Kingsclere Heritage Association
About 10 years ago, the Kingsclere Heritage Association (the KHA) put together a working group of volunteers from their membership to set up a small subsidiary – The Kingsclere Village Archives. The team set about sourcing and indexing local historical material. Then they began recording current events and tracking changes in village life – bearing in mind that‘today’s happenings are tomorrow’s history’. Archivists work with both the past and the present.
To give a clear indication of the scale and scope of our historic collection to date we publish the Main Index for the Kingsclere Archives in abridged form on this website.
We ‘run a tight ship’. Strict records are kept of all ‘accessions’ (acquisitions). Accreditations are noted in respect of bequests or donations from individuals. This is also done with material lent to us for copying, with originals returned to the owner and duplicates retained for filing. If there too much material to be scanned or copied up ‘on the spot’ a receipt is issued for the duration of the loan. Movement of material off KVA storage premises for research purposes is less usual but sometimes approved and closely monitored. Village resident Richard Croft has been a regular visitor to archives most Mondays while doing official research for a national project and has found it convenient to work on site with the archivists.
Current Kingsclere archivists Sue Woodman, Jean & Edward Chapman and Nova Saunderson meet just once a week for a few hours at the Kingsclere Village Club but put in ‘overtime’ in their private lives whenever necessary. We maintain close links with County Archivists at the Hampshire Record Office (HRO) in Winchester. Rarer, more fragile or historically important original material is given over to Winchester for safekeeping where facilities are more specialised and copies retained at Kingsclere.
KVA has always taken advantage of the HRO’s training course in approved methods of recording and storing historical material and participants come away with the title of ‘Archives Ambassador’. Updates and information about upcoming talks or activities follow as a matter of rote via email.
Everything contained in the archives is the property of the residents of Kingsclere and any villager may request access to the material. The only proviso is that, given the team’s restricted working hours at archives each week, visits should be booked in advance.
The last couple of centuries have changed the way history is ‘put to bed’. Tools designed to record everyday life have diversified; rapid advances in technology and their availability to the general public have led to ordinary folk becoming more involved in the process and drama of archiving. On a more parochial level, even family photographs – from old photo albums or boxes full of old ‘snapshots’ bequeathed by parents or grandparents, right through to the digital photographs we have stored on our smartphones, iPads, laptops and PCs – all of these have potentially taken on ‘added value’
We’re capturing history ‘on the hoof’, an appropriate enough phrase since all creatures, events and man-made structures leave footprints in time. Ask any archaeologist. The Kingsclere Heritage Association’s involvement with the Archaeology Department of Southampton University over a 9-year period is proof of that. Annual digs at Tidgrove Warren Farm on the outskirts of the village have mined a rich vein of history over millennia – covered separately on this website.
Although the democratisation of archiving means that contributors and volunteer archivists no longer have to be specialists in the field, the work does require discipline, patience and responsibility (and arguably, a rather high boredom threshold because not all of history is dramatic!). Data must be dealt with as accurately as possible. It’s a serious business but speaking for the current team of volunteers I have to say: “Never has serious business seemed so much fun.”
KHA Committee Member & Village Archivist