Wiltshire and Swindon Archives – Revamped Online Catalogue

on Tuesday, 19 January 2016.

I am delighted to report that as of January 2016 we have a new catalogue for the archive service, which uses weekly extracts from our in-house database, so is far more up to date than our previous system. It contains catalogues for the majority of our catalogued collections, (with a few notable exceptions such as school and some local government records, and non-conformist records.) These will be added to the catalogue in due course, however, and the new catalogue is a lot more user-friendly than our old one.
Please bookmark: http://calmview.wiltshire.gov.uk/CalmView/

Homepage of Calmview

The catalogue includes two large estate collections which have never before had on-line catalogues – these are: 1946 – the papers of the Earls of Radnor, and 2664 – the archives of the Lacock Abbey estate. The Radnor papers were catalogued with the help of the National Archives’ Cataloguing Grant Fund, and the Lacock Abbey papers with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Friends of the National Libraries. We are delighted to be able to make these collections more accessible.

Guidance on how to use the catalogue is available at:

Please note that it is best to use the Advanced Search rather than the Basic Search, and to select ‘Any Text Field’ to get the maximum number of ‘hits’. The results are listed in numerical order rather than order of relevance.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for on this revamped catalogue, it is still possible to search many of our collections at: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/advanced-search and select ‘Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre’ in the drop-down box at the bottom, under ‘Search other archives’. However please note that Discovery has not been updated since the early 2000s so will not contain more recent accessions.

Please also note that our on-line pay per view website ‘Wiltshire Wills’ is suspended due to technical problems and we are looking to re-launch this service in due course as part of a largescale subscription site such as Ancestry. Wills can be searched for via either the Calmview catalogue or at www.wiltshirewills.org but copies cannot be downloaded and have to be ordered via e-mail (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) I am very sorry for the inconvenience this is causing our customers.

If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, it is possible we hold material of relevance which is not yet catalogued, so please do ask staff for help. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 01249 705500 and we will do our best to assist.

Claire Skinner, Principal Archivist

Know Your Place West of England – Update relating to Wiltshire maps

on Wednesday, 13 January 2016.

All the Wiltshire tithe maps (334 in total) have been photographed by ICAM and the images have been received back and checked by the project managers. 25 volunteers have been trained in cropping these images at eight training sessions held at WSHC recently. Many thanks to these volunteers who are now working from home on the images to get them ready for the next stage, which is georeferencing – this basically means assigning map coordinates to the digital images. Further training sessions will take place from January to March for georeferencing – if anyone is interested, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. who can send details of the training sessions once the dates are confirmed.

Anne Lovejoy training in image cropping on 23 November 2015


Once the digital image georeferencing has been completed and checked, the maps can be uploaded to the Know Your Place website  and the aim is to have the Wiltshire material available for testing by the end of April 2016, all being well. There will then be a whole raft of further work to promote the use of the site and show people how they can contribute to it themselves.

We will update you or you can follow @KYPWestEngland on Twitter

Claire Skinner, Principal Archivist

Annual Closure Week

on Friday, 18 December 2015.

We will be closed for the last week in January 2016 for essential work on our collections. We will close at 5.00 p.m. on Saturday 23rd January 2016 and re-open at 9.30 a.m. on Tuesday 2nd February 2016.

Look out for updates on the work we are able to complete!

Forthcoming Talks at the History Centre

on Thursday, 26 November 2015.

We are in the middle of a two month break from our regular programme of afternoon lectures that has run for our first eight years providing around 180 lectures in that time. In January we will be starting a new six monthly programme that will be a little different. In the winter months we will have morning lectures so that if you come to them you won’t be driving home in the dark; This January and February our lectures will start at 10.30 on Tuesday mornings and then you will have time to return home for lunch or still have a few hours to work in the History Centre. In March we will revert to Thursday afternoon lectures and these will continue until the end of October, reverting to Tuesday mornings in November. Tickets for either will now only be £3.00.

Tuesday 12th January 2016

Wassailing, Witches and Madness in Bean Fields: Folklore in Wiltshire with Michael Marshman

A look at some aspects of ritual and customs in Wiltshire as recorded by the countryman and prolific Wiltshire writer, Ralph Whitlock. Conflicting opinions on the origins of much of what is referred to as folklore are held and this talk looks at some Wiltshire examples and offers suggestions as how these might have evolved.

Tuesday 19th January 2016

Should Have Taken the Medicine: a short guide to horrible cures, remedies and death in Wiltshire history with Terry Bracher

The effective practice of medicine and drugs is comparatively recent in this country and our archives show a very different picture in the not too distant past. Come and be surprised, and a little horrified, by what people once endured in the hope of getting better and by what happened when they didn’t.

These talks will take place in the Education Room, off the Reception area, of the History Centre at 10.30 a.m. Please arrive a few minutes before the start of a talk.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Help Desk in the History Centre or can be reserved (payment by credit/debit card, or by cheque, for 2 or more tickets) on 01249 705500 (Tuesdays to Saturdays 9.30 – 5.00). Numbers are limited so please buy your ticket in advance.

Admission for talks £3.00

Treasure Hunting in the National Trust Archives

on Saturday, 21 November 2015.

People often think of archives in terms of national historical importance – the Magna Carta, for instance, or the Domesday Books, or the Atlantic Charter – which is indeed true. What is less well-known is the importance of archiving for organisations, councils and companies: the charities, government structures and businesses that are a large part of society’s fabric. Documents such as minutes, agreements, court cases and correspondence all link an organisation to their past, and all may be needed in the future.

We at The National Trust are currently carrying out a complete review of our records and archives. Being the second largest landowner in Great Britain, The National Trust has hundreds of thousands of files, which are mostly stored in an old stone mine just outside of Bath. A lot of these files aren’t catalogued - so nobody knows exactly what’s down there. Our project objective is to decide which of these need to be kept and archived and which need to be destroyed, and to catalogue accurately and in detail those we decide to keep – making it easier for others to access the information and to preserve The National Trust’s history for the future.

Our usual process for sorting our records consists of the files arriving at our workshop, which are then appraised and catalogued: staff look through the files, and using a retention schedule, appraisal guidelines and a good sprinkling of common sense, decide whether they need to be kept permanently or destroyed. Those which are destroyed are shredded, but those which are kept are catalogued on our Archives and Records Management System (ARMS) with a title, a unique ID, keywords and a description of what the file contains – which can be anything from war damage claims to disgruntled tenants to property acquisitions. Some of the files are horrible – staples so rusty they have completely crumbled, cardboard covers water damaged and on their last legs – so we replace the metal and file covers and send the finished items, reprocessed and repackaged, back for storage.

However, this week we have been based at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, where we keep our permanent archives. These are any executive and regional committee minutes, any important documents which show us how the Trust has developed over time, and anything that dates before 1940. As the Trust began in 1895 this covers just 45 years, but some of the most important years for the charity: the original acquisitions, statutory rights, the war years – in general, the work that would be the foundations for the flourishing charity we are now.

Most of the archives we’ve been cataloguing this week have fallen into the latter category – that is, they are all dated pre-1940, and, as a result, we have come across some intensely interesting documents.

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