The Railway Card Project: C, D and E surname cards – Rising through the ranks

By Katherine Slay, Archives Assistant In our latest blog post, Katherine Slay gives brief stories of three employees of railway companies in the south-east of England, drawing on the information on their railway employee cards. Edwin Charles Cox was born in 1868, and joined the Operating Department of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway in…

Doodles, dragons, and pen trials

By Alice Millard, Research Assistant Anyone who has ever had a long phone conversation, sat in a meeting, or attempted to put off doing homework will have whiled away some of that time doodling. But, have you ever thought of people doing the exact same thing hundreds of years ago? The term 'pen trial' is…

The monstrous serpent of St Leonard’s Forest

By Alice Millard, Research Assistant Written accounts of serpent-like creatures, often referred to as dragons, appear throughout British history. They’re comparable to today’s sensationalist news stories about spooky big cat sightings. Both are creatures who normally cannot be accurately described - yet people have attempted to convince others of the existence of monsters for millennia.…

International Women’s Day: The story of Nancy B. Birkett; an early Aviatrix in Shoreham

The 1920s and 1930s saw a huge advancement in flight engineering. With that, aviation mania swept Europe and America. Usually thought of as a male pursuit, flying planes quickly garnered fresh attention from the media as increasing numbers of women took to the skies. Amy Johnson and Amelia Earhart were just two of a number…

Chasing a Petty Criminal Through Records

Here in the searchroom, an intriguing newspaper article from the West Sussex Gazette (28 March 1861) has sparked off a research journey into the tumultuous life of John Young from Chichester. The article describes how John, who was helping to clear up debris from the collapsed Cathedral spire, got into a fight and assaulted a…

Apple Howling, or how to serenade an orchard

Traditionally, the festive period extended several days beyond the New Year, yet for many that practice has declined and most of us have taken down the Christmas tree and weaned ourselves off the leftovers by then. I’ve recently learnt of an ancient custom that took place in the depths of West Sussex between Twelfth Night…