I love it when a plan comes together…

… with the original survey book alongside which it was created.

Plans and survey books are easily separated.  They are superficially very different: a survey may look like a standard hardback of several pages, and the plan that goes with it may be a single sheet, rolled up or folded.  The difference in size and shape means the pair of items are unlikely to be stored on the same shelf or in the same box.  In fact, each might be so useful on its own that from time to time, their custodians forget that they two items were designed to complement one another.

Here’s how they work together.  See the plot numbered 358 on this poor rate plan of Brimington dating from 1827? I have highlighted it with a black arrow.

D177 A PC 37

If I want to find out more about it, I can look at the survey book, and see that it was a Blacksmith’s shop and hovel, owned and occupied by George Richards, amounting to three perches in area.

D636 A PO 1

When Brimington Parish Council was created, as a consequence of the Local Government Act of 1894, the civil functions of Brimington parish began to be administered under a separate authority for the first time.  The church parish, meanwhile, retained its ecclesiastical duties.  In the division of assets, whether by accident or design, the new parish council got to keep the book, while the church held on to the plan.  Come the 1960s, each of these bodies began to deposit its historic records here, so that the survey and plan ended up in separate collections.

Today I added a cross-reference to the catalogue, and I believe it was the first time that anyone at our end had linked the two things together – although I gather from a researcher who visited today that both documents are mentioned by Philip J Cousins in his “Brimington : the changing face of a Derbyshire village”, published to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the parish council.

If you ever want to visit us to use the documents in our search room, or order a paid search of their contents, here are the all-important reference numbers: the book is D636/A/PO/1, and the plan is D177/A/PC/37.

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Rediscovered: plans of Osmaston Manor, 1850-1873

It happens this way in archives sometimes.  One minute, you are moving a roll of plans from one shelf to another, and carefully keeping a record of its new location; the next, you are rediscovering some long-lost treasure*.

It was in 1978 that we acquired collection D1849, the archives of the Osmaston Estate.  The collection includes rent books, tenancy papers, some plans and photographs, and family papers of the Walker family, which acquired Osmaston Manor after the death of Francis Wright (1806-1873).  A list for the collection was circulated soon afterwards.  However, entry D1849/14 on that list, (“Osmaston Manor plans”) had no descriptive details, and our internal record to say which shelf held the plans said only “number not used”.

As I intimated above, the plans were re-discovered when there was a need to rationalise some of our storage.  That is the good news.  The bad news is the state they were in:

D1849 14 Osmaston Manor plans.JPG

As carefully as I could, I took a few minutes to have a look at them, so as to add some details to the catalogue.  The relevant entry now reads:

D1849/14: Plans of Osmaston Manor, 1850-1873.

Approximately 20 architectural plans and sketches of building works. Most of the plans bear the name of Francis Wright Esq.  Including:
-Plan of Osmaston Manor showing pipeage
-Section drawing showing details of cresting on conservatory
Details of windows on proposed lodge at village entrance (rough, in pencil) at scale 1.5 inches to 1 foot
-Elevation of flag tower
-Plans of fountain
-Section drawing showing “bridge across the back road”. Signed by Henry Isaac Stevens, architect, dated 18 Feb 1850.
-Plan of stable court and surrounding buildings at scale 1 inch: 8 feet. Stamped “Butterley Ironworks” on the reverse
These items are in poor condition and cannot be produced until conservation work has been completed.

I cannot be any less vague about the details, and for once it’s not my fault – if I had spent any longer trying to inspect the goods, I would only have worsened their condition.  Lien, our Senior Conservator, has had a look at the plans and will be deciding how best to render them fit for use in future.  That may be a long-term project, but an early stage will be to get the plans stable enough to photograph or scan, so people can view them on the computers in our searchroom.

It makes sense that at least one of the plans is stamped “Butterley Ironworks” – in 1830, Wright had become senior partner in the Butterley Company, “which he dominated for the next forty-three years”, according to his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  The same source takes the view that “the outward sign of Wright’s success was the building of a great country house, Osmaston Manor, outside Ashbourne, in 1846–9”.

And if you want to show off your success by erecting buildings, you hire the best architect you can find.  In Wright’s case, it was Henry Isaac Stevens of Derby (1806-1873 – yes, his years of birth/death really are the same as Francis Wright’s).  I only saw the signature of Stevens on one of the plans, which was dated 1850, but at least some of the others will be his work, and given the dates of construction mentioned in the DNB, I feel sure that the 1850 plan will not be the oldest in the bundle.

Osmaston Manor was demolished in the 1960s.  You can find out more about it on the Osmaston Park website, which describes what this location has to offer as a wedding venue.

*”treasure” is an over-worked term when it comes to news of archival discoveries, so I’m sorry for using.  But the truth is, it’s ALL treasure to somebody, or we wouldn’t be keeping it!

Treasure 29: Bryan Donkin’s day book

This treasure has been nominated by Maureen Greenland, on behalf of the Bryan Donkin Archive Trust, of which she is Secretary.  Maureen writes:

The many letters, diaries and records held in the Donkin Collection (D1851) throw light on both the personal and the working life of the brilliant engineer Bryan Donkin. Born in 1768, he started his career in London in the early years of the nineteenth century, bringing to perfection the first successful machine for producing paper. His firm moved to Chesterfield a century later, providing work for the town from 1902 for over a hundred years. Continue reading

Believe It or Not?

In the summer of 1826 Sir George Crewe, 8th Baronet, and his wife, Lady Jane Crewe, took an extended trip in North Wales. While visiting the town of Conway (or Conwy, to be more accurate linguistically), they took in the parish church there. Although they thought there was little worthy of attention in it, Lady Jane’s journal does record one gravestone that did impress them.

“We were particularly struck with one bearing the following inscription, “Here lyeth the body of Nicholas Hookes of Conway, Gent, who was the 41st child of his Father Wm. Hookes Esqre by Alice his wife, & father of 27 children, who died the 20th day of March 1637.”

It should be noted that Sir George and Lady Jane went on to produce only the paltry 8 children.

Jane Crewe journal extract D2375/M/44/10

Jane Crewe journal extract D2375/M/44/10

Jane Crewe Journal D2375/M/44/10

Jane Crewe Journal D2375/M/44/10

 

Treasure 22: Servants’ Wages book, Derby Royal Infirmary

This treasure is chosen by David Jenkins, who used to be one of the archivists, but now works as Derbyshire County Council’s Corporate Records Manager.  He writes:

I have chosen a Servants’ Wages book from the Derby Royal Infirmary which details the wages paid at the Infirmary from 1828 to 1855. The Infirmary was built by voluntary contributions in 1804 with the first patients being admitted in 1810. The ‘servants’ mentioned in the book span a variety of occupations including cooks, kitchen maids, laundry maids, porters, and nurses. The book provides a snapshot of the staff employed at the hospital in that period – this is especially valuable because records of an individual’s employment from the 1800s can be very hard to find.

Treasure 22 Wages book

The wages book was one of the most memorable archival collections I have dealt with because of the unusual addition that came as part of the same auction lot.  We had not paid attention to the last line of the auction house’s description, and were very surprised when we received a package which contained both the wages book and a Victorian death mask! Sadly we know no further information about the mask, who the deceased was or if she even had a connection to the Infirmary.

A volunteer solves a mystery: not Jane Borough of Chetwynd Park but D’Ewes Coke of Brookhill Hall

Cataloguing can be a tricky business.  We are all human, and it’s easy to make mistakes – but isn’t it nice sometimes to put one right?

We had a researcher in last month who spent some time looking at D5369/15/31-42, described in our catalogue as the personal diaries of Jane Borough of Chetwynd Park, Shropshire.  However, the researcher was kind enough to let us know about some anomalies: an entry of 30 October 1815 mentioned sending William and Edward back to school, which sounded a warning bell because those were not the names of her children; and, just to put the kibosh on the Jane Borough idea altogether, there was an entry dated three days later, which referred to “my wife”.

So who is the diarist?  I passed this query on to Roger, one of our volunteers, who ordinarily helps with box-listing some of the unlisted collections.

Here’s what he found:

There are eleven diaries, each covering one calendar year between 1801 and 1842.  I decided to look first at that for 1841, given that the diary might offer some biographical details that could be compared with the census returns of 1841.

It immediately became apparent the author of the diary was a man.  There are references to fishing and shooting and notes about attending court sittings and meetings of a Board of Guardians and other public bodies.  Many long walks are recorded at locations in north-east Derbyshire and in the Sheffield area.

The only surnames to be noticed were those of visitors to the author’s residence.   At intervals through the diary, however, I noticed entries of forenames followed by a number.  These entries stood out: they displayed a slight variation of script in comparison with day-by-day entries. I wondered if these entries might be names of relatives – perhaps the author’s children – entered at the beginning of the year to show the age achieved on their respective birthdays in that year.  (I was briefly confused by entries of name and number about an individual whose name was abbreviated to Temp., until I realised that there were many such entries and they were thermometer readings: the diary includes many weather observations.)

The ages noted (if indeed the numbers did represent ages) implied there might be entries in one or more of the earliest diaries that referred to births.  I looked at the diary for 1802.  I read a note of 14 April that “my dearest Harriett was safely delivered of a second daughter” followed on 12 June by a reference to the baptism of Elizabeth Anne.  In the diary for 1801, I read a note of the first birthday on 11 November of Harriett Frances.  On 22 December the author records his own 27th birthday.

I then interrogated the International Genealogical Index for the birth/baptism of a Harriett Frances born in Derbyshire in 1800.  In this context a crucial property of this index is that it can be searched without the need for a surname as a search term.  The first item yielded by this search was the baptism at Pinxton of Harriett Frances Coke, daughter of D’Ewes and Harriett Coke.  I had a likely surname.

Pinxton was a location frequently mentioned in the diaries.  I then carried out a web search using “D’Ewes Coke” as the search term, which clinched the identification of the author: he was D’Ewes Coke (1774-1856), one of the Cokes of Brookhill Hall, Pinxton.  The results gave the same date of birth as that shown in the diary; his family residences at Totley Hall, Totley and Brookhill Hall: his occupation as a barrister and his membership of the Ecclesall Bierlow Board of Guardians.

Well, I call that a job very well done, and have updated the catalogue accordingly.  I have also added an entry under Related Material on the D1881 collection, the Coke of Brookhill Hall family archives, which include at least one other diary kept by the same man. If you have a look at the catalogue entry using the link above, you will find a working interim list to download – but I am afraid this is a collection that needs more work.  There may well be further discoveries in the future!

There is an article about the father of the diarist (also D’Ewes Coke) on Wikipedia, if you would like to read more.

Treasure 2: 19th century papers about slavery

The title on the spine of this volume (our reference D3155/WH/2939) is Confidential Papers on the West India Question.  It’s a hefty thing, as you can see from the video below, in which I show point out just four examples of the contents.  There are another two in the same collection.

Those three volumes form just one section of the papers of the parliamentarian Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton (1784-1841); and his papers are in turn only a part of the enormous archive of the Wilmot-Horton family of Catton Hall in Derbyshire.  Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton held the post of Under Secretary of State for the Colonies during a crucial period in the struggle against slavery – after the abolition of the trade, but before the legislation that abolished slavery as an institution.  These official papers show how both sides worked hard to lobby parliament on the issue.

Mark Smith

Explore Your Archive – Reading, Writing and the Theatre Royal

Compare and Contrast – a selection of Derbyshire Record Office documents regarding Regency children and education.

Derby Mercury, 18 November 1829 (pt1)

Derby Mercury, 18 November 1829 (pt1)

Derby Mercury, 18 November 1829 (pt2)

Derby Mercury, 18 November 1829 (pt2)

From 'Sorrows, sacred to the memory of Penelope', 1796 (published by Sir Brooke Boothby whose daughter Penelope died aged 5)

From ‘Sorrows, sacred to the memory of Penelope’, 1796 (published by Sir Brooke Boothby whose daughter Penelope died aged 5)

From 'Sorrows, sacred to the memory of Penelope', 1796 (published by Sir Brooke Boothby whose daughter Penelope died aged 5)

From ‘Sorrows, sacred to the memory of Penelope’, 1796 (published by Sir Brooke Boothby whose daughter Penelope died aged 5)

D2375 M/84/24 Printed orders to parents on the admission of their children into charity schools, 18th cent

D2375 M/84/24 Printed orders to parents on the admission of their children into charity schools, 18th cent

D6948/15/2 Pages from Belper Mill Girls School admission register, 1820s

D6948/15/2 Pages from Belper Mill Girls School admission register, 1820s

Dronfield Academy advert, Derby Mercury, 11 July 1811

Dronfield Academy advert, Derby Mercury, 11 July 1811

D5410/17/6 Letter from Alleyne Fitzherbert (b.1815) at Tissington Hall (pt1)

D5410/17/6 Letter from Alleyne Fitzherbert (b.1815) at Tissington Hall (pt1)

D5410/17/6 Letter from Alleyne Fitzherbert (b.1815) at Tissington Hall (pt2)

D5410/17/6 Letter from Alleyne Fitzherbert (b.1815) at Tissington Hall (pt2)

D5410/17/5 Letter from William Fitzherbert (b.1808) at Charterhouse School, 1819 (pt1)

D5410/17/5 Letter from William Fitzherbert (b.1808) at Charterhouse School, 1819 (pt1)

D5410/17/5 Letter from William Fitzherbert (b.1808) at Charterhouse School, 1819 (pt2)

D5410/17/5 Letter from William Fitzherbert (b.1808) at Charterhouse School, 1819 (pt2)

EYA-poster-story-boxes

D394 Z/Z 49 Apprenticeship indenture of William Smith alias Waterfall of Bakewell, 1812 (pt1)

D394 Z/Z 49 Apprenticeship indenture of William Smith alias Waterfall of Bakewell, 1812 (pt1)

D394 Z/Z 49 Apprenticeship indenture of William Smith alias Waterfall of Bakewell, 1812 (pt2)

D394 Z/Z 49 Apprenticeship indenture of William Smith alias Waterfall of Bakewell, 1812 (pt2)

EYA-poster-poetry-workshop

D5459/1/35 Part of 'Sunday Morning', George M. Woodward.  On the back is written: 'GM Woodward sketches when a child.  These are evident proofs of his natural Genius he used to draw before he could speak plain (W.W.)' - the handwriting is that of his father, William Woodward.

D5459/1/35 Part of ‘Sunday Morning’, George M. Woodward. On the back is written:
‘GM Woodward sketches when a child. These are evident proofs of his natural Genius he used to draw before he could speak plain (W.W.)’ – the handwriting is that of his father, William Woodward.

Explore Your Archive – Get the Ball Rolling

As we await kick-off of the first Explore Your Archive week, here is a vigorous selection of images for sporting ladies and gentlemen.

D5459/2/23/9 Image from Grotesque Borders for Rooms & Halls, George M. Woodward & Thomas Rowlandson, 1799

D5459/2/23/9 Image from Grotesque Borders for Rooms & Halls, George M. Woodward & Thomas Rowlandson, 1799

D5459/4/32/5 A Cricket Match Extraordinary, Thomas Rowlandson, [1811]

D5459/4/32/5 A Cricket Match Extraordinary, Thomas Rowlandson, [1811]

D5459/3/11 A Mistake at New-Market, or Sport and Piety, George M. Woodward & Thomas Rowlandson, [1807]

D5459/3/11 A Mistake at New-Market, or Sport and Piety, George M. Woodward & Thomas Rowlandson, [1807]

The Derby Races advert, Derby Mercury, 29 July 1813

The Derby Races advert, Derby Mercury, 29 July 1813

D5459/2/23/14 Image from Grotesque Borders for Rooms & Halls: No 21, George M. Woodward & Thomas Rowlandson, 1800

D5459/2/23/14 Image from Grotesque Borders for Rooms & Halls: No 21, George M. Woodward & Thomas Rowlandson, 1800

Boxing report, Derby Mercury, 13 May 1829

Boxing report, Derby Mercury, 13 May 1829

D5459/2/23/12 Image from Grotesque Borders for Rooms & Halls: No 18, George M. Woodward & Thomas Rowlandson, 1800

D5459/2/23/12 Image from Grotesque Borders for Rooms & Halls: No 18, George M. Woodward & Thomas Rowlandson, 1800

The Football, Derby Mercury, 28 February 1827

The Football, Derby Mercury, 28 February 1827

EYA-poster-story-boxes

Explore Your Archive – On This Day: Wirksworth Balloon Ascent

From the Derby Mercury, 12th November 1823:

On Friday evening last a very numerous and respectable assemblage of the inhabitants of Wirksworth were highly amused by the ascent of a fire balloon of extraordinary dimensions, the property of Mr. James.  It ascended from the bottom of the hill called Oakcliffe, and took a southerly direction over Ireton and Kedleston, and is supposed to have travelled at least 12 or 14 miles.  The inflation commenced about a quarter past 8 o’clock, and at nine the balloon was deemed sufficiently distended; the light was then attached to the bottom, and it ascended very majestically amidst the reiterated shouts of the assembled multitude.  From its amazing magnitude (being about 6 yards in height) it was visible for the space of nearly 20 minutes.  The crowd of spectators was immense, and the company retired highly delighted.  We are happy to add that no accident occurred on the occasion.

D5459/1/28/11 [A Balloon], George M. Woodward, [1783-1786]

D5459/1/28/11 [A Balloon], George M. Woodward, [1783-1786]

explore-flyer (cropped)