The Artist who Became an Inspiration in Education

on Thursday, 21 February 2013. Posted in Art

The proposed changes to our education system have rightly been a topic of the press recently. As it so happens, a man who spent most of his life in North Wiltshire was pivotal to the development of art in education -  I’d like to tell you a little about him here…

Robin Tanner was born on Easter Sunday, 1904, the third of six children. He spent his teenage years in Kington Langley, the birthplace of his mother.

Robin attended Chippenham Grammar School before moving on Goldsmith’s College, studying to become a teacher. Whilst at the college he took evening classes to learn the craft of etching. He was one of a number who turned their backs on the popular ‘en plein’ air etchings, fashionable in the 1920s. Tanner covered the whole of his plates with etching, wanting to create a ‘pastoral revival’. He loved his home in Kington Langley ‘a pastoral dairy country with small meadows and high hedges. There is an ancient church every three miles or so in any direction’. Many of Robin’s etchings were created at his house and were of local scenes, such as the wicket gate into Sydney’s wood where the renowned 19th century poet and clergyman Francis Kilvert often walked. Tanner’s father also had artistic talent, becoming a craftsman in wood.

After marrying Heather Spackman from Corsham on Easter Saturday in 1931, the Tanners moved to Old Chapel Field in Kington Langley. Robin began teaching at Ivy Lane School, Chippenham, in 1929 (he had previously spent a year there as a student teacher). Heather was a writer, and they produced some works together, such as ‘Country Alphabet’ and ‘Woodland Plants’, using Heather’s text and Robin’s etchings.

 

The ‘Lacock Unlocked’ project needs YOU!

on Thursday, 21 February 2013.

Regular readers of our blog will know that last year we applied for Heritage Lottery Funding to acquire and make accessible the wonderful archives of the Lacock Abbey estate, dating back at least 800 years. After a nail-biting few months we were both relieved and delighted to hear at the end of last year that our application was successful. The HLF have kindly agreed to donate £490,000 to acquire the archives and promote their use by the public.


Now the real work begins and we need your help to make this project a success – there are lots of ways in which people can get involved.

We need volunteers to help:


• Catalogue and index original records

• Conserve and repackage records

• Photograph documents to facilitate indexing from home

• Test a mobile phone ‘App’ being produced by Wiltshire College students

• Write about Lacock’s history for the new Lacock community archive website

• Moderate and administer the new website

• Record oral history – whether interviewing local people, or being interviewed, about memories of life in Lacock; plus editing and transcribing the resulting interviews

• Run outreach activities such as family learning workshops and creating an exhibition

No previous experience is necessary, and full training will be given. Please note the project is taking place over three years so not all the activities will be happening at the same time, and you are welcome to take part in as few or as many as you like.

We also need people to take part in the workshops and use and enjoy the ‘App’ and website when available. Everyone is also welcome to attend the regular community archive forum meetings which help steer the overall project.

We will be holding an open evening on Wednesday 24 April between 6 and 8.30 pm where you can come and view the archives and find out more about the volunteering opportunities available.

In the meantime if you are interested in taking part, please contact Claire Skinner in the first instance – e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 01249 705500 and leave your contact details. We can then send you more detailed information about the activities involved, and an application form where you can specify which activities you are most interested in and let us know your availability.

Thank you very much in anticipation – Claire Skinner, Principal Archivist.

Art to Illuminate Wiltshire

on Tuesday, 19 February 2013. Posted in Art

As I travel from Corsham to Chippenham by bus to work at the History Centre, I often think of what past local inhabitants might make of the ‘Sainsbury’s Roundabout’, the Methuen industrial park or the sprawl of post-war housing leading into Chippenham itself. Local artists have often recorded changes to the environment in their art, not always intentionally but as a consequence of the time in which they have been working. Wiltshire’s museums contain hundreds of such drawings, sketches and paintings of the people and landscape that makes this county so special.

 


One such local inhabitant was Robin Tanner (1904–1988) who was born in Bristol but grew up in Kington Langley, near Chippenham. Whilst training to be a teacher at Goldsmiths College in London during the 1920s he studied etching during the evenings. This etching was to become the means by which he expressed his deep appreciation of the countryside. Later returning to Wiltshire - moving into a house at Old Chapel Field, Kington Langley, where the diarist Francis Kilvert's ancestors are buried - to earn a living as an artist, his etchings show the strong influence of Samuel Palmer, the visionary Victorian romantic painter, depicting a world of thatched ricks, hedges, gates and stiles. 

Wilton on the Carpet

on Wednesday, 06 February 2013. Posted in Wiltshire People

When researching some of our properties some unusual stories can come to light. One such is the interesting tale of Pardoe Yates, a businessman of Wilton at the end of the C19 and how this seemingly upstanding gent was exposed to be yet another typical example of Victorian double standards…

In 1895, Kelly’s directory lists Pardoe Yates, J.P., as an alderman on Wilton Town Corporation and a director of the Royal Carpet Works, manufacturers of Axminster and Wilton carpets. His father, Samuel Pardoe Yates, had originally manufactured carpets in Bridgnorth, before buying the Axminster looms and later moving the business to Wilton where he took over the existing carpet factory run by Henry Blackmore, in the 1860s. Yates was initially in partnership with Wills (of the cigarette manufacturing family), as ‘Yates & Co. Ltd.’ Samuel Pardoe was short-lived. His later obituary in the Wiltshire Times reported after his sudden and unexpected death that ‘he paid a visit of several months to the States for business purposes last autumn.’

House History - it's more recent than you think!

on Wednesday, 30 January 2013. Posted in Architecture

You may think it’s not for you, but you can still make use of the History Centre, even if you don’t have ancestors that come from Wiltshire. If you are a Wiltshire resident, we have information that can be of use to you relating to where you live. Even if your house is relatively modern (for example the 1960s) we will have maps showing what the site originally looked like and the names of former occupiers. I’d like to take you through just some of the sources we hold to detail what may be available about your house.

Be my Valentine?

on Friday, 01 February 2013. Posted in Events

The 14th of February is a date which many of us either love or hate, as a time to celebrate romantic love; be bludgeoned over the head with one’s single status; or feel obliged to spend money much too soon after Christmas, depending on your outlook! However it has roots which go back a lot further than the modern commercial jamboree.

 

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