Come along to this free lunch time talk and find out what is happening around the county to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Hear about the Derbyshire Lives in the First World War project and take a look in our Story Box full of serving soldiers’ letters, diaries and photographs and other First World War material all telling the personal stories of those living and fighting during the War, those who survived and those who never returned home.
Derbyshire Record Office has employed a Project Officer to support Derbyshire communities with their projects to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. The Derbyshire Lives Through the First World War project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and in this event Project Officer, Glynn Wilton, will talk about the project, give advice to those starting their own project, provide information on where and how to access records and archives and how to interpret information to engage people with the history of Derbyshire in the First World War, and generally help in whatever way is needed!
Derbyshire Lives Through the First World War – lunch time talk
Tuesday 11 November 1.15pm-1.45pm
Free – booking essential
Derbyshire Record Office
Tel: 01629 538347
Recently we were visited by two ladies who were researching Edmund Potter & Co Calico Printers of Dinting Vale, Glossop. Edmund Potter & Co was once possibly the largest calico printworks in the world, and on checking our catalogues we discovered that we had an uncatalogued collection which no-one had been particularly aware of.
The collection (D1589) was bequeathed to us by Alderman J G Hurst of Glossop, who wrote a biography of Edmund Potter and collected books and archives about calico printing. The collection contains a lot of printed books, which we didn’t usually collect (possibly explaining why it wasn’t catalogued at the time) – although of course now we also house local studies, that’s changed. Delving into the boxes, however, revealed some beautiful original Potter & Co pattern books dating back to the 1850s containing swatches of fabrics in stunningly fresh colours.
An even more unexpected find was a man’s shirt printed with tiny images, possibly from children’s illustrations. We don’t recognise the pictures and although one of them shows a Manchester postmark. If the date on that postmark is anything to go by, the shirt would date to around 1883.
So what’s the Beatrix Potter connection? Well, Edmund Potter was Beatrix’s grandfather and according to one of the ladies who came to look at the collection (she is an expert on Beatrix Potter) he used to send the young Beatrix fabric samples which she would use to make up little outfits for her toys. She would then make paintings of those dressed up characters… and of course these ultimately developed into her famous books. She also used the fabric to bind her own books and folders of her paintings.
Now that we’ve rediscovered this wonderful material, we’re cataloguing it so that more people will be aware that it’s here. But isn’t it nice to think that Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and other beloved Beatrix Potter characters may have been clothed in some of the fabrics tucked within our pattern books? Oh, and if you recognise any of the characters printed on the shirt, please tell us, as they’re a complete mystery!
I have recently started work revising the catalogue of the records of the Harpur Crewe family of Calke Abbey. There is a lot of wonderful stuff in this wonderful collection, and I am hoping to give you a flavour of what is held every few weeks or so by selecting a document for you to look at.
The first document I have selected is something of a mystery. It is a draft letter, supposedly from a dying mother to her son. It has been dictated by her to a person who would seem to have been writing it down straight onto a page in a book. She evidently had enough strength to put her initials, JH. The page has, however, been torn out rather badly from the book, as can be seen from the left hand margin. Did the mother change her mind and decide not to send the letter? Was she dissatisfied with it? Was she the one to tear it out so badly? Did the mother actually die before it could be sent? Whatever happened, the sheet of paper was actually re-used, as on the other side are notes about an indenture of 1587 relating to properties in Alstonefield, Staffordshire, and was found loose in a court book of the manor of Alstonefield.
D2375/M/1/3/1 – letter
Here is a Transcript of the document, with an update in more modern English.
I would like to believe the mother in question is Jane Harpur, who died in 1597 and was the widow of Richard Harpur of Swarkestone, a renowned lawyer and judge. The son to whom she may have been writing may possibly have been John, who was knighted in 1603. There are few very certainties, only that it was written from Swarkestone, where one branch of the Harpur family lived, and that it was delivered by George Hoult. There is a tantalising reference to “that noble mann”, which may be the Earl of Derby (Derby is referred to further down in the letter, “darby was our frend”) or Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury (John Harpur was said to be his right hand man). There is also a surprising reference to her niece Bennett and her “bedfeloew on knowen”.
Even if we can’t know at this stage what is really going on, I would like to think it does actually show that people’s lives in the past were always more complicated than we tend to give them credit for.
Derbyshire Libraries is tweeting as a First World War Soldier, using extracts from diaries and letters held at Derbyshire Record Office. These archives have been given a new lease of life as the words of soldiers at the front line reach a new audience via social media and we can hear first-hand about events that occurred 100 years ago.
Follow DerbyshireSoldier @SoldierFWW
Due to the success of the first event in March, we will be holding the Repairing the Past event again next Thursday, 18 September, from 2.00pm to 3.30pm. This is your chance to find out how we protect our collections from pests, mould and other dangers and includes a visit to the conservation studio to see how we repair damaged documents.
Visit to the conservation studio during the March session
Clare showing how we repair documents
You can also bring your own old photographs, books and documents for specific advice from the Conservation Team. There are only a few places left, so do get in touch soon if you’d like to come along.
You may have seen in the news that a team from Canada believe they have discovered one of the ships from the lost Franklin expedition – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-29131757
Franklin was one of the outstanding explorers of the early 19th century, but it was the Admiral’s tragic end that earned him iconic status. As a young midshipman, Franklin served at Trafalgar. He then commanded a frigate in the seas around Greece between 1830 and 1833. Four years later, in 1837 Franklin was appointed Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), a post he held until 1843. His lasting reputation derives from his major expeditions to the Canadian Arctic in search of the North West Passage. He embarked on the third in May 1845. The last sighting of his ships was in July 1845. Relief expeditions were mounted, but by 1850 it was clear to everyone except his second wife Lady (Jane) Franklin (1792-1875) that the expedition was lost. She continued to raise funds to send out search parties until 1859 when proof was found of the deaths of Franklin and his party.
Derbyshire Record Office holds a good range of records relating to Franklin and his various expeditions, including papers relating to the many searches for the final expedition after 1845. The papers have come to the Record Office through Franklin’s daughter, Eleanor Isabella. Eleanor was the daughter of Franklin’s first wife Eleanor Anne Porden (died 1825), and the wife of Rev. John Philip Gell, of the Gell’s of Hopton Hall, near Wirksworth and Carsington.
D3311/112/2 Lady Franklin’s Final Search p1
D3311/112/2 Lady Franklin’s Final Search p2
D3311/219 Copies of Instructions to Captain Sir John Franklin in reference to the Arctic Expedition of 1845, 1848
D3311/95 ‘ Echo from the deep’ – Newspaper cutting from the Daily Express 14 Apr 1965 regarding discovery of Erebus or Terror – although it transpired that this was not one of the lost ships
Also in the collection;-
D3311/81 – An Account of a clairvoyant describing where to find Sir John Franklin and his ships, copied by E.J. Gell, 1849
D3311/51/1-4 Extract from Capt. Fitzjames’ letter to Mr Barrow regarding Sir John Franklin 1845; Extract from a letter from a Canadian missionary, Rev Father Tacke describing an expedition setting off to find Sir John Franklin’s 1845 expedition 1848
2 Notices of the expedition’s discovery and search 1849
The Local Studies Library at Derbyshire Record Office has recently acquired 17 old Hodgkinson’s Almanacks for Matlock, dating from between 1893 and 1944. Full of fascinating old advertisements and local information, and including some examples from both world wars.
Sue Peach, Local Studies Librarian
We are pleased to announce the 1918 Absent Voters Lists have now been cleaned and digitised! Here’s how we did it…
With the anniversary of the start of World War I upon us, like many heritage institutions around the country, the Conservation Team at Derbyshire Record Office have been working to preserve and conserve documents from the first world war era. Particular priority has been given to those documents which will be used the most by the public, and at the moment we have decided to work on electoral registers from the period 1914-1919. Continue reading
One hundred years ago today, Britain declared war on Germany and entered a conflict which would claim millions of lives and affect millions more.
To mark the centenary, we have an exhibition – The Last Summer – which you can come and view in the Record Office reception area until Saturday 27th September. Looking at Derbyshire people and places, pastimes and events during the summer of 1914, it documents our county during the last few months of peace.
The Broad Walk, Buxton, 1914
(Joseph) Arthur Hodgkiss of Baslow
This Thursday 7th August, we are also holding an event ‘Archives Aloud: Voices from the Front’ - using letters and diaries to bring to life the voices of those who served during the First World War.
Starting at 2pm, it is free to attend but you will need to book either by e-mail (email@example.com) or phone (01629 538347). You are welcome to bring your own family letters and stories to share with us too.