Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Gloucestershire Archives

Building update

Since April, our building site has been re-activated, with our new contractors, Beard Construction.

As a result there has been plenty of activity on site. The tarmacking is complete at the back of the building with the front scheduled in the week beginning 22 July. We know that visitors and volunteers will be particularly pleased when this is done.

Other parts of the building have come a long way since last year.  The new strongrooms are now nearly complete and three miles of new shelving has been installed.


The new entrance is nearing completion with the windows and doors now fitted. It's possible to get a real sense of the lovely light and airy space this will be. One of the new murals, the Donor Tree, designed by Imogen Harvey-Lewis, will be painted on the wall to the right as you enter the main building.  Imogen will be on site to complete the final artworks for the Arts Council England funded artist project which also includes artwork on the boundary wall at the front of the building.


Other spaces also nearly finished include the Dunrossil Centre, Gloucestershire Family History Society’s office, the Registration Service's new office and the Chester-Masterson room where volunteers from the Police Archive will be based.

Although we have been enjoying many of the new facilities for well over a year now it is still an exciting prospect to know it will soon be completely finished. We are so looking forward to August when visitors and staff can fully enjoy the beautiful new building.

We are grateful to Gloucestershire County Council, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and our other funders for making this possible.

The building is only part of our 'For the Record' project. We will continue to deliver the associated Activity Plan until December 2020. Further details of opportunities to get involved are included in this newsletter and on the website.

Playing around with place names

Sometimes we like to have a bit of fun with local place names, in between helping people with their research and all the other things we do. Once we made up the cast list for a melodrama (including Maisey Hampton, our heroine, Stanley Pontlarge her hard-up clergyman uncle, Acton Turville, a cad and a bounder, and Temple Guiting and Clifford Chambers, a pair of unscrupulous lawyers…) – although we never actually managed to write the melodrama itself.

Another time, we found ourselves explaining the pronunciation of various place names through the medium of limericks. It was back in the days before blogs and suchlike, and we never got round to sharing the results, but I’ve used several of them as reminders to myself on how to pronounce the places concerned, and I thought it would be nice to share them now – and to challenge all of you to write some of your own!

There was on old lady from Siston                         
Renowned for her champion bison
To determine its sex
Made her very perplexed
Said she, “this I must take some advice on”     

There once was a young man called Berkeley
Whose name made him terribly narked, he
Said don’t call me berk
Else I’ll call you a jerk
And a jackass, he added, quite darkly

 Berkeley town centre

A gentleman living in Over
Fell madly in love with his hoover
But I’m sad to relate
Passion soon turned to hate
Now they’re living apart in Vancouver

Over Farm Market

There was a young fellow named Carr,
Who lived in the village of Awre,
He was shocked to the core
When he heard it called ‘Ore’,
And he fell to the floor of the bar.

 St Andrew's Parish Church, Awre.

A young rambler walking the lanes
said ‘I always get lost when it rains.
As the sky is so grey,
Please tell me the way
from here to Somerford Keynes.’

Credit for these works of poetic genius goes to Kate Maisey, Averil Kear and James Turtle.

Fancy having a go? Do you know of a Gloucestershire place name that’s always being mispronounced? Now’s your chance to put it right!

Community Garden update

Thank you to everyone who supported our crowdfunding campaign to raise money for 'ShrubHub', our fledgling community garden. Online and offline donations raised about £1,000. We’ve also been awarded just under £1,000 by the One Stop Shop’s “Carriers for Causes” scheme and have got several other funding bids in the pipeline, so fingers crossed.

We’ve had lots of offers of practical help. Young Gloucestershire’s Princes Trust team spent a damp two weeks with us in May. They did a great job renovating our garden furniture and preparing the ground for a wild flower meadow.


Gloucester City Homes have chosen us for their Community Impact Day in September when they will make two raised beds for community use. Planting up the more formal area of the garden outside the Dunrossil Training Suite will start in July, supported by a volunteer team from Shire Hall. We need it to look good for a garden party which will be held on 8 September, during the Gloucester History festival. We hope that our colony of bees can be moved into the garden in September too.  

There’s still lots of time to get involved with all things 'ShrubHub', so do get in touch if you’d like to help or support.

Kate Maisey & Ally McConnell

MISSING Phelps Portraits!

Can you help?

We would be very grateful for any information about the whereabouts of Phelps and Clifford family portraits (and any other personal items) which were sold prior to the sale of Chestal House in Dursley in 1967.


Portrait of W. J. Phelps

The family portraits include -

- Half length portrait of  Captain Arthur Clifford 1908 by H.K.Raine 1908, in uniform of Gloucestershire Regiment (red coat and white stock), face turned to left 24 ½”  x 99”

- Portrait of Esther Gully, wife of John Delafield Phelps, standing in garden face turned to right wearing low neck blue dress with white bodice, left hand raised to breast, flowers in right hand ¾ length 40” x 50”

- John Delafield Phelps – ¾ face turned to right, wearing pale blue tunic and grey surtout coat, hat in right hand, left hand resting on hip

- Similar portrait of lady, ¾ length face to left hand, left hand holding dress, right hand held to breast, wearing low pale blue dress, short sleeves trimmed with white, landscape background. 40” x 50”.

- ¾ length standing portrait of gentleman, ¾ face to right, with wig, wearing surtout coat, frill shirt front and cuffs, architectural background

- Portrait of Miss Edith Clifford, ½ length, nearly full face wearing dark brown robe with hood and crucifix by H Heworth Raine, 22 ½ “ x 29 ½ “, signed R.

- Half length portrait of gentleman, ¾ face to right, wearing large soft hat, in right hand holding pottery mug Reynold school 19 ½ “ x 24 “

- John Phelps, ¾ length portrait standing near table face to right wearing wig, right hand resting on book left hand to breast, dark brown coat

- Marianne, wife of John Phelps, ¾ face turned to left, right hand resting on a table left hand holding a black wrap, wearing low cut crimson gown trimmed white lace and sleeves, small blue bow

Miniatures include  -

- Half length portrait of lady in silver frame

- Portrait of gentleman. ½ length, wearing black coat and white stock in original case

- Bust portrait of same gentleman

- Bust of lady in gold locket frame

- ½ length portrait of gentleman in blue coat and white cravat in case

- ½ length portrait of lady and another of an elderly gentleman, both in pierced and engraved gilt photograph frames

 - 4 well executed portraits of children, on a photo basis, framed in cabinet cases.

A copy of this list of the missing portraits and miniatures is obtainable on request from Gloucestershire Archives or from Andy Barton at

Monthly Memories Café at Gloucestershire Archives

Sunday 7th July will be our fourth Memories Café here at the archives: the café is one of the new ways in which we are trying to reach out to people in our local community.

We had the idea when Kate O’Keefe (who runs our EVOKE reminiscence project) was in the midst of her Dementia Lead training last Autumn. Kate did some research and discovered that many people feel isolated and at a low ebb on a Sunday afternoon.

We’ve invited all our neighbours,  especially people in care homes and supported living communities in the area - and attendance is gradually building. The café offers free refreshments, a broadly ‘historical’ theme (with quizzes and activities) and musical entertainment which is provided by one of our regular archives customers. The staff and volunteers who run the café are Dementia Friends; committed to providing a safe, friendly and welcoming space for our customers. Our aim is simple: that people should have a happy and relaxed time with us and leave feeling cheerful and positive.

If you know someone who might benefit, or if you have time to spare on a Sunday afternoon once a month and would be interesting in volunteering at the café, please get in touch with Kate:


Do you have a turdus in your garden?

You learn an immense amount when working on a building site. But we didn’t expect to be finding out about the breeding habits of blackbirds (turdus merulae).  A hole high up inside the room forming the temporary entrance to the Heritage Hub proved an ideal nesting spot despite the constant flow of people immediately below.  As soon as we saw the first signs of nesting activity, we contacted the council’s ecologist as the building contractors were due to convert the room into the new family history office the following week.  

The blackbird appeared to know each time the ecologist was due to visit. After several days of not visiting the chosen nest-site, she resumed activities in earnest 2 hours before the ecologist’s first visit.  This meant rescheduling building activities and booking in another visit from the ecologist.  The first brood fledged earlier than expected and the blackbird promptly laid her second clutch of eggs on the Sunday before the ecologist visited early Monday morning. Determined not to get caught out again, we installed a wildlife camera and arranged twice-daily progress checks (including over the relevant weekend) well before the next brood were due to fledge.  The second brood of four chicks fledged early on the Monday morning, and we managed to block up the entrance swiftly before the female blackbird laid her third brood of eggs.

Work on the family history office is now proceeding well and is due to be completed on schedule at the end of July.   Meanwhile, many blackbirds are enjoying the cherries in the community garden and we hope ‘our’ turdus merula has found a more appropriate place for any further nesting activities. 

Did you know that there is a 100+ year old blackbird’s nest from Dudbridge in the Museum in the Park in Stroud?

Taylorfitch. Bringing Newsletters to life