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2019 marks the 120th anniversary of the Victoria County History (VCH): an ongoing project to write the history of every county in England, from the earliest times to the present day.

To celebrate, counties across England have each filled a special VCH Red Box – referencing the iconic VCH series of Red Books – with objects which tell the history of their place in quirky, surprising, and often personal ways. From musket balls to sari fabrics to a pinch of mustard, please enjoy exploring these objects and their rich and colourful stories.

Selected objects are on display at the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, London (November 2019 – February 2020). The full Red Boxes collection is below, in a permanent virtual exhibition, with all object captions. Scroll down the page to view the full captions as PDFs.

Thank you to all who participated in this national public history project.

Thank you also to the Victoria County History Trust for funding the Red Boxes project, and to our partners, the Being Human Festival.

Lead Ore-Galena

Lead ore

Galena, the main ore of lead, was mined extensively in the Lake District and North Pennines from the very earliest times.

Iron Ore - Haematite

Iron ore

Two large deposits of iron ore (Haematite) occur in Cumbria; around Egremont and close to Dalton in Durness and Millom.

Letter from the Cumbrian Artist Percy Kelly

Letter from the Cumbrian artist Percy Kelly (1918-1993) to the poet Norman Nicolson (1914-1987), 18 October 1971

Peter Kelly often illustrated his letters. This would have been chosen deliberately for Nicholson given his strong identification with the Millom area.

Coniston manor court admittance

Copy of an entry in the Coniston manor court roll, admitting Adam Bell to a 'close of woody ground' in the manor, which he had bought from William Atkinston.

Herdy' sheep mouse mat

'Herdy' sheep mouse mat

The Herdwick sheep, thought to have been brought to Cumbria by the Vikings, is a regional icon.

A-Z Visitors' Map of the Lake District

A-Z Visitors' Map of the Lake District

Visitor maps and guides have been published since tourists first started coming to the Lake District in the late 18th century.

Sample of Herdwick wool carpet

Sample of Herdwick wool carpet

Goodacre Carpets have been manufacturing carpets in Kendal for over 50 years, using spool Axminster looms.

A map of the liberty of Furness' by William Brasier, 1745, copied by T. Richardson, 1772

A map of the liberty of Furness by William Brasier, 1745, copied by T. Richardson, 1772

Intended to encourage tourism, this 18th century map shows the manors made up of the Liberty of Furness, large parts of which once belonged to Furness Abbey.

Postcard showing 'The Giant's Thumb, Penrith' by W.G. Collingwood (1920)

Postcard showing 'The Giant's Thumb, Penrith' by W.G. Collingwood (1920)

In St Andrew's churchyard in Penrith lies 'The Giant's Thumb' - one of several Anglo-Norse high crosses to survive in Cumbria. Thought to date to c.AD920.

Squirrel Nutkin badge

Squirrel Nutkin badge

Beatrix Potter is best known for her illustrated children's books of Peter Rabbit and friends. As a child, she spent many holidays in the Lake District.

Furness Multi Cultural Community Forum message bug

Furness Multi Cultural Community Forum message bug

The south western corner of Cumbria is dominated by Barrow in Furness, with market towns including Ulverston and Dalston along the peninsula.

Wool

Wool

Circular sheep folds in Weardale date from the 13th century and wool is still Durham’s principal rural product.

leather and painting

Leather and painting

Cattle farming, both for beef and the tanning industry, was always prominent in the county.

advertising playing card

Advertising playing card

Durham had a cottage carpet-making industry in the 18th century, and a factory was established alongside the River Wear around 1815.

miner carved in coal

Miner carved in coal

The Durham coal field is one of the most extensive in the country, and
generated huge wealth for the coal owners.

‘Geordie’ lamp

'Geordie’ lamp

The importance of coal mining in the north east led to the independent
development of the safety lamp by Stephenson, at the same time as Davy in the south.

The Durham Argus butterfly

The Durham Argus butterfly

The Northern Brown Argus butterfly 'Aricia artaxerxes' exists across the north of England, but the related Durham Argus is endemic only to County Durham.

Mustard seeds/paste

Mustard seeds/paste

Together with carpets, mustard was considered the principal manufacture of Durham, where the processing methods were evolved.

Durham Cathedral commemorative tea spoon

Durham Cathedral commemorative tea spoon

Begun in 1096, the cathedral is one of the greatest buildings of Christendom. It contains the shrines of St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede.

Railways commemorative mug

Railways commemorative mug

Evolved from the track-ways which had developed to carry coal from the pits to the ports, Durham was where the first modern railways were developed.

Piece of galena (lead ore)

Piece of galena (lead ore)

Lead mining has existed at least since Roman times in the county. Durham’s last lead mine closed in 1919.

Roman tessera

Roman tessera

When house foundations were being dug, part of a Roman cemetery was unearthed. The cemetery site was fairly typical, adjacent to the main road to London.

The Prittlewell Price

The Prittlewell Prince

A once-in-a-lifetime (if you’re lucky) discovery, this is the most important princely burial to be found since Sutton Hoo, and possibly one of the earliest.

Belfry

Timber-framed belfry

Between the 3rd quarter of the 14th century and the early 16th century, over 100 churches were fitted with elaborate, beautifully constructed timber belfries.

Timber-framed house

15th century timber-framed house

Simpler timber framing resulted in handsome and surprisingly eco-friendly houses like Monks Barn in Newport and countless more modest dwellings Essex.

Saffron bulbs

Saffron bulbs

In the 16th and 17th centuries the area around Saffron Walden was the main centre in England for the cultivation of saffron.

Plume library

Plume Library

Visit the Plume Library in Maldon, where you will be taken back in time to 1704, in a room unchanged since its creation by Thomas Plume in 1700.

A Martello Tower

A Martello Tower

The location of Essex facing the Continent made it vulnerable to seaborne attack. One endangered area was the gently shelving beaches of Tendring Hundred.

Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are?

Searching for my ancestors, I found more than I bargained for!

Blue Essex sky

Blue Essex sky

During my 60 years living in Essex, I have enjoyed giving a true and very Essex reply to the perennial childhood question ‘Why is the sky blue?

Maldon salt

Maldon salt

Maldon’s salt and Tiptree’s jams are splendid Essex examples of thriving international business with royal support and much praise.

Tiptree jam

Tiptree jam

Maldon’s salt and Tiptree’s jams are splendid Essex examples of thriving international business with royal support and much praise.

A Marconi valve

A Marconi valve

Famed as the inventor of wireless telegraphy, Marconi (1874 -1937 ) gave us much more...

A Ford Popular

A Ford Popular

A scale model of the Ford Popular car made by the Ford Motor Company at Dagenham in Essex between1953 and 1959.

MistleyMan’s Log

Mistley Man’s Log

Chuff Horlock’s 'MistleyMan’s Log' so typifies the Essex attitude:
Business, yes – but let’s also have fun!

Radio Caroline

I spent many an evening huddled over a small transistor radio listening to “pirate” radio stations broadcasting from ships anchored off the Essex coast.

Matchbox

Matchbox

The University of Essex enrolled its first students in 1964. Over 100,000 students from more than 140 countries have graduated since.

Oyster shell

A Mersea Native oystershell and a rock oystershell

Quite different from the common rock oyster andrepresentative of the Island of Mersea and an important aspect of the history of Essex and the Roman occupation.

Warner & Sons material

Textile sample

Warner & Sons started life in London in 1870 but moved to Braintree, Essex in 1895.

Cider with Rosie

Cider with Rosie

This book, standard classroom reading in the 70s, represented my knowledge of Gloucestershire when I started a new job as a software engineer in Stroud (1985).

Tree-ring dated timber core

Tree-ring dated timber core

This core sample was taken from one of the oak timbers of the early Tudor merchant's house in Westgate Street, Gloucester.

Photograph of a newly shorn sheep and a sample of handspun wool

Photograph of a newly shorn sheep and a sample of handspun wool

The sheep were photographed in a field on the Fosse Way outside Cirencester. The wool was handspun from a fleece and dyed using onion skins.

Cheese packaging

Cheese packaging and a scrap of cheesecloth

Cheese-making has a long tradition in the Severn Vale, where Single and Double Gloucester was traditionally made from the once nearly extinct Gloucester cattle.

Postcard of Tewkesbury Abbey and the flooded meadow

Postcard of Tewkesbury Abbey and the flooded meadow

Tewkebury Abbey rising about the surrounding water was one of the iconic images of the devastating floods of 2007.

Westonbirt

Westonbirt Arboretum

Westonbirt, the national arboretum, is home to 2,500 different species and 170 champion trees.

Postcard of Edward II's tomb, Gloucester cathedral

Postcard of Edward II's tomb, Gloucester cathedral

The most notorious royal connection for the county is the murder of Edward II, alledgedly with a red hot poker, at Berkley castle.

Gloucester Rugby shirt

Gloucester Rugby shirt

Rugby has traditionally been more popular than football in the county. Gloucester have played at Kingsholm since 1891.

Duck

Duck letter opener

This represents the ducks and other waterfowl at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, founded by Peter Scott in 1946 as a pioneering centre for conservation.

Glosters back badge

Glosters back badge

For gallantry during the Battle of Alexandria (1801), the Gloucestershire Regiment was given the honour of wearing a badge on the back of their caps.

Promotional pack of playing cards

Promotional pack of playing cards

The Cheltenham Festival, the spring National Hunt meeting, has run at Prestbury since 1912.

Dowty World, January 1992

Dowty World, January 1992

Gloucestershire's association with aircraft dates back to World War 1 and the formation of the Gloster Aircraft Company.

pig

Hampshire hog

Since the late 18th century ‘Hampshire hog’ has been the traditional nickname for residents of the county.

Langdon’s map

Langdon’s map of Mapledurwell

Langdon’s map of Mapledurwell, 1616, was drawn for Corpus Christi College, Oxford, the owners, and is preserved in a beautiful book of maps in their archives.

musket balls

Civil War musket balls

Basing House was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in 1645 after three sieges in the Civil War.

Basingstoke geology map

Basingstoke geology map

The Basingstoke geology map clearly shows the twofold division of the area with the Reading Beds (RB) and London Clay (LC) in the upper part of the map.

Clay and chalk

Clay and chalk

The clay/chalk geology affected much of the life of the area.

Teasel and sheep’s wool

Teasel and sheep’s wool

By the early 16th century Basingstoke and its rural hinterland had a flourishing cloth industry. Flocks of up to 500 sheep pastured on Basingstoke Down.

Basingstoke Canal token

Basingstoke Canal token

A shortage of legal coins in the 1780/90s led many contractors to issue tokens to pay workers.

Cover of Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

From 1775 to 1800, Austen lived in Steventon, ‘the cradle of her genius’, where, from 1796 she wrote early versions of three novels.

Gabardine sample with label

Gabardine sample with label

Thomas Burberry set up shop in Basingstoke in 1856.

Wallis & Steevens steamroller model

Wallis & Steevens steamroller model

A steam road roller of the type manufactured in Basingstoke by Wallis & Steevens in the late 19th century.

Model of Mighty Antar

Model of Mighty Antar

For much of the 20th century the Thornycroft vehicle works was the largest employer in Basingstoke. It is perhaps best remembered for the Mighty Antar.

Fishing flies

Fishing flies

Arguably the two best chalk streams for this the purest form of trout fishing arise and flow for their entire length in Hampshire.

Basingstoke Boy

Basingstoke Boy

John Arlott, OBE (1914–1991) was a radio broadcasting ‘immortal’. He was BBC radio’s voice of English cricket for over a generation, retiring in 1980.

Model chamois goat

Model chamois goat

The shield of the Wallop family, earls of Portsmouth from 1743, is supported by chamois.

Cartridge cases

Cartridge Cases

Cases from the SAS firing range at Ross. The Special Air Service is well known as being based near Hereford.

Mappa Mundi Tea Towel

Mappa Mundi Tea Towel

Displayed at Hereford Cathedral, the Mappa Mundi is a medieval map of the known world, dating from c.1300. It is the largest medieval map still known to exist.

Book ‘Observations on the River Wye by William Gilpin’

Book cover ‘Observations on the River Wye' by William Gilpin

Originally published in 1782, Gilpin was one of the pioneers in developing the picturesque which is essentially a set of rules for depicting nature.

Goodrich Castle snowglobe

Goodrich Castle Globe

The castle is one of the finest and best preserved of all English medieval castles. It takes its name from an English landowner, Godric.

Wye Valley beer bottle

Wye Valley Beer Bottle

Butty Buch means Little Friend in Welsh. The Wye Brewery is based in Stoke Lacy which is situated in the heart of Herefordshire.

An apple

Apples

There are many orchards in Herefordshire. Apples are used to make cider and two of the main British Cider producers – Westons and Bulmers are both based here.

flint tools (photo)

Flint tools

The three tools in this photograph were fashioned 14,500 years ago at the head of a gorge in the Charnwood uplands, where hunter-gatherers could intercept prey.

Jewry Wall excavation (photo)

Jewry Wall excavation

Leicester's Jewry Wall is one of the largest surviving pieces of Roman architecture in Britain. Kathleen Kenyon led an excavation of the site in 1936-9.

Potters Marston ware

Potters Marston ware

A fragment of cooking pot rim, thousands of which were made in the Leicestershire village of Potters Marston. Production peaked in the 13th century.

Richard III order of service

Discovery of Richard III

The discovery of King Richard's body in a car park attracted huge public and media attention.

Swithland slate

Swithland slate

Roman Leicester had buildings roofed with Swithland slate, possibly from outcrops. Quarries at Swithland are documented from the 14th century.

Cleave for osiers

Cleave for osiers

A well-preserved basketry eel trap, made in the 9th or 10th century, discovered by archaeologists in the paleochannels of the river Trent at Castle Donington.

Soot from Glenfield tunnel

Soot from Glenfield tunnel

The Leicester & Swannington Railway opened in 1832, linking the coal mines in north-west Leicestershire with the county town.

Melton Mowbray pork pie (box)

Melton Mowbray pork pie

The Melton Mowbray pork pie is distinguished by its use of uncured chopped pork in a hand-raised pastry case. The sides bow outwards as it is cooked.

Last for a child's shoe

Last for a child's shoe

Leicester’s footwear industry hardly existed before the 1850s, but then began to grow following the decline of framework knitting.

Griswold needles

Griswold needles

Framework knitting began in Leicestershire in the 17th century. By 1844, there were said to be over 20,000 frames in the county.

Ladybird book

Ladybird book

Ladybird books began life in 1915 as the imprint of Loughborough printers Wills & Hepworth.

Knitted fabric swatches

Knitted fabric swatches

The extensive Leicestershire hosiery industry encouraged related businesses to locate in the county. G. Stibbe & Co Ltd was founded in 1886.

Jet engine (stamp)

Jet engine

Engine assembly bays and testing facilities were erected in secrecy in 1938 within a disused iron foundry in Lutterworth, to receive a prototype jet engine.

Sari fabric

Sari fabric

Leicester's Asian community expanded substantially in 1972, when Idi Amin ejected Asian people from Uganda. Many settled in the Belgrave area of the city.

Butcher's Hook

Butcher’s hook

Butchers were very important for the economy of medieval Middlesex due to London’s huge demand for meat.

swatch of cloth

Swatch of cloth

Middlesex also covered the area to the east of the City of London and in the 17th century, Petticoat Lane was a commercial district on bordering Middlesex.

Penny

One penny piece

Middlesex contains the centres of the three pillars of the British state: crown, church and Parliament. The crowned portcullis features on the one penny piece.

Stethoscope

Stethoscope

The Middlesex Infirmary opened on Windmill Street in 1745 and became the first hospital in England to have lying-in beds in 1747.

Cap of Liberty

Cap of Liberty

The electoral culture of Middlesex and Westminster came to national prominence in the 18th century, famed for their boisterous contests and radicalism.

Miniature Gavel

Miniature gavel

Based in Clerkenwell from 1601, the Middlesex Quarter Sessions heard criminal cases and undertook administrative functions for the county.

Cricket ball

Cricket ball

Cricket was played in Middlesex from as early as the 16th century, but a team representing the county first emerged in the 18th century.

Oyster card

Oyster card

The Metropolitan Railway was the first underground passenger railway in the world, connecting the termini of Paddington, Euston and King’s Cross.

Mind Your Own Middlesex

Mind Your Own Middlesex

Middlesex was required to produce a formal Development Plan by 1951. 'Mind Your Own Middlesex' combined the burgeoning fields of town planning and PR.

Passport to Pimlico

Passport to Pimlico

Ealing Film Studios is the oldest continuously operating film studio in the world, active from 1902 to the present day.

Kathak jewellery set purchased on Southall Broadway

Kathak jewellery set

Since World War Two, immigration to the area of historic Middlesex has resulted in an increasingly diverse population.

Miniature lighthouse

Miniature lighthouse

The former Express Lifts Tower was known locally at ‘The Northampton Lighthouse’. It was built as a lift testing tower in 1980-82.

Garden Gnome

Garden gnome

In 1847 Sir Charles Isham of Lamport Hall, whilst holidaying in Germay, saw local miners take small china figures down the mines as a talisman.

Fox

A fox

The landscape of Northamptonshire has largely been formed by hunting, the great forests of Rockingham in the north and Whittlewood and Salcey provided deer.

Murder in the Cathedral

Murder in the Cathedral

Thomas Becket’s opposition to Henry II’s plans to reduce the powers and privileges of the Church led to a confrontation at Northampton Castle in October 1164.

A 'Robin Hood' Hat.

Perhaps Nottinghamshire is most famous for the fictional character, Robin Hood. Stories and films were produced about his exploits in Sherwood Forest.

Tablet bottle

Boot tablet bottle

Jesse Boot, founder of Boots The Chemist, originally helped his widowed mother run a small herbalist shop in Goose Gate, Nottingham.

Dam Busters score

First page of the piano conductor’s copy of The Dam Busters March

Eric Coates was born in 1886 at Hucknall. He is famous as the composer of light music of the early 20th century. The Dam Busters March was written for the film.

Sons and Lovers

Sons and Lovers

David Herbert Lawrence was born in Eastwood, the son of a coal miner. Most of his books were set in the county which he called ‘the country of my heart'.

Pilgrim country

Postcard Pilgrim Country

Scrooby in north Nottinghamshire, the meeting place for a group of Separatists more widely known as the 'Pilgrim Fathers', who sailed to the New World (1620).

Postcard - The Dukeries

The Dukeries

Within Sherwood Forest were five large estates all at one time owned by dukes, hence the area became known as The Dukeries.

Civil War coin

Civil War coin

Newark is a market town on the river Trent where it is crossed by the Great North Road. At the time of the Civil War it was a Royalist stronghold.

Bramley window

The Bramley Apple window in Southwell Minster

Southwell Minster is the cathedral for the diocese of Southwell & Nottingham, which was established in 1884.

river trent

The Trent river

The river Trent enters Nottinghamshire in the south west and then turns northwards.

Toy tractor

Toy tractor

The south and east of Nottinghamshire are mainly agricultural areas. Laxton village is unique in still using the medieval open field system of farming.

Festival of Britain glass

Festival of Britain Glass

In 1951, when the Festival of Britain was celebrated, Trowell was chosen as Britain’s Festival Village. The glass is a souvenir of the Festival.

Trent Bridge Cricket Ground ticket holder

Trent Bridge Cricket Ground ticket holder

The world famous cricket ground at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, was laid out in 1838 by William Clarke.

Lion magnet

Nottingham Lion Fridge magnet

Nottingham’s Council House, which replaced the Exchange, was opened in 1929. On either side of the main frontage are two carved stone lions.

Postcard Wollaton Hall

Wollaton Hall

Wollaton Hall is a house designed by Robert Smythson for Sir Francis Willoughby which was completed in 1558.

Nottingham Lace

Nottingham Lace

During the 19th century Nottingham became famous for machine-made lace. The lace was used to decorate clothes and to make curtains.

Framework knitting

Framework knitting

The framework knitting machine was invented by William Lee of Calverton in 1589. It led to a cottage industry in many villages.

Coal

Coal

Coal was mined mainly in the west and north of Nottinghamshire.

Gypsum ashtray

Gypsum ashtray

Gypsum was mined in the south of Nottinghamshire, particularly at Gotham, Kingston on Soar and East Leake, and in the Newark area.

Telecomms nameplate

Telecommunications nameplate

Telecommunications equipment manufacturing has been part of Nottinghamshire’s heritage for over 100 years, employing upwards of 10,000 people at its peak.

Goose

Wooden Goose

The annual Goose Fair was originally held in Nottingham Market Place, named for the geese, their tarred feet were driven from Norfolk to Nottingham each year.

Phial of Thames river water

Phial of Thames river water

The River Thames crosses the county, forming the ancient boundary separating Mercia from Wessex and Oxfordshire from Berkshire. Water collected 25/8/19.

Cotswold limestone rubble

Fragment of Cotswold limestone rubble

West Oxfordshire’s primary base rock, and its primary vernacular building material, still dominating its ‘Cotswold’ towns and villages.

Chiltern flints

Chiltern flints

Commonplace in the south Oxfordshire Chilterns, capping the underlying Chiltern chalk.

An ox

An ox

Oxford’s emblem (still featured in its coat of arms), from the eponymous ‘ox ford’ across the Thames.

Tourist souvenir keyring

Tourist souvenir keyring, showing St George’s Tower, Oxford Castle

Oxford castle has dominated Oxford’s Westgate area since 1071, while St George’s Tower itself is now recognised to be pre-Conquest.

Quill and badge

A (modern) quill and an Oxford University tourist badge

Representing Oxford University - a dominant feature of the town since the 12th century, and still dominating outside perceptions of Oxford.

Wooden shuttle

Wooden shuttle

Sheep, wool, and cloth (alongside arable farming) have been central to Oxfordshire’s economy throughout its history.

oak leaves

Oak leaves from Wychwood Forest

Woodland has long been an important feature of the Oxfordshire landscape - from the Chiltern beechwoods through to its ancient royal forests.

Stonesfield slate

Piece of Stonesfield slate (with peg hole)

Frost-split Stonesfield slate fostered a significant local industry around Stonesfield village from the 17th century.

Morris bells

Morris dancing bell pad (c.1977-83)

In the 18th to early 19th century Oxfordshire was ‘the most prolific area for morris dance activity in the south midlands’ (Keith Chandler).

Victorian clay pipe bulb

Victorian clay pipe bulb

Though clay pipes are ubiquitous, some Oxfordshire pipe-makers prospered as rural craftsmen in the 18th and early 19th centuries, over several generations.

Scale model of a Morris Eight E Series Tourer

Scale model of a Morris Eight E Series Tourer

Development of Morris’s Cowley car plant (outside Oxford) from 1913 provided the city’s first large-scale employment entirely independent of the university.

Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. ‘Ejection Tie’ and ejection handle keyring

Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. ‘Ejection Tie’ and ejection handle keyring

Since the 1940s the Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. has developed and tested aircraft ejector seats at the former Second World War airfield at Chalgrove.

Oxfordshire tourist leaflets, August 2019

Oxfordshire tourist leaflets, August 2019

Oxfordshire as perceived by many modern tourists: Blenheim Palace, Dreaming Spires, Inspector Morse, and Harry Potter...

Unwashed flax

Unwashed flax

Shrewsbury Flax Mill Maltings is the first iron framed building in the world and is currently undergoing a restoration project. Open to the public in 2021.

Shropshire wool

Shropshire fleece from Kenley

Sheep and wool were extremely important for the economy of Shropshire.

The Ironbridge

Model of the Ironbridge

The first Iron bridge still standing is in the place now called Ironbridge.

Shropshire limestone

A piece of Shropshire limestone

Shropshire is very signifcant to geology. Eleven out of twelve geological periods are represented in the county .

Agricultural catalogue

Shropshire Agricultural Show programme

Agriculture is of much importance to such a rural place. Shropshire & West Midlands Agricultural Society was founded in 1875 has a key role in the county.

The Origin of Species

The Origin of Species

Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury in 1809.

Billington’s Gingerbread

Billington’s Gingerbread

Gingerbread has been made in Market Drayton since 1817.

Shropshire leaflets

Leaflets and paper bag

Is it Shreewsbury or Shrowsbury is an eternal question for residents and visitors to the town!

Watchet alabaster

Watchet Alabaster

Alabaster resembles marble and can be very finely carved. Watchet’s pink stone, mottled with white, black and dark salmon, was popular for monuments and fonts.

Plesiosaur Vertebra

Plesiosaur Vertebra

Parts of these extinct creatures together with their relatives the ichthyosaurs have been found throughout the county especially during lias quarrying.

Devil’s Toenail

This is a coiled oyster (gryphea) fossil from the west Somerset coast which is rich in fossil remains.

Donyatt Potsherds

Donyatt potteries were a long-lived industry in south Somerset mostly concentrated at Crock Street and their products are found locally and in America.

Starkey, Knight and Ford Beer Bottle

Starkey, Knight and Ford Beer Bottle

Brewing is an ancient Somerset industry. One of the largest brewers was the company Starkey, Knight and Ford.

Kodak camera

Kodak folding camera c.1940

W.H.F. Talbot of Lacock was a scientist, inventor and photography pioneer who invented the salted paper and calotype processes, precursors to photography.

Police whistle

Police whistle

Wiltshire Constabulary was formed on 13 November 1839. It was the first of the County Forces to be created under the 1839 County Police Act.

Chalk

Chalk pieces

Chalk found lying on flower bed in Aldbourne.

Wool - wiltshire

Wool

For centuries, agriculture was the main occupation for most people in Wiltshire. From the first Neolithic farmers, the landscape has been shaped by farming.

Butter pat

Butter pat

Ribbed butter pats are the best way to cut and shape butter without it melting. The ridges help to hold the butter, but also imprint an attractive design.

Lardy cake recipe

Lardy Cake recipe, taken form a secondary school cookbook of the 1950s

This represents the traditional Wiltshire, and much loved, Lardy Cake. This is sold at many bakeries throughout the county.

Wilts map ancient

Map - ancient

Wiltshire is a place people travel to and travel through. Visitors have been coming to its iconic monuments thousands of years but others are passing through...

Wilts map modern

Map - modern

Natural features have been overcome by engineering feats such as the Caen Hill Locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal and Brunel’s Box Tunnel on the GWR line.

Model mail coach and horses

Model mail coach and horses

Passenger coaches originally passed through the county en route from Bath to London taking 17 hours.

Remembrance cross

Remembrance Cross

The Wiltshire Regiment, a line infantry regiment of the British Army was formed in 1881 and was amalgamated with the Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1959.

flint artefacts

Prehistoric flint artefacts

Examples of prehistoric flint artefacts.

Dabchick

Plastic duck to represent the dabchick (Little Grebe)

Natives of Aldbourne are called “Dabchicks”. According to legend a strange bird appeared in the pond...

Wiltshire flag

Wiltshire flag

Designed by Trowbridge flag enthusiast Mike Prior, it uses the Great Bustard as its centrepiece. Previously extinct, the bird is now back on Salisbury Plain.

Weaving Loom Shuttle

Weaving loom shuttle

For 500 years from the 1500’s the textile industry dominated the towns and larger villages of Wiltshire.

Model toy steam train

Model toy steam train

The Swindon Works opened in 1843. It was the hub of locomotive manufacture from the mid 1840s until its closure in 1986.

Full captions by county

Cumbria captionsPDF681.75 KB
Durham captionsPDF345 KB
Essex captionsPDF1.09 MB
Gloucestershire captionsPDF465.86 KB
Hampshire captionsPDF943.66 KB
Herefordshire captionsPDF227.27 KB
Kent bookletPDF43.49 MB
Leicestershire captionsPDF758.42 KB
Middlesex captionsPDF813.96 KB
Northampstonshire captionsPDF29.53 KB
Nottinghamshire captionsPDF1.08 MB
Oxfordshire captionsPDF647.88 KB
Shropshire captionsPDF157.2 KB
Somerset captionsPDF276.64 KB
Wiltshire captionsPDF899.55 KB