Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas from Worcestershire Record Office

Staff at Worcestershire Record Office would like to wish all our users a very Merry Christmas and very best wishes for the New Year; 2012 looks set to be a year of many changes and we hope they will all be very positive.

We will be back in the new year with our Number One most frequently accessed collection!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Top 10 Archives... No.2

We're almost at the top spot in our countdown of the Top 10 most frequently requested documents at the Record Office. In at Number 2 are our Parish Collections, otherwise known amongst staff as the '850s'; because this is the reference number the collections are given.

Anything with the class mark 850 represents aspecific parish within the Diocese of Worcester. The 850 number will have a suffix of the parish name to distinguish it from the others, ranging from 850 Abberley to 850 Wyre Piddle.

The Parish Collections contain a wealth of information which would be of interest to the Family, Local and Social Historian. They can date from the Sixteenth Century to the present day. The fact that parish registers are amongst these records held will keep them firmly in our top 10. However, they are not just about parish registers. Below are some examples of the other types of sources you may come across within the collections:

Parish registers
Churchwarden's accounts
Queen Anne's bounty
Highways accounts
Vestry minutes
Poor relief accounts
Settlement papers
Parish meetings
Church schools
Constables accounts

The amount of information does vary considerably from parish to parish but you can clearly see how, whether your interest lies in tracing the history of your family, your house, the school, epidemics, population studies and more, you may find some useful information contained within this very valuable class of records.

You can search our holdings of parish registers from home using our online parish registers index.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Preparing to move into The Hive

In February the removal trucks will arrive and our collections will finally start making the move to their new home at The Hive. We have an awful lot of work to do before then to make sure that everything is ready so that it all goes off without a hitch (we'll keep our fingers crossed anyway!).

Newly installed mobile shelving in one of our strongrooms at The Hive.

One of the important jobs that needs doing is that of labelling the new shelves at The Hive. Mobile shelving has now been installed in each of the seven new strongrooms. Lisa and Maggie have been busy recently visiting them to label each of the shelves. This is important for a number of reasons: firstly, it will enable us to tell the removal companies exactly where to put the boxes they are moving; and secondly, it will enable staff to locate the boxes our customers are ordering when we reopen to the public next July.

Maggie checking the proposed system for numbering the strongroom shelves

As you can see from the photographs, Maggie and Lisa are having to wear hard hats and high-visibility jackets, as there is still building work taking place at the moment and it is important to keep safe. We are thrilled to see our strongrooms taking shape; and now that we are close to our moving date we are excited and nervous in equal parts!

Lisa adding labels to the new shelves

We will keep you posted with more photographs from inside The Hive when we start moving in.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Top 10 Archives... No.3

Maps (of all varieties and shapes and sizes!)
Maps show what a place looked like in years gone by and make it possible to track how the land has developed over time; helping to bring the history of the area to life. The Record Office has a large variety of maps for you to look at including:

Map of Church Honeybourne, Poden manor. Surveyed by Francis Allen 1652

  • Ordnance Survey (OS) maps which start in the 1880s.  The sizes vary from 1:1000 or 6 inch and 1:250 or 25 inch. 
  • Tithe maps dating from around the 1840s
  • Enclosure maps from the 18th and 19th Centuries
  • Estate plans - for example the Pirton Map from the Croome collection and the Vernon Estate map book
  • Maps available in the Worcester City collection
  • Goad maps showing businesses in Worcester High Street
  • Public Schemes from 1792 onwards, for examples maps and plans of railways and electricity companies

Map of the Pirton Estates by Mark Pierce, 1623. From the Croome collection.

These collections are very heavily used at the Record Office as they are popular for tracing the history of houses; mapping boundary changes and studying changes in land use over time, amongst many other research purposes. They are used by members of the public, the Archaeology service and also staff from other County Council departments.
If you want to find out whether the Record Office holds a map for the area you are interested in researching, we have an online database available for you to search. Simply select the parish you wish to view from the drop down menu or type in a key word to search. Visit our website now to view the maps database and many others that we have available online.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Top 10 Archives... No.4

Number four in our Top 10 most accessed collection is the Worcester City collection, which has recently been catalogued thanks to a Heritage Lottery Funded project.

The archives of the City Corporation (now the Council) stretch from the fourteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century. At almost 1,500 boxes, volumes and rolled maps, it is one of the Record Office's largest collections. It is difficult to do it justice in a few short paragraphs, but the three largest and most complete series of records are the Chamber Order books (from 1540), Quarter Sessions records (from 1710) and deeds (from c.1300, although survival of very early documents  is rather haphazard).  

Elizabeth (Outreach worker) and Kathryn (Project Archivist); members of the HLF funded project team

The archive reflects the role the Corporation played in everyday life in Worcester, from recognisance books, freemen lists, rate books, frankpledge, court books, copies of charters, acts and by-laws, elections, charities, markets, poor law, education, gas and electricity supply, public health, railways, Pitchcroft, militia, the Worcester bridge, turnpikes, the canal, the River Severn, civil defence and motor vehicle registration.

Freeman's Certificate from the Worcester City collection

With such a breadth of subject material, the archive has proved popular with authors, local historians, genealogists and the Archaeology Department. Recently, it was used by members of the public to research the history of the Butts, where the Hive now stands.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Follow us on Twitter!

Don't forget you can keep up to date with the latest news and events at Worcestershire Record Office by following us on our Twitter page: @worcsrecords

Don't forget to visit our History Centre branch

There are still plenty of opportunities for users to carry out research at our History Centre. It's a great place to visit for anyone starting out on their family or local history research. Here's a bit more information:

At the History Centre in Trinity Street, Worcester, we hold microfilm copies of the most popular sources for research, including parish registers, wills and newspapers. We also have an extensive local studies collection (you can search the library catalogue here), as well as internet access that includes free access to Ancestry.

You can view a Worcestershire Marriage Index (compiled by members of the Birmingham and Midland Society for Genealogy and Heraldry) that covers the years 1660-1837, as well as gain access to an index of Worcestershire Baptisms compiled by the Malvern Family History Society that covers 1750-1839.

 Our friendly and helpful staff will be happy to help you start off on your research.

We are open Monday to Saturday (you can check our Opening Hours here).

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Top 10 Archives... No.5

Messrs. Marcy, Hemmingway & Sons of Bewdley.

This is a collection of over 155,000 solicitors' papers that date from the 14th to the 20th century and cover the whole of Worcestershire. On the face of it this may seem quite stuffy, but it actually contains an Aladdin's cave of information about property and families in Worcestershire and is used for all types of research.

From apprenticeships, marriage settlements and wills to dog, carriage and servants' licences. The collection also includes turnpike gate toll accounts books, for such places as Dunley Scar Gate and Tinker's Gate; accounts of the Queen's own Worcestershire Hussars and Yeomanry and plans of watercourses, properties, farms and estates. It is easy to see why this is such a popular collection as the research opportunities are endless.

Come back soon to find out what is at number four!