Update From The Archives
Hello from the archives here at Princethorpe. After the disruption of the last 18 months and the long summer break, it is such a pleasure to be able to give this update in which I look at some of the ways we are sharing the Foundation’s history.
At the start of September, there was a sense of some return to normality with the first in-person archive event since Covid-19 restrictions were imposed last March. On Sunday 12 September, we held tours as part of the annual Heritage Open Day event. Alex Darkes, Reverend Dr. Nick Baker and I led five tours throughout the afternoon, whilst visitors were welcomed to the College and provided with delicious refreshments thanks to Loretta Curtis and Andrew Williams’ support. Altogether 139 people joined tours during the 2½ hour event and it was so wonderful to meet a wide range of people including interested locals, past pupils, parents of current Princethorpe pupils, and their families. We all finished the afternoon with croaky voices and sore feet but a real sense of satisfaction that everyone had enjoyed the event so much. It was also wonderful to see Nick back here and show him how the archive has continued to progress after he handed the role over to me in 2017.
Keen not to dismiss some of the opportunities that the pandemic highlighted, I also created a new virtual tour so that those who couldn’t (or would rather not) visit Princethorpe in person still had the opportunity to learn about the College’s amazing history. The tour was publicised on the Heritage Open Day website and is still available to view at https://roundme.com/tour/726654/view/2288475/ So far, we have had 784 viewings, beating last year’s viewings at this point by a sizeable amount.
Trying to increase access to the archives remotely also tallies with our archive digitisation strategy and we have managed to have two significant collections relating to St Joseph’s and Crackley Hall digitised in the past 12 months. The first was our collection of Peeper’s Pie magazines, which are some of my favourite items in the archive. They have now been added to the ‘Digital Materials’ section of the archive catalogue (https://archives.princethorpe.co.uk/collections/digital/14) so please go and have a read through them yourself – I hope that they bring back some happy memories of your time at St Joseph’s. School magazines are a vital source of news and information about life at the school but there are significant gaps in our collection pre-1965 and after 1982. If you have copies of the Peeper’s Pie at home that you would be willing to donate to the archive (or even just to lend me so that I can scan), please do get in touch by emailing me at JanetteRatcliffe@princethorpe.co.uk.
I have also had the St Joseph’s and Crackley Hall whole school photographs professionally digitised. Displayed proudly within Crackley Hall today, the photographs date back to 1946, shortly after the Sisters of Mercy moved to Kenilworth. The whole school photographs are a great way to chart the changes in staff, pupil numbers, and even the name of the school over the years. I am delighted that we will be able to share them with members of Princethorpe Connect through our alumni portal thanks to our partnership with SDS, the company that digitised them. To view the images, visit here, or click through using the new ‘Archives’ tab on the Princethorpe Connect homepage and following the link to the digitised material. It is also worth highlighting that digitisation is a good preservation strategy; some of the early photography companies no longer exist so it would be extremely unlikely we could get another copy should disaster ever strike.
Finally, I was very excited to receive a collection of scrapbooks from Crescent School’s annual residential in Derbyshire recently. Whenever I talk to Old Crescentians, their time hiking across the Derbyshire dales stands out vividly in their memories (even if it is not always fondly due to freezing cold weather and torrential rain). These wonderful scrapbooks contain photographs and leaflets from each of the places visited but perhaps my favourite thing about them is the handwritten captions and quotes that the teachers recorded. We now have a complete collection from 1978-1993 and I am looking forward to sharing more from them in a future #throwbackthursday post for Princethorpe Connect.