Thursday, 6 October 2016

All change at Explore The Past - Update!

On 21st September we announced some changes that will be taking place on Level 2 at The Hive.  We are now pleased to confirm that these changes will be taking place over the weekend of 29th and 30th October.   Because of the nature of the work it will be necessary to close the area so that the work can take place safely.  The resources in the open area on Level 2 will therefore not be available from 4pm on Saturday 29th October and all day on Sunday 30th October.   We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

The Historic Environment Record will remain closed until this work can take place, and will reopen on Monday 31st October at 1pm. 

Thursday, 29 September 2016


The 29th September marks the Feast of St Michael and All Angels, often shortened to Michaelmas. In the liturgical year of the Church it celebrates the Archangel. It is a popular dedication to parish churches, including Salwarpe, Stoke Prior, Cropthorne, Great Comberton, Tenbury and in Worcester the church which stood next to the Cathedral.

St Michael's, Salwarpe, in 1964. 
From the Worcestershire Photographic Survey, register no. 29300

St Michael's in Bedwardine, College St, Worcester in 1930 when it was the Diocesan Registry
From the Worcestershire Photographic Survey, register no. 42311

With the day falling near the autumn equinox it also gave its name to this important moment in the agricultural year. By Michaelmas most of the harvest had been gathered in and farmers would start thinking about the coming farming year. Rents would often be due, as they would run from and to Michaelmas each year to coincide with this cycle. Within the archives we have several collections from Worcestershire Estates, such as Croome, which have ledgers and rent books using this day as their start points. With the harvest over farm labourers could also be looking for new work, their employment often starting and ending at special Michaelmas hiring fairs.

Accounts for 1784 by the Agent to the Earl of Coventry, listing rents in arrears payable at Michaelmas. 
The Croome Collection was deposited with Worcestershire Archive Service after it was gifted to the Nation under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, 2006. 

Falling close to the date of the equinox also meant that Michaelmas was the name chosen for the meeting of the Quarter Sessions - the meeting of Justices of the Peace to try crimes and oversee county administration - held at this time of year. Worcestershire Archives holds the records of the Quarter Sessions for both the city and county of Worcester, many of which are available to search on The National Archives' catalogue, Discovery. The files for each year are split into Epiphany, Easter, Midsummer and Michaelmas.

Report of Quarter Sessions from Berrow's Worcester Journal, October 1863

Roy Palmer, in his Folklore of Worcestershire, available in our Local Studies Library, describes a local tradition linked to Michaelmas. In Kidderminster the Monday after Michaelmas had Lawless Hour between 12pm and 1pm, in between the old constable stepping down and the new one taking office. This led to an hour when people couldn't be arrested, so groups would fight by throwing cabbage stalks and other fruit and vegetables at each other. The authorities mostly turned a blind eye, but by the mid 19th century this practice ended as it was considerate inappropriate.

In 1752 there was a significant change to the calendar in Britain after the passing of the Calendar (New Style) Act of 1750. This Act saw us adopt the Gregorian calendar and also changed the start of the legal year to 1st January, rather than 25th March (otherwise known as Lady Day) as it had been previously.  Prior to this calendar change Michaelmas was celebrated on 11th October. After this day it was said that blackberries shouldn't be picked as it was unlucky and/or they belonged to the devil after this date. Perhaps there could be a hint of truth as the colder weather means that they are more susceptible to mould?

Don't forget you can visit us here at The Hive to view our Quarter Session records; search through our Photographic Survey or browse through hundreds of years worth of newspapers on microfilm. For all the information you might need to plan a visit please see our Visitor Guide on our website. If you are unable to visit in person then send us an enquiry online to see if we can help under the terms of our Enquiry Service

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Worcestershire Archaeology Day School 2016

Our popular Archaeology Day School will be held this year on Saturday 19th November at the University of Worcester. Once again we will have a range of talks on archaeological topics from both our staff and guests.

Talks will include
  • Fascinating Finds
  • Portable Antiquities Scheme in Worcestershire
  • Roman & Saxon Kempsey in two recent digs
  • Detached Worcestershire Kitchens
  • Historic Buildings and Worcester City's HER
  • Historic Droitwich: Its Streets and People
  • Neighbourhood Planning
  • Experimental Archaeology – Medieval Kiln Firing

Once again the event takes places at the University of Worcester, with the lectures being held in the main Lecture Theatre and refreshments in the Cotswold Suite, above reception, where there will also be displays and bookstalls.

You can book online here , or you can print and return the form to us here at The Hive with a cheque made payable to Worcestershire County Council.

The event costs £20 and includes drinks at the start and morning and afternoon breaks. Lunch is not included and you can either bring your own or purchase refreshment from the University's catering outlets.

For more information please email or phone us on 01905 766352.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Statue of Queen Victoria - letter from a prospective artist

Statue of Queen Victoria in 1950
Image taken from the Worcestershire Photographic Survey, register no. 456

Are you enjoying the ITV series Victoria? Queen Victoria's long reign was celebrated across the country in many ways including statues in many towns and cities. In Worcester there is a statue of Queen Victoria outside Shire Hall (now the Crown Court), commissioned in 1887 for her Golden Jubilee. We have a letter within the archives from Thomas Brock asking to be considered as the artist. Brock was quick to mention to the Chairman of the County Council and member of the selection committee, George Woodyatt Hastings, that he had created a bust of Hastings' famous father, Sir Charles. Whether or not this letter helped is unknown, but Brock was the artist chosen for the job.

Transcript of letter from BA14429, Thomas Brock to George Woodyatt Hastings: 

                                                                 The Studio
                                                                                30 Osnaburgh Street
                                                                             Regents Park N.W.
                                                                     19 Jany 1887

Dear Sir                                                                          

Hearing from friends at Worcester that it has been decided to erect in front of the County Hall a Statue of Her Majesty in commemoration of the Jubilee year of her reign, I have ventured to address the High Sheriff asking that my name may be submitted to the Committee when the selection of a sculptor comes under consideration, and I now take the liberty of seeking your interest as one of the Committee. My name may perhaps occur to you as having executed the bust of your late Father, and I would ask your support on the grounds of being a Native of Worcester and having received my early Arts training at the School of Design there, and partly in the hope that my having attained the distinction of an Associateship of the Royal Academy of Arts may afford credentials in my favour and give me some claim to the preference of my fellow citizens. I gave Mr Milward a list of the principal public works I have executed, the latest being the National Memorial Statue to Sir Bartle Frere to be placed on the Thames Embankment, the model of which I shall be only too happy to shew to you or any other members of the Committee who may happen to be in town next week.

I stated a price to the High Sheriff (£1600) for a ten feet statue in bronze or marble on a twelve feet granite pedestal, but if it should be felt that a smaller size would suffice, it might be done at a proportionately lower price

Believe me, dear Sir  
       Yours faithfully         
        Tho: Brock             

                                                             G.W.Hastings, Esq. M.P.

Within the Worcestershire Photographic Survey we also have photos of when the statue was unveiled to the public.

Unveiling the statue
Image taken from the Worcestershire Photographic Survey, register no. 22207

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

All change at Explore the Past!

It has been four years since Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service opened at The Hive, and during that time we have been monitoring use of the service and receiving lots of feedback.  The result of this is that Level 2 of The Hive will be changing soon… 

The main change is that the public Archaeology office – where customers access the Historic Environment Record (HER) – will be moving out onto the public area of Level 2.  This will help to provide a seamless Archive and Archaeology service to customers and highlight the use of the resources for local information and research.  This will help the resources to be much more accessible to customers onsite at The Hive who may not have used the HER before. 

The microfilm and PC area will also change, taking into account customer feedback that we have received over the years.  We will be bringing the microfilm readers closer to the archive enquiry desk and to the original archive area and the aim is to create a cosier, more comfortable space (without losing functionality) and address some of the practical issues such as sunlight shining on the microfilm screens. 

To facilitate the move, there will be no public access to the HER after 23rd September and the team will be available in their new location on 10th October.  In the meantime, we can be contacted via our website.

We look forward to seeing you in the new look Explore the Past!