Exploring Early Modern Kent in the Archive (Part 1): An Introduction to the Ronald Baldwin Collection

SC&A are delighted to present the first of a series of blog posts by one of our volunteers, Dr. Daniella Gonzalez.

Having finished my doctoral studies and eager to get back into the archives to kick-start my career in the archival sector, I began to volunteer at Special Collections & Archives (hereafter SC&A) at the University of Kent in February 2020. There is nothing I like more than uncovering the mysteries that lie in the records before me. It is these materials that tie us back to the past and to the people who lived it. We get an insight into their experiences, thoughts and those they interacted with, as well as the processes that governed their everyday lives. In this piece I want to tell you a bit about what I’ve been doing and what I’ve learnt.

Ronald Baldwin in 1986

As a volunteer at SC&A, I had the fantastic opportunity to work with the early modern indentures that form part of the Ronald Baldwin collection, a selection of pre-1900 material that focuses on the county of Kent and which was collected by Baldwin, a local historian. The items in this part of the collection span the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries, informing us about the lives of those that lived in the county of Kent under the Plantagenet kings of England up to the first Georgian monarch. My task was to sort and list the documents into a spreadsheet so it could be uploaded into the online catalogue; to transcribe and translate the documents; and to repackage them into archival quality enclosures to ensure their long-term preservation.

As soon as I laid eyes on the documents I would be working on I knew that this was the perfect project for me. Opening the box was the familiar sight of vellum, parchment and paper, as well as the script that is typical of early modern legal documents – to my delight there was even a late medieval document dating to 1 July 1425!

Indenture dated 29 May 1609 RB/DOC/IND/9

Those utilising these records will also notice that some are written in Latin and others in English. Some, like in the document below, produced on 10 February 1645, whilst Charles I was still king, are even written in both (as you can see the document is divided into two section, the Latin section, which is a preamble of sorts is at the top, and below the document continues in English), so be ready to put your Latin skills to the test!

Indenture dated 10 February 1645 RB/DOC/IND/15

Several of these items are in relatively good condition seals that have been slightly damaged and some slight staining of particular records.

Indenture dated 14 July 1718 RB/DOC/IND/19

As part of my introduction to the project, the University Archivist explained to me how archive catalogues are structured as a hierarchy, with different levels representing different aspects of the collection. Whilst I’ve had my fair share of visits to archives, I’d never realised that there is a catalogue hierarchy of sorts.

Knowing this was key in order for me to carry out my work on the early modern legal records I had before me. Thanks to the introduction, I knew that when cataloguing material, archivists need to capture several key bits of information, such as the level of these records – in this case ‘item’ – the repository they are held in, the collection they belong to and their reference number, which uniquely identifies these records as particular items. Other essential information to include are the date they were produced, the language they were written in, the condition of the record, what type of record it is and a description of the records that describes its content.

Detail of indenture dated 22 May 1626 RB/DOC/IND/10

Whilst sorting them into chronological order and cataloguing these records has been the central part of this project, I have also been able to put my palaeography skills to the test. Palaeography is the study of old handwriting and, whilst a medievalist by trade and having studied palaeography previously, some of the early modern handwriting was a little tricky at times. Totally worth it though when you encounter such beautiful illustrated initials like that on the right, dating to the reign of Charles I!

I have also been putting my palaeography skills to good use and producing transcriptions for researchers and the general public alike, which will be made available soon!

I’ll be producing some posts about my archive experiences with SC&A, so watch this space for more on early modern indentures and the daily lives of Kent’s early modern communities!

The catalogue entries for this collection are now live and can be viewed here: https://archive.kent.ac.uk/TreeBrowse.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&field=RefNo&key=RB%2fDOC%2fIND

 

Exploring mental health through artists’ books

This week (18 – 24 May) is Mental Health Awareness Week and there are some great conversations being had online. It’s great that talking about mental health is being supported more and more in everyday life too – all of us have mental health, just like we have physical health and the two often go hand in hand.

Archives can be places to explore how health has been described and medicine developed across the years. However they are also places to capture what life is like now and record lived experiences (see our call for donations relating to the current Coronavirus pandemic). This is also the case with our Prescriptions: Artists’ Books collection. We’ve written about these wonderful objects previously (see posts here) but today we want to share some of the books that explicitly relate to mental health.

All the images used in this post are copyright of Egidija Ciricaite.

Inside : An artists’s work: living with depression (Yvonne J. Foster, 2013, PSC34)

Image of pages from 'Inside : An artists's work: living with depression' by Yvonne J. Foster

Image of pages from ‘Inside : An artists’s work: living with depression’ by Yvonne J. Foster

Many of the artists’ books in our collection seek to deepen dialogue between patients and medical staff, and this work is one example. Here, Foster explores how it feels to live through a breakdown using altered photographs and scribbled images. Foster is a Brighton-based artist focusing on miniature works; you can view her website here.

No mind (Gaby Berglund Cárdenas, 2014, PSC28)

Image of 'No mind' by Gaby Berglund Cárdenas

Image of ‘No mind’ by Gaby Berglund Cárdenas

 

Mindfulness and meditation are often discussed in relation to mental health; many have found such techniques help to manage anxiety and depression. Cárdenas lived in South Korea whilst studying for a Masters in Fine Arts; whilst she was there she explored Buddhism and the role meditation has within the religion. For Cárdenas writing the phrase “no mind” became a way to quiet her brain and body. This piece is composed of an antique spool, around which Nepalese paper is wrapped; holding the object also makes you aware of the fragility of the work. Today Cárdenas lives in Sweden; you can find more of her works here.

Protecting my mind (Gunilla Åsberg, 2015, PSC41)

Image of 'Protecting my mind' by Gunilla Åsberg

Image of ‘Protecting my mind’ by Gunilla Åsberg

Asberg worked alongside a psychologist over several months to record the experiences of women dealing with stress-related illnesses, and this book records their stories. On the right-hand side of the book, Åsberg uses text from Swedish health and safety regulations but the fourth category is her own work, written to highlight the lack of mental health protection in employment legislation. You can view more of Åsberg’s art here.

Mind maps: The cumulative (hidden) experiences of the life of Penny Alexander 2016 (Penny Alexander, 2016, PSC36)

Image of 'Mind maps: The cumulative (hidden) experiences of the life of Penny Alexander 2016' by Penny Alexander

Image of ‘Mind maps: The cumulative (hidden) experiences of the life of Penny Alexander 2016’ by Penny Alexander

Alexander began creating artists’ books after her experiences of postnatal depression. This book, filled with pages of typewriter art, draws direct correlation between the experiences of everyday life and our mental wellbeing. Adams explores this correlation further by juxataposing maps of where she’s lived throughout the work – again highlighting the physical importance of place and self to health.

The book of common prayer (Sophie Adams, 2016, PSC6)

Image of 'The book of common prayer' by Sophie Adams

Image of ‘The book of common prayer’ by Sophie Adams

Common prayer books are traditionally found throughout the Anglican Christian world and contain forms of service, daily prayers and Bible readings. Here, Adams has transformed the book – using folding, not cutting – so that when it is spanned open the word ‘prozac’ can be seen. Prozac – or fluoxetine, to use its medical name – is an antidepressant drug used to treat many mental health conditions. Antidepressants frequently rank among the most prescribed medications in both the US and UK; they help many people to recover from illness but can also be indicative of the state of society’s mental health. By using folding patterns to create the word, Adams also explores the repetitive actions that can also be calming in periods of anxiety. You can see other works by Adams here.

Cumulatively these books help to show not only the diversity of mental health but also the strength of responses to it. Recording and making work in response to periods of mental illness can, for some, be an act of healing in itself. The books in Prescriptions also serve to challenge and improve relationships between treatment-giver and treatment-receiver; however they also contribute to opening up dialogue and removing stigma around lived experiences. They can inspire responses and new approaches to mental health – whether with you to create your own art or with generating empathy and understanding on any scale, be it individual or wider.

If you’d like to see images of these books or the rest of the Prescriptions collection these can be viewed through LibrarySearch; you are welcome to view these items in our Reading Room when we open again. For more information about the research being done at Kent relating to artists’ books (including the book which accompanied the 2016 exhibition of these works at the Beaney museum in Canterbury) please click here.

The University of Kent has many resources that can help if you’re concerned about your mental health; see the guide for students and staff wellbeing pages

A little of what you fancy..!

To celebrate the inaugural #musichallvarietyday on Saturday 16th May, 2020, we thought we’d tell you a bit about one of our magnificent theatre collections, the Max Tyler Music Hall Collection!

In June 2018 Special Collections & Archives were lucky enough to receive the personal music hall memorabilia collection of Max Tyler.

Who was Max Tyler?

Max was the historian and archivist of the British Music Hall Society. A retired bank manager, Max looked after the society’s theatrical memorabilia and was an expert in the field, particularly in the subject of seaside entertainment and obscure music hall tunes!

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Photographs of Max Tyler. Left and right images courtesy of Alison Young, middle image from the Max Tyler Music Hall collection.

Max was often invited to speak at events all across the UK and frequently wrote articles for publications such as The Call Boy and The Stage, and was the editor of the journal Music Hall Studies. According to the Music Hall Studies website, it was Max’s belief that “if there were no other source relating to British social history for a long period around the turn of the nineteenth century, a study of music hall song would provide everything researchers were seeking”.

Max had been in talks with us for many years about his personal collection of music hall memorabilia and research, with him ultimately bequeathing it to the University. Sadly, Max passed away on 5th January 2018 after being in poor health for some time. In his obituary in The Call Boy, Roy Hudd said of Max, “Max Tyler, an old fashioned gentleman and an old fashioned gentle man”.

After his death we worked closely with the British Music Hall Society to transfer the collection to our archive.

Music Hall? What’s that!?

Music hall was an incredibly popular form of entertainment from the mid-19th through to the early 20th century. Originating in bars and public houses, it was a heady mixture of popular songs, comedy and variety entertainment.

Oxford Music Hall, 1875

From around 1850 specialist music halls began springing up all across the country as the genre became more and more popular. The patrons would smoke, eat and drink whilst enjoying the humorous (and often cheeky) performances from that night’s entertainers. These entertainers were the celebrities of the day, with the most successful ones, such as Marie Lloyd, performing both nationally and internationally. The songs they sang were often a comment on the working class social issues of the time, such as money troubles, overcrowded living, unfaithful or nagging spouses, and sometimes even true love!

As the 20th century progressed and World War loomed, music hall popularity dwindled. Then came radio, cinema, and later, television, firmly putting an end to its ubiquitous popularity.

The collection

The Max Tyler Music Hall Collection is chock-full of music hall material, spanning from the late 19th century through to the early 21st century. It includes original and copies of Music Hall song sheets, sheet music and scripts for musical comedies, music hall programmes, playbills, 20th century music hall and vaudeville magazines and periodicals, music hall audio recordings on cassette, CD, shellac discs, and reel-to-reel tapes, published books on music hall, and music hall performers, Max’s research notes, and even Max’s very own stage blazer and hat!

Max’s striped blazer and straw boater hat, from the Max Tyler Music Hall Collection.

We couldn’t possibly fit information about everything in the collection in to one blog post, so for today’s post we will focus on a couple of the larger elements of the collection.

Songsheets

There are at least 1500 songsheets in the Max Tyler collection. With elaborately illustrated covers, and whimsical titles such as “I wasn’t so drunk as all that” and “La-Didily-Idily-Umti-Umti-Ay!” these songsheets are an incredible glimpse in to the working classes of the day (albeit a satirised, playful one!) Performers such as T.E. Dunville, Vesta Tilley, Marie Lloyd and Gus Elen, amongst many others, are represented, as well as prolific composers such as Joseph Tabrar, Arthur Lloyd and George Le Brunn.

Just a few of the 1500+ songsheets in the collection.

Programmes

The collection boasts beautifully illustrated late 19th and early 20th century programmes from variety theatres of the day, through to bold and photographic programmes of the later 20th century. It includes examples from provincial towns as well as the larger cities. This part of the collection is incredibly complimentary to our other theatre collections, which you can find out more about on our website!

A selection of the earlier programmes available in the collection.

Research Notes

Max was a diligent organiser and avid researcher of music hall, the benefits of which can be seen in his collection. He would always go the extra mile when researching on behalf of the society or members of the public and seemed to have a knack for knowing where to look for the most elusive of details. There are over a hundred files in the collection, on topics from individual performers, composers and historic events, through to animals and trains; it if it was a theme in music hall then Max was bound to have researched it in some way!

Examples of the research files in Max’s collection.

Book collection

There are just under 550 books in Max’s collection. Again, the topics of these books vary from the specific to the peripheral when it comes to music hall. There are titles written by or about music hall performers, encyclopaedias and compendiums of music hall songs, stars and theatres, through to historical and literary texts.

Books in the Max Tyler Music Hall Collection

We are currently working on organising and cataloguing the collection. Material which has been catalogued can be found here if you’re looking for archival material, or here if you’re looking for items from Max’s book collection.

If you are interested in researching or simply viewing any material from this stunning collection, please do get in touch with us via specialcollections@kent.ac.uk.

VE Day through the eyes of cartoonists

May 8th 2020 is a particularly notable date for us UK residents. Not only is it a bank holiday (on a Friday), but it’s also the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe day, better known as VE Day. On the 8th of May 1945 the Allies formally accepted the surrender of Nazi Germany, marking the end of the Second World War in Europe. What better time, then, to delve back through the British Cartoon Archive to see how cartoonists marked this momentous occasion?

David Low, 'The Nightmare Passes', Evening Standard, 8th May 1945 (DL2416)

David Low, ‘The Nightmare Passes’, Evening Standard, 8th May 1945 (DL2416)

‘The nightmare passes’ by David Low is arguably one of the most famous images from VE day. Published by the Evening Standard on 8th May 1945, it shows a man and a woman – representing everyday citizens – waving as the black clouds part to let the sun in.

Leslie Illingworth, 'Night passes and the evil things depart', Daily Mail, 8th May 1945 (ILW0903)

Leslie Illingworth, ‘Night passes and the evil things depart’, Daily Mail, 8th May 1945 (ILW0903)

Leslie Illingworth published ‘Night passes and the evil things depart’ in the Daily Mail also on the day itself. It’s interesting to compare Low and Illingworth here – both use the natural world as a metaphor for the War, but Low focuses on depicting the general public whereas Illingworth explores the detail of the dark clouds, bringing up spooky and apocalyptic visions.

NEB (Ronald Niebour), "Just one more for the old family album sir.", Daily Mail, 8th May 1945(NEB0247)

NEB (Ronald Niebour), “Just one more for the old family album sir.”, Daily Mail, 8th May 1945(NEB0247)

In contrast to Low and Illingworth, Ronald Niebour (NEB) depicts one of the most famous figures of the Second World War – Prime Minister Winston Churchill, complete with cigar in his mouth. Niebour presents a patrotic, jovial side to the celebrations here – there are multiple union jack flags and someone is photographing the scene, aware of its place in history.

Carl Giles, "...The forces surrendering will total over a million chaps...and that, gentlemen, is a good egg...", Daily Express, 8th May 1945 (GA5444)

Carl Giles, “…The forces surrendering will total over a million chaps…and that, gentlemen, is a good egg…”, Daily Express, 8th May 1945 (GA5444)

Carl Giles was travelling in Europe as the Daily Express’ war correspondent in 1945, so his art published during this period is more observational than his traditional style. Here Giles depicts Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who played a crucial role in directing troops during the Second World War – both in the Western Desert campaign in Egypt and Libya and in Europe from 1944. On the 4th May 1945 Montgomery accepted the surrender of German forces in northwest Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. Giles drew this image at Montgomery’s headquarters in Luneberg; it is thought to be one of the first sketches of the Field Marshal in action, as previously he had only been depicted in caricature.

E.H. Shepard, 'The doomed isle', Punch, 7th March 1945 (ES0064)

E.H. Shepard, ‘The doomed isle’, Punch, 7th March 1945 (ES0064)

Cartoonist and illustrator E.H. Shepard’s cartoons from VE day aren’t held in the British Cartoon Archive but we couldn’t resist sharing this work, published in Punch in March 1945. Unusually, Shepard depicts a German soldier (sitting vulnerable in a stormy sea) as the tides of freedom wash in around him. The continuing nature references in these cartoons suggest that there was a feeling in 1945 (and throughout the war) that the world is returning to how it should be rather than what the Nazi party wanted to change it into.

Prior to VE day itself, cartoonists were already echoing political sentiment that the Nazi era was drawing to a close – even before Hitler’s suicide on the 30th April. Here, this drawing by David Low follows on from Shepard above to highlight the aftermath of six years of war:

David Low, [no caption], Evening Standard, 7th May 1945 (DL2415)

David Low, [no caption], Evening Standard, 7th May 1945 (DL2415)

Strube takes a slightly more lighthearted approach to to the collapse of the Nazi regime, using the infamous phrase “joy through strength” here to ridicule Hitler and echo the saying “the wheels are coming off”. An interesting inclusion to Strube’s cartoon is the Roman Emperor, which could either be a reference to the mythology the Nazis sought to uphold or the political disputes which ended many Roman leaders’ reigns.

Sidney 'George' Strube, 'Going- going', Daily Express, 2nd May 1945 (GS0702)

Sidney ‘George’ Strube, ‘Going- going’, Daily Express, 2nd May 1945 (GS0702)

Wordplay can also seen in Giles’ cartoon, published on the 29th April; here, the Nazi motto “One people, one state, one leader” is barely intact amongst the rubble of Germany:

Carl Giles, 'German Landscape', Daily Express, 29th April 1945 (GA5440)

Carl Giles, ‘German Landscape’, Daily Express, 29th April 1945 (GA5440)

The overwhelming majority of cartoonists praise Allied powers for bringing about VE Day, and one man in particular – as depicted here by David Low:

David Low, [no caption], Evening Standard, 12th May 1945 (LSE1229A)

David Low, [no caption], Evening Standard, 12th May 1945 (LSE1229A)

As the war ended in Europe and soldiers began to come home, many artists looked to the future. Once again, David Low summarises public sentiment best: VE Day wasn’t an end, but a beginning – well worth remembering in current times too.

David Low, 'End? No - beginning', Evening Standard, 11th May 1945 (DL2417)

David Low, ‘End? No – beginning’, Evening Standard, 11th May 1945 (DL2417)

As ever, we could continue this exploration of VE day images for ages but why don’t you have a look? You can search through the British Cartoon Archive’s collections here. And if you’ve forgotten what exactly happened during the Second World War, don’t worry – Illingworth has your back:

Leslie Illingworth, [no caption], Daily Mail, 1 May 1945 (ILW0898)

Leslie Illingworth, [no caption], Daily Mail, 1 May 1945 (ILW0898)

 

 

10 things you probably didn’t know about windmills

Did you know that Special Collections & Archives hold not one, not two, but four collections relating to windmills and their history? To celebrate National Mills weekend (being held virtually over the bank holiday, 9 – 10 May 2020) we thought we’d put together some interesting facts based on our marvellous mill material! (Alliteration encouraged but not necessary.)

We challenge you not to find windmills awesome after this post

We challenge you not to find windmills awesome after this post

1. Windmills are important sources of local history

We’re so used to living in an age with electrical everything, but before the industrial revolution happened mills were vital sources of power across the UK and Europe. They didn’t need to be near water sources to generate energy and were used for all kinds of work, especially grinding wheat to make flour – vital in a world before mass imported food.

Because mills could be found almost everywhere until the 19th century, they’re a unique source for exploring local history and a great starting point for archive research: who owned the mill? What was it used for? Where was it in the community and how long did it operate for? If it’s no longer around, what’s replaced it on the site? Who worked in mills and how much did they earn? Mills are a great resource for economic, local and art historians alike.

2. Know your mill types: tower mill

Lots of tower mills: note the brick and cylindrical body

Lots of tower mills: note the brick and cylindrical body

If you’ve been following our #WindmillWednesday hashtag on Twitter, you’ll notice that there isn’t just one type of windmill to explore. We traditionally associate windmills with tower mills – they’re fairly cone-like in shape, often brick-based and the sails are attached to a wooden roof that can rotate in the direction of the wind. Tower mills have existed since the 13th century but they became popular from the 16th century onwards; however they’ve always been more expensive to build than other types of mill. In the UK, the tallest existing tower mill can be found at Moulton in Lancashire.

Moulton windmill's workers must have been extremely fit to get all the way to the top (image taken in 1938)

Moulton windmill’s workers must have been extremely fit to get all the way to the top (image taken in 1938)

3. Kent has so many windmills there’s an entire book about them

At one point, Kent had over 400 windmills – with Deal and Sandwich hosting 6 each! Today 12 still exist; Kent County Council look after 6 of them. The definitive work about Kent’s windmills was written by historian William Coles-Finch (1864 – 1944) in 1933. Windmills and Watermills was republished in 1976; we have several copies of each edition. We often get asked “why do you have things relating to windmills anyway?!”; our answer – alongside the local history and generally awesome elements – relates to the creators of the three main mill collections we hold. Keep reading for more information…

4. Know your mill types: post mill

Post mills, not to be confused with post boxes

Post mills, not to be confused with post boxes

Post mills are the earliest known type of European windmill and generally the most affordable to build. They can be recognised easily – they have a blocky, boxy structure that sits on top of one post, often hidden by a cylindrical base. Architecture aside, the main difference between tower mills and post mills is that in post mills the mechanisms are enclosed within the box of the mill (around a single post, hence the name) and it’s this part that turns. In comparison to a tower mill, this is a huge difference – in tower mills it’s only the top of the mill that rotates. Sometimes you’ll see post mills without the cylindrical base, but as it’s pretty useful for storage many are built with this area included as part of the design. In the UK, the longest working post mill can be found in Outwood, Surrey; the oldest non-working mill is in Great Gransden, Cambridgeshire.

Great Gransden windmill shows off its best side (1979)

Great Gransden windmill shows off its best side (1979)

Miller Stanley Jupp looks mighty proud of his Outwood windmill, as he should (1961)

Miller Stanley Jupp looks mighty proud of his Outwood windmill, as he should (1961)

5. The Muggeridge family really liked windmills

The Muggeridge family - father and son

The Muggeridge family – father and son

The largest collection of mill material we look after belongs to the Muggeridges. William Burrell Muggeridge (1884 – 1978) started taking images of mills in 1904 and continued for most of his life; we hold his glass plate photos. William passed his love of all things windmill onto his son, Donald (1918 – 2015) who spent much of his spare time cycling around the UK with his wife Vera. Vera and Donald were interested in all things heritage-related and windmills formed a large part of that interest. Donald’s photographs also reside with us. You can read more about the Muggeridges here.

6. Know your mill types: smock mill

Smock mills in all their finery

Smock mills in all their finery

Like tower mills, smock mills only rotate through the top of the building where the sails are attached. The main difference between smock mills and tower mills is that smock mills are generally constructed of wood and have 6 or 8 sides, whereas tower mills are made of brick and generally cylindrical in shape. Because of their multiple sides smock mills resemble smocks traditionally worn by farmers. In the UK you can find the oldest existing smock mill in Lacey Green, Buckinghamshire.

Lacey Green smock mill looking mighty atmospheric (1934)

Lacey Green smock mill looking mighty atmospheric (1934)

7.  Not just the UK: windmills across the world

The majority of our mill collections focus on UK windmills, but they’re well documented across Europe and beyond. The Netherlands is particularly famous for milling – in 1850 they had 10,000 windmills in operation out of Europe’s 200,000 total! After the Second World War Donald Muggeridge moved to North America (Canada then California), so his collection contains many photos of American mills and others across the globe from his travels. You can explore the listing of Donald’s adventures here.

8. C.P. Davies was also a big mill fan

Our other significant mill collection belonged to C.P. Davies, a Kent based librarian in the 20th century. The Davies collection differs from the Muggeridges’ in that it is much more text and ephemera based – you can find newspaper cuttings, articles, pictures and handwritten notes amongst its c.100 boxes. Davies was primarily focused on mills along the south coast (Kent and Sussex), but there’s information about a wide variety of mills across the UK and Europe. You can browse the listing of the collection here.

9. One final Kent name to remember: the Holman family

Two of the scrapbooks from the Holman family. There's at least one cute sheep photo within.

Two of the scrapbooks from the Holman family. There’s at least one cute sheep photo within.

If you’ve visited Special Collections & Archives on an open day in the past few years, you may well have seen one of our gorgeous windmill scrapbooks. These scrapbooks were made by John Holman; his collection also includes engineering notebooks and many other memorabilia relating to mills. The Holmans were a famous milling family in Kent; they built twelve wooden smock mills across the county between 1793 and 1928, of which six still stand. The Holman milling business (which included engineering and designing mill parts too) ran for 150 years. If you’re interested in finding out more about them, The Mills Archive have a wonderful biography of the Holmans online.

10. Mills have switched from practical structures to heritage buildings

Nowadays most mills aren’t in use for power generation as there are far more efficient methods, and the number of buildings that still exist are far fewer. As you might expect given their structure and components, windmills are at risk from bad weather, neglect and occasionally fires – there are a lot of photos across all our mill collections that record the damage time does to these marvellous machines. However many mills now are managed either through county councils (Kent County Council looks after eight of twelve remaining) or via volunteer charities. They often open for visitors in the summer months, and initiatives like the National Mills weekend help to raise support and awareness.

If you’ve read this far…congratulations! You may now call yourself a molinologist, aka someone who studies mills! Maybe one day you will find yourself seeking out windmills far and wide, like the author of this blog:

Zaanse Schaans windmills in 2018 and 1982.

Windmills: guaranteed to make you happy!

Resources and references:

Kent County Council have a fantastic resource pack to teach children (and adults) about windmills: https://shareweb.kent.gov.uk/Documents/Leisure-and-culture/heritage/heritage-education-packs/windmills-education-pack.pdf

The Mills Archive is a fantastic site for molinologists of all ages but we particularly like their biography of the Holman family: https://millsarchive.org/explore/features-and-articles/entry/158534/holman-bros.-millwrights-of-canterbury-a-history/6817 

For much-needed reading, the Wikipedia pages on windmills are a great place to start (and very thorough): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windmill

The majority of our windmill collections are catalogued; you can view details of their contents here: https://archive.kent.ac.uk/TreeBrowse.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&field=RefNo&key=MILL 

We are continuously cataloguing our library of mill-related books, and you can view up to date listings on LibrarySearch: https://librarysearch.kent.ac.uk/client/en_GB/kent/search/results?qu=windmill&qf=LOCATION%09Location%091%3ASCA%09Special+Collections+and+Archives&if=el%09edsSelectFacet%09FT1&ir=Library&isd=true

All photographs used in the hybrid images in this post are from our Muggeridge collection: https://archive.kent.ac.uk/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=MILL%2fMUG