Monday, 16 January 2017

The Making of Hull

With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Hull 2017, Hull History Centre’s first exhibition of 2017 seeks to tell the story of Hull through its charters.

Hull’s earliest charter is that of King Edward I and dates from 1299. However this was at least a hundred years into the story of our City. During the twelfth century a transhipment point and associated settlement grew up at the confluence of the River Hull and the Humber estuary on the property of nearby Meaux Abbey. This was Wyke-upon-Hull, often referred to just as Hull, and it prospered as a result of the wool export trade to the extent that its potential as a source of revenue and a strategic port became clear to the acquisitive King Edward. Taking shameless advantage of the poverty stricken monks of Meaux, he acquired Wyke, named it Kingston-upon-Hull, and granted it the status of a Free Borough on 1 April 1299. 

C BRC/1 - Charter of King Edward I, 1299

From 1299 onwards, the citizens of Hull received many more charters. Sometimes existing grants were confirmed when regimes changed. Having benefitted from the generosity of the Lancastrian Henry VI, a charter was obtained from the new Yorkist King Edward IV in 1462 confirming the grants of his deposed predecessor. In 1553, when the Roman Catholic Queen Mary I succeeded  her Protestant brother, Hull had his grants confirmed and paid for a very elaborate charter indeed to emphasise Hull’s loyalty to the new, religiously uncongenial regime.

C BRC/22 Illuminated letter from the charter of Queen Mary I, 1553

Other charters made new grants of rights and privileges. Over the course of three centuries, Hull was gradually freed from the control of central government and became a self-governing community of free citizens – ‘burgesses’. Hull obtained the right to elect a Mayor; to defend itself with walls; to monopolise trade in the port to its own burgesses; and to have markets and a fair (now of course Hull Fair). In 1440 it became a county of itself, independent of Yorkshire, and in 1447 the County of Kingston upon Hull was extended to take in Willerby, Kirkella and Hessle. 

Charters didn’t come for free. Although the preamble to many of them states that the Crown was recognising the poverty of the port of Hull, damaged by tidal surges and slumps in trade, we have evidence of the expenses paid out for at least two charters. In 1532, a new charter from Henry VIII cost Hull £31.19s.4d, a considerable sum which included a purse of gold coins and a whole sturgeon for Henry’s notorious adviser Thomas Cromwell.

The Charters’ legal status was largely repealed by the 1834 Municipal Corporations Act. However they remain of crucial significance for what they represent: the development of a great City, the rules by which its citizens lived, and the rights and privileges they enjoyed. 

C BRC Illuminated letter from a 1975 charter

The Hull Charters’ exhibition is at Hull History Centre from 3 January to 24 February 2017. Hull History Centre is open to the public Tuesday - Friday 9.30am - 5.30pm and the first and third Saturday of each month 9am - 4.30pm.

Martin Taylor, City Archivist

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Welcome to 2017 at Hull History Centre!

It’s finally here, Hull is City of Culture 2017! As we all return to work today, we thought we would take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy and culture-filled new year. And welcome back to the 2017 History Centre blog.

This year, in addition to the posts from our Transforming Archives trainees, there will be posts themed to tie-in with the City of Culture programming. Throughout the year, events will be planned in line with four different strands: January to March highlights all things ‘Made in Hull’; April to June sees the city explore ‘Roots and Routes’; July to September has the city celebrating ‘Freedom’; and October to December rounds off the year with ‘Tell the World’.

A new History Centre blog post will appear on a regular basis (hopefully every second Monday). We will be taking inspiration from the archives to tell unknown tales and to highlight historical happenings from new and interesting angles. So keep an eye out, you might discover something you never knew about our city and its people!

One of our readers discovering lots of interesting stories!

To start us off, this blog is going to introduce you to our ‘Made in Hull’ theme, as well as some of our upcoming events.

Over the coming weeks you will learn about the making of our city, its origins, foundation and the rights afforded to its citizens. You will find out about the individuals who have been born in Hull, and those whose experiences of living here have helped form their character and work. You will also discover little-known stories of our manufacturing industries and the workers that made them successful.

You might also be interested to know that we will be showcasing an exhibition of Hull’s royal charters, rarely seen in the flesh (google ‘velum’ and ‘parchment’ to understand the ‘flesh’ reference…)! The exhibition will run from 3rd January to 24th February 2017 and entrance is completely free.

A sneak preview of our 'Making of Hull: Our Charters' Exhibition

At the end of January, there will be a mini-exhibition at the University of Hull’s newly revamped Middleton Hall. The exhibition is in support of a retrospective on the life of Anthony Minghella which is being organised by the University. It will also mark the launch of the Anthony Minghella Archive [Ref U DTM] here at the History Centre. This will be the first time his papers have been made accessible to the public.

Our long-running Lunchtime Club lectures will start up again on 10th January with a talk by our very own Martin Taylor on ‘Hull Charters’. On 14th February we will be joined by David Neave who will be speaking on ‘The Makers of the Edwardian City – Sir Alfred Gelder and Joseph Hirst’. Will May shall be rounding off the ‘Made in Hull’ talks on 14th March with his talk ‘Stevie Smith: Hull’s Forgotten Poet’.

Lunchtime lecture in full swing!

Our ‘History Makers’ events will be back on 7th January with an exploration of ‘Medieval Hull’. We will be unwrapping our sweet and chocolatey heritage on 4th February with the ‘Needlers Unwrapped’ event. We will be jumping through a ‘Magic Door’ to the past with the work of Dan Billany on 4th March.

Last but not least, whilst we say goodbye to our History Bakers series from 2016, it will be replaced with something new and a bit different. Still on the ‘Made in Hull’ theme, we will be running a secret twitter and web campaign throughout the year. It’s going to be 'woolly good fun' (that’s a clue) and we want lots of people to get involved! Check out HullWoollyZoo to find out more….

First resident of our 'Hull Woolly Zoo'

There may be other ‘Made in Hull’ stuff, as yet unannounced, so keep an eye out on our events pages...

History Centre Team

Thursday, 22 December 2016

November History Bakers: Lemony Biscuits

Ever since History Bakers was restarted two years ago, I’ve been fascinated by the oldest recipes in our collections. The challenge of deciphering, interpreting and then trying to follow these centuries’ old recipes has been exciting, but also a little frustrating!

This month's bake comes from a recipe book found within the Sykes Family papers and dates from the 17th century [U DDSY3/10/6].

Recipe and ingredients...

To make lemmon bisketts
To 2 pound of almonds blancht and beaten very fine with a litell orange flower watter putt the juice of one large lemmon and the pill of 3 beat very fine with the white of an egg beaten to a high froth then take 2 pound of sugar well dryd then strew it into the almonds just before you bake then squint it upon papers and bake then in an oven heated for manchets.

This time I thought I had chosen a fairly simple biscuit recipe and being an avid watcher of the Great British Bake Off, assumed I had the skills to follow the recipe without any major problems. This was a bit of a mistake...

I managed to buy all the ingredients, even the orange flower water was easier to find than I thought, but once home, I realised there were not enough ground almonds! Instead of waiting and buying more, I decided it would be fine and chose to wing it. Over-confidence is very uncharacteristic of me but I was still labouring under the impression it would be fairly simple. As such, I ended up with only 300g of ground almonds (not 2 lbs) and 300g of sugar.

Rolling out the dough...


As instructed by the recipe, I weighed out the almonds and put them to one side whilst I beat the lemon juice (1 lemon), lemon peel (1.5 lemons) and the egg white to as high a froth as I could manage with a manual whisk (I was attempting to be as historically accurate as possible). I then weighed out the sugar and mixed all the ingredients together. At this point, I realised that not only was the mixture very bitty (even finely ground almonds are not as smooth as flour) but it wasn’t sticking together to form a dough, and I had forgotten the orange flower water! Consequently, another half lemon was squeezed into the mixture, and lo and behold, the mixture became too sticky! Over-confidence strikes again! With no almonds left to try to reduce the stickiness, I gave in and got my plain flour out. A very liberal amount of dusting later, the dough was just about firm enough to roll out and cut into shapes.

Before the bake...

Into the oven...

As with all old recipes, there was no indication as to oven temperature or cooking time. To be on the safe side, I opted for 180C for 10 minutes. I then did a very good impression of Great British Bake Off contestants by staring into the oven for the full 10 minutes! By the 10 minute mark, the biscuits were going golden brown/slightly burnt on the outside but had remained fairly soft in the middle. Nervous of leaving them in too long, as they could end up entirely burnt, I took them out and let them cool down. In the end, the biscuits have turned out quite reasonably, with a crispy outside and soft chewy centre, which seems to have gone down pretty well with the taste testers at Hull History Centre.

The finished bake!

So, with a last note of over-confidence before returning to my normal self, it turns out you can practically ignore a recipe and still end up with something reasonably edible!

Colleagues comments:

Sarah - Crispy, chewy and very lemony. Lovely!
Caoimhe - Yummy, very lemony and chewy, fab after taste.
Elaine - Lovely lemony taste, quite chewy!
Laura - Great biscuits, delicious. Love the combination of crunchy edges and slightly chewy middle. Nice and lemony.
Elspeth - Great mix of texture, crunchy and chewy! Lovely lemon zesty taste!
Claire - Deliciously lemony! Please make more!
Christine - Agree with all the other comments. Delicious!
Tom - Nice lemony flavour, both crunchy and chewy.
Francisco - Really nice!!
Neil - Crispy and chewy. Loved them!

Verity Minniti, Archives Assistant

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

3D4ever Conference

I had the chance to attend the 3D4ever Conference event last week, a joint event by the Digital Preservation Coalition and Wellcome Library to encourage cultural heritage professionals to understand and undertake 3D scanning and its challenges.

Photometry workshop
I didn’t have too much experience in photometry and 3D imaging but I highly recommend it. It was amazing to see the immense range of ideas and projects discussed by the speakers and this made me realise how 3D imaging technology advancements have opened up so many opportunities for museums and the heritage sector. As professionals, we must study and promote this evolving technology because it brings exciting opportunities to research and also to engage in new ways with our audiences.

William Kilbride, Executive Director
of the Digital Preservation Coalition
I was inspired by the workshops and talks, and during the day I was developing ideas in my mind which I could take back to my own workplace and utilise in future projects. I think the key message I took home, which all the speakers touched on, was the challenges of creating, sharing and preserving 3D data. I found the whole day very productive, and especially the workshop about photometry given by Sophie Dixon and Edward Silverton which showed us a brilliant approach of how to set up a studio with the minimum amount of equipment necessary to complete the full 3D imaging process.

For me, one of the most striking statements of the conference came from Stuart Jeffrey from Glasgow School of Art, who said, ‘we need to have open access to data and share those experiences but it is important to find a balance between full access and low access.’

Stuart Jeffrey Research Fellow in International Heritage Visualisation at 
the School of Simulation and Visualisation of the Glasgow School of Art
Another key speaker was Helen Hardy, Digital Collections Programme Manager at Natural History Museum. Helen spoke brilliantly about the importance of data preservation and brought to the audience the challenge of joining up natural history data from around the globe.

For example, it’s important for archaeologists to share their findings. Anthony Corns technology Manager at The Discovery Programme showed us his 3D models of Ireland's iconic sites and objects.

After this amazing presentation, I realised the importance of this new technology in the study of material remains and how difficult it was few years ago to share these objects, until the arrival of new visual platforms like Sketchfab which gives instant access of the 3D models, creating a new experience for the public and allows archaeologists to compare objects instantly.

I can summarise the day with a good remark from one presentation: ‘Be as liberal as possible with 3D data, as great things can be done with it. Otherwise it'll go stale.’

You can find more information related to the conference through the 3D4ever hashtag 

Francisco Castanon
Transforming Archives trainee