Archives at the Abbey: 1 (un)stately home, 4 boxes, 8 hours, 600 visitors (well almost)

It was the busiest weekend I think we have ever had for staff from the record office, you have already heard about how we popped up at the Wirksworth Festival, which sounded amazing. I couldn’t make it along myself as I went along to Calke Abbey, home of the Harpur-Crewe family, with a small selection of original archives from their large collection (ref: D2375).

Oh my God! I can really touch it?! Oh my God!

It’s mouth watering stuff – are you putting up beds? I could stay all night. It’s wonderful

With over 580 visitors over just two afternoons, we were thrilled with how much people enjoyed handling the original material and amazed at some of the things they found out. The Harpur-Crewe family and estate archives are a uniquely comprehensive collection containing personal and family records and diaries, records of servants, the household, payments made to the poor locally and further afield, as well as a detailed record of live at the house and on the estate. There are over 300 boxes, plus many more large and outsize items in the collection, and we were able to take just four boxes along for the event.

Yet, incredibly many visitors who had come along to find their ancestors did! From the ancestor who was treated for blisters by the local apothecary to the Butler appointed in 1855 found listed in the female servants register (obviously a revision of the catalogue description is required there!) Volunteers from the National Trust, fascinated with the Erasmus Darwin book of medicinal recipes (ref: D2375/F/G/1/5/11) found reference to the treatment of the woman they believe to be the housekeeper at the time, and they will be investigating this further. Another couple were pleased not just to find one of their ancestors in an 1826 estate rental, but also that he had paid on time and was not in arrears. Others were able to find how much their ancestors were paid, and for what, including several women paid 6d [sixpence] a day for haymaking on the estate.

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We broke from a function in Hinkley to get here before you [the archives] closed

Thank you very much, thoroughly enjoyed that

2 thoughts on “Archives at the Abbey: 1 (un)stately home, 4 boxes, 8 hours, 600 visitors (well almost)

    • It was a great day, and we are hoping to be invited back again, this was the second year the exhibition has run. Keep an eye out on the blog and our events brochure…

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