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

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Authenticity Hoo-Ha pt. 2: Did Lord Byron and Princess Victoria etch their names on the windows?

Sir Hilary Jenkinson held that authenticity is one of the defining characteristics of the archive. Here is the second of three blog posts about some recent authenticity issues.

On being asked to visit a former hotel to pick up a donation of records, any archivist would expect there to be guest books. Less expected is a pane of window glass. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the “Byron Window” is the most unusual item I have accessioned in twelve years as an archivist. Why is it called the Byron Window? Because it is said that Lord Byron (i.e. George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, 1788-1824) scratched a poem onto it. The lines read:

Where so ever is folly court
Mortal unthinking will resort
For want of reason, still,
Shame on our sex! As for the fair
They all want something everywhere
And something want they will

These etched lines have not gone unnoticed. The Byron Window is mentioned in a variety of magazine articles, including a feature in Derbyshire Life in 2010, and the sale catalogue from when the Temple Hotel was auctioned in 1975.

But how do we know this to be the work of Byron? We don’t, really – in fact, I am not even sure that the squiggle nearest the poem says Byron!

D8116/3/1: The Byron Window

D8116/3/1: The Byron Window

An article on the Andrews Pages cites William Adam’s 1840 guide book “The Gem of the Peak” as evidence that the poet visited the Old Bath in Matlock Bath, and at first glance, I thought the Adam reference extended to the etched window itself – however, it certainly isn’t mentioned in any of the editions we hold here.

William Adam describes The Temple as “originally built as a lodging house or appendage to the Old Bath for the comfort and convenience of those visitors, who wished to be out of the noise and bustle of a crowded Inn”, and observes that the house had been “much improved and enlarged” by its owner, Mrs Evans. He also remarks that the name of Walter Scott is inscribed on a window in room 5 (without making any claim as to who made the inscription).

So, hang on… William Adam was interested enough in Byron to mention his visit to Matlock Bath and interested enough in inscriptions on windows to mention Scott – but did not think to tell us about Byron inscribing a window?

What puts the kybosh on the thing is the date right next to those lines. “6 Oct 1784” is the easiest bit of the whole thing to read, and dates it to before Byron’s time.  (Unless the date and the poem are unrelated?  I would be delighted to be proved wrong!)

The window pane is, transparently, something that a large number of people have inscribed over the course of centuries – so whether or not their number includes Lord Byron, this is an amazing addition to our collections.  I don’t think I have the heart to investigate the other claim, which is that a young Princess Victoria put her name on the same bit of glass!

Authenticity Hoo-Ha pt. 1: Did the Rolling Stones sign the guest register at The Temple Hotel?

Sir Hilary Jenkinson’s “Manual of Archive Administration” (1922) maintains that authenticity is one of the defining characteristics of the archive.  A trio of authentication problems have imposed on my time recently, so I thought I would share them with you in three blog posts.  Here is the first.

Derbyshire Record Office recently accepted the donation of some records from The Temple Hotel in Matlock Bath (D8116). The hotel is no longer open for business, but has a long history of hospitality behind it.  Among the signatures in one of the guest registers, you can find the names of Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts, giving their address as The Rolling Stones, and the date as 16 January 1965. I hope it was really them! The names are in the same hand (fishy, do you think, or easily explained?) and they do not bear much similarity to autographs that can be found online.

D8116 1 2

D8116/1/2: Temple Hotel visitors book, Nov 1963 to July 1971

This is the only bit of the register you will get to see without an applicable exemption under data protection legislation! But these registers will be freely available to all researchers in generations to come.

Several fan websites go into minute detail about where the band were at any given moment, and from these it seems that the Rolling Stones were making a live appearance on Ready, Steady, Go! on the 15th and were then in a recording session in Los Angeles on the 17th. They must have spent the 16th on a transatlantic flight. Mustn’t they? Does anyone remember seeing 2/5 of The Rolling Stones around Matlock Bath that winter?

Let us suppose the signatures above are not genuinely those of Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts. What then of archival authenticity?  Good news: Sir Hilary would still regard the register as an authentic record of the hotel’s activities, deriving as it does from the business function of recording guests’ details. Since the Immigration (Hotel Records) Order 1972, hotels have actually been under a legal obligation to maintain such a record – but of course there was already a long-established practice of registering hotel guests. And there was an equally long-established practice of hotel guests signing in a false name for nefarious purposes, or just for a giggle.  It’s an authentic record of a transaction – it’s the transaction itself that was lacking in authenticity.

Fun fact about hotel guest registers: one of America’s greatest writers signed himself “Samuel Clemens” and gave his profession as “Mark Twain”.

Stitching the Wars

Stitching the Wars was a two-year collaboration between older people in Derbyshire and arts organisation arthur+martha. It is the story of a community that survived two world wars and harsh poverty. It is a kind of documentary, constructed with recollection, poetry and the art of stitching. The project was led by artist Lois Blackburn, who met with local people to devise and stitch two quilts and gather reminiscence. Poet Phillip Davenport then worked with the groups to write poems from these reminiscences. Within the quilts many people speak, in voices rich with experience and feeling. In a sense their work is a history, and these quilts are the page on which it is written.

Stiching the wars

The quilt ‘A Bomber’s Moon’ describes the transforming effect of the First and Second World Wars on rural life. An ancient world of horses and humans is invaded by machines. The quilt is an aerial view of fields and hillsides, perhaps the view from the bomber of the title. Into this ‘landscape’ are sewn words and phrases which link to reminiscences and poems. Most participants were British, but a few were German and they contributed their own war memories. In this way the quilt speaks from both sides of the conflict, reaching towards a common human experience. Maybe this stitching helped to mend a few wounds.

The quilt ‘Fresh Air and Poverty’, describes a quieter war, the struggle everyday people made to keep their families fed and clothed in the years before, during and after the two World Wars. Here we find tramps on the march, children sleeping top to toe in crowded beds, and scrimping and saving is everywhere. But we also find delight in one another’s company; human warmth despite the cold.

Some of the quilt-makers were people with dementia, and it was noticed that stitching in a group, alongside reminiscence conversations, had a rewarding and beneficial effect. Using creativity, colour, touch and companionship to work to an ambitious goal, participants discovered the joy in remembering their early lives. These quilts are a communal act of remembering, a history made by community.

And it tells us: we are all made of this.

An exhibition of the quilts, poetry and reminiscences created throughout the project will be on show at the record office from Wednesday 4th October 2017 to Friday 4th January 2018 (normal opening hours apply).

(Image: Garry Lomas)

The Perils of the Miners’ Pit Head Baths

Among our work, we have been creating a database from Derbyshire National Union of Mineworkers’ tribunal cases relating to illness and injury.  Among the many injuries, illnesses and diseases, were those caused by visits to and working in the pithead baths.

Before the construction of pithead baths at collieries, miners would travel to and from work in dirty, damp clothes. Pithead baths were first discussed by the Mineworkers Federation of Great Britain at its annual conference in 1910 but for many reasons, ranging from worry over illnesses to a proposed charge for using the baths, there was difficulty in persuading miners that pithead baths were needed.

The first baths in Derbyshire were opened at Grassmoor colliery in December 1929. By the late 1930s ten of the county’s collieries, including Markham colliery, had pithead baths. In the late 1940s the Ministry of Fuel and Power decided that every pithead bath should have an attached medical centre. By the beginning of 1947 pithead baths had been built at 366 collieries across the UK with provision for 450,000 men.

The main two groups of injuries and diseases that we have come across resulting from pithead bath use have been slipping and/or falling and skin diseases such as dermatitis and athlete’s foot.

There were strict rules about using the baths (picture courtesy of National Coal Mining Museum for England):Pithead Bath Rules - compressed

Each colliery might have their own set of rules, too.  This is from the Markham Collieries: ‘The Bather’s Handbook’ [1935-1939] (our ref D1920):
a476_7-the-bathers-handbook-markham-colliery-1935x1939

These next two photographs were taken at the National Coal Mining Museum for England near Wakefield, a highly recommended visit.
The pithead baths at this Colliery (no longer in use of course!) certainly put the accidents suffered by both the staff and bath attendants and the miners themselves into context.
lockers

The pithead bath locker rooms could be dangerous places if the miners were eager to get home after their shift!

 

No Money No Soap

A very clear message!

A Happy Adoption

We had a visit from one of our adopters recently, who adopted a parish register last year.  She was thrilled to be able to handle her adopted record and commented on how lovely the certificate is and how wonderful it is to have that extra connection with her past.

aph-certificate

 

If you’d like to adopt one of our fifty treasures or anything else from our collection, either for yourself or as a gift, place your order on our Adopt A Piece of History page.

 

Digitising History

Have you ever worried that your old letters, certificates, photographs, maps and diaries are getting damaged whenever you handle them?  You want to share them with the family, give everyone the opportunity to connect with long-gone relatives, but you can see creases gradually turning into tears. And what about those framed photographs hanging on the walls?  They are fading in the light, changing gradually, getting irrevocably damaged.  The best way to keep all these treasures safe, is to make copies: this allows you to store the originals out of harm’s way, while the copies can be handled and displayed. With a digital copy you can even print off as many duplicates as you like, as often as you need them.

We have been copying our records in order to protect them for a long time, and I’m pleased to say that we’ve opened up our copying service to everyone, from individuals to heritage organisations: we can now digitise your history for you.

Digitising history image

Our experienced staff, using the same equipment they use for all the historic records we hold, are able to digitise:

  • diaries, journals and other bound volumes
  • letters, certificates and other documents
  • photographs
  • maps and plans
  • drawings, watercolours and prints

What are the advantages of trusting Derbyshire Record Office with your family’s history?

  • We have a state of the art digitisation system, including a book cradle for safely copying bound volumes.
  • Our staff are highly trained in handling delicate historic records.
  • Whilst in our care, you records will be kept safe in one of our secure archive stores.
  • We provide high quality images of at least 300 pixels per inch (ppi).
  • We give you the choice between TIFF files, which have a very high resolution but take up a lot of space and can be slow to open, or Jpegs, which have a smaller resolution, but take up a lot less space.
  • We put the images on a CD for you for free, or for a small charge on a USB stick

To ask for a quote, simply fill in a Digitising History quote request form on our website.

 

The Junction Arts story

Congratulations to Christopher Bevan – his film, “The Junction Arts Story” has been nominated for a 2017 Royal Television Society Midlands Award in the Factual Programme of the Year category. The winners will be announced at the end of November.

Derbyshire Record Office

One of my main preoccupations of 2016 was the Junction Arts archive collection – and a fine preoccupation it was too.  Now comes an opportunity to share some of that experience with you – in the form of a specially-commissioned film, The Junction Arts Story:

Derbyshire Record Office’s first encounter with Junction Arts was back in 2012 when they brought a group of young people to carry out some research as part of a farming heritage project called Combine. A couple of years later, Junction Arts let us know that they were applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a community-based project relating to their archive material, to celebrate their fortieth anniversary.  We were only too happy to support the JA40 project application, especially as the proposal involved the transfer of the Junction Arts archive to us.

The application was successful. The unprocessed archive of four decades was passed into our…

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Explore your local history… Long Eaton

How? Why? What? Where?

Discover how Derbyshire Record Office and Derbyshire Libraries can help during our series of events at Long Eaton Library in September and November

Tuesday 19th September, 9.30am-12noon –  Family History Online

Tuesday 10th October, 9.30am-12noon – Maps and Photographs

Monday 13th November 2.00pm to 4.30pm – History of Buildings

with original archives from Derbyshire Record Office

Tuesday 5th December 9.30am to 12pm – Old Newspapers 

All events are free, but please book your place at by calling Long Eaton Library on 01629 531470 or emailing longeaton.library@derbyshire.gov.uk

Web: Long Eaton Library

 

Horses and horticulture – Heritage Open weekend at Calke Abbey

Specially selected items from the Harpur-Crewe family archive, held at the record office, will return home to Calke Abbey this Saturday. It will be our third visit in as many years, and we are delighted to be invited back to this unique estate.

Visitors to the National Trust property can view original records of those who lived and worked at Calke. We are taking a fascinating selection of records with us, including family letters and diaries, photograph albums, tenant’s registers, maps and one of the oldest documents in the collection – a deed dating from the 12th century. This year we have been asked to include material relating to the gardens at Calke and the families’ interest in horses.

Our staff will be based in the Learning Room and will be on hand to talk to visitors about these historic documents and offer advice and information about the work of the record office and the services we offer.

As part of the Heritage Open weekends this event is free as is entry into the house, so come along and see us, we’ll be there from 12pm-4pm.

For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/calke-abbey or telephone Calke Abbey on 01332 863822.

Calke Abbey, Ticknall, Derbyshire, DE73 7LE