New Flickr exhibition from De Montfort University

Have you seen the new exhibition from the Archives Team at De Montfort University?  The exhibition takes a chronological look at prospectus design for the college and later university from 1897 to the present. There are some interesting hairstyles (no prizes for guessing which decades these are from!) and some interesting design concepts over time. I wonder how people in 100 years time will appreciate the more recent prospectus showcased in the exhibition?

You can also follow their blog, which includes a regular ‘Object of the Week’ and details of the Archives and Arts collection, as well as their new Heritage Centre built around the arches which are all that remain of the medieval Church of the Annunciation, where the remains of the late Richard III were displayed for two days after his death at Bosworth in 1485.

I visited the Centre just over a week ago, and can recommend it if you are in Leicester, it really gives a new perspective on the common misconceptions about the “old polytechnic” universities.

Potter & Co: Completion

Last week I spent 7 hours numbering and reboxing the documents in this collection, which may sound easy but I found it difficult to get all the items back into the 21 boxes they had been previously placed in. I knew they would fit in, but I was not sure how I would do it. I did, however, manage to get them all in (it was like fitting a puzzle together, and unfortunately for me, I am not very good at puzzles!)

Today, I have finished numbering a series that was in a folder, which I decided to keep together to help users with context of the items, and some maps, which are not included in the 21 boxes that I have usually been talking about.

I have also made sure that the location guide used to find the items was up to date, including finding the location of the shirt, which was repackaged by the conservation team (there is an image of this shirt in a previous post) to add to my location guide.

This project has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me as a trainee archivist, I have learnt a lot, especially the fact that as the project has progressed, I have grown by making mistakes, and then correcting said mistakes.

That is me for now, but I will write regular posts on my other projects soon to show the day in the life of a trainee archivist.

Key players in the FitzHerbert Family

When you’re cataloguing a large family collection such as this, it’s fair to say there’s always a large number of people involved! The FitzHerbert family is no exception and throughout the listing process where I’ve been looking through all of the material in all the boxes (see my earlier posts), there is certainly a large amount of correspondence.

Some of this correspondence is business related, regarding the Tissington estate (also some of the other estates), Whilst some of the correspondence is private, between friends and family about a whole array of subjects.

This adds to the already catalogued material of this collection and fills what would otherwise be an incomplete gap. Take a look at the catalogue for collection D239 here.It also gives an insight into the lives and personalities of those who are writing the letters. Given that the material in these particular boxes dates rom the late eighteenth century to the 1960s, it is four of the FitzHerbert Baronets who are the main authors of the letters, the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Baronets: Sir William, Sir Richard, Sir Hugo Meynell and Sir William.

Including friends and workers on the Tissington Estate, they correspond with some interesting people, Edward Ford being one significant individual. A gentleman called Col. Weetman is a name frequently mentioned, he was an insurance agent for the FitzHerberts. Why not come and read the correspondence when its all sorted and properly catalogued?

In my next post I hope to tell you about some of the items I’ve discovered which are ‘treasures’…

Richard Arkwright and his family

On my work placement at the record office I had an opportunity to research a topic of personal interest. At school, I briefly studied Richard Arkwright in history, so I was keen to learn more about him and in particular his family. I searched the catalogue and found a notebook and some of his family’s estate papers. The notebook dates from 1800-1801; an accompanying piece of paper states that it was written by Sir Richard Arkwright’s grandson(Richard Arkwright III)  and it is believed that he wrote it whilst he was at university in Cambridge. He talks about the history of England from 55BC to 1423. A few years ago in school we studied the Battle of Hastings so I was curious to learn what he wrote! Unfortunately, the notebook was very difficult to read (see picture). Although, I managed to read a section on William the Conqueror:  “After this complete victory, William soon clarified him-self on the English throne; indeed the two earls Edward and Stigard Archbishop of Canterbury endeavoured to set up Edgar Aethling in preference”.


His family’s estate papers included a map of Willersley Farm (which Sir Richard Arkwright owned); he purchased the farm from Thomas Hallet Hodges of Wirksworth in 1782. Also, the file includes some bills from Willersley and a record of the furniture. There was also a document which described Arkwright’s (II) property and some of his belongings after his death on 23 April 1843. In conclusion, looking at some of the items that belonged to Sir Richard Arkwright and his son has given me further insight in to his life. The notebook was very interesting and showed what his grandson did when he was younger and perhaps showcases his passion for history. There are some other things that I would have liked to find out if I had more time, such as finding out more information about the court case (about land between Peter Nightingale and Arkwright) which was briefly  mentioned in the estate papers.


Ella Cooling

John Ryngsted: a 500-year old sketch portrait?

I had made up my mind to skip my usual Friday blog-post this week, but a researcher in the searchroom has just shown me something which seems worth sharing right away. It was found in a book that would go right over my head: the legal precedent book of Sir Robert Drury of Hawstead, Suffolk (c1455-1535). Drury was a distinguished lawyer and royal servant, and for a time speaker of the House of Commons. The book was, according to our catalogue “apparently drawn up in Sir Robert Drury’s life for him or by a confidential clerk in his service”. However, although the catalogue originally mentioned the fact that the back flyleaf bears the name of one John Ryngsted, it did not mention (until I added it just now) the little portrait, which has been faintly inked on to the same page – so faintly, you may struggle to make the image out clearly.

D2440 portrait

A portrait of Mr Ryngsted, perhaps? Even a self-portrait? And what do you make of his get-up?

D2440 portrait closeup

Talks about the history of Derby and of Hardwick Hall… and some AGMs

This is just a reminder that the Derbyshire Record Society and the Derbyshire Victoria County History Trust are holding their Annual General Meetings at the Imperial Rooms in Matlock this coming Saturday. The Record Society’s AGM will be at 10.30am (tea and coffee available from 9.30) and the VCH Trust’s AGM will be in the afternoon. After the first meeting there will be a talk by the historian Richard Clark, to accompany the launch of his new monograph on the government of Derby in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Then lunch (bring a fiver if you aren’t a member of either organisation – you can use it either to pay for your lunch or to join the DRS for a year and get lunch for nothing). Straight after the second meeting, two senior curatorial staff from the National Trust will be talking about their new book on Hardwick Hall. You can also expect to see displays of material from some local history societies.

The Imperial Rooms are on Imperial Road, Matlock DE4 3NL. It’s just off Bank Road at the foot of the hill, near Wilkinson’s. There is parking nearby and it’s a short walk from the railway and bus stations.

Smedley’s hydro, by Alex

In addition to researching my house, I also looked at documents relating to Smedley’s Hydro. What is now the County Hall in Matlock was once the hydro of John Smedley were people can come and relax with the water treatments, known as Smedley’s Hydropathic Establishment. Here are a few photographs from an old brochure for the hydro, showing it was surprisingly lavish and elaborately decorated.

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Alex Jackson

Finding my house on a Matlock tithe map

Tithe map of Matlock, showing my house

Tithe map of Matlock, showing my house

As a student on work experience at the county record office I always wanted to find my house on a map to see if it was there or not. Therefore I decided to look for it on an 1848 tithe map. After a short while I concluded that this was my house (see map on left). The reason why I knew that my house would be on a map like this was because the previous home owners told us that the house dated back as early as the seventeenth century.

Tithe map2

The map was really exciting because it was evidence that the house was there at that time and it backed up what the previous home owners said. After that I found my house on the tithe award showing the plot number (394) and the home owners who owned it. In 1848 George Keeling was the occupant of the house with a court, privy, road and garden! 167 years from then the house is still occupied (and standing!).

Alex Jackson

Potter & Co Collection: 414 items later

If you have been following my blog each week you will already know that I have been organising a collection that was donated to the Derbyshire Record Office between 1975 and 1976.

As a trainee archivist I am prone to making mistakes, and this has been the project that has taught me the most; and has been a way I can practise all the theory that I have been reading on my Master’s course.

My main mistakes have been:

  • I naively made a miscellenous box, which months later I was required to go back to and individually put them into CALM ready to be published on the catalogue.
  • I did not organise the structure of the collection properly, which, if it had been left like that, would have made looking for similar documents more difficult.

Weeks later, I now have a collection that has all the items (all 414) either individually mentioned, or grouped together (with photographs this has happened). They have been grouped together with similar documents in series and subseries (made my head spin during this stage). The extent (how many items there are) has been filled in and all items have been given  the date that they were created, or a rough estimate if the date has not been stated.

Now I am required to start adding the reference number to each of these items, which I started months ago. Luckily for me, the items that I had already written the refernce number on do not need to be changed (thank goodness!) Whilst in the process of numbering the documents, they will also be reboxed together.

For those of you who missed my first blog, the picture below is the 21 boxes that is this collection. 12 boxes have already been numbered and reboxed.

Next time I am at the Derbyshire Record Office, the daunting task for completing the last 9 boxes will commence.

21 boxes, 414 items

21 boxes, 414 items