Clovelly Archive Project gets a dedicated e.mail address and other C17th banter

The Clovelly Archives project now has its own e.mail address archive@clovelly.co.uk Now all we need is some data to share! Up at 5am every day this week for the job we mustn’t mention, so trying to stay awake for my time in the C17th. In the rainy herb garden with a large school group today, explaining how to cure the noxious wind of the belly – fennel seeds in the pottage in case you were wondering. Wednesday I was the after dinner speaker for Braunton Rotary Club, where we instructed Mistress Pam on what not to wear during the English Civil War. Yesterday evening a change of hat accompanying Master Christopher on his guided tour round Bucks Mills.

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A Father Christmas moment in C17th Torrington

There I am, directing a group of 12-13 year olds round our version of the streets of Torrington during the English Civil War. In character as Mistress Agnes, I warn the group that there is plague in Torrington. ‘What!’, says a particularly pink and fluffy member of the group, ‘Really?’. Comforting to know I am so convincing I suppose. I had also told her there were 17,000 soldiers in the town – if she believed thet she must have wondered where they were hiding.

Mistress Agnes does science – energy in the C17th

Emerged from the job we mustn’t mention to attend Bideford College science day. We do this every year and have to try and adapt what we have to offer in the way of C17th bits and pieces to the scientific theme of the year. Sometimes this is trickier than others – water caused no problems – fetching it (did you know that a wooden bucket full of water weighs about 4 stone?), not drinking it, not bothering to wash with it, cleaning, laundry etc. etc.. Colour though – a bit more difficult once you’ve exhausted the limits of dyeing and heraldry. This year it was energy – mmm. Energy required to fire a gun, energy needed to be a housewife. Actually it doesn’t seem to matter what we do as long as it involves urine somewhere along the line. Our list of C17th uses of urine is now up to 70. Was it coincidence that our tables were outside the toilets? Or next to a stand labelled ‘big bellies’, manned by a size zero person?

Fascinating street theatre/storytelling opposite and interesting to see the hemp spinning – could do with some hemp fabric for our shifts – pity it isn’t the most economical option.

Mistress Agnes does her bit for Wildlife

Well, it is a good job I’ve sold a box worth of Coffers, Clysters etc. lately. I rescued an injured collared dove from cats and downpours on my way to the community shop committee meeting on Thursday. In the absence of any better ideas, it spent the night in my porch eating bird food. The next day I arranged to hand it over to Hartland Wildlife Sanctuary and the box came in very handy.

Most of this week has been spent in trying to get used to Windows 7 and transfer files, addresses, favourites, music etc. from the old computer to the new. Pretty much managed it now, thanks to a day skyping Martha for assistance. Also been preparing for the next month when I shall be doing a job to which I am not allowed to allude on social media. This preparation includes cleaning the house as it won’t get cleaned again until July!

Great news on the Clovelly Archive front – we have a system for scanning the unique records left by Christina Hamlyn and an offer of premises for the archive. The Archive Association will have a stand at Woolsery Show on 30th July.

Clovelly Community Archive Project Progress

Have spent the last couple of days trying to move the Clovelly Community Archive Project forward and morphing into Mistress Agnes too. I always enjoy my trips to the dentist in costume – people are never too sure how to react!

Was really interesting to learn how the Hartland Archive Project works. An enthusiastic meeting with the Clovelly Archives Committee too. I now feel that we are starting to get somewhere – thanks everyone.

Emigrants today @ Devon FHS conference

Up early today to set off for Devon Family History Society Summer Special in Exeter. I set up my stall and ‘Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs’ sells well. I have a different hat on for my talk – the last of the day. I am speaking about emigration from Devon. The first speaker battles with a six foot square screen in a large sports hall with appalling accoustics – this could be a problem. I toy with the idea of raiding the first aid kit and safety pinning my table cloth to a curtain to make a screen. I then spot something that looks like a screen on the ceiling, it is 4 times the size of the one we are trying to use. We manage to find someone who can work the electrics to lower it but it descends in the middle of the audience. Not to worry – they move their chairs back and it’s sorted!

We have talks on the poor law, on Jews in Devon and some sea shanties before it is my turn. Despite people having spent the whole day on fairly uncomfortable plastic chairs, I still have an audience and the talk goes well. Now to tackle dealing with a new computer – how I hate learning curves!

The History Interpreter goes back to the C17th to Recover

It has been quiet on the blogging front while I try to find time to sleep amongst the chaos of the last days of the Braund family reunion. In all, 101 people helped to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Braund Family History Society and I spoke to them all.

After our adventures on Lundy, Friday was comparatively peaceful. I say comparatively. The Chairman did fall down a cliff. This was probably as dramatic as it sounds. Best not to ask too many questions but no alcohol was involved. We spent Friday in Appledore, viewing the maritime museum and being entertained by Terry Bailey on one of his ghost walks.

On Saturday, we mounted an exhibition of Braund memorabilia and gave talks on the Braund family. I don’t think anyone noticed that we brought display boards but failed to bring the material to display on them, or that the talk I gave wasn’t quite the right one.

Our Sunday Church Service was followed by the AGM. Another slight hitch. Owing to his cliff descent, the Chairman failed to collect the signed accounts from the printers. The only signed copy is now irretrievable until after everyone has finished Jubileeing. We manage to talk our way out of this one. Lunch then and a heritage walk round Bideford to walk off all the food.

Braunds quizzing in the evening was an excercise in competitativeness. No one seemed to know what Patrick Clifton was famous for. Clue: not a suspension bridge or pottery. Answers on a postcard……

Monday was a chance to wear two hats. The Braunds visited us in the seventeenth century. Great to administer an enema and perform a lithotomy on ones friends! Once the laughter had subsided, the rest set off for Rosemore Gardens, whilst we tidied up. Then off to the local supermarket to buy supplies for the evening’s Barn Dance.  I am used to wandering round Torrington and my home village in C17th garb without even thinking about it but A**a (like the BBC – no advertising here) is another matter. Never mind says my colleague, I will be there too. So, 2 of us looking like idiots seemed ok. Then on the way he stops off to change in to ordinary clothes! I don’t think I needed to worry – people probably thought it was a Jubilee stunt.

Ok, I admit it (although I didn’t at the time) I seriously overcatered. Even by Braund standards there was too much food. And what possessed me to buy 4 bags of spinach? I blame the combination of  the fact that I was wearing contact lenses and no reading glasses at the time so thought it was watercress and that it was seriously reduced in price – always an eye for a bargain. 5 days on I am still eating bread rolls and spinach – yum.

In between all this I manage to join in the village Jubilee photograph. Then the Barn Dance. We have booked the hall from 5.30pm for the band (excellent band M’Larkey) to set up. 5.30, the band are there, we are present but no key. Half an hour later we stand on one leg to try and get a phone signal to ring one of the numbers displayed on the hall door. The hall has been booked for a year and we have recently confirmed. The hall chairman comes out – we are not booked. Yes she can let us in but there will be no bar. No bar! This sounds serious. She must have seen the look of horror as she relents and agrees to man the bar for us. It was a great evening in the end, including a performance of the can-can and the cutting of the Braund celebratory cake. Incidentally when the party arrived at Rosemore they were told they weren’t booked either. This is getting to be a bit of a theme – or has our reputation preceded us?

Tuesday was the only day that rain stopped play. Instead of a tour of Bucks Mills we had to have a film show instead and those in Victorian costume were unable to parade.

Someone was heard to ask if I was about to have a holiday to recover. No such luck. It was back to the C17th on Wednesday.