Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Gloucestershire Archives

Children & Young People

What Can Heritage Offer Them?

The other day, I was trawling through the “What’s On” listings I receive, every month, from the National Archives. I was intrigued, and delighted, to find that they have launched an online story-telling session, each month, for the under-3’s. I did a double take, and read it again but, yes it really did say what I thought it said: the National Archives are delivering a story-telling session for toddlers. The particular event I was looking at was described as interactive, and all about transport – the sounds, images, and stories associated with transport through the ages.

With very young children – whatever the topic – the key is to appeal to their imaginations, make it fun, and allow some play or activities as part of the story-telling. Children can engage in creative ways with heritage topics. Other good subjects for this age group include: maps, natural history, people and places, fashion through the ages, and pretty much anything that has a strong visual or sensory element.

Whilst many people are not aware of this, the ARA Card (allowing customers to access archives’ services nationwide) is not just for adults. The lower age limit for someone to be issued with an ARA Card (commonly called a “reader’s ticket”) is 14 years. This begs the question, what can we offer teenagers (and those who are even younger)?

Teenagers and other young people, most often come into contact with us through school visits, or group visits such as those arranged by Cubs or Scouts. By the time a teenager reaches 16 years old, they get in touch with us to ask if they can come for a week’s work experience. And by the time they are in their school’s Sixth Form, they often want to volunteer once a week as part of their wider learning, perhaps as something to include in their university admissions (UCAS) personal statement, or as part of a scheme such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

We have lots of experience of working with children, including teenagers, and especially those aged 9 – 11 years, from primary school. The sort of activities we have delivered for them, include: behind-the-scenes tours, basic conservation awareness, palaeography and writing with quills, Gloucester Olympicks (indoor games), story-telling, workshops on a range of themes (often, but not always, linked to the curriculum) and an annual take-over day,


Passport to the Past” is our online, interactive, themed sessions for those aged 6 – 13 years. This is a free after-school club (first Wednesday of the month, 4pm-5pm - pre-booking is essential). For more information visit  Gloucestershire Archives Events

There is a lot more that we’d like to do. For example, we would very much like to set up a Youth Panel, for teenagers, and ask them to get involved in giving us feedback and practical suggestions as to how we run our service. I would very much like to introduce an annual story writing competition, based on heritage or items in our collection.

Other, similar competitions for children could be around drawing a picture, or writing a letter about life as a child, in Gloucester, in the early 21st Century, and getting it added to our collections. We could even start a mini-gardeners’ activity club, especially for children without gardens – growing sunflowers, sweet peas or tomatoes and herbs, in our large community garden.


Children are often more adept than adults at using technology. We have our own film equipment, including movie cameras and tripods. A small number of children could make, edit and produce their own short film about the Heritage Hub.

The list of possibilities is endless, and there really is something for children of all ages.

One of the most exciting things that children like to do, when they visit us, is to be shown round a strong-room. I suppose it’s because it’s a little bit spooky, it’s a locked space where people do not usually go, the items on the shelves look quite large and formidable to a child, and because they will never have seen anything quite like it before! When we show children inside the strong-rooms, they are full of questions – how much space do we have? What’s the oldest document? Why is it so cold in here? How many items do we have, in total? How far ahead do we plan (for items that come into our repository)? Even a brief visit to a strong-room can offer infinite educational possibilities.

I still find it really interesting that the National Archives is now offering an online story-telling session for toddlers…maybe this is something we could try? Why not? After all, if it’s good enough for the National Archives…

Frontiers and Pioneers

We linked our children’s event for September into the Gloucester History Festival theme of Frontiers and Pioneers with an event called The Worst Journey in the World.

We looked at the doomed Terra Nova expedition to the Antarctic and focused on the role of Cheltenham-born Edward Wilson’s contribution as the artist who documented this treacherous voyage. We have some of Wilson’s notebooks in our collections, but the majority of his archive is at The Wilson Gallery in Cheltenham. The ‘P’ in PLOT stands for Partnerships (we are the Partnerships, Learning and Outreach Team!) and we are grateful to The Wilson who kindly allowed us to use images from their collections and lent us some wonderful taxidermy specimens….

The taxidermy allowed the fifteen children who joined the session – including a pair of brothers from Canada – to practise drawing native British species: a rabbit, a wren and a blackbird.


Wilson honed his remarkable skill as an artist from childhood, drawing the flora and fauna he saw around him from his home at The Crippetts, near Cheltenham. He painted this blue tit when he was a young boy. The sketch of the wren is a little later.


With the help of some techniques from visiting artist Georgia Vesma, the children produced some wonderful drawings. Their ages ranged from four to 11 years old, but they all enjoyed the chance to learn some new drawing skills. Chief among these was to spend more time looking at the subject and less time looking at their own work. Georgia asked the children to create one drawing in 2 minutes, without lifting their pen or pencil from the paper. The children showed their work after each task and gave each other encouraging feedback. The final task gave the children 8 minutes to do a more detailed drawing of a rabbit, with some fabulous results.

We aim to make all the children’s events as interactive as we can, given that we are restricted to online events for the time being, and the children are asked to submit their work to us to be accessioned into our collections.

Our next event is all about toys and games through the ages. To book visit Gloucestershire Archives Events

Volunteering – and Why People Do It

For much of my adult life, I have worked (on and off) as a volunteer. I have experience of volunteering in homeless shelters, at Christmas, in Citizens’ Advice Bureaux, for UNESCO (in the Middle East) and for a non-profit, in New York, providing a range of services to elders in need. I also write numerous articles, for various publications, in a voluntary capacity, on a wide range of topics – equalities, the coronavirus pandemic, project work and a whole number of other subjects.

I suppose I do it for two main reasons – it makes me feel good, and it offers opportunities for learning and for meeting new people. The sort of people I may otherwise never meet. I have not done any hands-on volunteering for some years, because of other priorities and having a busy working life. But it’s something I may well get back to, at some point.

Volunteers are often the unsung heroes of organisations. They bring new ideas, a wealth of experience, energy, commitment and enthusiasm. And they bring their time, that most precious of commodities. Volunteers do not, of course, expect to be paid – that is not why they do it – although out of pocket expenses should always be paid.


I started volunteering when I was a university student; I thought it would be a good thing to do, and something to add to my CV. As a volunteer, I have visited the United Nations, in New York, seen first-hand some of the political and religious strains in the Middle East, met people from all walks of life and seen poverty and illness up close. It has been quite a journey, and I would recommend volunteering to everyone, but especially to young people.

When I went to university, in the late 1970s, I moved to a big, Northern city, from a sleepy market town. The market town is now three times bigger than it was when I was growing up there, and bears very little resemblance to my childhood home. It’s fair to say that life was very sheltered and homogenous – for example, I didn’t have a conversation with, say, a black person, until I went to university. At that time, there was no social media, no internet, and people who were different from those around me were simply not visible – not on the TV, or in newspapers. Volunteering (starting in my late teens) was a way for me to “broaden my horizons” – yes, it’s a bit of a cliché, but also a truism. Young people today do have access to far more information than people of my generation had, but there is nothing that beats getting involved, getting your hands dirty and getting stuck in. Social media platforms, the internet and such like may be effective in making people more aware, but I’m very much an advocate of getting out there and just doing it.

Nothing in the world beats experience, and I was reminded of this recently in conversation with a colleague in another sector, who commented on all the different jobs I’ve done (she was asking me about where I’d worked, as what, and when). Sometimes it’s good to take a step back, and ask yourself “What have I learned from what I’ve done?” And experience is invaluable, whether paid or unpaid, because it gives an authenticity to whatever it is you’re talking about having learned.

I sometimes think back to my time as a volunteer in the Middle East; I was there for a whole summer in 1979, as an undergraduate. I was billeted in a ramshackle single-storey house, in a village in the hills, no glazed windows, no furniture to speak of, just a dirt floor with some large cushions. All my fellow volunteers were men, apart from one other woman, and all of us were from across the globe; we had come together to do a community project in the village. It was hard, physical work. A few months after my extended visit this country descended into civil war, following a military coup. On one occasion, during my stay, I was invited to eat supper with the tribal elders. The women in this multi-generational household didn’t join us, as was the custom in this Muslim country – they sat apart, to eat their food (only after the men had finished theirs, the women had the left-overs). They didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak their language, so we had to improvise with gestures and body language, and hastily drawn pictures. We sat on the floor, to eat, around a circular dining “table”, a low, revolving metal platter, about 4 feet in diameter. There were no plates or knives and forks – we piled food on to slices of unleavened bread, and ate with our fingers. There was no electricity. There was no TV, no newspapers and transport (limited) was by donkey and cart. There were no shops, just a weekly market about 10 miles away. There were no bathrooms and no plumbing, and no toilets or showers. It was probably less than 2,000 miles away from home, yet a world away in terms of culture. And the food was so different from what I was used to! In many ways, it was an adventure, and one that I’m very glad I had. When I returned home I brought back a small tribal rug, which I’d bartered for in one of the souks, and very many memories which other learning opportunities simply can’t offer.

So, that’s my story of how my volunteering journey started. What about yours? People volunteer for all sorts of reasons, and come from all sorts of backgrounds. At Gloucestershire Archives we have dozens of volunteers, all of them connected by a common passion for history. As I said before, people volunteer for all sorts of reasons, and I think one of the principle ones is simply to learn. There are many learning opportunities at Gloucestershire Archives, for volunteers; we have around 20 “job descriptions” for our volunteers. In recent years, we have seen a little more diversity amongst those who volunteer for us, and I think this is a good thing. Above all, we value our volunteers for all the rich life experience they bring, and for the time they so willingly give us. Volunteering is a way of life, for many of our volunteers, and all of us are richer for that.

Five Years On – A Personal View from Sally Middleton

Next month marks 5 years since I started working at Gloucestershire Archives. I cannot believe it has been half a decade since I joined the team, initially as a Community Heritage Development Officer (a new post), then as the Community Heritage Development Manager.

In that half-decade, I have met dozens of new people, the number of volunteers has more than doubled, I have acquired a new team – the PLOT (Partnerships, Learning & Outreach Team) – and we have transferred all of our outreach and learning to online delivery, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, during those 5 years, the “For the Record” project building work started and finished, and the place looks vastly different from when I first arrived – we now have the Heritage Hub, with all its modern and spacious facilities. And, of course, we have a newly landscaped community garden complete with wildlife pond and bee hives!


It has been quite a journey – not only for me, but for the service and the wider team. And, of course, for our customers and volunteers – who all have far better facilities than ever before, with a lot more space. By far the biggest change in the last half-decade, and the one with the greatest cause for celebration, has been the outstanding success of “For the Record”, which has been a massive transformation project.

The year after the building work was finished, the COVID-19 pandemic hit us, in March 2020, and we all had to learn new ways of working and delivering our service. Volunteers (a small number of them) continued to work remotely. And staff learned how to undertake film-making and delivering talks online, for both adults and children. We set up weekly Volunteer Zooms – a space to chat over coffee, in a virtual setting – in May 2020, and these are on-going. Life certainly has not been quiet!


I knew of Gloucestershire Archives long before I started working here. What I didn’t know was exactly what treasures Gloucestershire Archives has, and what it did day to day. I have learned a great deal in the last 5 years, and have introduced some new ways of doing things.

Also, during my time here, we have signed up to Twitter and Facebook, and now use these social media platforms to market and promote what we do, to a much wider audience than before. And we have a new website, all about the Heritage Hub and its partners. There is a new online catalogue (Epexio), and this will also transform the way that customers interact with us.

Above all, I think recent years have been all about learning, and growth, for all of us to some extent. Whilst this inevitably brings challenges, it also brings rewards. Looking back, it’s quite amazing how so many things have changed in the last five years. Congratulations to all involved!

New faces at Archives

If you’ve visited the archives recently you might have noticed two new members of the team. We’re delighted to welcome Charlotte and Sade to the team who will be with us for the next six months as Kickstarter apprentices. Charlotte will be focusing on work in the Customer Services Team, and Sade on work in the Collections Team. Both will be helping us to commission our new strongrooms.

Claire Collins, Collections Development Manager

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new jobs for 16 to 24 year olds and offers a young person a 6 month job placement that will give them the experience they need.


Local History

Gloucestershire Local History Association Summer afternoon

Gloucestershire Local History Association was very happy to be able to hold its normal summer afternoon meeting on Sunday 27th June 2021. The event, hosted by Nailsworth Society Local History Research Group, had been planned for 2020 but had to be postponed due to Covid. Despite restrictions still being in place, the Nailsworth committee rose to the occasion and managed to organise a most interesting and enjoyable afternoon. Four different walks around the town were offered and attendees were able to take tea in small groups. The usual introductions and history of the town were offered via a video created at short notice and shown at intervals throughout the afternoon.

Topics for walks included following the old railway track, visiting Nailsworth’s mills and other industries, learning about the historic religious buildings and visiting memorial plaques for Nailsworth residents who died during the two World Wars.

I chose to visit the religious buildings which included the St. George’s Anglican Parish Church where we were able to admire the huge modern painting of The Last Supper painted by Lorna May Wadsworth which was unveiled in 2010, and Sir Oliver Heywood’s mural depicting daily life in Nailsworth during the 1980s. Our walk guides explained the history of the different denominations as we walked to Christ Church, which welcomes Baptists, Methodists and other non-conformists. We were lucky to be taken round the old Quaker Meeting House on Chestnut Hill, dating from the 17th century and still holding regular meetings today.

One of the walking groups with their guides.

GLHA is grateful to all the organisers and guides who worked hard to make this a successful afternoon. Our next Summer Afternoon meeting is due to be held at Cheltenham on Saturday 25th June 2022.

For more information visit

By Vicki Walker

The King Ditched?

It is thought that in Saxon times a ditch separated the King’s manor of Cheltenham and manor of Swindon (Village, Glouc) from each other – hence the area north-west of Cheltenham now being known as Kingsditch.

During medieval times and well into the 18th century pastoral farming and ridge and furrow cultivation dominated the area.

Around the beginning of the 19th century it became more profitable to turn this relatively restricted area over to market gardening and to supply the expanding population of Cheltenham with fresh produce.

  Photo courtesy of Sue Brasher, Swindon Village

However, changes which would have ‘ditched’ any early monarch were afoot.

The Second World War saw the introduction of a ‘shadow factory’ and what followed is the steady take over of all available land for commercial development.

Much of the area is now covered by steel-framed one- and two-storey structures and owned by multi-national venture capital companies (scoff not, your pensions depend on them!).

For the last two and a half years, two volunteers have aided the VCH team working on Cheltenham’s ‘Big Red Book’, Volume 15 with research into the history of the Kingsditch trading estate from pre-history to the present day.

Now home to more companies than there were ever ploughs belonging to the manor of Swindon and Cheltenham combined (28 1086 Domesday) and employing many thousands -Spirax Sarco alone has 1,000 – it is Cheltenham’s largest commercial estate.


Eileen Allen/Sally Self

Sally Self September 2021

Major General Sir Fabian Ware, 1869 – 1949


by Bassano Ltd - whole-plate glass negative, 27 October 1916  © National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG x154757)

Fabian Ware was born in Clifton, Bristol, where his mother ran a small boarding school. He became a teacher and, as a member of the Assistant Masters' Association, began campaigning for educational improvements. He was an “Occasional Inspector, Board of Education Examiner,” (1901 census) and was living in Hampstead. He married Anna Margaret Phibbs in 1895 and the family moved to Pretoria, South Africa, where he assisted in the organisation of their state education. When he returned to England he became editor of the Morning Post.

He visited Letchworth Garden City in 1906, which possibly gave birth to a life-long passion to preserve all that was best in architecture and the English countryside.

In 1912 he wrote a play called “The Chalk Line” that touched on the possibility of war with Germany and the blindness of pacifists. The correspondent in “The Stage” slated it as futile propaganda, which might have harmful effects!

But war came and Fabian volunteered but he was turned down because of his age. Instead he became head of a mobile Red Cross ambulance unit, leaving for France on the 16th September 1914 with the British Expeditionary Force. They were to search for missing men in the zone occupied by French forces. He was given the honorary title of major and put in charge of the newly formed Graves Registration Committee. He was subsequently attached to H.Q. Staff and made a Brigadier General.

Fabian Ware felt that the registration of graves was not enough. He wanted memorials that would last for ever, that were worthy of the sacrifice that had been made. He submitted his ideas to the Imperial War Conference and in May 1917 the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC) was established by Royal Charter with the Prince of Wales as President and Fabian Ware as Vice-Chairman. The difficult job of deciding how it could be done was given to Lieut. Colonel Sir Frederic Kenyon, Director of the British Museum. His full report was submitted in January 1918 (available on-line via the IWGC website). Church leaders, regimental bodies, and families of the fallen were consulted.

The memorials were all to be uniform. This decision was not welcomed by everyone. In May 1920, Rudyard Kippling, Fabian Ware and Winston Churchill addressed a meeting at the House of Commons to answer criticisms and to explain the work of the IWGC. Every stone would be let into a long concrete beam set into the ground. Fabian Ware pointed out that every gravestone would have a cross, the star of David. or a suitable Islamic symbol. Mr Churchill hoped that the government would not stand in their way.

On the 25th February 1920 he was knighted for his services as Director-General of the Grave Registration. That year he also toured the cemeteries in Gallipoli, Egypt, Aegean Islands, Palestine and Italy! He would personally accompany people of note who wished to visit a cemetery anywhere in the world, whilst also giving lectures about the IWGC.

The contract for creating the cemeteries was not fully completed until 1933, when Fabian Ware announced that it had cost £80,000,000. New IWGC stones are still being erected as bodies are identified, such as the one in Amberley Burial Ground, erected in 2016

From 1920 until he died, Fabian Ware's home was in Amberley. He unveiled the Amberley War Memorial on 25th February 1921 and in 1924 he bought Dial Cottage. On Armistice Day 1928 Fabian Ware presented the Church with one of the original wooden crosses to an unknown soldier.

He also then began campaigning to save rural England, especially the Cotswolds. The Council for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE) was formed in 1926. In 1928 the Gloucestershire branch of the CPRE was created with Fabian Ware as Chairman.

During the Second World War, he continued with his lecturing. In his 1942 Armistice broadcast he announced that the names of over 50,000 civilians in U K, Malta, and other parts of the world had been collected for perpetual remembrances, as well as those of the fighting services. After WWII, 100,000 graves were added in Britain. In Italy and Southern Europe there are 42 cemeteries containing 45,000 graves, and seven in North Africa where there are 40,313 graves.

He retired in 1948 and became ill the following spring, dying in Barnwood House Hospital on 28th April 1949. His funeral in Amberley Church on the 2rd May was attended by the Bishop and Dean of Gloucester, and representatives from the IWGC, the CPRE,and the British Legion, as well as a packed congregation. The Amberley British Legion formed a guard of honour.

A “Truly Great Gloucestershire Man whose name needs to be remembered by all of us.” Viscount Bledsloe

Commemorative plaque In Gloucester Cathedral

Census Returns/T he British Newspaper Archive (D2299/3116)/ Land Tax Returns for Amberley 1919, p13.

Maureen Anderson

Family History

Family History Update and News

Heather’s recent article about the successful completion of the For the Record project in June prompted us to reflect on how the project itself and the pandemic have affected GFHS.

What everyone notices when they arrive is the Family History Centre, by the main entrance to the Hub. This is a great improvement on our previous ‘homes’. Then there is the support the Hub partners offer to our Centre volunteers and to visitors - whatever the question there is usually someone who can help. We’re delighted that the relaxation of the Covid restrictions has allowed the coffee lounge to re-open - meeting other volunteers and researchers informally and just chatting is something we’ve all missed.


The Centre couldn’t work without our volunteers. A friendly face and suggestions based on practical knowledge are welcomed by all researchers whatever their experience and whether or not they have Gloucestershire roots. The volunteers have kept the Centre open despite everything the Covid regulations required to keep people safe. We’re delighted to extend the Centre opening hours again so from the beginning of October we plan to open all day, Tuesday to Friday. Please book a place on our website

The pandemic has encouraged us to do some things differently. We’ve introduced online talks and contributed to a FH ‘Zoomfair’ which have enabled us to connect with a world-wide audience.

You can find more about us, what we’re doing and what we’re planning for the future on our website.

Friends of Gloucestershire Archives

Autumn update

Covid restrictions have continued to impact on the Friends’ activities over the summer months. Regrettably it seems unlikely that we will be able to resume our usual programme of talks and events until next year.  We apologise to members for this but thank them most sincerely for their on-going support.  An announcement about future talks and events will be made as soon as possible.

The Friends have continued to circulate a twice-yearly newsletter to members thanks to the hard work of its editor Liz Jack. And the trustees have carried on the essential business of the charity by exchange of emails and, recently, by holding one, socially distanced, face-to-face meeting.

Read the latest newsletter here

In times of pandemic it is doubly welcome to have something to celebrate. Our congratulations go to Ally McConnell on the occasion of her marriage.  As well as being the archivist responsible for cataloguing the extensive collection of documents from the famous Dowty engineering company she is also the Friends’ Membership Secretary.  Ally and Callum married at Gloucester Cathedral on 14 August, and we send them both our very best wishes.  Ally is pictured with many of her colleagues from Gloucestershire Archives.

The Friends is the only organisation which exists specifically to support Gloucestershire Archives. To do that we depend largely on membership subscriptions.  The more members we have, the more we can help the Archives.  If you would like to join, or just find out more about the Friends, please explore our website:



Gloucestershire Archives: Passport to the Past

All sessions take place live on zoom.

The Best Toy in the World?

Wednesday 6 October, 4 - 5pm. Free of charge. Online session

For 6-13 year olds.

Bring your favourite toy to our next fun session. What do you love about your toy? Is it the best toy in the world?


In our next session, you will:

Find out about toys and games in the past. How are they different to today’s toys and games?

Discover what the best selling and most wanted toys were in 1950, 1985, 2000 and 2020

Plus we want to hear from you:

  • Have a go at designing your own board game
  • Vote for the best toy of the last 100 years.

If you can, please bring pens/pencils and paper for the board game activity. Scissors, coloured pens, glue and something to lean on would also be useful.

To book this talk visit Gloucestershire Archives Eventsin November....

ming in December....

Coming in December....

Yule enjoy this session focusing on Christmas traditions!

Wednesday 1 December, 4 - 5pm. Free of charge. Online session

For 6-13 year olds

Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year in some parts of the world – including Gloucestershire - and is a time for special food and the giving of presents. Traditionally it is a time for families and friends to get together – something which many people were not able to do last year.

In this session we are going to look at some of the Christmas traditions which we have records of here in the Archives. We’re also going to get crafty, including making a special Christmas garland and a traditional Christmas card for someone special. This is going to be our last session of the year, so to make it extra special please wear something festive and bring a little treat you can eat. We’re hoping to find out about your Christmas traditions: is there something special you always do at this time of year?


To book this talk visit Gloucestershire Archives Events

Other useful information about the sessions.....

Other useful information about the sessions.....

For every monthly Passport event, we create new resources which can be used during the session. These will appear on the Passport to the Past: fun activities and resources for families and schools page at least 48 hours before each event takes place giving you time to print them off. This link will also be sent to you a couple of days before the event takes place.

If you can’t print off the pages for the session, please don’t worry! We will display the pages on the screen during the event and all your child will need is a couple of pages of blank paper and a pen or pencil.

Please note that there are other pages listed as downloads which you can also print and enjoy in your own time if you want to do so.

You should receive your Zoom link as an automated message when you book on to this event (remember to press the "Book now" button once you've entered your details). If you don't, please check your junk folder. If it's not in there, please contact  and we will send you a link.


Gloucestershire Archives: Secrets Revealed

Ghastly Ghosts & Ghoulish Goings on: All Hallows in Gloucestershire

Wednesday 27 October. 1 - 2pm. Free of charge

Spooky graveyards, ghosts, evil faeries, goblins, the Devil, headless horsemen, witches & black dogs - Gloucestershire has them all!

In fact our county is home to so many spooky goings on that it really should be renamed ‘Ghostlyshire’!  This talk will look at some of the supernatural tales & legends of the county, which can be found in the newspapers, magazines, books and other records that are held at Gloucestershire Archives.  So sit back, turn on the lights and prepare to be scared!


PS: may contain bad fake voices and awful puns.

To book this talk visit Gloucestershire Archives Events

...coming in November

...coming in November

A Gloucestershire Archives Christmas

Wednesday 24 November. 1 - 2pm. Free of charge

Ever wondered where our Christmas traditions come from? A fun, enlightening, fact-filled journey through our well loved Christmas traditions; join us to look at how we have celebrated Christmas through the ages! Blending history, folk-lore, myth and traditions to uncover some seasonal facts about a particularly well-loved time of the year. With lots of examples of Christmas-related documents from our collections at Gloucestershire Archives.

To book this talk visit Gloucestershire Archives Event

Other useful information about the talks.....

Other useful information about the talks.....

This monthly series of leisurely lunchtime learning sessions are great for those who are new to learning about the past and for those passionate about history, keen to expand their knowledge on a given subject in a focused session.

Led by experts at Gloucestershire Archives they are easy to digest, laced with humour and full of headline facts and context information ready to unlock an the secrets of a time gone by.

Secrets Revealed are live Zoom seminars that bring together a community of people with a shared interest in history, heritage, culture and their importance in today’s world.

You should receive your Zoom link as an automated message when you book on to this event (remember to press the "Book now" button once you've entered your details). If you don't, please check your junk folder. If it's not in there, please contact and we will send you a link.


Gloucestershire Archives: Training event


How to use our online catalogue

Wednesday 8 December, 1 - 2pm.

Collections archivist Claire Collins will demonstrate Epexio, our new online catalogue. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • carry out both simple and advanced searches to find documents of interest
  • understand your search results  
  • order documents to view in our research room   

Claire will also show you Epexio’s other helpful features and flag up some exciting future developments. 

There’ll be time for trouble shooting too, so be sure to bring your questions. 

Booking opens soon via Gloucestershire Archives website

New virtual exhibitions added to the Gloucestershire Archives website

These virtual exhibitions have been put together from the online talks that have been given by Gloucestershire Archives staff over the last few months.

To visit each virtual exhibition click on the image.

An Online Exhibition On Childhood

We all deserve to “belong” somewhere. We all need to feel safe and secure in our identity. We all want to be part of a community. But what does this mean in relation to children throughout the years?

A glance back at Gloucestershire’s historic newspapers'

Travel back through time and read Gloucestershire’s Historic Newspapers. Find out about the introduction of the Gloucester Journal, what has stayed the same in the world of journalism, what’s changed and what used to happen when there was no news to report - you might be surprised.

What was life like inside Gloucester’s Asylums

At one point, Gloucester had 3 asylums; the First County Asylum (Horton Road), Barnwood House Asylum and the Second County Asylum (Coney Hill). All three opened in the nineteenth-century, and all three were closed during the last 50 years, well within living memory.

Historic Country House Estates of South Gloucestershire

South Gloucestershire has some notable, historic country house estates. But what was life like for those who lived and worked in these large country houses in the past? If you have ever wondered what life was like on a historic country house estate, now is your chance to explore our records of some of the most important country houses of South Gloucestershire!

Exploring the history of Kingsholm

Kingsholm is arguably the most famous area in Gloucester, thanks to the presence of the city's beloved rugby team, the Cherry & Whites. However it has had a long history that goes back over a millennia.

Frontiers and Pioneers in Gloucestershire Archives


Gloucestershire has been home to lots of pioneers who’ve pushed back frontiers in all aspects of life.  This presentation includes achievements in medicine, engineering, music, travel, social reform and charity work that in various ways originated in the county.  It features things ranging from diving bells to guns and adjustable spanners to jets! 

To visit more exhibitions visit

History, Her Story, Their Story, Our Story

Works inspired and mentored by photographer Vanley Burke

Exhibition at the Museum of Gloucester - Saturday 16 October to Friday 31 December 2021


Inspired by renowned photographer Vanley Burke, this exhibition shows work from well renowned Gloucester artists who have worked with the community, using the lead question "When was the first time you saw a person of a different ethnicity to you?" as their stimulus. School pupils were also encouraged to ask the oldest person they know the question…

The stories gathered were explored in workshops that took place between the pupils and the artists. With mentoring from Mr Burke, the artists have responded creatively to the stories that they were told from the pupils.

The exhibition also features Elle Bry Thomas with her ‘Barber Street’ exhibition. This photography series celebrates 14 of the barber shops of Barton Street in the centre of Gloucester

Explore the project in more detail


Gloucester History Festival

As live and in-person events drew to a close on September 19th, the festival continued online, with almost all Blackfrairs Talks available to watch on-demand for 30 days, until Monday 25 October. 

If you were not able to join the festival for the live and in-person events, this digital collections enable you to experience the Blackfriars Talks from the comfort of your own home, at a time to suit you. Or even if you did get to the talks in person a chance to re-visit the talks

Recorded live while the in-person event took place, you'll experience the wow factor of this stunning venue and will have an uninterrupted view. Tthe events have been professionally edited to give you the best possible digital experience.

Digital tickets are available to buy online now!

What's on in South Gloucestershire - Winterbourne Medieval Barn

Winterbourne Medieval Barn

Autumn 2021


Thur 7th - Open Afternoon Tea and Tour, 2pm.   Tickets £5. Please book online.

Sun 10th - Orchard Harvest Day, 11am - 4pm.  A great day out for all ages. Entry £5 adult, £1 child.

Sat 16th   - Pottery Shed Taster session, 1 - 4pm. Hand-build, glaze and sgraffito a bowl. £60. Booking essential.

Tue 26th - Family Crafts : Spooky Halloween Special, 10am or 1pm. Tickets £5 per family. Please book online.

Fri 29th   - Barn Sessions with Leonie Evans, Halloween Special, 7.30pm. Live blues, folk, jazz, plus some spooky extras. Tickets £10.


Thu 4th   - Open Afternoon Tea and Tour, 2pm.   Tickets £5. Please book onine.

Sat 6th   - West Gallery Festive Music Workshop, 10am - 4pm. Singers & instrumentalists can recreate the 18th c. village band. £15. Book.

Sat 13th - Family Crafts : Nature Crafts and Recycling Superstars, 10am or 1pm. Tickets £5 per family.

Sat 13th - Wine Tasting, 7pm. Wines from southern Italy. Tickets £20. Booking essential.

Sat 20th - Pottery Shed Taster session, 1 - 4pm. Hand-build, glaze and sgraffito a bowl. £60. Booking essential.


Thu 2nd - Open Afternoon Tea and Tour, 2pm.   Tickets £5. Please book online.

Sat 4th   - Fabric Wreaths Workshop, 10am - 12.30. Fun festive workshop to make a lasting Christmas decoration.

Sat 4th   - West Gallery Music performance 3pm. Tickets £5


For all events please book online


What's on in South Gloucestershire - South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group

The South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group (SGMRG) was set up by local people to understand, record and where appropriate preserve the remains, of what was once an extensive industry, for the present community and future generations. SGMRG is a voluntary organisation that relies on grants and donations from local people. Our membership is made up of archaeologists, surveyors, historians, engineers, cavers and those simply interested in finding more about what lies under their feet. We have regular meetings, walks and talks including the opportunity to get involved in exploration, archaeology and restoration work

If you would like to join us, please visit our Membership page for further information.

Our talks are going back to face to face (not Zoom) and the next two are:

Wed 6 October David Hardwick 60 years of change in the Bristol Coalfield 1961 – 2021

Wed 1 Dec by Garry Atterton “Bedminster Coal - Blood Sweat & Tears

For more information visit

What's on in South Gloucestershire - Yate Heritage Centre

WE'RE OPEN!! Yate Heritage Centre is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays 10.30am to 1.30pm and Saturdays 10.30am to 1.30pm.

Yate Lecture Series

Black History in Wiltshire

Tueday 12 Oct, 2021 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm. £2 (free for Friends of YHC). Booking essential (Funded by Friends of YHC)

Terry Bracher of Wiltshire History Centre focuses on the less known black history of Wiltshire and its influence on the history of the county as part of Black History month.

The Codringtons, Slavery and Tewkesbury

Tueday 19 Oct, 2021 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm. £2 (free for Friends of YHC). Booking essential (Funded by Friends of YHC)

The Codrington family of Doddington House had strong links with both slavery and politics and Tewkesbury. John Dixon of Tewkesbury Museum brings to life this chapter at the end of the slavery period.

General events

Family History Day

Saturday 23 Oct, 2021 2:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Yate Heritage Centre proudly presents the first in person Family history Day since 2019. Our team of experts will be on hand to help novices or more experienced family historians develop their family trees or just give advice to the next step.

Archaeology Finds Day

Saturday 6 Nov, 2021 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

The Gloucestershire Portable Antiquities Scheme pay a welcome return visit to Yate Heritage Centre. If you have an artefact you have found or an item from your house bring it along to be idenitified by out team of experts.

For more information visit

South Gloucestershire

South Gloucestershire Museums Group

South Gloucestershire Museums Group is an unincorporated association whose group members are museums and heritage centres that are open to the public and whose collecting area is wholly or partly within South Gloucestershire:

  • Acton Court
  • Aerospace Bristol (Bristol Aerospace Collection Trust)
  • Avon Valley Railway (Avon Valley Railway Trust)
  • Dyrham Park (National Trust)
  • Frenchay Village Museum (Frenchay Tuckett Society)
  • Kingswood Heritage Museum (Kingswood Heritage Museum Trust)
  • South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group (click here to see events)
  • Thornbury and District Museum (Thornbury and District Heritage Trust)
  • Rolls Royce Heritage Museum (Rolls Royce Heritage Trust)
  • Winterbourne Medieval Barn (Winterbourne Medieval Barn Trust) (click here to see events)
  • Yate and District Heritage Centre (Yate Town Council) (click here to see events)

The aims of the group is to promote inspiration, learning and enjoyment through the exploration of museum collections for the benefit of local communities and the general public.

The group meets about four times a year at different museums.

If you would like to read the Museum Development Officer's Report it is available online here

The link to subscribe

Gloucestershire Police Archives

Autumn update

It has been good to get back to a nearly normal and welcome visitors back to the office in the Heritage Hub as well as being able to go out and visit people. Talks are restarting, the talk at Winterbourne Medieval Barn entitled 180 Years of the Constabulary was retitled 181 ½ Years of the Constabulary.


As you can see everyone was well spaced out!

We have 2 talks happening in September and October linked to the Gloucestershire Family History Society and Gloucester Local History Society both talks based on helping to find your police ancestors.

We have also provided information for in house events based on identifying not only those who died on duty but those who died in service.


Samuel Beard was the first officer killed on duty in 1861. He was murdered while dealing with theft of sheep in the Forest.


Paul Pursehouse was the last officer killed on duty in 1967 in a Traffic Collision.

We are now at 128 queries for the year so far. Some are very simple and others lead to more and more questions. Often the people who send in the requests are too far away to visit so we have to do a lot of research for them. Our furthest query this quarter was from Canada. As always this information helps us gathering further information for our archives and website.

We still have volunteers working at home on various projects and are hoping that before too long we will be able to welcome them back into the Chester Master Room. We are also recruiting new volunteers so if you are interested drop in and see us (we are usually in the Heritage Hub Monday to Wednesday) or contact us via the Gloucestershire Police Archives Website.

Sue Webb, Gloucestershire Constabulary Archives

Communications and Engagement Department, Gloucestershire Constabulary

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