Thursday, 23 October 2014

Worcestershire's War: Voices of the First World War book launch event at The Hive





On Tuesday 28th October a new book about Worcestershire during WWI will be launched here in The Hive, co-authored by our Archive Collections Manager, Dr Adrian Gregson. 'Worcestershire's War: Voices of the First World War' is a collaboration between Adrian, Dr Maggie Andrews and Dr John Peters, who have been working closely together on the Worcestershire WWI centenary events. Adrian has had a long standing interest in the First World War, and did his PhD on the experiences of a Battalion of the King's Liverpool Regiment as well as those they left behind in Southport. He's currently co-ordinating Worcestershire World war One Hundred HLF Project.

The book uses letter, diaries and other historic sources to tell the story of Worcestershire in the war,  the experiences of those living in the county, rural identity, as well as the experience of Worcestershire men fighting on the front line around the world. This remarkable collection of voices gives a unique insight into this county's  First World War.


The launch will start at 4:30pm on Tuesday 28 October, and will be followed 5:30-7:30pm by two talks based around the Battle of Gheluvelt, the centenary of which is on the 31st October. The Battle plays a significant role in the history of the Worcestershire Regiment, and Barbourne Park was renamed Gheluvelt Park after the war due to its significance. Dr Spencer Jones of the University of Wolverhampton will speak on:  The Demon Saves the Day:  Charles FitzClarence VC and the Battle for Gheluvelt and be followed by Dr Janis Lomas (Independent Scholar)  discussing  The Women Gheluvelt Left behind: WW1 Widows.  

Adrian Gregson said, "In amongst the commemorations we are hoping that this book will be of interest to anyone wanting to know more about the impact of the Great War here in Worcestershire. It brings together the research myself, Maggie and John have been doing . We're also pleased to be able to have the Gheluvelt seminar in The Hive. The battle is an important part of the county's regiment history, and it is an opportunity to hear more about it and the significance of what the regiment did, three days before the centenary of the battle."


The launch will be in the atrium here in The Hive, and the talks will take place in the Studio. To book a place for the talks please email Maggie.andrews@worc.ac.uk. The book will be available to purchase for £14.99 from the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service shop, which is located on Level 2 of The Hive

For further information on commemorating Worcestershire in the Great war see:


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Worcestershire Archives celebrates Accreditation award at Houses of Parliament



On 15th October we attended a celebratory event at the Houses of Parliament to celebrate the first 14 UK Archive Services to become accredited under the new Archive Service Accreditation scheme.  Worcestershire was one of the first 6 archive services to become accredited in November 2013, and one of the first 3 local authority archive services. 



The event took place in the Churchill room, a beautiful room displaying some of Churchill's own paintings, and was hosted by Lord Clark of Windermere, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Archives and History.  In his speech he praised all services present for their hard work and willingness to be pioneers for the wider sector.  There was also a speech from Bruce Jackson, Chair of the Archive Service Accreditation Committee, and Worcester MP Robin Walker popped in to congratulate the Worcestershire team.  

L-R Victoria Bryant, Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service Manager; Lord Clark of Windermere; Cllr Lucy Hodgson; Lisa Snook, User Services Manager.
Photograph courtesy of Simon O'Connor

Achieving Accreditation so soon after moving to The Hive is particularly gratifying, and the feedback received from the assessors praised the services that we deliver, especially “…the speed of service transformation in recent years and how the opportunities presented by The Hive have been grasped to bring benefits across the service… and were interested in the innovative approach of the archive service at The Hive.   They were also very keen to recognise the strong customer focus and how we strive to understand and meet customer requirements, something we are justifiably proud of.

We are thrilled to be one of the first accredited archive services. The application was a true team effort, with all areas of the service inputting information required from the Accreditation Panel. It is a great accolade, and a national recognition of the service that the team provide at The Hive, from managing and conserving the archive collections, making them available to our customers on site and taking them out to school and community groups.

Being able to celebrate in such amazing surroundings, with colleagues from the wider profession, really brought home to us what a great achievement this is. 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Upcoming Explore Maps workshop at The Hive

'All good adventures begin with a map', according to the saying. We have thousands of maps here in our collections, and this workshop will help you with using them for your adventures in research.


Ordnance Survey, Tithe, Enclosure, New Domesday, Estate, Geological, GOAD and definitive maps are some of the types we'll be looking at. We'll discuss how they can be used, as well as how to search our indexes and catalogues to discover what we have.


The workshop is on Monday 3rd November, 10am-3pm, with a short break in the middle. Places cost £12 and should be booked in advance. You can book by emailing explorethepast@worcestershire.gov.uk, phoning 01905 766352 or by visiting the Explore the Past desk during our staffed opening hours.

Friday, 17 October 2014

New blog address and email updates

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed our shiny new address for this Blog - www.explorethepast.co.uk. All old links should redirect to this new address so we hope the transition is smooth, but if anyone comes across any problems please let us know by popping a comment below.

If you want to keep up-to-date with all of our posts you can now follow our Blog by email. Just pop your email address into the 'Follow by email' box in the top right-hand corner and press submit. 


Treasures from Worcestershire's Past: ~46~ Seals

This week's Treasures have been chosen by Robin Whittaker - our former Archives Manager from our days as Worcestershire Record Office, based at the County Hall branch on Spetchley Road. Although he is now retired, Robin still frequents our Original Archive Area at The Hive, both as a volunteer and as a private researcher. Here, Robin tells us more about the fascinating selection of personal seals that can be found within our archive collections:

On my retirement from the Worcestershire archives in 2011 I wanted some projects that would keep me in contact with original documents. I had recently got a copy of Dr Elizabeth New’s ‘Seals and Sealing Practices’, published by the BRA, and I realised that in all the years I had been examining medieval deeds I had to some extent taken the seals for granted, and this struck me as a potentially interesting new field of study. A trip to the National Library of Wales to meet Dr New and see an exhibition she had put on there on Welsh medieval seals convinced me.



I decided that the parameters of my study would be personal seals held in Worcestershire collections up to 1500. Much work has been done on royal and ecclesiastical seals so I thought I’d concentrate on the seals of the lower strata of society. I wanted to see how seals varied over time, what sorts of images were used on seals, and also see if I could get an idea of how seals were used – did people borrow the seals of others? Did women have their own seals or did they use those of men in their family? Did the images on seals have any special significance? These were some of the questions that came to mind.

Deed ~ Reference BA 1638/4 705:192 ~ No date [late 13th cent]


The procedure I have been using to gather my corpus of examples is to systematically examine all the accessions in the Archive and Archaeology Service from BA 1 onwards and identify those which have deeds pre-dating 1500. I then examine these boxes to seek examples. In any box of medieval deeds it may be that at least 50% have lost their seals and another 35% have very damaged examples. So for any box I search it may be that only a few deeds yield examples I can use. These I record on a standard form, recording reference, date, parties, and sealing clause. I then describe each seal giving its size, shape, colour, material (almost always wax) and the image and any inscription (though often illegible). Even on a well-preserved seal these can be difficult to decipher, and I am learning to recognise various medieval religious symbols and family coats of arms. I also take a photograph of each seal and then (having been instructed by the Conservator, Rhonda) apply a simple protective covering.

Reference BA1638/4 705:192 ~ No date [late 13th century] ~ Fleur-de-lys + S.RADULFI DE GRIMESPUT


 Reference: BA 1638/3 705:192 ~ 18 June 1402 ~ A wheel of St Catherine


I have now recorded about 350 examples, and can see some patterns emerging. Sometimes I can guess the approximate date of a document merely by the appearance of the seal, the image chosen and the inscription. Thirteenth-century examples might be simpler fleur-de-lys, eight-pointed stars/flowers or coats of arms. Fourteenth-century examples might have more complex religious symbols, and by the fifteenth century many seals just bear an initial letter. Some seals defy identification, and there are quite a few with coats of arms where, to date, I cannot identify the family. The project offers up many areas for further research. In due course I hope to explore other archives in the county, such as that at Worcester Cathedral, to add to my examples.

































Reference BA 1026/1 No. 63  850 Worcester St Swithun ~ 8 May 1469 ~ A heraldic seal (family not yet identified)