Fabric of Life

on Tuesday, 02 May 2017.

"Gone were the buxom femininity of the Edwardian lady and the bluff machismo of the Edwardian gent. The new woman lopped off her hair, first bobbing it, then shingling it … and then cutting it all off into an Eton crop, the shortest of all. She wore cloche hats and sporty, androgynous-looking jumpers, her breasts bound beneath them. She wore scarlet lip-stick, she smoked and drank. And as the girls looked like boys, so the boys looked more like girls. They shaved their beards so that their faces were as smooth as their lacquered hair. Some wore make-up. This look of infantile androgyny both denied maturity and knowingly undermined the conventional distinction of sexual difference."

A Curious Friendship
The story of a bluestocking and a bright young thing
Anna Thomasson

The Fabric of Life is a Heritage Lottery Funded project which will see young people look at the history of fashion as a form of identity with particular focus on gender and sexuality. We are a partner in this Wiltshire Council’s Arts Service and Wiltshire Youth Arts Partnership (WYAP) project along with local museums like Trowbridge and Chippenham.

The project began in January this year and will culminate with an event in November. We’re pleased to have already hosted a group of young people here at the History Centre while another group have enjoyed a trip to the Fashion Museum in Bath.

Since then research has also taken place at local museums and given participants a real insight into the wealth of Wiltshire’s fabric history, how fashion has changed and how identity can be formed out of what we wear.

You can follow updates on the progress of the project on the Arts in Wiltshire blog which will be updated by Project Coordinator Emily Malcolm

Public Art Needs You!

on Saturday, 29 April 2017.

Locate – Investigate – Map

About the project

The aim of the project is to locate, record and photograph public art, namely artworks made by an artist, arts practitioner or craftsperson and located in publicly accessible spaces and places in Wiltshire. At present very little is known about the whereabouts and extent of public art in the county and the role it plays to enhance the places where we live and work. To volunteer for the project please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


We need your help

We need individuals and groups to help us gather data on public art in the community such as location of the item, its condition, what is known of it and a photograph of it in situ. Workshops will be run to help prepare, organise and collate material. Data collected as part of the project will be made available in the Local Studies Library at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre with images deposited in the Historic Photograph and Print Collection. The images will then be pinned to the Know Your Place site to map their location geographically.

Churchwardens' Accounts Database - Volunteering Opportunity

on Friday, 21 April 2017.

Volunteers needed - Can you help?

Churchwardens’ accounts are an important resource for historians and genealogists and we are seeking volunteers to help collect data from all surviving pre-1850 churchwardens’ accounts.  This important National Database, although not yet complete, will go ‘live’ shortly and will be updated regularly. The Database will be freely available to all here.

The data we are collecting is:-
• The year of each surviving account.
• The total expenditure for each surviving year.

It is not necessary to have experience of churchwardens’ accounts; training will be provided together with information and guidance notes to help you.

We are (ideally) looking for people who can spare some time on a regular basis, for approximately six months, in their Local Record Office.  If you already have this information for one or more parishes or you are willing to collect it from just one or two parishes that is fine. All help will be gratefully received and acknowledged.

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested in volunteering, and we will set up some initial training led by Dr Valerie Hitchman.

Changes to Search Room Security and Document Production from June 2017

on Wednesday, 12 April 2017.

The preservation of archives for future generations is core to the role of Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. Central to preservation are appropriate security measures to prevent loss, theft or damage.

Please note that from 6 June 2017 we will be improving the security of our unique archives by the following measures:

• Researchers should pre-order their documents in advance as much as they are able to (this may be done by telephoning 01249 705500 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

• Each researcher may order as many documents as they need but will only be issued with ONE item (which may be a box, a volume, a printed book, a bundle or a single document depending on numbering) at a time.

Exceptions:

• Maps accompanied by a survey book will still be produced together, on the map table.

• Researchers wishing to use more than one document at a time (eg to compare handwriting or for some other legitimate purpose) should speak to the duty archivist in advance of ordering, and will need to sit in close proximity to the help desk to use their items.

• Researchers may if they wish to, indicate the priority of documents at the time of ordering to help with allocating this e.g. if you are ordering a deed and a will, but you wish to view the deed first, put ‘Top priority’ on the order slip

• The researcher should return documents to the search room trolley. Staff retrieving these can then issue the next document to the researcher’s table.

It is recommended that elderly/infirm customers sit close to the returns trolley.

• When there is only one document production assistant working, e.g. Saturdays and lunch times, production times may increase.

We are aware that these changes may slow down the speed of accessing documents slightly but we feel confident that we can still meet our target, which is to provide customers with their first document within 20 minutes from the time of ordering.
Pre-ordering of documents will assist in enabling our staff to continue to provide an excellent service to researchers.

Any concerns or queries about these revised procedures should be addressed to the Principal Archivist – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 01249 705510

Thank you

Some Ordnance Survey Maps Temporarily Unavailable

on Friday, 17 March 2017.

Update: Ordnance survey maps are now all available again as normal

Please note that:

OS 25” sheets 8.15 (1886), 10.11 (1941), 23.2, 23.3, 24.1 (c1910), 30.14 (1911 + 1924), 32.12 (c1924) 49.2, 52.3, 52.4, 59.14, 62.7, 62.8 (c1910)
65.5 (c1924) 65.13, 68.16, 72.11, 76.3, 77.4, 77.8 (c1910)

Plus town plans 20.14.18 (Chippenham) and 38.7.9 + 15 (Trowbridge)
are being temporarily withdrawn for digitisation, the week beginning 20th March. This should be complete by end of March 2017.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

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