Life on the Gloucestershire Home Front, by John Putley

When, on Sunday 3rd September 1939, the public were informed that Britain was again at war with Germany, few people were surprised.  Initially life remained oddly ordinary, but although as time passed there were air raids and other characteristics of the war, nothing particularly terrible or terrifying took place on a large scale.  Gloucestershire was never in the front line in either the 1940 invasion scare (though if the Germans had invaded, the Severn Estuary was the goal of a second assault) or the 1944 D-Day preparations, but the sense of involvement in the conflict thanks to the Blackout, the media and rationing, made the Home Front very real for most people.

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The Delectable Mountains

Had things been different, I would probably have spent part of this weekend preparing for my talk in the Hub about a Gloucestershire composer during World War Two. That composer was Ralph Vaughan Williams and, although I explained when asked to speak, that VW was in Surrey or London or Wiltshire for most of the war, but Vaughan Williams was after all a local man. As things have turned out my talk won’t happen and I am locked down in Yorkshire – Delius country, if we keep the musical analogy, or perhaps Black Dyke Mills. But I can still listen to Vaughan Williams on my headphones, and imagine the Cotswolds.

Vaughan Williams rehearsing his Opera the Pilgrim’s Progress in 1951

            That is not too difficult because, just as last year when I made my audience sit through a recording of Holst’s Egdon Heath and imagine Hardy’s Dorset, so my plan this time was to play you part of the fifth symphony by Vaughan Williams, the most important and enduring work that he completed during wartime, and tell you about its background.

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New Book Stock – January 2020, by Sue Constance

There is a fascinating array of books on the New Book Stock shelves in the searchroom at the moment.  Most of them were published and added to stock during 2019.

This is just a small selection of items available for research at Gloucestershire Archives.Gloucestershire Archives is always grateful to receive items in printed or digital format to enhance stock.

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Dear Diary…

By John Putley

The diaries of William Thomas Swift, schoolmaster & teacher, 1860-1915 are a remarkable series of documents with entries for every single day from 31 December 1859, when the diarist was eighteen years old, until 5 February 1915, just five days before his death at the age of 73.  Early entries are brief, but as time goes on they become more and more comprehensive and none more so than the entries for the various Christmas holidays that he recorded.   They reveal a Christmas that most of us would easily recognise today, despite the fact that they took place over a century ago.

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Its Festival time again!

Next week is the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester.  If you carry out a search of the phrase Three Choirs Festival on our online catalogue you get 579 hits, including programmes, musical scores and printed histories of the Festival and its key performers.  The Festival was originally called the music meeting and was in existence by 1718.  If you’re visiting it don’t forget that you can see any of the items listed on the catalogue here at the Heritage Hub, as long as you give us prior notice of the items you wish to see.  You can either order documents directly through the catalogue, or by emailing archives@gloucestershire.gov.uk.

The Heritage Hub is making its own contribution to the Festival by hosting two talks, both of which are free to access without prior booking, and are specifically timed to avoid events on the Festival programme.

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Join us at upcoming Heritage events – Part 2

Our last post announced our History Festival events over the coming week, but there’s much more happening involving the Hub and its heritage partners over the rest of the Festival.  At 14.30 on Friday 7th September Dr John Chandler, a Trustee of the County History Trust, delivers his talk Before the Spa at the Heritage Hub, looking at Cheltenham‘s development from Anglo-Saxon times until the 18th Century.  The event is fully booked though, so please don’t attend it if you don’t already have a ticket.

Image of Gloucester's first royal charter, from the time of Henry II (c.1155)

Gloucester’s first royal charter, from the time of Henry II (c.1155)

The Archives cares for a range of royal charters relating to Gloucester, and these will be on view at Blackfriars Scriptorium between 10.00 and 14.00 on Saturday 8th.  You can also attend an illustrated talk about them in the Buttery at Blackfriars at 11.30 that day.  Again the exhibition and talk are free, but pre-booking is required, quoting reference CV15. Continue reading

Join us at upcoming Heritage events – Part 1

Yes, Heritage time is firmly upon us again, beginning this Saturday (25th August) with Gloucester Retro Day.  We’ll have a stall providing information about the Heritage Hub in Kings Walk, and we’ll be joined by members of the Fielding & Platt Heritage Group with a display about the Company, and by Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology with a Lister’s display.  We’ll be there 10.00-16.00, so do come and say hello.

Image from Retro Day 2017: Members of the Fielding & Platt Heritage Group meet some famous faces

Retro Day 2017: Members of the Fielding & Platt Heritage Group meet some famous faces

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