Lacock Unlocked: On a Mission with Box 64

on Tuesday, 29 July 2014. Posted in Archives, Wiltshire People

My mission, if I chose to accept it, would be to attempt to read, understand and transcribe on to a computer, the documents contained in certain bundles of the Lacock Archives.  I accepted.

On Tuesday 8th October 2013 I arrived at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre and was assigned Box 64 which contained 61 bundles of documents.


 
Reading my first few items was quite demanding but once I was familiar with the different way different people wrote I began to recognise words and sentences and gained a sense of what they were communicating.

Box 64 is a mixed box of items covering the period between the mid 1800s to the beginning of the 1900s – private letters between members of the Fox Talbot family, business letters, letters of community interest, architectural interest letters, photographic processes discussed and enquired about, bills, receipts, pamphlets and booklets and various advertising leaflets about medicinal items.

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.

Work experience students discover more at the History Centre

on Thursday, 17 July 2014. Posted in Archives, Wiltshire Places

For my Year 10 work experience I chose to come to the History Centre. It has been an insightful experience into what the Centre actually does. I was lucky enough to get to do some sub-numbering - it helps prevent documents becoming lost. I was sub numbering the Earls of Radnor archives – which are also done by volunteers. These documents vary in age from the 17th century to the 20th century.


I have been able to do some cataloguing – both online and offline. The documents that had to be catalogued were the agendas and minutes of the meetings of the local Wiltshire councils. I began by sorting the documents by place, and noting their dates in Microsoft Excel. Then we had to go into a strong room, and place the meeting records with all of the others. These files are now accessible to the public. However the files have only been catalogued in draft form.

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.

 
 

What's Inn a Name?

on Wednesday, 16 July 2014. Posted in Traditions and Folklore, Wiltshire Places

Some of the most popular talks I give are those dealing with the meaning of inn and pub names. Currently we don’t have a great variety of pub names in Wiltshire but we do still have some interesting ones. The Green Dragon at Alderbury was used by Charles Dickens in Martin Chuzzlewitt, as he was staying nearby while writing this novel. Dickens used many hostelries in his books and in this case he renamed it the Blue Dragon; perhaps the sign was somewhat faded to a pale blue and he misinterpreted it as it would have been unlikely that the name was on the building.

The green dragon came from the earls of Pembroke and many of the early names used the badges of great families. The red lion of John of Gaunt, the black bear of the earls of Warwick and the white hart of Richard II are still common today. From the 18th century the full coat of arms was often used so that in Fovant we have the Pembroke Arms. The association with the badge or coat of arms often indicated that the family owned the property or were the chief landowners in the area.

Revisiting WWII at Longhenge

on Friday, 04 July 2014. Posted in Archaeology, Military

Archaeologists are often thought only to be interested in very old remains – and those are very important to us – but we are also interested in more modern finds and features too. Too often we think we already know everything about events that have happened within living memory, but it’s surprising how often things turn up that have been forgotten, at least within the public record.


Longehedge is an area of land to the north of the Old Sarum Airfield. Old Sarum airfield has a long and illustrious military history. Our original interest in Longhedge was sparked by an Iron Age settlement that appears on aerial photographs. Initial geophysical survey showed the enclosed Iron Age settlement, but also lots of other interesting and unusual features that appeared to be military in origin.


So, in order to get some more information about all of these interesting features, a trenched evaluation was undertaken. The results from the geophysical surveys and trial trenches were mapped (below) and show the iron age and modern features.

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