Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre: a Tribute

on Friday, 01 March 2019.

This week we were extremely sad to say farewell to our Principal Archivist, Claire Skinner, who is leaving Wiltshire for new adventures. A wealth of experience and knowledge as well as an extremely kind and caring person, she will be greatly missed by staff, volunteers and researchers!  


Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre: a Tribute
To the tune of: Raindrops on Roses
(Apologies to Oscar Hammerstein II and to all lovers of real poetry)

Archives boxed neatly in a clean and dry strongroom
Wrapped up in acid-free folders or tissue
No rusty paperclips or dusty old string!
These are a few of my favourite things…

Working on projects from Lacock to manors
Helping the council from legal to planners
Gathering archives from Aldbourne to Zeals
These are a few of my favourite things…

Dressing in costume for Open Day outreach
Reading old handwriting; helping to teach it
Sharing the history eight hundred years bring
These are a few of my favourite things…

When the stacks break
When my room’s cold
When my laptop’s flat
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don’t feel so bad!

Researching the history of wonderful women
Arts in the Archives with Storybox and Now in Then
Watching a stone axe being shaped by Phil Harding
These are a few of my favourite things…

Hearing Kate Adie and Michael Wood talking
To hundreds of people filling our searchroom
Working with volunteers who transcribe and list
These are a few of my favourite things…

Last but not least are my colleagues so friendly
Laughter and kindness with cake-eating a plenty!
Memories that will last like our mummified cat
These are a few of my favourite things…

When the stacks break
When my room’s cold
When my laptop’s flat
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don’t feel so sad!

Thank you to everyone who has made the last thirteen years so special
– to the depositors who share their archive treasures and make them available to the public to enjoy;
- to colleagues in Wiltshire and Swindon Councils who share their knowledge and expertise so generously;
- to the researchers who have shown us so much support and appreciation over the years;
- to the volunteers who give of their time, skills and enthusiasm and really are the bedrock of all we do;
- to the Family History Society, the Local History Forum, the VCH and many other groups and organisations who have supported our work in financial and other ways
- and last but not least, to my colleagues at the History Centre who have carried me through the last thirteen years with their warmth, kindness, laughter, and oodles of cake.
Thank you. You will be very much missed.

Claire Skinner, Principal Archivist

ARTeology: inspiration and interpretation

on Friday, 18 January 2019.

ARTeologists Julie Smith and Mervyn Grist tell stories within a story about how artists respond to archives as an often neglected source material for inspiration and contemporary interpretation.
Julie and Mervyn will give an informal talk and performance on ARTeology projects to date which follow a pattern of enquiry and reflection common to both artistic creation and academic research.
This talk, on 7th February 2019 at 6.30pm compliments the ARTeology exhibition at Town Hall Arts and you can book your free ticket by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Box Office - 01225 774306.

Creative Wiltshire: A Celebration of Art

on Friday, 18 January 2019.

Creative Wiltshire: A brand new exhibition showcasing some of the best creative talent from our county

The New Year will see Salisbury Museum opening a unique and exciting exhibition of collected, recently gifted or purchased art by Wiltshire artists. Creative Wiltshire: A Celebration of Art in Wiltshire will open on 19 January 2019.

The exhibition is the culmination of a five year Creative Wiltshire project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to collect and celebrate the work of the county’s creative people. Featuring paintings, prints, ceramics, textiles and glass, the exhibition will give the viewer a ravishing insight into the work of the talented makers of this region.

Some of the artworks on show, have only very recently been acquired by Salisbury Museum, so this will be a unique opportunity to view paintings by Rex Whistler and Wilfred de Glehn; bronze sculpture by Jonathan Wylder; and etched glass by Sir Laurence Whistler.

The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, who have also been involved in the project, will be loaning many beautiful artworks to showcase the talents of artists like Joe Tilson, and ceramicists like Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie and Patricia Volk.

Adrian Green, Director of Salisbury Museum says, ‘Museums are built around collections, but it can often be difficult to purchase new objects in the current funding climate. This HLF funded project has enabled Salisbury Museum and other museums across Wiltshire to reverse that trend, particularly focusing on what has been made in or linked to creative people from the county. The result is that we have acquired many significant objects that we otherwise wouldn’t have secured’.

This promises to be an eclectic, visually stunning celebration of art in Wiltshire. The exhibition runs until 4 May 2019.

New Reading Group: The Memory Box

on Monday, 10 December 2018.

Do you enjoy history and listening to stories? Join us for a brand new reading group: The Memory Box. Our group is meeting on the first and third Monday afternoon of every month, beginning 7th January 2019, 2-3.30pm.

We'll meet and listen to an extract from one of the amazing collection of books in our Local Studies Library. We will take time to share memories and thoughts, and also have a chat over refreshments! If you would enjoy some friendly company in a relaxed environment, this is for you. All welcome!

Free entry, parking right outside and refreshments, supported by Hob Nob Press.

Read - Reminisce - Enjoy

Download the Memory Box Reading Group Leaflet

Culture therapy anyone?

on Tuesday, 20 November 2018. Posted in Archaeology

Having an understanding about the past can improve mental wellbeing and create a sense of identity. Getting out into the landscape and exploring heritage sites can be a great way to bring people together, but fortified with information even individually or in smaller groups can create admiration and wonderment towards the places in which you live. 

There is growing recognition about the value of archaeology and heritage to the wellbeing of people.  The Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service plays an essential part in safeguarding our heritage through ensuring archaeology, which is to be destroyed through development, gets properly excavated and recorded and through managing the Historic Environment Record (HER). This information forms the basis for academic research such as the recent synthesis of The Rural Settlement of Roman Britain. The HER also provides a free service to the general public who are interested to know more about their local area. It can be accessed online and reports are available to view by appointment at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre.

The Archaeology Service also shares information about exciting new discoveries via presentations to the public but we also lead various walks to some of our most outstanding heritage sites.  This last year we led walks in the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, to Iron Age hillforts and to visit our registered battlefield at Roundway Down.

Simply put, a bit of culture therapy that can make you feel better!

A walk near Warminster led by the Archaeology Service in October this year, with Middle Hill in distance (top) and Scratchbury hillfort in the distance (above).


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