Monday, 21 December 2015

Henry VIII’s Christmas Present

On Christmas Day 1536 the Mayor of Hull, William Rogers had a visitor. The visitor went by the splendid title of Rouge Dragon Pursuivant and he was a messenger from King Henry VIII. He had something for the Mayor: a General Pardon for all the inhabitants of Hull (and indeed for the rest of the North of England) for rebelling against the King during what is now known as the Pilgrimage of Grace.

The Pilgrimage of Grace had been a huge challenge to the Henry’s authority and his religious changes. The rebellion had started in Lincolnshire in October 1536 and soon spread to Yorkshire and much of the rest of the North. Thousands of people were in revolt. On 15 October a group of them laid siege to Hull, and on 20 October the authorities in Hull negotiated the town’s surrender. It can’t have been a comfortable feeling for the Mayor and his colleagues, knowing that they had abandoned the King, however reluctantly, and handed the King’s Town over to the rebels.

So the news of a General Pardon to everyone who’d rebelled must have come as a relief to the Mayor. The Pardon was issued by the King on 9 December after the rebels and government representatives had negotiated a truce at Doncaster and the insurgents dispersed.
General Pardon (ref C BRH/5)
The document took over a fortnight to arrive in Hull. In it the King pardoned everyone for “all maner treasons, rebellions, insurrections…” and gave permission for individuals to request their own specific pardons. Copies went to all the counties in the North, including Hull, then a county of itself. It didn’t arrive unscathed; at some point the seal had been torn off, and subsequently stitched back on. We know this because Rouge Dragon or whoever also attached a little note, in Latin, recording the damage and repair, and noting that the Pardon had been delivered on Christmas Day.

The receipt of the Pardon wasn’t the end of the story of the Pilgrimage of Grace however. Events in Hull a few weeks later on 16 January 1537, when a little group of rebels under the command of John Hallam from Cawkeld near Hutton Cranswick tried to seize the town on market day, gave Henry the excuse he need to crush the rebels and ignore his own Pardon. Poor Hallam ended up hanged in chains on Hull’s Beverley Gate. 

On which note…all the staff at Hull History Centre would like to wish all our visitors a Merry Christmas, with the hope that none of you get a Christmas present from anyone as terrifying as Henry VIII!

Martin Taylor
City Archivist

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

History Bakers: Bible Cake

As an alternative to Christmas Cake, which can be a little rich for me, I decided to try this recipe for Bible Cake (also known as Scripture Cake). It was a very popular cake, in both Britain and America, during the nineteenth century. It was often used as a way of teaching young girls in Sunday Schools both baking and bible verses. In the Amish tradition, when making this cake, you would read a verse from the Bible after adding each item. The idea behind the recipe was to find ingredients by looking up Bible passages. For instance, 2 tablespoons I Samuel 14:15 [2nd part].

This particular version of the recipe came from one of our library books Traditional Food in Yorkshire compiled by Peter Brears. Brears tells the story of life and food in working-class Yorkshire c.1800-1920. He points out that 'Since the Bible was studied at Sunday and council schools, in churches, chapels and nearly every home, it is hardly surprising that someone eventually managed to assemble biblical references for everything which could be made into a cake. The results therefore became a regular contribution to church garden parties and chapel teas.'

There are many versions of the recipe but Brears uses the following one:


4 oz/ 100g butter - Judges V 25
4 oz/ 100g sugar - Jeremiah vi 20
3 eggs, beaten - Jeremiah xvii
8 oz/ 225g flour - I Kings iv 22
½ tsp mixed spice - II Chronicles ix 9
Pinch salt - Leviticus ii 13
1 tbs honey - I Samuel xiv 25
4 oz/ 100g raisins - I Samuel xxx 12
4 oz/ 100g figs, chopped - Nahum iii 12
4 oz/ 100g almonds, blanched and chopped - Numbers xvii 8
½ tsp baking powder - Amos iv 5
2 tbs milk - Judges iv 19


Cream the butter with the sugar [I used Caster], then beat in the eggs, little by little, and mix in the flour [Self raising flour in my case], mixed spice, salt and honey.  Follow Solomon’s instructions for making a good boy, Proverbs xxiii 14 [‘Thou shalt beat him with a rod’], stir in the raisins, figs and almonds, and finally the baking powder dissolved in the milk.

Put into a greased and lined 8 in/20 cm diameter cake tin, or a loaf tin, and bake at 180oC/350oF, gas mark 4 for about one hour.

The recipe was very easy to follow. I saved time by softening the butter in the microwave [not a traditional piece of equipment, I know!]. I put nearly a teaspoon of mixed spices in as I love the smell. Due to personal preference, I substituted raisins with sultanas.  With regard to the beating of the mixture, I did follow the instructions of Solomon’s – Thou shalt beat him with a rod - although this was never mentioned in any parenting classes I attended!

Once it was in the oven I did notice that the top of the cake browned very quickly so, after about 40 minutes, I put some greaseproof paper over the top to stop it burning. Also, it needed about 1 hour 10 mins to ensure it was cooked all the way through.

Comments from the food critics at the History Centre...

Verity - “Lovely Mix of Fruit and Nuts!”
Carol - “Very Nice! Fruity & Nutty and Moist!”
Dave - “Fantastic – Very flavourful & Fruity”
Neil - “Forget Mr. Kipling, I prefer Mrs. West! – Loads of Fruit & Nut, loved it”
Christine - “Nice light texture with a lovely fruity and nutty flavour.  Quite Moorish!”
Laura - “Liked the mixture of fruits and nuts.  Tasty and great for a winter treat”
Elaine - “Very Scrummy - Lots of flavour”
Claire - “Fruity and delicious – like a light Christmas cake!”
Martin - “Nuttier than I was expecting.  Very flavoursome.”

Caoimhe West, Archives Assistant

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

History Makers: It's Christmas!

With 53 in attendance at last week’s ‘History Makers’ we had a busy and productive session. Many thanks to all who turned up to make our Christmas extravaganza a success! A special thank you to father and son trio TeamBuild who were responsible for building this fantastic model ahead of our event. It will be on display in the arcade at the History Centre until the end of December. Why not come and have a look? There's a fun quiz to help you explore the model.
Chris, Charlie and Tom McKnight with their fantastic Christmas themed model!
The theme this month was loosely based on a ‘Victorian Christmas’. Did you know that the tradition of Christmas card and present giving in this country really took off during the reign of Queen Victoria? At the beginning of the 19th century these traditions were not well established. Over the course of the century it became more normal to give homemade cards and presents to the people you loved at Christmas time. Printed cards were expensive, so many ordinary Victorians chose to make their own. Enthused by this Victorian tradition of Christmas crafting, we had a look at some of the old Christmas greetings cards from our collections here at the History Centre and were inspired to make our own.
Selection of Christmas cards held at Hull History Centre
Our crafters also made some fantastic model Christmas trees, 3D stars and bejewelled decorations. Our master builders created endless Lego Christmas trees, Santa’s sleighs and wonderfully festive houses. At the end of the session our lecture theatre was the most festive room any archives building could hope to have!
Some of our History Makers' creations!
Now, with December’s event over, it does mean we have no more History Makers sessions in 2015. But fear not, we will be back in 2016 with our new programme for another year of free family events! The 2016 programme is available to download from the History Centre website.

History Makers Team

Monday, 7 December 2015

Newsletter Report

One of the larger projects I have been working on since I started at the Hull History Centre was to research and then produce a report on the potential of restarting an e-newsletter for the History Centre, the last one having been sent approximately 18 months ago. This is a difficult one but with my previous cohort Hannah’s similar look at bringing back the Facebook social media presence and the success of that venture then it is clearly something that is worthwhile investigating.

The benefits of an e-newsletter?
The benefits of an e-newsletter to the Hull History Centre are pretty clear, it’s yet another avenue for communication with the public. It is a form of contact that is not already being used, but is well established with other services. I reached the conclusion that although email is seen as a more professional point of contact for people it is also seen as a less intrusive one, I think that users may be far more willing to sign up for an e-newsletter and receive a regular email then they might be willing to follow our Facebook or Twitter with their personal accounts. It would also allow us a more dedicated way to inform the public about our regular events, which we do push on other social media but I think having a point of contact that gives a condensed overview of events and news would be a low effort way for interested parties to stay informed.

Some of the the Email Distribution Services
I was looking at.
Issues considered in my report
When looking at the usefulness of an e-newsletter it is also important to look at how exactly we would go about providing this service. 

We could just create the e-newsletter manually and then email it out to the subscriber list that we have using the ‘bcc’ function but this is not exactly ideal. In order to deal with both the construction and delivery of e-newsletters these days it is quite useful to use the support provided by Email Distribution Services. 

There are many different types of these available and they provide an easy way to put together e-newsletters, often allowing a drag and drop construction for images and text, as well as saving the subscriber list and handing the distribution to all the email addresses. They also give a nice and easy way for new users to sign up to the e-newsletter or unsubscribe without needing additional input from the newsletter team. Finally and most importantly of all they provide analytical information so that it becomes possible to measure the effectiveness of the e-newsletter, or at least how many subscribers are interested enough to open it!

An example of determining the reputation of a service

Research methodology
To figure out which Email Distribution Service would be best, and there are a lot available, I took a few that I thought would function well and them compared them to one another. 

I used a number of key features for this comparison which I had identified as being useful to the Hull History Centre these included: Cost, East of Use, Subscription and Unsubscription, Importing Data, Reputation, Template Options and Analytics. It was important that the e-newsletter is effective as possible without being too time consuming to put together.

Ultimately the determining if it would be any use to have such a service comes down to the people who are willing to subscribe. What do you think, is an e-newsletter something that would interest you? And if it is then feel free to tell us what it is you’d like to hear from us.

David Heelas
Transforming Archives Trainee

Friday, 4 December 2015

History Bakers: Yorkshire Parkin

Parkin is essentially the Northern English form of gingerbread. Different Parkins are characterised by where they are made and Yorkshire Parkin, one of the most famous, is made using oats. Traditionally, it is eaten on the 5th of November during Bonfire Night celebrations marking the infamous failure of Guy Fawkes (a Yorkshireman) to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. I love this cake and regularly bake it whatever the time of year.

This recipe is taken from The Yorkshire Dalesman, a monthly magazine of Dales life and industry. Hull History Centre has back copies from April 1939 to June 2013 and they are available to view in the search room (L.9.4). The recipe is easy to make and creates a lovely moist sticky cake. Although you can eat the cake almost immediately, and believe me it’s difficult to resist, I wrap it and store it in an airtight cake tin for several days as it gets stickier.

What you will need...

8oz/220g soft butter
4oz/110g soft, dark brown sugar
2oz/55g black treacle
7oz/200g golden syrup
5oz/120g medium oatmeal
7oz/200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tbsp milk

Heat the oven to 275 °F/140 °C/gas 1
Grease an 8” x 8”/20cm x 20cm square or loaf cake tin
In a large heavy- based saucepan melt together the butter, sugar, treacle, golden syrup over a gentle heat. In a large baking bowl stir together all the dry ingredients. Gradually add the melted butter mixture stirring to coat all the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Part way through the mixing process...

Gradually, beat in the eggs a few tablespoons at a time. Finally add the milk and again stir well. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and cook for 1 hour, 30 minutes until firm and set and a dark golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

Try to resist the cooling parkin!

Store the parkin in an airtight tin for a minimum of three days, you can even leave it up to a week before eating and the flavours really develop and the mixture softens even further becoming moist and sticky. The cake will last up to two weeks in an airtight container.

Sticky and delicious!

Staff comments:
Carol        Absolutely gorgeous! Very moist and just the right amount of ginger
Laura       Fantastic cake! Lovely texture and ginger taste. Great for this time of year    
Claire       Lovely and comforting, a great winter treat
Verity       Perfectly baked!
Elaine       Very moist and tasty
Dave         Very nice. Gingery and filling
Mrs West   Delicious – moist and tangy

Michele Beadle, Reader Assistant

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Closure 2015

This closed week has been one of our busiest ever with our digital microfilm readers were serviced and the building was subject to a very through clean!

Just before we closed we took delivery of 1000 archive boxes and we have made a significant dent into these already! 

On the City side colleagues set-up a production line to sort and re-box nearly 500 large boxes of Building Regulations applications into 636 archival boxes and work is in-hand to give all of these boxes labels! The Building Regulations files which cover 1994-1999, will be made available to the public once indexes are complete in the new year. 

Before - in their old boxes

After - new boxes ready for labelling

Another major task that was completed was the moving of all of our official sporting programmes into one series. The programmes provide coverage for Hull RLFC, Hull Road Rangers, Hull City AFC, North Ferriby AFC, Hull Vikings, Humberside Seahawkes, and Hull Kingston Rovers. Whilst they are not complete runs they do provide an insight into the clubs’ history at given points in time. This required over 150 custom made boxes to be made to protect them. 

Work was also undertaken to sort, catalogue and re-box our Local Studies information section on Companies in the city which will make them more accessible.

On the University side work was taken to rationalise material. A few months ago we received a tip-off that there was a store room on campus with university publications. A team visit to the store and several hours later we had identified a large quantity of material that we wanted for the archives including university and departmental prospectus going back to the 1990s. 

This material was transferred to the History Centre and during closed week we were able to merge this material with our existing holdings. As a result we were able to fill many gaps in our holdings whilst at the same time throw away a large number of what we were now able to confirm were duplicate items.

We were also able to sort and put into order a large number of volumes of the university proceedings and work is in progress to add these to our on-line catalogue

Before - needing to be un-wrapped

After - neatly sorted

Hull History Centre team