Penny for the Guy?

Do you still put a ‘Guy’ on your bonfire? Children displaying their homemade ‘Guys’ and asking ‘penny for the Guy?’ is thought of as an iconic British tradition.

Most people know that after King James I survived an attempt on his life by Guy Fawkes and his conspirators, bonfires were lit around London to celebrate. This continued across the country and gradually became part of tradition to commemorate the event.

The holiday is often been associated with violence in one way or another, not least because of the dangerous nature of fire and fireworks. It’s associated with Protestant ideals, and as such is used for anti-Catholic sentiments. Nowadays the politics of the celebration isn’t celebrated, but it is used as an excuse for a social gathering to observe the winter months coming on.

In the 18th Century children began to create their own ‘Guy Fawkes’ effigy to burn on the bonfires, carrying around their homemade guy and asking for money. In the 1960s however, the City of Gloucester Headteachers Association petitioned to not only stop the practice, but make it an offence. This petition was unsuccessful, as it was a seasonal practice and not considered threatening. It was also pointed out to them that what they were concerned about (children begging) was already covered under the Vagrancy Act of 1824.

Whilst children were allowed to continue begging a penny for the Guy, the teachers might like to know that the practice has now almost totally vanished. Instead, we’ve seen the rise of trick-or-treaters on Halloween who ask for sweets rather than money. Would they have shown similar disdain and anger towards this? The answer is: very likely.

Typed letter from the Town Clerk

Reference: GBR/L7/1/1/1/5

The Great Gloucestershire Heritage Hub review of the Year 2018

Not quite Sports Personality perhaps, but there’s been so much happening and so many achievements this year, that it’s worth a quick look back now before we move too far into 2019.

Due to problems with our contractors, our building work isn’t quite complete, but our shiny new public area is, by universal agreement, a huge improvement on what went before.  It was good to leave behind our temporary research rooms at the end of March and to introduce improved opening hours including the first Saturday of each month. We’re particularly pleased to co-locate with our friends from Gloucestershire Family History Society, so the Heritage Hub really does feel like a partnership space now.John panoramic stretched Continue reading

New arrivals on our Catalogue

Volunteers from Cheltenham Local History Society have been producing more detailed lists of a number of local solicitors’ collections, supporting the production of the Victoria County History volume for Cheltenham.  These lists are now becoming available through the online catalogue.  Russell Self, who has been co-ordinating this volunteer activity, takes up the story:

Photograph of Cheltenham Local History Society volunteers at Gloucestershire Archives, July 2016

Cheltenham Local History Society volunteers at Gloucestershire Archives, July 2016

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Another website returns!

We blogged recently about the Barton and Tredworth website going live again after its designers, Community Sites, had converted it to a more accessible WordPress platform.  The same process has been happening to another of our partnership sites, celebrating the Gloucester engineering company Fielding and Platt. Fielding and Platt was founded in 1866 on the site of what is now the Quays retail outlet, and two blue plaques on the site commemorate its previous use.  This photograph from the 1950’s shows the rail entrance to the site from Southgate St (can you spot the poster for the Ealing comedy the Ladykillers?).View from Southgate Street c.1950 (D8489)

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New arrivals in our strongrooms (3)

stone laying

Shades from the past: a rather ghostly image of the laying of the foundation stone at Whitfield Memorial Presbyterian Church in Gloucester, 1872 (new accession D14436)

A bumper summer crop of new archives!

We’ve been kept busy over the summer processing new additions of archives – in all that’s meant working on 90 separate batches or ‘accessions’ for June, July and August. We aim to add at least brief details to our online catalogue of all new material within four weeks of its arrival.

Some of the highlights are listed here. If you’d like to see more details, please go to our online catalogue and then search on the catalogue reference given below.

The online catalogue will tell you whether you can access the records now or whether they are closed for any reason. If this is the case you may be able to arrange to see them by appointment.


Aerial photographs (catalogue reference D14493): aerial photographs of Gloucester and district taken by the RAF, 1946

Coal Research Establishment, Stoke Orchard (catalogue ref D14505): drawings, photographs and publications relating to history of the site, 1946-1994

Corse C of E School (catalogue ref S309): admission register, 1946-2001; school photographs and press cuttings, 1914-1972; material concerning the opening of the new School, 1994

Crickley Hill Archaeological Trust (catalogue ref D14279): Trust correspondence, annual reports and financial statements, 1986-2010

Doris Court of Weston-sub-Edge, local historian (catalogue ref D14447): records collected and compiled by Doris Court relating to the history of Weston-sub-Edge since the 13th century

Filton Community History Group (catalogue ref D13476): additional material from the Group including administration files, minutes of meetings, and results of research, including projects undertaken by pupils at Shield Road and Charborough Road Schools, 1999-2001

Gamage Court, Westbury on Severn (catalogue ref D14475): farm account books kept by Harry Baker of Gainsfield Farm, part of Gamage Court, 1949-1967

Gloucestershire Federation of Women’s Institutes (catalogue ref D2933): minutes and other records of various WI branches, 20th cent, including Aylburton [opened 1919]; Brimscombe and Thrupp; Chipping Campden; Churcham; Coopers Hill and Brockworth; Greet; Hardwick; Hempsted; May Hill, Longhope; and also of the Campden Group

Labour and Trades Union movements in the Stroud area (catalogue ref D14481): Stroud Divisional Labour Party minutes, 1940-1959; Stroud Trades Council, from 1989 known as Stroud and District Trades Union Council, minutes, 1969-c.1997; Stroud and Thrupp branch (later Stroud branch) of the  Amalagmated Union of Engineering Workers, minutes, 1924-1980; accounts, 1853-1925, 1963-1980; proposition and entrance books, 1853-1943, 1969-1981; contribution books, 1859-1892, 1915-1920

D G Martin slide collection (catalogue ref D12083): 153 slides and script for talk “Cheltenham Past and Present” comprising views of buildings and street scenes, and giving information about each one, 1960s-1989

Milestones School, Longford and predecessor schools (catalogue ref S154/32): Tuffley Open Air School pamphlet, [1960]; Chamwell School staff and pupil photos , 1976-1979; newscuttings relating to school events, 1983-1984; records relating to the 50th anniversary of Oak Bank and Chamwell School (a merged service caring for children since 1936) 1986; school prospectus, 1986; photographs of pupils and school events at Oak Bank and Chamwell Schools, 1970-1990; video copy TV news piece on a Royal visit to Milestone School, 2001

Oral history recording (catalogue ref D14452): interview with Robbie Green, evacuee in Gloucestershire during World War 2, recorded 6 November 2014

Painswick parish (catalogue ref P244): records include service registers, 1950-2001; church log books and fabric papers, 20th cent; survey of memorials in churchyard, mid-20th cent; deeds concerning land between the lychgate and the bus stop, 20th cent; codicil to will of Thomas Phillips, 1824; sale of advowson of Painswick Vicarage, 1838; church photographs and plans, including ground plan of organ, 1892-20th cent; parish magazines, 2005-2006, 2011-2012

Ruardean Woodside School (catalogue ref S109/2): admission register, 1978-2007; attendance list for Old Scholars’ reunion, 1992; constitution for Woodside Primary Old Scholars and Friends Association, 2012; journal to commemorate the centenary of Ruardean Woodside School (1878)-1978; memories of Slad School, 2012; Forest of Dean U.D. School Board summary and tables of results of examination, 1891-1892

Sandoe Luce Panes of Thornbury, estate agents and auctioneers (catalogue ref D4855): sales particulars and other records of predecessor firms including Luce, Young and Alway, Moses Smith and Luce, Luce, Howes and Williams, and associated firms, relating to properties in South Gloucestershire, Bristol, Wiltshire and Somerset, 1873-1961

Stroud Choral Society (catalogue ref D9329): programmes and posters, 1828-1976; press cuttings and other publicity material, 1828-c.2000

Blogging a Building (13)



It’s September and time for a new entry in our Blogging a Building log, charting the journey to create onsite facilities for Gloucestershire Heritage Hub.

The crew of Starship ‘For the Record’ (aka the project team developing the Heritage Hub) spent the latter half of the summer in space dock, busily making key interior design decisions, kick starting activities to make art installations and liaising with builders to clear the critical path for our onward travel.  And I’m pleased to report we’re flying again, having left our mooring and increased our engine speed from low-level thrust to warp.

Making the right interior design choices for a public building takes time. We need to create an environment that works for everyone and are grateful to have expert volunteer, Cherry Knott advising us.  After much deliberation we settled on a colour palette that reflects the Gloucestershire flag: shades of blues and greens for walls and floors, and a contrasting light taupe for door surrounds.  We want to introduce a bit of fun too so are thinking of using the colours in the Heritage Hub logo (featured at the top of this post) to jazz up the building’s industrial-looking pillars.  We’d also like to mount some giant floor-to-ceiling images depicting Gloucestershire landscapes.  The next step is for our architects to load these choices and ideas into their whizzy software and take the project’s Stakeholders Advisory Board members on a virtual tour to see how everything would look.  We’ll let you know how this goes.

Colour selections for Heritage Hub interior

Mock up ‘ideas board’ with provisional choices for wall  and floor coverings

We have four artists working on Arts Council England-funded installations for the onsite Hub: Stroud-based illustrator, Imogen Harvey Lewis is creating a donor tree for the new reception area and an external mural celebrating Gloucester through the ages; Cheltenham-based wood sculptor, Natasha Houseago is crafting a powerful vertical sculpture for the garden; artists from Berkeley-based Tomato Jack Arts are fashioning a mosaic timeline celebrating 800 years of Gloucestershire’s history, also to be displayed in the garden area; and Midlands-based textile artist Julia O’Connell is producing ‘Inspired by Gloucestershire’ wall hangings for the new volunteer workshop area and Gloucestershire Police Archive room.  The artists will be working with a diverse range of community groups to develop their respective installations and the finished works will be part of a suite of interpretive displays that celebrate our historic county.

There’s also an awful lot involved in masterminding the building project.  From the hundreds of decisions associated with the electrical specification to securing the right supplies and contractors for specialist construction work, there’s so much to consider.  And, as we’ve discovered, a single hiccup in the supply chain can bring things to a grinding halt.  This was the case when our builders tried to procure insulation for the three new strongrooms they’re erecting.  The insulation needs to be a particular type to meet the Archives Accreditation standard and we ended up waiting a long time for it.  This is because there are only two suppliers worldwide and one of them recently lost its premises to a fire.  Thankfully we’ve managed to secure what we need , works have recommenced and we now have dates for moving in: mid December for the soft launch of the main Hub building housing the new Archives’ research room, Family History Centre and Gloucestershire Police Archive room, and May 2018 for the soft launch of the new reception area and Frith Training Room.  We’ll be posting customer information about this on the Archives’ website at

There’s one final piece of news to share.  From now on my colleagues, Kim Kenny, Anthony Phillips and Jenny Rutland will be bringing the latest news from the bridge.  As for me, I’m beaming over to Gloucester City Council to become Head of Cultural and Trading Services.  I’m sad to be leaving Gloucestershire Archives at such an exciting time but delighted my new role will allow me to stay in the growing Heritage Hub network.  So I’ll still be helping to gather, keep and share the documented heritage of historic Gloucestershire.  ‘Just focussing on the records of its county town, the city of Gloucester.

Live long and prosper!

JS ID photo 2016

Jill Shonk

Access & Learning Leader