A week of work experience at Derbyshire Record Office

This post comes from Richard and Cara, who have been at Derbyshire Record Office all week on a work experience placement.  We are all agreed they have done really, really well.

Work experience this week has been fantastic. We’ve done multiple activities such as conservation; Picture the Past and the NUM Project work. We’ve learnt a lot here, and have also gained some experience of being in an amazing work environment such as the Derbyshire Record Office. Everyone here is extremely friendly; you can’t really see a bad side to anyone.

On the first day we both had a tour of the building lead by Paul Beattie. He walked us down into the huge archives, apparently with over five miles of shelve space. It was really interesting to see a deed of a grammar school from Queen Elizabeth I and also the earliest cook book with the recipe for a Bakewell tart. After lunch, we joined in with the NUM project work. This is a two year project where Paul, Emma and Hilary list over ten thousand miners from the county. They look into their births, deaths and any injuries they had during their work. This was really fun, as we got to go down into the archives and fetch some boxes for Paul Carlyle, the Project Manager.

The next day, we were both split up. Cara went to local studies, and Richard went to the search room. Cara looked at her family history and found that one of her ancestors was Scottish. She also learnt how to use the card catalogue. Richard, in the search room, went onto the computers and had a look at the online catalogue for all the documents in the archives. He ordered out two documents, one being a map of the area around where he lives, the other of some sales documents of his road. He found it quite interesting, as he saw that his house dates back to the mid-1700s. After lunch, we went to the computer room in Local Studies and met with Mark, who was looking after the enquiries. We answered some enquiries by using the card catalogue, which was interesting.

On Wednesday, we both swapped around. Cara went to the search room and Richard went to local studies. Cara had to look through all the reference numbers of previous documents because one had been misplaced. After that she answered some enquiries about schools in Derbyshire. Richard sorted out some order cards from previous documents, similar to what Cara was doing. He then looked on Ancestry.com and searched for his great great Grandad.   After lunch, we had a brief explanation of digitisation from Matthew. He explained how to scan a document, which is what he does in digitisation. After that we met with Nick, who explained ‘Picture the Past’. This is where he digitises historic pictures. He gave us the task to find locations of undescribed photos without a location.

On the Thursday, we had a short staff meeting with everyone at the record office. They just talked about the budgets and other important stuff we didn’t understand. We then wandered off towards Conservation where we met with Lien and Clare, who had given us the task to clean some documents from the 17th century. We both enjoyed that task. We had lunch around 12pm, and then went back to Lien and Clare and did some preservation work with ‘spider paper’ and a heat press. This was both very interesting and also fun. We repaired some mock documents which were classed as ‘ok’. Surprisingly, that was quite the compliment for what we had achieved. We tried to make some pouches for wax seals that were attached to a document. Cara did pretty well, Richard failed. (He hadn’t sewn for a long time!)

So after we left Lien and Clare, we met Paul at the search room and he given us the task to list different types of documents

Today (Friday), we did more of the project work until lunch, and managed to list 118 documents on the excel spreadsheet. We decided to go for lunch, and then went to Local Studies and met with Mark again. This is where we returned some books from the library and then sorted out cards from the card catalogue. Both of us then decided to write a blog, which is where we are now.  Later on we’re going to meet up with Paul and have a ‘review and evaluation’ of the whole week.   😀

This week has been both amazing and fun. All the staff members here are extremely friendly and they always bring in food. We would like to thank everyone for this great experience at the Derbyshire Record Office!

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The Car-Boot’s Guide to a Beautiful Bargain

Poet and Pop Up Team Agent of Wonder Matt Black shares his thoughts on our latest event which saw us Pop Up at a car boot sale in the Swadlincote/Measham area.

Matt Black reads his poem

The idea of the Pop Up Archives going to a car boot sale seemed so natural – as a car boot sale is itself a Record Office, a treasure – house of archives, a field full of objects each with their own unique and very personal histories. It was this idea that inspired me to think about writing this poem.

The Car-Boot’s Guide to a Beautiful Bargain

 

Cos it’s beautiful and true, in the car-boot near you

There are useful things that you can find, and other things will blow your mind

We go slowly, aisle by aisle, some of the DVDs make us smile

The Sound of Music, Take That, Top Gun, Fighting Fit Fighting Fat

there’s a thermal t-shirt such as you never knew existed

there’s a fish poacher you get home and wish that you’d resisted

smurfs and kermits and wrestling figures, Barbie dolls and dinosaurs

a teapot that was yesterday in my house, and tomorrow is in yours

everything here once was new in shops,

fashions through the decades, 1970’s glitter frocks

the pink junior rock guitar we bought Chelsea when she was four

2 tins of red paint Jane bought, that John refused to paint on the kitchen door

This old thirties walnut clock

Tick tock tick tocked for Nan and Grandad for forty years

Put into our Ford Mondeo’s boot last night, we couldn’t help some tears

 

Because everything has mystery, and everything has history

And down this aisle there’s golf clubs, and down that aisle there’s crockery

And whispered lives are whispering across the cups of tea

By a van with a generator, plastic tables, and there are we

Comparing –

Wot that’s beautiful

Wot that’s a bargain

And it only cost 50p.

 

It’s either come here or go to Church, and it takes care of Sunday morning

Knock off shampoo, knock off plugs, it’s kind of habit-forming

It’s pre-loved, recycled kitchen bedroom bathroom garden,

We’re British, we don’t haggle, we negotiate and get a bargain

Under a sunny cloudy scudding very Midlands sky

His rusty hammers, her pink wigs, their younger days flashing by,

All our children’s treasures, now they ‘ve grown and flown the nest

You’ve got to clear the garage, love, it looks a bloody mess

Biscuit tins full of Dinky cars you bought when you were 11

The Readers Digest Drivers Atlas of the British Isles 1967

Xmas presents for the kids, The Adventures of Binkle and Flip,

We could have taken a car-load down the local tip

But we chose to take a wiser, and a different route

Cos we like the eternal and the beautiful Car Boot

 

Because everything has mystery, and everything has history

And down this aisle there’s golf clubs, and down that aisle there’s crockery

And whispered lives are whispering across the cups of tea

By a van with a generator, plastic tables, and there are we

Comparing –

Wot that’s beautiful

Wot that’s a bargain

And it only cost 50p.

 

Teapots, teapots, wellie boots, the aisles are paved with good intentions

An exercise bike bought for a New Year’s resolution

Kept 6 months, given to Dave, kept in the shed and then he

Put the bike on E-Bay, and he didn’t even tell me

There’s mountain ranges of Jacqueline Wilson, heaps of Enid Blyton,

Uncle Bob’s Harrington Jacket wot he wore to watch the Who in Brighton,

Old Xmas presents, lego, 45s, floordrobes of taste and fashion,

Oo a chocolate fondue set for nights of naughty chocolate passion

There’s stuff to buy you didn’t know you wanted but suddenly you need

1 incomplete set of Top Trump cards, 1 Flymo lead

 

Because everything has mystery, and everything has history

And down this aisle there’s golf clubs, and down that aisle there’s crockery

And whispered lives are whispering across the cups of tea

By a van with a generator, plastic tables, and there are we

Comparing – Wot that’s beautiful

Wot that’s a bargain                             And it only cost 50p.

 

One of the amazing things about taking part in the Pop-Up sessions is being allowed to hear stories, and to be let into the special worlds and talents of people that we talk to. At the Car Boot I ended up sitting down and having a cup of tea with Mick, who runs the site. He  told me great stories, his talents as a magician, as a businessman, and then he told me that he also wrote poems. They just come, he said. He told me this poem by heart standing next to the tea and burger van where his son Matthew was serving tea and snacks. He said it took him about 15  minutes to write, which I was amazed by. Listening to him tell me this poem was a magical, unexpected and moving moment –

He wrote this poem for his son, Matthew.

 

Matthew’s poem

How I feel so tired

Sitting at my desk

My eyes are getting heavy

And I really need some rest

 

But there is work to do

And so little time

If only the days of my youth

Could once again be mine

 

Time was no problem

It just went on and on

How I spent my happy hours

In my search for fun

 

If only I could have known

That time would go so fast

And very soon these happy days

Would be lost within my past

 

But my life is like the seasons

And my winter days are short

And like a ship caught in a storm

I look for any port

 

A final place to rest my  bones

And live with my dream

Once again to run through the grass

Or paddle in a stream

 

To stand upon that distant hill

Without a single care

And feel the fingers of the wind

So gentle in my hair

 

But time and tide they both march on

No one can change the rule

I must forget the joys of youth

Today I’m starting school.

By Mick McCreath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Junction Arts story

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 care, and a team was assembled to set to work on appraising it and helping to catalogue it.  The team included present and former staff, trustees, academics, artists, and members of the public who had participated in Junction Arts projects over the years.  Also assisting were some pupils from Highfields School in Matlock who were taking part in a Prince’s Trust Excel course.

The project also commissioned original work from an artist in residence, composer Paul Lovatt Cooper, who visited us at the record office and spent an afternoon finding out more about the history of Junction Arts and looking through its archive material. His reflections on four decades of local artistic activity resulted in a piece of music called Valiants Arise, arranged for brass band with samba band.  Its first performance was at the Bolsover Lantern Parade in November 2016, very ably played by Whitwell Brass Band and Handmade Samba.

So how did the film come about? As part of the project, Junction Arts commissioned a film-maker, Chris Bevan, to produce a 20-minute documentary about the charity’s history, which saw its first public showing last December.  More recently, the film has been shown at the International Community Arts Festival in Rotterdam.

I have really enjoyed working with such a rich and varied archive collection. To quote from Junction Arts’s website: “The archive will be a great resource for the public and artists, and we have already had requests from artists to access the archive. The archive is unique in that this isn’t a body of work by one artist or one group. It is a myriad of artefacts and it represents the creative expression of hundreds and hundreds of local people. It tells the stories of people and communities that have experience so much change over the last 40 years through ‘art’ and this is incredibly rare”.

Most of the photographs and documents that illustrate the film come from the Junction Arts archive collection held here – if you would like find out more, you can always have a look at the catalogue of the collection.

Travels with William Porden: Regency era toilets abroad

It’s been a long while since I’ve blogged from Mr Porden’s diary, but we catch up with him now, at the English Hotel in Dieppe where he, his daughter Eleanor, and their fellow passengers on the Eliza arrived after their long channel crossing in 1816.   The town is unpleasantly smelly owing to a lack of sewers, and a French toilet is also described, not the kind of detail you usually find in letters and diaries, even now, so this particularly intrigued me…

With regard to another Accommodation, that was not quite so bad as what I found in Scotland.  I visited two of the Repositories which were in the very roof of a lofty House.  I must not say they were like poor Winifreds Tub with a pair of tongs across but  they were truly nothing more than a wooden tub in the shape of a Yorkshire Horsing block upon which you mounted and sat in trepidation lest any violent motion should overset you and blend you and the contents of the vessel on the floor.

I’m not entirely sure what makes a Yorkshire horsing block special, but generally horsing, or mounting blocks look like a short run of stone steps. You can still see them around these parts, like this one in Church Street, Matlock: 

 

 

 

 

Given the somewhat euphemistic description, I couldn’t be absolutely certain that Mr Porden was describing a toilet without tracing the mention of Winifred’s Tub.  That might not have been much to go on but as he had previously written ‘Sister Tabitha’s tub’ and then crossed it out, an internet search led me to Tobias Smollet’s 1771 novel, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker.

The principal reason it’s taken me so long to write this blog was that I felt compelled to read my way through Humphry Clinker to check the reference, and it’s taken me a while!  It’s a picaresque, rambling, epistolary novel about a family journeying around England and Scotland, and as such it’s a very suitable book for our much-travelled architect.  I suspect it was one of Mr Porden’s favourites (perhaps he had taken it with him for holiday reading) as I picked up another reference to an episode from it elsewhere in his diary.

I finally found the right passage on page 257 of my edition, in which maidservant Winifred Jenkins writes in a misspelled letter to her friend about her experiences in Edinborough:

… there is nurro geaks [privies] in the whole kingdom nor any thing for sarvants but a barrel with a pair of tongs thrown a-cross; and all the chairs [commodes] in the family are emptied into this here barrel once a day; and at ten o’clock at night the whole cargo is flung out of a back windore [window] that looks into some street or lane.

I imagine the pair of tongs formed a kind of rudimentary toilet seat, which seems to be missing from the ones in Dieppe.  Given the lack of sewers and overall bad smell, one assumes that the wooden tub in Dieppe was also emptied out of the window – yuck!

I still shudder when I remember the old squat toilets that were still common in French campsites when I was a child.  It sounds, however, like they were an improvement on the ones that the British travellers in 1816 had to contend with.

If you enjoy reading about eighteenth century life in its more eccentric and earthy forms, then I very much recommend Humphry Clinker.  Smollett fills in the details on some of those more practical ‘accommodations’ that you don’t always find in other writers of the time!

We’re going on a bargain hunt (sort of)

Roll up bright and early and join us at Measham Carboot where the Amazing Pop Up Archives project will be making it’s next appearance.  Below is a taster of the activities which will be happening – all alongside our glorious gazebos full of original documents to see and wonder at:

Here is what we’ll be up to:

8.30am – Keep a look out for ‘Lady Gatherer of the Car Boot Age’ hunting for treasures with Debi Hedderwick

9am – Talking Teapots and Hidden Stories with Matt Black and Debi Hedderwick

9.30am  -The Storyteller in the Van -Mysteries, ghosts and strange happenings. Come and listen, come and tell! With Maria Whatton

10.30am  – Keep a look out for ‘Lady Gatherer of the Car Boot Age’ hunting for treasures with Debi Hedderwick

11am -Talking Teapots and Hidden Stories with Matt Black and Debi Hedderwick

11.30 – The Storyteller in the Van -Mysteries, ghosts and strange happenings. Come and listen, come and tell! With Maria Whatton

12am – Poem of the day  “The Car Boot’s Guide to Beautiful Bargains” performed by Matt Black

Come along and say hello – we can guarantee that you will never have seen the like at a car boot sale!

Coming up this summer: Ashbourne Treasures

Ashbourne Library, St Oswald’s Church and the Ashbourne Heritage Centre are to host what promises to be an informative and inspiring exhibition during July, August and September of this year.  The exhibits in “Ashbourne Treasures” are all of vital importance to the history of the town, and they include the original charter of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, of which we are the proud custodians.  Go and see the treasures if you can.  While you are at it, you could book yourself a ticket for one of the associated events, running throughout the summer, such as Dan Cruickshank’s talk on Georgian Towns.  More information is available at www.ashbournetreasures.com.

Weather history and parish registers

We have some pleasantly summery weather in Derbyshire just now.  If it should get too warm and you wish to be transported to cooler climes, you could always try reading a new article by the University of Nottingham’s Lucy Veale and others, entitled “‘Instead of fetching flowers, the youths brought in flakes of snow’: exploring extreme weather history through English parish registers”.  It features a reproduction of a descriptive ‘Memorial to the great snow’ of 1615 which can be found inscribed in the Winster parish register.

A sense of open-ness and intrigue…..

Project Evaluator Dr Sara Giddens shares her first experience of The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project when the project team met back in June 2016.

So here we all are, gathered together in a hot sunny day in Matlock, at the Derbyshire Record Office (DRO). What stunning surroundings. The meeting room looks out over the hills and valley of this Market Town and is exquisitely furnished in wall-paper designed by Paula Moss in her former role as artist-in-residence. Paula is now here in the capacity of our co-host, with a DRO Archivist, Karen Millhouse. I take to the project and the project leaders immediately. The artists, although defined as creative facilitators for this project, archivists, lecturers and students are given time and space to listen to each other, to dwell for a while in their similarities and differences. No-one is rushed, there is a sense of open-ness and intrigue.

DRO Panorama1

I’m sure, like many of the others I am wondering what process might evolve?

The archivist Karen and project researcher Kate Henderson clearly know their stuff, they give off an air of considered confidence, with more than a little passion thrown in for good measure. There are 3 million items in their collection, where might we start?

 

We begin somewhat appropriately from a map, which we learn was also the inspiration for the colours used in the recent re-design of the interior of the record office. The poet Matt Black, one of the four lead creative facilitators, reads us his poem, written for the record office, inspired by a tiny detail in the map, a ladder propped up against a tree and his wonderings of who went up that ladder. He matches the archivist’s knowledge and passion with his own obvious mastery of his craft.

He is WONDERING, we are delighting in his wondering and before the close of the meeting, those on The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project team have been re-branded as Agents of Wonder.

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus…

… Or: Never Tickle A Sleeping Dragon.  It is twenty years since the publication of the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  I admit that this anniversary has little to do with archives – if it were the anniversary of The Order of the Phoenix, we could argue that what went on in the Hall of Prophecies is a classic illustration of why delicate records need appropriate storage facilities – but it does give us another excuse to show off some more cartoons by George Woodward (1760-1809).  Here’s a 1785 drawing of a magician, with something of the Dumbledore about him:

D5459-1-22

And here’s an 1813 print showing a pair of witches in a hayloft, complete with some fantastic beasts:

D5459-3-35

For more about the Woodward collection, have a look at some of our previous Woodward posts.

A Taxing issue for Sir Nigel

Sir Nigel Bowyer Gresley (1753-1808) was similar to many a rich or powerful person in the modern era – he got into trouble with the Tax Man. In 1800, he was accused by the Board of Taxes of entering a false tax return for the year April 1798- April 1799.

The above tax return relates to a tax on male servants, horses, dogs and carriages. Now it seems very odd for servants to be listed almost as objects themselves who can be taxed. The tax covered only male servants deemed as ‘luxury’, such as gamekeepers and butlers.

Nigel Bowyer Gresley was accused of not including three or four servants on this tax return, including his butler of many years service. Despite his claims that these servants no longer lived or were employed at his ancestral home of Drakelowe Hall, he was found guilty. This meant he had to pay £50 per undisclosed item. The fine eventually amounted to around £250-300. Thankfully, his daughters, Wilmot Maria and Emma Sophia, appear to have been better with their money, as can be seen in their marriage settlements and further documents that show they brought up tithes for grain.

For more information on the court case for incorrect tax returns please visit the Derbyshire Record Office quoting the reference number D770/C/EZ/169-184. The marriage settlements are also to be found at the Record Office with the references D3155/7166 and D3155/7167. Estate and personal papers of Sir Nigel can also be found upon request. Alternatively, feel free to come and visit us at the Measham Car Boot (postcode DE12 7HA) on Sunday the 25th of June between 8 am and 1pm, where we will be ‘popping up’ with these and other items from the Record Office’s collections.

Danielle Burton, University of Derby Intern for the Amazing Pop Up Archives Project.