From the Archive: Navvies at Cotesbach

The Great Central Railway was built through Lutterworth in the late 1890s and the influx of navvies into the quiet market town had inevitable consequences. The forces of law and order, in particular, went through an exceptionally busy time. ‘Sleeping out with no visible means of subsistence’ was an offence that brought a succession of navvies before the Lutterworth magistrates, and one that usually earned them 7 days’ hard labour in Leicester…

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The Scythe – A tool for our times.

Nicole Clough explains why learning this traditional skill has many benefits - ahead of our Scything class in May. A scything renaissance is underway! With many of us seeking greener, cleaner solutions, this tool is drawing a lot of attention and is making a strong comeback in the UK. As a teacher of scything, I have somewhat of a reputation for raving about its merits, but not without justification. It’s a privilege…

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From the Archive: Crocuses for the Victorian garden

This is an exciting time of year in a garden. Even when things still seem dead, we only need to look beneath the surface layer of old leaves to find that life continues; roots are still vigorous, shoots are seeking the light and flower buds are already forming. So much is still there and just biding its time! Sometimes it seems that the Archive is like that garden, apparently dormant but ready…

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From the Archive: A Happy New Year!

An Edwardian new year's card from an Archive album. The Archive has numerous beautiful examples of greetings cards, many of them pasted into albums by Victorian and Edwardian children. Historically, the sending of good wishes for a coming year probably represents the oldest of such greetings, dating back to the ancient Chinese. However, it was not until mechanised (and therefore cheap) colour printing took off in the mid nineteenth century that the…

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From the Archive : The Ice Merchant’s Bill

Ice cubes chinking in a festive glass, ice cream, frozen desserts - what would we do without ice? More to the point, what did people do in the days before every kitchen was equipped with a freezer? Well, as document .4438.3 shows us, in the nineteenth century supplies could be bought from an ice merchant. Where he obtained the ice is an interesting story. The bill in the photograph is for three…

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Spotlight on Watercolours

Thanks to an enquiry from The Watercolour World early this year, the benefit of up to date scanning technology and a huge volunteer effort, sketches and watercolours of Cotesbach and by Cotesbach family are now available for viewing online at This marvellous website is a window on the world before colour photography, making our collection viewable alongside others without compromising its care and management and enlivening even the most elaborate description…

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The Last Straw: gripping novel with Cotesbach roots

Looking for a good read over Christmas? Former Trustee and CET volunteer Paula Jeffery, who originally came to Cotesbach in search of her Rainbow ancestors, has published her first novel about one of them: Jabez. His father John was born in Cotesbach in 1785, into a family whose forebears had been farming here for generations; John and Ruth moved to Coventry when he became a lawyer’s clerk, but his son got entangled…

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From the archive: Wild Swimming

Have you, over this ‘staycation’ summer, had the opportunity to join the estimated four million of us who enjoy ‘wild swimming’? Wild swimming, offering as it does an antidote to the strictures and stresses of lockdown, reportedly* saw a 287% increase in popularity over the first months of the pandemic. Yet the habit of swimming in natural settings is hardly new and for most of history, indeed, ‘wild’ swimming was the only…

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From the archive: A new lease of life.

Work in progress, the beginnings of our new mosaic. May 2021. Minton tiles from the conservatory at the Hall, now incorporated into the mosaic. The new CET mosaic has many resonances in our Archive. We have receipts, invoices and inventories concerning domestic goods such as china dating back to the eighteenth century. One element of the design, the Minton tiles from the conservatory at the Hall, can be related precisely to Archive…

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Mosaic Artist Wanted!

We are seeking to commission an artist to create a mosaic on our outside space using archaeological artefacts found here! Please read our tender document for more information and do get in touch if you have any questions. Mosaic Artist TenderDownload

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