Archives

Wiltshire's Conscientious Objectors

on Thursday, 23 January 2014. Posted in Archives, Military

Some of you may have listened to the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning (23rd Jan) or have seen newspaper reports on the National Archives recent release of online material relating to World War 1 Military Conscription Appeal Tribunals for Middlesex. http://ht.ly/sPK8W  and http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/jan/23/who-conscientious-objectors-first-world-war?CMP=twt_fd

It is suggested that these records are one of only two complete sets of such records to survive as the tribunal papers were supposed to have been destroyed after the war. So we thought our blog readers might be interested to know that the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre also hold a series of tribunal papers.

Unlocking the personalities behind the archives…

on Friday, 22 November 2013. Posted in Archives

The Lacock Unlocked project is well under way now and the cataloguing and indexing side of it now has over 30 volunteers. These volunteers are either listing and indexing bundles of documents, or putting information onto our database. It means that instead of unlocking and exploring one thing per day, we are unlocking and exploring six, so to speak!


I love it when the listing volunteers show me something that I had no idea existed, or parts of a story that I didn’t know were there. We keep discovering new words for things and ways of saying them, finding information about places and families through bills, deeds and other items in the archive. I particularly enjoy finding information about people who crop up in the archive, and the example here is a letter from John Ivory Talbot to his cousin Henry Davenport in 1725, which gives anyone interested a wonderful insight into John’s family life, his way of writing, what annoys him (apparently, Henry Davenport’s not writing to him is on his mind!). Just a simple letter like this provides great information about a personality.


We are attempting to piece together many clues and it is fascinating when these jigsaws are completed but also when someone finds a new piece that leads us or them down a different route.

A Multitude of Maps

on Wednesday, 20 November 2013. Posted in Archives

We hold an amazing array of maps here at the History Centre and I ‘plan’ to take you on a tour to discover which may prove to be the most useful for your research, whether it be the history of your family, house or parish.

Tithe Map
One of the most widely known of the maps that we hold here. These awards were drawn up between 1836 and 1852. Once ordered up by parish name, you will be presented with a map and schedule which includes the name of the landowner, the name of the tenant, acreage, rent paid and details of the makeup of the land, eg. if there is a garden, orchard etc. The schedule gives a number for each property which can be used to locate it on the map. These are great source for those interested in locating a property, getting details of ownership and also the study of property/field names.

Enclosure Award
Open fields, common and waste land were systematically ‘enclosed’ from 1750 onwards by Acts of Parliament. Commissioners drew up an award showing how the land was to be redistributed. As is the nature of these awards, the focus is on rural areas rather than towns or villages.


Andrews’ and Dury’s maps of 1773 are worth a look at. They are small in scale and so won’t show individual properties but do give an idea of how a settlement looked in the late 18th century. You can view them on our Wiltshire Community History website.

1910 Inland Revenue Evaluation Books
This evaluation was done in readiness for a tax which was never levied! They are very useful to us, however, as they provide a description of the property, rent paid and the names of the owner and tenant. The maps which are produced with the books are the 25” OS versions which have been annotated.

The Return of Miss Baker and her ‘boys’ at the Front

on Tuesday, 17 September 2013. Posted in Archives, Military

As already described in a previous blog, Miss Frances Baker of Brown Street, Salisbury, was the Honorary Secretary of the local branch of Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild. According to the box of letters held here at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, she must have been a tireless worker on behalf of the Guild and the soldiers, sailors and airmen of Salisbury who were away fighting at the front.

As well as sending regular ‘Parcels of Comfort’ (monthly, in some cases) she also wrote regular letters. Most of these seemed to be to young men she had known, through her connection with St Martin’s Church, and the ‘Band of Hope’.

The ‘Band of Hope’ was a children’s Temperance organisation, set up in Leeds in 1847, to educate children in the evils of alcohol. A huge social problem amongst the population in the nineteenth century, drinking exaggerated the issues around poverty and so Temperance societies sought to influence the young, and thereby instruct those around them.

On the importance of socks…

on Thursday, 19 September 2013. Posted in Archives

Letters from soldiers, sailors and airmen of the First World War are often quite formal in their style and the things they say. But of all the hundreds of letters I have read from the archive over the past few weeks, most of the writers are united by one subject – the importance of socks.

To help you do your job, no matter how unpleasant, basic comforts are the priority. For the servicemen of the First World War, freezing a lot of the time in a trench, at sea or in the air, having warm dry feet was a daily challenge.

No unfairness intended, it just so happens that all of these letters are from the chaps. So far I have only found letters from service men.

Methuen's Maps

on Wednesday, 18 September 2013. Posted in Archives

Anyone with an interest in history will understand what I mean. If your interest is sparked by the First World War then your understanding will be all the greater. Read on…

Like many of us, I first studied the First World War at school, and over the years have seen many dramas, films and documentaries, and read many books about the events of 1914 – 1918. No matter how well done they are, there is always the safety of years to distance and protect us from the true realities of that terrible war, and what it was really like to be there. Names like the Somme, Ypres and the Dardanelles have a haunting resonance, yet as the passage of years mean that they are passing into myth.

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