Culture and Heritage
Christine McDerment - Historical Interpreter
Hello, I hope you are all surviving lockdown safe and healthy.
It’s now been, what, over three months ? How have you been coping ?
Personally I know I’m spending far too much time on the computer, but I have tried to get in both exercise and culture in reasonable doses. I haven’t kept a diary, but I have taken many photos, ranging from queues outside the supermarket and loo-paper back on the shelves inside, to loads of buds and flowers as they emerged in the spring. I’ve also been working on some writing projects I had been planning but never found the time to complete, and been honing my chocolate-making skills. There was also the time my son insisted I cut his hair!
The day I cut my son’s hair!
Honing my chocolate-making skills.
Now I know we’ve asked you to try out our suggested heritage (and craft - head over to our Learning & Enterprise page for those) projects but on the assumption that you’ve completed them all and are only waiting to send everything in to us, here’s another suggestion and an invitation.
Life has changed for all of us, some more than others, but no one has been unaffected. How have you coped during lockdown?
Will you help us to record this for future generations?
What affected you - in a good, bad, or even funny way?
What made a difference?
It may be a piece of music that you play to soothe you when you’re stressed or stimulate you when you’re feeling lethargic. What is it?
it may be a book that has resonated with you as you cope with anxiety or loneliness. What’s the title and who wrote it?
It may be a view that has uplifted you when you wake in the morning or go to bed at night. Can you take a photo and send it to us?
It may be the face of someone close.
You may have kept a written diary or a photographic one. You may have written poems or even your autobiography. Would you like to share that with others?
Have neighbours been helpful and kind? One of ours donated all sorts of foodie goodies to households up and down the street. Have you displayed a rainbow in your window? Have you joined in the applause for the NHS staff who have cared for everyone through the bad times, or enjoyed the sound of the pipers when they joined in as well? Have you laughed at a particular box-set or learned something new by signing up for an online course?
The lovely box of goodies sent over by a neighbour: a lovely gesture but a sad one too. It meant their food business was closing down.
The day loo-paper reappeared on the shelves!
And now an exciting opportunity:
What about thinking also of items you might place in a Covid-19 time capsule.
What would you put in?
A newspaper with a blaring headline of the number of deaths? A photo of a loved one, perhaps a recording of their voice? A face mask? A bottle of hand sanitiser is surely a must, as is a drawing of a rainbow! What else would you include?
An exhibition showing what was important to you, as a member of our community would be a record for future times.
When, fingers crossed, we are able to acquire Victoria PS, when we can open a museum we, with your help can have a display. So, please consider gathering your special items or make a list of them or make a photographic log of them, and together we will produce an exhibition when the time is right.
In the meantime, stay safe.
If you are competing any of the projects, or intend to, please do let us know even if you can’t send them in to us at the moment. We’ve heard that some school groups are participating but they haven’t let us know. Please do tell us, so that we can contact you at the end of lockdown and prepare for the exhibition. Remember to send us your contact details too!
You can find the contact details for us below or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Christine on Coronation Day 1953
Hello, a vital part of HoN is Culture and Heritage: it's one of the three main themes that you said was important to you.
In these strange days when we are all stuck at home, with or without our families, try to remember that we will be out and about again and able to enjoy exhibitions and displays in museums and galleries once more.
With that in mind, let's look to the future.
Let's start work now on what we would like to see once this is all over and life returns to normal. Let's share our heritage with everyone.
Let's show the world what lies hidden in Newhaven, waiting to be discovered. It's your heritage.
It's your culture.
Explore it, enjoy it and most importantly, share it.
Here are three projects that all the family, parents, children or grandparents, can work on while under lockdown. Once you have completed them, do send them in to us so that we can display them on the website and when everyone is allowed out and about again, we can gather them all together for the most wonderful exhibition. When you send in your projects, do remember to include a name and a phone number or email address where we can contact you.
Describe your family in objects.
Pick objects in your home that represent each member of your family, one for each person. Photograph, draw or paint the object and then describe it. You could include why it represents that person: it may be to do with their work or a hobby they are interested in. Write about where the object came from and what you think about it.
Here are some examples.
My father: a small, silver, stag’s head brooch.
Dad was born in 1913 and served in the Second World War with the Seaforth Highlanders. The stag’s head is the emblem of the Seaforths and this was my Dad’s cap badge.
The army was always important to him, but he was a Master Painter and Decorator by trade and took over the small family business begun by his father. He enjoyed outdoor pursuits and sports, had been a keen cricketer and rugby player in his younger years and took up sailing when he was older.
He enlisted in the Seaforths during WW2, was wounded in the invasion of Sicily and was invalided back to North Africa where he had begun his overseas’ service, to convalesce. Only a month after he rejoined his unit, now in mainland Italy, in April 1944, he was wounded again and captured by the retreating Germans, spending the last year of the war in prisoner of war camps.
After he left the army he joined the Territorial Army and remained with them for years, spending many weekends on training exercises out in the hills or on the moors. I can remember many Saturday early morning drives to the Denny drill hall for TA activities with him, returning in the early evening to the sound of the football scores on the radio in the car.
The brooch pin has become a little bent over the years but my husband still uses it as a kilt pin in honour of my father. It may not be worth much but to me it is precious and priceless.
My uncle: a handmade shepherd’s crook, made of birchwood.
My uncle was a crofter and hill farmer and he spent part of the dark winter months making shepherds’ crooks out of birch branches, the most common wood available. The other three seasons were overly full of planting and harvesting of potatoes and hay, gathering, shearing and dipping the sheep, milking the cows and rearing the calves, caring for the land, and generally tending to all the farm chores. The winter evenings however, were long and needed filling.
He made some of the crooks to order, carefully measuring the height of the person for whom they were intended. The crook handle itself was often carved and polished in the shape of a buckle. I have the one he made for me but I must have shrunk over the years as it is now far too tall for me!
Stag’s head brooch
You might be surprised at how Newhaven is connected to the rest of the world!
Find three objects in your home that connect to another country. Photograph, or draw or paint them and write about them in no more than 100 words to show how they connect you to another part of the world. How did they get to your house? Did someone buy them?
Are they souvenirs from a holiday or did your family come from another country?
Here is an example.
My great-aunt: a lacquered jewellery box from the Far East
My father’s aunt had married a banker and travelled widely with him to India and the Far East before the war. They were in Singapore when Japan invaded and while she escaped to Australia, he spent the war in an internment camp. When they finally came home to retire they brought with them a wealth of exotic furniture and decorative objects. Their flat was fully carpeted, (unusual in those days), mainly in pink. It was always warm and sweet smelling and so exciting to visit.
As I grew up and began to travel myself, my great-aunt saw me as following in her footsteps and I was one of her favourites nieces. The box she gave me is now rather worn and the lacquer has cracked and faded in places but it is full of my keepsakes and jewellery bits and pieces. It is a dark brown and covered with gold and red lacquered dragons and flowers. Inside there is a little lift-out drawer and some Chinese writing.
Lacquered jewellery box from the Far East
Find the oldest object in your home (and, no, your dad doesn’t count - it has to be inanimate - and no, your dad still doesn’t count!). Do you think it is beautiful? Is it useful? If it’s neither, then why is it there? Did it belong to someone else before you? Does it bring back memories, perhaps of a place you visited, or a person now dead? Now, take a photo or draw or paint a picture of it and write a few sentences about it, in no more than 500 words.
Here is an example.
My object is a small, hand-made, earthenware bowl containing three small rocks.
It sits on my desk and is worth nothing in monetary terms.
The rocks are probably millions of years old, as old as the earth itself. The bowl that contains them was made only a few years ago. The collection reminds me of a holiday I had in Africa and I picked up the rocks from the side of the road one day just before we visited a village where I bought the small bowl.
One of the stones is a rich, deep, red colour with tiny, tiny flecks of something glistening. Another is more creamy in colour with even more glistening specks. The third is a white colour, shiny, almost clear, and I suspect is quartz. I am no geologist but I believe two of them are sedimentary, that is they were once at the bottom of an ocean, while the third must be igneous, that is it was once in a molten state, liquid then solidified by a fierce heat, probably from a volcano.
The bowl was made of these very rocks, ground down and formed into clay, smoothed by leaves, baked and decorated in bands of red and black. It is crude but serviceable and it was made with much care.
Together, they remind me that the earth we live on is indeed millions and millions of years old and ever changing, while we exist for no more than a moment. They remind me of the sun and the rich, fertile soil that is Africa, the land that probably saw the birth of the whole human race.
But of course they also remind me of a wonderful holiday with my wonderful daughter when we saw lions and leopards, elephants and giraffes, wildebeest and warthogs and zebras: a holiday I will never forget.
Earthenware bowl containing three small rocks
Remember to send in your completed project or projects, to Heart of Newhaven, together with a name, and phone or email details so that we can contact you when we arrange an exhibition. Please email us as email@example.com
Feeling bored while you’re stuck at home?
We have some ideas for you
From our friends at the History of Education Centre (Victorian School Rooms)
One of the three main themes at the heart of the new centre will be Culture and Heritage and we are planning a heritage suite which will include an area covering local history as well as the Victorian Classroom of the History of Education Centre. (You can find out more about them at histedcentre.org.uk)
With that in mind, we are already working on future projects and would very much like you to get involved.
Do you possess any items relating to the history of the area which you might be willing to lend or donate, to help set up an exhibition? That might include old photographs for example. Why not take the chance of this forced home isolation to get tidying out all those old family photographs? If you can, scan them in and send copies to us. That would be great, but if you don’t have access to a scanner, then look themout anyway, sort them into themes perhaps - the sea shore, seasons, fashions,transport changes (have you had a look at our Trams page on the website? here), education, local parks, shops, the ideas are endless.
Once everyone is allowed out and about again, we can meet you and arrange for your photos to be scanned and returned to you.
Remember that Victoria Primary School is the 'heart' of a much bigger area than just the 'old village'. Take a look at the map - roughly from Ocean Terminal to Wardie Bay, bounded by Granton Rd and Ferry Road: a richly diverse heritage pool.
Perhaps you have moved here from elsewhere, from other parts of Scotland or from foreign shores. What are the differences you’ve noticed between where you lived before, and Newhaven?
Can you illustrate this in photographs?
If you have sewing or painting skills, perhaps you could embroider or paint something relating to Newhaven.
If you have young children with you, desperate to find something new to do while they’re not at school, then get them working at it too. Give them a project to take their minds off boredom.
Take the chance to get them talking to their Gran or older relatives on the phone or via video link and set them up with some questions to ask: what was your favourite subject at school; who was your favourite teacher; what did you do at the weekend when you were a teenager; what changes have you seen in the area; I’m sure you can think of loads more.
Once life is getting back to normal, those projects would make a great basis for an exhibition and once the heritage suite is established, we will be organising many events which we hope will bring all generations together in a variety of ways.
If you have anything you think might be of interest or would like to send us some photographs, then please do get in touch with our historical interpreter,
To Contact our Historical Interpreter