Staffordshire Archives & Heritage Update 11 February 2021

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage
The Earl of Bradford at Castle Bromwich Hall, 1920s

The Earl of Bradford with war veterans at Castle Bromwich Hall, 1920s

Welcome to this edition of the Archives and Heritage Service Newsletter. Despite the cold weather the team have been busy.

We are exploring our collections in this edition with an article about the research on the Earl of Bradford's war diary, asking you to help us with themes for our new online exhibition and discovering some of the more dangerous aspects of being a museum curator! 


Planning Our Online Exhibition

Dolls house from the 19th century showing interior

19th century dolls house from the Museum Collection

A few months ago we asked you which themes you would like to see in our online Spring exhibition. There was some tough competition with the theme of ‘Home and Family Life’ narrowly beating ‘Your Grandparent’s Grandparents.’ We decided to have a focus on the home with intergenerational activities. We’d now like to ask which themes within the home you would prefer to see?

Take your pick from the three themes below and let us know your thoughts by emailing by the end of February.

Family Treasures: Things hidden away in the attic, family photo albums or treasured photos, heirlooms, things lost and found.

Making Home Your Own: Interior design, things around your home that reflect personality, your childhood bedroom, changes from when you moved in, DIY over lockdown.

Family Life: Who do you call family, roles in the home, people who were around you growing up, family stories and adventures, family rituals.

Volunteer Projects

Earl of Bradford's War Diary May 1917

War Diary, 1917 (Bradford Papers)

The Earl of Bradford’s War Diary, 1917

Staffordshire Record Office volunteer Joy talks about her research into the Earls of Bradford

I have been a volunteer guide at Weston Park, the ancestral home of the Earls of Bradford and volunteer researcher for the Bradford archive for 6 years and until recently I have made weekly visits to Stafford Record Office to look at documents relating to the house and its occupants.

Weston Park has been in the ownership of the Wilbraham, Newport and Bridgeman families and the Bradford Archive spans from the 17th century, including the civil war period, up to the mid 20th century.

Early in 2020 I embarked on the diaries of the 5th Earl – 30 in all. He was a conscientious diary writer and between 1914 and the mid 1940s he catalogued his life as head of a wealthy, aristocratic family in the early 20th century.

A country gent and London socialite his world was irrevocably changed by the start of war in 1914, the death of his father in 1915 and then in 1917 by his being sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force.

He continued to write a daily entry in his diary despite the difficulties of life at the front line and he reveals a fascinating account of an officer’s experience of the trenches – horror, mud, endless marching but still managing to indulge in English gentlemanly pursuits such as tea with the Padre and a trip into Amiens for shopping and a hair cut.

A full version of Joy's article will be available on The Learning Room blog. You can sign up here  

The Earl of Bradford, c.1917

The Earl of Bradford, c.1917 (Bradford Papers)

From the Collections

Feather fan with small bird decoration

Hazards in the Collections 

It might be a slightly strange thought but museum collection stores can be dangerous places. Over the last few weeks colleagues from the Museum Team have been involved in some training sessions looking at specific areas of collections care. Hazards in collections was one of them. 

The Staffordshire Museum Collections are made up of mainly social history items covering subjects such as agriculture, fine art, photographs, domestic life, working life and historic dress. Lurking on the shelves amongst the familiar and unfamiliar items are objects that require us to take particular care. Along with sharp edged tools, items which are obviously heavy, slightly off balance or have awkward bits sticking out at odd angles there are potentially deadly hidden dangers.  

In the costume and textile collection the potential presence of arsenic is something that we have to be aware of and take appropriate precautions. Arsenic was often used in the taxidermy process and in producing a particular shade of green dye. The fan in the picture has a small bird attached and green feather decoration - a potential hazard. We have labelled the box, updated our catalogue records and ensure that anyone handling the item wears gloves. And arsenic is just the beginning . . .  

Box label for item containing arsenic

The Learning Room Header image - desks in a library setting

The Learning Room

Join us in The Learning Room to discover a range of articles based on research and collections across the Archives and Heritage Service. You can sign up here  

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