‘A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words’: Mulbarton Heritage Group

The ‘Community Archives: Skills, Support & Sustainability’ project has been set up by the Norfolk Record Office with the aim of providing Norfolk’s community archive and local heritage groups with advice, training and resources to help them improve the management of their important and unique collections. Since 2020 the project team has worked closely with over 30 partner groups. During International Archives Week, we will showcase a selection of these groups and the progress they have made during the project.

‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ is an old adage, so a thousand pictures must be worth… a whole library? And that is about the number of photos the Mulbarton Heritage Group has collected over nearly 20 years, first for a now-defunct website, then for ‘The Book of Mulbarton’ and now many are displayed at https://www.mulbartonhistory.org.uk/  They are on CDs and a succession of laptops. There are duplicates and pictures of varying quality. There are notes about most, but not everyone depicted has been identified – and they are all randomly numbered.

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60 years old!

The ‘Community Archives: Skills, Support & Sustainability’ project has been set up by the Norfolk Record Office with the aim of providing Norfolk’s community archive and local heritage groups with advice, training and resources to help them improve the management of their important and unique collections. Since 2020 the project team has worked closely with over 30 partner groups. During International Archives Week, we will showcase a selection of these groups and the progress they have made during the project.

The Aylsham Town Archive can trace its roots back to around 1950 but has been in its present location and open for research since July 1960. First catalogued in 1974, the archive covers the whole of the parish of Aylsham and an area of 2-3 miles around. Based on the Town Council’s own records, it now contains over 1500 manuscript and printed items and a large photographic image archive formed from donations and copied photos, most of which have been added in the last 20 years.

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King’s Lynn Golden Jubilee procession identity parade

One of the more eye-catching items from the records of civic events is a photograph of the mayoral procession that took place as part of the celebrations for Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee. They are photographed standing on the Saturday Market Place with 2 St Margaret’s Place in the background.

Golden Jubilee Procession, KL/TC 13/1/28

There are 23 individuals lined up in procession. The staff bearer, sword bearer, and the four mace bearers precede the mayor, who can be seen wearing his ceremonial robes. Following them are the alderman and common councillors all wearing top hats and gloves. There was a threat of rain in the air as many of them are also carrying umbrellas. In the background you can see two policemen standing guard, two servants and a man looking out of the windows at the gathered officials along with a few members of the public. The dignitaries had just processed through the town and were waiting to enter St Margaret’s Church for the service of thanksgiving when the photo was taken. The local newspapers of the time have a description of the route and all the groups who took part in the procession. However, no names are written on the photo so as part of the Jubilee celebrations I attempted to but a name to as many faces as possible. Numbers in brackets () refer to associated numbers on the photo.

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Church court records at the Norfolk Record Office

Introduction

Nineteenth century photograph of Norwich Cathedral, held by the Norfolk Heritage Centre (ref. 723621).
Courtesy of www.picture.norfolk.gov.uk

Church court records, more specifically the records of the Norwich Consistory Court, are probably the most salacious at the Norfolk Record Office (NRO). Before the mid-nineteenth century, church courts had jurisdiction over many aspects of life, including matrimony, probate, church taxes, sexual promiscuity, and defamation. In effect they were guardians of a person’s moral wellbeing. For this reason, their archive, especially witness statements, also known as depositions, offer an intriguing insight into everyday life. They are sure to add great interest to family and local history.

The Norfolk Record Office, with the support of its charitable partner, the Norfolk Archives and Heritage Development Foundation (NORAH), has started work to unlock the stories contained within the records, which cover the late fifteenth to the nineteenth century. And because the Diocese of Norwich covered Suffolk as well as Norfolk during most of this period, the records contain entries relating to both counties.

This blog post will introduce the records, explain why they can be so difficult to use and outline how they can be made more accessible. Other blog posts will follow, which look more closely into the records contained in the Norwich Consistory Court archive.

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‘He will have the Dance of Swing’: Norfolk’s Involvement in the Swing Riots of 1830s England

When the harsh winter of 1830 followed a poor harvest and caused reduced wages for labourers, agricultural riots spread across Norfolk and throughout the south and east of England. The labourers wanted to stop the spread of new threshing machines, which they viewed as a threat to one of their few winter employments. They targeted rich farmers, magistrates and clergymen, who received tithes (one-tenth of annual produce or labour given to the church). Threatening letters were sent, signed by a mysterious leader, ‘Captain Swing’, demanding wage rises, reduced tithes or destruction of threshing machines. One such letter, now held at the Norfolk Record Office, was sent to the Dean of Norwich Cathedral in October 1831; the cathedral owned a lot of land in Norfolk at this time. If demands were not met, the letter threatened, crowds of labourers would gather, burning hayricks and smashing agricultural machinery.

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Died in the Line of Duty – The Norwich Baedeker Raids of April 1942

Between July 1940 and August 1941 Norwich had suffered 27 bombing raids.  There then followed eight months of relative calm until Monday 27th April when the city suffered heavy losses as a result of the Baedeker raids.  The German Baedeker tourist guidebooks were used to identify bombing targets which meant that cities of historical interest were targeted.  The first Baedeker raid was on Exeter on 24 April 1942.  Norwich followed soon after with raids on the nights of Monday 27th and Wednesday 29th April.  A raid on Friday 1st May was comparatively uneventful.

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Norfolk’s New Railways: The Arguments For and Against the Introduction of Railways in 19th Century Norfolk

The First Line

The coming of the railways to Norfolk revolutionized many aspects of county life. The first railway from London to Norfolk arrived in the 1840s, when the line was opened via Wymondham and Cambridge and, from 1849, the Great Eastern Railway linked Norwich to London, with shorter journey times.

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Reading from the Archives: Out of the Mouths of Babes

For our next Reading from the Archives session, we have a special Family Friendly theme featuring documents written by children. We have once again delved into our collections to uncover the words of children from the pages of our documents, and bring them to life.

Here is a sneak peek at a couple of the documents we will be looking at during our brand new session.

Around 1855, young Moses Frosdick wrote a two sided letter (NRO, MC 392/10-11, 726X2) to his uncle in his very best joined up handwriting. He opens with a standard formal greeting:

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