Opening hours consultation

Between 11 November and 22 December 2019, we will be consulting about reducing our opening hours from 30 to 22.5 hours a week.

Derbyshire County Council’s budget continues to face huge pressures, with greater demands on adult social care and services for vulnerable children.  The council’s budget for the coming year is around £500 million, with a savings target of £33.4 million.

At its meeting on 11 September 2019 our Cabinet agreed a new Five Year Financial Plan
for the County Council and this included a range of budget savings proposals. One of the areas identified was a review of opening hours and staffing levels at the Record Office to achieve savings of £60,000.

We are now consulting over proposals to reduce the opening hours by a day a week. There is no proposal to change the current pattern of Saturday opening.

Please make sure you have your say, either by filling in a paper consultation form at the Record Office or online at: www.derbyshire.gov.uk/recordofficeconsultation before the closing date of 22 December 2019.

 

Discovering Franklin catalogue online

Three cheers!  The brand new catalogue of our material relating to Sir John Franklin, his family and friends, can now be viewed on our online catalogue in collection D8760.

discovering franklin

Archives Revealed funding and the help of volunteers has enabled us to catalogue in much greater detail than we normally would.  This means there are now four times more catalogue entries than there were before!    That’s a lot to browse through, so if you’d like to search the Franklin material instead, click on ‘Search our catalogue’, put ‘D8760*’ (don’t forget the asterisk at the end) into the ‘Reference number’ box, and then add your keywords into the ‘Any Text’ box at the top.  You can also add a date range to narrow down your search.

Over 1000 letters have also been exported into a spreadsheet.  If you are interested in Franklin, or just 19th century letters in general, the spreadsheet enables you to keyword search all the letters at once, or sort and filter them as you like.  You can download this as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet here: Derbyshire Record Office D8760 letters with transcriptions.

Many thanks go to Neil Bettridge, our project archivist, and the volunteers who put so much hard work into this project.  Although the cataloguing project has now technically finished, we still have volunteers transcribing the letters and will continue adding to and improving the catalogue with more transcriptions and indexing as we have the time.

There are lots more stories to tell from the collection so this won’t be the last you hear about Franklin from us!  And don’t forget that you can also view some of the Franklin items and a couple of online exhibitions about them on Google Arts and Culture.

New online exhibitions

We’re excited to announce that Derbyshire Record Office has partnered with Google Arts and Culture to showcase highlights from our collections on the Google Arts and Culture website.  If you weren’t aware of Google Arts and Culture before, it features art works, objects and documents from over 1200 museums and archives around the world.

On the Derbyshire Record Office Google Arts and Culture page you can see 175 images that show off the huge variety of items that we hold.  There are also three online exhibitions to enjoy:

Franklin exhibit snip crop

The Last Voyage of Sir John Franklin links with our ‘Discovering Franklin’ project and tells the story of Franklin’s 1845 expedition to the Arctic which ended in tragedy.

 

 

Lady Jane exhibit snip crop

In Lady Jane’s Museum you can see all the objects which formed part of our recent crowdfunding project to package and photograph the objects in the Gell / Franklin family collection.

 

 

Treasures exhibit snip crop

And finally, you can take a look at A Selection of Derbyshire Treasures which gives a closer view of a few of the 50 treasures that have previously featured on this blog.

 

 

We have lots of ideas for more exhibitions and images to add to Google Arts and Culture so our content will continue to grow.  If you have any ideas for what you’d like to see added, let us know in the comments below.

 

Weird Derbyshire and Peakland

If you’re interested in Derbyshire customs and folklore then take a trip to Buxton Museum and Art Gallery this autumn, where a free exhibition called ‘Weird Derbyshire and Peakland’ is on until 9 November. The exhibition features photographs by Richard Bradley, author of ‘Secret Chesterfield’ and ‘Secret Matlock and Matlock Bath’ so if you’re inspired to find out more, you can pick up the books at your local library.

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Derbyshire – and the Peak District, which spills over into the neighbouring counties of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester and South and West Yorkshire – has one of the highest concentrations of calendar customs in the UK. These encompass everything from rituals of very ancient (possibly Pagan) origin like the well dressings and the Castleton Garland Ceremony; to more modern alternative annual sporting contests dreamed up over a pint or three down the local pub. Examples of the latter include Bonsall Hen Racing, the Mappleton Bridge Jump, the Great Kinder Beer Barrel Challenge and the World Championship Toe Wrestling Championships.

DSCF0980 copyright Richard Bradley

The area is peppered with ancient stone circles such as Arbor Low and the Nine Ladies, which provide a strong ritual focus into the 21st Century, drawing visitors from around the world seeking answers to their own individual questions. In addition, a number of unusual old carvings…

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Take a tour of H.M.S. Terror

Our  Discovering Franklin project to catalogue and preserve the archives relating to Sir John Franklin is nearly finished.  Within the next couple of months we will be publishing the brand new and very detailed catalogue of the collection.  We will also be launching online exhibitions and images for people to explore through an exciting new venture which we are tantalisingly keeping under wraps until we have a definite launch date.

Whilst you’ll have to wait a little longer for our Franklin material, do take a look at an amazing video which Parks Canada have just released giving an underwater tour of H.M.S. Terror, one of Franklin’s ships which disappeared in the Canadian Arctic nearly 175 years ago and was rediscovered in 2016.

Excitingly, their latest exploration shows that records of the expedition are likely to be sitting in the ships, waiting to be recovered.  Just imagine being the archivist who gets to catalogue that material!

 

 

 

 

Historical recipes – both good and bad

I was interviewed by Andy Twigge for BBC Radio Derby today and we discussed a few recipes from our many historical recipe books.  I made a couple of things for him to try: one was the gluten-free rice cake which I’ve blogged about before, and the other was Jumbles from Mary Swanwick’s 1740s recipe.

The one I didn’t make, but rather tickled me, was from a seventeenth century book.  It’s from the archive of the Gell family of Hopton Hall and like all such home recipe books, it contains a mix of medicinal and cookery recipes.   I would strongly recommend that you don’t try this one at home.

Recipe for convulsion fits

Reference no: D258/32/15/1

Here’s my transcription with modernised spelling and punctuation:

Mrs Evelyn’s excellent powder for Convulsion Fits

Take a dozen young moles, flay them, draw them and quarter them, lay them abroad in a dish and dry them in an oven until they will powder. Take elecampane root, cleanse, slit and dry them in an oven to powder. Take red peony roots and Jews ears [a kind of mushroom], powdered after the same manner.  Take also a little of the                      of a healthy woman when it is burnt to powder.  Beat them severally and take of each powder a like quantity by weight.  Mix them well together and keep them close tied up for use.

Take of it 3 mornings before and after the full and change, in a spoonful of black cherry water as much as will lie on a shilling, fasting, and drink 2 or 3 spoonful of black cherry water after it.

The black cherry water definitely sounds like the best bit!  I’m not entirely sure about ‘the full and change’ but I think that is referring to the moon, the full moon often being seen as the culprit for fits of insanity.  As for what you should be powdering from a healthy woman, if you have any suggestions, let us know in the comments.

You can hear snippets of my conversation with Andy Twigge by listening to his lunchtime radio programme every day this week at around 2.15pm – or catch up with it on the BBC Radio iPlayer.  I’ll post the Jumbles recipe later this week, for those that would like to give it a try.  I promise that it’s much more palatable than the recipe above!

The Amazing, Award Winning, Pop Up Archives Project!

The 2019 Derbyshire Heritage Awards took place last Friday (3 May) at the impressive (but rather chilly!) Barrow Hill Roundhouse.  The Record Office was delighted to win the Reaching New Audiences award for the Amazing Pop Up Archives Project.

Derbyshire Heritage Awards 2019

Karen Millhouse and Sarah Chubb with the award for Reaching New Audiences

This Heritage Lottery Funded project was devised and led by archivist Karen Millhouse, working with a group of young people, artists and an experienced family history researcher.  Together they ‘popped up’ at events around the county, bringing archives to places where people would normally never expect to see them.  Hundreds of people came to look at the documents, listen to songs and stories, and tell their own stories of their lives and the place where they lived.

It’s been a great project and we’re so pleased that it has been recognised by this award.  If you’d like to find out more about what the team did, do take a look at some of the blog posts created along the way.  And congratulations to all the award winners on Friday – there is a lot of amazing work going on in Derbyshire!

 

 

An easy historical gluten-free cake recipe

We haven’t blogged about historical food experiments for a good while, but this weekend I was in the mood for baking, so I thought I would try out a recipe that intrigued me in Clara Palmer-Morewood’s recipe book from the 1830s: Rice Cake.

Rice Cake recipe (jpeg)

Rice Cake

Ground Rice half a pound, sugar & butter each one pound. Put them into a pan before the fire, as the butter melts stir them gently together with a wooden spoon, beat nine eggs very well and add them to the other ingredients immediately before putting into the oven, the rind of a Lemon may be added.

I halved the recipe (why waste a whole pound of butter and sugar if it all goes horribly wrong?!) and used the following:

1/4 lb /  110 g of rice flour
1/2 lb / 225g butter
1/2 lb / 225g sugar
4 eggs (our eggs are likely larger than those they had in the 1830s)
grated zest of a lemon

I stirred together the flour, sugar, lemon zest and butter in a pan over a low heat until the butter was melted and the mixture was well blended, then took it off the heat to cool a little.  In a separate bowl I beat the eggs until very light and fluffy, then gently folded them into the rest of the mixture, trying to keep as much of the air as possible in the batter.

The mixture went into a greased and lined loaf tin (I used a 2 pound loaf tin) and then into the oven at 180 degrees centigrade.  After about 25 minutes it had browned nicely but  was still very wobbly in the middle so with a piece of foil on top to prevent burning I gave it another 20 minutes.

The result was subsequently enjoyed with a nice cup of tea.

Cake

It’s not fluffy cake but it is deliciously moist from all that butter and has a lovely lemony flavour.  It’s also extremely easy to make, requiring only minimal baking skills.  And it’s suitable for people on a gluten-free diet too.  I highly recommend it!

Cake close up

White Hall Memories

Christmas is a time for catching up with old friends and reminiscing.  If you ever visited the White Hall Outdoor Education Centre near Buxton, cast your mind back to your experiences there as you put your feet up over the holidays…  If you have a tale to tell, 2019 is the chance for you to share that story with more than just friends and family.

Derbyshire’s White Hall Outdoor Education Centre is remarkable for being the first local authority run outdoor education centre in the country.  It’s still going strong after nearly 70 years and has just been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to celebrate its history.

D7786 whitehall 000002 small

Image from the White Hall Centre archive at Derbyshire Record Office

The White Hall Outdoor Education Centre – A People’s History project has just launched an appeal for people’s memories of visiting the centre over the last seven decades.  Local students will turn the stories that are collected into a film, which will form part of a display that will tour around the county.

If you have a story to share, you can let the project team know by emailing my.whitehall@derbyshire.gov.uk, and you can find out more about the project on Derbyshire County Council’s website.

 

 

New Florence Nightingale website

Many people aren’t aware that Florence Nightingale, world famous as the founder of modern nursing, came from a Derbyshire family.  Although mostly associated in popular imagination with the Crimea, of course, and London (where she died), Florence came from the Nightingale family of Lea, near Matlock, and retained strong connections with her family home and the people of Lea.

Florence’s links with Derbyshire are explored in a University of Nottingham project, which has just acquired a new website:  Florence Nightingale comes home for 2020 .

Florence Nightingale snip

On this site you can find out more about the project itself, as well as what researchers have discovered so far about Florence and Derbyshire.  There are all sorts of other resources too, including local history trails you can follow, and you can even take a virtual tour around the Nightingales’ home at Lea Hurst!

The project will be going on until 2020, which would have been Florence’s 200th birthday, and you can keep up with their activities and findings by signing up to their newsletter and following the project blog.

aph-florence-nightingale-02

Florence Nightingale’s signature, from a letter at Derbyshire Record Office.

Derbyshire Record Office is working closely with the team at Nottingham, and you can also get involved.  The project team are keen to make contact with people who have a research interest in the Nightingales.  If that sounds like you, then you could become involved in the project as a Citizen Researcher.  You don’t need to be an academic, so if you’d like to be involved, they would love to hear from you.