Goodbye to a Medieval Pub in Downton

on Friday, 27 September 2013. Posted in Architecture

In early times, the parish of Downton formed part of a great estate granted to Winchester cathedral. The village itself was divided topographically into three sections which were linked by bridges. Settlement had developed in the High Street, so called in 1452 in a document in Winchester College archives, and from the mid-15th century the area was called the east borough. 

The King’s Arms, at the junction of Church Hatch and High Street, a solid-looking brick building with a tiled roof, was known to be a public house in 1628. We know who owned and occupied the King’s Arms in the mid-C18 from the Guildhall Library insurance documents.  These refer to James Russell, a schoolmaster of Downton, who took out a policy in 1755 ‘on his house only being the King’s Arms Inn at Downton …in the tenure of Lucy Loveday, Innholder… Brick, Timber and Thatched, Brewhouse only adjoining, Thatched. Two Stables only belonging, Thatched, £10 each.’ He paid £250 on the inn and £30 on the brewhouse.

The Return of Miss Baker and her ‘boys’ at the Front

on Tuesday, 17 September 2013. Posted in Archives, Military

As already described in a previous blog, Miss Frances Baker of Brown Street, Salisbury, was the Honorary Secretary of the local branch of Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild. According to the box of letters held here at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, she must have been a tireless worker on behalf of the Guild and the soldiers, sailors and airmen of Salisbury who were away fighting at the front.

As well as sending regular ‘Parcels of Comfort’ (monthly, in some cases) she also wrote regular letters. Most of these seemed to be to young men she had known, through her connection with St Martin’s Church, and the ‘Band of Hope’.

The ‘Band of Hope’ was a children’s Temperance organisation, set up in Leeds in 1847, to educate children in the evils of alcohol. A huge social problem amongst the population in the nineteenth century, drinking exaggerated the issues around poverty and so Temperance societies sought to influence the young, and thereby instruct those around them.

On the importance of socks…

on Thursday, 19 September 2013. Posted in Archives

Letters from soldiers, sailors and airmen of the First World War are often quite formal in their style and the things they say. But of all the hundreds of letters I have read from the archive over the past few weeks, most of the writers are united by one subject – the importance of socks.

To help you do your job, no matter how unpleasant, basic comforts are the priority. For the servicemen of the First World War, freezing a lot of the time in a trench, at sea or in the air, having warm dry feet was a daily challenge.

No unfairness intended, it just so happens that all of these letters are from the chaps. So far I have only found letters from service men.

Methuen's Maps

on Wednesday, 18 September 2013. Posted in Archives

Anyone with an interest in history will understand what I mean. If your interest is sparked by the First World War then your understanding will be all the greater. Read on…

Like many of us, I first studied the First World War at school, and over the years have seen many dramas, films and documentaries, and read many books about the events of 1914 – 1918. No matter how well done they are, there is always the safety of years to distance and protect us from the true realities of that terrible war, and what it was really like to be there. Names like the Somme, Ypres and the Dardanelles have a haunting resonance, yet as the passage of years mean that they are passing into myth.

“Dear Miss Baker…”

on Tuesday, 17 September 2013. Posted in Archives, Military

As an MA student from Bath Spa University, on placement here at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, my first task has been to search the archive for First World War documents and photographs.

The opportunity to spend hours in the midst of archive documents is, for a history graduate like me, a complete joy. I’ve been impressed at the speed with which the production team retrieve items from the store rooms, and the helpfulness and expertise of the staff. The Centre is a wonderful facility.

Amongst many other papers, I came across a box of hundreds of letters, sent to a Miss Frances Baker, in her capacity as Honorary Secretary of the Salisbury branch of Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild, and dated from 1914 to 1919. The Guild was part of a national charity of ladies who raised money and used this to make and supply garments for the needy of their area. During the First World War, their focus shifted to service personnel of the British Army, Navy and Air Force, and in all theatres of war. Wiltshire people served in many different places, as far flung as the North Sea, France, Salonika, Mesopotamia, Egypt, India and Palestine. Later in the war, the Guild also took responsibility for sending parcels to Salisbury men who were prisoners of war in Germany.

 

An image of a world long gone...

on Wednesday, 04 September 2013. Posted in Art

Here at the History Centre we have a collection of over 1,000 prints dating from the 17th century to the late 19th century; artistic snapshots of our county in time. A selection will be on show in our reception area in the form of a mini exhibition, running from the 28th of September 2013 to the 3rd January 2014. Entry to the exhibition is free, open during our normal working hours. Please feel free to pop in and take a look; they are beautiful works of art in themselves!

The earliest examples of printed illustration are the woodcuts used by William Caxton to illustrate his books in the late 15th century. Saxton’s atlas of England and Wales was published in 1579 and has been called the greatest publishing achievement of the 16th century, being the first national atlas of its kind to be produced in any country, utilising the latest technology of line engraving.

By the 17th century it had become established practice to issue books with engraved title pages and portraits. The process required a different printing process to text and led to an increase in the use of the copper plate press. Demand for this new type of publication increased, resulting in the establishment of two new trades; the publisher and print seller.


The popularity of etching in Britain was predominantly due to one man, Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-77) from Prague. He arrived in Britain as a member of the household of the Earl of Arundel, one of Charles I’s Ministers of State who was a great patron of the arts. Less than 10 years later both the Earl and Hollar had to flee due to the Royalist defeat in the Civil War.

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