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.
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.
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.
Kate Henderson is the researcher on our “Pop Up” project. As one of the interns, I interviewed Kate to gain an understanding of how she got involved in the project.
After completing a history degree, Kate told me that she pursued a career in education and began teaching in several schools around Derbyshire. She took time out to have children and then completed a course in genealogy at the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies in Canterbury. Once Kate completed this course she set up as a genealogist in Derbyshire, completing the majority of her research at the Record Office, where she has used their collections for thirty years.
Kate’s work led her to become part of a focus group at the Record Office, set up during the refurbishment of the office between 2011-2012, where she became involved with then Artist in Residence Paula and Archivist Karen, who both run the Pop Up Project. They worked with students of local Matlock school, Highfields, to establish how the interior of the building would look and how people might use it but also on how to encourage children to get involved with original material held at the Record Office. They realised that many people, particularly younger people, did not know a great deal about the Record Office, and so came up with an idea to take the archives out to the people. This is how the idea for “The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project” came about. Kate was asked to be involved in the project because of her wealth of knowledge and years of experience as a member of the public working with the collections.
Kate explains all in our Pop Up tent at the Wirksworth Festival
Kate’s focus on the project was to find original documents within the archive that had personal appeal. For the first event at Wirksworth, part of the Wirksworth Festival, Kate came up with the idea of using parish registers and apprenticeship records. A parish register, which dated from the 17th century, was chosen because she believed that people might recognise family names and therefore create a connection between the community and the original source material. By using apprenticeship records dating from 1806 Kate wanted children to be able to contrast their lives with those living in the nineteenth century and to help create a picture of Wirksworth during this period. The apprenticeship records provided information on the apprentices’ age, the name of parent, who their new master (or boss) was and what work they were involved in. This information helped the children who came to the event to link their lives with those of the apprentices who were of a similar age. Kate says “I loved the fact that these records were helping to involve people in relevant history of the area and was so pleased with the response from the community.”
Kate’s work on the project has been useful in helping to engage the community in gaining an interest in original historical sources. Hopefully these results can be mirrored in the upcoming events.
Jamie Rix, University of Derby Intern for the Amazing Pop Up Archives Project
Yesterday, whilst introducing our new ‘Pop up‘ project Interns Danielle & Kristian to the wonders of the store room, we got to see and hold a document, signed by Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII, in 1551. Relinquishing her rights to particular land and property, this gem of a record wrapped in its own bespoke, hand made box, was an astonishing document to have held.
As part of the Amazing Pop Up Archive team I wanted to share a few images of our wonderful event. It may have started off rainy and drizzly, but the people came and the sun shone (eventually). It was lovely to hear the stories and memories from the people of Wirksworth and the visitors to the Wirksworth Festival- you are now part of the living Archive ! Thank you to the Festival team, as ever the buzz in the town was fantastic and we were proud to be part of it.
The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project did what it says on the tin and ‘popped up’ at this year’s Wirksworth Festival.
Our bunting clad tents graced the glorious setting of the rectory lawn (many thanks to the wonderful Reverend David Truby !) and played host to a multitude of activities on the Saturday and Sunday of the Trails weekend.
Derbyshire stories, poems and songs were brought by poet Matt and musician Julian; we ‘met’ Mrs Winchester, mother of a ladies maid at Chatsworth, through story teller Maria and a weaver’s treasure was hunted thanks to Debi. And that was just in one tent!