Monthly Archives: September 2015

Very Well Preserved

Another busy, varied and intriguing week since our last post from South Somerset District Council’s  Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

Following our Finds Afternoon, we held our Photo Afternoon, where members of the public book a place to view photographs from the collection. This has proven to be very successful, especially where a variety of people with different backgrounds attend. One of the most notable elements are the discussions between visitors who have lived in Yeovil all their lives and relatively new people to the area. We are fascinated in the way the former can fill in detail for the latter, especially as they actually lived through and experienced the streets and shops shown in the images.

On Friday, we hosted an evening tour for the Yeovil Archaeology and Local History Society (YALHS) with 12 members attending. This was a great opportunity for staff to show and share the many and varied collections in the environmentally controlled stores and to highlight the parameters which govern the collecting policy. One particular example was accurate documentation and location of objects within the store and how we find them for enquiries. Staff likened this to the scene from Carry On Loving, where the dating agency typed the required characteristics of a person in one side of the dating computer and the resulting matches came out the other side!        We also had interest in our Yeovil Calendar and First World War Booklet.

Monday night saw staff attend the South Somerset Agricultural Preservation Club (SSAPC) Presentation Evening, where trophies were awarded from the annual Yesterday’s Farming Event, organised by the Club. We took along a display related to The First World War in South Somerset; Transport around Yeovil and images from the 2015 Yesterday’s Farming Event – plus a few small toy cars, buses and lorries!

All in all – very well-preserved.

Part of our display from the SSAPC Presentation Evening

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Go with the FLO

Another busy and varied week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, (CHAC) near Yeovil.

The week started with a visit from two researchers writing an article under the general heading of “Political Somerset.” A quick search of our database revealed several intriguing possibilities, including the 1831 Riot Jugs. The jugs were presented to individual members of the Mudford Troop of Yeomanry for quelling the riot of 1831 in Yeovil linked to political reform and increased voting entitlement. We also found a selection of Yeovil political posters around 1850, around the time Yeovil wished to become a Municipal Borough with an elected Mayor. One of the star finds (we were informed) was a photograph of Yeovil Member of Parliament, Aubrey Herbert and one of his speeches. Helpfully, the Object History File (OHF) contained a print out of his life and a typed transcript of the speech. Interestingly, Aubrey Herbert of Dulverton was standing as Conservative candidate for the Yeovil ward. He was elected and remained Yeovil’s MP until his death in 1923. He was the son of the Earl of Carnarvon and father in law of Evelyn Waugh, half brother to the Earl of Carnarvon who discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb and the basis for the hero of the book, The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan.

On Tuesday evening, we were present once more at The Moose Hall, St. Michael’s Avenue, Yeovil for a talk to the Gentleman’s side of the Moose. We spoke last week to the Ladies side! We spoke under the theme ‘Memorials; Meanings and Memories’ examining Yeovil’s War Memorials and the links to local industries like gloving and Petters; some of the men named on the War Memorial that worked for these companies and the role of ladies in the ammunition factories and aircraft industry.

One of the highlights this week was a visit by the Somerset and Dorset Finds Liaison Officers (or FLO’s). Under the National Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) there is a FLO for each County in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Anyone who finds archaeological material can take it to their FLO for identification. We established a quarterly finds afternoon at CHAC for local finders to meet the Finds liaison Officers, as a mid way point between the local community and the Somerset Officers base in Taunton. This has worked very well for CHAC staff by increasing the number of visitors and interest in (and knowledge of) our collections and for the Finds Liaison Officers as they can meet in a comfortable environment and have 20 minute slots with each finder. We can also arrange to return previously identified material to local people on behalf of the FLO’s.

The other fascinating angle is to see the varied nature of finds brought in for identification and sharing the specialised knowledge of the Finds Officers during the ‘id’ process. The key element is ‘responsible collecting’ – actual reporting of finds so everyone potentially can see what is found and where, in a certain area of the Country.  One example this week was a Medieval pan weight. This is unusual because of the intricate design on the front and the weight. Normally (we were informed!) standard pan or scale weights of this period weigh 250 grams, whereas this example weighed 400 grams!

Another intriguing day expected today as we welcome around 6 visitors for our Photo Afternoon, held twice a month and a tour for a local history group on Friday, but as they say – “Go with the FLO.”

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Medieval pan weight brought into our Finds Afternoon this week (should have a scale with – apologies!)  This is unusual because of the intricate design on the front and the weight. Normally standard pan or scale weights of this period weigh 250 grams, whereas this example weighed 400 grams!

Timely Trips

Another busy and varied week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

This week has seen staff attending a photographic archive care course at Taunton Castle House, Taunton, Somerset. This was organised by the South West Federation of Museums and conducted by the Conservation and Museums Advisory Service, based at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Chippenham, Wiltshire.

A wide range of Museums were represented from Cornwall to Bristol and included two of our CHAC Volunteers. The day was a useful balance of theory and practical examples, particularly in terms of the type of photographs and when they were produced and the possible problems each can experience. We also enjoyed a documentation exercise with a series of Wiltshire-themed images. In groups of two and three, we detailed the salient points of each image and read these out to the group. Our black and white image was particularly interesting as it depicted a parade in Salisbury, with a procession representing 100 year blocks of local history. Our snapshot had caught a period with knights on horseback and a sign which read 1572-1672. We also looked at condition reports and recording damage and marking and labelling. There was even an opportunity to view the Museum of Somerset’s latest exhibition, which showcased landmarks of the world made out of Lego!

The following day we provided a talk to the Ladies Moose in Yeovil, looking at ladies in the First World War within the gloving and aircraft industries. We focused on one lady in particular, Louisa Harris. Louisa from Yeovil wrote a diary from 1887 to around 1920, before moving to Weymouth, Dorset. This recorded and highlighted many local links with soldiers from Yeovil and local industries like Petters and the contribution made to the war effort.

Calendar sales are also doing well – though they may suffer somewhat as I have just had my photograph taken with one for a report in our local newspaper!

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A timely trip to the Great Dorset Steam Fair, where what should we find – but a 2015 Yeovil Calendar!