Special Edition 29 May 2020 Staffordshire Archives & Heritage Update

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage
Punch and Judy play

Script for Punch and Judy, 19th century

Welcome to this special edition of the Staffordshire Archives and Heritage newsletter.

This week we take a look back at the work of Douglas and Hazel Hayward who ran the Puppet Theatre, and late a Puppet Museum, in Abbots Bromley. We ask a member of the team about their role and we have a recipe for any keen bakers out there to try as well as a William Salt Library brainteaser. 

A reminder that we would like to hear from you. The William Salt Library and Staffordshire Archives & Heritage are working in partnership to create and deliver the new Staffordshire History Centre. Find out how you can take part below.  


The Hayward Family and Puppets

The Archives and Heritage Service holds a very important collection of puppets which were donated by Douglas Haywood. Douglas and his wife Hazel had a very close relationship with the County Museum at Shugborough. Douglas curated the wide-ranging collection which included marionettes, glove puppets, theatres and examples of puppet forms from across the world until shortly before his death in 2011. Hazel supported his work and in early May we received the sad news that she had passed away. 

Ian Deny, who has taken on the mantle of helping the museum team to look after the puppet collection, and supports us with his knowledge and expertise, has written an article looking back a the Haywards and their collection. 

A Fond Farewell to Hazel Hayward 

Sad news from the Hayward Family that Hazel Hayward passed away on 21st April aged 94. She had been living in Boroughbridge Manor Care Home in Yorkshire for the last 3 years to be close to daughter Nicky and family.

In 1974, Douglas and Hazel acquired a former shop premises on the High Street in Abbots Bromley and converted the front set of rooms to a 50-seat permanent Marionette Theatre which opened in 1975. Hazel drew on her contacts with WI groups and similar organisations to bring in a steady supply of mostly adult audiences for shows which were held one evening per week. The whole family were involved as puppeteers, with other helpers from the village assisting with stage management and lighting. The building also served as an excellent venue for Midlands Regional Guild Meetings and National Puppetry Weekends.

After 10 years of weekly marionette shows, Douglas’ hearing had worsened to the point that performances became impossible, but utilising the large collection of puppets Douglas had acquired over the years, the theatre was converted to a Puppet Museum and so began a further lengthy chapter in the building’s history. With their customary warmth and enthusiasm, Douglas and Hazel continued to welcome about 2000 visitors per year to their Aladdin’s cave of puppetry memorabilia with Douglas giving guided tours and Hazel in the Green Room providing refreshments and her famous home-made biscuits.

In 1993, the puppet collection began a gradual move to the County Museum, then based at Shugborough, where 200 items from the collection were on permanent display until 2016.  Douglas and Hazel performed their marionettes one final time in 2004, when parts of their show were filmed for the Staffordshire Film Archive by Ray Johnson. Some of these are available to view on the Staffordshire Pasttrack website. Excerpts from the films were also included in the 'Puppets on Parade' touring exhibition in 2017 and 2018.

Just after Douglas passed away at the end of 2011, Hazel came along to the Guild Event in Bridgnorth in 2012.  She was still living in Abbots Bromley at the time, but very soon afterwards moved out of the village to be closer to members of the family and could no longer travel to events.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to know Douglas and Hazel, will have the fondest memories of many happy times spent in their company and it is reassuring to know that their legacy will live on with the Staffordshire Puppet Collection.

Share Your Thoughts on Our Future

Take part in our survey: Share your thoughts and help to shape the new Staffordshire History Centre 

Staffordshire Archives & Heritage and the William Salt Library are working in partnership to create and deliver the new Staffordshire History Centre. The project will transform the way the public engage with our services, our collections and create an exciting new visitor experience.

We are interested in learning more about your personal experiences of Staffordshire Archives & Heritage (both in person and/or online), as well as some more information about how you spend your leisure time in general. Any information you can provide through this survey would help to inform the developments of Staffordshire History Centre and would be very much appreciated. Take part in the survey here

The Learning Room

The Learning Room

Visit the Learning Room blog where you can sign up to read a range of articles from our partners and find educational resources which can support your own research at home.

Melanie with volunteer Faith

Mel (left) with volunteer Faith in the Art Collection Store

The Team in Lockdown

The majority of the Archives and Heritage team are spending most of their time during lockdown working from home. Some are making regular visits to our buildings to ensure the continued safety and security of the collections and others continue to support the wider communities of Staffordshire through manning call centres and working at Food Hubs. 

During this period we thought it would be a good time to find out a little more about the individual members of staff across the Service, their roles and why they have a passion for the jobs they do. This week we start with Melanie Williamson, Collections Assistant with the Museum Team. 

What does your role involve?

I look after the collections, this ranges from accessioning and cataloguing new objects when they come into the collection, cleaning them, creating displays and exhibitions. I sometimes work with the public, groups and schools through talks, activities and projects. I manage volunteers working with collections and I also look after our Instagram account and work on our social media channels.

When did you start working with Staffordshire Archives & Heritage Service?

I started in 2013 and have worked mostly for the Museum Service but last year I worked in the Reading Room at Staffordshire Record Office too.

What made you choose this career?

I loved the idea of working with ‘real bits of history’ and it’s the stories behind objects that shapes peoples lives and society that interests me most.

What is your favourite object or document or photograph from the collection?

It's hard to choose just one! But we have a 1940’s gramophone that we take out to schools and is actually a handling object. Its really amazing seeing kid’s reactions to this thing making music with no wires. Like its magic!

Moving the Carriage Collection

Mel and the Team moving the Baroche as part of the photography project in 2017

What is your most memorable moment about working for the Service?  

It would probably be back in 2017, when our carriage collection was photographed in 360 degrees. It was an amazing experience. We had to work as a team to manually transport the carriages from the Coach House out to the turntable. We also let the public have a look and talked to them about what we were doing. You can see the results on the Staffordshire Carriages website

Away from work, do you have a hidden talent or special skill?

I do paper cutting in my free time, its quite therapeutic making pictures by cutting things away, it takes a long time and is a slow process. Sometimes I make cards, or friends ask me to produce something but usually I just do it for me.

Zooming In - A Look at the Collections

Volunteers, Friends and staff have been researching the collections. Here we look at some of the stories they are uncovering.

Vintage Bakeoff recipe

Vintage Bakeoff 

Baking has been a popular lock down activity for many people, and there have been a lot of delicious looking cakes on show on social media channels. We thought we’d show you some historic recipes for any keen bakers to try at home. To make things a little simpler we have included modern conversions and ingredients. Let’s start with a recipe from 1655 ‘the best sort of little cakes’. Let us know how they turn out - send us a message on our Facebook page!

The Young Man’s Best Companion (Staffordshire Record Office, D570)

Another visit to this intriguing little book of advice to young gentlemen. Once again please don’t try this at home!

Young Gentlemans Companion



William Salt Library Crossword Puzzle

William Salt Library Crossword


1) This volume is a rare survival and tells us about the town’s function (5,4)
3) A 1588 description of this place (1,6,6,4)
4) The loss of the Assizes in 1572 is thought to have prompted this building (5,4)
6) A famous battle (6,5)
8) This building was funded mainly by subscription c.1770 (3,9)
12) This group of people successfully petitioned Charles II and he relieve them on grounds of poverty 
14) A new canal was cut to this place
16) Since1206 the town has had rights for numerous markets and this savoury Fair

1) Stronghold
2) This place was also used as the Mechanics Institute (6,8)
5) Once known as Diglane (6,5)
7) A feature of this New Year Festival
9) A school near North Gate was built using stone from this building (5,2,10)
10) His chapel was built c.1000 AD (2,8)
11) This flickering place of entertainment is 100 years old next year (3,7,5) 
13) Cowstrete now known for herding of another kind (8,6) 
15) This early chronicler tells us the history of Stafford (6,9)
17) A relaxing place for Port Vale players 

Brainteaser Solutions


Steeple and Tower Challenge
The answers to Week 6 of the challenge are: Tutbury & Pattingham

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