glamorgan Archives have now begun the “Glamorgan’s Blood: Dark Arteries, Old Veins” project to catalogue and conserve the NCB collection and the records of its predecessors through the assistance of a Wellcome Trust Research Resources grant.
Image 1: Plan showing the extent of the South Wales Coalfield, c.1923, Glamorgan Archives, D1370/94
The project has already opened up the records of 10 colliery companies, consisting of 468 volumes worth of material. From a local history perspective these records are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the 100s of collieries that once existed in the South Wales area; however their survival, and now their revival through the cataloguing project, will enable research to take place on the workings of the collieries through the study of the documentary evidence that does still remain. The collection includes records of some of the largest colliery companies operating in South Wales; records such as those of the Ocean Coal Company and United National Collieries provide researchers with a range of material from pay books to geological sections, showing a representative example of the workings of individual collieries. The improved accessibility of the records through descriptions on the archives’ online catalogue adds greatly to previous work undertaken to catalogue the papers of the large colliery combine, Powell Duffryn.
Image 2: Geological cross section showing the working face at Park Pits, from the Ocean Coal Collection, Glamorgan Archives, D1400/4/2/1
Records within the archive demonstrate that Wales was at the forefront of British coal exports in the early 20th century, with statistical printed material showing that in 1914 over 29 million tons of coal was exported from South Wales, which was actually 40% of the total exported from the UK. This rate of production meant a huge workforce was needed across the South Wales coalfield. Interestingly this lead to south Wales having the biggest influx of migrants, second only to America. As the workforce grew, so did its power to influence wages and rates of pay, an issue that can be seen through price lists and papers concerning pay dispute cases that form part of the NCB collection. The rare survival of 187 pay books in the United National Collieries collection also demonstrates how the Welsh colliery pay rates were more complicated than other parts of Britain, showing that the collier was not only paid on the cubic yardage of large coal that he cut out, but also for other jobs that he had to do, such as ripping the roof seam (to allow room for horses and trams), gobbing (packing rubbish into the gap where he removed the coal) and timbering (putting up props to support the roof) which he would have been paid for by the inch, foot or yard. On top of the payment for these two jobs, he would receive an added percentage which was meant to reflect the increase in the selling price of coal above a standard price agreed between the coal owners and the miners. Pay was also determined by which seam and district a collier was working in. The seams worked in a large colliery would have been split up into various districts and the pay scales between those districts may have varied.
Industrial disease, illness and disability is also something very much tied up with the coal industry, with widely known issues such as pneumoconiosis at the forefront of campaigns for compensation for those affected by industrial illnesses. Records that have already been catalogued include an extensive number of accident and compensation registers, providing primary documentation of the dangers of working within the mining industry and the levels of compensation received by colliers across South Wales. Detailed compensation case volumes supplement the compensation registers through the in-depth summaries of compensation cases that were taken to court in the 1920s and 1930s, and show how the local and sometimes national judicial system treated those suffering with work related injuries and diseases. Disability is also represented in another way, with material from Fernhill Collieries, Rhondda, in particular a certificate from the King’s National Roll, showing that the mining industry was committed to employing disabled ex-servicemen after the First World War.
Image 3: Certificate issued to Fernhill Colliery by the King’s National Roll for the colliery’s commitment to employing disabled ex-servicemen, Glamorgan Archives, D1100/1/10
Records of welfare and recreational activities also feature within the collection, giving researchers an insight into the communities of South Wales. Records relating to the installation of the pithead baths demonstrate an important change in the lives of both the collier and his family. Prior to the introduction of the pithead baths, a collier would have to return home covered in coal dust and bathe in a tin bath in front of the fire. Ceri Thompson, Curator (Coal), The National Museum of Wales describes a typical colliers’ home: “The women of the house were usually responsible for the heating of water for the miner's bath and the cleaning and drying of his clothes. In addition it was a constant battle to clean the house from the all-prevailing coal dust. This was never ending and back breaking work and exhaustion and physical strain often led to serious health problems, leading in some cases to premature births and miscarriages. ...advantages to the baths included “cleaner homes, privacy in bathing and dry clothing in work”. As the use of the baths was a new concept for the colliers, instruction manuals, like the one in Fernhill Collieries collection, were produced to give guidance on the use of facilities. Although it’s primary function was an information manual, the language within this document can now also be used to show the comradery that existed between the colliers “[g]et your “butty” to wash your back then you do his. The most up-to-date installation has not yet discovered any better method of back-washing.”
Image 4: Scene of an early form of the pithead baths at an unknown colliery, Glamorgan Archives, DNCB/64/32
Once complete, the Glamorgan’s Blood project will open up access to a large and important collection that can be used to demonstrate the impact of the industrial revolution on the growth of communities in South Wales, the social and industrial reforms that came with that growth, and the decline of Wales’ biggest industry.
Louise Clarke, Archivist, Glamorgan Archives
 Glamorgan Archives, DPD
 Glamorgan Archives, D1411/2/1
 Glamorgan Archives, D1100/1/10
 Thompson, Ceri, “All Prevailing Coal-Dust”, 30 June 2011. Accessed online, https://museum.wales/articles/2011-06-30/Pithead-Baths/, 14 Mar 2017.
 Glamorgan Archives, D1100/1/2/5
 Glamorgan Archives, D1100/1/2/6
The past few months have been busy for the Victoria County History (VCH) project in Leicestershire. Our paperback history of Castle Donington, the first book in the Leicestershire VCH series since 1964, was launched in March, and in May we held a one-day heritage festival at Beaumanor Hall, which attracted around 1,000 visitors.
The VCH project in Leicestershire is a partnership between professional historians and local people. With almost 300 Leicestershire parishes whose histories have yet to be researched and published by the VCH, there is plenty to keep us occupied. Leicestershire Victoria County History Trust (a registered charity) raises money to cover the cost of volunteer training and support, travel to archive offices and some research.
With significant help from volunteers, we have published two parish histories online on the VCH website since the Trust was formed in 2008, for Kirby Bellars and Leire, together with draft chapters for a number of other parishes. The Trust’s biggest challenge is raising money to continue this work, but our new paperback parish history of Castle Donington has already achieved its twin objectives of providing a small profit and helping to raise awareness of VCH work in the county. Within its covers there is much to interest readers. Castle Donington was a medieval market town, with subsidiary settlements on the banks of the river Trent, and an unusual local industry (basketry). Its topography is urban, and both Borough Street and High Street are peppered with smart Georgian town houses. Developments in the 20th century included the opening of East Midlands Airport in the south of the parish, and the conversion of part of Castle Donington’s medieval hunting park into a motor-racing circuit and venue for rock festivals.
As well as traditional parish history research and publication, the Trust secured a grant of £364,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2013 for a four-year project, Charnwood Roots, which is now drawing to a close. The money has funded documentary and field research across 35 towns, villages and hamlets in the Charnwood area, just north of Leicester, and test-pitting in three villages. Over 600 volunteers have been involved, and between them they have contributed a total of 3,000 days’ work. A one-day Heritage Festival at Beaumanor Hall in glorious May sunshine highlighted many of the project’s findings through displays, talks and activities.
What’s next? The vision is to complete the county, and steady progress is being made. The Trust is currently raising money to write up our Charnwood research as VCH ‘red book’ volumes. Meanwhile, our paperback history of Buckminster and Sewstern should be published in late 2017, and research continues in a small number of other parishes.
Photo caption: The launch of our Castle Donington book at Donington Hall.
I recently finished cataloguing an archive-within-an-archive containing estate papers of the Popham family of Littlecote, a small estate located in Wiltshire but very close to Berkshire, with some of the estate actually being in Berkshire. The archive is part of a collection of papers from the Marlborough-based solicitors Merrimans, and they acted as the agents for the Pophams in the 19th century. As Merrimans were based in Wiltshire, all their papers came to the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, and these included the papers of the Popham family.
However, not all the papers related to Wiltshire estates. The Pophams’ primary estate was Littlecote, but much of that estate included properties in Berkshire, in and around Hungerford. Across the 19th century, there are details of estates held in Somerset (Hunstrete, near Bristol), Churchdown near Gloucester, and Puckaster in the Isle of Wight, as well as, briefly, Mortlake in Surrey. So what does that mean for local historians?
This has always been an issue, particularly with estate papers of landed families with property spread across the United Kingdom. It can also be an issue with papers of solicitors like Merrimans that are close to county borders so could represent clients from different counties. This can mean that researchers of the Popham family could find themselves having to travel to Reading, Gloucester, Taunton or Winchester to see other records of the Popham estates, ones that haven’t ended up within the solicitor’s archive, or similarly, a researcher of properties in those other counties can find themselves having to travel to Chippenham to research.
All this is made far easier to discover, by the ability to search online catalogues of any record office and be able to find which collection material is held in. Researchers come to us at Chippenham having found a reference to something held at our History Centre through the National Archives’ Discovery site (which is helpful, but is no longer kept up to date) concerning a property or piece of land seemingly unrelated to Wiltshire. Copying and research services offered by most local record offices mean that generally the distance to travel does not cause a problem, but it can be confusing for researchers and professionals alike to suddenly find relevant records located physically far away from the place in question.
Using our online catalogue to find relevant records of a physically far place brings up all records relating to that area from the Merrimans collection and others held in Chippenham, where they have been catalogued, but searching Google does not – it does in Discovery, which explains the common requests from researchers. So a researcher would have to know that the archive in question holds the record, and this cannot found easily, regardless of how many blogs or tweets are written about it.
I will email Somerset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Berkshire Record Offices, and let them know that there is estate material for areas in their counties, and hope that this information will filter through on their catalogues to potentially interested researchers. However, I and other archivists cannot do this for every record relating to a different county as we catalogue, and we also cannot be expected to transfer everything relating to another county to that county – in some cases it is possible, but often those records have no provenance when taken from their original collection. In the case of the Pophams, keeping all the estates together was very important, mostly because a lot of the accounts and correspondence mention more than one estate, and because they have always formed a coherent collection.
So what is the answer to this? I think it is communication. Record offices and other archives need to be aware that records could easily be elsewhere. Also, local historians themselves can use resources already created to research the landowners of areas of interest, which can give a clue as to where the records may be. There are guides such as “Principal Family and Estate Collections” published by The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (1996, 1999). The Returns of Owners of Land 1873 is a useful source; a searchable version is available via www.ancestry.co.uk. So there is help out there but initiative is also needed to make sure no stone is left unturned.
Find the Fallen with Big Ideas Company
We are calling out across the UK for local historians to join us in discovering and remembering the British war dead who were wounded at the Battle of Passchendaele, were brought home for treatment but died nonetheless and are now buried in the UK.
Using specially commissioned research, we have created a new database of over 2,800 war dead from the period. Hundreds will have been injured at Passchendaele before they died of their wounds in the UK in the following weeks. Many will be buried here but their graves and stories are not known.
This is an important and innovative community project that connects undiscovered local heritage across the UK to the Battle of Passchendaele.
We are calling out to local historians, community groups and schools to undertake their own research in this nationwide campaign.
Your Challenge to Find the Fallen
By becoming a researcher in Find the Fallen, you are part of a nationwide initiative to discover for the first time graves Passchendaele graves in the UK.
How to join the project:
The Unremembered: Passchendaele is part of The Unremembered project funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The Unremembered is part of Remember Together and joins Big Ideas projects The Last Post, The Last Post: Gallipoli, Living Memory and India Remembers.
Allan Wyatt was described on his nomination form as ‘an immense asset to the society’. Sadly Allan did not live to know about the award, but we were very pleased that his wife Susan and daughter Anna came to London for Local History Day in June to receive his certificate.
The society referred to above is Bromyard & District Local History Society, which Allan joined over 25 years ago on his retirement. Before that his career fell into two distinct parts. After National Service in the Tank Regiment, Allan got a double first in classics at Cambridge, and came at the top in the Civil Service Entrance Exam. From 1957 to 1976 he was at the Treasury, becoming Assistant Secretary, and working for (amongst others) such diverse Ministers as Enoch Powell, Harold Wilson and James Callaghan. Secondment to the IMF also took him to Washington. Meanwhile he had married Susan Upcott, a teacher, and they have three children.
A complete change of direction took place in the later 1970s when Allan and Susan took on the headship of Cranleigh Prep School, in Surrey. Then in 1988 came retirement and the move to Herefordshire where the Wyatts settled in Edvin Loach, and joined in with the local community, including Allan being Secretary of the PCC for 10 years.
Allan became actively involved in the local history society’s work of collecting, maintaining and making available a large archive of material on north-east Herefordshire, and was always generous with sharing his knowledge and helping others. He also for several years assisted with cataloguing manorial records at Hereford Record Office.
In the early days of his membership of B & DLHS, Allan was invited to join a group headed by Phyllis Williams that was designed to encourage research that would result in publications. From them he learnt the relevant skills, developed techniques and explored original source material to produce a very special volume A History of Edvin Loach published in the society’s 50th anniversary year of 2015.
One of his referees points out a particular achievement of Allan’s research: his discovery, in a leaky garden shed in Cornwall, of the Barneby family archives to which he had limited access for some time. The Barnebys’ 19th-century Saltmarshe Castle estate owned all the property in the parish, apart from that belonging to the church. The family was presented with a copy of the book to demonstrate the historical importance of their archives, which have now been deposited with Herefordshire Archive & Records Centre.
Not only did Allan hugely enjoy the research and writing; A History of Edvin Loach serves both as an authoritative work of local history and as a means of remembering the contribution of a dedicated local historian.
With thanks to Susan Wyatt, Charles Clark, Jennifer Weale and Joe Hillaby.
On 6 February 1918 the Representation of the People Act (“the 1918 Act”) gave women the right to vote in British Parliamentary elections for the first time. The women’s franchise came after nearly a hundred years of campaigning, a struggle which in its final, pre-First World War decade saw a brutal, bitterly-fought battle between militant suffragettes and the Liberal government.
Before 1918, the right to vote was limited to men and based on a property qualification. The 1918 Act did away with the property qualification for men and gave all men over twenty one the vote. In the case of women, however, a property qualification was retained and women had to be over thirty before they could vote. The only other women enfranchised were graduates over thirty in university constituencies.
It was a shockingly unequal piece of legislation that fell far short of the demand of both militant and non-militant campaigners for the vote on the same terms as men. Only 40% of the total female population met the qualifications. Nevertheless, the 1918 Act established the principle of women’s right to vote and both supporters and opponents of the women’s franchise were confident that full equality would inevitably follow – though they regarded the prospect with very different emotions.
Sylvia Pankhurst called the 1918 Act “absurd” but noted that campaigners “knew that now the breach in the sex barrier had been made, the fight for womanhood suffrage had been won”. So it is entirely appropriate that next year, the hundredth anniversary of votes for women, we should commemorate both nationally and locally this giant leap forward in the on-going struggle for gender equality.
Here in Bristol we have a rich radical and social reform heritage, and women’s suffrage is well represented in both its branches, militant and non-militant. The West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network is working with the Bristol Museums service to organise a number of events to mark the centenary. We’re planning a day of activities on 19 May 2018 at Bristol MShed which will include talks, walks, performance, film, gallery tours and activities for children.
Elsewhere in the city, other organisations are planning exhibitions, banner-making sessions followed by a parade, re-enactment events such as meetings and rallies, and projecting suffragette and suffragist colours onto municipal buildings. There will be musical events, art exhibitions, and cultural trails. The commemorations will be linked to contemporary issues, with panel debates and other events related to women’s rights and equal opportunities.
There’s a lot of excitement around the centenary, and no doubt more ideas will be generated. So what can you do in your area to get involved?
Find out more
Start by reading some general suffrage campaign histories to get an overview of the campaign. Sylvia Pankhurst’s The Suffragette Movement: An Intimate Account of Persons and Ideals (London: Virago, 1977) is a classic – but remember it’s written from the point of view of the militant Women’s Social and Political Union. (There’s no space to include a book list here – but there is one on my website together with a Women’s Suffrage Timeline https://www.lucienneboyce.com/researching-the-suffragette-movement/)
For an overview of suffrage activity in your region, the best place to start is Elizabeth Crawford’s The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain and Ireland: A Regional Survey (London: Routledge, 2006).
To find out about individual women, see Elizabeth Crawford’s The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928 (London: Routledge, 2001).
See if there are any reliable local histories of the suffrage campaign for your area. If not, perhaps your local history or writers’ group would like to write one.
Check your local archives for women’s suffrage information.
If you have access to a local newspaper archive, it will be a mine of information. The British Newspaper Archive is a subscription service but may be available through your local library. http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk
Your local library might also provide access to The Times Digital Archive and Illustrated London News, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Who’s Who and Who Was Who.
BBC Archive has recordings of interviews with suffragettes http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/
British Pathe Archive has lots of film footage of suffrage events http://www.britishpathe.com/
Find out what’s happening
Check what your local museums and other institutions are planning and find out how you can help.
It might also be worth checking the Museum Associations Network for celebrating gender equality milestones in 2018 to see what’s happening in other areas http://www.museumsassociation.org/news/20092016-network-gender-equality-milestones-2018?dm_i=2VBX,BDQ8,27LU0M,13V1C,1
Vote 100: find out what Parliament is planning and explore a history of the women’s vote at http://www.parliament.uk/vote100
And here are a few points to bear in mind:-
The campaign for the vote goes back to the 1832 Reform Act (and arguably earlier) and you may well find information about Victorian women that is relevant.
Make sure you know the difference between the suffragettes and the suffragists!
Remember it wasn’t just the suffragettes who won votes for women.
The question of how far the First World War contributed to votes for women is very much open for debate.
Lucienne Boyce is an award-winning historical novelist and women’s suffrage historian. She published The Bristol Suffragettes in 2013, and a short collection of essays on women’s suffrage, The Road to Representation, in 2017. She is a steering committee member of the West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network, and is currently writing a biography of suffragette Millicent Browne.
Tel: 0117 924 6963
Mob: 07717 530 951
 E. Sylvia Pankhurst, The Suffragette Movement: An Intimate Account of Persons and Ideals (London: Virago, 1977), p. 607.
The WEA North East has been successful in gaining Heritage Lottery funding for a project entitled Turbulent Times1918-28 which will investigate aspects of the aftermath of World War 1 in the region.
The Workers' Educational Association - which had been founded only in 1903 played a key role in shaping the educational and social policies that were central to post-war reconstruction and nowhere more so than in the North East of England. The volunteer-led group will consider educational campaigns in general, but also three key themes (1) the rapid changes in women's lives and opportunities post-war; (2) how WEA members and affiliates were involved in the repatriation of people and regeneration of communities; and (3) discovering what became of former conscientious objectors and other radical thinkers. The project will run until July 2018 and will result in a publication, exhibitions, performances, a digital archive and map as well as the development of pop-up reading rooms which can be taken to a wide range of different venues.
The WEA North East’s recently developed History and Heritage branch also aims to provide support for local communities and heritage groups seeking to explore their hidden histories. It will run an ongoing programme of events to help groups develop their own projects, with skills-sharing workshops and opportunities for debates around common issues. For further information or to express an interest in involvement in the project or the branch, contact the Project Organiser Dr Jude Murphy: email@example.com
When the Barton Stacey Parish Local History Group started researching our medieval past we looked to what we knew existed. In 1199 King John had awarded the manor of Bertune to Rogo de Sacy for his military service to King Richard. By 1207 Emery de Sacy was paying his knight’s fees so he had taken over the manor, and in 1241 Emery was awarded the right to an annual fair. We did not know or expect to find out much more. But we were wrong. Our research uncovered a wealth of information, charters, gifts etc., and even Emery’s seal.
We started by searching the internet for Rogo de Sacy and translating the charters we found. We were lucky when we found a contemporary account of Rogo fighting with King Richard in the crusades. This led us to uncovering his journey to the Holy Land, Richards capture on his way home and Rogo’s role in securing Richard’s release. We assume he was near Richard when he died as Rogo witnessed charters for Queen Eleanor immediately after Richard’s death. It was, however, John who gave Rogo the manor of Bertune, shortly after John succeeded Richard.
Rogo continued to fight for King John until he left John’s service in 1206. Rogo died shortly afterwards as Emery started paying Knight’s fees for the manor. Then, on the 28th July 1207, King John’s itinerary states that he was staying in Barton Stacey. Coinciding with the death of Rogo and Emery taking over the Manor, this gives us more evidence that there must have been a substantial manor house here.
Emery was also a fighting knight. At the time of Magna Carta he was in charge of Bristol castle as the ‘men of the Touraine’, who were in charge of the castle, were ousted from office. Emery went on to fight in crusades and on his return was sent by the King to defend his French and English lands. One set of charters reveal that Emery was in Poitou in France defending castles for the King. John used the Templars to send money from London to La Rochelle and their process of safe money transfer can be clearly seen in this set of charters.
Emery was given valuable wordships by Henry III which enabled him to marry his daughters well and to increase his land holding. In 1239 Emery was appointed High Sheriff of Hampshire and we can follow him as Sheriff via the many records available on line.
In the process of researching Emery we were lucky enough to uncover his seal. Although damaged it showed a shield with chevrons, making it one of the oldest identifiable Knights shields in England.
Emery died in 1253, aged somewhere between 63 and 68 years. He left the manor of Bertune Sacy to his two daughters as their dowers.
In 2016 the village celebrated the two Knights with a display of 19 hand carved and decorated knights which the then High Sheriff Tom Floyd judged.
On 1st March 2017 a special meeting was held at the Noah’s Ark pub in Tipton to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of The Black Country Society. Exactly fifty years previously, to the day, and on exactly the same spot the Society was launched by its two principal members: Dr. John Fletcher and John Brimble. (The day even happened to be a Wednesday on each occasion!) A blue plaque was attached to the building and the event duly photographed for posterity.
Unfortunately neither of the founders was present. Dr. Fletcher died in 1996 and John Brimble died in 2006. However, both their widows, Pauline Fletcher and Doreen Brimble, were able to be there to provide a proper link to the past event. No doubt everybody wondered if the original members of the society could have foreseen its success and longevity, although we know that the first meeting had been well-attended and membership at the time was about fifty.
The new society resolved to hold regular monthly meetings and elect a committee. Interestingly, the early meetings were held in a different pub on each occasion – taking the society to all the corners of the Black Country, recruiting new members in the process, and helping to make clear that its focus was on the whole region and not just one part of it. From the start it was also clear that the society’s focus was not simply historical – it has always promoted interest in the past, present and future of the region.
What had led Dr. John Fletcher and John Brimble to kick things off in the spring of 1967? Looking back, we can see that the society’s birth was very much “of its time”. They had started putting the idea together in 1966 which just happened to be the year when local government was radically reorganised and many of the old Black Country boroughs and urban districts were wiped out to be replaced by larger units that, in turn, were going to be later restructured in 1974. The significance of this to many people of the Black Country was that they had traditionally been fairly focussed on their own local “patch” and there was great suspicion regarding what might happened if they were swallowed up by bigger neighbours, or by strange people from “down the road”. All this coincided with a feeling that the area’s identity and heritage were threatened by change.
Into this melting pot came Dr. John Fletcher – a local lad who had enjoyed success in the post-war education system right up to university level and to the dizzy heights of being able to use the title “Doctor”. He moved from a job as “District Organiser” with the Workers Educational Association (The “WEA”) in Cheshire to a post at the Wulfrun College of Further Education in Wolverhampton. There were other staff at Wulfrun College whose interests collided with Dr. Fletcher’s. For example, Ifor Davies –a Welshman who taught English - loved to promote the Black Country dialect and Jon Raven, who taught Liberal Studies, was pioneering the study of local folk lore and folk-song. The three of them came together to provide “Black Country Evenings” in which Ifor delivered dialect poems and stories, Jon sang about the Black Country and Dr. Fletcher delivered a kind of “sermon” which was a rallying call to everyone to wake up and start showing some real active interest in the Black Country.
Looking back, it seems hardly surprising that by the end of 1966 Dr. John Fletcher was talking about establishing a Black Country Society that would promote pride in the area and unite those who wanted to look at the past, present and future of the region. This would be quite different from the very localised focus of previous Black Country enthusiasts and historians, although it would hope to include them and their work.
The new committee seemed very strong on “characters”. The names I first encountered included Winston Homer, Derek Simpkiss and the wonderful Ray Wilkes who seemed to be a “Red Indian” who lived at Burnt Tree. He set up a drama sub-committee, George Bowater set up a Photographic Collection section, George Moran set up a sub-group that would look at town-planning and would seek to vet local planning applications – a task undertaken in some places by “civic societies”. The term “civic society” best described what the new Black Country Society was trying to became.
One of the most important decisions made by the young committee was a commitment to producing a quarterly magazine: “The Blackcountryman”. It would be sent to members, and would also go on general sale to the public. Harold Parsons became the first editor. The society also began collecting Black Country “artefacts” which quickly led to discussions that helped establish the Black Country Museum.
It is now difficult to imagine how exciting the early days of the Black Country Society were, but if readers wish to learn more about those times they may find it worthwhile to read the early issues of The Blackcountryman. In those pages you will find an amazing breadth of activities earning a mention, and encounter many more names of people who helped shape the society*. The society has played a major part in promoting a positive interest in the region reflected by modern phenomenon like the Black Country flag and – at last – the inclusion of the name “Black Country” on official maps. Now we must look forward to the next fifty years.
*PS: I apologise for not mentioning more people in this article, and of course all those who came after this early period and played such a large part in the society.
Hebden Bridge Local History Society have published a new book on behalf of the South Pennine History Group, which is a collaborative partnership of the Hebden Bridge, Marsden and Saddleworth History Societies The Group works to research, record, communicate and promote all aspects of the history of the South Pennine region.
Covering a wide range of topics and chronologies, the book is the first for many years to explore the historical past in various localities within the South Pennines, rather than focusing on a single place. The book contains a collection of essays that present the results of new research on various aspects of South Pennine history. Compiled in memory of Alan Petford, a gifted and inspirational local history lecturer, it offers new insights into the events and processes that helped form the man-made landscape of the South Pennines.
Ranging in time from the 1500s to the 1900s, the essays examine historical topics in the Calder Valley, Marsden, Saddleworth and Shipley. Research on the process of early settlement and expansion is complemented by a study on nineteenth-century parliamentary enclosure. An investigation into how townships defined their boundaries not only illuminates the difficulties inherent in maintaining them but also uncovers a long lost boundary. An in-depth examination of the population of Halifax parish considers the various mortality crises of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The way that people lived is brought to life through analyses of wills and inventories in three areas, shedding light on the dual economy of farming and textiles and the evidence for linen production. Studies in building history explore construction agreements, the architecture of public libraries and the design and function of inns and alehouses. The impact of nineteenth-century industrial growth on the landscape is examined in case studies on a moorland dam and a planned railway, while analyses of literary output bring to life contemporary perceptions.
Alan Petford was a genius in the classroom. His lectures and courses were interesting, entertaining and always well attended. He encouraged involvement from his students and many projects and publications grew out of these lecture courses. Getting people to actually ‘do history’ was as important to Alan as communicating his own knowledge. The research presented in this book shows how successful he was.
All proceeds from this book go to the Alan Petford Memorial Fund, set up to help those wishing to research and promote the study of local history in the South Pennines.
2017 is the 10thanniversary of the Dorset History Network (DHN) which seems an appropriate time to celebrate the past and plan the way forward. Delegates from the many history, archaeology and heritage organisations across the county were invited to an event to share ideas and shape the future of the History Network.
The event, on Saturday 8 April 2017 included talks from Jane Howells from the British Association for Local History (BALH) who gave a national perspective on local history organisations and Claire Skinner of the Wiltshire Local History Forum(WLHF) providing a comparison with a neighbouring county organisation.
Jane Howells outlined the work of BALH and its support for local history highlighting the breadth of local history organisations across the country and the role of the BALH as a facilitator linking the different groups. Jane stressed the importance of encouraging groups to share ideas on a national level.
Claire Skinner described the Wiltshire Local History Forum as an umbrella body for societies enabling them to share ideas and promote interest. Originally an independent body, in recent years the WLHF has been run with the active support and facilitation of the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives. Claire also referred to an alternative model of running a local history organisation, operating without ‘official’ roles, committees or constitutions and no membership subscription; this is proving very successful in some, particularly urban, areas.
Both speakers raised issues that threaten the future of local history groups which were to recur throughout the day;the lack of involvement by young people; the sustainability of local societies and their reliance upon volunteers; the development of the internet and social media; and changes in schools and adult education which have impacted on membership of organisations.
During group discussions the following questions were considered: What should a History Network do? What is DHN doing well and what could be done better?How can the membership contribute to the work of the Network?
These discussions were lively and enthusiastic and reflected a number of themes already raised by the speakers. The principal comments were:
The challenges of implementing these suggestions were highlighted.
More active participation by societies is required, including offers to run events, provide information for the website and a newsletter.
Volunteers are needed to develop projects, such as social media.
This was a successful event that generated many ideas for the committee to take forward and consider before the AGM in November.This included the possibility of exploring a closer link between the Dorset History Network and the Dorset History Centre similar to the Wiltshire model.
Dorset History Network would like to thank Jane Howells and Claire Skinner for offering their thoughts and experiences and the attendees who participated in the wide ranging discussions.
This note aims to determine what transcription of manorial court records is being done or has been done in the Craven district. We know of the work of David Gulliver on South Craven Manors(1) (in the Ancient parish of Kildwick) but we have little knowledge of others. It would be most helpful to have an overview of what else is in progress (please contact the editor or the author).
In recent years much progress has been made in locating and transcribing historical documents relating to North Craven. The region is best defined as the 30 civil parishes constituting the Settle Rural District Council (disbanded in 1974).
Currently this work is confined to ten civil parishes – Austwick, Clapham, Giggleswick, Horton in Ribblesdale, Ingleton, Langcliffe, Lawkland, Rathmell, Settle and Stainforth which earlier constituted the Ancient parishes of Clapham, Giggleswick, Horton in Ribblesdale and Ingleton. Very recently a Heritage Lottery Fund grant was made to the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership (IDLP, Stories in Stone) and part of this grant is called Capturing the Past centred on Ingleborough and the surrounding Ancient parishes listed here. The associated website aims to provide easier access to this material accumulated in the past 15 years or more by local history groups and individuals, but also to make available historical material held privately.
A start has been made on collecting the wills of the Ancient parish of Giggleswick. Inventories were extant for 1682 to 1750. The work was then extended to Horton in Ribblesdale (1418 to1603, Horton Local History Group) and Ingleton (wills and many inventories 1548 to1750, Ingleborough Archaeology Group). The IDLP grant has enabled wills and very many inventories to be collected and transcribed for Clapham parish (Clapham Village History Project), 1554 to 1603, and soon to be put on the Capturing the Past website.
Meanwhile many of the local property deeds found in the Wakefield Registry of Deeds (1704 onwards) have been listed and abstracts made and some transcribed in full. Many earlier deeds found in record offices (Skipton Library, NYCRO, LRO, WYAS, YAS, TNA) have been transcribed.
There remains one major source of historical information not subject to consideration – manorial court records. An understanding of the manorial system of organization for the Craven area is required to determine if there are any notable differences in procedure compared to manors outside Craven due to the effect of absentee landlords following Dissolution and the onward sales of manorial rights to tenants in some places. Many family names are recorded so they are also useful to genealogists. A systematic search has been carried out to locate the court records for the ten civil parishes listed above; survival is patchy, and they are held in various places, but they exist for the 16th century onwards. Much transcription work has already been done and more is in progress.
Austwick: 1693-1839 NYCRO, WYAS, YAS. Transcribed 1787-1839
Clapham: 1699-1925 NYCRO, WYAS, YAS. Not done.
Giggleswick: Chatsworth House, YAS. Part transcribed but catalogue to be checked.
Horton in Ribblesdale: 1517 YAS. Transcribed.
Ingleton: 1505, 1692-1804 TNA, NYCRO. Transcribed 1692-1750.
Lawkland: 1593-1714 YAS, WYAS. Transcribed 1594-1714 except 1601-1652.
Settle: Chatsworth House, YAS. Part transcribed but catalogue to be checked.
Staincliffe: TNA 1650-1653. Transcribed.
Other material not yet checked might be in the Farrer and Ingleby papers.
In addition we know of work under way transcribing court rolls from the Lancashire Archives for the Malham area manors of Airton, Calton, Hanlith, Kirkby Malhamdale, Malham East and Malham West.
A new website has been set up as part of the Capturing the Past project and work done so far on wills, inventories, deeds, and manorial records is held here. This website is provided by the Yorkshire Dales Society and managed by dedicated groups of volunteers. It is a portal to catalogues, collections and archives of local historical material. Any relevant information about local projects concerning manorial records would be very much appreciated with a view to making this widely known.
Michael J. Slater
Gulliver, D., 2015. The Courts and People of South Craven Manors. Kiln Hill, Cononley
Depending on where you are in the country, you have either had plenty of rain in recent weeks, or not enough to keep your garden watered. Water is an interesting, and universal, topic for local history which perhaps does not get as much attention as it might.
Cumbria Industrial History Society’s Spring conference this year was called ‘The Power of Water’, www.cumbria-industries.org.uk, www.clhf.org.uk.
There is an article in Abbots Langley Local History Society Journal entitled ‘Ponds, Springs and Streams’, in which the author relates how digging a pond in his garden took him to the place names and field names on the tithe map that seemed to refer to springs and ponds that no longer have any water. http://www.allhs.org.uk
The Autumn conference of Wiltshire Local History Forum on 7 October is on ‘Watercourses in Wiltshire’. The county has the River Thames, and the Kennet & Avon Canal as well as watercourses as landscape such as the lake at Stourhead. https://wiltshirelocalhistory.org
Sunbury & Shepperton Local History Society has collaborated with their local authority Spelthorne Borough Council to add interest to the new recycling bins in Shepperton High Street. The Society was asked by the council to supply some historic images of the area, from before such things as recycling were thought of!. www.sslhs.org.uk
Meldreth Local History Group is 10 years old this year. In that time members have been very busy organising events such as exhibitions, talks and walks, and participating with other organisations, such as the celebrations of the centenary of Meldreth Primary School. The Group has specific aims of researching and recording the history of the village, creating an archive to pass on to future generations, and publishing in order to share their discoveries. They have photographed and transcribed records, conducted interviews, and created a website. For fundraising to support this work they have produced notelets and Christmas cards, walks leaflets and audio CDs. Future plans include developing the website, and encouraging more people to become actively involved with the Group. Current projects include the manorial history of the village, watermills, law and order, and the history of Meldreth Football Club. www.meldrethhistory.org.uk
Higham Chichele Society, a local history group in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire, is 20 years old in November. The idea for a society grew after a successful course of five lectures on the early history of the town by Daphne Cansdale. There is now a nucleus of 50 or so regular members and a programme of events. Since 2002 the society has held an annual exhibition, including one especially commissioned by the Council for the visit of HRH Princess Anne on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the Borough Charter. During 2001 a daily journal by members of the society recorded local and national events, and this is available to view in the society’s archives. In 2014 the society’s exhibition included a display recording the life of Henry Chichele, who was born in the town and became one of the longest serving Archbishops of Canterbury. The society has a new website which has already attracted enquiries from around the world. www.highamchichelesociety.org.uk
Radley History Club is also 20 years old. It began with 9 members, and now has over 80, of whom 50 on average attend each monthly meeting. RHC has featured in these pages before as a very active group, researching and publishing on a wide range of local historical issues, and building an extensive written and oral archive. Stanley Baker of RHC received a BALH Award for Personal Achievement in 2007 (see LHN No 84). Their latest publication appears in LHN 120, p 22. www.radleyhistoryclub.org.uk
The summer excavation at Piddington Roman Villa takes place between 29 July and 27 August. The Open Day will be on 20 August when there will be guided tours of the site, refreshments, and the museum will be open morning and afternoon. Upper Nene Archaeological Society www.unas.org.uk, thanks to Bedford Architectural, Archaeological and Local History Society, www.baalhs.org.uk
Bishop’s Castle History Day, organised by the Friends of Shropshire Archives and The Bishop’s Castle & Area Heritage Forum, will take place on 30 September. The programme celebrates the rich history of the town and local areas with talks, a local history exhibition, and guided visits to some of the town’s attractions. https://friendsofshropshirearchives.org/events/
30 September is also the date of the 2017 conference of the Ecclesiological Society (‘for those who love churches’) which will take place in central London. The topic ‘From Citadels to warehouses: some places of worship in Britain today’ which will explore buildings of six religious communities which are less well-known. http://ecclsoc.org/events/page/2/
Lincolnshire Day is an annual event celebrated on 1st October. That date marks the anniversary of the Lincolnshire Rising, a revolt by Catholics against the establishment of the Church of England by Henry VIII in 1536. The first official Lincolnshire Day was held in 2006, and the aim is to encourage people to honour this historical events along with the history, heritage and culture of the historic county of Lincolnshire. This year the Society for Lincolnshire History & Archaeology is holding a day of activities jointly organised with Kirton Lindsey Society, focused on Kirton Lindsey Town Hall. Organisations relating to archaeology, history and heritage in the county are invited to display information; and Lincolnshire themed food will be available. www.slha.org.uk
Black Country History Day is year will be on 7 October. The speakers will be Graham Worton, Dudley MBC's Keeper of Geology, talking about the Black Country's bid to become a UNESCO Global Geopark; Keith Hodgkins, the Black Country Society's President, 'Black Country Building Stones', David Mills, Assistant Curator at Walsall Leather Museum, 'A Short History of the Leather Trade in Walsall, and Judith Davies, PhD student at the University of Birmingham, 'The Trials and Tribulations of Samuel Cook, Dudley's Famous Radical'. For more information, contact Dr Malcolm Dick: firstname.lastname@example.org Black Country Society www.blackcountrysociety.co.uk
A Berkshire Local History Association study day will be held on 7 October at the church of St Mary the Virgin, Ewelme: ‘Death and Commemoration in the Middle Ages’. This is an afternoon event, and participants are invited to take a picnic and explore the church grounds and interior beforehand. www.blha.org.uk
Cumbria Local History Federation will be holding their annual convention on Saturday 14 October, co-hosted with the History of Kirkby Group and the Askam History Group. The theme is ‘Some History of the Furness Peninsula’. www.clhf.org.uk
London Colney Local History Society will be organising its annual exhibition for the weekend of 14 and 15 October. The subject will be ‘The architectural and historical heritage of London Colney: London Colney’s listed buildings’. www.londoncolneyhistory.co.uk/activities.html
Doncaster Family & Local History Fair (with craft stalls) will be held on Saturday 14 October at the Deaf College (opposite Doncaster Racecourse). This event is organised by Doncaster & District Family History Society and further details can be found on their website www.doncasterfhs.co.uk
On 21 October a joint conference hosted by the Society for Landscape Studies, and Oxfordshire Architectural & Historical Society will take place at St Anne’s College, Oxford. The subject is ‘From the Cotswolds to the Chilterns: the historical landscapes of Oxfordshire. www.landscapestudies.com, www.oahs.org.uk
Christchurch History Society has ‘entered a new era’ with the launch of its online catalogue. Thanks to an HLF grant and nearly two years of hard work by a handful of dedicated members, the society’s considerable archive is now searchable by anyone from the comfort of home. In the process of this huge task numerous duplications have been eliminated from the handwritten and printed lists that were ‘the catalogue’. Over 5,000 digital images have been identified and sorted, so only one good quality copy of each is held. The archive is the most valuable asset of the society, and will now be given the recognition it deserves. Feedback has been extremely positive from both professional and lay users, at home and abroad. http://www.historychristchurch.org.uk/content/category/catalogue
Since 1982 Project Purley members have been researching the history of their area and have found an enormous amount of information. Recently they have been trying to make more of this available on their website. The site is in two parts, a front end which is about Project Purley and its activities, and a back end which consists of several hundred articles which can be downloaded or read on line, and all the Project Purley A5 booklets. They are seeking volunteers for several tasks. Most of the articles are in out-of-date digital form and some also need editing. Transcribing is required for others. Several volumes of press cuttings need attention to make them more user-friendly, and to release the stories they contain. www.project-purley.eu
Hendon & District Archaeological Society are testing a possible solution to the ever increasing costs of coach hire for excursions. They are planning some ‘bus pass’ outings. Time and destination are agreed, and members make their own way there, perhaps using their bus pass, for the pre-arranged group visit. The advantages of having an email contacts list of members are clear for this type of project, as venues and dates can be discussed and communicated at short notice and with minimum cost. The first will be to the Tunnel exhibition at Docklands Museum. www.hadas.org.uk. There is also a new website that uses dramatic images of the Crossrail project, and its archaeology (which you may have seen on television programmes). https://archaeology.crossrail.co.uk/?view=1&heading=284&pitch=-10
A particularly interesting part of reading all the newsletters and journals received is to see the vast range of topics that local societies are involved in research or sharing information about; and most of these are of course possible elsewhere around the country:
Romsey Local History Society’s Newsletter has an article about the Romsey Division Trefoil Guild from 1939 to 1945, using the comprehensive log books kept by the ‘old guide group’ that became the Trefoil Guild. www.lvtas.org.uk
Bridport History Society has reprinted an early article about the arrival of telephones in the town in the early 20th century, with a fascinating list of the local businesses which were clearly keen to take advantage of this new form of communication. Journal editor email email@example.com
Many communities are facing the absence of their local sub-post offices. Harpenden & District Local History Society sub-post offices have surveyed theirs from the 1890s, including the locations and the people who ran them. The article with coloured photographs can be found on their website. www.harpenden-history.org.uk
The Chairman’s page in Edmonton Hundred Historical Society’s Newsletter asks about the survival of the custom of ‘beating the bounds’, including this picture of the need to take to the water. www.edmontonhundred.org.uk
Bedford Local History Magazine is published by Bedford Architectural, Archaeological & Local History Society. The April2017 issue contains an article on an estate agent’s property lists ‘an often over-looked source for historians. They provide valuable insights into the state of the property market, and also local businesses contemporary culture and society, all illustrated by ‘McConnells Property Register’ of 1910. www.baalhs.org.uk
WEST NEWCASTLE PICTURE HISTORY COLLECTION, in collaboration with its neighbour, St James Heritage & Environment Group, has published the second book in their “through the years in maps and pictures” series. The first book featured Benwell, now a suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne but formerly a Township in Northumberland. The second book concerns Elswick, about which the same comments can be made. Each book illustrates how each area changed from being predominantly rural in nature, in 1864, to being fully urban, in 1989, using four Ordnance Survey maps and 23 photos from the extensive collection of WNPHC. The books are provided without charge. WNPHC is a volunteer-led archive containing over 20,000 images and documents relating to the history of West Newcastle upon Tyne. https://www.flickr.com/people/wnphc/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The new Shropshire Archives website is now live. It has a number of areas: details about the archive service including research and information guides, a much improved online catalogue, plus the ability to complete transactions online such as booking a space in the searchroom and ordering documents in advance. The improved display allows you to browse the collection and see individual documents in context. Searching is easier, and it is possible, for example, to search just for items with images. To use all the functions it is necessary to register. For further information go to www.shropshirearchives.org.uk
Bedfordshire Archives & Records Service Newsletter contains a regular ‘Conservation Corner’ illustrating some of the issues that arise for conservators. They have correspondence relating to Parish Invasion Committees for all parishes in the county (think ‘Dad’s Army’) ref W/INV1-4. The papers were arranged alphabetically by parish, originally hole-punched and put in lever-arch files. Later the files were removed and each bunch held together with string or tape through the holes (illustrated). This meant that each bundle could not be opened flat enough to read the contents. Over the years the edges of the documents, of many different sizes, had become crumpled. They have now been cleaned, repaired, all staples and pins removed, and repackaged with appropriate materials so each parish can be made available to users. www.bedford.gov.uk/archive
‘Magna’ the magazine of the Friends of the National Archives always contains interesting and informative articles. The May 2017 issue, for example, contains one that examines closely a WW2 ration book, and the ‘Treasures’ page illustrates a collection of ‘Dig for Victory’ posters. Did you know the Cabinet Papers only date from 1916? Before then there was no agenda or secretary, and minsters took action on their recollection of what had been decided. This changed under David Lloyd George who appointed Lt Col Maurice Hankey as the first Cabinet Secretary. All Cabinet Minutes and Memoranda to 1990 have been digitised and are available to search and download at www.nationlarchives.gov.uk/cabinetpapers
Museum Crush from Culture 24 is a website dedicated to sharing ‘the many curious and compelling objects found in museum collections’ (including things in their archives and store rooms). ‘To read’ features an extraordinary range of rich information and images (and it tells you how long it will take to read!) ‘To do’ links to museums events, activities and exhibitions around the country. http://museumcrush.org
Shortlist Announced For Kids In Museums’ 2017 Family Friendly Museum Award
The Cardiff Story Museum
Dylan Thomas Centre (Swansea)
Great North Museum: Hancock (Newcastle upon Tyne)
Herbert Art Gallery & Museum (Coventry)
Jewish Museum (London)
People’s History Museum (Manchester)
Rainham Hall (Greater London)
River & Rowing Museum (Henley-on-Thames)
Tudor House (Worcester)
Vale and Downland Museum (Oxfordshire)
The Family Friendly Museum Award is the only award where families pick the winner and the shortlisted museums will be road-tested anonymously by families over the summer using the new Kids in Museums Mini Manifesto as a guide to their family and child friendliness. http://kidsinmuseums.org.uk/awards/
Bridport Museum has re-opened after a major redevelopment, for which they ran a successful crowd-funding exercise. The rope and net-making industries have been important in the area for the last 800 years, and the related collections are newly displayed. There are significant geological collections from the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, archaeology from Hod Hill, local artists, and extensive archives in the Local History Centre. www.bridportmuseum.co.uk
The Wychwood Project has been awarded an HLF grant to stage a free exhibition about the history of Wychwood Forest from June to September at the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock. The exhibition will explain the origins of the forest as a hunting ground for Norman royalty and will illustrate the way of life of local people over the centuries, including shepherds, woodsmen and gloveresses. It will also cover the dramatic change to west Oxfordshire in the 1850s when much of the forest was enclosed, trees were felled and the land was turned over to farming. http://www.wychwoodproject.org/cms/
New draft reports from Victoria County history Oxfordshire covering Wychwood Forest and Cornbury Park have been added to their website https://www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/counties/oxfordshire/work-in-progress/wychwood-forest-and-cornbury-park
Cheney School in East Oxford has become the first ‘museum school’ by housing the Rumble Museum. This is the brainchild of the Iris Project, an Oxford-based educational charity whose aim is to bring the languages and culture of the ancient world to inner city state schools and communities. These subjects can be used as tools for enhancing literacy, social awareness and analytical skills.
A growing collection of artefacts (many of them donated by pupils) is exhibited throughout the school in imaginative, informative and accessible displays, and pupils and members of the wider community can also attend workshops, talks, courses and events on archaeology and history. http://www.rumblemuseum.org.uk/index.php/about
The Halton Heritage Partnership recently launched their HLF funded ‘virtual museum’ website. There are maps, oral histories, videos, downloadable heritage walks, and over 3000 digitized artefacts covering the local history of Widnes and Runcorn that form the borough of Halton. www.haltonheritage.co.uk
An exhibition celebrating the golden age of toys and games, made in Enfield by such famous names as Spears Games and Lesney Matchbox, can be visited at Enfield Museum until 7 January 2018. ‘Terrific Toys’ will bring back memories or introduce new generations of children to classic toys and games. Edmonton Hundred Historical Society. www.edmontonhundred.org.uk . www.dugdalecentre.co.uk/page/museum/
West Berkshire Museum has opened a new permanent exhibition –‘Lives and Landscapes’. This looks at the lives of people who have lived there from earliest times to the present, and who created the communities, fields and farms, industries and organisation seen today. The exhibition looks at local history which had international resonance such as the Greenham Common protests and national significance such as the battles of Newbury and the horse racing industry. Berkshire Local History Association. www.blha.org.uk http://www.westberkshireheritage.org/west-berkshire-museum
A new local history course in Sheffield will offer practical advice on the sources available to local historians at the City Archives and the Local Studies Library. Topics covered will include local people and their homes, understanding the layout of streets and communities, local businesses and industry, public buildings, local events and the impact on communities.
Every Thursday 2-4 pm, 21 Sep - 26 Oct 2017. Course fee: £60. To book email email@example.com
The CHORD (Centre for the History of Retailing and Distribution) conference on 'Retailing and Distribution in the Seventeenth Century' will take place at the University of Wolverhampton on 7 September 2017
The programme, together with abstracts, registration details and further information, can be found at: https://retailhistory.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/chord-conference-retailing-and-distribution-in-the-seventeenth-century/
The 2017 Earle Lecture at Keele University will be given by Professor Karen Hunt 1917: THE YEAR OF REVOLUTION … IN STAFFORDSHIRE. This will take place on Monday 16 October 2017. For enquiries contact enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org. Professor Hunt believes strongly in linking local and national history. She gave the BALH annual lecture in 2012, and has recently presented a keynote address to the West of England & South Wales Women’s History Network annual conference.
Forthcoming courses at Canterbury Christchurch University include
‘Knole: a Calendar House?’ on 25 November 2017 and ‘Castle Life in Kent and Sussex’ on 12 May 2018 (both with tutor Gillian Draper). ‘Local history research for beginners’ on 9 December 2017 and ‘Advanced skills in local history research’ on 27 January 2018 with tutor Nicola Waddington. There is much more of interest in the full programme which can be found online.
Canterbury Christ Church University
North Holmes Road, Canterbury, Kent.
Tel: 01227 863451
(Mon - Fri 9.30am - 2.30pm)
Exhibitions at Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru, the National Library of Wales this summer and autumn:
‘Cover to cover’, the world of the book (until 03.02.18) traces the history of the book from ancient Egypt to e-book, looking at types of books, the process of creating a book, and books as works of art in themselves.
‘Legends’ (until March 2018) is an opportunity to come ‘face to face’ with Welsh legends form the National Portrait Collection.
‘Fallen poets: Hedd Wyn and Edward Thomas’. One hundred years ago these two poets were killed in battle during the Great War. Their life and work will be celebrated using material from the Library’s diverse collections (until 02.09.17)
‘Arthur and Welsh Mythology’(until 16.12.17). This exhibition presents the stories of some of the most colourful characters from Wales’ strong tradition of storytelling, using manuscripts, artworks, and the vast screen and sound archive.
The inspired idea of Sam Drake, the first speaker and organiser, this interesting and varied introduction to medieval documentary sources was held at the Royal Cornwall Museum on Friday 28th April 2017. Under the auspices of the Cornwall Association of Local Historians and BALH, over 80 people attended and at least three went on to attend the Devon BALH day on the Saturday.
Talks by Oliver Padel, Alex Woodcock, Paul Cockerham, Jo Mattingly and Miranda Lawrance-Owen and Julia Todd ranged from the Cornish language, 12th century and late medieval sculpture and tombs, Stratton churchwardens’ accounts 1512-1578 and Rillaton Manor Accession rolls. Subthemes included piracy, Cornish language nicknames, Norman beak heads (and their rarity outside the SW, Oxfordshire, and Yorkshire), Lancastrian memorialisation, the 1548-9 religious rebellions and the problems and challenges of Duchy of Cornwall seven year renewable tenancies. Attendees lunched on non-medieval, but very Cornish, pasties and saffron buns and had a chance to see a special exhibition of documents and books in the Courtney Library at the museum.
As Reviews Editor, I receive many newsletters over the course of a year from more than fifty local history societies. Some societies produce one newsletter a year, while others publish four or more. An increasing number of societies have turned to e-newsletters, which have several advantages over printed copy in terms of cost and ease of dissemination. All material submitted to me, whether by post or email, is considered for the BALH annual Newsletter Award, which is presented at the BALH Local History Day in June. Here are a couple of general points that help me make my selection:
News and Information
The point of a good newsletter, first and foremost, is to serve as a method of communication. At its most basic level, therefore, it needs to contain information such as relevant contact details, society news and a programme of events. Some recent Newsletter Award winners have even gone one step further by taking the trouble to report on projects or advertise events run by other heritage organisations within the locality or region, which might appeal to its membership. Incorporating this sort of material may involve much work for the editor, but reciprocal networks can be established over time so that information gets passed along without having to go looking for it. An editorial, written either by the chairperson or editor is another welcome addition. It adds personality to the content and often makes for entertaining reading!
Research and Other Activities
Some local history societies are more active than others. A written report on a lecture or a group excursion often forms the bulk of newsletter content. However, winning newsletters also tend to contain short pieces of original research (preferably referenced). There is a strong tendency for these to be written by committee members, but all society members should be encouraged to contribute to future issues. It may be that the fruits of research are usually published in a separate society journal, perhaps on an annual basis. But the newsletter can be the place to report on research progress, seek help with specific research questions, or discuss particular sources and how useful they have been. The latter may encourage other researchers in turn. Book reviews or an assessment of a new online resource can also be helpful to the membership.
As well as a varied content, the editors of winning newsletters have usually given some thought to the design. While colour printing and glossy paper might help some newsletters stand out from the crowd, it is appreciated that the high production costs may well be beyond the means of many societies, especially if there is more than one issue a year. Far more important for a winning newsletter is the clarity of its design: a fussy, cramped and disorganised layout can be a big turn-off. Even if space is restricted, a winning newsletter will have a legible font, follows a logical order, and strikes the right balance between content and blank space. Efforts to include relevant photographs and images, even if printed in black and white, can also help to break up the text and add to the attractiveness of the publication.
Since graduating in 1974 from the University of St Andrews, my whole working life has been spent in archives as a freelance researcher. Over the years I have completed a wide variety of projects for my clients, including family history, the histories of manors, houses, villages, businesses and literary figures. One of the cases that I enjoyed most was a long running project tracing the deeds 1535 - 1691 relating to a former monastic manor. This proved incredibly complicated with many layers of leases within leases for each piece of land. Using this research, my client produced a book of over 500 pages published by the Somerset Record Society.
For many years I have specialised in the records of the Courts of Equity. In 2003 I was commissioned to write an introductory book on the Chancery Court for family historians, Family Feuds, An Introduction to Chancery Proceedings. I have now updated and broadened this to cover all the courts of equity and to show that these records are just as relevant to local historians as they are to family historians. My new book, Tracing your Ancestors through the Equity Courts, is due to be published later this year (2017). I have had articles published in many family history magazines, and one in ‘The Local Historian’ on the treasures to be found in Chancery records.
I give talks on Chancery court records regularly to family history and local history societies Using Chancery records I illustrate the need for family historians to look at local history. I must admit that on occasion I have found that I am less interested in whether or not John is the son of James, and am much more interested in where and how they lived!
I am already active in our local history and museum society, and, should clients ever stop asking me to work on their projects, I hope to research the village where I live with my family.
About 18 months ago I accepted a discreet invitation to become a member of the Select Vestry of the Parish of Preston. I’d previously written the history of the Select Vestry, having spoken on the subject at its annual dinner some years ago, and was therefore something of an authority on this ancient and eccentric institution. Now, I was to be a member of it myself – one of the Four and Twenty Gentlemen, as the body was alternatively known (though some of the ‘gentlemen’ are actually ladies, the first woman member having been chosen back in 1927).
The Select Vestry is believed to be one of only two which survive in England and Wales, the other being at the magnificent church of St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol, though in the Church of Ireland the system of select vestries is still standard. The concept goes back at least to the seventeenth century: in 1722 Edward Ward published a scurrilous and entertaining satire on these institutions. The parish gutt'lers: or, The humours of a select vestry is a 64-page more or less rhyming verse, which parodies the gluttony, corruption, venality and gross sexual behaviour of select vestrymen. The tradition was carried on with venomous cartoons by Thomas Rowlandson and others into the mid-nineteenth century.
Select vestries were based on the principle of a ‘self-perpetuating oligarchy’, whereby vacancies were filled by nomination and the ratepayers at large were denied any participation. Although originally the main focus of their business was the church, its upkeep and its legal and jurisdictional powers, in London parishes and some elsewhere the vestry became the main unit of local government and remained so into the late Victorian period, wielding huge power and commanding very large sums of money (hence the inevitable suspicion of venality).
Here in Preston the select vestry, which has records going back continuously to 1644, seems to have grown out of the ‘Four and Twenty’ system which, with some numerical variations, was found in many parishes in North West England. It was essentially a group of the parish elite and, since parishes in this part of the world were very large, with many constituent townships, it almost functioned as a nascent district council. Most select vestries were abolished under reforms of local and church government in the Victorian period, but in Preston the vestry survived, largely because it had ceased to do very much and was overlooked by the reformers.
The Preston Select Vestry was, and is, divided into three groups of eight, representing the town, the ‘higher end’ (eastwards, up the valley of the Ribble) and the ‘lower end’ (west of the town, towards the estuary). These divisions remain today and, as has been the case since the Stuart period, the Corporation—now the City Council—appoints the eight gentlemen for the town (of whom I am one), not necessarily councillors but people who have served Preston with distinction.
We still have some involvement in the affairs of the two Anglican parish churches of central Preston (though we aren’t all Anglicans or even churchgoers, and the senior vestryman, who holds his office by hereditary right, is head of one of Lancashire’s most prominent Roman Catholic landed families). But we also undertake charitable work, promote the church as a focus for community and arts events, and participate in civic ceremonies such as mayoral services, the funerals of prominent citizens, and the processions of judges and Crown Court dignitaries which here mark, as they have done for centuries, the start of the legal year.
And we have brightly-coloured robes, specially designed for us by the Fashion Department of the University of Central Lancashire, in readiness for the Preston Guild celebrations in 1992. Vaguely academic in style and an eye-catching sea-green in colour, they are (to say the least) a visual spectacle which always intrigues the onlookers, particularly if accompanied by the green velvet Tudor-style cap which is part of the ensemble. People come and ask what on earth we are, and there the problems begin. How to explain this eccentric, esoteric and arcane relic of a bygone age ... no easy task!
The Association’s AGM was held on 3 June, presided over by our new president Professor Caroline Barron. Jacquie Fillmore and Ruth Paley had come to the end of their terms of office as Trustees, and Kate Tiller and David Griffiths had resigned during the year due to other commitments. They were thanked for their valuable work for the Association. The list of current Trustees, and other members of advisory committees can be found overleaf on p 36. New Trustees Virginia Bainbridge, Jonathan Mackman and Susan Moore were welcomed.
Congratulations to award recipients, who were presented with their certificates at Local History Day recently. The full list can be found on page 31. Also in this issue of Local History News, Sarah Rose writes about what she looks for in an award-winning society newsletter. Alan Crosby will write more about the Research & Publication awards in the next issue. The nomination form for 2018 Personal Achievement awards can be found in the suppled, pages 2 and 3, but the accompanying notes are opposite here on p 34. Please read them carefully if you are thinking of making a nomination. In particular, note the closing date (be aware of possible seasonal postal delays), the requirement for two referees, and the stipulation that no additional material can be considered.
New edition of Internet Sites Directory
The PA award notes have moved from the Supplement because we are delighted to announce new edition of our very successful publication Internet Sites for Local Historians: a directory. Jacquie Fillmore has compiled the most up to date list of valuable sites, and we are now using ‘print on demand’ to ensure there is minimum delay in getting the copies out to readers. Please use the order form on page 2 of the Supplement to buy your copy of this essential handbook.
As you can see from page 1 of the supplement BALH is appearing at events around the country. Gill Draper is always happy to hear from members who would be prepared to help with the BALH stall on such occasions. In particular is there someone who could assist on 24 September at the London Family History Fair at Sandown Racecourse, Esher, in Surrey? This would give you free entry, and you’d need to share the time on the stall, but would be free to see the rest of the show too. You can kind more information about the event at http://thefamilyhistoryshow.com/ Please contact Gill by email email@example.com
Doing local history
We continue to encourage the active local history researchers amongst our members and friends to share their interests and queries on our pages.
The breadth of location and of time period is again striking in LHN 124. There was no special attempt at creating an issue with a medieval and early modern emphasis, it just happened that way. Thank you to the contributors, please keep the information coming.
It is therefore appropriate to give a reminder of the BALH Medieval and Early Modern Essay prize that is available, see the back cover of the April issue of The Local Historian, Vol 47 No 2 or www.balh.org.uk/publications/local-historian/medieval-and-early-modern-essay-prize.
Welcome to Ally
I would like to welcome Ally McConnell as our new regular contributor taking a ‘view from the archives’. We hope you will enjoy her first article on page 11.