By Judith Phillips
Every two years, County Durham Forum for History and Heritage organises an event where societies and organisations throughout the county get together, put out their stalls and invite the public to find out more about the wealth and range of history and heritage groups in the county. This year the event was held in tow large marquees at Beamish museum. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t kind – a damp, drizzling day with some heavier showers – so perhaps we had fewer visitors than we might have had on a nice sunny day.
However, Alison Mounter and I (with some help from family) talked to over fifty visitors, handed out leaflets about upcoming project events, picked up a few queries and took the opportunity to see other groups’ stalls. That’s always useful – you never know what good ideas you might pick up! Everyone there is an enthusiast for at least one (and possibly ore) aspects of the county’s history and heritage. Of course, we were particularly interested in groups with a First World War connection but, in fact, that covers most local village/town societies and a large range of specialist stalls – postcards, books, police, railways, religious history, mining, among them. (The Vikings were just a bonus attraction!).
This is probably a good place to give you some information about our upcoming events. On Saturday 9th September Dr. Megan Leyland from English Heritage will explore the experiences of conscientious objectors during the First World War. This talk will uncover some of the very personal and often moving stories of individuals held in Richmond Castle during the war, while placing these stories in the local and national context of resistance to the war.
In October (on Saturday 7th), we’ll have a drop-in session for all the family. Jan and Richard Crouch will be on hand all day to talk about food during the war and they’ll bring along some samples. They’ll intersperse the day with a couple of longer talks on food – the restrictions and difficulties and how people coped by innovating. We’ve found many recipes in the Teesdale Mercury but not all of them sound that appetising! You’ll also have an opportunity to do some creative activities, making felt flowers (including poppies) to add to a cumulative scene.
Photographer Lee Karen Stow on Saturday 4th November is offering a workshop in the morning, showing photographers with moderate to advanced level of experience how to turn a theme into an individual visual narrative. In the afternoon lee will talk about the inspiration behind her exhibition Poppies: women, War, Peace, including how the poppy came to be a symbol of remembrance a hundred years ago.
Booking information will be posted on the project website and on the museum’s website soon.