History of Derbyshire’s Parish Registers

Want to know what links a tornado, lightning strikes, broken hearts, well-fed bailiffs and Henry VIII?  Then come along to our talk on the history of Derbyshire’s Parish Registers.

Recording the baptisms, marriages and burials which took place in the Church of England parishes throughout Derbyshire, they are a must for family historians.  They can, however, tell us much more, offering a glimpse into the lives of individuals and the communities in which they lived.

Our talk charts the history of parish registers from their creation in the time of Henry VIII to the present.  Learn how you can access them online and see some interesting original examples from the record office collection.

This talk is FREE but booking is essential.  Click the ‘Events’ tab at the top of the page to book your place.

Monday 11th June, 11am-12noon

Derbyshire Record Office, New St, Matlock, DE4 3FE

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pentrich Revolution Study Day

Pentrich

Join us on Monday 4th June for a free study day dedicated to the Pentrich Revolution, which celebrated its bicentenary last year.  The event is here at the record office and hosted by the Pentrich & South Wingfield Revolution Group.

Here’s what you can expect on the day:

  • A talk by Michael Parkin giving an overview and posing some unanswered questions that could provide suitable research topics
  • A genealogy session led by Sylvia Mason who has compiled the family trees of the Pentrich Rebels (potentially with an input from descendants, the group’s Chairman John Hardwick)
  • An illustrated talk ‘Transported for Treason’ dealing with the fate of the 14 men who were transported to penal colonies and the families they left behind
  • Some personal time for participants to look through archive material

The Study Day runs from 10am to 3pm. For more information contact Patrick Cook, of the Pentrich & South Wingfield Revolution Group, at patrickc99@hotmail.co.uk or call 07931 198707.

This event is free but places are limited. Click on the ‘Events’ tab at the top of the page to book at place.

 

Pop Up project resources – get inspired to ‘pop up’ in your local community

Inspired by what you have read about The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project so far?  Well here are some resources to show you how we thought up, planned and delivered the project.  There are resource packs for each of the events where the team ‘popped up’.  They can’t tell the whole story – there’s so much to tell! – so are to be used in conjunction with our case study, also below, which goes into much more detail on how the project came about, the planning process and the creative ideas which inspired our activities.   The final evaluation report is also here for you to read – it tells the why, who and how and, importantly, what we learnt from participating in such a rewarding project.

In the next week or so we’ll be uploading the project film, so you can get a glimpse of the wonderful year we had popping up all over Derbyshire, taking our archive collections out to local communities.

The Amazing Pop Up Archives project Case Study

Final Evaluation Report – The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project

The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project resource pack – Swadlincote car boot sale

The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project resource pack – Gamesley Community Day 

The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project resource pack – Wirksworth Festival

The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project resource pack – Ripley Music Festival  

 

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The Junction Arts Story

An exhibition marking the 40th anniversary of Junction Arts, a Derbyshire based arts charity is now on at the record office.  The exhibition will celebrate the organisation’s achievements over four decades, illustrated using the newly acquired archive held here at the record office.

The exhibition will run from Thursday 22nd March to Saturday 29th September 2018. Normal office opening time apply.

 

Want to know more?   Come along to the record office for a film screening of a specially commissioned documentary film about the 40 year history of Junction Arts.  The film will be introduced by Jane Wells from Junction Arts and includes a short talk by the film maker Chris Bevan.

Thursday 29th March 2.00pm-3.00pm.  It’s free but booking is essential – follow the ‘Events’ tab at the top of this page to book.

 

Ingenious book design

Every Thursday afternoon our preservation volunteers diligently clean items from collection D2375, the archive from Calke Abbey. There was a surprise in store while cleaning D2375/A/S/1/1/1 though, a fifteenth century Alstonefield Manor Court book.

D2375 A S 1 1 1 volume

D2375/A/S/1/1/1

Re-using an older piece of Medieval parchment as the cover of a paper text block was standard practice – both parchment and paper were expensive and never wasted.  But in this case the bookbinder hit upon an original solution to store some extra loose sheets of paper: they sewed pockets in the parchment cover.

D2375 A S 1 1 1 back pocket

Parchment cover with pocket

 

D2375 A S 1 1 1 back documents

Documents revealed

Often in archives we need to find the balance between the long term preservation of documents and showing their historic context. Standard practice would be to remove the loose sheets, unfold them and then store them in an archival folder alongside the book. However, as the documents are in great condition and haven’t suffered from their unusual storage, we’ve decided to leave them exactly where the fifteenth century clerk placed them. If we ever find the documents or volume are getting damaged then of course we will remove them, but for now our researchers can have the pleasure of using the parchment cover in the way it was designed to be used all those centuries ago.

A father’s letter

When you work with archive collections, sometimes you come across something that makes you stop in your tracks – a document that takes your hand and transports you through time to its author, making them so tangible, so real, that the intervening centuries vanish and you’d swear they were standing right next to you.  That happened to me yesterday with a letter I came across, a perfectly ordinary letter from William Porden, the 18th century architect, to his daughter Eleanor Anne Porden.

D3311 2 2 front

D3311 2 2 back

The content is of course sweet, written by a caring father to his loving daughter, and the reference to smallpox inoculation only two years after it became available is certainly interesting. But what really got me was the handwriting: it is completely different to his normal joined-up style.  Then I realised Eleanor would only have been five at the time, still learning to read and needing clear letters to decipher her father’s words.  I write notes to my daughter in block capitals to spare her the agony of trying to decipher my atrocious handwriting – that two hundred and eighteen year gap suddenly feels very small indeed.

 

The art of letter writing

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On Tuesday I spent a lovely afternoon with the patients, staff and volunteers at Chesterfield’s Ashgate Hospice.  I was there to take part in a project called The Art of Letter Writing, run by Junction Arts, a Chesterfield arts charity.

The project celebrates the art of the letter and over four sessions will look at historical letters (which is where the record office came in), participant’s own letters from home, and the art of illuminated letters.

I took along a selection of letters from our collection, which included letters from a Chesterfield soldier writing home from the First World War; letters from a ladies maid working at Chatsworth in 1805; letters from badly behaved school boys in Derby writing to their headmaster seeking forgiveness for ‘bad deeds’, and a letter from students at a Derbyshire sixth form college writing to George Bernhard Shaw complimenting the famous writer on his neat handwriting.

The letters sparked conversations, memories and anecdotes and inspired the group to go home and hunt out their own letters from family and loved ones and share them with the group at the next session.

Sadly we were only taking part in this initial session but hope the group enjoy the rest project over the next few weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You Matlock Ladies Luncheon Club!

A big thank you to Matlock Ladies Luncheon Club who have given us a £70.00 donation for our Junction Arts photographs project.  The charity Junction Arts celebrated its fortieth anniversary last year and deposited its archive here at the Record Office so future generations would be able to marvel at the wonderful work they do.  Although all the paperwork is undoubtedly fascinating, the nearly three thousand photographs and two thousand negatives are what makes this collection so special: seeing the smiles, the joy, the happiness of children, adults and the elderly, as communities come together to create art.

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To make sure these wonderful people will continue to make everyone smile for centuries to come, we need to package the photographs in archival quality polyester sleeves so they’re save to handle and can’t get damaged by rubbing against each other or sticking together, as some are already doing.  The total cost for packaging all the photographs and negatives is £853.82 – rather too big an amount for us to conjure up, which is why we’re fundraising:

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So next time you’re in Matlock, do have a look at our donations box and display in reception – every pound saves five images.  And if you’re feeling especially generous, of course we accept donations over the phone as well: just call us on 01629 538 347 and be sure to leave your name if you’d like your own personal thank you on our display.

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It’s our anniversary!

Time flies when you’re having fun!  It’s hard to believe that it’s five years ago today that the Record Office and the Local Studies Library joined together in a newly extended and refurbished building.  We were hurriedly tidying away the workmen’s tools as the doors opened and the first customers came in!

It feels like barely five minutes ago, but a lot has happened since February 2013.  Over 88,000 people have come to use the Record Office and we’ve produced 46,575 original documents for our customers.  We’ve also reached over 8700 people outside the Record Office doing events and activities for all ages – and let’s not forget all the emails, letters and calls we’ve received – nearly 17,500.

But numbers don’t tell the real story, so what have we been doing in the last five years?  Here are a few highlights:

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If you really want to get a sense of what we’ve been up to over the last five years, then browsing through this blog tells the story… from cataloguing, digitising and preserving our collections to going out and about engaging people with Derbyshire’s amazing past.

So what do the next five years hold?

Well, in part the future is digital, so we’re working on plans to continue improving digital access to our collections – this is a long process, but in five years’ time (and hopefully sooner!) we should have a radically different website and much more digital content.

In the meantime, we’re finishing off the Amazing Pop Up Archives project, which has seen us ‘popping up’ with our collections around the county.  We are also winding up our NUM cataloguing project and will be blogging more about that in the future.

There are plenty more projects in the pipeline, too – we usually have at least one funding bid on the go for cataloguing, conservation and/or outreach activities, although we can’t say anything on our blog about them until we know whether we’ve been successful.

One new project that started last summer involves a group of volunteers improving our descriptions of maps of the Derwent Valley.  They should be finishing that job soon, after which we will be digitising the maps so they can go online as part of the Derwent Valley Mills ‘Vital Valley’ project.  We’ll be looking to involve more volunteers over the next few years in other projects, building on the group of wonderful people who already support us, so if you’d like to be involved, get in touch.

We’ve had a busy and exciting five years in our lovely building.  Thanks to all our staff, volunteers and customers for being part of the last five years –  here’s to the years to come and all the opportunities they bring!

 

Cricket in Derbyshire – have you got a story to tell?

Lien and I visited the County Cricket Ground in Derby on Friday the 19th, to meet heritage enthusiasts from a range of cricket clubs across the county.  We were there to offer some practical advice to clubs that look after their own archives, covering the best ways of managing and caring for old records.  If your heritage group would appreciate a training session on archive management or conservation (very reasonable rates), do get in touch and we will do our best to help.

The photograph above was taken during a moment of gravely studious concentration.  For balance, the picture on the right is rather more animated, being Thomas Rowlandson’s 1811 depiction of what is reckoned to be the first recorded women’s county cricket match, between Surrey and Hampshire (the subject of one of Helen’s posts back in 2013).  This match must have been the subject of many a treasured tale, and we are fortunate to have Rowlandson’s illustration to remember it by.  Memories of other events and experiences, by contrast, slip by without being documented in this way – how much heritage is lost when the stories stop being told?  David Griffin of the Cricket Derbyshire Foundation, organiser of Friday’s event, told us a little of the Foundation’s current oral history project, which is all about capturing those memories for future generations.  I bet they would like to hear from you if you have a tale or two to tell about the game and your own experience of it.  For more on the project, see the Cricket Derbyshire Foundation website.