If you were on the site of The Hive 200 years ago what would you have seen?
You never know what you might find in the archives, although sometimes you will draw a blank when searching. A few years ago we had some volunteers researching the history of the site of The Hive before we moved in, to help with the exhibition we were planning for the opening. On a map of 1741 we found a house just to the east of the site but weren't sure what it was. Searching through the archives we discovered it was Netherton House, a gentleman's house with garden, owned by the Smith family. We couldn't find any picture of the house in the archives. However our researchers extended their search elsewhere, and came across a picture of Netherton House, showing the grandness, as well as well dressed young men walking in the grounds or relaxing in the freshly cut hay. The Friends of Worcestershire Archives then helped us to purchase this picture, to help us tell the story of the site of our new home and the wider story of Worcester.
Maps show that The Butts was an open area outside of the city, and a number of people built summer houses in the fields. Today it is hard to image that it was almost a rural idyll as you look round and see and hear the hustle and bustle of the city centre. The house continued in the hands of the Smiths, and we found prenuptial agreements in the archives showing that the house remained the property of two nieces even after their marriages, preventing their husbands taking control. Further investigation showed that it later became a school for young men.
Photos are a fantastic resource in our collections, but engraving and pictures can take us back even further, showing what places were like before the dawn of photography. This is one of our treasures because it is lovely picture of the area we are now based, the excitement of discovering it, and also because it is the only representation we can find of a lost building of Worcester.