Am now covered in big insect bites and calamine lotion from our explore of Sawston spooky, swampy wood on Sunday. That'll teach me to go walking in woods with flip flops on!
I have been back down the cellers of Cherry Hinton Hall this morning to gather up and rescue more of the archives which were discovered there a couple of months ago.
Cambridge International School now rent the Hall building from the council and the teachers and pupils there have been a fantastic inspriation. They have taken real care and interest in their School Building and the history of the site and local area. I went out to visit them a couple of months ago to take them some old maps, records and artifacts relating to the building and site. Also to show the children around the parkland and point out and show them all the lumps and bumps on the ground, telling them what we think is hidden beneath.
While I took some of the children round the park one of the teachers did a history trail in the Hall building which included a visit down the cellers. The children came up from the celler clutching handfulls of interesting old documents from the mid 20th century and paper work which they had discovered down there. There were things like old Folk Festival programmes from the 1970's, Royal Ballet tickets, City Council amenities records and all sorts. I then went down the celler to see where these had all come from and I found there was a very sizable amount of these documents all piled up on a ledge and some in old decaying wooden crates. The cellers, were vey dark - no electricity - and very, very damp, with running water culverts in places. The documents were in need of being removed and examined as soon as possible. So it was agreed that I could go back sometime soon and take the archives out and remove them to the Cherry Hinton Community Archives Group (CHCCAN) for examination and if appropriate, recording and making public via our website.
A couple of weeks ago both myself and Jon Phillips (CHCCAN) went down in the cellers to begin sorting this lost archive out but not having electricity and the sheer amount which was there, we decided to take a sample of the archive and come back another day with re-enforcements and better lighting!
On Saturday the Cambridge International School was awarded a CYPHA award (Cambridgeshire Young Persons History Award) at the CALH (Cambridgeshire Association for Local History) AGM & awards in Toft, Cambridge. I put the school forward for this award as I was so impressed by the work the children had produced on their local area and the interest they had shown in the history and how the teachers had been so encouraging. You can see more about this on their website and more about the awards at CALH
Today I have been back to the cellers, along with Jon & Nicola Phillips to retreive the remaining archives. This time we had much better lighting (it is very spooky down in those cellers!) and we spend a good couple of hours ferrying the archives out of the celler to my car. There was so much! A lot had, sadly, been so badly damaged by water and had rotted but a huge amount was still fine - there was a lot of old council reocrds from the 1930's to late 1970's. Lots of interest, with things like parks and gardens records, items from the allotment society and records of the Cambridge Festival etc. My car was filled - literally! As so much of the material didn't actually relate to the Hall itself or just to Cherry Hinton village, I decided to give my friend Phillip Sauders a ring. Phillip is a well known Cambridgeshire archivist working at Cambridgeshire Archives (formally Cambrigeshire Records Office). I had a chat about what we had and asked him if I could pop up to Shire Hall to the Cambs Archives so that he could have a look and see if he was interested. He agreed, so off I went, car nearly touching the floor with the weight! (good job I have an old banger). Phillip and one of the conservators came out to the car and had a good look and decided they would be able to take the archives in and sort them out, which was fantastic news :)
Once they have had chance to go through them properly, Phillip will get back to me with an update and we'll see how it goes.
So all in all, I'm very pleased that we were able to rescue these documents before they degraded any further.
It is such a beautiful day today that we decided to get up early and make the most of it. We started by going to the car boot sale at Chaplins Farm in Fulbourn, it is a very good size now, having grown over the last several years to become one of the best in Cambridge. We got some plants for our bare looking garden and we were determind to buy some 'car boot junk', so we came home with a Rubiks Magic from the 1980's and a Garfield cat landline phone, again from the '80's, and both still working great. Garfield has now replaced the home phone and I have been trying to remember the trick to the Rubiks Magic most of the afternoon (as you can tell, I am having the day off today :)
We went for an early lunch at the Robin Hood Pub in Cherry Hinton, which has just been refurbished and changed to an 'Eating Inn', It was very different inside now the work has been done but a really really good job, it looks such a nice place to go now. We sat in the garden and enjoyed our lunch then drove over to the village of Abington, where we had a lovely walk across the beautiful park.
We paddled in the fresh stream which runs alongside the park, which was nice as it is so hot today. We hunted for bits and pieces of old pottery in the water and came away with some bits of old blue and white china which we'll stick on plant pots with plaster of paris at some point, when we've collected enough.
Then we went for a walk over to the pretty little church, there were cows right next to it which I'd have loved to stroke but they wouldn't come close enough. It's such a shame that you can't get into churches now and that most are locked - I know you can go and get the key usually but sometimes you just want to pop in to look around. Still we walked around it, the strange thing we noticed was there were hardly any gravestones at all there - I'll have to find out why.
Then a walk back to the car through this picture postcard village and we drove into Sawston.
We parked just off of the High Street and had a quick look at the newly restored Challis gardens and a peek at Challis House which it is hoped will be a new museum for Sawston some point soon.
We went on to a strange wood at the north west end of Sawston and went for a quick explore, I had flip flops on because I knew we were going paddling but I did a good job of dodging the nettles in the wood :) This was a really odd place, not sure we were even allowed in but there was an open place to get in by. It was very overgrown and seemed unmanaged but strangest of all was the weird old swamp in the middle - it definately looked like a natural traditional looking swamp - not what you'd expect to find in Sawston - I'd love to find out more about this strange place - who owns it, its history etc.
Anyway, we're finishing off the day at home now, so all in it's been a really lovely day :)
Landscape Archaeologist, Local Historian & Mobile Makeup Artist