Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Gloucestershire Archives

For the Record – Did it Really Transform the Archives Service?

30th June 2021 marked the end of our lottery funded For the Record project. It’s been a long journey since submitting the expression of interest to the National Lottery Heritage Fund in September 2013 with a number of excitements along the way.


Examples include running a public research room (and wider archives service) from a building site for many months, the sudden disappearance and subsequent liquidation of our principal contractors, and most recently over the last 16 months, the impact of the pandemic. So was it all worth it?

As project manager I recognise I’m biased, but I’m delighted with the outcomes (and really enjoyed the journey too). As one of my colleagues reflected, we’ve ‘transformed our facilities, ways of working, relationship with stakeholders and offer to users.’ The N’gambai African proverb has been a guiding force along the way: ‘If you want to travel fast, travel alone; if you want to travel far, travel together’. I’m therefore particularly grateful to Friends, colleagues, volunteers, researchers, partners, community groups, heritage charities, a wide range of funders and all other stakeholders for your invaluable contribution, and your patience!

Improved facilities include new strongrooms so we can continue collecting archives and take a more proactive approach again, space for groups, the new Dunrossil Centre for community events and training, and a tranquil community garden including the beautiful Friends border at the entrance.


Together we’ve delivered many exciting projects – catalogued Dowty, the largest uncatalogued collection in the office; worked with the constabulary to open up and extend police archive collections; delivered reminiscence sessions to over 800 older people in care and other settings; developed films for teaching children; and greatly enhanced family history support by sharing our site with the family history society, to name just a few.


We’ve learnt a lot along the way particularly in relation to fundraising, community engagement and e-preservation. Pleasingly we’ve been able to offer permanent jobs to the experts we employed to help us deliver For the Record.

Through partnership working we’ve made the archives service more sustainable and can look forward to a positive future at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub. I therefore feel we can claim to have transformed, or at least further improved, our service.

Thank you to the Friends who were major supporters and fundraisers for this project - without you it would not have happened. We look forward to celebrating the conclusion of the project once coronavirus restrictions lift and to thank properly all those who contributed.

We’ve already drawn up our vision for the next 10 years which will focus on making our collections more accessible through tackling cataloguing and conservation backlogs. We've recently launched our new online catalogue and I very much hope you’ll welcome this first step in the next phase of our development.

Heather Forbes, County Archivist.

New online catalogue

We’re excited to announce that our new online catalogue is now live at

You can explore the unique collections which document the history and heritage of Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire and book your next visit through the new system.


So that our customers and staff continue to feel safe at the Heritage Hub we’ll still be implementing advance ordering, social distancing and mask wearing. We have though made some tweaks to our public service. We are no longer offering timed appointment slots, and our front door will be open so that you can walk straight in. The kitchen will also be available again.

If you are planning to visit Gloucestershire Archives please read the Preparing to Visit information on our website

Community Garden update


Over the last few months we’ve been able to put some long-planned, finishing touches to the community garden.

We now have 2 “lectern” style display stands which give visitors information about the mosaic panels and oak sculpture. As with the other garden interpretation panels, the lecterns include QR codes which link through to more detailed information on the Hub web.


Seven cast-iron drainpipe hoppers, salvaged from outbuildings demolished during the For the Record project, have been mounted along the wall of the main building, and filled with trailing plants. And thanks to some external funding, we will now be able to commission a large sign to go over the gate at the entrance to the garden. This same pot is also funding the purchase of some bee-keeping equipment and an apple juicer/crusher which we plan to use for community juicing days.

The bees and the new wildlife pond are both doing well. We have already spotted a newt in the pond and the bees have been spilt into three colonies, each with their own queen.  



Photos by Phil King

Maligned, Marginalised and Misunderstood

Today we are almost deafened by voices, thanks to the internet and of course, social media! But it hasn’t always been like this. Before the mid 19th century, most people didn’t own property, had no vote, and didn’t go to school. This means their lives could leave little or no trace within the written records and so their voices remain silent.

The records of the court of Quarter Sessions are an exception to this.  Quarter Sessions were meetings of local magistrates, knows as Justices of the Peace, who met four times a year, hence the name.  The court dealt with a great variety of complaints and crimes, from stealing a hat to dangerous rioting.  In 2019 we launched a volunteer project called Maligned, Marginalised and Misunderstood to look in detail at a particular series of these court records, the “information and examinations” between 1728 and 1770. We wanted to bring out the voices of ordinary people, especially those at the margins of society.

The five blogs featuring the records of the court of Quarter Sessions allow us to hear the “unheard voices”.

To read the blog series visit

Local History

Mental Health Provision in Gloucestershire – Two Centuries of Institutional Care

The long history of mental health provision in Gloucester starts in 1794, just 5 years after the French Revolution, when a subscription fund was set up to pay for the cost of building what would later become known as Horton Road Hospital in Gloucester (the first County Asylum in Gloucestershire, as it was first known). The subscribers of the day included the vaccinations pioneer, Dr Edward Jenner, from Berkeley in Gloucestershire, Robert Raikes – the founder of Sunday Schools – from Gloucester, and Sir George Onesiphorus Paul, a well-known social reformer and local philanthropist. There is a very fine marble bust of Sir George in Gloucester cathedral.

The Horton Road Asylum did not open until 1823 and several architects were appointed between 1794 and1823. The first architectural drawings, done by William Stark of Glasgow, were inspired by John Nash, responsible for many of the Georgian and Regency crescents and terraces in Bath. The building was designed on the same architectural principles as several gaols of the time. There were inner and outer “Airing Courts”, and these were open-air quads, very much like prison exercise yards, for inmates to “take the air”. In the early days of opening, members of the public were encouraged to come and “view” the lunatics from special observation terraces, and this is something that, today, strikes us as barbaric.

Patients taking the air. Engraved by K H Merz, after W Kaulbach, 1834. Welcome Collection (CC-BY)

By the mid 1830’s Horton Road Asylum had the highest rate of recorded cures in the field of mental ill health in all of England. It was the eighth asylum to be built in England, following the success of the Retreat in York, which was largely funded by local Quaker families.

Gloucester has a special significance, in the UK, in the history of mental health. The inaugural meeting of what is now the Royal College of Psychiatrists was held at Horton Road Hospital in Gloucester in 1841. One of the founding members of the Royal College of Psychiatrists was Dr Samuel Hitch, Resident Physician at Horton Road Hospital, and a leading pioneer in the treatment of mental health. He played a major role in creating the Association of Medical Officers of Asylums & Hospitals for the Insane, the forerunner of the now named Royal College of Psychiatrists. For further information please see “Gloucester and the beginnings of the RMPA” in the Journal of Mental Science 449, pp. 603-632, 1961, by A. Walk & DL Walker. 


In the same year, 1841, mechanical restraints were withdrawn from the daily routine at Horton Road Asylum. At that time only a handful of asylums had taken this step and it was seen as an enlightened and humane reform. In the 1990’s the main building (a Regency terrace), which was listed, was remodelled as luxury apartments, but I am reliably informed that the subterranean “cells” – along with iron shackles still bolted to the wall – are still intact, under the main access road to the terrace, and were clearly visible during the building works to create the apartments.

By 1883 Gloucester had 3 asylums: the original one, in Horton Road; Barnwood House in Barnwood, and the newly opened Coney Hill Asylum. Horton Road and Coney Hill were both managed by the local authority forerunners of the NHS, with Medical Superintendents being in charge, and Barnwood House was private. With the passing of the Mental Treatment Act 1930, which introduced voluntary patient admissions to asylums, the number of patients grew exponentially. Ivor Gurney, the World War 1 internationally acclaimed poet, was a private patient at Barnwood House. This asylum trialled the introduction of ECT from December 1939, one of the first psychiatric hospitals in Britain to do so, and its medical Directors were interested in experimental psychiatry and treatments that were, at the time, thought of as innovative and forward thinking, including leucotomy. Barnwood House Hospital also introduced psychotherapy for its patients, and was ahead of national trends in doing so.

In 1930 a new Physician Superintendent, Dr Frederick Logan, was appointed to the Coney Hill County Asylum in Gloucester, also known as the Second County Asylum, and he was amongst the first to introduce outpatient care, a dedicated service for adolescents, a form of occupational therapy and “parole” for male patients. He retired in 1955, and saw the changes in the treatment of mental ill health from the introduction of the 1930 Mental Treatment Act (replacing the outdated Lunacy Act 1890) right through to the very early ideas promoting community care, and including the foundation of the NHS in 1948.

Gloucestershire Archives has what is widely regarded as a very comprehensive collection of both clinical and administrative records from 1823 until the last of the County Asylums in Gloucester (Coney Hill Hospital) closed in 1994. An almost complete collection of records outlining treatments, case notes, patient histories, epidemiology, admissions and discharges for well over 170 years.

By far the most interesting document held by Gloucestershire Archives, relating to the County Asylums, and Barnwood House, are the patient case notes. These provide wonderful, contemporaneous insights to daily life in the asylums from the time of King George IV (in the 1820’s) right through to Queen Elizabeth II. But, because of data protection laws, you are only allowed to access patient case notes if they are at least 100 years old. There are some exceptions to this, but that is very much the general rule. So for us, today, the vast majority of records we can view relate to the Victorian and Edwardian period.

 Barnwood D3725 - Box 31

The patient case notes of this time very often fail to give any sort of medical diagnosis we would recognise today; psychiatry at this time was in its infancy, and there were few or no pharmaceutical treatments for mental illness. Arguably, many conditions were caused by pre-existing physical diseases, poverty, war (there is lots of evidence of cases of “shell shock” from the period 1914-18) and social conditions. Some patients were admitted to the asylum for social, rather than medical, reasons, and could languish in the back wards for decades. A case in point is that of unmarried mothers who were regarded as “fallen women” and admitted to asylums with their illegitimate children as being “morally corrupt” and even a danger to society. Similar cases involved homosexual men, at a time when homosexuality was regarded as aberrant, even morally suspect, and there are several documented cases of these individuals ending up in lunatic asylums. But, of course, a lot of this history is “hidden” because terms like “homosexuality” were rarely, if ever, used.

The same is true in terms of “hidden” or obscure diseases that may have led to “insanity”. A common diagnosis, on admission, was “GPI”, and this is a term you will not find in today’s medical textbooks. GPI was “General Paralysis of the Insane” and referred to the final stages – leading to “madness” and eventual death – of syphilis. Other conditions were often simply referred to as “mania” and there are lots of examples of what we would now call post-natal depression, and even of post-traumatic stress disorder, that were simply, collectively, called “mania”. Today, we know more about mental ill health, most care is provided in the community, there are reliable talking therapies and drugs, there are antibiotics (to treat infections) and we have trained professionals to help and support those living with mental health issues.

If you want to find out more about what lunatic asylums were like, and their day to day routines, a good starting place would be “At Home In The Institution: Material Life in Asylums, Lodging Houses & Schools in Victorian & Edwardian England” by historian and academic Jane Hamlett (pub 2015). We have a copy of this at Gloucestershire Archives. A further, very interesting, source for local family history researchers who want to know more is Ian Hollingsbee’s Gloucester’s Asylums 1794-2002.

Sally Middleton - (Community Heritage Development Manager, Gloucestershire Archives)


‘Gloucester: Recreating the Past’

If you stand today in the middle of Gloucester you’re standing above two thousand years of accumulated history. Beneath your feet is a Roman fortress, a proud colonial city, a Saxon royal centre, a prosperous medieval market town, a Roundhead bastion and an expanding Victorian industrial hub. Over the last 50 years, local artist and historian Philip Moss has been recreating those Gloucesters of the past in a series of beautiful and well researched reconstruction drawings and paintings.

In Gloucester: Recreating the Past, the complete body of Philip’s work has been collected together for the first time, and is presented alongside original photographs and drawings from archaeological excavations to tell the story of Gloucester from its Roman beginnings to the present day.

Gloucester: Recreating the Past is being launched at this year’s history festival in September but is available at a pre-publication price from The History Press

All proceeds go to Gloucester History Festival.

Family History

Update and news

GFHS offered its first Zoom talk to its members in April, when local author Rose Hewlett gave a presentation on Village Records in Family History. This proved to be very popular, and since then, we’ve held three further events. Amelia Bennett gave a very interesting talk on DNA. Anthea Johnson and John Chandler gave a talk about some of the prints of views around Gloucestershire which were produced in the early eighteenth century and which have just been published in a delightful hardback book, ‘Johannes Kip – the Gloucestershire Engravings’. The book is available for sale in the GFHS shop via the website,

Most recently Steve Gill gave a talk about dating and getting the most from old family photos.

It’s been excellent to be able to connect with members across the country and indeed the globe, who would otherwise not be able to join in with these interesting and informative events. More talks are planned with a programme that currently runs through to November.

In August we look forward to hearing from popular local speaker Tony Conder, who will be telling us about the secret world of Gloucester docks and in September Sue Webb, Gloucestershire Constabulary Archives, will ask ‘Who do you think your police ancestors were?’

For further information about these talks and others visit

We appreciate that Zoom and online talks aren’t for everyone though, so when things start to get back to normal, we hope to organise ‘hybrid’ events, so those who prefer to attend in person, can once again do so.

Alongside the programme of talks, our Family History Centre is very much ‘open for business’. So, whether you’re just starting to investigate your family history, or have hit a brick wall with your research, our enthusiastic volunteers are happy to help. Please book a visit through our website.

Nostalgia – A Personal View of a Family’s Past

I spent part of my childhood growing up in an isolated country cottage (in fact, a tied cottage that came with my father’s job as an agricultural labourer). It was a good quarter-mile from the B-road connecting Pershore and two local Worcestershire villages, down a dusty lane which was a muddy quagmire in the winter months. The cottage was surrounded by 60 acres of farm crops, woodland, ponds, livestock and hedgerows. We had a damson orchard, and a chicken run. There were lots of wild flowers, trees, wildlife, birds and, in the winters, it always seemed to snow.

We had no central heating (in fact, no gas at all), and the nearest village shop was a good mile and a half away. I would walk 2 miles, every day, to school, and back again in the evening.

Before we moved to the cottage, we had lived in a post-war red-brick council house, in a market town not far from Worcester. We moved back to the market town, in 1971, after spending a large part of the 1960’s in the isolated cottage – which had a walk-in pantry, a huge inglenook log fire that was big enough for you to stand up in, and (curiously) two staircases. There was no mains water; the water was pumped from a well in the yard outside, and I recall we had to have the water quality tested, each year, for health and safety reasons. The original windows had messages and initials scratched into the glass from the 1940’s by, I assume, evacuees.

Although we were well off the beaten track (the nearest neighbour was over a mile away), we often had older men (never women) calling at the cottage, asking for a drink of water or some food, in exchange for sharpening knives or chopping wood for the fire. These were what we then called tramps, and what we would now call rough sleepers.

Life in the countryside of my Worcestershire childhood is not something I am terribly nostalgic about. It was in many ways an idyllic setting, but it was not an idyllic existence. I do remember going to lots of village halls, for their jumble sales, and to lots of market town auctions, for furniture. Auctions have a long history, with the first recorded auction, in England, being held in 1595, although they are probably much older. The rural Worcestershire of my childhood has largely, if not entirely, disappeared – and this is well within living memory. Life was pretty much governed by the seasons, and the customs of the seasons; I recall, after the yearly wheat harvest, how the fields of stubble would be set on fire, to prepare the land for the next sowing. And I recall black & white timbered country pubs (that boasted overnight stays by Queen Elizabeth I) that still made their own cider, and cooked their own hams, and that served what could truly be called a ploughman’s lunch!

One of the things I recall vividly from my childhood is that we had a very large button tin. This was an old biscuit tin (probably worth a fortune now!) which contained hundreds of buttons, just in case they “came in handy”. I think anyone of my generation (and earlier) can probably recall their family’s button tin. Many of the buttons were mother of pearl, some were jet, others were more modern, some were one-off’s, others were sets. Some were very ornate, most were not. I used to pretend, as a very young child (with a particularly active imagination) that they were my personal “jewels”. I have no idea what happened to it.

Other prized possessions, by my childhood self, were the things we dug up, from the land around the cottage – fossils, shards of willow pattern pottery, clay pipes and, on one occasion, a medieval coin with an image of the king (I could never make out which one) sitting on his throne, in flowing robes.

I’m quite interested in family history, and especially interested in the ways in which worldwide, or major, events affect, or impact on, the lives of ordinary people. Take the example of my mother. She was born exactly 100 years ago, in July 1921. Her first job was in Kidderminster, as a carpet weaver on a wooden loom, and she can be found on the 1939 Register, with her occupation clearly listed as “carpet weaver”. When WW2 broke out, she was drafted into the Women’s Land Army, and sent to work on a farm. Her family were all from Dudley, in what is now the West Midlands’ conurbation, but which has previously been part of Staffordshire, and part of Worcestershire, thanks to boundary changes within living memory. Her parents, my grandparents (whom I never met) were both born in the mid-1880’s, and were non-Conformists. Grandfather Nail (a nickname) was a foundry worker, at Hingley’s foundry in Netherton, Dudley. His father, George, my great-grandfather, worked on narrowboats delivering wood, coal, and other goods across the Black Country canal network. I can only trace the family back to the 1790’s, through Ancestry, although I suspect if I had the time to do further research I’d be able to find them before this date, as the family surname was very distinctive, and some of their given names (like with great uncle Methusaleh) were extremely uncommon!

My grandfather made the anchor for RMS Titanic, along with other foundry workers in Netherton. Of course, we know what happened to the Titanic – it sank with massive loss of life, in April 1912. By that time, all of my grandfather’s siblings, bar two, had left Dudley and travelled to Canada, as economic migrants. My great aunt called for my mother to join her, in Toronto, in 1936, when my mother was 16 years old; her aunt had booked a passage on a transatlantic liner, and found her a position as a domestic in a big house. But my mother needed my grandfather’s permission; he recalled the sinking of the Titanic, just over two decades before, and forbade her to travel across the Atlantic. By the time she was 21, and able to make her own decisions, without her father’s consent, the world was at war, and she was in the Women’s Land Army. So, my family history was interrupted by these events, and my mother never emigrated to Canada, which is where I would have been born a couple of decades later. It is fascinating stuff, and I think everyone who researches their family history will find similar tales. The issue of economic migrants is a thread running through my more recent family history; two cousins, for example, migrated to Australia, in the mid-1960’s, as part of the “£10 Pommie” scheme of economic migration, encouraged by the then Australian government, looking for post-war labour and settlement. I also have family members who were shipped to the colonies (as they were then) as, for example, Barnardo’s Boys.

I’m not interested in family archives because of nostalgia – I am interested in family history because of what it tells us about how the wider world impacted on our antecedents’ lives, occupations, experiences, relationships and life chances. In my relatively short lifetime, to date, there have been so many changes; the world is a far more connected place, with the internet, mobile phones, satellite technology and online services from shopping to ordering books to buying sports equipment, or booking a holiday. I think nostalgia is a little over-rated, as is sentimentality; for me, it’s the question of what, exactly, we can learn from the past, both good and bad. For anyone interested in family history, start with what you know, and talk to as many family members as you can, gather family photos and make a list of when they were taken, where and what date. It’s worth also asking what the places were like where your family members lived, and any incidental things like the names of the shops they used, the names of any family dogs, how they spent their leisure time, what their occupations were, when they first acquired a TV set or a telephone or a motor car – the list is endless! Nostalgia, no; learning from our forebears, yes indeed.

Friends of Gloucestershire Archives

The Chairman writes...

Like many organisations the Friends have had to curtail most of their activities during the pandemic. The trustees have continued to exercise their responsibilities by communicating with each other via the internet, and have ensured that finances are still properly scrutinised and returns sent to the Charity Commission on time.

However, the usual programme of talks and outings, so enjoyed by local members, has had to be put on ice.

The government is now relaxing restrictions, but I am very conscious that many of our members are elderly, and some vulnerable, so activities may have to remain limited for a while yet.

In the meantime, I should like to thank all our members for their continuing support. Annual subscriptions are the lifeblood of our charity, and without them we could not support Gloucestershire Archives in the way we do.  New members are always welcome.  Membership forms are available at:

One thing that has flourished in recent months, oblivious to the pandemic, is the shrub border the Friends planted at the entrance to the Heritage Hub. It continues to mature, making a very attractive and welcoming sight for visitors.  I should like to thank Jonathan, one of the Archive volunteers, for regularly checking the plants, watering them, and removing any encroaching weeds.  My thanks also to Phil King for his recent photo of the shrubs.

    Photos by Phil King

Clive Andrews 

The Friends of Gloucestershire Archives wins £1,000 Movement for Good award

The Friends have won a £1,000 Movement for Good award from Ecclesiastical Insurance Group thanks to nominations from the public.

We are one of 500 winners in specialist insurer Ecclesiastical’s Movement for Good awards, which is giving £1 million to charities this summer.

Our grant will be used, together with a grant from the National Archives, to enable a young person under 30 to work with members of the Gloucester community, especially with minority groups. The young person will aim to help them understand the value of the archives they produce and encourage them to work with Gloucestershire Archives to preserve them for future generations.  The young person will also record their oral histories, which will be deposited at the Archives for posterity.

We hope the project will provide developmental opportunities for the young person, provide new insights and understanding of archives within local communities, as well as enhancing the County’s archive collection with written and oral material from hitherto under-represented minority groups.

An enormous thank-you to all our members and other supporters for voting for us and enabling us to receive the award.


Gloucestershire Archives: Secrets Revealed

You Rang M’Lord? Historic Houses & Country Estates of South Gloucestershire

Wednesday 28 July. 1 - 2pm. Free of charge

This presentation will look at the records of some of the great country houses of South Gloucestershire. These powerhouses were often key players in national politics and while the personal records of the families and their relations tend to receive most of the attention, we’ll be looking at the more mundane elements – the unseen archives that show what lay behind the grand mansions and what allowed them to function at an everyday level, how their country estates were managed and how they could dominate local life.

These estates often left behind a wealth of archives including building plans, images, numerous sets of accounts and various other records – so we will hopefully find a bit of everything from the Lord’s lunch down to the laundry maid’s clothes pegs.

To book this talk visit Gloucestershire Archives Events


Centurions, Kings & Captains: Exploring the History of Kingsholm

Wednesday 25 August, 1 - 2pm. Free of charge

This history includes a diverse range of subjects, from Roman fortresses, Anglo-Saxon palaces, agriculture, highwaymen, industrial manufacturing and much more. This presentation will take a broad look at this fascinating past to discover what a rich history it has with ancient burials, tanneries, turnpikes, vinegar works, hot air balloons, car showrooms and much more!

To book this talk visit Gloucestershire Archives Events


Frontiers & Pioneers in Gloucestershire’s Archives

Wednesday 22 September, 1 - 2pm. Free of charge

Archives are a box of delights and there’s always something new to discover.  Here in Gloucestershire we’ve had lots of pioneers who’ve pushed back frontiers in all aspects of life, including Budding, Bradley, Jenner, Paul, Pitman, Tyndale, Raikes, Pedersen and for some reason a lot of people with ‘W’ surnames, such as Whittington, Wilson, Whittle and Wheatstone.  This presentation is a rather eclectic mix that will look advances in medicine, engineering, music, travel, social reform and aviation that in various ways originated in the county and feature things ranging from diving bells to balloons and adjustable spanners to toilets!

To book this talk visit Gloucestershire Archives Events

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: Passport to the Past

Bugs, Bees and Books: A day at Gloucestershire Archives

Wednesday 4 August, 4 - 5pm. Free of charge

You might already know about our 11 million documents going back 900 years. Maybe you’ve heard about our 10 miles of shelves. But you might not know about the buzziest members of the archives team, or some of the tiny unwelcome visitors we have to deal with.

Find out why this little chap is an archivists worst enemy....


...the surprising history of Raikes the Archive Rat

...and why you don’t have to be superhuman to move a ton of books with one finger.

To book this free online session visit Gloucestershire Archives


The Worst Journey in the World

Wednesday 8 September, 4 - 5pm. Free of charge

Can you imagine seeing this advertisement in the newspaper and thinking "Yes! I'll do it!"

Edward Wilson, a young doctor from Cheltenham, joined the expedition to the Antarctic in the year 1910 - and never came back. At that time, nothing was known about this frozen land. Like the moon in 1969, no-one had ever set foot there. It took as much courage to climb aboard the Terra Nova expedition ship as it did into Apollo 11, 60 years later. Wilson didn’t survive the voyage - but many of his beautiful drawings and paintings did.

Wilson learned to draw as a young child, and practised on the birds, plants and animals he saw in the Gloucestershire countryside. We’ve borrowed some taxidermy specimens (stuffed animals) to have a go at drawing animals from life and we’re going to focus on some of the skills and qualities a modern-day explorer might need.

"The great ice barrier - looking east from Cape Crozier". Watercolour by Edward A Wilson, 4 January 1911

Where would you like to explore?

What would you take with you?

How would you record your discoveries for future generations?

For this session you’ll need some pencils and paper.

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.

f 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: Training Event

Explore Your Neighbourhood with Know Your Place

Wednesday 11 August, 1 - 2pm. Free of charge

In August’s training session we will learn how to use Know Your Place West of England.

This free online research tool lets you explore your neighbourhood online through old maps, archive images and other linked information.  You can add your own images and research too, creating a community layer for your neighbourhood.

To book this training session visit Gloucestershire Archives


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.

Past talks now on You Tube

Missed a talk first time around? Loved it so much you want to watch it again?

Here's an opportunity to watch them all at your leisure.

Secrets Revealed

The Census: Secrets Revealed: The Census - YouTube

Victorian Schools: Secrets Revealed: Victorian School Records - YouTube

Passport To The Past

Making Sense of the Census: Passport to the Past: Making Sense of the Census - YouTube

Victorian Schools: Passport to the Past: Victorian School Experience - YouTube

Newspapers: Passport to the Past: Read All About It! - YouTube

Training event: Lost Schools of Gloucester - YouTube

Keep an eye on the website as more talks are being added.


Mr James and Mrs Bullas coming soon to a screen near you!

Museum of Gloucester

CommUNITY exhibition at the museum...

See and hear the people of Gloucester

Co-Curated by Rider Shafique [Exhibition in Community Gallery]

“Community to me means to have a common unity, a common goal and objective. I want to create or rekindle this unity that I personally feel Gloucester at times lacks especially in the sense of feeling represented or reflected in some of Gloucester's long-standing attractions or institutions. I am interested in working alongside the Museum of Gloucester in starting to reflect a wider, more diverse and a more accurate face of Gloucester."

“Who is the Museum for? It’s for the community isn’t it? So why shouldn’t they be represented in a place that is for them?” Rider Shafique

For more information visit

“A Life in Lockdown”: Memories of Covid-19 in Gloucestershire…

The Museum of Gloucester invited everyone in the county to capture their memories of #Gloucestershire during the period of #lockdown, for an exhibition titled ‘A Life in Lockdown’

Online for the foreseeable future a-life-in-lockdown-exhibition/


Museum of Me

Fact or fiction? Pioneer or Prevaricator? How do museums tell stories with objects? How do we know that these stories are true? Could objects and artefacts be interpreted differently or used to tell a different story? Are these spaces inherently biased? Who decides what stories are told in the Museum of Gloucester? Workshops and spaces for you to share your stories will be held during the History Festival. Using current displays for provocation, your objects can be exhibited or photographed for the Museum of Me. For dates and more info visit:

Sat 4 - 19 September.

For more information about the exhibition, events and Museum opening hours visit

Gloucester History Festival September 2021

A theme for a year of significant anniversaries

2021 sees a multitude of significant anniversaries both close to home and further afield. These anniversaries mark frontiers and pioneers of all kinds, inspiring a festival full of stories of crossing boundaries, new discoveries, changes and advancements of the past.


For full programme details including City Voices events and booking information visit

To discover more about the pioneers featured on the history festival artwork visit


Dorothea Beale - suffragist, teacher, educational reformer and author

Gloucester History Festival: The 2021 Winstone Talk

Anne Boleyn and The History of England's Queens

Leading historian and broadcaster Tracy Borman explores the intriguing life of Anne Boleyn and the history of English Queens from the Tudors to the Windsors.

The British monarchy has weathered the storms of rebellion, revolution and war that brought many of Europe’s royal families to an abrupt and bloody end, yet often spearheading seismic change it is an extraordinary survivor. Join her as she explores the history of the British monarchy through the lives of some of its most powerful women. Tracy Borman is a bestselling historian and TV broadcaster specialising in the Tudor period and is joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. Her new book Crown & Sceptre exploring the British monarchy from 1066 to the present day is published this autumn.

Following in the footsteps of Janina Ramirez, Roy Strong and Kate Adie, we’re thrilled that Tracy Borman is giving this year’s Winstone Talk in Cirencester – speaking just ten feet away from Cirencester Parish Church’s greatest treasure, the Anne Boleyn Cup, made for Henry VIII’s queen in 1535 and which can still be viewed at the Church today

Saturday 2 October, 6.30 - 7.30pm

Parish Church of St. John Baptist, Cirencester, GL7 2NX

To book your ticket visit 

The Winstone Talk is supported by The K D Winstone Charitable Trust

South Gloucestershire

This is Your Heritage - South Gloucestershire Stories of the Indian Community

South Gloucestershire Council has, in partnership, obtained funding from Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants for a pilot project to enable people in the Indian Community to share their stories of migration to South Gloucestershire. The project partners are the South Gloucestershire Race Equality Network, Avon Indian Community Association, South Gloucestershire Museums Group, Yate Heritage Centre (Yate Town Council), South Gloucestershire Libraries and Gloucestershire Archives.

The project will be a starting point for museums to collect diverse contemporary oral histories, images and objects, draw on the experiences of multi-faith Indian community groups and engage with new and diverse audiences. It will serve the core purpose of museums to engage inclusively with a diverse audience and build relationships.

This project will engage local accredited museums with the South Gloucestershire Indian community through co-production of filmed oral histories, films stories, contemporary collecting, an exhibition, learning resources and a celebration event. The aim is to tell unexplored stories of Indian heritage, migration, settlement and lived experience of now, which will enable museums to promote cultural understanding amongst communities.

If you wish to have further information about this project, please contact:

Jane Marley, Museums and Heritage Officer South Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire Council,

Tel.: 01454 865783  Mob: 07808 364704

Shiv Sama, Race Equality Network, Chair, Avon Indian Community Association 

Mob: 07515445206


Winterbourne Medieval Barn

  Ryan Chubb

Winterbourne Medieval Barn has fully re-opened after a very long closure due to building work and then covid. The Trust has a range of community events planned for the summer, with skills workshops, live performances, talks, nature walks, tours, and activities for young children.

Full details can be found on the Winterbourne Barn website 

For the moment everything has to be prebooked online, and will be managed in accordance with covid guidelines. 

We look forward to welcoming many new visitors in the coming months, as well as our old friends who have not yet seen the transformation of the site following the building work of 2019-20.  For most activities there is free parking on site, but for the biggest events we are pleased to be partnering with Winterbourne Academy to provide parking spaces at the school on Winterbourne High Street. 

Louise Harrison for Winterbourne Medieval Barn Trust (WMBT)

Gloucestershire Police Archives

What a difference a few weeks makes.

After all the contact with people being via email and phone it has been good to get back to seeing people in person and sharing their stories even though we have to do it in a wild and wet office with the window and door open . The wind always blows the heavy rain straight into the Chester Master Room so things have to be kept away from the window.

The weather during the last lockdown has not been great, as I am sure I don’t have to tell you, so there has been no working outside which is such a shame but things can only get better. Despite this or perhaps because of this the volunteers have been very prolific and diligent in their research and lots of information has been added to the archives. Just as well really as we have had over 70 queries ranging from:

Do you know who lived here while it was a police station?

(We had very little information so if you do know anyone who lived in the station at Sharpness please get in touch).

To can you help me to research crime in a certain area over the last 180 years?

Talks are being re booked and fingers crossed that this time they will take place. People are also visiting the office to look at documents that they have only been able to see in photographs.

I have also had time to go out to various police stations and collect ‘stuff’ including the books from the room next to the court at Stow police station. I think that next time I buy a new vehicle it ought to be a van!

I also have plans to go and visit several people who are unable to get to the Heritage Hub and we have also had requests from people to become Police Archive volunteers so life is getting very busy, and bit more like normal but still keeping safe.

Sue Webb - Gloucestershire Constabulary Archives

Communications and Engagement Department, Gloucestershire Constabulary

Visit to find out more

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