Binding the Past to the Present through Remembrance at Salisbury Cathedral

on Friday, 31 August 2018.

Wiltshire artist Suzie Gutteridge gives us an update on her HLF funded project “Binding the Past to the Present Through Remembrance”.

"Since May I have been working with Salisbury Cathedral on a Heritage Lottery Funded project "Binding the Past to the Present Through Remembrance". This community based project commemorating the end of WWI will culminate in a hanging installation of 100 Puttees decorated with hand felted poppies in the Morning Chapel at Salisbury Cathedral from Friday 26 Oct - Sun 25 Nov 2018.

The project, based on a pair of puttees (lower leg wraps worn by WWI soldiers) given to me and used by my father, has involved a number of workshops throughout the community during which participants learnt the skills necessary to make a sheet of red felt along with finding out about the history of the puttees. 

From these sheets poppies have been cut out which will then be sewn onto both sides of the puttees, creating a thought provoking and visual artwork". 

The exhibition will showcase Wiltshire both as a military county and as a wool producer.

Creative Wiltshire

on Friday, 31 August 2018.

4394/3/1MS Poster design for London Underground by Clifford & Rosemary Ellis, 1938

This HLF project, in conjunction with Wiltshire Council, Swindon Borough Council and participating museums and archives in Wiltshire, is now in its final year. We have made many purchases, adding to creative collections in the county by allowing curators to select significant pieces that will fill gaps in their collections while telling the story of creators who have been inspired by the beauty of our county. Participating museums include Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Salisbury Museum, Chippenham Museum, Trowbridge Museum, Pewsey Heritage Centre, Athelstan Museum, Swindon Local Studies and the Young Gallery in Salisbury.

An end of project exhibition will be taking place at Salisbury Museum from January to May 2019 and we are delighted to announce that we have employed an Exhibitions Assistant Trainee to plan and run this event. The one day a week post over the next ten months will provide valuable experience in Heritage Services, allowing our trainee to gain valuable knowledge and understanding about how a museum exhibition works, while being mentored by the Salisbury Museum Curator and staff. We are very pleased to be able to offer this unique role as part of Creative Wiltshire.

Our group of ARTeologists are planning their second exhibition, which will run from October 13th to November 3rd at Chippenham Museum. Their journey has been about exploring this ever growing Creative Wiltshire collection as a catalyst for new work and the results are beautiful and inspiring, illustrating the benefit of looking at past work of creative people to inform future directions. We are proud to see the collections used in this way. Their final exhibition will take place at Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, from January 11th to February 16th 2019.

Some of the work we have purchased has concentrated on representing artists associated with the Bath of Academy of Art based at Corsham Court. It became an important educational establishment for the training of young artists thanks to the commitment of Clifford Ellis and his wife Rosemary who were instrumental in the success of the BAA. You may be interested in the upcoming exhibition at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath; Making Art Matter. Clifford and Rosemary Ellis which is on display from 8th September to 25th November 2018.

We have also purchased work by this family; artwork has been added to the Chippenham Museum collection and archive material added to the archives held at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre thereby demonstrating the importance of art education and the role of creativity in the everyday.

Joy Bloomfield, Project Officer

Gravitational pull of the History Centre?

on Friday, 31 August 2018.

For many years my colleagues and I have been aware of the phenomenon of gravitational pull of the History Centre, whereby over time archives tend to find their way into our custody. A good example of this occurred this week.  A number of records collected by a past president of Melksham Historical Association were brought to the History Centre by his daughter (ref 2145A). These largely comprised  20th cent miscellaneous items relating to the town. However, one item stood out as of particular interest; two sections from an account book of the mid 18th century. Their contents suggested that they were kept a grocer and clothier, and that they were from separate books. A typed note with them stated that they had been found at Stratton’s premises when they were being pulled down. Stratton and Mead was a long established grocer’s business in the High Street, Melksham. A search on our catalogue revealed that we had a series of account books that had been identified as belonging to the Bourne family of Melksham, wine merchants, grocers and drapers that were deposited in 1975 by W Stratton.

1303/2 Account books of the Bourne family of Melksham, wine merchants, grocers and drapers, and Joseph Udall, same, grocer and clothier. 1764.

Comparison of the ‘new’ material revealed that a section covering the week beginning 17 Nov 1764 came from one of the books already here, and it has been returned to its rightful place. It was possible to re-arrange the folios of the other section by matching up the water stains in the folds. It is all that remains of an earlier volume, which on close inspection appears to be the accounts of Joseph Udall, a grocer and clothier. They had been seen by economic historian, Julia de Lacy Mann, who referred to it in her account of The Cloth Industry in the West of England, 1640-1880.

Steve Hobbs, Archivist

Book Review: Wild Life in a Southern County by Richard Jefferies

on Friday, 31 August 2018.

Wild Life in a Southern County by Richard Jefferies
Wallachia Publishers, modern reprint, 2015 (first published 1887)
Unpaginated, paperback
Wiltshire Local Studies Library Reference XJE.570

Richard Jefferies was born in Coate, Swindon, and his love of the countryside in an around his childhood home was a great influence on his work. Jefferies was a versatile writer, publishing a children’s book and a work of science fiction, but he is best known for his nature writing. His works The Amateur Poacher (1879) and Round About a Great Estate (1880) have drawn the most attention in this genre; I chose to read Wild Life in a Southern County as a modern reprint to see what it had to offer.

The look of the book and text is more modern in feel, but this does not detract from the content in any way although the text is a little small. However, the lack of pagination is a limitation when wanting to revisit certain parts of the book and the uncertainty of how the book is arranged in comparison to the original publication is a point to consider.

Great detail is given on the habits of various species of bird in the scientific manner of study and observation, interposed with the author’s own thoughts and experiences. It is fascinating to read these entries for species such as the kingfisher and swallow. A colourful picture is created of the beauty of the creatures that Jefferies’ observes and their interaction with their environment and the human world. His description of the blackbird in Chapter 9 is poetic in nature. Jefferies included fascinating details in this book such as the folklore that surrounded the wildlife and more soberingly, how they could be hunted. His thoughts on this subject provide a fascinating insight into the mind-set of those living in the late 19th century with matter of fact descriptions of hunting and the reasons for it sounding quite alien to modern-day views.

Jefferies possesses an almost magical touch in the way he describes the landscape, this being almost mythical and dreamlike in places. The information gained from these sections is a descriptive view of the north Wiltshire landscape at a point in time although actual locations are omitted.

The author also describes farming practices, the work of craftsmen, ancient customs such as St. Thomas’ Day, the Clerk’s Ale and folk lore, and the routines of village clubs and friendly societies.

Flora and the seasons are also noted; “All the summer through fresh beauties, indeed, wait upon the owner’s footsteps. In the spring the mowing grass rises thick, strong, and richly green, or hidden by the cloth-of-gold thrown over it by the buttercups!”

Wildlife enthusiasts and those interested in local history, landscape history and folklore should very much enjoy this book. It is a shame that Jefferies himself died tragically at the age of 38 in 1887, the year this book was first published.

Other editions of Wildlife in a Southern County are available to view at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre ref: AAA.590.

Julie Davis, County Local Studies Librarian

The Joy of Ephemera

on Tuesday, 24 July 2018.

I and two colleagues from the History Centre and Salisbury Library were lucky enough to pay a visit to the welcoming staff and volunteers at the Centre for Ephemera Studies at the University of Reading recently. I’d like to help spread the word about this wonderful collection!

Housed in the Typography and Communications department, the Centre originated with the work of Maurice Rickards, a great collector of ephemeral material until his death in 1998. Maurice was determined to demonstrate the diversity of ephemera and its potential for study. He collected 20,000 items for use by researchers and students at the University. The Centre was inaugurated by Lord Briggs in May 1993. Asa Briggs, the distinguished social and cultural historian, had long been an advocate of the study of ephemera and agreed to become the Centre's first Patron.

Our visit began, perhaps as it should, at the very beginning of the printing process, viewing the department’s current exhibition on the history of printing including its very own replica handmade traditional wooden printing press similar to the one that was used in Europe by Gutenberg in the 15th century, built by a researcher. Experiments had been done using this press with inks and paper to recreate a page from the early printed bible and other texts. We were also shown later letterpress, intaglio and lithography presses which the Typography and Communications students are allowed to use to great effect for their research projects. I can tell you that the smell from the ink and those metal machines was wonderful!

Printing press
Copy of experimental printing
Metal presses

We moved on to meet the Centre’s Director Michael Twyman and long-term volunteer Mrs Pepys who talked us through the history of the collection, which has expanded massively since its early days; how the collection is managed and arranged. The material is sorted first before being categorised on ephemera database sheets and moved to its permanent housing in flat archival storage boxes. Items are grouped according to topic and are mounted on boards using archivally approved materials to protect them as they are often single bits of paper which can be quite fragile.

Grey sorting box
Flat boxes of the main ephemera collection

A thesaurus of ephemera types is used to ensure consistency, and the team are working with the Bodleian Library and European partners towards ensuring consistently over Europe in future years. The Centre proactively looks at current trends and new topics to add to the collection.

The collection is proving to be of huge value to students, researchers; even an interior designer has found a wealth of material as inspiration for their designs. English literature, history and social history are all represented here. The team at Reading are also involved with the Ephemera Society, internationally recognised as the leading authority in this field and concerned with the collection, conservation, study and educational use of printed and hand-written ephemera.

Contents of an ephemera box

Rickards himself noted that ephemera is 'the minor transient documents of everyday life'. It is material that is often thought of as inconsequential, easily forgotten and thrown away, but in fact it can prove to be a fascinating source of treasures which help to chart the history of who we are. It is the aim of the Centre that visitors are able to feel at ease with the collection, to make a connection with the material of all shapes and sizes in order to bring history alive, as it most certainly did for us.

The sheer variety of items ranging from beer mats, dance cards and greetings cards, invitations, bills, letters, posters, public notices and even an envelope with a feather marking the advent of ‘express delivery’ was breathtaking. It was exciting and rewarding for us to have the opportunity to connect with others and share the joy and wonderment that is ephemera in all its glory. Many thanks go to Laura Weill the Assistant Curator for giving us the opportunity to visit and find out more. We will certainly be looking to expand our collections at The Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre and at Salisbury Library, and to show others just how fascinating they truly are! Why not pay us a visit to discover what your Wiltshire ephemera collection has to offer…

You can visit the Centre for Ephemera at Reading by appointment, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further details. You can also view an online exhibition showcasing the different types of ephemera at http://a-z-ephemera.org/

Julie Davis
County Local Studies Librarian

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