Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Gloucestershire Archives

We all map together

Using Old Maps to Bring Together the Residents of Kingsholm, Gloucester

On Tuesday 5 September, 2017, as part of the Gloucester History Festival, Kim Kenny (For the Record Project Officer), and Sally Middleton (Community Heritage Development Officer), held a drop-in event for locals at Roots Community Café, in Alvin Street. We had over 40 attendees!

We used Victorian and inter-war maps of the neighbourhood to illustrate how Kingsholm has changed over the last century and a half. The maps helped participants to pinpoint landmarks that they wanted to see included in a mural of the area, to be painted on a boundary wall at the Heritage Hub, by artist Imogen Harvey-Lewis. Lots of suggestions were made to Imogen who was present at the event, and who spent time chatting to people young and old.

Participants delighted in spotting their houses on the maps, and finding the location of the (now demolished) Vinegar Works, Iron Foundry, various plant nurseries and orchards, the Workhouse, the Horton Road Lunatic Asylum, and the City Sanitary Laundry.

One older man told us how his grandmother had worked at the Vinegar Works (now the site of Gloucester Rugby), and how he had accompanied her once upon a time on a works outing to the seaside when he was a toddler.

The OS maps were supplemented by Know Your Place maps, digitally overlaid one on top of the other on a laptop, clearly showing what existed in Kingsholm prior to the late Victorian building boom of owner-occupied residential red-brick terraces. Why not take a look yourself at ?

There was a real buzz at this busy event, with neighbour chatting to neighbour, new introductions made and groups of people reminiscing about where they live. The maps helped bring a small part of the community together for a couple of hours, and its legacy will be the new painted mural at the Heritage Hub.


Visit Know Your Place -

A Call for Volunteers

Help road test our self-service registration and document ordering!

You may remember we reported in our Summer 2017 newsletter that Gloucestershire Archives were successful in their bid to the Local Government Association (LGA) channel shift programme – we received £15,000.

This money has been used to streamline two key search room procedures: customer registration and document ordering. The aim is to enable our customers to register and order documents on-line, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at their leisure, moving away from the awkward double entry system we have at present.

The project is nearing completion and we want to hear from anyone who would like to test the new software and provide feedback about its usability before the new services go live. Not only will you be helping us to improve our customer experience you will also be part of our user engagement evaluation. 

For more information about the project or for those of you who are interested in volunteering please forward your details and /or questions to Rosalind Farr at

To whet your appetite an introductory YouTube video is available here




Festival Fizz

There was a real buzz in Gloucester during the first two weeks in September whilst this year’s annual History Festival was underway. The programme offered something for everyone, ranging from talks by prominent speakers to hands on family fun. It also gave people the chance to visit many of the city’s magnificent heritage locations.  And Gloucestershire Heritage Hub played a key role in making it all happen. 

Speakers, Janina Ramirez, Tony Robinson, Dan Snow, Anita Rani, David Olusoga, Alison Weir, Roy Hattersley and Ken Clarke drew the crowds to Blackfriars Priory, a stunning example of medieval architecture. The Hub’s varied offer brought folks to stunning locations too:

  • Family and oral history workshops in the Chapter House at Gloucester Cathedral;
  • An audience with Polish veterans and talks by the Friends of Gloucestershire Archives at St Mary de Lode Church;
  • Friend of Gloucestershire Archives and Archives’ research room buddy, Liz Jack introducing her ancestor, Button Gwinnett and his links to the American Declaration of Independence at Down Hatherley Church; and
  • A range of events in the 13th century scriptorium and buttery at Blackfriars Priory.


Julie Courtenay, Collections Leader, explains Know Your Place to the festival audience.

Our events at Blackfriars included a workshop on reading old handwriting and a five-hour ‘Scriptorium Tag’. It was a real privilege to read old script in a medieval library where friars would have created and read similar documents.  We used torches rather than candles and I’ve made a note to self: wear thicker, monastic-style garments next time!

Time whizzed by in the Tag lecture, which saw ten Victoria County History colleagues and friends galloping through Gloucestershire’s history, from Anglo-Saxon place-names to the 20th century railways cut in Dr Beeching’s time.  I wonder if we set a record?  Certainly, the event was an unexpected evening out for a local car park user who popped in at 5.30pm to see what was going on.  He stayed on, hooked, until the event finished – five lectures and two and a half hours later. 

New to this year’s Festival was the ‘Family Day’, run by members of Gloucester Heritage Forum: Gloucester Cathedral; Llanthony Secunda Priory; Gloucester Museums; St Mary De Crypt; Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Gloucestershire Archives, representing the Hub. This was the Forum’s first go at a collaborative visitor engagement event and activities included hands-on activities exploring Gloucestershire Police history, creating charters with quill pens and discovering the gruesome methods of medieval barber surgeons.


Creating charters with quill pens                                               Exploring Gloucestershire Police History                     The Shadow of St. Nicholas

Thank you to everyone who contributed to and attended events. We are already planning next year’s History Festival so please save the dates – 1 – 16 September 2018 – if you want to be part of the action.  If you’d like to organise or suggest an event please contact  or

Shades of blue and green

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’ve settled on a proposed 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 article) 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. 


We also have five 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 TomatoJack Arts are fashioning 4 mosaic panels celebrating 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.  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. 


Natasha Houseago at                          Julia O'Connell visiting                            Imogen Harvey-Lewis                    TomatoJack encouraged residents

The Secret Garden                               the new volunteer                                   presenting ideas to staff                 at Canonbury Care Home to

Community Hub.                                   workshop area.                                       and friends.                                    share memories as they                       

                                                                                                                                                                                     made a wall plaque.

Masterminding a building project

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 because of a factory fire we ended up waiting a long time for it.  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 the soft launch of the new Frith Training Room.  We’ll be posting customer information about this on the Archives’ website at


The new strongrooms

Finally there’s the virtual Heritage Hub: an interactive website and social networking platforms (blogs, Facebook and Twitter). Digital Archivist, Claire Collins is leading a team of stakeholders to develop this, ably supported by the County Council’s Digital Project Officer, John Porter.  We’re currently developing the pilot website, due to launch later this year, and Archives staff are testing the water with social media, having launched a ‘Know Your Place’ Facebook page  over the summer.  We are also making good progress with a Local Government Association-funded project to introduce online registration for Archives users and a fully automated online document ordering system.  All very 21st century for a history-focussed set up.

Exciting times!

Staffing news


In the last six weeks we said farewell to two long-standing members of staff.

At the end of September, Jill Shonk, Access and Learning Leader, left after 11 years to take up the role of Head of Cultural and Trading Services at Gloucester City Council. We’d like to extend a major thank you to Jill for her significant contribution to the development of Gloucestershire Archives and the Heritage hub over the last 11 years.

Julie Reynolds, formerly based at Gloucestershire Archives, has left after 10 years to take up the role of Curator for Gloucestershire and Bristol for the National Trust.  She did a brilliant job as Museums Development Officer for Gloucestershire and the wider region and will be much missed by us and our museum colleagues.   Museums development work for the region is now being delivered from Bristol.

We look forward to working in partnership with both Jill and Julie in their new roles.

We will be re-assigning roles within the team and welcoming the following staff to help fill gaps for the next 6-12 months: Rosalind Farr, a former digital preservation trainee; Katie Halil, who will be joining the customer services team on Mondays; and Abigail Hartley, a newly qualified archivist.

We welcome back Ally McConnell as Community Cataloguing Archivist (former graduate trainee who has recently been working as an archivist at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre).  Ally’s 3 year post is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and from spring 2018 she will be working with a team of volunteers on the Dowty cataloguing project.



Local History

Pottage was surprisingly tasty

Gloucestershire Local History Association (GLHA) is a voluntary organisation of around 50 local history groups across Gloucestershire. We aim to promote local history throughout the County and to encourage as many people as possible to become involved in the history of where they live. You can find out more about us at

One of the Association’s most active members is Chipping Campden History Society, which is currently engaged in a Lottery-funded project to discover more about old Campden House and Gardens.

Chipping Campden History Society reported:

This has been an exciting summer for the project, with some discoveries and some challenges to our assumptions about what Campden House looked like before it was burned down in 1645, only thirty years after it was built. The two Banqueting Houses still exist, at the ends of the terrace in front of the remaining ruin of the main house, together with some ancillary buildings. Using a combination of archaeological digs and documentary research, we are trying to create a view of Sir Baptist Hicks, his buildings and achievements, and his impact on the town.  

We have done two digs so far, excavating the parterre and the outline of the building shown by our earlier geophysical survey. In total, twenty-eight volunteers participated - not all at once! The interim report on the two digs has now been completed and a further dig is planned, to explore the conclusions further.     


We were able to test our thinking about the design of the house with group outings to Aston Hall and Hatfield House, both built at around the same time; and members have been reporting on their own visits to other houses of the period, providing examples for our attempts to rethink 'the great burnt howse'.

Document research is supporting the archaeology: Gloucestershire Archives has provided a valuable resource with the Hicks-Beach papers that include family wills and some love letters written by Baptist Hicks. Many other old documents have been transcribed, giving a fascinating insight into life and attitudes at the time. Two volunteers have been inspired to sign up for online learning courses, about Jacobean food and Elizabethan life.

The Old Campden House site is owned by the Landmark Trust who opened it to the public one weekend in June. We put up a display and in spite of the very hot weather well over two hundred people came to find out more about our discoveries.  On the first day two volunteers sat marking finds and this encouraged interest and conversation. 

Two volunteers prepared a session for the top class at St. James' Primary School, taking food and quizzes to show the food eaten by rich and poor people: 'pottage' was surprisingly tasty! The pupils tasted spices and made their own sweetmeats. Then they visited one of the Banqueting Houses to recreate the dessert course, complete with musical accompaniment, 'Greensleeves' on guitars. The sweetmeats were a little the worse for wear, but we offered biscuits from an original recipe.


Many more activities are planned for the second year of the project – so do look at our project blog via

Heritage Lottery Funding logo       

Rev Andrew Freeman - Priest, Photographer, Scholar

Dr James Berrow writes:

Readers of the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub newsletter may be interested to know that the County Archive and, particularly the diocesan records, were an invaluable source in the preparation of a substantial volume (308 pages hardback) on the life and work of the Reverend Andrew Freeman (1876-1947). For many years he was the incumbent of Standish with Hardwicke, in the county. As well as his duties as a parish priest, he was a revered historian of the pipe organ and achieved international attention as a photographer of organ cases. His invaluable notebooks and collection of glass negatives is now in the care of the British Organ Archive, housed in the Cadbury Research Library of the University of Birmingham. The digitised photographs (many of Gloucestershire subjects) can be accessed online by pasting this link into your browser:

Anyone interested in knowing more about his significant research and contribution to the subject, along with 234 full-page reproductions of his photographs, can purchase In Search of Organs, Andrew Freeman: priest, photographer and scholar, for £35.


To obtain a copy visit the website of the British Institute of Organ Studies at:


Archaeological in the Forest of Dean

Gloucestershire County Council Archaeology Service has recently completed an archaeological Research Framework for Forest of Dean district in west Gloucestershire.

Area covered by the research framework


An enormous amount of new archaeological information about the Forest of Dean has come to light in recent years.

The Research Framework was funded by Historic England and is the culmination of Stage 4 of the Forest of Dean Archaeological Survey. It takes account of the enormous amount of new archaeological information about the Forest of Dean which has come to light in recent years, not only from that survey, but also from other large-scale research projects (such as the Severn Estuary Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment and four National Mapping Programme projects), smaller-scale development-led archaeological projects and other research, and also discussion with a number of specialists who were consulted during the Research Framework’s preparation.

The Research Framework broadly follows the model set out in Frameworks for our Past (Olivier 1996), and consists of a Resource Assessment which summarises the current state of knowledge and describes the archaeological and palaeoenvironmental resource in the Forest of Dean. This is followed by a Research Agenda which identifies gaps in that knowledge and what research is needed to address these, and sets out research priorities (which may be flexible over time) for the district and identifies suitable methodologies for future research.

Forest of Dean district is within the area covered by the Regional Research Agenda of the South West Archaeological Research Framework (Webster 2008) which includes a wide range of overarching Research Aims covering methodological approaches, and addressing period- or theme-based issues for the region. The Forest of Dean Research Agenda does not replace the South West Archaeological Research Framework but operates within it by adopting the same thematic approach and highlighting those themes and research aims which are of particular relevance to the Forest of Dean. It also takes account of other research agendas relevant to the Forest of Dean particularly the National Association of Historical Mining Organisations research agenda for the Archaeology of the Extractive Industries (Newman 2016), and the Historical Metallurgy Society’s archaeometallurgical research agenda (Bayley et al 2008).

The Forest of Dean Research Framework is available as a pdf document from


Bayley, J, Crossley, D and Ponting M 2008 Metals and Metalworking. A Research Framework for Archaeometallurgy, The Historical Metallurgy Society, Occasional Paper No. 6

Newman, P (ed) 2016 The Archaeology of Mining and Quarrying in England. A Research Framework for the Archaeology of the Extractive Industries in England, Resource Assessment and Research Agenda, National Association of Mining History Organisations in association with Historic England

Olivier, A 1996 Frameworks for Our Past: a review of research frameworks, strategies and perceptions. English Heritage.

Webster, C J (ed) 2008 The Archaeology of South West England, South, West Archaeological Research Framework, Resource Assessment and Research Agenda, Somerset County Council.


John Hoyle, Senior Project Officer,

Heritage Team, Gloucestershire County Council

Late iron age oppida sites in Gloucestershire

Durham University are currently undertaking research within the late Iron Age oppida sites at Bagendon and Salmonsbury Camp, Bourton-on-the-Water as part of their REFIT project (Resituating Europe's First Towns). The project aims to share understanding about how the interactions between humans and the natural environment have shaped the landscapes we see today. Oppida (singular oppidum) are large fortified iron age settlements.

As part of the project Durham have produced self-guided walks, suitable for all, around Bagendon and Salmonsbury Camp and the Greystones Farm nature reserve. Salmonsbury and the landscape around it are now part of Greystones Nature Reserve. The area includes meadows and a working farm.


Bagendon                                                              Salmonsbury/Greystones Farm

Click on an image above to download the walking guide PDF.

There is also an on-line guide for those that can’t get to Bagendon. Click here

Durham University is seeking your views on how organisations and communities can best manage the Cotswold landscape for the future. To take part requires just 5 minutes of your time. If you’d like to help please click on this link which will take you to a short survey. The results will be shared on the project's website once the data collection is complete – expected to be by early 2018.


Toby Catchpole - Heritage Team Leader

Gloucestershire County Council

Family History

How times have changed

Work has now been completed in removing from our Family History Centre library out-of-date and no longer relevant books in preparation for the big move into the new Heritage Hub.  Whilst at the time of writing this we do not have a definite date for the move, the Committee has decided that it would be prudent to close the Family History Centre for the 2 weeks required to get everything sorted and up and running.  Please check the website for the very latest information.

We are still maintaining our outreach work and libraries and attending events as normal.

For those of us in the South West Area Group (SWAG), please make a note in your diary for Saturday 30 June 2018. I know it is a longish way away, but time does fly.  The 2018 SWAG Family History Fair will be the 11th biennial fair to be jointly organised by members of Societies of the South West Area Group of the Federation of Family History Societies. These include the following societies: Bristol & Avon, Devon, Dorset, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Gwent, Hampshire, Somerset & Dorset, Weston-Super-Mare, and Wiltshire. It will be held at the GWR Steam Museum, Swindon, Wiltshire from 10.00 am until 3.30 pm. Further information will be published Spring 2018.

This event will be used to promote the Heritage Hub

How times have changed 1862- 2017


Friends of Gloucestershire Archives

Recent activity

Gloucester History Festival

For the first time this September the Friends became involved in the Gloucester History Festival. The festival itself was a triumph; over 27,000 tickets were sold and that did not include the enormous number of people who attended free, un-ticketed, events. 

The Friends sponsored a fascinating, and very well attended, talk by historian, lecturer and author Marcus Roberts on the Jewish history of Gloucester. Much of his research had been done at the Archives and a number of times during his talk he mentioned the importance of the Friends and the Archives.  The audience were handed leaflets about the Friends as they left.

The Friends also arranged three short talks called ‘Discoveries in the Archives’. Heather Forbes spoke about music documents held at the Archives, including an 18th Century Barbadian slave song which is of international significance.  Fiona Mead shared insights into Victorian and Edwardian life as revealed by school log books of the time, and Clive Andrews explored the sad story of Susannah Jordan, whose monument is in St Nicholas Church, Gloucester.

The Friends’ logo appeared on the festival brochure and we hope to have even more involvement next year.


As part of its mission to promote and support the Archives the Friends produced new publicity material in time for the Gloucester History Festival. Two new roller banners were designed, one for general use and one for the Archives’ reception area.  The banner in reception will be part of a campaign to attract new members from researchers who have appreciated their visits.

A new brochure has also been produced featuring the colourful Gloucester City Charter of Richard III, which dates from 1483. The brochure was available at many of the History Festival events and plentiful supplies are also in the Archives’ public areas.

If you are not a Friend already, why not join and know that your subscription will make a real contribution to Gloucestershire Archives?




Fundraising news

The Friends successfully applied to The Henry Smith Charity for the maximum grant of £20k, over 2 years, towards the salary for the Engagement Officer for Older People who will deliver an exciting reminiscence project from January 2018.

House of Memories App

Gloucestershire Archives have developed the archival and Gloucestershire content for the House of Memories App. This app will be used to engage with older folk, particularly those with early stage dementia. The Friends have recently submitted a bid to the Co-op Community Fund to further support this project.


Judy Kimber and Phoebe Brunt discussing the House of Memories App



South Gloucestershire

Know Your Place: West of England Legacy Exhibition

There is a Know Your Place: West of England Legacy Exhibition which Jane Marley, Museums and Heritage Officer, South Gloucestershire Council is touring round museums and libraries in South Gloucestershire for the next 3 ½ years. Jane is still in the process of organising this but the display is currently at Kingswood Heritage Museum until 28th November 2017.  For information about the museum and opening times see here:


Here is an image of the interactive Kiosk and banner at the museum.

Information about this project can be found on the project website:

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Spotlight on archives from South Gloucestershire

New accessions of archives relating to South Gloucestershire 

Over the last six months Gloucestershire Archives' staff processed and added details to the online catalogue for the following collections:

  • Account books relating to a firm of builders in Marshfield, 1786-1871 (D14383, gift)
  • Marshfield Reading Room, minutes and accounts, 1887-1947 (D14390, gift)
  • Deeds and related papers of property known as "The Stores", 2 High Street, Winterbourne, 1837-1974 (D14408, gift)
  • St Michael's C of E Primary School, Winterbourne: Celebrating 200 years, 1813-2013 (pamphlet examining the history of the School, including memories and archive photographs, and photographs of staff, pupils (by year) and the current premises) (S372/1, gift)
  • 133 scanned images and photographs of Filton factory site and air field, head office of the Bristol Aeroplane Company Ltd, 20th cent (copies created in 2012 to support a proposal from South Gloucestershire Council for a reminiscence project to research and publish the history of Old and New Filton House (the original offices of the Bristol Aeroplane Company)) (D14448, gift)
  • Additional material concerning the Filton Community History HLF funded project: administration files, minutes of meetings, and results of research, including projects undertaken by pupils at Shield Road and Charborough Road Schools, 1999-2001 (D13476, deposited by Filton Community History Group)
  • Deeds relating to property in Castle Street, Thornbury, 1863 (D14454, gift)
  • Sandoe Luce Panes of Thornbury, estate agents and auctioneers: records of predecessor firms including sales particulars from Luce, Young and Alway, Moses Smith and Luce, Luce, Howes and Williams, and associated firms, 1873, 1890, 1900-1961, relating to properties in South Gloucestershire, Bristol, Wiltshire and Somerset; valuation notebook number 132, 1953-1958; newscuttings of auction advertisements, 1900-1938, 1947-1950 (D4855, gift) . These records are a useful resource for anyone wishing to research the 20th century history of South Gloucestershire, for both local and landscape historians, and those interested in social history. Coverage is particularly good for about 1915-1928, a time when many larger estates were being broken up and sold off after the First World War, and for the 1950s, when more and more private individuals were buying, building and selling their own homes.




Focus on Filton

Filton Community History and Aerospace Bristol

Gloucestershire Archives preserve 69 oral history interviews taken by Filton Community History Group as part of the BAC 100:2010 project. (Bristol Aeroplane Company)

The BAC 100:2010 project took place in 2010/11. Click the photo above to visit the website.

Gloucestershire Archives staff downloaded and transferred 4 of these interviews (appropriate permissions in place) so they can be used in the Bristol Aerospace Centre’s exhibition space.  The oral history stations are in each era of the museum with a transcript next to each station.  The stations will be a permanent feature and the archivist Zoe Watson, hopes to add more people, or change the people from time to time, to keep the social history elements of the exhibition fresh. 

Gloucestershire Heritage Hub partners wish our colleagues at Aerospace Bristol every success with their forthcoming opening. 


Gloucestershire Police Archives

Police Open Day

16th September 2017


Despite the increased terror level and the treat of rain the Open Day was well attended. Initial figures suggest about 8,200 visitors. The Police Archive Group's display proved popular, so popular  in fact that the 5 people staffing the display didn’t get a chance to eat until it was all over!

There was an improved archives section with Christmas cards from the royal houses, old equipment, photograph albums and the new banners  on display as well as a commemoration of  the death of Chief Constable Chester Master on the battlefield in 1917. There were also new activities for children with photo opportunities for all.


The gruel tasting was not universally popular although one person came back for thirds!

The old dial telephone and the microfiche reader for the mapping system were very busy although children couldn’t understand why the map holder didn’t respond like a computer mouse.

The mannequin had a change of clothes this year although we were unable to find the appropriate helmet to fit his head. There should have been a black plate on the front and a black rose on top.

It was good to see that the Police Archives have a higher profile and were included in one of the Chief Constable’s tweets during the day.


As usual these events could not take place without the support of the members of staff and volunteers involved.

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