Authenticity Hoo-Ha pt. 3: Is this Mr Glover’s sketch book?

Authenticity is what archives are all about.  Here is the last in my series of three blog posts on this subject.

Some months ago, I had a message from a researcher who had recently been looking at copies of an original document we hold, described in our catalogue as the sketch book of the antiquarian Stephen Glover (1794-1869). Stephen Glover is well known in this county as a pioneering antiquarian and compiler of trade directories, and naturally enough the researcher wanted to know how we had arrived at this attribution. It certainly was not from a signature, as none of the sketches is signed.

The answer was helpfully supplied by our colleagues at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. A note in their files, stamped by the Derbyshire Museum Service, suggests that the book was purchased after having been identified as Glover’s work by an expert in English watercolourists.

So far, so good.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that the note made it pretty clear we had got the wrong Glover!  The note referred not to Stephen, but to John Glover (1767-1849), known as “the father of Australian landscape painting”.

When the Derbyshire Museum Service closed in 1992, the sketch book was among a large number of historic documents transferred to the custody of Derbyshire Record Office. I can only suppose that one of our archivists must have mis-read their own notes, and mentioned Stephen Glover in the catalogue entry by mistake. And we all know how long a mistake can endure once it has been put in writing, don’t we?

I certainly didn’t want to replace the mistake in the catalogue with another mistake, so needed an expert on John Glover’s work to verify all this. Step forward David Hansen, Associate Professor at the Centre for Art History and Art Theory, part of the Australian National University in Canberra. Prof Hansen took a look at some sample images from the book and quickly got back in touch to say this discovery had made his day: he was confident that they are the work of John Glover, and even suggested that the suggested date of c1810 might be a few years late.

John Glover was born at Houghton-on-Hill in Leicestershire, the son of William Glover and his wife Ann. He earned a strong reputation as an artist and drawing master and became president of the Old Water Colour Society in 1807. At the age of 64, in 1831, he moved to Tasmania. He was very active as a painter in his new surroundings and by the time of his death in 1849, Glover had made what would prove to be a lasting contribution to Australian art.

He may have been a Leicestershire man by birth, but there is a strong Derbyshire flavour to the work preserved in the pages of the book, including scenes of Haddon Hall, Ault Hucknall parish church, Kedleston Hall, Chatsworth House, Bolsover Castle and South Wingfield Manor.

A digital copy of the whole book can be viewed in our search room using CD/406 – or if you need to see the original itself, please order using the reference D3653/30.  To whet your appetite, here are some samples:

D3653 30 1_00082 Repton

Repton

D3653 30 1_00080 cattle

Some cattle and some people, drawn by John Glover.

D3653 30 1_00069 Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle

D3653 30 1_00026 Kedleston Hall

Kedleston Hall

D3653 30 1_00004 Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall

Advertisements

Authenticity Hoo-Ha pt. 2: Did Lord Byron and Princess Victoria etch their names on the windows?

Sir Hilary Jenkinson held that authenticity is one of the defining characteristics of the archive. Here is the second of three blog posts about some recent authenticity issues.

On being asked to visit a former hotel to pick up a donation of records, any archivist would expect there to be guest books. Less expected is a pane of window glass. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the “Byron Window” is the most unusual item I have accessioned in twelve years as an archivist. Why is it called the Byron Window? Because it is said that Lord Byron (i.e. George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, 1788-1824) scratched a poem onto it. The lines read:

Where so ever is folly court
Mortal unthinking will resort
For want of reason, still,
Shame on our sex! As for the fair
They all want something everywhere
And something want they will

These etched lines have not gone unnoticed. The Byron Window is mentioned in a variety of magazine articles, including a feature in Derbyshire Life in 2010, and the sale catalogue from when the Temple Hotel was auctioned in 1975.

But how do we know this to be the work of Byron? We don’t, really – in fact, I am not even sure that the squiggle nearest the poem says Byron!

D8116/3/1: The Byron Window

D8116/3/1: The Byron Window

An article on the Andrews Pages cites William Adam’s 1840 guide book “The Gem of the Peak” as evidence that the poet visited the Old Bath in Matlock Bath, and at first glance, I thought the Adam reference extended to the etched window itself – however, it certainly isn’t mentioned in any of the editions we hold here.

William Adam describes The Temple as “originally built as a lodging house or appendage to the Old Bath for the comfort and convenience of those visitors, who wished to be out of the noise and bustle of a crowded Inn”, and observes that the house had been “much improved and enlarged” by its owner, Mrs Evans. He also remarks that the name of Walter Scott is inscribed on a window in room 5 (without making any claim as to who made the inscription).

So, hang on… William Adam was interested enough in Byron to mention his visit to Matlock Bath and interested enough in inscriptions on windows to mention Scott – but did not think to tell us about Byron inscribing a window?

What puts the kybosh on the thing is the date right next to those lines. “6 Oct 1784” is the easiest bit of the whole thing to read, and dates it to before Byron’s time.  (Unless the date and the poem are unrelated?  I would be delighted to be proved wrong!)

The window pane is, transparently, something that a large number of people have inscribed over the course of centuries – so whether or not their number includes Lord Byron, this is an amazing addition to our collections.  I don’t think I have the heart to investigate the other claim, which is that a young Princess Victoria put her name on the same bit of glass!

Authenticity Hoo-Ha pt. 1: Did the Rolling Stones sign the guest register at The Temple Hotel?

Sir Hilary Jenkinson’s “Manual of Archive Administration” (1922) maintains that authenticity is one of the defining characteristics of the archive.  A trio of authentication problems have imposed on my time recently, so I thought I would share them with you in three blog posts.  Here is the first.

Derbyshire Record Office recently accepted the donation of some records from The Temple Hotel in Matlock Bath (D8116). The hotel is no longer open for business, but has a long history of hospitality behind it.  Among the signatures in one of the guest registers, you can find the names of Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts, giving their address as The Rolling Stones, and the date as 16 January 1965. I hope it was really them! The names are in the same hand (fishy, do you think, or easily explained?) and they do not bear much similarity to autographs that can be found online.

D8116 1 2

D8116/1/2: Temple Hotel visitors book, Nov 1963 to July 1971

This is the only bit of the register you will get to see without an applicable exemption under data protection legislation! But these registers will be freely available to all researchers in generations to come.

Several fan websites go into minute detail about where the band were at any given moment, and from these it seems that the Rolling Stones were making a live appearance on Ready, Steady, Go! on the 15th and were then in a recording session in Los Angeles on the 17th. They must have spent the 16th on a transatlantic flight. Mustn’t they? Does anyone remember seeing 2/5 of The Rolling Stones around Matlock Bath that winter?

Let us suppose the signatures above are not genuinely those of Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts. What then of archival authenticity?  Good news: Sir Hilary would still regard the register as an authentic record of the hotel’s activities, deriving as it does from the business function of recording guests’ details. Since the Immigration (Hotel Records) Order 1972, hotels have actually been under a legal obligation to maintain such a record – but of course there was already a long-established practice of registering hotel guests. And there was an equally long-established practice of hotel guests signing in a false name for nefarious purposes, or just for a giggle.  It’s an authentic record of a transaction – it’s the transaction itself that was lacking in authenticity.

Fun fact about hotel guest registers: one of America’s greatest writers signed himself “Samuel Clemens” and gave his profession as “Mark Twain”.

The Junction Arts story

Congratulations to Christopher Bevan – his film, “The Junction Arts Story” has been nominated for a 2017 Royal Television Society Midlands Award in the Factual Programme of the Year category. The winners will be announced at the end of November.

Derbyshire Record Office

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…

View original post 350 more words

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!

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.

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.

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.

Treasure 39: Florence Nightingale’s letters to C B N Dunn

Today is Florence Nightingale’s 197th birthday, and (not coincidentally) also International Nurses Day – to mark the occasion, here is one of our 50 Treasures posts, about the Florence Nightingale correspondence held here. You can read any of the letters at Boston University’s very user-friendly website, http://archives.bu.edu/web/florence-nightingale

Derbyshire Record Office

Florence Nightingale’s letters to Crich surgeon C B N Dunn are a fascinating read, for their social history content as well as for the insights they can provide into the life of their author.  You can find out more about them in some of our previous blog posts.  In this example (D2546/ZZ/54), Nightingale tells Dunn of candidates for membership of the local Women’s Club – not a recreational club, but a benefit society, which provided a form of insurance against sickness and death.  It was hoped that Dunn could “pass” people as being in good health on joining the club. Collection D1575 (deriving from the Nightingale family’s estates) includes the rules of Lea Friendly Society dated 1832 – this society may well have been the forerunner of the Women’s Club mentioned in the letter.

treasure-39-florence-nightingale

View original post 812 more words