Yesterday I spent a lovely day in Lewes with my friend (http://sutleress.blogspot.com/). The reason for our visit was to go to the East Sussex Records Office which is based there. As you well know by now I am currently researching my dissertation. Following my tutorial a few weeks ago I had a few archives to track down and research. Well, luckily I have had some success. One of the archives - the Bexhill War Memorial Committee papers - are located at the Records Office, hence our trip yesterday. My friend was there to help cover more ground as I only really had one day to go through the papers and make notes. Thankfully my friend is also interested in history and knows how to take references and notes so she was a very useful companion! I was slightly concerned she would get bored as dissertations are famously only interesting to the person writing them, but she claims she found it interesting and was not bored!
The archive itself was very interesting. It included some of the minutes of the committee meetings (unfortunately not complete), the leaflet asking for design submissions from Sculptors and Architects (5 Guineas for the top 5 designs chosen by the committee!), some of the designs including the winning entry, sketches and maps for where it will be located and the Borough Surveyor's reports on the location and winning design. The archive also included information on the Children's Memorial Fund that was planned to be set up with any money left over from the "visible memorial" fund and the various discussions with the Charity Commission to get this fund recognised as a "War Charity". Finally there were papers detailing damage to the war memorial in 1921 just a few months after it was unveiled at the end of 1920. The damage was apparently caused by the rocks moving and the stone the memorial was made out of expanding in the warmer weather which hadn't been allowed for. Although the repairs were made, it did come at a cost which judging by the collection of papers, those that provided the additional cash were not happy about! I did not know about this incident so this was something new to add to the narrative of the Bexhill War Memorial.
With my friend's help we managed to get through the archive in about 3 hours. I would most definitely have been there all day had I been on my own. I was also extremely lucky to get three documents copied on the day. At the moment there is at least a 4-6 week waiting time for reproductions which with my deadline pending would not have been doable. However the staff there very kindly agreed to make an exception and I was able to collect the copies on our way home. I am very grateful!
By the time we were finished it was lunch time and as the sun was out we took our picnic outside and sat on a bench watching the world go by and enjoying the view of Lewes Castle. It was also an opportunity to warm up after the chilly temperatures of the archive! After our picnic we took a stroll around Lewes looking at the various historic buildings and churches, reading plaques and looking in the lovely unique shops. Typically I found a beautiful A5 purple leather bound thick notebook ( I am the Stationery Pigeon after all) that I really wanted, but unfortunately it had a £20 price tag! Unless the Birthday Fairy, Father Christmas or Lottery decides I can have it, it will sadly remain in the shop!. The red leather one was equally beautiful!
We then found a collection of craft shops including a fabric/quilting shop. Now I am not a fabric crafter and as the daughter of a curtain maker and upholsterer I have an aversion to fabric and sewing. It was always going to go one way or the other; either I would join the family business or rebel. I rebelled to the point where I do not know how to sew or use a sewing machine, have no idea about different fabrics and don't normally go in fabric shops by choice. However my friend loves fabric craft and wanted to go into the shop. We are also starting to make quilts for Crafty Claires to sell at Craft Fairs. Yes that's right I will be helping to make quilts! Me! My Dad does not believe it!! The shop itself was very nice and I loved all the colours of fabric and the little bundles of pre-cut patchwork pieces. It was also very nice as a cute little dog called Freddy lived there and just had to be fussed over! He was a friendly little thing and I couldn't resist making a fuss of him! I am sucker for little dogs! We also bought a couple of panels for our quilts for the next craft fair in April.
Luckily my friend and I are ideally suited as friends. Not only do we share similar interests but we also get bored at exactly the same time! After looking at the quilt stuff we both decided we had had enough! We were bored, hot, thirsty and tired. We returned to the car via our bench for a final sit down and a drink! It was a lovely day and I am really grateful for my friend's help. She made the day far more enjoyable!
Now I need to sort out access to the Mass Observation Archives at University of Sussex! Hmmmm.......................