Articles tagged with: Ashmolean Museum

John Aubrey – Wiltshire's 17th Century Pioneer

on Tuesday, 11 October 2016. Posted in Wiltshire People

I’ve just finished reading the fascinating book ‘My Own Life’ by Ruth Scurr about the life of the 17th century Wiltshire antiquarian John Aubrey. It has left me with such a great impression of both his life and the times he lived in, that I thought I’d share them with you.

Aubrey was born on St. Gregory’s Day, 12th March 1626, the eldest son of Richard, a gentleman, and Deborah. His cousin and patron was Sir John Aubrey, 2nd Baronet, who had homes in Buckinghamshire and the Vale of Glamorgan.

His love of Wiltshire was derived from growing up at Broad Chalke and Easton Piercy, and through his years spent at school at Leigh Delamare, but also from association with some of the county’s major landowners such as the Pembrokes of Wilton House, spending time at their estates. His father’s death caused financial difficulties. Over time Aubrey had to sell off his property, spending the majority of his time moving between friends, patrons and lodging houses.

Manor Farm at Broad Chalke. The site is associated with John Aubrey and the dovecote to the left may well have existed in his lifetime. Image courtesy of the Wiltshire Buildings Record.

Aubrey had many, many friends, some of whom appear to have taken advantage of his good nature and his genuine wish to help further their work. Aubrey loved science and learning, becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1662, only two years after it had been founded, but he also loved nature and the world around him, especially the Wiltshire landscape, and folklore. He had a belief and interest in astrology, and had correspondence with Edmund Halley.

John was particularly interested in springs, and noted many in Wiltshire, testing their composition and presenting them to the Royal Society. He also had a surprising ability for the age; the ability to talk to anyone and show interest in their views, from Kings to lowly peasants.  

Aubrey lived in turbulent times and worried about the lack of care given to historic material, seeing stonework looted, ruins uncared for, old manuscripts used in kitchens and to cover school books. His sense of caring for the past for the future was evident in his relationships with men such as Mr Ashmole who was instrumental in the founding of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. He also paid for the etching of the Osney Abbey ruins by Hollar; concerned to document them before they were lost forever.

Paper Conservation Volunteering at the History Centre

on Tuesday, 03 September 2013. Posted in Conservation

Saya Honda Miles has been volunteering with the Archives conservation team to help with large conservation projects. She has been working with Senior Conservation officers Paul Smith and Sarah Money conserve Inland Revenue maps from 1901, 19th Century tissue plans of Great Wishford Church and manuscripts for Sir Richard Colt-Hoare’s volumes: The Ancient History of Wiltshire and The History of Modern Wiltshire from the Wiltshire Museum.


Saya graduated with a First-class honours degree in Conservation from Camberwell College of Arts in 2008.  After graduation, she worked on a cellulose nitrate negative deep-freezing project at the Ashmolean Museum. She became an Icon Intern for the Conservation of Photographic Materials; hosted by English Heritage and National Trust in 2009. After the internship, Saya started her private business; SMILES Conservation and she became a member of the ICON Photographic Materials Group Committee in 2010.


In March 2013, she completed the Red Box Project; a digitisation and conservation project of 600,000 open-access architectural photographs as a project conservator at the English Heritage Archives. After completing the project, she started volunteering at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in May 2013 to refresh her paper conservation skills. She has recently been appointed at the English Heritage Archives as the Maternity Cover Assistant Archive Conservator.

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