History in our Hands and on our Doorsteps

Stapleford History Society 15th November 2016

Talk by James Foreman and John Street

For many years Alan Bullwinkle has been collecting information about the village: jotting down snatches of conversation with older inhabitants, researching family histories, collecting newspaper cuttings and investigating the history of our oldest buildings. Knowing his interest, people have also given him papers found in outhouses and lofts when houses have been cleared. Earlier this year Alan donated this collection to the History Society and this is now stored in Lesley Ford’s house.

James Foreman explained how he and a couple of helpers have sorted the collection into archive boxes with such headings as: church, census, wills, shops and trades, etc. One box headed Events contains a variety of information about local celebrations for the Festival of Britain in 1951 and others such as the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. However, the collection needs to be catalogued and cross referenced for which volunteers are needed.

Snippets from the Overseer’s Account Book in May 1759
Paid George Freston for 1 dozen sparrows 1d
Paid Thomas Hopit for 6 weezuls 10d
Paid widow Webb for one moal 2d

John Street used various boxes of archive material to find out how much of a rural backwater the village had been in medieval and later times. Could most things be bought from local shops and could buildings be erected and repaired by village craftsmen? Kelly’s Directories, records of property tax, Manorial records, wills, births, deaths and marriages are sources which give us this information. John also identified further related material that could be collected to enrich our archive.

Discussion then turned to the question of how to make the archive more accessible. John Hall talked about a History Society website. Would it be just for members giving information about meetings, or should we try to put all our records on the web for the use of everyone: residents, visitors, genealogists, etc? At present there is limited access. History Societies in nearby villages have websites which vary from ones which are just for members to Harston’s which is a very comprehensive professionally produced site which cost £5000. These are decisions which need to be made so that we can move forward.

Appeal: please offer to help catalogue and digitise our archives by contacting us by email

[report by Keith Dixon]