How a Second World War air raid caused the closure of a Norfolk School: The accounts of Amy Buckley, Head Teacher

On the night of 26 – 27 June 1942, St Mark’s Primary and Infants’ School on Hall Road, Norwich was bombed and destroyed during a Second World War air raid. The school’s temporary log book (NRO, N/ED 1/86), written by Head Teacher Amy Buckley, covers the month following the bombing, to its closure in July of the same year.

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Helping community archives during the pandemic: The Norfolk Record Office’s ‘Community Archives’ project

Figure 1 Community archives collect local and social history, such as these family photographs.

Community Archives: Skills, Support and Sustainability (CAS³) is a National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported project that began in March 2020 and is due to run until March 2022. As its name suggests, the goals of this project are to:

  • provide training to Norfolk’s community archive and heritage groups that allows them to develop the skills used by professional archivists.
  • give the groups professional support and resources for their collections and the projects they are working on.

  • help the groups preserve their collections for the future and make them accessible on an ongoing basis.
  •  increase the groups’ confidence with regards to collecting, managing and exhibiting archive material.

The CAS³ team comprises Laura McCourt, the Project Manager, and me, Robin Sampson, the project Community Archivist. We are working in partnership with thirty community archive and heritage groups across Norfolk. Between us we work with each individual group in a two to three-month period, talking to the group about their needs, providing practical advice and knowledge, supervising the work the group is doing and obtaining the necessary equipment and resources that the group requires.

Figure 2 The Community Archives projects aims to increase knowledge and confidence in packaging archive material to a professional standard.

Challenges and opportunities in 2020

So far, so good…but we weren’t counting on coronavirus! As with the rest of the world, 2020 has presented us with some significant challenges to how we do our jobs. An important aim of the project was for the team members to visit each group at the places where they keep their collections, to give us a better idea of what the group had, what they wanted to do with it, and how we could help them achieve this. Because of this year’s lockdowns and social distancing requirements, it was sadly no longer possible to do this. We couldn’t go out to meet groups, or even work at the Norfolk Record Office. The groups couldn’t meet together, and several of their members were forced to shield. So how could we possibly run the project?

The answer was: we had to be creative. We ran the project from our homes, holding remote meetings to develop the project. Rather than meet in person, we held introductory meetings with each group over Zoom or by phone call. We created online surveys for the groups to complete, so we could get a sense of what skills, knowledge and confidence they currently had, so that we can compare this with their answers at the end of the project. We also worked with consultants to help us design project logos and lettering, give advice on writing our guidance and help with evaluating survey data.

In the first lockdown, we created a whole new section of the NRO website, the Community Archives Toolkit, including guides to archive procedures and downloadable resources. We also developed the Norfolk Archives Network Forum, an online message board where groups can keep in touch, let each other know about training opportunities, resources and events, and ask each other, and us, for advice about their collections.

At the moment, we are developing training sessions about cataloguing archives, digitising historic material and running oral history programmes. These sessions will shortly be delivered over Zoom. Until we can meet up in person again, we also offer each group a series of video calls with us. We give them advice, set tasks, and request updates on how they are getting on. We are also running virtual ‘coffee mornings’ where groups can meet with each other online and chat about their projects.

It has been a steep learning curve for both the project team and the groups involved. It’s been disappointing for everyone that we can’t provide help in person at the moment, and many of our groups would love to work on their collections together and in the same room!

However, we are all doing our best, and whilst it has been a challenging time, it has also been one of opportunity – the team members ourselves have learnt many new skills, such as setting up and running online training, developing websites and digital resources, and the groups have plenty to work on, including cataloguing, photographing and storing their collections, and of course, becoming experts on Zoom!

The goal of the project is not to ‘finish’ an archive – no archive is ever ‘finished’! – but to ensure the community archive groups have enough knowledge, resources and opportunities to continue collecting, managing and using their archives for many years to come. In the first seven months of the project we have made a great start on safeguarding these precious community archives.

Have a look at the Community Archives Toolkit to see what we have been up to, and how the guides and resources could also help you with your personal or community archive projects:

The Norfolk Record Office would like to thank the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their valuable role in funding the Community Archives project. We would also like to extend our thanks to National Lottery players for making this project possible. You can find out more about the NLHF’s work at @HeritageFundM_E on Twitter or by using the hashtag #NationalLotteryHeritageFund

Robin Sampson, Community Archivist; Community Archives: Skills, Support and Sustainability

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She was ‘a natural, a poor fool and ideot …void of reason or sense’: A harsh judgement on Margaret Cooper of Snetterton

Recent indexing work at the NRO on witness depositions from the bishop of Norwich’s consistory court has uncovered many stories relating to everyday life from the 16th to 18th centuries in both Norfolk and Suffolk (for the ancient Diocese of Norwich covered both counties). Moreover, these narratives often concern and record individuals whose poverty or transience usually preclude them from mention in other surviving records of those times.

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Holocaust Memorial Day

January 27th is Holocaust Memorial Day, a day to reflect upon the terrible injustices of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, and to remember the millions of people whose lives were taken from them.

In 1986, Norwich born James Gosling was interviewed as part of an oral history project that aimed to capture the memories of Norwich residents. During his interviews, Mr Gosling shared his first-hand experiences of assisting with the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in northern Germany.

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Depositions: Uncovering the lives of ordinary Norfolk people through church court records

Archivists at the NRO have, among other projects, spent some time over the lockdown months of summer, indexing the contents of a representative sample of witness deposition books from Norwich Diocese, dating from the 16th-18th centuries (our reference, DN/DEP). Very little indexing work had previously been expended on this core record series from the bishop’s consistory court, but, as our recent work has shown, the stories that emerge cover many aspects of ordinary life in Norfolk and Suffolk (for the ancient Diocese of Norwich covered both counties).

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St Andrew’s County Asylum portrayed in the Cartoons of George Yates

Users familiar with the records of St Andrew’s, the County asylum, may be interested to know about a new collection of records that show a side to the hospital not typically seen in the official records. George Yates, attendant and bandleader at St Andrew’s, was also a talented cartoonist and produced numerous drawings illustrating his time at the hospital (ACC 2019/146). These were kindly donated to the NRO by George’s family and will be of special interest to those with ancestors who worked at the hospital in the early part of the twentieth century.

St Andrew’s cricket ground. NRO, ACC 2019/146

George Allen Yates was born near Liverpool in 1878, to William Yates and his wife, Elizabeth but lived and worked for much of his life in Norfolk.

George played trombone in military bands with his younger brother Bert [Albert] and played around the country, including Kidderminster and Manchester. He began working at St Andrew’s Hospital, near Thorpe, Norwich, in about 1909 as an attendant and a musician in the hospital band.

He married Grace Ellen Barber in 1910 in Liverpool. Grace, who was born in Swaffham, was also a nurse at St Andrew’s but as relationships between staff were forbidden, the marriage had to be kept a secret. George and Grace are both still listed as single on 1911 census and Grace appears there under her maiden name. Grace also came from a creative family; her brother Ernest having been a character actor on the London stage and proprietor of the ‘Living Marionettes’.

Attendants and nurses at St Andrew’s – George is top row, third left. Used by kind permission of the Yates family

George played the trombone, composing and arranging music for the hospital band, and eventually became the bandleader. He played in other bands, including the Norwich Symphony Orchestra, and his reputation was such that he was asked to help form orchestras for other institutions, including one for the Thorpe and District Ex-servicemen’s Association. George also played on the staff football team and was involved in local politics, serving on the Broadland Ratings Committee in 1935.

The drawings show that George was an accomplished artist and he had previously advertised his services as a ‘black and white artist’ while living in Manchester. He also produced cartoons and posters for the staff magazine and hospital social events. As well as producing classical portraits and landscapes, one of the highlights of the collection are his whimsical cartoons of staff and patients he worked with at St Andrew’s.

Some of the cartoons show named individuals so it may be possible to match them with details of employees from the registers held at the NRO. The archives also hold a collection of score books for the St Andrew’s Hospital cricket team (NRO, SO 377) so perhaps a future researcher will be able to add ‘faces’ to the names recorded there!

Ramblers v St Andrew’s. NRO, ACC 2019/146

The cartoons are a light-hearted commentary of the matches, often making fun of the performance of the hospital team and include little in-jokes for the amusement of his colleagues. George, acting as an informal sports reporter, recorded matches against other local teams, such as the staff of the Gt Yarmouth Royal Naval Hospital and the Ramblers.  He drew portraits of senior staff watching from the side-lines and there is also an amusing drawing of an elderly patient, described only as ‘Ward E’s tooth’.

Yarmouth v Thorpe hospitals. NRO, ACC 2019/146

The images reproduced here are just a small sample of George’s work, some of which is still retained by the donors, along with an extensive family collection. They include the hand-written copies of sheet music and songs that he wrote for the hospital band and photographs of military bands that he played with. The family have kindly allowed the NRO to make a copy of these other records that form their personal archives, which give context to the donated cartoons and are a further testament to George’s talents.

Written by Alison Barnard, NRO Archivist.

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A Variety of Ways to Celebrate Christmas: Exploring the many Christmases of Hilda Zigomala

Those of you who have read out blog posts in the past, will probably remember we have mentioned the journals of Hilda Zigomala many times before. A collection of 15 volumes which chronicles her life from getting married to Jack in January 1889 to the death of her only child, John in 1919. As we turn to celebrating Christmas it seemed like a nice time to look back through the journals again to see how a wealthy family at the turn of the 19th century celebrated the festive period. Despite the fact her journals begin during the Reign of Queen Victoria, Hilda’s Christmases are not always what we imagine as a typical Victorian Christmas.

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Stepping Back In Time

In the beginning

When I first started doing my family history many years ago, I wasn’t surprised to find that most of my ancestors had gravitated to the heavily-industrialised area of Salford and then to the Bolton area of Lancashire where I was born. It was only many years later that I discovered I had links with largely rural Norfolk. The story of how I discovered this link reads like a detective story.

The Clues

Briefly, I had never been able to find a birth certificate for my maternal grandfather, William Morris, who had been killed at Gallipoli in 1915. The only clue I had to his origin was a reference to him in the 1891 census for Horwich, Lancashire. His father was listed as Jonathan Morris born in Abergele, Wales in 1845, his mother as Hannah Maria Morris born in Wymondham in 1843 and William himself born in Hull, Yorkshire in 1875. Like my search for William’s birth certificate, neither could I find a marriage of a Jonathan Morris to Hannah Maria. From the 1851 census records for Wymondham, I produced a list of about 15 Hannah/Anna Marias and either ‘married’ them off or ‘buried’ them. I was then left with about six about whom I knew nothing.

The Breakthrough

William Morris

There my search stalled until a few years later when a photograph of my grandfather appeared in a family history magazine together with a brief outline of my quandary. Someone who’d read the article, emailed me with the news that she had found a marriage of an Anna Maria Buttolph to a James Palmer in Heigham, Norfolk, in 1869. I remembered then that Anna Maria Buttolph was one of those remaining unaccounted for, her father being a John Buttolph of The Lizard in Wymondham, an agricultural labourer. A wild card search enabled me to find a John Morris born Abergele 1845 living in Wymondham together with Anna Maria Palmer and young William, listed as Palmer. Yet still I could find no birth certificate for William under the name of Palmer.

A Sad Death

I knew that Jonathan/John was claiming to be a widower in the 1911 census so I searched for a death registration for Anna Maria prior to that date and found her back in Wymondham in 1891. The death certificate, when it came, proved beyond doubt that Anna Maria Morris/Palmer/Buttolph was my great-grandmother. The informant at her death was none other than Jonathan/John Morris of the same address as the 1891 census entry for Horwich. It would appear that she and Jonathan had gone to visit her family, still living at The Lizard, but had died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage. I still do not know if Jonathan/John Morris was William’s real father.

Trawling further back

Will of Stephen Buttolph. ANF will register, 1676.

I have been able to trace back through the generations to a Stephen Buttolph who died in 1676. I have no idea of when he was born but he left a will so I was able to prove the line of descent. It seems that the original Buttolphs were all yeoman farmers with considerable acres of farmland and most of them left wills. And what a joy these have been from a historical point of view! Stephen Buttolph’s will (Ref: ANF will register, 1676, folio 276, no 153) for instance, mentions being written in ‘this three and twenty (year) of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King Charles 1671’. His son Thomas mentions his will being drawn up in ‘the tenth year of the reign of our beloved Soverign Lady Queen Anne’ and, invaluably, gives the names of his grandchildren in his will, thus proving relationships.

As yeoman farmers, with considerable lands, they often left what would have been considerable sums of money. Their wills were quite specific about when and to whom the bequest should be given and what should happen in the event that the bequest was not paid. Much of it is written in legalese which does take some understanding but I soon became used to reading of ‘messuages, hereditaments, lands and tenements’. The writing too, particularly the earlier wills, was hard to decipher with ‘s’ and ‘f’ often looking the same.

A Glimpse into the Past

I loved reading of some of the everyday things that they left, such as ‘To my daughter Sarah, my largest brass kettle and to my son-in-law, Simon Bishop, my surtout coat and my pompadour coat.’ From my limited French I guessed that a surtout coat was a kind of overcoat but a ‘pompadour coat’ turned out to be one of those richly decorated heavily embroidered coats worn around the 1700s. That alone would have been an expensive item which is a clear indication that the Buttolphs weren’t ‘without a bob or two’ as they say in Lancashire! Which makes it all the harder to understand why my own great-great grandfather, Anna Maria’s father John Buttolph, (1808-1881) was listed as an agricultural labourer on various censuses yet his father, William Buttolph (1785-1871) listed in censuses as a farmer with 125 acres employing 6 men and 1 boy and who later was described in his will as a ‘gentleman’ Was John one of those 6 men? I do know that John was caught stealing a bushel of barley from his father, William Buttolph, much to the surprise of the arresting officer. He was discharged after ‘receiving a severe reprimand’. Yet John himself was left £50 pounds by his father William, which in 1871 was still a goodly sum of money.

To Sum Up

It has been such a joy to discover so much about my Buttolph ancestors through the wills that they left and I couldn’t have done it without the excellent resources of the Norfolk Record Office. You can search through the online catalogue via the NRO website

Written by Anne Harvey, NRO Research Blogger

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