Archives Inspire: Creativity at the Norfolk Record Office

October was a creative month for the Education and Outreach team. Early in the month, Archive Assistant Abby Erwin, led our first archive inspired creative writing workshop for adults and last week it was the children’s turn to get creative through our ‘Skills with Quills’ school holiday activity. Through the Norfolk Record Office’s programme of activities and events we hope to open up the collections to new audiences, in new ways and are looking forward to participating in the Explore Your Archive Campaign throughout November. This starts with our Colour our Collection’ event on Friday 4 November and Archivist Tom Townsend’s Lunchtime Talk on Wednesday 9 November ‘Rediscovered! Exploring hitherto hidden gems from the Norwich City Archive.’

What makes the perfect quill?

In our Skills with Quills half-term activity we learned of recipes for ink from Rev Thomas Lloyd’s memorandum book, 1787-1810, and that the best quills are those which are round and clean with the first three quills in the wing. We also learned that rainwater can be used to make good black ink, whereas for red ink Rev Thomas Lloyd recommends to use stale beer:

Take a pint of stale beer; three ounces of Brazil wood ground to powder; two ounces of rock alum; and one ounce of gum Arabic. Boil them together over a gentle fire, for about a half an hour; then strain the liquor through a piece of flannel, and put it into a bottle, well cored to be kept for use.

We then looked at images of illuminated manuscripts from the Norfolk Record Office collection and after practicing how to write with quills on scrap paper, our creative youngsters were away. The Education and Outreach team were very impressed with the range of Haiku, poems, letters and stories written during the session as well as the imaginative drawings and bookmarks created, amply decorated with gold paint!

skills-with-quills-2016-3Colour our Collection

If these activities have inspired you to get creative, why not join us for our free ‘Colour our Collection’ event at the Norfolk Record Office: The Archive Centre on Friday 4 November from 2pm-4pm. Here you will have the chance to see a selection of our original documents and colour copies of manuscripts and drawings from the archive, such as the beautiful illustrations of Hilda Zigomala seen below. Please book on 01603 222599 or







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