Creative Wiltshire: Artist Exhibition at Wells and Mendip Museum

on Tuesday, 16 July 2019.

Artist and Arteologist Julie Smith was inspired by the Aldbourne bells collected for Pewsey Heritage Centre as part of our Creative Wiltshire National Lottery Heritage Fund project. She tells us about her forthcoming exhibition at the Wells and Mendip Museum:

Cabinet 48
Rough sketch: Inspiration: Zinc ore (smithsonite) 2%



Why draw the horse bells?  Curiosity was my first thought. What an exciting find, the bells have made a long journey from an auction house in the USA, an interesting story in itself. They were made originally in a foundry in Aldbourne, Robert Wells in the 18th century. (1)

What is fascinating about these bells they were worn by the horses in the wagon teams to warn of their approach on roads where passing was difficult.  ‘It was said that craftsmen like Robert Wells could produce sets of team bells, the sounds which were unique to each set.’ (2)

For my part becoming an Arteologist, simply drawing, has been a lovely way of making discoveries and considering how we can tell stories whether based on reality or imagination through the magic of creativity. This has led me also to researching further the origins of my chosen object including the origin of the materials that create bell metal/alloy at this time.  78% copper, 20% tin, and 2% zinc. This led me to a visit to the Wells and Mendip museum to study first hand zinc ore in the Geology room. The copper and tin ore I was able to source from St Agnes museum in Cornwall. A subsequent series of paintings was produced to capture the origin of the source materials.

1. Wells, Robert,, Creative Wiltshire Acquisitions
2. Horse bells by Terry Keegan, Douglas Hughes, Claude A. Brock and Ran Hawthorne, A National Horse Brass Society Publication, second edition, revised and enlarged 1988

Subsequent Proposal:

I came to see David Walker, curator, Wells and Mendips museum about the possibility of exhibiting my artwork with a focus on the zinc ore that I had used for inspiration for my painting. I also wanted to further consider the uses of bells, historically as well as in current times.  I particularly want to tell part of the story of bell-making and its ingredients within the physicality of the sounds of the cathedral bells outside. The day to day use, as well as the significance with its multitude of uses, some which have been lost to our modern world. It is interesting to consider that the horse bells were used as a means of transporting goods in the lanes of Somerset as well as Wiltshire.  I was pleased to discover that in the museum collection there is also a set of horse bells, open mouth bells made by Robert Wells, alongside some rumbler bells. It connects nicely with the cabinet within the Geology room that has an array of examples of zinc ore from the Mendips as well as well documented history, connecting to the significance of this metal to today’s society.
Further consideration was the discovery in conversation with David of the swans ringing the bell in connection with Bishop’s house. The overall premise is to create visual stories that also include pieces of information to further evoke connections to the objects shown. The work includes the drawing of the horse bells, oil paintings, etchings, prints and further small drawings displayed within the cabinet.

Artist statement:

My artwork dwells on qualities of quietness and intimacy, cherishing the extraordinary within the ordinary.
As an Arteologist enjoying discoveries from the natural world, archives and imagination, pondering, noticing and wondering is delightful. The pieces I tend to create reflect my observations and tell their own story.
The act of collecting, both physical gathering and accumulation of thoughts, inspires me. This is reflected in the materials I choose. I seek to provoke a balance between a contemplative experience and a sense of fun. Key threads explored within my practice include fragility, protection and preservation.
Julie Smith
Website: E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The motivation behind work is often based on an emotional response to a situation or place. Action and reaction are central to my practice although I have certain ideas how I want my work to look; the final image cannot be preconceived, as the unfolding process some structural and some spontaneous lead to the finished artwork. My starting point can often be in response to an environment, a gathering of information to work with visually and mentally. The concepts of fragility, protection and preservation integral.
I like to broaden the concept of what is potentially invisible or appears so and making it visible within a given space. The inspiration often being an object/viewpoint that could go unnoticed. I want to question, make discoveries on the way while looking for subtleties and finer detail and hope for the viewer to consider their response.

I would like to say thank you:

Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre – As artist in residence/arteologist whilst drawing ‘the bells’ – I enjoyed not only the regular contact with staff at the history centre but also the visitors that showed their curiosity to what I was doing. Lovely encounters, sharing of knowledge and stories.
Joy Bloomfield and Mervyn Grist, Joy from the WSHC, Creative Wiltshire project managing plus and Mervyn co facilitator of Arteology project and subsequent originator of the Arteologists.
Colin Scull – colleague from Swindon College (engineering department) for finding the tin ore for me and sending the link.
St. Agnes Museum – Mike Furness for supplier of the copper and tin ore and sending me a book on Cornwall’s mining. Also, the volunteer who took my initial inquiry for passing it on.
Stu Rowe – for production of the ‘sounds’ that I recorded from the horse bells into a meditative sound piece.
Terry Gilligan – Aldbourne Heritage Centre, for being a mine of information, a lovely afternoon spent, tour, introduction to Ethel, (98), who shared her knowledge of the Village.
David Walker, Curator, Wells and Mendips museum for allowing me to look and record the zinc ore in their geology collection and the subsequent exhibition.


Horsebells, Keegan Terry, Hughes Douglas, Brock Claude A. and Hawthorne Ran, A National Horse Brass Society Publications, Second Edition, 1988.
The Aldbourne Chronicle – Maurice A Crane, Second Edition, reprinted 1980
A History of Wiltshire, Volume 4
Bells in England, Tom Ingram, Illustrated Barbara Jones, 1954
The Aldbourne Bell Foundry, handwritten notes Allan G Keen, 1981
Marlborough Journal advertisement, 6th June 1772
Wildlife in a Southern County, 1887, Jefferies Richard
Postcard, Frith’s series, Published by T.W. Phillips, City Studio, Wells, no. 55160
Article –   Swans at Bishop’s house, Wells, Somerset

New Accession: The Reverend Meade’s Scrapbook

on Friday, 14 June 2019.

Sample page from Meade’s scrapbook

Alongside our council, ecclesiastical and business archives, the History Centre also houses many collections created by individual people. These may be the holders of public office within their locale, or notable for achievements in their chosen field. We recently acquired one such personal archive, a single volume heavy leather-bound scrapbook compiled by the Reverend Sidney Meade (born Oct 1839, died Mar 1917). The scrapbook covers the years 1856 to 1914, and contains documents relating to both local and national events. The scrapbook has been given the archival reference number 1405A.

Sidney trained for the church and took his first curacy at St Mary’s Church, Reading. Between 1869 and 1882 he served as Curate for the parish of St Mary the Virgin in Wylye, and subsequently moved to the curacy of Christ Church, Bradford-on-Avon. Documents in the scrapbook tell us that Sidney was also a Canon of Salisbury Cathedral and a Justice of the Peace.

Sidney Meade was born into the nobility. He was the third and youngest son of Richard Meade, the third Earl of Clanwilliam, a prominent diplomat who became Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the Earl of Liverpool’s government. Sidney’s mother was Lady Elizabeth Herbert, daughter of the 11th Earl of Pembroke. His brother Richard (who inherited his father’s title in 1879) was by 1880 commander of the naval Flying Squadron, with his flag in the frigate HMS Inconstant. A cutting of this date gives us details of the ship’s construction and a list of the names of officers and men serving under him. Sidney also obtained a document from the Admiralty which details the Proposed Route of the Detached Squadron under Richard’s command, with the estimated speed and days at sea for each leg of the journey. A banquet seating plan of 1891 names Richard as Admiral of the Fleet, sat at the head of the high table alongside the future George V. Similarly, we can chart the career of Sidney’s brother Robert, who served as Head of the Colonial Office between 1892 and 1897, and at the time of his death the following year was the Permanent Under-Secretary for the Colonies.

A public notice for a Peace Festival to mark the end of the Crimean War (1856)

Perhaps as a result of his family’s achievements, Sidney had a keen interest in national and international politics, which is reflected in his choice of documents in this volume. On one page, we find a vivid newspaper account of a Conservative Party fete held at Hedsor Park, near Maidenhead, and nearby, cartoons lampooning William Gladstone and Randolph Churchill. There is also a detailed diary of the war in South Africa printed in a newspaper from 1900, plus a copy of a newspaper letter Sidney himself wrote to the Salisbury and Winchester Journal in 1877 to campaign for the Russian Sick and Wounded Fund. One of our favourite documents is the poster notice of a forthcoming Peace Festival to mark the end of the Crimean War in 1856. The list of rural games which took place at Green Croft, Salisbury seem bizarre to modern audiences – climbing a greasy pole for a new hat and a leg of mutton, or the odd-sounding “jingling for a prize”.

Sidney’s family also often appeared in the society pages, which in themselves are rich with contextual detail. A newspaper account of the marriage of Sidney’s daughter Constance to Lieutenant-Colonel Sitwell of the Fifth Fusiliers regiment in 1902 includes a full list of the wedding gifts. These items vary from a diamond and ruby ring and ostrich feather and tortoiseshell fan from the groom, to a Chippendale looking-glass and a carved ivory Japanese umbrella handle from friends. This list gives us a wealth of detail of the family’s social circle and fashions in ornamental gifts at this time, and includes the intriguing information that the gifts of the Earl and Countess of Clanwilliam included a diamond spray of flowers which originally belonged to Queen Anne.

Calne Through Time

on Monday, 20 May 2019.

For Local History Month 2019 Calne library produced a video charting the history of Calne town centre.

Sources such as maps, trade directories, census, postcards and photographs reveal the fascinating history of the people and places in Calne through time.

Do you have memories of Calne? Why not leave them in the comments below or head over to Calne Library's Facebook page. Or visit us at the History Centre and use some of these sources to find out about your own community!

Thanks to Jackie Notman, Senior Library Assistant at Calne Library for creating this video.


World Heritage Day 2019

on Wednesday, 17 April 2019.

April 18th is World Heritage Day or to give it its proper name the International Day for Monuments and Sites. For over thirty-five years, 18 April has been a day to celebrate and promote cultural heritage, and an opportunity to raise awareness about its diversity, its relevance, how vulnerable it can be and what the needs and benefits of its conservation are.

The Day represents an unparalleled opportunity to foster communication and build links with communities while acknowledging their involvement in the creation, existence, evolution and richness of these rural landscapes, and no doubt, in their conservation.

This year the theme is Rural Landscapes and here at the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site Coordination Unit we have been working with children from Kennet Valley C of E VA Primary School and Chisledon Primary School. With thanks to the Avebury World Heritage Site Charity, we were able to commission Create Studios to help the children make animated storyboards depicting some of the key issues concerned with managing the monuments at Avebury.

To start the project 30 Year 4 and 5 children from both schools enjoyed a walk and talk in the landscape with Sarah Simmonds, our Partnership Manager. They were excited to explore the giant Henge and stone circle and we were fortunate to witness a religious ceremony taking place inside the inner circle. Running up and over Waden Hill the impressive Silbury Hill rising out of the valley, they were given a real sense of the scale of the landscape. Back in the classroom they were introduced to Patrimonito, the international mascot of World Heritage Education and we considered what messages they would like to share about Avebury. They discussed the thorny issues of traffic, roads, tourism, too many people and burrowing animals. The children came up with ideas for storyboards and Henry and Jaime from Create taught them about characters, plots, shots and non-verbal communication. Meanwhile at Chisledon the rest of the school got involved making a giant picture of Avebury created with messages of hope and care for the future of the World Heritage Site.

Helen Miah, Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site Partnership Officer

Guided Archaeology Walks

on Saturday, 13 April 2019. Posted in Archaeology

Devizes Arts Festival guided walks (led by Wiltshire County Archaeologists)

Please book via the Devizes Arts Festival website

Sunday 9th June, 10.30.  Fee payable for Devizes Arts Festival  - Roundway Down. 

An opportunity to explore the historic landscape of Roundway Down and Oliver’s Fort, guided by experts from the Wiltshire County Archaeology team. In this walk, we will look at the archaeological features of Roundway Down and Oliver’s Fort, and you will hear tales of the bloody Civil War battle and the nearby holy wells.

Sunday 2nd June, 10.30. Fee payable for Devizes Arts Festival  - Historic Devizes. 

An opportunity to explore the main features of the historic town of Devizes, including exciting new evidence from recent excavations, guided by experts from the Wiltshire County Archaeology team. In this walk, we will explore the main features of the town of Devizes, discussing its development through time and especially the influential role of the castle where recent excavations have revealed exciting new evidence.

Guided walks led by Wiltshire Council Archaeologists

Anyone who is interested in the below walks to please email the Archaeology Service at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further details.

Friday 12th July, 7.00-9.00 pm - Romans, Saxons and Kangaroos: Archaeology in Market Lavington.

Join Martin Brown (Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service) on a walk into the past of Market Lavington. See the site of the and find out how our forebears shaped the land we inhabit. We will walk from the church through the designed landscape north of the village, before returning through the medieval village to the Market Place (and pub), via a Saxon cemetery and Roman temple.

Sunday 14th July, 2.00-4.00 pm – Ludgershall Castle.

Join Melanie Pomeroy-Kellinger, County Archaeologist, on a walk exploring the varied history of Ludgershall Castle, from Prehistoric earthwork to sixteenth century garden.

Saturday 27th July, 2.00-4.00 pm – South of Stonehenge Landscape.

Join Sarah Simmonds, Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site Partnership Manager, on a walk exploring this complex and compelling landscape and to understand why it’s a World Heritage Site. 

<<  1 2 3 4 5 [67 8 9 10  >>  


Accredited Archive Service