Collecting stories

That was what this was about. There are people out there with stories that will never be heard and this project was a way to tell them, a chance to be a part of something bigger in the long run.Emily for blog

There was uncertainty when this project began, a sense of unknowing, what we would do? Where it would take us? Who would be involved? We kept going. There were three of us to begin with, the three musketeers if you will, students of Highfields School, yet it gradually decreased to one, me. Three had gone down to Derbyshire Record Office, were introduced to the project, some of the people involved, it was interesting.

Wirksworth was the first event, a chapter covering two days. Placed on the vicarage lawn, tents housing a storyteller, dramatizing a mother’s opinion of her lady’s maid daughter’s letters from France, on how she hated the country, the food and the people. Another housed documents linking to the church and the town and the intrepid people who were faced with the task of deciphering the swirling handwriting. The sun shined over the people that day, but the wind bit the people within.

That day was the door to a wider space, one that would allow us to expand what we were trying to achieve, a collection of stories.

The second chapter was a car boot. One place where there was a greater sense of unknowing. There was a Lady of the Car Boot, collecting bits and bobs, nicks and knacks. There was cake and objects that people could find fascinating. One story told was that of the man who asked “what was being sold?” and in return was “records” to end with “have you got any Elvis”… what a day!

Next chapter was Ripley Music Festival. People of different backgrounds, professions and ages converged together to witness local music. Some visited our bright yellow tent near the playground opposite the stage, a tent that you could see from the end of the street. Filled with documents, maps, performers and archivists that wanted to hear your stories about the man that lived in the butchers at the end of the street from where you lived or that strange women that collected tins of sweets or even about how your cat escaped. It was fascinating. Everyone had a story to tell, most heart-warming of all was a man who had found a relative, one that he knew of but had never seen documentation of and a child who kept coming back for more with the promise of taking our accordion player on Britain’s Got Talent with her!

That day gave us the push that was needed to go into new places.

The final chapter was that of Gamesley. A place that was so closely intermingled yet so far apart. A divide between the new and the old, an estate so close that you could sneeze on one side to be offered a tissue at the other. There was a bucking bronco, barbecue, animals fluffy and feathered gathered together with this bright yellow tent placed in the centre. Stories collected there were intriguing, a man who remembered as a child playing on the tips, collecting circuit boards and taking them home to later in life becoming an electrician in New Zealand. Another of a man who as a boy played in an old hospital for diseases and turned to his mother when realisation kicked in to question “why?!” This was the last of the Amazing Pop Up Archives adventures, but one that rounded everything together. The efforts of the Musician, Storyteller, Poet, Student, Archivist, Photographers and Lecturer joined together to complete a story within its own right.

To end this story, there is the beginning of a new one. One that has become bigger than it was, one that would involve more people, collecting more tales and objects to have a place in history. Wirksworth was the beginning and Gamesley was an end.

But was it really?

We collected stories.

We gained knowledge.

We learned something new.

It’s the beginning of something more….

 

Emily Atkin,

Volunteer, the Amazing Pop Up Archives Project

 

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Travels with William Porden: French hotels in 1816

My love of snooping through, and blogging from, other people’s diaries has been on hold for a while whilst I’ve had to concentrate on other things. Recently, however, I had an opportunity to look more closely at collection D3311 (from which I blogged William Porden’s diaries earlier this year) and was delighted to discover a ‘new’ William Porden diary. I had been looking at the diaries of Eleanor Anne Porden, William’s daughter, who had also been writing a travel diary of their joint trip to France in 1816 – what a  marvellous opportunity to see the same experiences through two different eyes!

Even more marvellously, it turned out that the person who originally catalogued the diaries had been fooled by the fact that the books looked the same from the outside into thinking that they were all by the same person. When I opened one (D3311/14/3) and saw this:

It was perfectly clear that this was the diary of William Porden the architect, and not his daughter.

As ever, I also found some little snippets about their travels that charmed me. Here’s an account from Mr Porden’s diary for 13 October 1816, when they arrived at Cambray:

At our Inn “The Grande Canarde” we were much straitened for Bed Room and obliged to submit to inconveniences that in England would not be borne.  Miss Appleton and Eleanor slept in one bed and I was obliged to inhabit a small closet within it, with a Glass door, without any curtain, or any Accommodations for the toilet of a Gentleman.  This obliged me to rise early to give way to the Ladies, so undressed & unshaven I sallied forth and enjoyed a Walk on the Ramparts in a delightful morning…

On my return to the Inn I found the Ladies had not made the best use of the time I had allowed them, and we were all three obliged to finish our dressing together in a ludicrous manner which reminded me of Hogarth’s print of the Strolling Players dressing in a Barn.  I was shaving, the Ladies doing I know not what.  Though scenes like this are not unusual in France, it seemed to amuse the House, for during our operations two or 3 different servants came in with “Did you ring sir?”

If you want to know what they looked like, here’s William Hogarth’s Strolling Players rehearsing in a Barn (c) Victoria and Albert Museum:

Note that when William Porden refers to his ‘toilet’ he means washing, shaving and dressing – for a description of a French hotel toilet as we would understand the term, see this description.

Eleanor wrote in her diary (D3311/14/2) on 10 October of an experience when they arrived at an inn that clearly wasn’t used to having guests:

It was dark when we reached Montdidier and established ourselves in the two rooms at the Grenadier Francois … there were three domestiques or rather three sisters of the Maitresse who all made errands into the room and crowded round us, and gaped, and stared, as if we had been the most extraordinary monsters in the world.  They said they had very few passengers by that road and still fewer who slept there, and talked much of an English lady and four children who had been there about six months before, and whom of course we were expected to know.

… after chatting and writing a bit, when we wanted our warming pan, not a soul was stirring.  Our rooms had indeed a superfluity of chairs of all descriptions and sizes, but neither pillow, blanket, water nor napkin [towel]

It transpired that the fire was also out in their room. However, the intrepid Miss Appleton was nothing daunted:

Up started Miss Appleton, and Papa as a faithful Squire, followed. Downstairs she flew and after chasing the Cats that were stretched upon the hearth, and stirring the embers, found some that had life.

Their clattering around to find warming pans finally woke the mistress who came in her chemise [nightwear] and provided them with everything they needed…

She even pulled the pillow from under her master’s head to accommodate us, for there was but one more in the house…. I have seldom slept more comfortably.

Having spent a couple of months in each other’s company in intimate situations like this, the friendship between Miss Appleton and the Pordens is shown to the full in this ‘certificate of good behaviour’ within Eleanor’s last diary (D3311/14/4), just before the Pordens returned to England:

It reads:

Certificate of good behaviour, drawn up by Papa to be signed by Miss Appleton – previous to her departure for Paris –

Lille to wit –

To all whom it may concern –

We the undersigned do hereby certify that during a journey of Five Hundred miles in which we have been subject to various vicissitudes and divers inconveniences Monsieur Porden our Companion and Protector has conducted himself with becoming discretion, and that when we were all obliged to sleep in the same chamber, as oftentimes befell, he never peeped behind the Curtain at improper seasons; never pretended to turn his back while he was watching from the looking glass before him; never presumed to tye the Garters of any lady unless he was requested so to do; and farther, that the Kisses with which he dispelled the slumbers of the morning were soft as the breath of Favonius and pure as paternal love – Given under our hands this 26th day of October in the year of our Lord – 1816 –

Elizabeth Appleton

Signed at W Porden’s particular request but with a mental reservation as to some of the clauses of this certificate against which I shall hereafter formally protest.

Eleanor Anne Porden

Dronfield 1917 (in 2017)

Last night, while others spending an evening at school may have been watching the typical (or less typical) Christmas nativity, I was privileged to attend Stonelow Junior School to see the year 6 give a dramatic presentation for Dronfield 2017: Stories from the First World War.

For the last 12 months, the pupils have been researching the history of their town and it’s people, including some of soldiers who fought in the war. With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and led by the brilliant Gertie and Paul Whitfield from Whitworks Adventures in Theatre, pupils visited different museums, businesses and organisations. In Feb 2017, I visited the school taking a selection of old Dronfield records, photographs and history books to help the pupils with their research.

Posters created by the pupils to show information found from Record Office sources

Informed and inspired by diaries, letters, newspapers, service records, church registers and many other sources, the pupils brought their local “ancestors” to life with poems, songs, a silent movie re-enactment, imagined postcards and letters and recollections from the past. Remembering facts and figures, stories and feelings, it was a fantastic way to present what they had learned – including a verse of Silent Night in the original German.

I couldn’t help but read the pupils project diaries and see what they thought of the Record Office visit…

“… it was a fascinating day I learnt a lot and hope she comes again” – Chloe

“When I was reading I noticed that the writing was squiggly in the log books” – Alexander

“My personal favourite is the church record book. It had in it all the names, birth and their jobs. I felt so privled [?privileged] and excited  to find out what jobs were in 1917. The writing kept going column after column and the writing was big and scary but some of it was so fancy”

You can soon see a copy of the book produced as part of the project in our Local Studies collection and in Dronfield Library.

Adopt A Piece of History discount extended

We’re extending the 50% off discount for our Adopt A Piece of History scheme to Thursday 14 December, so there are still two weeks left to choose that perfect gift. Our Treasures include our oldest document from 1115, a delicious Bakewell Pudding recipe from 1837, an artist’s tool roll, the Eyam Parish Register, a medieval dance notebook (as seen on the example certificate below), a railway plan and many, many more.  And each one of our other records is available for adoption via the Unique and Become a Part of History options – have a look on our catalogue and search for a place, person, date, parish, school or any subject you can think of to see what gems we hold!

Christmas delivery deadlines:

  • Thursday 14 December for Unique Certificates and Become a Part of History
  • Thursday 21 December for one of the Treasures

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Matthew Goodden of Abergavenny: toll gate entrepreneur, forger of railway tickets

We have published a few previous posts about Roger’s work as a cataloguing volunteer.  In the following post, Roger tells us about another recent discovery in the records of the Thornsett Turnpike Trust:

A document in this collection which made me curious was an invoice from Matthew Goodden of Abergavenny for water and gas supplied to a Thornsett toll house: why might someone living in Abergavenny have a commercial interest in a toll gate situated in New Mills? In turnpike days entrepreneurs made a business out of toll collection. Local turnpike trusts would let out toll collection to the highest bidder: the lessee, having paid a fee, expected that the money they collected in tolls would amount to substantially more than the fee. Matthew Goodden was one such lessee.

From census records and a baptism register it is clear that Matthew Goodden was born in Yeovil, son of a toll collector. As a youth he collected tolls at Smallway gate, Castle Cary, close to the Galhampton gate operated by his father. The subsequent development of Matthew Goodden’s enterprise, not only with toll roads but also with toll bridges, can be traced through historic newspapers.  His name, sometimes under alternative spellings of Godden or Gooden, appears in local newspapers particularly through his appearances before local magistrates: characteristically as accused or accuser in disputes with travellers. One interpretation might be that he was a man who gave offence and took offence easily. An alternative is that disagreements about the toll payable were inevitable given the ambiguities in toll schemes. Disputes might easily arise given different tolls, for example, for a chaise in private use and a cart carrying goods. How should a journey be charged if a cart passed through a gate only to return loaded with goods a few minutes later? No toll was to be charged for someone riding to church: but did that concession apply to someone claiming to be travelling to a distant church when their local parish church was accessible without passing through the toll gate?

As a young man Matthew Goodden appears to have had interests in the south west of England. The parish register entry for his marriage in 1846, the subsequent baptisms of three children and the census of 1851 show that within a few years he lived in toll houses at Heavitree, near Exeter; West Lydford, Somerset; Nubbis Ash near Cam, Gloucestershire and Downside, Shepton Mallett. An announcement of Matthew Goodden’s temporary insolvency in the London Gazette in 1856 lists further toll houses in Gloucestershire where he had worked: Hawbridge at Deerhurst; Mythe and Ashchurch near Tewkesbury. By 1861 he was at Dowdeswell near Cheltenham: his first wife Hannah Mundy was buried there in 1862. Later Ann Williams, a young woman from Dowdeswell, became Matthew Godden’s “wife”.

With his brother Robert, Matthew Goodden acquired interests beyond the south western counties. In 1853 they faced magistrates in Dorset about a dispute at a toll gate at the Passage Bridge, Portland and magistrates in Wiltshire about a dispute payment at the Devizes Green turnpike. In the 1860s Matthew Goodden’s name appears in connection with toll roads in Hornsey and South Newington in London and Shavers End on the road from Dudley to Wolverhampton. Perhaps the brothers over-reached themselves: in 1866 they were formally ejected from a contract in relation to a turnpike road near Huddersfield. It is around this time that Matthew Goodden is described as living at the Old Brewery toll gate in Dudley; here at some point a new partner, Harriet Hill, joined Matthew Goodden‘s household. She had been the wife of a fellow toll collector the Dudley area. By 1874 Matthew Goodden had become lessee of tolls for a road in Abergavenny and the census taken in 1881 shows him and Ann living at the toll house on Brecon Road Abergavenny: later they lived at nearby Gilwern. Toward the end of the nineteenth century the practice of providing for road construction and maintenance through tolls was discontinued. But some bridges remained subject to tolls and Matthew Gooden was able to continue as a toll collector at the Glangwryney (or Llangrwyney) bridge over the River Usk in the parish of Llangenny between Crickhowell and Abergavenny. The Llangenny parish registers are available on line and record that Matthew Goodden died at Glangwryney in 1903. He was succeeded as toll collector by his brother Robert, who not only moved into the toll cottage but also married Harriet Hill just ten weeks after Matthew Goodden’s death.

Clearly Matthew Goodden’s interests in turnpikes at various locations across England and Wales involved him in substantial travel. It is ironic that a man who made his living from road users made much use of the railways. While travelling on their trains he was not above taking the railway companies for a ride. At Gloucester Assizes in 1859 he appeared with his brothers having boasted about travelling by train without a ticket. In 1868 he was convicted of a similar offence by magistrates at Dudley. Then on a Friday evening in December 1870 at Derby Midland station Matthew Godden’s ticket for a journey from Rotherham to Smethwick was inspected by a railway employee Levi Till. He was immediately suspicious: Smethwick was not a Midland Railway Company station and that company did not issue such a ticket. The subsequent events were widely reported in local newspapers across the country. Matthew Goodden was taken into police custody: a number of tickets were found in his pockets as well as letters, numbers, a printing frame and ink. He was also holding about £190 in cash, said to be toll receipts. In his bedroom at the Old Brewery toll house were found about one thousand forged railway tickets, with names of a variety of stations, together with rolls of paper, printing materials and ink. Some genuine tickets were also found, bearing alterations to dates and destinations. At Derby Assizes the prosecution failed to persuade the court that a charge of forgery was appropriate: Matthew Goodden pleaded guilty to misusing tickets and was imprisoned for two years. The sentence was served in Nottingham prison. He was caught again in July 1890, travelling by train from Abergavenny to Hereford. At Hereford Assizes he was this time convicted of forgery and sentenced to twelve months in prison. He served the sentence in Hereford prison.

John Kenyon Winterbottom: turnpike trust clerk, not wholly trustworthy

We have published a few previous posts about Roger’s work as a cataloguing volunteer.  In the following post, Roger tells us about some recent discoveries:

In the mid-nineteenth century the Thornsett Turnpike Trust managed a number of roads in and around New Mills. Some Trust records have survived in Derbyshire Record Office collection D535, and in the course of listing these records I have come across two small documents that made me curious. The first is a letter written in 1844 by Edward Reddish, clerk to the trust, to Ebenezer Adamson, treasurer. Reddish mentions a “hiatus” in the books between 1840 and 1843 “following the absconding” of John Kenyon Winterbottom. Winterbottom was a Stockport solicitor who amongst many public offices undertook the duties of clerk to a number of turnpike trusts. He was for a time town clerk of Stockport and a local magistrate. He was a founding partner in a local bank and his was one of the names printed on that bank’s banknotes. His story is remarkable, not only for what happened but also for the amount of information available to anyone wanting to discover his story.

Through digital collections of historic British newspapers it is possible to follow the story of his downfall.  By 1840 he was facing financial difficulty. Under threat of bankruptcy he absconded. There were rumours that he had been seen on the quayside at Liverpool close to a ship bound for America. An alternative speculation was that he had gone to France. He was found to have forged signatures in order to receive payment of £5,000 from the life insurance policy of one of his former clients. After four years’ absence Winterbottom returned to Liverpool where he was recognised and arrested. He was convicted of the forgery and sentenced to transportation for life.

It was the practice that any pleas for mitigation of sentence were made not at the trial but subsequently to the Home Secretary. One consequence is that amongst the Home Office records held at Kew (National Archives series HO 18 and HO 19) are the many petitions and letters submitted on Winterbottom’s behalf.  (Some Home Office records are included in a data set called “England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935” on www.findmypast.co.uk, which can be used free of charge in Derbyshire Record Office or your local Derbyshire library.) The sentence provoked such disquiet that within weeks petitions signed by some 20,000 residents of Stockport, Liverpool and Manchester were submitted: signatories included almost every magistrate, clergyman and businessman of Stockport and district. Poignantly there were letters not only from Winterbottom’s wife but also from his victim, the widow who had trusted Winterbottom to deal with her late husband’s estate.

The sentence was not changed and aged in his mid-fifties Winterbottom was taken first to Millbank prison in London and then to the penal colony of Norfolk Island and ultimately in 1847 to Tasmania.  Convict records survive in Kew (National Archives series HO 10 and HO 13) and several records are available on Find My Past or Ancestry (also available for free to visitors here).  During this time there were further fruitless appeals by Winterbottom himself and by associates in England: a final petition was submitted in 1852, accompanied by testimonials to Winterbottom’s exemplary conduct written by senior members of staff and visiting magistrates at Norfolk Island and Tasmania. Winterbottom followed an established sequence: work at the penal colony followed by confinement at a probation station and assignment to local civilian employers. In 1855 he was granted the relative freedom of a ticket of leave.

By 1857 Winterbottom had sufficiently re-established himself in Hobart that in competition with fourteen others he was appointed town clerk of Hobart. A further digital collection, of Australian newspapers, is valuable: trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper.  It is clear from reports of a meeting of Hobart town council that by 1867, when Winterbottom reached the age of 78, there were misgivings about his work as town clerk. But how might the aldermen challenge their venerable old servant? They broached the subject by suggesting that he should take some leave; then made a formal request for his resignation, with a pay-off of a year’s salary. But it seems that once the aldermen had openly voiced their misgivings others were freed to speak. Within a week the aldermen learned that two years earlier Winterbottom had sold council debentures and kept the £400 payment for himself. He was allowed a few days’ grace but did not repay the money. In court he pleaded not guilty but offered his advocates nothing substantial as a defence. He was found guilty and sentenced to two years imprisonment which he served in Hobart prison. He was released in September 1869, a few months after his eightieth birthday and appears to have lived in Hobart until his death in 1872.

 

Arch I’ve Conserved

Join us here at the Record Office on Thursday 23 November from 10.30 to 12.00 to celebrate Explore Your Archives week with a talk and demonstration on how we repair paper and parchment documents.  It’s a free event, but with limited places, so booking is essential. The easiest way to book a place is via our Eventbrite page, or call us on 01629 538347.

Please be aware that although the talk will be delivered in a room accessible via a lift,  the conservation studio – where the practical demonstration will be held – is on the second floor and can only be reached via stairs.

Arch poster

 

Christmas shopping made easy

Have you started shopping for presents yet?  It’s that time of year again when we’re all racking our brains, trying to come up with something original for loved ones who already seem to have everything.  To help you be super-organised, we’re offering 50% off our Adopt A Piece of History scheme throughout November. That means that during November:

  • You can adopt any one of our 50 Treasures for only £10.00. They include our oldest record from 1115, a railway plan, a gardening book, a parish register, a beautifully hand-drawn map, ramblers guides, a Rolls Royce photograph, an artist’s tools and many more (see the full list on our 50 Treasures page).  Simply fill in the form, tell us whose name to put on the certificate and we’ll email it to you.

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  • You can adopt anything at all from our collections for only £17.50. The parish register that mentions great-great-grandparents, an old map of a well-loved area, your favourite of our Woodward cartoons, an old school log book – feel free to browse our catalogue for inspiration.  Again, simply fill in the form giving us the reference number and a brief description of the item, as well as the name to put on the certificate, and we’ll email it to you.

 

  • You can let someone become a part of Derbyshire’s history for only £50.00.  Choose any item from our collections and tell us the reason for the adoption.  We will add your reason to the certificate and the adoption itself will be recorded in our official Register of Adopters, thereby immortalising the recipient, you and the reason for the adoption.

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Full details of the scheme are on our Adopt A Piece of History page.

 

Authenticity Hoo-Ha pt. 3: Is this Mr Glover’s sketch book?

Authenticity is what archives are all about.  Here is the last in my series of three blog posts on this subject.

Some months ago, I had a message from a researcher who had recently been looking at copies of an original document we hold, described in our catalogue as the sketch book of the antiquarian Stephen Glover (1794-1869). Stephen Glover is well known in this county as a pioneering antiquarian and compiler of trade directories, and naturally enough the researcher wanted to know how we had arrived at this attribution. It certainly was not from a signature, as none of the sketches is signed.

The answer was helpfully supplied by our colleagues at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. A note in their files, stamped by the Derbyshire Museum Service, suggests that the book was purchased after having been identified as Glover’s work by an expert in English watercolourists.

So far, so good.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that the note made it pretty clear we had got the wrong Glover!  The note referred not to Stephen, but to John Glover (1767-1849), known as “the father of Australian landscape painting”.

When the Derbyshire Museum Service closed in 1992, the sketch book was among a large number of historic documents transferred to the custody of Derbyshire Record Office. I can only suppose that one of our archivists must have mis-read their own notes, and mentioned Stephen Glover in the catalogue entry by mistake. And we all know how long a mistake can endure once it has been put in writing, don’t we?

I certainly didn’t want to replace the mistake in the catalogue with another mistake, so needed an expert on John Glover’s work to verify all this. Step forward David Hansen, Associate Professor at the Centre for Art History and Art Theory, part of the Australian National University in Canberra. Prof Hansen took a look at some sample images from the book and quickly got back in touch to say this discovery had made his day: he was confident that they are the work of John Glover, and even suggested that the suggested date of c1810 might be a few years late.

John Glover was born at Houghton-on-Hill in Leicestershire, the son of William Glover and his wife Ann. He earned a strong reputation as an artist and drawing master and became president of the Old Water Colour Society in 1807. At the age of 64, in 1831, he moved to Tasmania. He was very active as a painter in his new surroundings and by the time of his death in 1849, Glover had made what would prove to be a lasting contribution to Australian art.

He may have been a Leicestershire man by birth, but there is a strong Derbyshire flavour to the work preserved in the pages of the book, including scenes of Haddon Hall, Ault Hucknall parish church, Kedleston Hall, Chatsworth House, Bolsover Castle and South Wingfield Manor.

A digital copy of the whole book can be viewed in our search room using CD/406 – or if you need to see the original itself, please order using the reference D3653/30.  To whet your appetite, here are some samples:

D3653 30 1_00082 Repton

Repton

D3653 30 1_00080 cattle

Some cattle and some people, drawn by John Glover.

D3653 30 1_00069 Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle

D3653 30 1_00026 Kedleston Hall

Kedleston Hall

D3653 30 1_00004 Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall