March edition of the Staffordshire Archives & Heritage Update

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage
Easter Egg, 1930s
Easter Egg from Rugeley, 1930s


Welcome to the March edition of the  Staffordshire Archives and Heritage Service e-newsletter. As Spring (finally) arrives there is a lot to include in this months news. Bookings are open for the Staffordshire History day on Saturday 28 April. On Wednesday 4 April please join us for our special Carriage Collection Open Day at Shugborough - more details below. 


The County Museum Collection Barouche Carriage, 1840s
Barouche Carriage belonging to the Dyott Family, 1840s

Join us as the Coach House Opens it Doors! 

On Wednesday 4 April we celebrate the launch of the new Staffordshire Carriage Collection  website. The Coach House at Shugborough will be open between 10am and 4pm. This website is now live and explores the amazing carriages in the museum collection which belonged to the 20th Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot and to the Dyott family of Freeford. Through fantastic 360 degree photography you can explore this unique collection of 19th and 20th century carriages, carts and sleighs. There is a wealth of information about the history of the collection and the individual carriages as well as film and historical images. Find out more at

The project is part of the 'Moving On' programme, funded by Arts Council England, and helps to support the work of the Museum Service during a period of transition.

There will be free craft activities for families, and museum staff will be on hand to show visitors around the fantastic carriage collection. Please note that normal National Trust site admission charges apply.

Staffordshire History Day 28 April 2018

Join us on Saturday 28 April at Entrust HQ, Riverway, Stafford for Staffordshire History Day. Now in its sixth year this event provides an overview of recent work into Staffordshire’s* history and offers networking opportunities for local historical societies, students and others interested in the county’s history.

This year our research themes include; 'Matters of Conscience' (John Babb and Gerry Barton), 'Staffordshire and the Glorious Revolution' (Curt Taylor, Keele University), 'Military Activities on Cannock Chase' (Pat Corfield, University of Birmingham), 'John Darrell and a case of Witchcraft in Burton-upon-Trent' (Janet Ford, Keele University), 'Archives and the Novelist (Amy Beeson) and 'The Hodson Shop Collection of Clothing, Walsall Museum' (Dr Malcolm Dick, University of Birmingham and Dr Jenny Gilbert, De Montfort University, Leicester).

Our keynote speakers are Dr Richard Jones (University of Leicester, Centre for English Local History) 'Living with a Trespasser: the Trent at Alrewas' and Professor Karen Hunt (Professor Emerita Keele University) 'Staffordshire’s Home Front in 1918: Endings and Beginnings.'

There will also be a chance to catch up on the latest from the Victoria County History with Dr Andrew Sargent.

Tickets for the event are £25. For booking details email Staffordshire Record Office.

*This includes Stoke on Trent and those parts in the south of the county that are now unitary authorities.

Trading Standards metric test poises for egg grading machines
A recent addition to the Museum Collection is a box of Metric Test Poises for an Egg Grading Machine

Egg-Citing New Accession (just in time for Easter!) 

The County Museum has received an interesting new donation from the County Council’s Trading Standards Department. Among the selection of measuring and calibrating equipment that was donated this metric egg grading tester caught our eye. The colourful plastic eggs are all different weights and it was used to grade eggs. We’ve had a lot of fun using it as a mystery object at talks and events as it is a bit out of the ordinary.

Moving the Lichfield Record Office collection
The removals team and the collection in situ at its new location

Moving Stories

The move of collections from Lichfield Record Office to Stafford has been completed. A big thank you to the fantastic removal guys, also to all the staff at Lichfield who have helped during the detailed preparation work, and who will continue to work with our volunteers at Lichfield and on the catalogues in the coming months. There is still some work to be carried out but the collections will be available again on schedule from May. Many items will require advance notice for production but plenty of material is now at the Eastgate Street site including certain Diocese material, the Dean and Chapter collection, local authority minutes, poor law union collections, and other items of particular historic importance. Access information will be made clear on the online catalogue. Although it is sad to see the Lichfield strong rooms now empty, we are glad that the collections are safely stored in their new locations.

Servants Wages from Weston Park
Wage book from Weston Park D1287-20-1(R-67)

Chippendale, Laudanum and the Bradford Papers - A Volunteers View

To the uninitiated the only cool thing about  archives is the temperature the documents are stored at. But for one volunteer finding out about lives lived hundreds of years ago, the problems and joys they experienced, is pretty cool too! 

Joy volunteers at Weston Park and visited the Staffordshire Record Office on an annual volunteers trip where she found out more about the Bradford Collection of papers relating to the Bridgeman family. 

"The Bradford Collection is a large archive of documents comprising letters, wills, diaries, accounts, maps and legal documents which were meticulously stored by successive generations of Wilbrahams, Newports and Bridgemans who have owned the estate since around 1630 when it was inherited by a 6 year old heiress called Elizabeth Mytton. I was immediately hooked and, barring snow drifts and other obstacles, I have been making weekly trips to Stafford ever since.

I am guided by Gareth Williams (Curator and Head of Learning at Weston Park) and Rebecca Jackson as to which areas of the archive to look at. Some of the information I have looked at includes; servants at Weston (names, wages, job titles); inventories and bills for art purchased by the family on the Grand Tour and the diaries of Lady Elizabeth Bridgeman, the wife of Sir Henry in the late 18th century. 

I have spent quite a long time looking for any mention of Chippendale to establish whether a set of 12 chairs in the Hall can be verified as his. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful but discovered other interesting information about items of furniture by looking at inventories, wills and account books. I am now delving further back into previous owners of Weston, the Wilbraham and Newport families, although 17th century handwriting is proving more of a challenge with its own system of shorthand and abbreviation! The information I uncover makes its way into the catalogue so that other researchers can locate documents relating to their research.

Whilst discovering information relating to items in the house I find the human stories equally enthralling. Lady Bridgeman and her daughters frequented fashionable Bath in the 1780s, taking tea with the Duchess of Devonshire, drinking the waters and, in the absence of paracetamol, using laudanum as cure all for tooth ache and stomach spasms.

In the Wilbraham letters I have found references to historical events of national importance such as William III’s unsuccessful siege of Limerick in 1690 where 5,000 Royalist troops were defeated by the Jacobites.

It is a privilege to be able to look at original documents from the past and I am very grateful to all the team at SRO for their help and guidance in allowing me to indulge my enjoyment of history."

Artists impression of the entrance to the Staffordshire History Centre
Artist's impression of entrance passageway from Eastgate Street

Staffordshire History Centre – Support Continues to Grow

The Heritage Lottery Funded Staffordshire History Centre Project continues to receive tremendous support from groups, societies and organisations across the county. The new £4m centre will be located on Eastgate Street in Stafford and will hold historical records and collections up to 1,000 years old. The building will be located on the site of the existing Staffordshire Records Office, and will incorporate the ground floor of the Grade II* listed William Salt Library. Along with a new community exhibition space, modern reading and search rooms and additional strong rooms, the centre will play host to a packed programme of activities!

The project has received nearly fifty pledges of support to date. A range of organisations including local history societies, educational bodies, libraries and museums have all demonstrated their backing for the project. The Staffordshire History Centre wants to work closely with many different partners in a two-way mutually supportive network, building on a shared interest of the history of Staffordshire. If you feel you are part of a group who would benefit from being part of this network contact to find out more. You can also read more on the Staffordshire History Centre web page.

Our aim is to keep you updated with the latest developments and events. If you do not wish to receive this newsletter please use the 'unsubscribe' button at the bottom of this page. 

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