The “Boxes of Delight” project reveals the amazing but true tale of the Bown family, by Lauren Perrett

“Boxes of Delights” was an 18 month project funded by the National Cataloguing Grants Scheme. It focussed on the archives of two long established firms of Cirencester solicitors (now merged as Sewell Mullings Logie LLP).  Our online catalogue now holds detailed descriptions of both firms’ archives:  Sewell, Rawlings & Logie collection  D181 and Mullings Ellett & Co collection: D1388. Their clients came from far afield, not just Cirencester, so the documents reflect this spread with many deeds and estate papers relating to the South Cotswolds area.  A team of volunteers contributed over 1,000 hours support to the project, and here Lauren, one of the team, reveals the results of some of her work:

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Election day in Cheltenham 1841, by Catherine Vaughton

The ‘List of Electors’ booklet mentioned below was discovered by members of Cheltenham Local History Society as part of their project to catalogue the archive of Ticehurst and Wyatt, solicitors of Cheltenham, for Gloucestershire Archives. The cataloguing is also helpful to the compilers of the Victoria County History of Gloucestershire Cheltenham volume, who are making good use of the work.

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Gloucester Rural District Council Planning Applications by Tony Conder and Pam Daw

Pam Daw and Tony Conder have completed a catalogue of the planning permissions sought for the suburban ring round Gloucester’s historic core between 1909 and 1960 (DA27).

Early entries are mostly for houses and villas along the then leafy roads leading into Gloucester; there is nothing particularly grand, just small scale expansion. Among them are smithies, shops and agricultural improvements. Many local architects and builders feature in these records. Continue reading

Gloucester’s High Cross, by Liz Jack

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Gloucester's High Cross, as shown in the 1455 Gloucester rental

Gloucester’s High Cross, as shown in the 1455 Gloucester rental

Every year, on New Year’s Eve, Gloucester residents gather at ‘The Cross’ to celebrate the coming of the New Year.  The vast majority of them believe that The Cross is so-named because it is where the four ‘Gate’ streets meet in the middle of the city.  Not so!  It is named after the original stone memorial cross that stood at the junction for hundreds of years.

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Explore Your Archive: Exploring our heritage

Over the last 5 days we’ve joined archives across the UK to celebrate our collections and activities as part of Explore Your Archive week.

Our journey has taken us through battles for basic rights, to the ways in which our rights and responsibilities have been formalised.  We’ve seen hardship and the search for meaning captured in prose and song.  We’ve heard from those who help us uncover and share the richness of our collections, and about ways in which this material can inspire the creation of something new. Continue reading

Explore Your Archive: Scalding swine and casting bones

Today we’re used to different tiers of government.  Archives provide insight into times when rights and responsibilities for ordinary people weren’t always as straightforward.

The ‘Red Books’ of Gloucester Borough were created by the Mayor and burgesses and contain details of the various decisions, acts and ordnances made by the borough for governing the city.  They provide a great insight about the governance of the local population and how the daily life of the city was administered by a wealth of eclectic by-laws. Continue reading

Explore Your Archive: Inspirational archives

Because archives are frequently top-heavy with records created by officialdom, it’s easy to lose sight of the amazing things that can be found.

Image of 16th century music manuscript

Illuminated notation, used as cover of manor court book [D4289/M1]

Taking music as one example, we have a hugely diverse range of records.  One interesting piece is an illuminated fragment of medieval religious music from the 1400s that was re-used as the cover of a manorial court book in the 1500s. Continue reading

Explore Your Archive: Exploring together

We’re constantly amazed by the dedication, time and energy our volunteers bring to helping us gather, keep and share the documented heritage of Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire, and often by the things they find too!

One group from Cheltenham have been visiting us regularly, for more than a year. They’re steadily working their way through a collection of solicitors’ papers, adding information to enhance our catalogue. We asked two of the group’s members what they get from this role: Continue reading

Explore Your Archive: Working for rights

People in the past had to fight for many of the rights we take for granted today, although the battles they chose and the way they fought depended on their individual circumstances.

For suffragettes like Mary Blathwayt – daughter of a prominent South Gloucestershire family, active member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, and dedicated diarist – speaking at a rally in Bristol in 1909 brought particular dangers: Continue reading

Explore Your Archive: Inhuman Traffic

“Nothing can be more shocking to Human Nature than the case of a Man or Woman who is delivered into the absolute Power of Strangers to be treated according to the New Masters Will & pleasure; for they have nothing but misery to expect” [D3549]

These words were written by anti-slavery campaigner Granville Sharp who, after a chance meeting with a young slave called Jonathan Strong in 1765, committed himself to the campaign to stop what he referred to as “the inhuman Traffic”. Continue reading