In May 1907, a reporter from the Bristol Evening News ventured into the industrial streets of St Phillips, made his way along Cheese Lane, past the Phoenix Glass Bottle Works, and knocked at the door of a small terraced house in Avon Lane at the back of Avon Street. This was home to Elizabeth Jewell, whose husband had died in 1889, leaving her to care for their seven children as best she could. The city’s newspapers didn’t often go looking for uplifting stories in working class districts like this, but the house was quickly becoming famous as the home of a local hero, and the Evening News was keen to be first with an interview.
In the autumn of 2018, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter will host several exhibitions to commemorate the Armistice which was signed on 11 November 1918. Working in partnership with Southwest Heritage Trust, Exeter City Council, the Regional History Centre (UWE), the First World War Engagement Centre at the University of Hertfordshire, and RAMM, Dr Kent Fedorowich (UWE) has, since 2016, been part of the steering committee that has been focussing its efforts on one of the exhibitions entitled, ‘The Canadians in Devon, 1914-1919’.
The country house, centrepiece of the heritage industry, is something which is sold to us as being quintessentially British. In the South-West and throughout England, these sites have welcomed visitors for decades to come and enjoy the elegance and grandeur of this heritage. In this article, Madge Dresser highlights the sanitisation of the histories that are presented by these stately homes. Drawing our attention to the complex web of links between aristocratic wealth and the Atlantic slave economy, Dresser seeks to persuade readers that unearthing these links is a worthwhile historical enterprise.
‘Accessibility’ is the button increasingly pressured academics, curators and archivists must press if they wish to get their hands on public funds. Is this ‘a good thing’? Or is it just one more step in the dumbing down of our national culture?