The history interpreter works with children and animals

Ok, so I didn’t actually work with animals but they do come into my recent adventures. Palm Sunday and we attend church at Clovelly. This is a wonderful service when the village’s historic reliance on the donkey is celebrated. The donkey is blessed and we process down the cobbles following the donkey, waving what this year were rather recession hit palms. This was followed by a couple of hymns near the Methodist Church and St Peter’s Chapel in Clovelly (also near the New Inn!). This year, in temperatures that rivalled Lapland, we were accompanied by an accordionist. What possessed me to volunteer to hold the music? The wind meant that this was a two handed job. Bit difficult, I found, to get through seven verses in a cold wind without the ability to wipe ones nose.

From the historical viewpoint of course donkey transport was vital in Devon. The state of our roads (some would say nothing’s changed) made wheeled transport a rarity until the late C18th, so it was donkeys and panniers, sledges or horse (or donkey) drawn contraptions, a little like American Indian travois.

3849 Buckland Brewer burials now indexed. Some checking to do before these are unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Not sure the team can face going straight from this to baptisms or marriages so we are considering working on the IR58s. Regular readers will know that these 1910 Valuation documents are a great favourite of mine. The 1828 list of Clovelly poor is now indexed and more documents are being distributed  – volunteers welcome.

Some time in the C17th too – Great Fire of London with year 1. I’m trying to get over the lack of career choice for C17th women. ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I ask the girls. No footballers’ wives – you need year 8 for that response but I thought ‘a cooker’ and ‘a princess’ were sweet.

A full day’s history yesterday with more discussions about how heritage can be used to enhance the experience of visitors to Clovelly Methodist Church, which has a high tourist footfall. Still at the brainstorming stage this one – unfortunately one of the brains involved is mine – not sure how much storming it can take. Also some possibilities for celebrating the bicentennial of the founding of the Bible Christian Church. Next a discussion with a journalist about Clovelly Community Archive.

In the evening, a return to the scene of my Who Do You Think You Are? experience at High Bickington Historical Group to talk about the day and the research behind Gregg Wallace’s Bible Christian story. We left early as we had to find the venue and daylight seemed preferable. We were not surprised to find the hall still locked but gradually more and more of my audience arrived and began queuing outside. Someone is sent for a key, by this time it is snowing. No way am I getting out of the car until the door is open. The key arrives, now the problem is using it to open the door. Chris has ‘handling keys’ high up on his CV so I send him to assist and we are in! This is a very impressive new hall for a small community and is part of a much wider housing development. It has been established by a trust on the site of Pincome’s Farm. I give an account of my Who Do You Think You Are? experience and it is well received. I have brought with me brief family trees of the Gill and Leythorne families. Coincidentally the Leythornes lived in a cottage on Pincome’s Farm. As this venue wasn’t completed when I was booked to do this talk and this is one of the first meetings the society has had in their new venue, this is somehow very fitting. Gregg’s great great grandmother has had her story told because she has a famous descendant but we should tell our ancestors’ stories too, not just collect their names and dates. It isn’t their fault their descendants aren’t famous!

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Roasting a Cow’s Udder and other Excitements

I’ve been putting the finishing touches to some forthcoming presentations. Decided that Roast Cow’s Udder should form part of my slot on Seventeenth Century Food and Drink for Cleveland, North Yorkshire & South Durham Family History Society’s Family History Day in April. This really shouldn’t be missed so here it is for the benefit of those who can’t attend:- Take a cow’s udder and first boil it well, then stick it thick all over with cloves. Then when it is cold, spit it and lay it to the fire and apply it very well with basting of sweet butter and when it is sufficiently roasted and brown dredge it and draw if from the fire. Take vinegar and butter and put it on a chafing dish and coals and boil it with white bread crumbs, till it be thick. Then put to it a good store of sugar and cinnamon and putting it in a clean dish lay the cows udder therein. Trim the sides of the dish with sugar and so serve it up. Thanks to Gervase Markham for this. Horse pales into insignificance somewhat doesn’t it?

184 pages of an edited Family Historians Enquire Within are now with the publishers. I shall miss my daily stint with various letters of the alphabet. There will be a talk of the book!

97 excitable year 6 children with us in the seventeenth century, in a space that is better suited to 60. Fortunately it was a day when spring was almost here (sorry you must have missed it as it is winter again today) so we were able to get on with chopping off their limbs, shooting them etc..

I have delegated the research into the Clovelly Methodist Roll of Honour – yes, me, delegating – you did see the airborne porcine vision did you not? Some very interesting discoveries none the less. I have also contributed to Friends of Devon Archives Roll of Honour transcribing project, revealing more Clovelly men to research (Anglicans presumably!).

Exciting news on the Braund front, with additional evidence that two of our existing branches are probably linked and a new branch (also almost certainly connected) created. It is at that frustrating – this is the way these families are related but I just daren’t ink it in – stage. Will we, with missing early parishes registers and no probate material, ever prove this satisfactorily?

Mostly about Clovelly and other Community History

A real Clovelly fest this week. Saturday I went to the Methodist Church, with the intention of helping to clean it but actually spent most of the time discussing what can be done to enhance visits to the Church. We plan to investigate the stories of the thirty Clovelly men whose names appear on the First World War Roll of Honour in the Church. A meeting of Clovelly Community Archive Association yesterday, with attendees bringing in some fascinating material. Indexers welcome!

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The Proposed Archive Database is Explained

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One of the Pictures Brought in to Share – Clovelly Girls’ School

The Buried in Buckland team have now uploaded all the gravestone transcriptions – just those inside the church to do.

And Family Historians’ Enquire Within is complete – still needs proof reading and then it is on to the next project.

Along with all this, several days in the seventeenth century and Mistress Agnes features in the Wellington Weekly. A little concerned when I asked a pupil at another of the schools we visited to read the Lord’s Prayer from a horn book. ‘Do you recognise this?’ I ask. ‘Yes’, says the pupil – ‘it is Shakespeare’.

Halberds in the hall and other historical matters

Last night we transported all the seventeenth century gear back home ready for a school visit. Normally we don’t take pikes on these occassions – bit tricky fitting them in the car. A special request for pike drill meant we gave it a go, with shorter than authentic pikes. A little problematic this – every time we went down hill the pikes threatened to shoot through the windscreen. I now have a halberd in the hall – as you do of course. Good job we weren’t stopped and accused of carrying an offensive weapon. Most of our swords are blunted in the interests of health and safety but this halberd is the real macoy – I’m sure I can put it to good use.

Today my copy of Poxed and Scurvied: the story of sickness and health at sea that I ordered at Who Do You Think You Are? Live arrived – looking forward to reading that.

My work editing Family Historians’ Enquire Within is nearly done. Just struggling with the last few ‘R’s – rather a lot of Royal somethings. A couple of websites caught my eye – a list of royal warrant holders and those who have been awarded medals by the Royal Humane Society. Don’t you just love lists? Not begining with R of course but a good one for those with an interest in Maritime Heritage is Portcities. Finally, a couple of favourites from the English Heritage stable are Pastscape  and Images of England.

I always suspected that commercial television overdid the adverts. I can now reliably state that it is possible to index ten years’ worth of Buckland Brewer burials just using the advert breaks in one episode of Dancing on Ice.

The Neolithic House build is underway – can’t wait for my stint in April. My last attempt at cob was constructing a model medieval village with year 7s. We used PVA glue to hold it together – not exactly authentic!

Excited to hear that I am to interviewed on the Geneabloggers website sometime soon.