The Salisbury Journal Reports…

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EVOKING MEMORIES by Volunteer Alan Clarke

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Another item from Alan which should have us all thinking about achiving our own photographs:

Old images can bring back a flood of memories.  A lady contacted me after reading the blog on Reed and Mallik, with a promise to supply the archive with some more images.   Her father and grandfather used to work for the company from their offices in Milford Manor.  She told me that her father was a member of Fordingbridge camera club.  A quick search of the image archives produced a few photographs of Fordingbridge Camera Club which I sent to her  On one of these she found her father.  She captured her response of memories flooding back, in the following words:

“Well there he is;  my father!  Funny seeing his face after all these years.  I had to stare at it a long time to assure myself that I had got it right.  He won the cup for his picture of me at night, being held by my mother and looking at the London Christmas lights.  There was an objection by someone because they said he had clearly used a professional model.  My mother thought that was quite flattering.” 

The lady went on to say that she went to South Wilts Grammar School (SWGS).  I supplied some SWGS images but unfortunately none included her.  There were however some photos of her friends.  She wrote a couple of pages for me about the memories brought back by these images.  If she has been encouraged her to write her memoirs, I hope that the museum shop will be selling copies!

This photo, with the lady’s anonymous father, looks like it comes from the 1960s – already more than fifty years ago. Another reminder to print out, or otherwise save some of those photos sitting inside the memories of phones, pads and computers!

Back to School means back to the Museum

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Volunteer Roy Wilde’s blog about his placement…

One of my cunning plans to survive lockdown, and not be too much of a nuisance to my wife, was to return to the university archaeological environment. It was several years ago when studying for a Master’s degree in archaeological survey that Adrian allowed me access to the Museum’s ceramic stores to assist in my dissertation. In the years following I have been involved in various digs and research projects for Historic England, Cranborne Chase AONB, and Southampton University in addition to volunteering at the Museum, both behind the scenes and on engagement and “Talking Objects”.

Accordingly, last summer I committed myself to another Master’s, this time in bioarchaeology. This was partly inspired by my need to write up a report on a small community dig I had carried out in Grovely Forest.  The assemblage produced was particularly heavy in animal bones of which I knew nothing. Hence, before writing my report for the Wilton Estate I thought it would be useful to return to the schoolroom.

In September I returned to the Avenue Campus of the University of Southampton and was quickly immersed in osteo studies, which included analysis of masses of animal bones from medieval Winchester and human skeletons of the Saxon era from Cambridgeshire. It was fascinating – apart from having to undergo two bone recognition tests per week – my brain hurt!


It wasn’t always as easy as guessing which animals these came from!

Altogether I studied five different subjects in my first semester, ranging from osteoarchaeology to the Neolithic. Happily, one was concerning museums and the presentation of heritage, and I was able to base one essay on my Salisbury experience and cite the development of the Wessex Gallery as a tale of “how to do it”. Luckily I had called in and taken some photos of covid-protected visitors during the limited opening in September.

Of course by Christmas the university world was turned upside down for a second time and no more laboratory or practical work of any kind was permitted. Much of my second semester choice of subjects was put at risk and changed. I had hoped that one, a professional placement in the heritage world, might be light at the end of the tunnel. I had suggested to the academic powers-that-be that Salisbury Museum should be considered. Inevitably many of the archaeological placement opportunities had disappeared. However, when Bridget and Adrian thought that there might be the possibility of helping with the Past Forward: Salisbury Museum for Future Generations I jumped at the opportunity to gain some practical experience – even socially distanced.

Of the galleries being restructured, the Ceramics Gallery houses an outstanding and extensive ceramics collection, but its 50 year-old display currently omits the pre-historic development of ceramics and interpretation is rather dated.


The Proposed Ceramic Gallery Re-design (Metaphor Ltd)

The Project’s ceramic interpretation will explore chronology, technical development, and individual influence in the context of social change. In support, my primary placement task, I am working under Bridget’s direction and following the guidance of the Guest Curator. The first phase has been reviewing the ceramic and archaeology collections in order to identify potential display items for the Guest Curator’s final decision. Officially my placement is for 18 days spread over the period 4th February to 14th May. The first phase has been to set up operation from home, using the Museum’s Modes database to interrogate the 96,000 artefacts listed, to develop candidate lists for more detailed consideration and physical examination. Getting Modes downloaded and operating efficiently, linked to separate photograph files has certainly been a challenge, but with Megan’s and David Balston’s guidance all worked out.  

Using Modes to carry out a multitude of searches has pricked my conscience. Thinking back to all the catalogue entries I made during the Pitt Rivers project, I now realise just how important each individual artefact title turns out to be for the search mechanism to work. All being well I shall be allowed into the Museum’s ceramic and archaeology stores to physically inspect candidates for display. The haunting phrase “partly restored” can mean many things to many people. Should time permit, I shall carry out more detailed research of individual artefacts origins, ownership and cultural significance to develop interpretation potted histories. The one blot on the horizon, at the end of the placement I have to write a 4,000 word report upon the experience.

A useful link:

The Modernisation Project called Past Forward: Salisbury Museum for Future Generations can be found: https://salisburymuseum.org.uk/support-us/past-forward 

Lucky man! Thank you Roy, and good luck with it all!

A JOHN CONSTABLE QUIZ from Volunteer Mary Crane

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It’s a long time since we wrote here about someone who seems like an old friend – John Constable. We are brought back to him via a lovely painting and a quiz from Mary:

Spring Ploughing John Constable 1821 (print)

John Constable 1776 – 1837

  1. In which English county was Constable born?
  2. What was his father’s occupation?
  3. What was the name of Constable’s wife?
  4. Where did they set up home?
  5. Which sea-side town did Constable move to for the sake of his wife’s health?
  6. Who was Constable’s friend who was also Bishop of Salisbury?
  7. In the painting, “Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows” what did Constable paint in the stormy sky?
  8. The name of the cottage in one of Constable’s most famous paintings? W—- L—- cottage

We expect all long-standing engagement Volunteers to get full marks in this ‘test’ !

Tried This?

As spring brings longer days and (we hope!) more sunshine, working at home can become a problem. Not just because we would rather be outside, but because that sunshine sometimes makes it impossible to see our computer screens! One wonders why, if we can land a person on the moon, we can’t produce phone and computer screens that you can actually read from other than in a darkened room!

Having Googled ‘shades for computer screens’ and seen some bizarre black hoods and enveloping blankets that would cause the viewer to pass out from heat and lack of oxygen, it quickly became clear that Amazon could help in an unexpected way.

You may be way ahead of me, but this works a treat:

From Wiltshire Museum

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Our friends and colleagues at Wiltshire Museum, Devizes, have made new videos available on their site, including talks from The November 2020 Archaeology Conference, some of which were reported, briefly, on this blog. Click on the blue for connection to these:

Earlier lectures are available from the ‘talks catchup’ page of our website – we will be adding to this on a ‘moving wall’ basis.  The talks from the Archaeology Conference, held online in November 2020 are now available.  We would like to say thank you to all our speakers for allowing us to make their talks available to a wider audience.


Welcome Amy!

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Hello! My name is Amy Hammett and I am the new Community Curator for Wiltshire, so like Sarah before me I will be working at both Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Museum. For my first two weeks I have been busy meeting people (mainly via zoom!) and learning about all the exciting projects that are in the pipeline, including all the big changes happening at Salisbury!

A bit about me – I have a background in archaeology, both academically and in the field, with a specialism in Egyptian archaeology. I have also worked in museums and heritage for a number of years including working at Andover Museum of the Iron Age, Milestones Museum, Mottisfont Abbey, and Brooklands Museum. My work has been quite varied and I have worked in learning departments, operations, visitor experience, conservation, engagement, exhibitions, and volunteers.

In my personal time I enjoy working on my garden, doing pilates, chatting with my book club, visiting museums and heritage sites, going for walks, and lots of different fibre art (including but not limited to crochet, knitting, cross stitch, sewing, embroidery). I live in Andover with my husband, Robert, and two cats (Lily and Dax), who have loved having us at home to serve their every whim!

I am excited to start this new job, as it gives me an opportunity to work on community projects, which I love doing, and working with underserved groups, who I believe passionately should be involved in museums and feel welcome. I have experience and training in different aspects of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion, including Autism, Dementia, Disability, Equal Rights, and I am happy to answer any questions, and please do contact me if you have any of your own ideas- or even to say hello!

I am looking forward to meeting you all in person when we re-open and it is safe to do so!

THE SALISBURY POSTMAN 1715 by Volunteer Alan Clarke

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People new to Salisbury Museum’s archive of images are sometimes amazed when I say we have an image from 1715.  

“But photography wasn’t invented then!” I hear them say.


According to Wiltshire newspapers guide, the paper only existed from 1715-16, aiming to publish 3 issues a week (which it records) but there are only 2 copies in existence (both with the SJ?). No trace of it after 1716..

Here is one of our 1715 images (or an image of an image).  The first thing I do with such an image is to see if Google thinks that September 27th 1715 was a Saturday. Google thinks it was a Friday but to us, in Salisbury, it was a Saturday.   

I particularly like the address of the printer.

“Printed by Sam. Farley, at his Office adjoining to Mr. Robert Silcocks, on the Ditch in SARUM, Anno 1715.”

Was there only one Ditch in 1715?   Maybe this is why the extra information about Silcocks was required to define which Ditch,? And who was this well-known Mr Robert Silcocks?

Now examine the printer’s advert about themselves.

“Besides the News, we Perform all other Matters belonging to our Art and Mistery; whether in Latin, Greek, Algebra, Mathematicks, &c.”

Did Salisbury have many mathematics authors who wanted their work printed complete with all the correct Greek symbols?

Is there anyone interested in trawling the net to find papers printed by Salisbury mathematicians around 1715?

The paragraph above this self-advert would have one believe that the distribution of this Salisbury newspaper included everywhere within 40 miles of the City and even as far as Exeter.

If you are inquisitive, it can be so fascinating being a Salisbury Museum volunteer!

Medieval maps show that The Ditch was the name of the street linking Winchester Street with High Street, now ‘New Canal’ (just a posh name for the same thing!).

27 September 1715

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Alan Clarke remarked in his blog that the first thing he does when looking at documents or photographs which include the date of a day is to interrogate Google to see if it is correct. This had us looking at various websites which help with this kind of, sometimes esoteric, information.

As I write, www.holongagogo.com tells me that 305 years, 6 months and 15 days have passed since 27/9/1715. It will also include the minutes and seconds if I should need that information for anything….

Another site www.en.calc-site.com tells me, in case I need to know and can’t be bothered to do the long multiplication, that it is 111,596 days ago.

Three weeks or so before the little news sheet was first published in Salisbury, King Louis XIV of France – the Sun King – had died. He had reigned for more than 70 years. Would The Salisbury Postman have reported this? Probably, yes, but the world was still waiting for the first edition on 27th!

The First Jacobite rebellion would have hit the headlines everywhere in September and after, but maybe not the death, on 14 September, of a certain Dom Perignon who had tinkered with the production of champagne and made it the famous and expensive tipple that it is today. (www.onthisday.com).

The joys of the internet…

An indeed, here, on the second part of Alan’s photograph, a different edition dated 21 November, is a close up of a story about the rebellion. You may need to get hold of a magnifying glass read the rest!