Nov 202016

Friendship, expertise and enthusiasm were all in evidence in good measure at our conference last weekend. For the first time, we arranged a visit on the Friday afternoon. This was to the Historic England Archive, a popular choice that was appreciated by all who attended. If you have an English place you really have to see what they hold that might be relevant. This can easily be done by visiting their website. The staff are incredibly helpful and keen to help you access any material that they may have, even if you are unable to visit the archive for yourself.

Much of what they have is photographic, a medium that is particularly sensitive to temperature change and needs to be kept as cool as possible. We had been warned to dress warmly and we were led in to the strong room area, which is held at a temperature of six degrees. Photographs spend hours acclimatising in a special chamber before being taken from the storage area to be worked on in other parts of the building. I am sure that we will all be using this archive in the future.

Friday night saw a last minute change of venue, as the original restaurant decided that they did not want to take a party of more than twelve; their loss. We repaired instead to a well known chain, noted for its Italian themed menu and chatted things one-place.


Photo - Suzie Morley

The main event of the weekend was Saturday’s conference. For reasons best known to themselves, the venue had set the thermostat of our room at thirty degrees. We did manage to cool it down to something more comfortable before the proceedings began. The welcome however was warm and there was a palpable positive atmosphere. Peter Cooper enthused us all with his explanation of our mapping project. Do check out the September issue of Destinations for more details. This was followed by Janet Barrie with a thought provoking presentation about how the landscape shapes our communities. Simon Last shared his passion for postcards and used some of his collection to illustrate how, with research, stories can be woven from the messages on the back. Pam Smith struggled with a technical hitch that was not of her, or our, making. It was a tribute to her presentation skills that, despite this, we were all fascinated by her story of the benefits of working as a group in a one-place context. The day ended in style, with our webmaster, Steve Pickthall, walking in his onesie round his place. There was some debate as to whether or not it was a disappointment or a relief that he was not actually wearing a onesie.

In the midst of all these inspiring presentations was the AGM, which passed swiftly. Details of that will be sent to members separately.

There were many positive comments about the content of the weekend and we are all looking forward to next year. If you want to save the date, it will be 28 October and it is likely that we will be moving further north.

Nov 032016

​Made your one-place study's New Year's resolution yet?

Yes, I know there is still a whole host of annual events to get through before we reach New Year's (like our conference next weekend - you can still book if you hurry!) But honestly, it's a busy time of year. Finding a wee corner to sit down and contemplate your goals for your study for the next twelve months might be tricky.

So maybe right now is the time to think about the coming year. Will you be participating in our Shared Endeavour for 2017? (Members, watch for the December issue of Destinations for the big topic reveal). Is there a particular record set that you'd like to tackle? A project you'd like to publicise and share with present-day residents? A descendants DNA drive? A perpetually-in-progress but not-quite finished analysis that prompts a wave of guilt every time you remember it's still not done?

Whether it's the OPS idea that's been kicking around in your brain the longest, or the shiny new idea that's currently taking your fancy, let's commit. This week, make a cuppa, sit down for half an hour and resolve that 2017 is the year that you are going to make that particular OPS nugget of knowledge happen. And if it's one you've been meaning to get to for a while, the good news is you will then have two guilt-free months during which you're not allowed to work on it.

Let us know in the comments below what your plans are. Or mail them to us on a postcard of your place!

Alex Coles

Oct 112016
Ch 01 Group Study or One Man Band

A Chance To Meet Other One-Placers

In just one month, on 11 November, we will be gathering in Swindon for the start of our third one-place studies conference. On the Friday we have the excitement of a visit to the Historic England Archive. I, for one, am really looking forward to this part of the proceedings. This archive was the source of some great 1948 sale particulars for one of my places. As usual, we shall be eating together on the Friday evening. A venue has been identified and we shall be sending details to attendees shortly.

Our conference venue is the Holiday Inn Express in Bridge Street, Swindon and a number of the attendees will be staying there overnight. We are fortunate to have such a wealth of experience amongst our members and five of them will be sharing aspects of their one-place research on the theme of  ‘Portraying your Place and its People’, So you can learn about mapping, landscape, postcards, collaboration in one-place studies or errr walking in your onesie. Surely it has got to be worth coming if only for the last! It is often the case that one of the most valuable parts of the day is getting to know each other and informally sharing experiences, there will be plenty of opportunities for networking over the two days. I am looking forward to meeting members and non-members alike next month.

Janet Few

Sep 242016

This month's HangoutOnAir returned us to the 2016 Shared Endeavour of Visualisation. The mini-theme for the hangout was The Places Within Our Places and looked at how names on maps can give us clues.

Kirsty gave us an introduction to place names, building names, street names and other geographical markings found on maps for her places. Older maps, while beautiful, generally won’t be in enough detail to show things within your place but from the 19th century more detailed maps became available. One source is Cassini who have a variety of maps for purchase – watch out for their Old Parish Maps showing the boundary and contents of each parish for 1911 census purposes (bonus for overseas residents with UK places – you won’t pay the 20% VAT on your Cassini maps).

Tithe maps will show property boundaries and the type of land use for each property, and you'll get a good visual representation of housing/buildings vs farmland vs forestation. The accompanying schedules give details of street and building names (plus details of owners and occupiers). These names may offer more clues – Lamb Park, North Wood Park, and Higher New Meadow all suggest what these portions of land looked like, how they were used (at one stage at least), and how long they might have existed, comparatively speaking. If you spot Kennels or Stables in your place you probably had a hunt based there. Cottages may be named after a former resident. If you had a "Do-As-You-Like Street" – well, watch the video to find out!

Peter then made us all extremely envious by showing off some of his handiwork producing a reference book of maps of his place. This clearly shows you the additions and removals of physical features over time. If you can visit your local record office, doing the same is an excellent idea. He also gave us a heads up re LIDAR to visualise the lie of the land, and Janet had an amusing story demonstrating that what you think you can see might be something else entirely!

The Hangout does have a UK focus, but while the specific resources mentioned would not be of use to those with one-place studies in other parts of the world the general principles remain the same. We’d love to hear from you with comments about the maps for your place, particularly if outside the UK. Watch the Hangout anytime at and post a comment either there or here about your own experiences.

We also had a momentary diversion to agricultural surveys in the written form rather than visual – UK’s General View of Agriculture surveys that have been published by county can be found on Wikipedia , from whence you can take yourself to Google Books/Internet Archive/libraries and local archives to take a gander at the survey itself.

Alex Coles

Sep 202016

This month’s Hangout will see a return to our Shared Endeavour topic of Visualisation. In the past, we have discussed photographs and postcards, newspapers and also, the 1939 National Register. This time, it’s all about the ‘lie of the land’.


Devon Heritage Centre: IR 30/9/262

How can we visualise the lie of the land in our one-place studies two hundred years ago? One hundred years ago? At the outbreak of World War One or World War Two? What resources might available to research the changes over time? Depending on the size and the location of the community, the answers will clearly vary and it is hoped that many one-place studiers will join us for the Hangout and share their resources, discoveries and more with the one-place community.

For my part, I hope to reveal some challenges I have faced in relation to sources and the lack of information available about my two small Devon places through time, as well as identifying how to overcome these issues and build a bigger picture of the community by studying the places within our places.

Kirsty Gray

Secretary: Society for One-Place Studies