Calendar Adventures

Sometimes the simplest of questions are the most difficult to answer. In archives, that question can often be ‘what date is this document?’. Georgian/Julian calendars, regnal years, and feast days are all recognizable dating systems for people who use historic documents regularly (even if we do have to double check how to convert them into …

The Art of Making Fireworks: a children’s guide

As we go into a second national lockdown and organised Bonfire Night displays across the country have been cancelled, I decided to have a look through the archives for any pretty images of fireworks or happy recollections of past celebrations. It was going to be light-hearted and cheerful post, but the collections here never fail …

Gingerbread from Elenor Mundy’s Cookery Book

This is a guest post from Library Assistant Safiya Williams. We’re only a few days into the beginning of Autumn Term and already I am thinking of falling leaves, woollen knits and of course gingerbread. Traditionally flavoured with ginger, cloves, nutmeg or cinnamon – gingerbread is a perfect warming treat as the temperature drops. Upon …

Microscopy

Post by Ursula Ackrill, Special Collections Librarian. “It seemed to me,” said Swammer, coming close to Peregrine, “it seemed to me, my dear Mr. Tyss, as if a flea were on your collar.” Peregrine Tyss, the protagonist of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s humorous fantasy novel ‘Master Flea’ (1822), does keep the company of a friendly …

Elenor Mundy’s Cookery Book: Cracknells

This is a guest post by Library Assistant Safiya Williams. Like many during these strange and uncertain times I have found comfort in food, faced with shelves empty of my everyday food staples – pasta, rice, yeast – I found myself flipping through cookbooks and notebooks trying to make do with what I have. I …

Horticulture

As the grounds of stately homes and houses begin opening up after lockdown, we’re taking a look at horticulture, which can be broadly defined as “the art or practice of garden cultivation and management”. Horticulture features prominently in the estate papers of local aristocratic families, who had the space and resources to create extensive gardens …

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

In the 17th and 18th centuries, a time before Instagram, National Geographic, or even David Attenborough, there was great interest amongst Europeans in the animals which roamed distant realms. These fantastic beasts were eagerly read about in publications written by explorers brave enough to adventure to far-off lands, with detailed engravings made from eye-witness accounts …

Colley Cibber

If ever there was a case of success and fame being the result of luck, rather than talent, then Colley Cibber is it. He was an awful poet who became Poet Laureate through his political connections; a middling actor who connived to became a pioneering actor-manager in Drury Lane; and an unscrupulous and divisive man …

Homage to the Arboreal World

Trees have long been of significant importance to the human species. Our relationship with trees began with their ability to satisfy neolithic needs such as shelter and nutrients, which progressively shifted towards trees’ later central contribution to the evolution of agriculture and machinery. Indeed, major socio-economic changes over the 15th to 18th Centuries saw the …

Off to the races!

As today is final day of the Cheltenham Races, we’re trotting out some documents about horse racing in Britain and how some of its notable figures crop up in our collections. It’s become a  cliche that the feckless elder son of an aristocrat gambles away the family fortune on cards and horses, but although there …