To celebrate the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, Wythenshawe Hall held an Open Day on Sunday May 5th. This was a great opportunity for the Archives+ team to get involved in an event that combined history, community and families.

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Joanne Bailey (Community Officer) and Angela Rawcliffe (Learning Officer) started their four-year secondments with Archives+ in April. Joanne and Angela identified original archives that could be adapted for crafts and activities with families, as well as those that would be of interest to the general public, sparking enthusiasm for what archives can offer. Wythenshawe Hall volunteers were on hand to talk to visitors about the Hall itself.

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Wythenshawe Hall proved a great subject for research. Angela put together a series of copies of photographs held in the archives . This photo of a 17th century Siege of Wythenshawe Hall re-enactment in 1925 proved particularly popular!

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Joanne and Angela found a box of treasures in the Record Office store room, which included an old copy of Mrs Beeton’s book of household management and a school exercise book from 1859 originally belonging to Rachel Partington of Kearsley.

Rachel’s hard work practising her handwriting paid off. Angela was able to create worksheets based on Rachel’s beautiful copperplate handwriting, featuring the saying ‘Children should be seen and not heard’.

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A quill pen and bright red ink was provided. The red ink was kept well away from the authentic archive items, needless to say. There was a moment of concern over the new library carpet at the Hall, but there were no accidents!

Other craft activities included making spinning thaumatropes, a popular Victorian toy that is an early type of animation. A disk or card with a picture on each side is attached to two pieces of string. When the strings are twirled quickly between the fingers the two pictures appear to combine into a single image. We used the image of a bird in a cage. Peg dolls were made from wooden pegs and material including wool and pipe cleaners. The Victorian theme was continued with replica toys and some domestic kitchen items from Wythenshawe Hall’s own collection, including a cast iron kettle, a carpet beater and some old smoothing irons.

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The Hall welcomed over 600 visitors, and over 200 of them enjoyed the archives activities. Fifty peg dolls and over one hundred thaumatropes were taken home!

Archives+ will offer a wonderful, purpose-built showcase and repository for the region’s archive and family history. The Archives+ partnership, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will build on the appetite and demand for accessible community history and personal heritage. The project brings together an innovative partnership of statutory, university and voluntary organizations to provide a holistic range of archive and heritage services from one location. This one-stop-shop will make it easier than ever before to find what you’re looking for.

Look our for more Archives+ events on our website and on Twitter.