Saturday, 14 November 2015

Dorset History Centre Birthday Open Day.

I was glad that I had something to do today, as I knew that I would otherwise spend my day watching the dreadful news from Paris. I followed the news way into the night, stunned and shocked at what I was being told. I would not have been able to take part in any activity today that was too flippant, as my mood was somber, as I am sure was the same as many others today.

I was however looking forward to attending the Dorset History Centre open day, which I did feel was suitably distracting. I have not visited before, but I will be going again for sure.

The staff and the volunteers made me feel so welcome and I was pleased to learn that the public is encouraged to use the facility. I attended a talk about how to trace your family tree, and was taken on a tour of the air conditioned rooms that contain a lot of Dorset's written history.
The History Centre on the Bridport Road in Dorchester, can be visited by anyone, to enable them to carry out research.
During our visit we were shown some very interesting exhibits, including 400 year old painted maps, school, medical and criminal records, parchment scrolls that dated back many centuries and various equally interesting records.

I was particularly interested in the grave diggers records, that volunteers are currently transferring to digital ones. I have recently been following the Future Cemetery Project in Bristol, and I feel that  understanding the history of cemeteries, will help with considering their future.
Another of the interesting things that we were shown, by another volunteer was a family history from the village of Nether Cerne. The volunteer was sorting through boxes of written information that was incredibly detailed, down to the names of the family's horses, which were recorded on the farriers invoices.  Included in this collection was an envelope containing a lock of a child's hair, with her name and 'first curl' written  on the outside.

I read about an eight year old boy who was found guilty of setting fire to a hay-rick, and was consequently sent away from his family, to a detention centre in Bristol. It crossed my mind that the children who set fire to the outdoor classroom at the Prince of Wales School earlier this year, may well have been about the same age. Their punishment was not as severe, but the crime was similar. 

My visit did take my mind off the atrocities that have occurred in France for a few hours, but my thoughts are again very much with the families involved in the incomprehensible crimes that took place in Paris last night. 

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