Tag Archives: Costume

Stitch in Time

DSCN5417 1Our volunteers continue to help us at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, (CHAC) near Yeovil.

One of the key areas is checking of costume items for possible mould and then re-packing with new acid-free tissue. Somewhere in between, ‘condition’ photographs are taken as a reference point for future condition monitoring. The images are then placed on our Database alongside the individual record, which also helps with accurate documentation and public research visits.

An even simpler, but no less important task is adding missing, vital detail to an item. One recent example was a Yeovil school tie without the length or width on the record. Ten minutes later, we had both recorded, while staff were able to complete other assignments.

Some other recently ‘condition’ checked costume items from the CHAC Collection.

DSCN5420 1


DSCN5424 1


Fabric of the Community

DSCN5380 1We have enjoyed a busy and eventful week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre (CHAC), near Yeovil.

Highlights have included a talk on the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) from a District Council Colleague for our CHAC Volunteers. We mainly handle names and addresses, but it was good to learn of the implications of the new policies on a personal and institutional level as well as in our own, daily lives.

On Thursday, we welcomed three people on our February Photograph Afternoon, where our theme was ‘School.’ We illustrated the theme with a selection of photographs including an album of Yeovil School, Mudford Road dated 1959, showing various school lessons and activities, like ‘Practical Chemistry’ and ‘The Head Prefect Addressing Assembly.’

We also shared a 1961 colour photograph album of the construction of the swimming pool in Felix Place as one visitor remembered competing in galas there. This also led to clarification of Yeovil’s first ‘swimming baths’ – which we confirmed was a smaller building to the side of the 1963 pool. One visitor recalled his father going to ‘The Baths’ for a morning bath with his bar of soap! – in the time before functioning bathrooms.

Our volunteer also continues to re-pack the costume collection. This involves looking at each costume box in turn; photographing each item within; making a note of any condition issues and re-packing with fresh acid-free tissue.

Staff and Volunteers aim to be at the Museum in Somerset Meeting at the Rural Life Museum, Glastonbury on Monday and are hosting the Mid-Somerset Archivists and Curators Group on Thursday – we aim to report back on how we get on!

Some further items from the CHAC Costume Collection.

DSCN5397 1DSCN5372 1DSCN5374 1



The Banner of Life

DSCN5791 1

One of the great aspects about being the co-ordinator at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre is the variety of sources we have available to assist the public with enquiries.

These include objects, documents and photographs but as staff are learning through the help of our volunteers,  another valuable source is the wonderful selection of costume. This features a notable array of banners and samplers, which are currently being checked for condition and re-packed.

The two examples are from a set of four school house banners from Grass Royal Secondary School in the period 1939-1971 and we understand were made by school teacher and archery champion,  Marion Felix.

In another request for information, can anyone tell us what happened to the canon or Howitzer gun that used to be in Bides Gardens. We have at least one photograph that shows the canon at the Princes Street entrance to Bides Gardens, possibly in the 1950s – therefore suggesting it was not melted down for the ‘War Effort.’

DSCN5792 1

DSCN5794 1







The Ties that Bind

We have enjoyed a busy week of conservation at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

During our costume conservation, our volunteer helped us to photograph several notable gentlemen’s ties. These included a selection related to Westland helicopters (Now Leonardo), including WG30 and EH101.

This is an intriguing element of social history that with each new helicopter, an item of costume, namely, the tie was produced.

The ties are also an exciting addition to the story of Petter and Westland that we can show researchers when they visit the Centre, alongside the equally fascinating Nautilus Grate; Petter engine catalogues and small number of helicopter models.

We would be grateful to hear any further memories related to these objects.

Two of the ‘Westland’ Ties in the collection of the Community Heritage Access Centre

DSCN5485 1DSCN5494 1





The problem of the Nankeen trousers

We have enjoyed a busy and involving week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, (CHAC) near Yeovil.

We started out early on Monday as staff from the Somerset Archives arrived to collect 153 Local Council Ledgers for deposit in the Somerset Heritage Centre (SHC).

We had envisaged them needing most of the day to go through the ledgers as the SHC is closed on Mondays, allowing the staff to travel over to us. However, after only an hour all the ledgers were loaded up into their van and the paperwork was completed. The ledgers would then be checked back at the SHC. The Archivist was grateful to everyone for the considerable preparation work put in by CHAC staff and volunteers; particularly one volunteer which noted the details of each ledger on pink paper slips, placing these inside each front cover.

Volunteer help has also proven essential in the preparation of a Jane Austen-themed display as part of National Libraries Week. One of our costume volunteers suggested having images of costume in the CHAC Collection from the Jane Austen period (1775-1817) alongside quotes from the author, which mention these items of costume. This was a particularly enjoyable display to create because of the collaborative nature. Our volunteer wrote up the quotes and highlighted corresponding items from the collection. Staff then typed up these quotes into captions and scanned the relevant images of the costume.

The Nankeen trousers were particularly difficult to photograph as they are rather ‘bright’ white and made of a stout, cotton material. We initially tried to photograph them on a background of acid-free tissue. However, the camera did not seem to be able to focus on the monotone backing. Staff then suggested a black, plastizote sheet backdrop. This really proved effective as it provided a superb contrast to the white material.

We hope to have this display in Yeovil Library from Wednesday 11th October 2017.

Detail on the Nankeen Trousers

Nankeen trousers (1790-1820) Nankeen (Nankin) was a stout cotton, usually of brownish-yellow colour named after Nanking, its place of origin. It was sometimes used for footwear as well.

The Watsons, p.345 – Lord Osborne tells Emma Watson…”You should wear half-boots…Nothing sets off a neat ankle more than a half-boot; nankin galoshed with black looks very well..”







Propelled to Preston

We have enjoyed an exciting week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, (CHAC) near Yeovil.

One of the highlights was a visit from an enquirer interested in having some glass items identified. These fragments of bottle and window glass were unearthed in their garden in Preston Plucknett. Staff suggested bringing these in to be photographed. The photographs could then be emailed to the Somerset Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) near Taunton, so they can provide an initial assessment. Sending ‘preparatory images’ is very useful for the FLO as they can gain some insight, instead of simply seeing the items ‘cold’ for the very first time. This also speeds up the identification process, which is essential when four finders are waiting to be seen.

CHAC staff also accept archaeological material for identification when the Somerset FLO is not actually present to send on to Taunton for identification. However, in this case, the FLO is due to be in Yeovil shortly and the enquirer aims to meet them in person on this occasion.

During the conversation, staff discovered that the enquirer was related to the owner of the propeller-driven car and even had some additional photographs of the car in action and interestingly, not so active!

The 2018 Celebrating Yeovil Calendar is now available at £6.00 each from Yeovil Tourist Information Centre, Petters Way; The Emporium, Princes Street and ourselves at the Community Heritage Access Centre, (01935) 462886.



The original of this postcard is labelled “Preston Plucknett around 1925″ but can anyone tell us which direction the photographer was facing?



Community Highlights

We have enjoyed a busy and eventful week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

Today we enjoyed the company of a lady organising a community history event at Queen Camel; a gentleman creating a photographic display for the Norton Sub Hamdon Festival in October 2017 and literally in the last few minutes, a farmer researching the Priory at Montacute.

The gentleman from ‘Norton’ was also a ‘Yeovilian’ and recounted a story of going to Vincent Street, Yeovil as a teenager to see a car powered by a propeller, which in his words, “was similar in principle to a hovercraft and designed he believed by a worker from Westland helicopters.”

We would be grateful if anyone can confirm this account please and even more significantly, actually provide documentary or photographic evidence!

The 2018 Yeovil Calendar will shortly be available.

DSCN4999 1

Another notable example from the costume collection!