Seasons

What Delights a Christmas Past can have in Store!

on Tuesday, 02 December 2014. Posted in Seasons

After the very recent experience of Black Friday it’s pleasant to remember Christmas shopping of 50 or 60 years ago. Every town in Wiltshire had at least one toy shop and many village shops bought in toys especially for Christmas. For children the short daylight hours of November and December were brightened by the brightly lit windows of the toy and grocery shops. Few vehicle lights and less strident street lighting made these into bright beacons attracting children as moths to a flame. The prices in this Wiltshire shop window may make you long for the days when inflation meant pumping up your bike tyres and it’s useful to look at relative prices in past decades.

Old newspapers are a great source for this, particularly in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Since the beginning of the 20th century shops and businesses have been advertising their seasonal offerings in the pages of local newspapers. Have a look in the Salisbury Journal, Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette, and the Wiltshire Times and you will find what earlier generations bought at this time of year and how much it cost them. You’ll find all our Wiltshire newspapers, dating back to 1736, in the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham. On a cold, grey winter day you can lose yourself in the past whilst sitting at one of our recently refurbished microfilm readers scrolling through pages of newsprint. You'll just need to give us a call on 01249 705500 to book a reader before you make your journey into a Wiltshire Christmas past.

Michael Marshman
County Local Studies Librarian

Summer Solstice

on Tuesday, 11 June 2013. Posted in Seasons

With the Summer Solstice fast approaching we start to see our visitor numbers increase in Wiltshire. It is a bumper time for our tourist industry as people from all over the world descend upon our county and join in with this ancient celebration.


The Summer Solstice is known to Pagans as ‘Alban Hefin’ which means ‘Light of the Shore’. It occurs on the 21st June when the sun is at its highest point in the sky and the days are at their longest. The nights begin to draw in after this date, which is a scary thought as summer has only just got going. The Druids celebrate this event with special ceremonies and rituals that are believed to date back several millennia. Although the 4000 year old monument of Stonehenge has been the centre stage for these ceremonies; Avebury, Woodhenge and the Kennet long barrow have also attracted worshippers at this special time of year.

50 Years Ago – Wiltshire’s Big Freeze of 1963

on Friday, 25 January 2013. Posted in Seasons

Just a few of us at the History Centre were at school during the blizzards and Arctic-seeming conditions of early 1963 and can reflect on how slight recent snowfalls seem! It was Wiltshire’s worst blizzard for 80 years and surpassed the really bad winter of 1947. Some snow had fallen on Boxing Day; we missed a white Christmas as usual, while a further 6 inches fell over the weekend on 29th and 30th December. This was a proper Christmas holiday from school; snowmen were built and furious snowball fights peppered the streets and parks, although drifting snow meant that some families had to dig themselves out of their houses. Most people had plenty of food left over from Christmas and coal and wood for the open fires that still warmed most houses. Many people were still accustomed to walking to work and those that weren’t normally didn’t live far enough away to prevent them working.

 

A Different Old King Cole

on Thursday, 20 December 2012. Posted in Seasons

As the charity Christmas card shops pop up in every town centre and sales of the bits and pieces to ‘make your own’ increase each year, perhaps I’d like to take a look back to the instigator of this industry which generates over £200 million each year.

A Different Old King Cole

How's the Weather with You?...

on Tuesday, 18 December 2012. Posted in Seasons

The traditional British fascination with the weather has always been a topic of conversation, especially considering the damp summer and wet and windy weather we are experiencing at the moment!

How's the Weather with You?...

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