Latest news

Back to News

Just Catalogued November 2022

Posted in Behind the Scenes on 14 Nov 2022

In this blog, we round up all the items and collections that have recently been catalogued at the BRO and are now available to view - catalogue references are given in brackets. You can use our online catalogue to find out more about these and other items in our collections.

Councils hit by Covid 

We have received minutes of several civil Parish Councils: Beedon, 2013-2017 (CPC15); Bray, 1994-2015 (CPC23); Padworth, 2001-2017 (CPC90); Tidmarsh with Sulham, 1998-2021 (CPC131); Twyford, 1998-2021 (CPC73B); Watchfield, 2019-2021 (CPC112C); Welford, 1975-2020 (CPC147). Although modern, these will potentially be useful to future researchers, particularly the Twyford and Tidmarsh with Sulham minutes which include references to the impact of Covid-19 on the council’s work when the pandemic first hit in 2020. Watchfield meetings were also held by Zoom during the various Covid lockdowns and the Welford minutes include an open meeting of parishioners to discuss local celebrations of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

In costume

We were grateful to our social media followers for identifying a photograph showing children in fancy dress as being outside Redlands Primary School, Reading. It came from a small collection of miscellaneous Reading material which also included a coloured print of an actress in costume in the title role of the touring musical comedy 'Madame Pompadour' publicising the show’s run at the County Theatre in 1924, and a photograph of Morse's Ltd, 5 Carey Street. The donor also gave us a copy of the 1966 edition of a directory of local societies and other organisations, produced by Reading Libraries. This may seem ephemeral but offers a fascinating glimpse into the wide range of activities available for local residents in the 1960s (D/EX2744).

Social care across the ages 

Additional records of Abingdon Board of Guardians, 1834-1930 (G/A), which had been stored in a solicitor’s office, are of considerable interest both for the general administration of a Poor Law Union and for information about some of the individuals assisted. Records of the Berks and Hants Division Two of the National Deposit Friendly Society, 1934-1946, show how some people saved to fund their medical care before the establishment of the National Health Service (D/EX2627).

DIY benefits

Records of Compton Pilgrims’ Benefit Society, n.d. [c.1830s]-1966, also reveal self-help (D/FS3). This was a Friendly Society established in 1835 by members of Compton Primitive Methodist Society [chapel], but it soon expanded beyond the village. Unlike many Friendly Societies, it operated under strict temperance principles. Members received sick and funeral benefits in return for a regular subscription. By 1912 it had several branches, over 5000 individual members and was one of the largest Friendly Societies in England. By 1935 there were branch agents throughout south and west Berkshire, with some in southern Oxfordshire, north Hampshire, and Staines and Southall in Middlesex, with a total of over 13000 members. It was an Approved Society for the National Health Insurance Scheme, 1911-1947. The original insurance scheme became less popular after the Welfare State provided a safety net, and in 1964 the service closed down and the deposit (savings) section merged with the Gloucester & West of England Holloway Society, and the Compton headquarters (Fraternity House) sold.

Supporting Alzheimers patients and their families

We have also received a large file of correspondence of the Wokingham Alzheimer's Disease Society Carers' Support Group, 1989-1996 (D/EX1622). The group members were all carers for persons with Alzheimer's Disease. Their campaign for a day-care hospital in Wokingham for elderly mentally ill patients in Wokingham District led to the opening of Barkham Day Hospital, which provided physical care, occupational therapy and psychiatric treatment, in the former Barkham Ward at Wokingham Hospital, in 1996. We should say that although the material has recently been catalogued, due to the sensitive nature of it contents, it will not be generally available for research for some time.

‘A man in his condition’: Discovering social care in title deeds

A small collection of deeds for property in Lambourn, 1811-1926 (D/EX432) includes the site of the old Lambourn parish workhouse, built in 1811. Between 1842 and 1852, it served as the workhouse for the whole of the Hungerford Poor Law Union, before being demolished in favour of a larger purpose-built building; a large residence called Stork House was later built on the site. Another of the properties in this collection, Lambourn House in Folly Road, Lambourn, was used as a brewery in the 1840s. Sale particulars for a farm in Upper Lambourn in 1897 describe the property as offering 'excellent Gallops for Trainers on Crow Down’, and there are also deeds for the site of Delamere Stables, 1836-1934. Another potentially interesting document, is a deed of arrangement between Hannah New, widow of the local blacksmith, and her adult stepchildren, 1861, relating to property which was held in trust under the terms of Hannah’s marriage settlement, just three years earlier.

Deeds of property in East Hagbourne, 1663-1853 (D/EX2341) include the probate (will) of Laurence Acres the elder of Hagbourne, husbandman, 1663. This is of special interest as it contains the unusual provision for his estate to be used "to maintaine and keepe my son Laurence during his naturall life in sufficient dyett lodgeing washing and clothing as a man in his condition ought to be kept". This intriguing description of a 'condition' makes us wonder what that may have been. 

We have also catalogued deeds for the Sotwell Hill House Estate and property in Cholsey, 1866-2004 (D/EX2741); Greenham Mills, Thatcham, 1888-1903 (D/EX2731); property in Cholsey adjoining the home of Agatha Christie, 1875-1920 (D/EX2542); and various properties in Abingdon and Sutton Courtenay, 1786-1860 (D/EX2787); Earley, 1863-1969 (D/EX2374); Faringdon, 1799-1972 (D/EX2493); Harwell, 1761-1888 (D/EX216); Hungerford, 1795-1933 (D/EX2804); Hurst 1818-1831 (D/EX2620); Maidenhead, Bray and Cookham, 1811-1972 (D/ETH, D/EX2625 and D/EX2797); Newbury, 1802-1893 (D/EX2128); Reading, 1873-1985 (D/EX2445 and 2823); Tilehurst, 1925-1937 (D/EX2624); Warfield, 1821-1876 (D/EX2621); Winkfield, 1931-1935 (D/EX2776); Wokingham, 1567 (D/EZ200/2); and Woodley, 1950-1966 (D/EX2675).

You can find out more about any of the records mentioned here and more, by searching our online catalogue. Simply enter the collection references mentioned above into the Catalogue Reference field.