The Archvist’s friend and other Wiltshire Inventors

on Thursday, 24 January 2013. Posted in Wiltshire People

I am often guided by those twin pillars of research: serendipity and curiosity. It was these two trusty old friends that led me Henry Charles “inky” Stephens (1841 – 1918). While tidying my desk as part of my New Year resolution I was left with just a few paper clips and two rulers on the work surface, which reminded me of a patent I had spotted in our indexes for “the parallel ruler” (yes, sadly someone had invented this before me).  The patent seems to enable …er…two parallel lines to be drawn, more seriously it was used by navigators to draw parallel lines on charts and originally invented by Fabrizio Mordente in 1584 and others sought to improve it. But there was more, with the documents were further patents for inkstands and an adjustable pencil, plus specifications for various ink manufacture and the chemistry behind them. Of course, what I had started to look at was part of an archive relating to the Cholderton estate, once owned by the family and an individual whose single small invention arguably helped change the course of writing.

Olympic Park reveals new finds

on Tuesday, 22 January 2013. Posted in Conservation

Excavations at the Olympic Park site by Museum of London Archaeology Service (MoLAS, now MoLA) and Pre-Construct Archaeology working as a joint venture (MoLAS-PCA), and RPS Planning and Development and AOC Archaeology Group produced a number of waterlogged finds of wood and leather, some of which underwent archaeological conservation at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre as part of the post-excavation programme undertaken by Wessex Archaeology.


Tiddly Pom... Some Wiltshire Animal Tales

on Friday, 11 January 2013. Posted in Wiltshire Tales

I’ve been delving in our archives, on the hunt for some notable animals in Wiltshire’s History, and I’ve got a couple vying for that top spot. First, and being a fan of the good old British moggy, I was pleased to have the Marlborough church cat brought to my attention. Yes, it is commemorated in stone, but it seems that it really did exist. Visitors to St Mary’s Church in Marlborough will be able to pick out the outline of a cat on the south porch. This corbel, dating to the fifteenth century, commemorates a church cat that saved her kittens from a fire. Perhaps the cat was originally employed to catch the church mice, but it goes into our top ten as our most heroic animal in Wiltshire’s history.

A Different Old King Cole

on Thursday, 20 December 2012. Posted in Seasons

As the charity Christmas card shops pop up in every town centre and sales of the bits and pieces to ‘make your own’ increase each year, perhaps I’d like to take a look back to the instigator of this industry which generates over £200 million each year.

A Different Old King Cole

Why should we care about old buildings?

on Tuesday, 18 December 2012. Posted in Architecture

An English Heritage quote states that

‘Historic buildings are a precious and finite asset and a powerful reminder to us of the work and way of life of earlier generations. The richness of the country’s architectural heritage plays an influential part in our sense of national identity’.

Why should we care about old buildings?

Celebrating Wiltshire Wildlife: 50 years of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

on Tuesday, 18 December 2012. Posted in Wiltshire Places

This year the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is celebrating its 50th anniversary. To highlight the trust’s valuable work in the county, I thought I’d take a look at the history behind one of Wiltshire’s many tranquil reserves, Blakehill Farm.

Blakehill straddles two parishes, that of Cricklade and Purton. The area of Blakehill Farm was called Blake Hill on a map of 1774; ironic as its later use required a flat area!

Celebrating Wiltshire Wildlife: 50 years of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust
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