Archives at the Abbey: 1 (un)stately home, 4 boxes, 8 hours, 600 visitors (well almost)

It was the busiest weekend I think we have ever had for staff from the record office, you have already heard about how we popped up at the Wirksworth Festival, which sounded amazing. I couldn’t make it along myself as I went along to Calke Abbey, home of the Harpur-Crewe family, with a small selection of original archives from their large collection (ref: D2375).

Oh my God! I can really touch it?! Oh my God!

It’s mouth watering stuff – are you putting up beds? I could stay all night. It’s wonderful

With over 580 visitors over just two afternoons, we were thrilled with how much people enjoyed handling the original material and amazed at some of the things they found out. Continue reading

Finding your feet with Family History

Starting to do family history can seem a daunting task! Although there is now lots of information online with the help of websites such as Ancestry and Find My Past there are also numerous books which are a fantastic, tangible source of information and knowledge. These are excellent in providing a background of the type of sources you might come across, and why records appear in the they way they do! Forewarned is forearmed, as they say…

I asked an experienced colleague what she would recommend (thanks Vicky!) and she came up with two titles from our reference library:

‘The Oxford Companion to Family and Local History’ by David Hey

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David Hey’s guide is about as comprehensive as you can get! The thematic articles range from getting started with your family tree, to dealing with tracing your background by nationality and ethnicity, to searching agricultural and industrial histories. There is an absolutely indispensable A-Z glossary of terms you might come across and a useful list of all Record Offices and Special Collections in the UK.

‘Tracing your Ancestors through Local History Records’ by Jonathan Oates

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Oates’ useful guide is easy on the eye, with illustrations and photographs of examples of the types of local history records that you might encounter in your search.  It explains the historical background to records in England, and looks at lots of different sources: books, journals, illustrations, maps and newspapers.  Although parish registers are the most popular way of searching a family tree, these other sources can provide a wider feel for the time and place family members lived, and how they lived.

I’d also recommend ‘Essential Maps for Family Historians’ by Charles Masters – it’s incredible how much information maps have – from Estate maps, enclosure and tithe maps to The National Farm Survey.

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In addition to the more general guides, there are also specialist books which can help you trace ancestors who were in the Armed Forces, in a lunatic asylum, worked as a coalminer, lived in the colonies, in the clergy or were travellers, to name a few! The series of books ‘My Ancestor was a…’published by the Society of Genealogists are well illustrated and explain in plain language the historical background that these people would have lived in as well as the sort of records you could search to find information about them.

There is also a light-hearted look at the potential pitfalls of researching your family in ‘Granny was a Brothel Keeper’, which provides useful tips on how to avoid being led up the garden path, and a subtle warning about not believing everything you might see (and hear from well-meaning family members!) Written in no-nonsense terms (as you may have gathered from the title), there are real life researchers’ stories and lessons to be learned.

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Of course, if you are desperate to get back to a computer screen, you might find ‘The Family History Web Directory’ extremely handy!

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All the books mentioned can be found in our Local Studies library, along with our research guides at the Enquiry Desk. Libraries also have subscriptions to the Ancestry and Find My Past websites, so these can be accessed on the Library computers.

Please let us know if you have any personal recommendations or tips when researching family history, and we’ll be happy to pass them on!

Have bike, will travel – a splendid celebration of cycling

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Thursday 5th May saw the start of our latest ‘What’s in the Wall?’ exhibitions.  Running (or should I say pedalling?) until the 30th July, ‘Have bike, will travel’ is a comprehensive collection of items from our Local Studies and Archives, ranging from the late 19th century to the present day. Many of the photographs are courtesy of Picture the Past

Bicycle related photos, maps, magazines, drawings and diaries are all there, along with a large dose of nostalgia, from the early days of the penny farthing, the bicycle as an essential form of transport, to the cycling proficiency test and 80s BMXing!

This exhibition will coincide with the Aviva Women’s Tour which has a whole stage in Derbyshire on Friday 17th June (it will go up Bank Road in Matlock, definitely worth watching!) It will also coincide with the Eroica Britannia – a 3 day festival held in Bakewell from Friday 17th June – Sunday 19th June, which ends on the Sunday with over 4,000 riders taking part in a vintage bike ride.

Come and take a journey with us through the history of Derbyshire cycling.  The display is in our Reception area and we are based on New Street, Matlock – parallel with Bank Road (if you don’t know the road, come and take a look at the steep gradient the women will have to climb on the Derbyshire stage of the Women’s Tour!)

Directions are here and we are open Monday to Friday 9.30am – 5.00pm and Saturdays 9.30am – 1pm.  We have cycle parking as well as car parking.  Our other forthcoming events can be found here

Advent Calendar – Day 15

Have you been up early this morning waiting to find out what is behind today’s door? (only joking)

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Copy. Map of Belper and Heage by John Hatton, 1698 (Ref: D369/G/Maps/15). This item is part of the series of maps collected and deposited by the Derbyshire Archaeological Society (ref: D369).

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To the modern eye, this item may look quite unfamiliar as a map, however it is quite typical for the 17th century, when cartography and map making was an expensive business. Maps were generally produced for a very specific purpose and would therefore only include information relevant to that purpose rather than as an accurate geographic or geological representation of an area. Nevertheless this is a particularly useful map as it does include a scale in the top right corner, and many of the buildings (the sketches of which are likely to have some, though not complete, reliability with regards to the actual buildings) are accompanied by a name. I’m afraid I have not had time to look at this item, and any related records in enough detail to determine whether these names belong to the owner or occupier of each building.

For a list of more early maps of Derbyshire, including items held in other archives, please see Derbyshire Record Society’s 2012 edition of A Catalogue of Local Maps of Derbyshire c1528-1800, available in our Local Studies collection, and other libraries across the county (see the Library Catalogue for more information).

Of course you can also search the online archives catalogue for these and other maps and plans held in our archives collection. In particular, there are quite a good number of different maps for Belper, especially amongst the Strutt estate collections (ref: D1564, D3772).

If you are interested in old maps generally, there is a beautiful example amongst our 50 Treasures – Treasure 8: the Gresley processional map And don’t forget, you can nominate an item from our archives and local studies collection (or even a series or collection of items) for the 50 Treasures.

Another day in the life of…

I may have been a bit eager to get the next instalment of ‘a day in the life of…’ written, as back at the beginning of November I did promise that another would follow in December, well we’ve hit 1 December so here it is.

It felt like we probably had an ever so slightly busier day yesterday than last time, with more customers visiting the search room (and local studies who I know had a very busy yesterday). However, as I looked back at our statistics we didn’t actually retrieve as many documents from the stores as the previous day I blogged about. It is often the case that more people in the search room does not necessarily mean more documents being requested (and vice versa with fewer people and a higher number of document orders) – this usually depends on the documents themselves and the information they contain, for example is it a document that is quick to look at or needs some time to be read and considered. Yesterday, the main reason for difference is that three of the customers each spent a few hours in the search room, looking at only two documents each. Although not all working together, they were all consulting the documents in great detail in order to make accurate transcripts that can then be used to obtain the same information without necessarily consulting the original document – which also helps us to protect the document by reducing handling.

We also had visits from people researching the geography and buildings in Duffield, two colleagues from the Legal Services team investigating the history and status of a particular road in the Peak District (see them hard at work below), a regular customer and researcher with various interests, this time looking at Methodist records, a new customer looking for an ancestor in the school admission register, as well as others who have visited for reasons that I do not know…

As before, here are the rest of my snaps from the day showing the range of resources used (click on an image for a full description)

Treasure 25: The John Wheatcroft Plan of the Hubberdale Possessions, 1840

This treasure has been suggested by one of our regulars, researcher Steve Thompson.  He is the author of the text which follows.

D3266/92 is a very fine lead mining plan indeed, entitled “Plan of the Pipes and Rakes in the Hubberdale Title Within the Townships of Taddington & Flagg in the Queens Field and Hundred of High Peak by John Wheatcroft in June 1840”.  This very large plan, a little over eight feet by six feet, is drawn on a scale of 1 inch to 50 yards (1:1800), and demonstrates a very high standard of draughtsmanship. Continue reading

Treasure 16: a Soviet military map showing Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire

It’s easy to take maps for granted nowadays, when we can go online and quickly find an accurate map of any given spot on the planet.  This Soviet military map dates from an era in which knowledge of terrain was harder to come by, and of correspondingly greater strategic value.  It has been chosen by Sue Peach, Local Studies Librarian.

Treasure 16 Soviet map

Sue writes: “Produced in the 1980s, before the breakup of the Soviet Union, these maps would have enabled the Red Army to find even the smallest hamlet. The maps conform to the standard Warsaw Pact specifications for military topographic maps, using the Krassovsky/Pulkovo system, and carry the standard Gausse- Kruger military grid, enabling artillery to use the mapping. For ease of reading the text is all in Cyrillic script.”

The main place names visible on this shot of the map are Sutton in Ashfield, in the centre left of the image, followed by (working clockwise) Mansfield Woodhouse, Mansfield and Kirkby in Ashfield.

Treasure 11: An Exact Mapp of Risley and Breaston

This wonderful map was purchased by Derbyshire County Council in 1966 for £20.  It was surveyed by Matts [Matthias] Aston, in 1722, and the man standing beside the scale on the map is presumably Matts Aston himself.  The scale is 20 perches:1 inch; a perch was an old form of measurement (also called a rod or pole) equal to 5 1/2 yards.

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In the top left corner is the coat of arms of the baronets of Aston in Cheshire, so this map must have been made for the 3rd baronet, Sir Thomas Aston (1666-1725).  It measures 60 x 30 inches (about 150cm x 75cm) and is made of parchment which has been backed with linen.  These are two very long-lasting materials, which explains why the map is still in such good condition.

Paula Moss, our Artist in Residence between 2011 and 2013 chose the map for our 50 treasures.  She says:  “I love the fact that as well as being a beautiful map, it’s also bursting with visual and poetic narrative.  Small details such as a ladder propped up against the tree and the game keeper and their dog are exquisite – it’s a piece that I keep on coming back to.”

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Nearly 300 years after its creation, the details in this map are a constant source of inspiration.  The fruit tree with it’s ladder inspired the poem which is on the wall in our customer break room: ‘Somewhere in this Building’ by Matt Black, Derbyshire Poet Laureate 2011-2013.  Matthias Aston also features on a mug, designed by Paula, which you can buy here at the Record Office.  And you might recognise the compass rose, which has been reworked to create the ‘Made in Derbyshire 2015’ logo.

 

New Exhibition: Harvesting Histories

An exhibition to discover the history of Derbyshire farms and farming, exploring the lives of local farmers from the manor to the Second World War – Harvesting Histories

The specific inspiration for this exhibition stems from a series of workshops delivered by the Record Office in June to accompany the BBC’s “Great British Story: A People’s History’, presented by Michael Wood. The workshops encouraged participants to discover the archival resources available for researching the history of farming and agriculture in their local area.

However, the inspiration for farming theme of the workshops actually stemmed from a project run by Junction Arts, Combine: Farming Heritage | East Midlands, involving young people, farmers and local communities working with museums and archives to research the history of farming in each county. Derbyshire Record Office hosted the Derbyshire group of young people in February and March 2012 and had a fantastic time working with the young people and their teachers to discover the history of Derbyshire agriculture, particularly in the Dethick area. More information about the project, which is shortly due to move in to Phase Two consisting of an extensive touring programme for displaying the work created in Phase 1, can be found at www.combinefarmingheritage.org

If you want to see any of the original material in the exhibition or other related material, it can be consulted free of charge in our search room in Matlock. Please contact us for more information on 01629 538347.

A guide to the archival resources available for researching Derbyshire agicultural history can be downloaded from our website at http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/record_office/education/exhibition/default.asp

Ilkeston map

We have recently received a copy of Henry Fletcher’s 1598 map of the manor of Ilkeston.  If you would like to see it, why not contact us (01629 538347 or record.office@derbyshire.gov.uk) and we can get it out for you.  Ask for document D7431/1.