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Community archives update, 19/11/2015

November 19, 2015

Last week’s Archive Ambassador training day went well. We were fully booked and those attending showed great enthusiasm for what they were learning during the day. By the end the Archive Ambassadors had been given the basics in the preservation of archive material, how best to approach cataloguing a collection, how to work with digital archives and how to make oral history recordings. Inevitably with such a wide range of subjects each was just a taster but hopefully will have offered the group a starting point from which they can build their knowledge. To aid this each Ambassador receives a detailed training manual to take away with them as a reference guide covering these areas and more.
If you are interested in becoming an Archive Ambassador the next training day is on Wednesday 24 February. Numbers are limited so if you are keen it would be worth ringing 01962 846154 to book your place sooner rather than later.

This week we had a visit from Hamble Valley U3A group who enjoyed an evening tour of the building including both public and behind the scenes areas. To give them some idea of the wide range of material we hold, an exhibition was put on display including maps, photographs and drawings from various periods of history showing the Hamble area. Of particular interest was an Eastleigh Railway Works staff register with one of the group finding a potential ancestor listed, a film clip from the 1950s by Mr Ronald E Sharp entitled ‘A look at Bursledon’ and the earliest document on show, an inspeximus of a charter of Henry III dated 12 Feb 1267 related to the manor of Botley. The group showed great enthusiasm, many were visiting an archive for the first time and vowed to return to use the searchroom in the future.

"Alice in Wonderland". Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Alice in Wonderland“. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll was first published in 1865. Next week we are delighted to have Angela Trend visiting us to perform a free lunchtime talk entitled Alice in Lyndhurst to mark the 150th anniversary. It is in the Hampshire Record Office cinema, Thursday 26 November, 1.15-1.45pm. Free, no need to book, just turn up and enjoy.

Community archives update, 5/11/2015

November 5, 2015

Last weekend I attended the Test Valley annual meeting of local and family history groups. This years event was hosted by North Baddesley History Society. A large number of groups and societies from the region were represented and each was given a few minutes to report their news for the year. It was wonderful to learn about the range of interesting projects and activities which had been engaged in since last years meeting and heartening to hear how many groups were thriving in regard to local support. I was able to bring them up to date with Hampshire Record Office’s news, reporting on the success of last years events as well as looking forward to what we have to come in 2016. After a break for refreshments and the chance to do some very useful networking (which for me resulted in a book sale, two potential bookings for a family history workshop and a new deposit of archive material) we returned to our seats for further discussions on issues such as web design and the challenges of finding willing successors to take on committee roles within societies. Jane Powell, the secretary of the North Baddesley History Group then rounded off the morning with a talk entitled ‘North Baddesley: the village that moved’.
Recently we have been considering the idea of a countywide Community Archives group forum to be held here at Hampshire Record Office in Winchester potentially in the Spring 2016. To test the water I have contacted all those who have attended our Archives Ambassador programme as well as discussing it with individuals at the Test Valley meeting and response has been very positive. The content of such an event is still up for grabs but the basic idea would be to have a series of short talks from representatives of community groups describing their experiences of a particular project or activity. There will also be chance for discussion, networking and information sharing. If an event of this kind is of interest to you please get in touch via my e-mail ( I’m going to leave it a few weeks to see what the overall reaction is and then will contact those who have expressed interest to discuss things further.

A group of prospective Archive Ambassadors receive training on archive conservation

A group of prospective Archive Ambassadors receive training on archive conservation

Coming up next week is the latest Archive Ambassador training day here at Hampshire Record Office. The training includes sessions on cataloguing archive collections, the conservation and preservation of archives, digital archives and oral history recording. Although next weeks event is fully booked a repeat has been scheduled for 24 February 2016 and still has places remaining although if you’re interested it would be worth booking your spot sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment. For more information go to
Mark Pitchforth, archivist
Hampshire Record Office

Community archives update, 26/10/2015

October 26, 2015

I recently visited Hayling Island Sailing Club (HISC) and met with Belinda Cook and Leonie Austin who look after the Club’s archive and other historical material. We first came into contact with them during the Living Links Community Archives project several years ago and have maintained strong links. Both Belinda and Leonie attended one of our Archive Ambassador training days, learning the basic skills of archival care and they were quick to tell me how much they valued the support and encouragement given to them. It was wonderful to see the progress which had been made establishing the collection, listing the material and raising the profile of what they were doing with members. It was also great to hear their enthusiastic plans for the future particularly in the lead up to HISC’s centenary year.
Mark Pitchforth, archivist
Hampshire Record Office

Mark Pitchforth with Belinda Cook and Leonie Austin at Hayling Island Sailing Club, Oct 2015

Mark Pitchforth with Belinda Cook and Leonie Austin at Hayling Island Sailing Club, Oct 2015

‘A Mouthful of Earth – From St Mary Mede to Azincourt’

October 19, 2015

To commemorate the Battle of Agincourt which took place 600 years ago in 1415 Now Heritage is touring a new 55 minute play, ‘A Mouthful of Earth – From St Mary Mede to Azincourt’ by Deborah Gearing which tells the story of the journey from Hampshire fields to the battlefield of Agincourt through the eyes of those caught up in the action. Three professional actors will be supported by talented young dancers from Fuzzy Vision.
Tour venues:
Friday 23 October at 7pm
St Peter’s Church, Bishop’s Waltham
Tickets £8
Saturday 24 October at 1:45pm and 3:45pm
Fort Nelson
Free to museum visitors
Tuesday 27 October at 7pm
Lockswood Day Centre, Locksheath
Tickets £6
For further information visit, or telephone 023 80262629
Now Heritage

Community archives update, 7/10/2015

October 7, 2015

Last week I hosted a very successful visit to Hampshire Record Office by Andover HGS. The group was so keen they all arrived early which was great as there is so much to pack in to these events, the more time the better. Beginning with a tour of the reception and searchroom I was able to go through the practicalities of how to come in and use our services, the wide range of material we have to offer and useful facilities available. About half the group were coming to us for the first time so I think this element was particularly useful to them.
As ever the real highlight of the evening was the archives themselves and to give a small taster of the wonderful original material freely available to researchers I had put together a small exhibition using Andover as the theme. The earliest document by far was the 1205 charter of King John to the men of Andover but I also showed them a selection of maps of the area, parish magazines, photographs and a school log book. There was great excitement as people spotted their houses on the maps or found family names in the registers. Next I took the group behind the scenes to areas usually off limits to the public to explain where the archives are stored securely and how material is produced for researchers. We then enjoyed a trip to the conservation department where I showed them a number of examples of the remarkable work done by our conservators to rescue and repair archives which have suffered damage perhaps due to poor storage during their working life. To finish off we headed for the Record Office cinema to look in detail at our website and online catalogue to demonstrate just how easy it is to search our collections and an enjoyable evening was completed with a delve into the collections of Wessex Film and Sound Archive and a film entitled ‘Round and about Andover’ showing the town in the 1960s. The group left enthused and promising to return soon to discover more. The leader of the trip described the visit as ‘extremely interesting and informative’.
Details of how you can book your group in for an evening visit to the Record Office can be found at It is popular so be warned there is usually a waiting list but hopefully this has shown that the wait is worthwhile.
Mark Pitchforth, Archivist
Hampshire Record Office

Community archives update, 28/09/2015

September 28, 2015

What an action packed week we have just had for community archives. It started off with one of our Family History for Beginners evenings on Tuesday and a small group of budding genealogists were set off on the right track with an overview of the Record Office and the best sources for getting started with their research. My meeting with a member of Swanmore Village Archive on Wednesday was very interesting. I was able to see the good progress the group had made and hear about their plans for the future. They also very kindly loaned us an exhibition about Swanmore during the First World War which will be on display at Hampshire Record Office from January-March 2016. The Last Thursday Lecture including a talk and film show on papermaker and Huguenot Henry Portal attracted an almost full house including members of the Portal family. The event was part of the Huguenot Summer 2015 which has proved to be greatly successful with over 135 events across the country. Two different school groups from Otterbourne and Hedge End joined us for visits to the archive towards the end of the week. Both enjoyed talks on the Record Office and were given the chance to experience original archive material.

'Hampshire Commemorates' exhibition at Buriton, 26 Sep 2016

‘Hampshire Commemorates’ exhibition at Buriton, 26 Sep 2016

On Friday evening I attended an event at Hambledon Community Centre celebrating the history of the village. The history society there has been reinvigorated recently and what seemed like the entire population of Hambledon turned up to find out more. I took along an exhibition on local history, our usual mix of leaflets and a few copies of local archives to whet their appetites and hopefully encourage them to visit us in the future to discover more. A busy and productive week ended with two events in East Hampshire. We supported Buriton’s annual heritage day by loaning them the Hampshire Commemorates exhibition as a backdrop to their work on the First World War and I attended the Family and Local History Fair at Petersfield Library, performing a talk on family history and displaying one of our exhibitions.

Mark Pitchforth, archivist
Hampshire Record Office

Community archives update, 10/09/2015

September 10, 2015

This week I visited Fair Oak to perform a talk on researching house history to the local Hampshire Genealogical Society. The group were very welcoming and enthusiastic. I was able to take along copies of a few local sources such as ordnance survey maps, sale particulars and photographs to give a flavour of what we can offer and hopefully inspire one or two to make the journey to Winchester to look into the history of their own home or perhaps other local buildings.
Unfortunately the family history workshop scheduled for this Saturday at The New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst which I mentioned in previous blogs has had to be cancelled but don’t forget we regularly run Family history for beginners sessions at Hampshire Record Office where you can find out all you need to know to research your family tree. Details can be found at

Looking ahead there is a very busy week coming up at the end of September with a wide range of community archive related activities going on. First I will be visiting Swanmore Village Archive to discuss their exhibition material. Then Buriton Village Association are coming in to the Record Office to borrow our Hampshire Commemorates First World War exhibition for a local history event. Thursday 24 September is Last Thursday Lecture day and I will be performing a short talk and showing a film from the Wessex Film and Sound Archive relating to Henry Portal and Portals papermaking business as part of the Huguenot Summer 2015. We are hosting a visit from Wildern School pupils who will be given an introduction to the archive service and some of the sources for local history and I will be attending an evening event at Hambledon led by the local history society who are celebrating their 50th anniversary. Then finally on Saturday 26 September I will be representing the Record Office at Petersfield Library Family and Local History Fair, performing a talk and displaying our Hampshire Heroes exhibition along with the usual mix of leaflets.
Mark Pitchforth, archivist
Hampshire Record Office

Hampshire Heroes exhibition previously on display at the HGS Open Day, Oct 2014

Hampshire Heroes exhibition previously on display at the HGS Open Day, Oct 2014


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