Council for British Archaeology - Home Front Legacy Workshop

on Friday, 09 October 2015.

The Council for British Archaeology and Historic England, hosted by the University of Winchester, will be holding a community training programme during 2015 for local volunteers and projects wanting to find out more about recording Home Front sites in their area.

The workshop is the Wessex regions training workshop on the First World War Home Front Legacy project and includes an introduction to First World War heritage in the region and training on how to use the online recording tool. The workshop is being held at the University of Winchester, SO22 4NR, on 17th October and people from across the region are welcome to attend. Speakers include Dan Miles and Richard Osgood.

You will have the opportunity to:

-Get actively involved with the Home Front Legacy Project

-Share the toolkit, app and resources for your research or to get started on new projects

-Start discovering your local First World War surviving sites, structures and buildings using online resources

-Connect with your local Historic Environment Record

-Gain the skills and confidence to share your learning with your community group

-Share your projects and to meet potential partners

See programme details and book online here


Hilary Mantel's Inspiration in the Archives

on Thursday, 01 October 2015.

Like many I have been enthralled by Hilary Mantel’s novels about Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, and I am looking forward to the forthcoming third and final book, The Mirror and the Light. 

Her account of him is plausible, in part, because it is based on sound historical research, from which her imagination can take off. It is the use of original archives that has particularly interested me. So much so that I invited her to visit the History Centre to see some Wiltshire archives that we hold. These were a finely illuminated pedigree of the Seymour family of Wolf Hall, near Marlborough, marriage settlement deeds of Jane Seymour and Henry VIII, and eight letters written by Thomas Cromwell to his Wiltshire ally, Walter lord Hungerford.

Over the last year colleagues here have organised two successful projects encouraging artists and writers to produce work inspired by archives. With this in mind I asked Hilary if she would give a talk about her work which she readily agreed to do. The visit took place on 10 September. She was fascinated by the archives and gleaned several useful details which fired her imagination. Her talk in the evening, to an audience of over 100, offered a fascinating insight into the creative process of this important novelist. She creates a mosaic of scenes and passages which are later arranged into the finished sequence. Far from being a distraction the adaptations of the books to stage and TV have influenced the writing of the final novel, and sharing the creative process with, actors, directors and scriptwriters, was positive and stimulating.

The documents which Hilary saw can be seen at the History Centre, along with the many thousands of archives that make up Wiltshire and Swindon Archives, to inform and inspire both historical research and creative work.

Steve Hobbs, Archivist

Celebrating Lacock Unlocked

on Tuesday, 22 September 2015.

Sunday, 20th September was a great day for the Lacock Unlocked project. After three years, we were able to hold a celebration event which showcased all the fantastic work we’ve done over the years and paved the way for sustaining the work ahead.

We held the event in the Manger Barn in Lacock. The doors opened at 1pm and the barn was open to everyone: past and present volunteers, members of the community, and members of the public who looked in during their wanders round the village.

On display to visitors were the newly created pop-up exhibition, which looked at the development of Lacock’s history, interesting people and places, and some outreach work that had been done as part of the project. The exhibition covered the three main themes that the project sought to cover from the beginning: how history is recorded; Lacock, a sense of place; and Lacock and the outside world. We are seeking to put the exhibition up in various places in the next few months throughout the county. We also showed an exhibition of photographs taken by the North Wilts Community Club following their visit to see some of the archives and the subsequent inspired photographs. It was great to see some of the members at the event. The photographs ranged from pictures of plants and leaves, to images of Lacock Abbey and specific objects that interested the members.

Also on show at the event was a series of videos created by our Transforming Archives trainee, Matthew Goodwin, who sadly left Wiltshire Council the previous week to do his archives course in Liverpool so couldn’t be present at the event. The videos were slideshows of photographs of community members from across the decades, accompanying some of the oral history recordings that Matthew and his volunteers took in the past year. These proved very popular with members of the community and with visitors to Lacock; it was lovely to hear some of the stories from peoples’ childhoods and about what life used to be like in Lacock.

We also had a selection of photographs taken by Wiltshire People First, a group who also did some workshops on photography and produced some lovely photographs using their new skills with digital SLR cameras.

Accompanying the exhibitions and presentation were a printout of the new archive catalogue, showing the series and titles of the records that have been catalogued, an example of the Lacock Unlocked website which visitors could browse, desktop versions of the “app” which can now be downloaded onto Google Play and the App Store, and a timeline of the project showing what has been achieved since the start of it.

At 2pm Terry Bracher, Archives and Local Studies Manager, gave a brief talk on what we have done as part of the project, and thanked staff, volunteers and community groups for their effort and enthusiasm for the project. We couldn’t have done it without the input of the Lacock and wider communities, and the support we’ve had from the start has been brilliant.

The project is ongoing: the community archive will continue to expand and flourish, we should be getting lots more articles on our website, and hopefully more community groups as well as individuals will be eager to work with the Lacock collection.

Although it felt like the end of an era seeing the round-up of everything we’ve done in the Lacock project, the day also reminded us that it isn’t really the end, because the people involved with it don’t want it to be. We hope that we will continue to work with the community and volunteers, as part of the Lacock project and also with other collections. It was a joy to see so many eager supporters of the celebration event, and really made us feel that everything had come together.

Ally McConnell, Archivist

Eye-Catching New Acquisitions!

on Friday, 11 September 2015.

We are very excited to announce that as part of the Creative Wiltshire & Swindon HLF funded Collecting Cultures Project we have been able to acquire some beautiful photographs from the talented wildlife photographer Nick Upton.

 Nick has lived in Box for 21 years and the photographs we have acquired can be seen as a record of his worldwide travels, and of Wiltshire’s flora and fauna. They are a fantastic record of the creativity of an individual working in our county, and we feel honoured to include them in our Wiltshire Print and Photograph Collection, stored safely for perpetuity with free access for all.

For more information about Nick, his work and our new acqusitions please visit the Creative Wiltshire & Swindon site at

The project Creative Wiltshire & Swindon is proving a wonderful way to celebrate Nick’s work.

Changes to WSHC Search Room Layout - FAQs

on Wednesday, 09 September 2015.

What is changing?

Please see the plan for the proposed new lay out. The main change is that we are moving to one staffed help desk instead of two, which means we can no longer supervise two spaces permanently.

As a result we are moving the consultation of original archives, which need the most supervision, into the main search room area. In turn microform machines and computers are going into the room nearest the windows where there will be no permanent supervision. This space will also be used for groups such as volunteers and transcribers for part of each week, under temporary supervision.

Why are we making these changes?

Our staffing is changing – local government is under financial pressures to create smaller and more flexible teams to face modern challenges. The audience for archives is changing – fewer people are coming through the front door and more people are using us remotely. We therefore need to deploy our staff where they are most needed, and to ensure they have time off-desk to work on essential background tasks such as cataloguing which will enable more collections to be accessible long-term.

When are the changes happening?

26 September 2015 – we will be closed on this day while we move the furniture. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience.

How can I give feedback about the proposed changes?

We are limited in what we can do by having a limited budget for these changes, and by having to work within an existing building and services (eg electricity, ICT cabling etc.) However if you have concerns about any proposed aspect of the changes, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone Mike Marshman, Terry Bracher, or Claire Skinner on 01249 705500. Thank you.

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