Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Gloucestershire Archives

Heritage Hub Community Open Day and tea party

A total of 426 visitors flocked to the Heritage Hub for our Community Open Day on Sunday 2nd September. There was plenty to see and do, including a treasure hunt and quiz for the children, a rather handsome roaming Highwayman (who gave a talk on his infamous trade of highway robbery in years gone by) and lots of original documents on display.


Visitors in the research room                                                                        MP Richard Graham and John Putley from Archives.

Exhibitions on display included the founding of the Crypt School, women’s policing in Gloucestershire, and the landscape and communities of the Severn Vale in South Gloucestershire. 'Behind the scenes' tours, including stepping inside one of the strong-rooms, were particularly popular. There were two film shows, showing a selection of films and other media from our collections. An illustrated talk on “Treasures of the Archives”, discussing favourite gems from the archives chosen by staff from Gloucestershire Archives attracted a large audience.

Display about Joan Cooke, founder of the Crypt School

Gloucestershire Family History Society volunteers ran drop-in taster sessions on family history, and these were very much appreciated. The city-wide “Volunteer Makers – Engage in Gloucester” volunteer recruitment project was also officially launched.

Special guests included Wilbert Smith, Heritage Lottery Fund South-West trustee; Gloucester’s MP, Richard Graham; County Councillors, Jeremy Hilton and Lesley Williams; the Mayor of Gloucester, City Councillor Joanne Brown, her consort, County Councillor David Brown, and the Sheriff of Gloucester.

One of the very popular attractions was the cake stall, in the new training suite (the Dunrossil Centre). This was expertly run by members of the Friends of Gloucestershire Archives (FOGA). Walls ice cream, at Barnwood, kindly donated 250 ice creams to FOGA to sell at the Open Day, to raise funds for specialist packaging for Gloucester's city charters.


Members of the Friends looking after               Musicians from Gloucestershire Traditions entertaining visitors in the Dunrossil Centre

the cakes.                                                                        

Local folk musicians played music in the foyer and in the Dunrossil Centre. Sculptor Natasha Houseago set up her workbench in the community garden where visitors could watch her carving and chat to her about the piece she will be creating. Lynda Knott and Angela Williams from TomatoJack Arts also chatted to visitors about the mosaic panels they have created for the community garden.


Musical Folk playing in the foyer                                           Natasha Houseago                                Angela Williams from TomatoJack                                  

Following a photographic competition over the summer, we launched the Heritage Hub 2019 calendar at the Open Day.  Over 100 photographs were entered and judged by a panel including Professor John Ingledew, an international photography lecturer, and Cabinet Member Ray Theodoulou.  The winners were announced and calendars presented to the overall winner, Mike Barby, whose stunning image of Selsley covers one of the walls of the Dunrossil Centre.


Mike Barby (centre left), with Heather Forbes,                                   A vintage view of Selsey near Stroud taken from Doverow Hill.  By Mike Barby

Wilbert Smith and Prof. John Ingledew, in front

of his winning photograph.              

Last but not least, we ran a competition to name the friendly but fierce-looking archives rat!  A few weeks ago we ran a social media campaign to introduce him to the public and Open Day visitors were asked to vote for their favourite name from a shortlist of three, all suggested by our Facebook followers. He/she has been given the name Raikes.

Raikes the Archives Rat.

Sorry you missed all the fun? Well, as it was such a success, we’re thinking of doing something similar next year – watch this space!

A very special occasion!

Earlier this year we were delighted to announce that a document in our collections had been accepted onto UNESCO’s International Memory of the World register- the documentary heritage equivalent of becoming a World Heritage Site. A ceremony marking this and other recent inscriptions was held in London on 19 September.  Archives Development Manager Kate Maisey attended on behalf of Gloucestershire Archives along with Clive Andrews, chair of the Friends of Gloucestershire Archives.

Matthew Lodge, Minister and Ambassador of Gt. Britain and Northern Ireland

to UNESCO with Kate Maisey and Clive Andrews

Our “award- winning” document is an African slave song dating from the height of the Transatlantic slave trade. The song was chanted by enslaved people working in the sugar fields of Barbados and was written down by anti-slave trade campaigner Granville Sharp in the later 18th century.  Sharp’s papers descended through his niece to the Lloyd- Baker family of Hardwicke Court and are now preserved amongst our collections. The slave song was nominated by Barbadian music expert Roger Gibbs who saw a digital image of the song on our website.  

Slave song - Gloucestershire Archive (ref D3949/13/3/27) 

The Memory of the World register currently includes a total of 427 documents and collections coming from all continents and recorded on materials ranging from stone to celluloid, parchment to sound recordings. Other recent additions to the register which were celebrated alongside the slave song included the papers of Sir Isaac Newton, the gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander and key archival sources relating to Shakespeare.  Starry company indeed!

And/or you could link to some info about it on our website. This includes links to 2 recordings of the song.

Looking after your archive

As mentioned earlier, Gloucestershire Archives held a ‘hands-on workshop’ here at the Heritage Hub as part of the Gloucester History Festival entitled ‘Looking after your archive’.On 4 September we ran a free drop-in event (10:00 til closing time at 16:30) on caring for an archive, with practical sessions working on the collection of historic sales particulars of Sandoe Luce Panes estate agents covering properties in South Gloucestershire (D4855).

Brief training sessions covered risks to collections, handling tips, archival quality materials, protective enclosures, removing surface dirt and identifying relevant information for a catalogue.  Visitors had the opportunity to clean, list, number and make up acid-free protective enclosures for the records.  

It was a very successful event with many people staying several hours and some all day! All in all around 100 documents were cleaned, listed and re-packaged.

Following on from this promising start we will be continuing the work on this collection as a volunteer project which several people who attended have already signed up for.

The archive proved to be extremely interesting with one attendee coming across a family property and another with a particular interest in the history of canals finding the particulars of a property that showed a flight of locks, one of which he knew to be a particularly significant deep lock. Apparently it didn’t actually work, so they had to build a flight of locks instead and no-one knows exactly where on the site the abandoned deep one is.

Ann Attwood ACR, Collections Care Development Officer


Artist Activity

The artists have been busy throughout the year researching, meeting with volunteers, visitors and staff, preparing and finally making their original artwork.

The mosaic panels and the textile panels are now complete and are here for visitors to see. Sculptor, Natasha Houseago, is also on site two or three days a week carving the magnificent oak trunk and happy to talk to visitors about her work. If you're visiting the Archives have a look at the artwork and see how heritage can be presented in very different and beautifully ways.


The gorgeous, colourful mosaic panels in the community garden and a close up of the industry panel.

Textile artist Julia O’Connell completed her beautiful textile panels in time for the community open day and they are now hanging in the Frith room.


Inspiration for Julia's panels came from documents in the Archives, the many conversations Julia had with volunteers from the Family History Centre, Gloucestershire Police Archive, the Dowty project, Chipping Campden and Blockley Local history Associations, residents living in Mill House care home in Chipping Campden and of course Archives staff.

Julia will be at Gloucestershire Archives on Saturday 6 October, 11.30am to talk about her work for Archives, her research, the processes involved and how she arrived at the final printed and stitched panels. The talk will last 45 minutes followed by a short question and answer session.


Natasha carving using a chisel and a small power sander.

If you are specifically coming to Archives to see Natasha please check first with reception (01452 425295) that she is here. It's very likely she won't be here if it is windy, raining or snowing!

If you would like to know more about the artist project please contact Kim Kenny -


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