Articles tagged with: Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

Book Review: Woollen Industry Processes by Ken Rogers

on Friday, 18 October 2019.

Woollen Industry Processes: How cloth was made firstly in people’s houses then by machinery in factories, K.H. Rogers, 2019 AAA.677
Trowbridge Museum in Association with the Friends of Trowbridge Museum
ISBN 9781645161967
98 pages

The publication has been designed to describe all processes of cloth making for visitors to Trowbridge Museum, first appearing as two pamphlets in 2000 and 2008 but the scope of this newly published version is now much wider.

Ken Rogers has taken a novel approach, using a 1749 account of cloth processes, found in the Stourhead archives at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre as the backbone of the book, quotations being used at the beginning of each chapter. These are extremely effective, adding context and a sense of history to the information which follows.

With an eye-catching front cover, Woollen Industry Processes is image-rich, packed full of interesting views of cloth workers, machinery, processes, locations and more.

Key terms are explained and the processes are followed step-by-step. The change from domestic to factory production is addressed and the industry is looked at on a county-wide scale, although understandably the focus is on the Trowbridge mills. Interesting information includes the work of the scribblers and the ‘sheer’ size of the shears used on the nap.

An enjoyable read, great to dip into and informative but also succinct, Woollen Industry Processes contains a wealth of information and superb images which complement the text.

Recommended for those with a little to no knowledge of the industry but have an interest in discovering more about how cloth was produced.

Available from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre and Trowbridge Library
ref: AAA.677

Julie Davis
County Local Studies Librarian
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

Conservation Corner: How to Care for Your Jewellery

on Friday, 18 October 2019.

Jewellery has been a part of life since prehistoric times. Examples can be found from archaeological digs as grave goods adorning the deceased to signify their status or position in society. Although jewellery may have started as practical objects such as brooches or fibulae, the ancient equivalent of a safety pin, over time increased skills in metal work allowed more ornate items to be created. Combined with precious stones, these more elaborate designs were used to ornament every part of the body, protecting the wearer against life’s dangers or marking their status.

On the whole, jewellery today is seen as the finishing touch to an outfit, or reserved for special occasions. However, they still hold the same significance in modern day life, whether gifted from a loved one holding personal importance or a large expensive engagement ring showing off the social status of your betrothed. As with anything precious, we all want to know how best to take care of it.

At the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre we are holding a talk on how to do exactly that. Kayleigh Spring from the Conservation and Museums Advisory Service (part of Wiltshire Council) will talk you through the basics in jewellery care. Focusing predominately on silver, Kayleigh will discuss why that tarnish layer might be protecting your jewellery, what materials to avoid when cleaning and packing your jewellery in storage, and demonstrate how to effectively clean and polish without eroding details. But here are some quick tips to keep your jewellery dazzling:

1. Put Polishing on Probation
Although it’s sometimes necessary to give jewellery a polish to maintain its lustre, polishivng too often can erode the surface of the metal potentially removing important patterns and details.
2. Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
If you have an item of jewellery you only wear on special occasions try to ensure it is clean before packing it back into your jewellery box. Build-up of dirt can increase the chance of corrosion and tarnish.
3. Keep Your Mitts Off
Acids and oils on our fingers tips can eat into the surface of the metal leaving finger print marks. Try to ensure your hands are recently cleaned and dried before handling your jewellery.

To find out more, why not join Kayleigh in the conservation lab on 20th November between 2 to 3pm. Booking required in advance at £4 per ticket by contacting the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre helpdesk on 01249 705500.

The Conservation and Museums Advisory Service (CMAS) aims to promote excellence in the care and use of collections by providing conservation advice and practical treatments to heritage organisations and the public. It also supports museums in Wiltshire to meet professional standards and become sustainable.

If you would like conservation advice about your own documents or objects, we hold a free ‘Conservation Surgery’ on the 2nd Thursday of every month (please book in advance through the WSHC helpdesk – 01249 705500)

Kayleigh Spring, Conservator (Objects)

New Accession: The Reverend Meade’s Scrapbook

on Friday, 14 June 2019.

Sample page from Meade’s scrapbook

Alongside our council, ecclesiastical and business archives, the History Centre also houses many collections created by individual people. These may be the holders of public office within their locale, or notable for achievements in their chosen field. We recently acquired one such personal archive, a single volume heavy leather-bound scrapbook compiled by the Reverend Sidney Meade (born Oct 1839, died Mar 1917). The scrapbook covers the years 1856 to 1914, and contains documents relating to both local and national events. The scrapbook has been given the archival reference number 1405A.

Sidney trained for the church and took his first curacy at St Mary’s Church, Reading. Between 1869 and 1882 he served as Curate for the parish of St Mary the Virgin in Wylye, and subsequently moved to the curacy of Christ Church, Bradford-on-Avon. Documents in the scrapbook tell us that Sidney was also a Canon of Salisbury Cathedral and a Justice of the Peace.

Sidney Meade was born into the nobility. He was the third and youngest son of Richard Meade, the third Earl of Clanwilliam, a prominent diplomat who became Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the Earl of Liverpool’s government. Sidney’s mother was Lady Elizabeth Herbert, daughter of the 11th Earl of Pembroke. His brother Richard (who inherited his father’s title in 1879) was by 1880 commander of the naval Flying Squadron, with his flag in the frigate HMS Inconstant. A cutting of this date gives us details of the ship’s construction and a list of the names of officers and men serving under him. Sidney also obtained a document from the Admiralty which details the Proposed Route of the Detached Squadron under Richard’s command, with the estimated speed and days at sea for each leg of the journey. A banquet seating plan of 1891 names Richard as Admiral of the Fleet, sat at the head of the high table alongside the future George V. Similarly, we can chart the career of Sidney’s brother Robert, who served as Head of the Colonial Office between 1892 and 1897, and at the time of his death the following year was the Permanent Under-Secretary for the Colonies.

A public notice for a Peace Festival to mark the end of the Crimean War (1856)

Perhaps as a result of his family’s achievements, Sidney had a keen interest in national and international politics, which is reflected in his choice of documents in this volume. On one page, we find a vivid newspaper account of a Conservative Party fete held at Hedsor Park, near Maidenhead, and nearby, cartoons lampooning William Gladstone and Randolph Churchill. There is also a detailed diary of the war in South Africa printed in a newspaper from 1900, plus a copy of a newspaper letter Sidney himself wrote to the Salisbury and Winchester Journal in 1877 to campaign for the Russian Sick and Wounded Fund. One of our favourite documents is the poster notice of a forthcoming Peace Festival to mark the end of the Crimean War in 1856. The list of rural games which took place at Green Croft, Salisbury seem bizarre to modern audiences – climbing a greasy pole for a new hat and a leg of mutton, or the odd-sounding “jingling for a prize”.

Sidney’s family also often appeared in the society pages, which in themselves are rich with contextual detail. A newspaper account of the marriage of Sidney’s daughter Constance to Lieutenant-Colonel Sitwell of the Fifth Fusiliers regiment in 1902 includes a full list of the wedding gifts. These items vary from a diamond and ruby ring and ostrich feather and tortoiseshell fan from the groom, to a Chippendale looking-glass and a carved ivory Japanese umbrella handle from friends. This list gives us a wealth of detail of the family’s social circle and fashions in ornamental gifts at this time, and includes the intriguing information that the gifts of the Earl and Countess of Clanwilliam included a diamond spray of flowers which originally belonged to Queen Anne.

Calne Through Time

on Monday, 20 May 2019.

For Local History Month 2019 Calne library produced a video charting the history of Calne town centre.

Sources such as maps, trade directories, census, postcards and photographs reveal the fascinating history of the people and places in Calne through time.

Do you have memories of Calne? Why not leave them in the comments below or head over to Calne Library's Facebook page. Or visit us at the History Centre and use some of these sources to find out about your own community!

Thanks to Jackie Notman, Senior Library Assistant at Calne Library for creating this video.

 

World Heritage Day 2019

on Wednesday, 17 April 2019.

April 18th is World Heritage Day or to give it its proper name the International Day for Monuments and Sites. For over thirty-five years, 18 April has been a day to celebrate and promote cultural heritage, and an opportunity to raise awareness about its diversity, its relevance, how vulnerable it can be and what the needs and benefits of its conservation are.

The Day represents an unparalleled opportunity to foster communication and build links with communities while acknowledging their involvement in the creation, existence, evolution and richness of these rural landscapes, and no doubt, in their conservation.

This year the theme is Rural Landscapes and here at the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site Coordination Unit we have been working with children from Kennet Valley C of E VA Primary School and Chisledon Primary School. With thanks to the Avebury World Heritage Site Charity, we were able to commission Create Studios to help the children make animated storyboards depicting some of the key issues concerned with managing the monuments at Avebury.

To start the project 30 Year 4 and 5 children from both schools enjoyed a walk and talk in the landscape with Sarah Simmonds, our Partnership Manager. They were excited to explore the giant Henge and stone circle and we were fortunate to witness a religious ceremony taking place inside the inner circle. Running up and over Waden Hill the impressive Silbury Hill rising out of the valley, they were given a real sense of the scale of the landscape. Back in the classroom they were introduced to Patrimonito, the international mascot of World Heritage Education and we considered what messages they would like to share about Avebury. They discussed the thorny issues of traffic, roads, tourism, too many people and burrowing animals. The children came up with ideas for storyboards and Henry and Jaime from Create taught them about characters, plots, shots and non-verbal communication. Meanwhile at Chisledon the rest of the school got involved making a giant picture of Avebury created with messages of hope and care for the future of the World Heritage Site.

Helen Miah, Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site Partnership Officer

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