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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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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From the Archive: A remarkable harvest.

High up on a sheltered, well lit corner of a wall in an outbuilding at Cotesbach Hall can be deciphered a faint scribbling entitled ‘TOTAL TATERS 1920’ [1].  The unmistakeable hand of Rowley Marriott (1899-1992) can be discerned listing the weight of potatoes yielded from each of three areas in the walled garden, to a total imperial equivalent of 1,238 kg, nearly three times what we considered to be an exceptional yield…

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From the archive: Christmas Fare

It seems that struggling to find a suitable gift is an issue that has long been perplexing people... The back page of this 1940s magazine called 'Christmas Fare' shows a range of 'useful' gas appliances! Imagine tearing off the wrapping paper on Christmas morning to find you have been given a soldering iron heater!Here is the list of items pictured, sure to thrill even the most tricky to buy for... If you…

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From the Archive: Cotesbach and the East London Hospital for Children.

Archive document .3588.1.a : ‘Account of offertory alms, Cotesbach.’ One Sunday in 1872, the Cotesbach Church collection money (more than £5, as documented in the above ledger) was sent to a tiny hospital in Ratcliff Cross in the East End of London. What prompted the people of the rural village to support so generously such a seemingly insignificant cause? The answer involves an epidemic, a hospital romance and Charles Dickens.There was an…

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From the Archive: Maxim’s Pipe of Peace

Are those winter coughs and colds still lingering? Maybe the Archive can help. This “Pipe of Peace” medical device (delivered to Cotesbach in 1916) was one of many thousands produced in the early twentieth century to treat throat and chest problems such as bronchitis. Soothing vapours could be delivered right to the back of the throat via a long glass tube. Maxim himself began suffering with bronchitis in 1900 and spent many…

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