I don’t know if any of you saw the wonderful BBC TV programme back in September last year called ‘A Very British Map: The OS Story’. It fascinated me as I enjoy a walk in the countryside and my husband just loves maps, having quite a collection of his own. Friends and relatives always know that if in doubt, a 1:25,000 inch Explorer is a sure fire hit as a gift!
To get back on track (pardon the pun!), it was the turnaround in use of Ordnance Survey maps from military aids to the traveller’s companion which interested me most, especially as here at the History Centre we hold a large collection of OS maps which include copies of Ordnance Surveyor’s drawings of 1789 on microfiche to maps of the modern day, charting this development.
The OS was initially pipped to the post when utilising their maps for commercial purposes, with John Bartholomew & Son Ltd. beginning to sell travellers maps based on the one inch OS series in the early 20th century, calling them ‘reduced Ordnance Survey’ maps. The time was right and they were phenomenally popular due to the rise in car ownership. The War Office had, by 1901, been purchasing Bartholomew’s half inch maps due to their improved layered colouring methods for relief and roads but in 1902 the Treasury allowed OS to publish its own half inch scale maps and withdrew orders from Bartholomew’s, although at first the OS version was inferior. The 1911 Copyright Act changed the field; the OS could thereafter control the use of their maps and the term ‘Crown Copyright Reserved’ can be seen appearing on their maps at this time. Bartholomew’s was not happy, canvassing the views of other commercial publishers, lobbying against the new rules and battling with OS. It was to no avail; they were forced to change the name of their maps to ‘Reduced’.
Since I started at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in November 2015, the main project I have been working on has been Wiltshire at War: Community Stories. I would like to let you know what the project has achieved so far, what we would still like to do, and how you can get involved.
What is Wiltshire at War: Community Stories? Wiltshire at War: Community Stories aims to bring people together from across Wiltshire to discover, explore and share stories about Wiltshire’s response to the First World War. It is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
What has been achieved so far? During 2014, enthusiastic people from museums and heritage organisations were trained to carry out oral history interviews and community engagement sessions relating to gathering stories about the First World War. Throughout 2014 and 2015 (and now into 2016) research has been carried out by museums, history societies, and individuals from all over Wiltshire who have donated the stories to the Wiltshire at War project. In January 2015 the Wiltshire at War website went live. Do visit the website and explore this growing archive of stories.
The Call to Arms, the first of the five exhibitions, launched in February 2015 and is currently on display in the Springfield Campus Library, Corsham, until 3 March 2016. The theme focuses on the soldiers called up to fight, and the preparations for war in Wiltshire. The second exhibition, Wiltshire Does Its Bit, launched in September 2015, and is currently on display at Chippenham Museum, until 27 February 2016. The theme focuses on the contributions of ordinary people to the war effort at home in Wiltshire. Both these exhibitions are currently touring Wiltshire, and are available to hire, free of charge.
There are four identical schools’ exhibitions that have launched, are touring, and can be booked free of charge. They come with a handling kit to bring the exhibition to life, and complimentary teaching resources for key stages 1-3 are available on the website. There were library talks in 2015 from the likes of Stewart Binns and Elizabeth Speller, in Corsham, Salisbury, Warminster, and Mere, and they have been accompanied by a comprehensive book display.
The answer is ‘kilogram’ – this word derives from the Greek ‘kilo’, meaning one thousand, plus the French word ‘gramme’. All the other words originate in Latin. Whether we are aware of it or not, Latin permeates the English language, and there are often English words which can help us when learning Latin. For example we talk about ‘paternal pride’ or ‘maternal affection’ – these come straight from the Latin ‘pater’, meaning ‘father’, and ‘mater’ meaning ‘mother’. So far, so good. But why would you choose to learn Latin, you might say? Unless you want to be a botanist, or a doctor, what possible use can it be? Well, as an archivist it is actually very helpful. What many people do not realise is that until as late as 1733, Latin was the language of the law in England and Wales. There is an exception to this – the English Commonwealth (1653-1659) – when English became the official language of the state for a brief period – but apart from this, you can expect to encounter Latin in records created for legal purposes.
As Christmas lights are switched on and we prepare ourselves for a hastily sung verse of a carol followed by knocking on the door it’s good to reflect on more leisurely Christmases in the past. In the past the 12 days of Christmas were a time when no work was done (one feels that this did not apply to servants) and by Elizabethan times this ended with a riotous feast on Twelfth Night. The play of that name by William Shakespeare was written to be performed on 6th January and its elements of heavy drinking, revelry, practical jokes, and cross-dressing were typical of that day when the chosen King and Queen of Misrule held sway.
In medieval Wiltshire halls were decorated with mistletoe, holly and other evergreens recalling a time when it was thought that woodland spirits retreated into these after the leaf fall of deciduous trees. Pagan origins of festivities at this time of year were rebirth, and the move away from darkness towards light and Christmas was allocated this time of year in the first half of the 4th century, although Easter might have been more appropriate for the time of year. In England the festival had been Yule – from the Norse jól – which was a 12 day celebration of rebirth. Interestingly in Wiltshire in the 16th century it was considered to bring good luck for the next 12 months if a mince pie was eaten on each of the 12 days. At this time mince meat really did include meat, normally minced beef. By the 19th century around Marlborough the mince pies had to be provided by 12 different people to ensure good luck.
Pies and puddings were traditional Wiltshire, and English, fare and the last Sunday before Advent was known as ‘Stir Up Sunday’ from the fact that the Collect for that day (learned by all schoolchildren in the 19th century) began ‘Stir up we beseech thee, the hearts of the faithful people’. Cooks and housewives took this to heart and made their Christmas puddings in this week, with everyone stirring and making a wish. Frumenty was eaten on Christmas Eve and after the children had gone to bed adults ate Yule Bread, made with raisins and peel, with Wiltshire cheese and spiced beer or cider that had been warmed with a hot iron. If you could afford it goose was the bird of choice for Christmas Day, although turkeys were bred in England from the 16th century, but a joint of beef was also very popular.
For the past year I have been based at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre for my National Archives 'Transforming Archives' traineeship where I have been developing a community archive for the village of Lacock. It has been a fantastic opportunity to gain new skills and develop existing ones. These have included using Joomla (website software), training and managing volunteers, arranging events, advertising, interviewing residents, project management skills, amid many others. For me, the most exciting part of my traineeship was meeting the local residents of Lacock and others in the surrounding areas. The enthusiasm they held for their village, history and community was startling and was something that I have never experienced in the places that I have lived. The friendliness and willingness to welcome myself and my volunteers into their homes to share their memories, stories and photographs of Lacock was wonderful. It has been a privilege to be able to learn more about this small and close community, over the last year, which is sadly under threat from the continuing rise of tourism and the demands that this entails.
The Lacock Community Archive has collected fifty-two oral history interviews from those within Lacock and the surrounding areas concerning evacuees, American soldiers, Lacock School, fetes and fairs or Manor Farm (located in the village) which no longer exists. Memories have ranged from dressing up as a swine herdsman son at the Lacock Pageant of 1932 to delivering papers to the Abbey. The interviewees have ranged from teenagers in the village to those who have lived there for their entire lives and whose family goes back generations within the village. In addition to this, over five hundred copies of various photographs and documents have been collected from the community and uploaded to the Lacock website for everybody to view. These include photographs of sport teams, weddings, the old Working Men's Club and events such as the millennium procession. Hopefully, both the oral history interviews and collection of photographs will prove to be a useful historical resource and will continue being a means to share information about the village.
Diaries and sketches and maps from the trenches; Tudor plots, pardons and royal machinations; Civil war sieges at old Wardour Castle – these are a few of my favourite things...
At least, these are just a few of the archives I have delved into since joining the History Centre team in May.
It is not merely self-indulgence that finds me exploring the strong rooms and miles of shelving housing historic documents – it is work. Really, it is. I am actually researching and preparing sessions for schools.
I am privileged to be the centre’s new Heritage Education Officer – taking over from Laurel Miller – which gives me access to all areas and the opportunity to work with the incredible team of archivists, local studies staff, archaeologists and conservators who occupy this building. (The collective knowledge of this team is phenomenal – and it’s all here on your doorstep, ready to be used.)
Working with primary sources and discovering the stories of people involved in our county’s history is exciting and my pleasant task is to share that excitement and enthusiasm with young people who visit the centre as part of a school group or community project. I also work with other heritage and arts educators around Wiltshire, promoting learning outside the classroom
Our education programme caters to all ages and as well as workshops held at the History Centre I also travel to schools and community groups to deliver outreach sessions.
The First World War Centenary is an area of particular personal interest and expertise, and I am delighted to be working with the county’s Wiltshire at War project which has launched two travelling exhibitions, with another three planned.