Encouraging school projects in local studies

For local schools to encourage students to take up studies of local history, the Arthur Stowell Fund, part of the Alresford Museum, is able to provide support with finance and ideas for suitable projects. Enquiries are encouraged from students or teachers.

Arthur Stowell

Arthur Stowell

Alresford and the local district has been an area that has triggered many local studies, covering topics such as local history, natural history, railways, and rural studies covering watercress, fishing and farming. Local books on the history of the area have come from a Canon at St John’s – some time ago – Canon A.J.Robertson, with “The History of Alresford”, plus Arthur Stowell with “The Story of Alresford, Its Changes and Continuity”. Arthur Stowell also wrote “The Story of Selborne” in 2003, from his rôle as a Trustee of the Gilbert White Museum in Selborne: Gilbert White was perhaps the first person to publish a major local study, 200 years ago, with his “Natural History of Selborne” books.

Arthur Stowell

Arthur Stowell spent his lifetime in education, and in his retirement in Alresford was also involved with the National Trust, the Local Population Studies Society, plus he took part in many “Digs” with the Royal Archaeological Society.  He was keen to pass on his enthusiasm for the study and recording of local history to schoolchildren in the area, and any others who expressed an interest.

Arthur Stowell story of Alresford coverIn order to encourage this, Arthur agreed with the Alresford Historical and Literary Society that the profits from the first publication of his book would be used to create a fund, with the objective to encourage and finance any local Alresford school or educational interest in study projects into the history of the area. This money is held in trust and administered by the New Alresford Town Trust, and ideas for local school study projects are actively being sought.

This search is particularly appropriate as the Alresford Museum, another part of the Town Trust, is now making public a full listing of the collection of documents and artefacts in their possession. The intention is that these documents etc are useful sources, and can be made available for such study projects: it is hoped that any reports or analyses resulting will themselves eventually be added to the Museum archives, or will be published on the associated AlresfordMemories website, to encourage others to build on these research studies.

Alresford Museum papers

The Alresford Museum has a growing collection of documents that would be of interest to anyone looking into local history. From the series of papers in “Alresford Displayed”, published since 1976 by the Alresford Historical and Literary Society, there are many research studies available on town topics. In addition there are more personal local histories, such as “Alresford Remembered…. looking back with pleasure” by Ms A.F.Godwin, published in Alresford by Laurence Oxley in 1996.

Another prolific local history and architecture researcher was Isabel Sanderson, who in her series of ten booklets (published by the Alresford Printing Works) in her retirement, in the period up to 1984, covered the history of many of the local houses and families: these books were called “Dwellings in Alresford”, and each booklet covered about five or six houses. The Alresford Museum has been able to acquire copies of several other manuscripts covering the lives and life stories of some local people, such as the memoirs of Mr Turner, the son of the owner of Turner’s Cycle Shop in Station Road, Alresford: and also the memories of Brian Davis remembering his childhood in Alresford in the WW2 years. In addition the Museum has copies of other accounts and booklets, for example an account describing the history of the Alresford Golf Club, and other records covering the Football Club, the local Fire Service, the Alresford Volunteer Rifles, and more.

Ideas for suitable study projects

Ideas for research studies can be found in the papers presented in Alresford Displayed over the years, and in the Alresford Articles series which now follows the same heritage. With the power of the internet some of the older stories could easily be expanded. Other ideas might be found from the AlresfordMemories website – for example two local people, Jane Bown and Albert Wade, are already described on there: the lives of these people would be interesting topics for further articles. Just in writing this, it has been discovered that Albert Wade designed the cover for Isabel Sanderson’s series of booklets! He also authored definitive historical analyses of the development of the fireplace, and, separately, the WC!

There have also been other famous authors living locally, for example Jane Austen and Nancy Mitford, who drew inspiration from the area: but how did living in this area affect them, and appear in their works? This would be another possible question for a local study. Whilst you may have heard of the Battle of Cheriton, have you heard of the Cheriton Hoard – a treasure of gold and silver coins, found in a buried bucket, between Cheriton and Beauworth?

Other notable local characters include W.H.Hunt, the artist and architect (see his initials on his house on West Street): Alresford has seen many local artists produce water colours of the streams and countryside here. Lawrence Wright is another local architect – some of his 1965 drawings of the Alresford town centre buildings are in the Community Centre, many others are held by the Alresford Museum, and are featured on the museum web pages. Lawrence Wright lived in what is now called “Lawrence Wright Passage”, off West Street: – why does your street have the name that it has – who does that commemorate, and why? A recent story on the AlresfordMemories website described the story behind the “Kingsley Bungalows” on New Farm Road – there is local history all around us!

The Alresford Museum will be delighted to support local school projects or research into suitable topics by providing advice and any materials available (on loan) and by providing financial support for visits or materials to enable further research.

Alresford Museum: www.museum.alresford.org

Alresford Memories: www.AlresfordMemories.Wordpress.com

Contact for further information: clerk@towntrust.org.uk

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