Tag Archives: Archives

Interesting discoveries

As you may have seen in a previous post, cataloguing is a part of our role within archives; we do this in order to make clear what we have in our collections and to make documents accessible to members of the public for use in research and family history. Once in a while, however, something within the archive being catalogued can surprise you. The document below is one such surprise!

Copy inspeximus of Roger de Northbrook concerning the endowment of the vicarage of Aston, 1327 [Finding Number: [DV 362] 394018]

 The document comes from the Ecclesiastical Parish Records of St Peter and Paul in Aston (EP 41) and it is interesting in that it is a 19th century transcript of a 14th century copy of a 13th century original document, pertaining to the Vicarage of Aston. It comprises a short introduction from the incumbent Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, followed by the Transcript of the 1254 original and below that the Bishop writes again that he puts his seal to the original document after he has looked through it. He has dated the inspection 1327.

Copy inspeximus of Roger de Northbrook concerning the endowment of the vicarage of Aston, 1327 [Finding Number: [DV 362] 394018]

Endowment of the Vicarage of Aston, Birmingham – 1254

To all the sons of the Holy Mother Church to whom these present Letters shall come Roger by Divine permission Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield health to him who is a true health to all Know ye all that we have inspected certain Letters of Roger sometime Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield of faithful memory our predecessor upon the ordination of the Vicarage of Aston in our Diocese made and sealed with his seal in these Words […]

To all the sons of the Holy Mother church to whom in their present writing shall come We Roger by Divine Mercy Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield send health Everlasting in the Lord to all of you Because our beloved in Christ the Prior Convent of Newport Pagnel in the Diocese of Lincoln have freely submitted the church of Aston in our Diocese with the Chapel of Bromwich and all other their appertenances /the right of Patronage is acknowledged to belong to them/ to our ordination by their letters patent as well of the Prior as the Convent under their seal promising that they would ratify and confirm whatever we should think fit to ordain concerning the church and chapel aforesaid with their appertenances the as well for the Honor of Religion as Hospitality attending to the charity which the said Prior and Convent say they are able to perform and likewise to the poverty of those who have suffered much in the cause of Religion and we desireing with great earnestness an increase in Divine Worship in our Church of Lichfield with this consideration that the said church of Aston with its appertenances ought not to be defrauded of its rights with the convent of our beloved in Christ Ralph Dean and the Chapter of Lichfield having God before our eyes have thus thought fit to decree concerning the same viz- that upon the departed or death of Mr Wm. Kelkennye Rector of same church the aforesaid Prior and Convent and their successors shall have for Ever to their own use the Church of Aston with the Chapel of Bromwich and all their appurtenances saving to the vicar in the same church the under written portions consisting viz- in the whole alterage with the Tithe of Hay, of mills principal Leganes, Tithe of Wool and Lamb, Sheaves increasing in and gardens tilled with the foot and in all other obventions and small tithes arising within the whole Parish with the House which Mr Ralph De Crophill sometime vicar of the said church of Aston possessed. Moreover the Prior and Convent aforesaid and their successor shall pay annually at Lichfield Twenty Marks viz, on the feast of the ascension of our Lord Ten Marks, and  on the feast of Saint Andrew the apostle Ten Marks and they shall procure and present a proper person to the archdeacon and to the said vicarage when it shall become vacant but the vicar of the said Church for the time being  shall personally minister in the same church and shall sustain of his own charges one Chaplain and on Deacon honest and fit in the said church and one chaplain and one clerk honest and minister in the chapel of Bromwich and he shall pay the Synodals but the in Chancil Books and Ornaments of the Church shall be provided and that sufficiently as well by the aforesaid Prior and Convent as by the Vicar aforesaid shall contribute to the Extraordinary burthens in equal portions. In Testimony and in confirmation of this our ordination we have put our seal to the present writing reserving to ourselves and our successors in the Church, the Pontifical and Parochial right and the Dignity of our Churches of Coventry and Lichfield. Dated at Breivode on the eve of Saint Cecilia the Virgin [21 November] Anno Dui 1254 in the presence of our Beloved sons in Christ Mr Ralph, Dean, Ralph, Treasurer, Mr R de Lakots, Walter de Perton, Alexander Blound, William de Eccleshall Nicholas de Lega, Canons of Lichfield.

Copy inspeximus of Roger de Northbrook concerning the endowment of the vicarage of Aston, 1327 [Finding Number: [DV 362] 394018]

Inspected by Roger De Northbrook (Northburgh) afterwards Bishop 1327In testimony of our inspection we Roger aforesaid have put our seal to the presents – Dated at Sallow 4th Mones of May Anno Dui 1327.

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Pageant of Birmingham 1938: Costumes

The Pageant of Birmingham 1938, held in July, was planned to mark the centenary of Birmingham’s Borough Charter and the intended Royal visit of George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the city.

The Iron Room Blog has covered the Pageant of Birmingham before. Egbert, the giant smoke breathing dinosaur, plus his smaller companions, Ogbert and Little Sidney, have become the most memorable (perhaps as the largest) of the characters included in the event held 80 years ago.

With such spectacles in mind, it must have been easy to forget the sheer number of costumes created for the multitude of other characters which appeared over the course of the event.

In Archives & Collections we have four volumes of costume designs, designed under the direction of Jean Campbell, who was Mistress of the Robes. The designs include basic sketches, ideas which do not appear to have made the final selection, designs painted in great detail, plus fabric swatches of material intended to be used on the final garments.

Episode I: Prologue

William the Conqueror, Pageant of Birmingham 1938 Costume Designs, Vol 1 SE 7

This episode began with the ‘strange monsters’ (e.g. Egbert,) of the prehistoric times, and passed through eras, to William the Conqueror. Above is the image of his robes – nice cape!

Episode II: The Granting of the Market Charter of Birmingham, 1156

Pageant of Birmingham, Illustrated Souvenir Booklet, shelf ref: BCOL 22.41

The illustrated booklet to the event sets out the scene when King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine visit to confirm the charter. Eleanor of Aquitaine’s outfit and make-up in the design are beautiful – very Disney!

Eleanor of Aquitaine, Pageant of Birmingham 1938 Costume Designs, Vol 1 SE 7

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How to make sure your clothes and books don’t become a pest’s dinner!

A few weeks ago whilst browsing in Lakeland, I was confronted by bottles of moth killer and moth traps. It was a timely reminder that this is the time of year where people (myself included!) try desperately not to become infested and have holes appear in jumpers when taken out of the wardrobe come October. But, did you know that archival documents are just as at threat from pests as is a treasured woollen coat?

The vast majority of the collections held in the archives are made from organic materials such as paper and leather. These provide a great food source for pests. Pests we have to watch out for include silverfish, common book lice, and clothes moths amongst others. These pests survive on eating the surfaces of paper, textiles, books, some adhesives and animal skins, which unfortunately is the majority of our collection! You may be thinking just get some insecticide and kill the damn things. Unfortunately insecticides come with health and safety issues as well as not being very safe for the documents.

An example of where pests have caused damage to one of our documents. The wood and parchment in this document has provided a good food source for a wood-boring insect.

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Celebrating 70 years of the NHS!

To celebrate 70 years of the NHS, we thought we’d do a bit of rundown of the wonderful health and caring-related collections we have here in Archives & Collections at the Library of Birmingham.

Below we cover some of the main archive sources for research in hospitals, health and poor relief. It is a starting point rather than an exhaustive list of collections and further sources will be found by checking the online catalogues, the Wolfson Centre paper catalogues and card indexes, and, you will be able to find printed sources (e.g. annual reports of institutions and charities) in the local studies catalogue.

It is worth remembering that many of these collections are incomplete and the survival of records for particular periods or particular institutions can be patchy – check the catalogues to individual collections for details of survival and access (naturally records of this nature are sensitive and do have access restrictions placed on those of a more recent date).

Guardians of the Poor collections

Six boys standing in Sutton Park, Birmingham, on summer outing provided for poor children by the Birmingham Cinderella Club [WK/B11/445]

Until the nineteenth century poor relief was a function of the parish and documents such as apprenticeship indentures and settlement certificates will be found in these collections – see our separate source guide for Faith and Religious Records here. Continue reading

Windrush Pioneers: learning more about the experiences of Caribbean migrants

One Of Henry Gunter’s publications on racial inequality ‘A Man’s A Man’ 1954 (ref MS 2165/1/3)

2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks in Essex in 1948. The ship brought around 500 people from Jamaica and Trinidad to the UK. Many of the new arrivals were employed in state services such as the NHS and public transport filling post-war employment gaps. An article from the Birmingham Mail from the day that the Windrush landed is available to view online.

The Windrush has come to represent the beginning of greater numbers of people from the Caribbean moving and settling in the UK. This is an important part of the history of Birmingham and we see this legacy today in the make-up of the city.

In our archive collections at the Library of Birmingham we hold material which sheds light on the experiences of those newly arrived in the UK between the 1940s and 1970s. In this blogpost I will focus on two collections but there is more to be explored in the archives.

Campaigning against the colour bar

Henry Gunter was born in Jamaica but moved to the UK in 1950 which was only two years after the Empire Windrush arrived. Gunter, as a campaigner against racism and injustice, was at the forefront of issues black people making a new life in Birmingham were facing. Fortunately for us his writings were a key part of his campaigning activity, so these issues are documented in his archive (MS 2165).

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Queen Victoria opens Aston Park, 15 June 1858

Illustration from the Illustrated Times in ‘Scrapbook of Queen Victoria’s visit to Warwickshire’, [ref MS 3441]. Caption reads: Arrival of Her Majesty at Aston Hall

Queen Victoria’s visit to Warwickshire in 1858 brought her to Birmingham to open Aston Hall and Park to the public.

The Hall had been the residence of James Watt jr. until his death in 1848. Afterwards it seemed under threat of encroachment by the town and there was a feeling that the Hall and Park should be ‘saved’. Birmingham town council had no funds to enable this, so a scheme was suggested by William Henry Reece, a solicitor, that the hall and park should be purchased by the people of Birmingham and area, by means of small shares, as a recreation ground for the public. The scheme was launched in 1857. The owners offered to sell hall and the 42 acres of land for £35,000; a prospectus was issued, and a company formed for raising the money by issuing 40,000 shares at a guinea each. At a public meeting presided over by George Dawson, a committee was appointed to aid the scheme, later joined by members from the town council, and a deposit of £3,500 was paid, the purchase to be completed by April 1860. The campaign was successful, and with some larger donations from richer citizens of Birmingham to assist, the purchase of hall and park was completed. Continue reading

The Birmingham Civic Society celebrates its 100th birthday today, 10 June 2018!

‘A Picture Map of the Park of Sutton Coldfield in the County of Warwick’ by Bernard Sleigh in Work of the Birmingham Civic Society from June 1918 – June 1946, by William Haywood, pp. 45-6 [Ref L20.053]

For 100 years, the members of Birmingham Civic Society have worked as volunteers to make Birmingham a better place for everyone, engaging with communities and schools to promote pride in the city.

The Society was started in 1918 with the aim of improving the appearance of the city, acting as an advisory body to the city council on issues of town planning and heritage.

From the beginning, it raised funds to buy land to create or add to parks and gardens in the city, to provide open spaces for recreation for all. The first was Daffodil Park in Northfield. The Society also published beautifully illustrated guides to, for example, the Lickey Hills and Sutton Park.

In 1923 and again in 1934, it helped to save the Birmingham Repertory Theatre from closure, by campaigns to boost audiences, and then by setting up the Barry Jackson Trust to preserve the theatre for the citizens of Birmingham.

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