Getting to grips with the archive

Whilst we do know quite a bit about the history of Godinton and those who lived here, there are still some significant gaps in our knowledge, not least surrounding some of our collections. Fortunately, we do have lots of paperwork in our archives, and with the help of some of our volunteer guides, we have started going through this.

The archives contain a slightly eclectic collections of receipts and invoices, dating all the way back to Lillie Bruce Ward’s purchases when she still lived with her parents, at Westwood Park (Worcestershire). Once you decipher the beautiful copperplate handwriting there are some extremely interesting finds. We’re hoping we will find receipts and purchase orders for many of the items we possess today, and that we’ll be able to add this to our new, upgraded collections management system so that there’s a bit more detail on there.

If we can match up items with when and where they were bought, it might also give us a bit more of an idea about where they were believed to have originated, which tastes belonged to which member of the family, and whether or not items were seen as particular valuable or noteworthy when they were purchased, compared to whether or not they are today. This sounds like a relatively simple task on paper, but the descriptions are far from detailed most of the time, so a great deal of detective work is often required.

It may not be glamorous work, but finding the receipt from over one hundred years ago for an object that you walk past every day is a great feeling!