For some time Stalbridge History Society members discussed the idea of a Newsletter. The first issue hot off the press was delivered on 25th March 2019 by email to all members of the society. A printed copy was made available to those without the internet. The newsletters are published on the old style ‘Quarter days’ of 25th March, 24th June, 29th September and 25th December each year. There is a little leeway allowed on the Christmas edition for obvious reasons!
Our first editor was Dr Carly Hall, succeeded by Ian Semple. Our current editor is Brita Wood.
Members of the public will be able to read online the past editions from 2 years ago and further, while members of the society will be able to red back issues from the last 2 years on their own members page (coming soon!)
We start with the 1st edition of the newsletter from 25th March 2019…
(Please note that email addresses and contact details featuring in these newsletters may have changed since they were first published. To contact the society about anything please email email@example.com)
You may have noticed the publication date at the top of this, our first Newsletter. You may also have wondered why the date is 25th March and not the first day of the month, or the last. The reason is that, as we are a History Society, we decided to revisit an old tradition and issue our quarterly news on the Quarter Days: 25th March (Lady Day), 24th June (Midsummer), 29th September (Michaelmas) and 25th December (Christmas – although we may cheat a bit with that one).
In addition, as this is our first Newsletter, Lady Day has an added significance since, until 1752, 25th March had been the first day of the New Year. 1752 was the first year in England and Wales when the New Year officially began on January 1st (to distinguish dates pre/post 1752, the former are known as “Old Style”, the latter “New Style”.) The new system did not affect Scotland, where 1st January had been the first day of a new year since 1600. This perhaps explains why Hogmanay is celebrated more than Christmas north of the border.
1752 saw another change to the calendar. Legislation was passed to harmonise the Julian calendar, used in Britain and her colonies, with the Gregorian calendar which was used throughout Western Europe. The two calendars were out of sync, causing legal and bureaucratic problems at home and abroad, and by 1752 Britain was 11 days behind her neighbours. The solution was to remove 11 dates from the British calendar, and in the Autumn of 1752, Wednesday September 2nd was followed by Thursday September 14th. Despite apocryphal stories of panic in the streets, the change caused little concern with the general public.
However, some adjustments had to be made regarding payments of annuities and rents, and there was the sensitive question of taxes.
Tax years had always started on the day after New Year (26th March Old Style). Despite 1752 starting on January 1st the new tax year started as usual on 26th March. As the calendar realignment took place in September 1752, the tax year 1752/53 would be 11 days short. To remedy this and give a full tax year of 365 days, 11 days were added after Lady Day 1753. So, that tax year ended on April 5th. And they have done so ever since.
The success of the Newsletter is very much dependent on members. At the end of the
Newsletter you will find how you can send in comments, articles, ideas and contributions.
Once our website is up and running there will be a Newsletter section so hopefully our activities will reach an even larger audience.
In 2012 Jane Daggett started the Stalbridge History Group, a small informal team that produced the Stalbridge History Trail. When Jane stepped down, the group reformed itself as The Stalbridge History Society, with a Constitution – and a bank account! The first Open Meeting, to introduce the Society and encourage membership, was held in July 2016. Our focus is on local history rather than tracing ancestry but sometimes the two cross paths. We will try and help if we are able. We work alongside our colleagues who run The Stalbridge Archive Society.
Currently the Society has 65 members with some as far afield as Australia! We actively encourage practical input at all levels from carrying out research, recording oral histories, taking part in workshops, attending talks to preparing and tidying up after our popular events. We are a supportive and inclusive Society and welcome new members. We have regular talks which are free to members. Our events usually take place in The Hub, Stalbridge which has easy access and good facilities.
Chairman: Hilary Townsend
Treasurer: Tim Lee,
Secretary: Judie Ralph
Committee: Maggie Bather (Minutes
Secretary), Kathleen Crew, Geoff Jeans,
Robert Ralph, Jan Wardell, Jude Watts,
‘Stalbridge For Sale’ was our most ambitious project to date and took place in September 2018, 100 years after the event. With eye catching publicity and articles in local and national press it attracted over 1000 visitors.
We even got a page in the BBC magazine ‘Who do you think you are?’ Not only were many local people suffering the effects of WW1 but Lord Stalbridge, owner of nearly all the property in the town, decided to auction it off. The exhibition focused on what happened to individual properties and the families that lived there. It was an incredible community event with people visiting from far and wide. The dedication of those who put the event together was typical of the Stalbridge spirit!
Anyone interested in joining the working group for the book of ‘Stalbridge For Sale 1918’ please contact Jude Watts via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you haven’t already walked the History Trail, it is well worth doing. It is about 2 miles long and the route is assisted wheelchair friendly except for pavement kerbs. Pick up a free copy at Stalbridge Post Office, The Hub or Library. Robert Ralph has revised the Trail guide and the 2nd edition will be available later in 2019.
Stalbridge House no longer exists but last year a team of people led by Chris Tripp, an archaeologist with the Dorset Diggers Community Archaeology Group, expressed an interest to investigate where it was thought to have stood.
The house was supposedly the fifth biggest in Dorset and Charles I and George III even visited, but by around 1827 it was no more.
Through the long, hot summer Dorset Diggers, including a number of our Stalbridge stalwarts went digging for evidence. The various finds were fascinating and work starts again soon.
Plans for the dig in 2019 will be revealed on April 6th at a talk in The Hub at Stalbridge in Station Road.
‘Dorset Heroines’ was an engaging talk by one of our local authors and around 40 people attended. David Beaton introduced well known heroines like Marie Stopes but also some who, although may have appeared very ordinary, had lead extraordinary lives. If you missed it you can always check out David’s book which is in the ‘Local History’ section of Stalbridge Library.
David Wilkins gave a fascinating talk on the memoirs of Alfred Plumley. Although Alfred was not local to Stalbridge (Mendip origins), his memoirs were discovered in a Bridport auction. The talk focused on how David (who is local) took the memoirs, carried out detailed research and turned them into a highly readable book which carefully preserves Alfred’s original writing. Although the audience was relatively small there was great interest in not only Alfred’s story but in the process of creating a marketable book from a sheaf of rather faded typed pages found in the bottom of a box in an auction! The book is available on Amazon and has had some excellent reviews.
Did you know? Stalbridge Library has a good selection of local history books and information. You can also use Ancestry.com for free on the Library computers!
Members of the group visited the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester in January 2019 for a training session on the principles of cataloguing.
The first session included a demonstration of cataloguing common types of documents and what information should be recorded to ensure that items can easily be identified for future use. The second session included information on the types of damage that documents suffer, including attacks by pests, a sample of a silver fish was passed around!
We also learnt of the environmental conditions required to keep documents preserved for the future.
We had a brief tour of the Centre including the strong rooms where all the documents are stored in boxes.
After lunch we had an additional session on Palaeography for beginners! This is the study of reading old documents from past to the present date. We learned how scribes through the ages used largely the same letters which once explained can make reading the lovely old manuscripts slightly easier. It is only in the later centuries i.e., 1700s and 1800s when writers more or less wrote in free form – this can actually be more difficult to interpret. Fascinating!
(Contribution: Christine Foster-Pegg).
Most of the March 25th 2019 issue of the newsletter has been reproduced here, but with some omissions, bearing in mind that contact details and links to old URL’s have possibly expired. This reproduction of the first newsletter produced by Stalbridge History Society will hopefully inspire non-members to enquire about membership to the society. It is a friendly and welcoming group of people, dedicated to the preservation and promotion of all aspects of the history of Stalbridge.