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Cafe stop before Elm Hill

During our coffee break at Expresso on St Andrews Street, I asked about Archives and their boundaries. Mari spoke about items in the Parliamentary Archive and how they are catalogued in relation to the context of the archive. For example I had been searching the on-line catalogue for our commissioners but it came back showing no results, that is because items are catalogued according to Act or Petition for example. It’s not to say they don’t feature in the archive its simply that to catalogue all the information and make it searchable is a huge task and not likely to happen anytime soon, if ever. It means having to look physically at documents and reading them, the old fashioned way. The digital age has given us greater access than ever to search for things but with historical research it regularly comes down to looking at things directly and discovering for ourselves.

The last stop on our walking tour was Elm Hill. In some ways De Hague has become a favourite commissioner, he worked as an attorney with his father at number 5, across the road he was church overseer and then warden at St Peter Hungate. He seemed to do good work, was interested in art and literature but also in the care for the poor. A little way down the hill he lived at number 18 as drawn by Henry Ninham. I had identified Crown Court also on Elm Hill as a place to look at but could not recall the reason why. It was, now I have checked my own and one of the groups set on notes, where the United Society of Friars met for their discussions of art, literature and the soup kitchen provision they set up. Elm hill is one of Norwich’s best known historical streets which narrowly avoided being demolished in the 1930’s slum clearances.

The afternoon was spent back at NRO, where we looked at the wills for the 5 commissioners. I found the handwriting very difficult to read, the group did much better and we learnt something of the generosity of the commissioners and of course the fact they had money to bequeath.

These interconnected people, places, groups and events unite these 5 men and in some cases their extended family to each other. How I approach the construction of this piece (‘the art work’) is something I am going to consider on Monday.