Dog dribble, Spaghetti Bolognese and a council minute book: pure beauty?

Isn’t it funny how some people find certain things attractive, yet to somebody else, the exact same thing doesn’t do anything for them. Beauty, as the saying goes, is in the eye of the beholder.

For example, some people would look at a growling, floppy-jowled, saliva-dripping bulldog flashing fangs as sharp as razorblades and would think it’s as cute as a new-born kitten.

But there are some people who would run away extremely fast because they believe they’ve just come across an evil beast from the deepest pit of doom.

I shall let you guess which category I fall into, but here’s a clue: I’m not a fan of dog dribble.

It’s the same with virtually anything – art, movies, sport, food. You name anything and someone will like it just as passionately as the next person dislikes it.

Spaghetti Bolognese for example. Some people’s eyes pop out of their heads with glee when they see it on a menu in a café or restaurant, whilst others cannot stand the awkwardly stringy, overly floppy, sauce-flinging laces of pasta that will just not stay on the blasted fork, spoon, chopsticks, fingers or whatever implement is chosen, without permanently staining everything within a half mile radius with the sauce of shame.

I shall let you guess which category I fall into, but here’s a clue: if you see a spag bol in front of me, it would be wise to give me half a mile of clearance.

There is one particular thing that I find rather good to look at that not many other people do though (although I’ve never really asked, so maybe people do?) and it’s this: a page of text.

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The British Way of Spice

Kate O’Keefe, Community Heritage Officer at Gloucestershire Archives, explores the UK’s changing eating habits and growth of new cuisines.

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I can still remember my mum’s first attempt at a chilli con carne – I must have been about 11 or 12 years old, so this would be in the early 1970s. Chilli powder was definitely new in our household and mum measured it in tablespoons instead of teaspoons – so we couldn’t actually eat the results. It put us all off for years.

British people have long had a reputation for extreme conservatism and caution when it comes to food, and certainly when I was growing up in the 1970s, our diet could best be described as ‘bland’. Shepherd’s pie, fish fingers – that type of thing. What people today might shudderingly call ‘beige food’. My dad worked for Bird’s, so we had a lot of Angel Delight as well.

An image of a packet of Angel Delight

We did have home-made mince pies and Christmas cake and I’m pretty sure mum had a little cannister of mixed spice for this purpose, which lasted for many, many years. I recently started looking for references to spices here in Gloucestershire Archives – and I must admit I was amazed to see several references to cinnamon, cumin and ginger being used to pay rent in Mediaeval times. The earliest record I found was this one from 1225:

William de Pudiford to Phillip Bonseriaunt.
Bargain and sale of ground on which his granary stood in the village of Fromtun. Rent- 1 root of ginger at Christmas, consideration 7 shillings.
Witnesses: Henry de Clifford, Walter de Salle, Hel de Cantle, Reginald de Wudhend, Ruard de Hereford.

Image of a Latin deed from before 1250
D2957/224/70

But there may well be even earlier examples.

I suppose I knew a (very) little bit about the Spice Routes, but I’d never really thought about spices being traded and valued in this way quite so far back in time. And not just in London, but here in Gloucestershire too.

People back then (those who could afford them, of course), must have loved the warmth and complexity which spices bring as much as we do today. I’ve read that some uses were medicinal and some for the preservation of food – or at least to hide the taste if it wasn’t too fresh – but even so there’s plenty of evidence for culinary use.

Spicy food is now of course available to everyone, and there can’t be too many modern households which have never had an Indian or a Chinese takeaway. Spices were effectively democratised around the 1960s – and our appetite for them grew so fast that Chicken Tikka Masala (spiced, if not actually spicy) was named as one of our favourite national dishes in 2001.

A screenshot of survey results for takeaways
YouGov survey results showing the UK’s favourite takeaways

Most towns now boast a wide array of food outlets, and my hometown of Newent is certainly no exception: with a population of around 10,000 people we have 2 Chinese takeaways, 2 Indian takeaways and a kebab shop, in addition to our original ‘Tudor’ (ahem) Fish and Chip shop. Not to mention the pizzas, Japanese and Mexican foods which can be delivered to anyone within minutes.

It’s odd to think that even though spices were bought and traded here for hundreds of years, new arrivals to the UK from Asian and African countries and from the Caribbean in the 50s 60s and 70s often struggled to source the familiar flavours they loved. They began to open shops, originally to serve their own communities. Then restaurants and takeaways, which we cautious, conservative types gradually started to frequent and then quickly to love. Perhaps this is fanciful, but I like to think that love of spice was always lying dormant, just waiting to be reawakened.

The first Indian Supermarket in Gloucestershire is probably Motala and Sons in Victoria Street – founded in 1966 and still going strong over 50 years later. You can find it here https://www.gloucesterhistoryfestival.co.uk/barton-and-tredworth-map/ on a specially commissioned interactive map from the 2020 Gloucester History Festival.

Some takeaway menus
Takeaway menus

People are sometimes surprised to find that we keep fliers and menus from restaurants and takeaways in our Local Studies collections, but they are a wonderful indicator of new communities arriving and, by offering exciting and unfamiliar food, broadening people’s food horizons.

I haven’t been able to find the date or name of the first Indian and Chinese restaurants in Gloucestershire – but I’d love to know…Anybody?

Gloucestershire Archives accessions, April-June 2022

It is time for our second quarterly blog looking at accessions we have recently received at Gloucestershire Archives. These can be from any place, person or organisation in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire.

This quarter we have added 94 new accessions onto our online catalogue. This includes material relating to both Gloucestershire County Council and South Gloucestershire Councils response to Covid-19, hundreds of Magistrate Court registers, material from the former Chair of Stroud Local History Society Philip Walmsley and much more! 

Find a full list of accessions for this quarter in the downloadable PDF below.

Some items within these collections may be closed in accordance with the Data Protection Act and/or if they contain sensitive information. However you can find details of all the accessions, and further information if they have been catalogued, by visiting our website Online Catalogue – Gloucestershire Archives.

River Severn Flying Boats and Rockets!

In May 1942, six months before Churchill made his famous “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” speech at the Lord Mayor’s luncheon at Mansion House, officials in Gloucestershire County Council’s planning department were already thinking about post-WW2 reconstruction. 

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15 months at Gloucestershire Archives: Bridging the Digital Gap

My name is Natasha Young and I have recently completed the National Archives digital skills training program: Bridging the Digital Gap. This program was a 15 month hands-on placement at the Gloucestershire Archives, where I have had access to amazing people, and learned not only the skills of traditional archiving, but the challenges and needs of digital archiving.

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The #ArchivePeople of Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

For day 26 of #Archive30 we are getting to know some of the amazing #ArchivePeople at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub. Learn more about some of our staff and volunteers below!

John Putley, Community Heritage Officer

Photograph of rolled parchment document
D4431/2/56/1 Castle accounts roll

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Work with the public and do outreach

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? The collections: we have stuff on more or less everything & you learn something new every day!

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? Item: the Gloucester Castle accounts roll from the second Barons War 1264-5 (D4431/2/56/1) Collection: Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Works (especially the photograph albums)

Favourite tearoom snack? Sainsbury’s jam doughnuts but homemade cakes & cookies come a close second!

Sue Webb, Gloucestershire Constabulary Archives

Photograph of a bundle of Birch Twigs
Birch rod

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Rummage around in police personnel files, documents and photographs

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? The expertise of people around you

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? The birch in the Chester Master Room

Favourite tearoom snack? Chocolate hobnobs

Ally McConnell, Senior Archivist

drawing of a man looking through a telescope
Close up of Stephen Jefferys (PC/905)

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? I catalogue, accession and package records at the Heritage Hub

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? The other lovely people! It’s a fun place to work

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? A map of Long Newnton (Wiltshire) drawn by Stephen Jefferys of Minchinhampton, aged 68, in 1748. He’s drawn himself surveying the area on the map and signed it, I see it as a very early selfie! (PC/905)

Favourite tearoom snack? Sue Webb’s ginger cakes

Laura, Graduate Trainee Archivist

Photograph of a deed with a large attached seal featuring portrait of Queen Elizabeth I
Deed with attached Queen Elizabeth I seal

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Looks at cool stuff to organise and write descriptions of

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? Sharing our stories and findings with people

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? Elizabeth I seal – it’s so big and feels very important holding it!

Favourite tearoom snack? Homemade chocolate brownies that appear in a tin every so often…

Helen B, Senior Archivist and Customer Services Manager

Photograph of large map featuring a colourful crest and drawing of boats
D1655 Map of Thornbury

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Oversee Customer Services, answer queries, accept deposits, plan new ventures.

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? The documents which are unique, interesting and normally quite well-behaved.

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? Map of Thornbury with pen and ink drawings of ships sailing down the River Severn, 1716 (D1655)

Favourite tearoom snack? Banana

Kate O’Keefe, Archives Assistant

photograph of small bundle handwritten recipes with a open page next to it
D1245/F64 bundle of recipes

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Meeter and greeter, document orderer and search room guide

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? Without a doubt my wonderful colleagues

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? There are some tiny weeny little recipes in the Dodington Park collections which I absolutely love (D1245/F64)

Favourite tearoom snack? Tricky. We have a lot of talented bakers in the team and often have wonderful home-made cakes

Sal, Cheltenham Local History Society volunteer

Photograph of two bundle of letters
Two bundles from D2202

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? We [CLHS] catalogue deposits that have not yet been catalogued in detail.

What is the best thing about volunteering at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? Meeting a wider circle of friends, socially and engagement in a worthwhile activity.

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? Mostly enjoy the deposit we are working on at the time.

Favourite breaktime snack? The cakes I make for the CLHS gang and the ‘extras’ from the GFHS!!

Brenda, Archives Team Administrator

Photograph of a seal featuring King Edward VI
Edward VI seal

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Finance, Customer Service, Room Bookings general all-rounder!

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? The team of course!

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? The Seals – (who would have had the opportunity to see them when they were first made/used ?– only a privileged few and now I have looked upon something that a Royal would have seen)

Favourite tearoom snack? anything that appears!  It is great to celebrate the team’s birthdays and holidays

Kate Maisey, Archives Development Manager

Drawing of seven girls in school uniform singing, with a banner above with the words "Alleluia Alleluia"
Page from D9374/1

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? I look for ways to connect people with archives

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? My brilliant colleagues and the wider Heritage Hub community

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? A beautiful, manuscript history of Denmark Road girls school, Gloucester written and illustrated by teacher Miss Emily Middleton in 1958 (D9374/1)

Favourite tearoom snack? Fruit cake especially home made

Rhianna Watson, Community Cataloguing Archivist

open folder with three pages full of button samples in a wide range of colours
Buttons from D4251

Explain what you do in 10 words or less? Support and work with volunteers and catalogue cool archival stuff!

What is the best thing about working at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub? As cheesy as it sounds, the amazing people I work with!

Do you have a favourite item or collection from Gloucestershire Archives? That’s a hard question! I do quite like the random assortments of buttons that can be found in the Erinoid Ltd (earlier Syrolit Ltd) of Rodborough collection (D4251). They are just so colourful and pretty!

Favourite tearoom snack? Brownies or any kind of cake someone is kind enough to bring in!

#Archive30: Travels throughout Gloucestershire by bus, train or walking boots!

This small notebook might not look like much on the outside, but it is perfect for #ArchiveDestination! This travel diary records the writers “impressions of events, mostly of places I have been to, & things that have happened there” as he travels via bus and train and enjoys walks around the area. Including a trip to Stroud Valley on 17 April 1954!

The entries about his different travels are really interesting to read and he touches on many places in the South West of England, including places such as Berkeley, Cirencester and Harefield in Gloucestershire, as well as many places in Somerset and Bristol.

The diary includes many personal snippets of the authors opinions on both where he is visiting and how he is getting there.

“We went on a Saturday at 1.50 on the 29 bus. It was, in a way a pity to go by bus, as it wasn’t half so pleasant (or so quick) as the train – but still, it was an experience.”

That being said one of my favourite parts is where you can see he has accidently skip two pages, so has crossed them out and annotated the page with “Damn!” I think this along with other comments throughout the dairy really showcase the man behind the travels and so his sense of humour!

two pages with the diary that have been crossed through and "damn!" written at the bottom of the right hand page
Unused pages in the travel diary

(Gloucestershire Archives Ref number: D15927/1)

Vicarious Trauma – What Is It?, by Sally Middleton

You may have come across this term (we certainly have), and it’s worth exploring what it’s all about. Vicarious trauma is defined as the “emotional residue” from exposure to extremely upsetting records. You may not have been witness to those highly distressing events, but in reading about them you have an acute emotional response. So it’s all about the impact those records may have.

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Gloucester’s Bishops Court records unlocked, Or All human life is there…, by Judy Kimber

On the 5th December 1628 George Beard made his way to Gloucester from his home in Whaddon. A dispute had arisen concerning the will of his friend John Copp and he was going to give his testimony at the Bishop’s Court. There he was asked how old he was and he told them that he was 90.  Yes, 90! Just think about that for a minute. He had lived through the reigns of six monarchs from Henry VIII to Charles 1. He was alive when the Spanish Armada threatened England. He was in his sixties when Guy Fawkes and his gang had tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. And now he was mentally and physically fit enough to give evidence in court. So much for the notion that no-one lived past sixty in “olden times”.

An example of a Bishop’s Court case book (GDR/168)
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