A ditty of thanks for The Art of Letter Writing project

Back in February you may recall that I blogged about my visit to Ashgate Hospice in Chesterfield. The visit was for The Art of Letter Writing Project which I have been working on in conjunction with Junction Arts, the Chesterfield based arts charity.

The project celebrates the art of the letter and looked at historical letters (which is where the record office came in), the participants’ own letters from home, and the art of illuminated letters.

Over the summer I also visited residents of Caroline Court in Hope, and Granby House in Bakewell, and residents of local sheltered housing schemes in Hulland Ward. 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 Sir George Bernhard Shaw complimenting the famous writer on his neat handwriting.

The letters sparked conversations, memories and anecdotes, inspiring participants to hunt out their own letters from family and loved ones and share them with the group.

For the fourth session the residents of Fulleylove Court in Bolsover visited the record office and shared stories of their own childhood memories of the Secord World War. One lady and I chatted about the experiences of soldiers in the First World War compared to those of service men and women today, her son being a Royal Marine.

One participant, Sylvia, was so taken with the sessions that she wrote a wonderful poem which sums up the project to a tee!

We gather round the table

With letters on our mind.

Little gems from long ago

Hopefully we will find.

Documents and papers

All from ages past

Need saving from oblivion

Preservation will make them last.


News of foreign travel

Thoughts from overseas.

Some written in the trenches

With water up to knees.

Serving girls complaining

Employers all so grand.

Of France she is quite scathing

It’s not the promised land.


Illuminated lettering once an ancient art

Some doubted they could do it

But everyone took part.

We admired each others efforts

Hidden talents to the fore.

And if you were to ask us,

We would like to do some more.


The poets entertained us

with stories from Carr Vale.

Characters who lived there

Some beyond the pale.

Long forgotten happenings

Some designed to stun,

Read with tongue in cheek

It added to the fun.


I have gained a lot of pleasure

With visits to the Court.

How could I say thank you?

So I gave it some thought.

I’m sorry it’s all ending

It really is a pity

And to say a big thank you

I wrote this little ditty.  


I’ll be posting next week about another unexpected outcome of the project, so look out for that!



One thought on “A ditty of thanks for The Art of Letter Writing project

  1. Pingback: Stay connected, get creative and keep learning | Derbyshire Record Office

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