Events

Community Archives and Oral History

on Monday, 08 December 2014. Posted in Archives, Events

I have just started a year traineeship called 'Transforming Archives' with the National Archives and have been based here at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre for just over two months.  I am working on the HLF funded Lacock Unlocked project focusing on community engagement and collections development.  My task will be creating a community archive and producing oral history interviews for the village of Lacock which is what I want to talk about today and about how you could be a part of it.

So, what are community archives?

Community Archives are becoming an ever more prominent feature of the archive field.  They are a collection of materials that tell the story of a local community, organization or group.  These can include documents, images, diaries, etc. which form a vital part of the community's memories.  They also provide an alternative method to the traditional archive system and provide a format for local memories to be recorded by the communities themselves - essentially a living archive!    Our hope is to create an engaging and sustainable archive for Lacock and the surrounding areas.  We are creating our own website (picture below) where the community history of Lacock can be uploaded to, viewed and commented on.  We are hoping that the community will engage with this idea and help create, and eventually run the archive.  If you have any memories or photos relating to Lacock then please do get in contact!

Lacock Unlocked Website

Wiltshire at War: Community Stories

on Tuesday, 21 October 2014. Posted in Events, Military

Our Heritage Lottery Funded project to uncover and share stories of the First World War Home Front in Wiltshire http://wiltshireatwar.org.uk/ is now moving into its second phase. Over the summer we have been out and about meeting people, making contacts and starting to identify some of the stories that we will be sharing and preserving. This month, we will be showing volunteers from across the county how to do this work so that they can find out and record more stories from their communities.

Places are filling up fast, but if you are interested in coming along to one of these workshops they are taking place at:

Malmesbury Town Hall, 15 Oct 2pm
The Rifles Museum, Salisbury 21 Oct 2pm
Trowbridge Town Hall, 27 Oct 2pm

Full details and how to book a place can be found in the attached Wiltshire at War Training Invite.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes museum education officers are planning the schools element of the project, which will be starting next year and we are looking at the best options for how we present all the stories. This will be done through exhibitions in libraries, museums, village halls, churches etc as well as on a dedicated website.

If you have a story to share, would like to know more about the project or would be interested in hosting an exhibition please contact Emma Golby-Kirk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 02380 262629. You can also visit the project website at www.wiltshireatwar.org.uk

Tim Burge, Museums Officer, October 2014

Researching the Home Front of the First World War in Wiltshire

on Tuesday, 02 September 2014. Posted in Archives, Events, Military

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the First World War the first thing which comes into my mind is barbed wire and mud – and all the associated horrors of trench warfare. This is probably the result of reading the War Poets at school, and watching the film ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ at an impressionable age! As I have got older I’ve read more widely about the War and learned how it impacted on civilian life, as well as on the front line troops. I have been amazed by the scope of that impact, and by the way in which aspects of life on the Home Front (which I had previously assumed were introduced in the Second World War) such as rationing and evacuation, actually had their roots in the First World War. One blog cannot do justice to this topic so I’m just going to touch on a few aspects of the War’s impact on Wiltshire. We hope to uncover more stories of life on the Home Front through the Wiltshire at War: Community Stories project in collaboration with Wiltshire’s museums http://www.wshc.eu/blog/item/wiltshire-at-war-community-stories.html

Wiltshire Women of WWI: The Heroine Project Presents DOROTHY LAWRENCE

on Friday, 25 July 2014. Posted in Events, Military

In June 1915, armed only with a bicycle, her wits and a burning journalistic ambition, a young woman named Dorothy Lawrence set out from England determined to reach the frontline of fighting in northern France.

“I’ll see what an ordinary English girl, without credentials or money can accomplish. I’ll see what I can manage as a war correspondent!”

Sleeping in ditches, haystacks and flea-bitten dugouts, Dorothy wheedled, charmed and hoodwinked her way past suspicious gendarmes and the unwanted attentions of frustrated soldiers, to spend ten days under heavy shelling in the French town of Albert shortly before the Battle of Loos.

One year to go: Magna Carta 800 Celebrations

on Thursday, 17 July 2014. Posted in Events

Trowbridge, a Magna Carta Baron Town

2015 will be the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta at Runnymede.  There will be national and global celebrations since more than 100 countries count the Charter as the foundation of democracy on which their constitutions are based.  There is a unique opportunity in Wiltshire to raise the profile as the only county with both an original copy of the Charter and a Baron Town.
 
Most of the 25 barons who enforced Magna Carta were from the East and North of England. The caput or headquarters of Henry de Bohun was in Trowbridge. The only other Magna Carta baron in the West of England came from the village of Curry Mallet in Somerset.
 
The Barons were essential in enforcing the Magna Carta and in also making successive Plantagenet kings confirm and re-issue the Charter. If the barons had not kept up the pressure on the wily Plantagenets, the Charter would just have been a long forgotten footnote in history.

 
 

Fire!

on Tuesday, 25 March 2014. Posted in Events, Wiltshire Places

I feel I can safely say that almost no town, village or hamlet in the county has been untouched by fire at some point during its history. It must have been an ever-present fear for every community – all that was needed was one little spark. Barns and hayricks were often to be found in the proximity of dwellings, and fire could quickly spread…

All houses were constructed of flammable materials, with thatch roofs being particularly vulnerable. When added to this the presence of naked flames, it presented a high degree of risk to person, property and livelihood.

Ramsbury, June 1648
The Ramsbury Fire of June 14th, 1648 destroyed the houses and belongings of 130 people. The county committee authorized collections throughout Wiltshire, but eleven weeks after the fire those affected had still not received much aid (the Civil War and many other needy appeals were occurring at the same time).  Shockingly, the Ramsbury inhabitants had also found that a forged ‘brief’ was being used to raise money for the cause which they would never receive. They had to act quickly, placing a notice of the circumstances in the London newsbooks of the day, telling of the validity of the fire and the illegality of the first brief. In fact none of the newsbooks had mentioned the fire at the time as they were too concerned with war movements.

Churches often included ‘briefs’ in their sermons, asking for donations for help with the church roof, but also for events such as this. After initial local assistance, further assistance could be raised on a regional or even national scale by raising a charitable brief, ‘a licence to collect relief which was issued by the Lord Chancellor’.

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