December News from the Archive

Would you like to view the web page version of this email? Click here

the keep banner image

December 2020

Welcome back! This month, news about reopening our doors, plus archives to mark Disability History Month, recipes inspired by WW2 and some beautiful winter pictures

The Keep will reopen on Thursday 3 December

Photograph of The Keep's reception area, with covid security measures

Following the latest Government guidance, The Keep will reopen to the public on Thursday 3 December at 10am. To ensure social distancing, we will continue to limit the number of people per day in our Reading Room to a maximum of 10, by appointment only, and original archives must be ordered two working days in advance. Documents will be quarantined for 72 hours between uses, and we will continue to operate with reduced opening hours. Our Reference Room remains closed.


There is more information on our website about accessing our services, as well as a short video outlining the measures we've put in place to make our building Covid-secure. Do take a look if you are planning to visit, and if you have any queries, email us at We look forward to returning to the building and to welcoming some of you back!

Archive of the Month: Chailey Heritage Craft School and Hospital

Photograph of boys at Chailey Heritage School and Hospital playing football with wounded servicemen rehabilitating at the hospital during WW1

Founded in 1903 by Grace Kimmins, Chailey Heritage Craft School and Hospital pioneered a new approach to the care and education of children with disabilities. It encouraged exercise and fresh air and emphasised the teaching of practical skills such as woodwork and shoemaking, to enable those with disabilities to lead independent lives. The same principles were applied to the wounded servicemen who convalesced at Chailey during WW1; photos in the archive show them playing football with the children. To mark Disability History Month, which runs from 18 November until 20 December, we will be highlighting material from this collection on our social media channels, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


Mary Hare was a near contemporary of Grace Kimmins, and the two women appear to have much in common. A suffrage campaigner and founder of a female volunteer police force, Hare dedicated her life to the education of deaf children. Born in London, she moved her school to Brighton in 1895 and remained in the area until 1916, when she and the school relocated to Burgess Hill. You can read more about her life and work on our blog.


Pictured above: boys at Chailey Heritage enjoy a game of football with wounded servicemen rehabilitating at the hospital during WW1

The funeral accounts of Brighton undertakers Attree and Kent

Extract from Attree and Kent funeral account book

If you’ve ever walked through a 19th-century municipal cemetery, you’ll have seen the ornate monuments to the dead favoured by the Victorians. But what would it have been like to be a fly on the wall during a funeral ceremony itself? Look no further than the 66 funeral books kept by the Brighton undertakers Attree and Kent, covering the period 1856-1991. During lockdowns this year, staff at The Keep have been using these books to input names, ages and dates of death into the Keep’s online catalogue, helping people with family and local history research.


But the books contain much more than these rudimentary details. Each page provides a completed account and pricing of the whole funeral, from the collection of the body to the preparation of the grave. With a little imagination, a reader can picture anything from the plainest and saddest burial of a baby or a ‘no-frills’ internment (typically under £10) to the most expensive event.The example pictured above dates from February 1885 (ACC 8372/47/45). It involved four coffins and the siting of a new mausoleum, and cost over £219. This equates today to about £14,500 or, perhaps more meaningfully, to nearly two years' wages for a skilled labourer (Currency converter: 1270–2017 [])

A Taste of History with Mass Observation

Photograph of Dr Stella Sims and her Woolton Pie, recreated from a wartime recipe

If you're looking forward to spending time in the kitchen in the run-up to Christmas, why not visit the Mass Observation Archive's YouTube channel to watch 'A Taste of History'. In this series, Dr Stella Sims travels back in time through cookery, bringing to life historical recipes from the Mass Observation Archive, and exploring the experiences of ordinary people during the Second World War. The recipes are inspired by or taken from food diaries collected by Mass Observation researchers in Britain during 1941. Recipes recreated include Woolton Pie, Baked Marrow and Lentil Roast. 


Pictured above: Dr Stella Sims serving up some Woolton Pie, recreated from a wartime recipe

New photo gallery! In the deep midwinter...

Photograph of skaters at Falmer pond,  Christmas Eve 1935

To mark the beginning of Advent, we have collated a small but beautiful collection of seasonal photographs from our archives that you can view on our blog. These pictures were taken between 1929 and c1960 by Brighton Herald or Argus photographers. They capture the beauty of the local landscape, as well as people at play in the snow - sledging, skating and even skiing. We hope you enjoy them.



Pictured above: a group of friends skating on Falmer Pond, Christmas Eve 1935 (ARG 3/1175)


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at The Keep