Windmills and warfare

Two slightly unrelated topics, except that they have formed a large part of our work over the last few months, which has just been made public.

I won’t go on about it, but as you probably know, our C. P. Davies Collection was used by the Restoration Man team to uncover the history of Reed Mill, the first restoration of the new series. The episode is available through Channel 4 on Demand.

That’s the windmills; the warfare is our Canterbury at War exhibition. Although the exhibition has a few more weeks to run (it officially closes on 31st January), we have now made the exhibition website live. To get a taster of the exhibition, or to follow the storyline once the exhibition has closed, have a look at the exhibitions section on our website.

We’ve also put together a new display in the Templeman foyer about Murder in the Cathedral – T.S. Eliot’s play, commisioned for the Canterbury Festival in 1935, which depicts the murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, on 29th December 1170. If you happen to be passing, do take a look!

New for this term is an exhibition about Charles Dickens and the theatre, drawing on our extensive Victorian and Edwardian Theatre Collecitons – so watch this space for developments throughout 2012…

Special Collections on TV

As a welcome back after the Christmas break, we have some exciting news!

You may remember that back in June last year, Special Collections and the Cathedral Library were involved in filming for the series Restoration Man in an episode about  Reed Mill in Kingston, which has now been restored as a home. Parts of our C. P. Davies and Muggeridge Mill Collections were used in the filming, and we’ve since supplied several further images for the show.

This episode will be shown on Thursday 5th January at 9pm on Channel 4 and will launch the new series. I hope that you can watch it and enjoy it – we are certainly looking forward to seeing the finished product.

If you would like any information about our Mills Collections, please take a look at our website.

For more information about the restoration, please contact R J Gibbs & Sons Ltd.

Restoration – part 2

I just thought I would add a quick post script to the entry below about Reed Mill and Restoration Man filming.

Claire Gibbs of R J Gibbs and Sons, who are carrying out the restoration work on Reed Mill, has kindly sent me a link to their website which contains updates on progress of the work. Have a look at The RJ Gibbs and Sons website for more information.

I, for one, am very much looking forward to seeing the result of their hard work.

Restoration Filming

I’m afraid it’s been a while since I last blogged and, although I do have an interesting piece about the Maddison Collection and Joseph Priestley almost completed, every time I sit down to finish it, something else comes up! In the meantime, however, I thought it would be interesting to share yesterday’s events with you.

Reed Mill in 1934

Reed Mill in 1934

Way back in March, we were contacted by researchers from the Channel 4 programme The Restoration Man. They were looking at the restoration of Reed Mill in Kingston, just outside Canterbury, in Kent. We have a small amount of material on this particular mill, mostly from the C.P. Davies collection, although  there are a couple of images of the mill in its dilapidated state in the Muggeridge Collection as well. It turns out that C.P. Davies’ notes (listed on our webpages under Kingston) hold some important clues to the origin and dating of the original Reed Mill, which the programme makers were keen to include. Unfortunately, our reading room is not particularly photogenic but after a visit to the Cathedral’s archives the researchers were keen to do some filming there. Although it took several months to organise, we finally arranged for the transfer of the relevant University’s Special Collections material down to the Cathedral Library and Archive for the filming, which took place yesterday afternoon.

Reed Mill in 1940

Reed Mill in 1940

I was lucky enough to be in charge of our material during the course of the shoot, which meant that I could watch the work as it was going on. The Cathedral Library, for those who don’t know, is not normally open to the public, unlike the Archives Search Room, which meant that the crew could wander around and do multiple takes under the watchful eye of the Cathedral Librarian, Karen Brayshaw. I had heard (and seen) some horror stories about TV crews working with rare books and archival materials, but everyone working on Restoration Man was very sensitive to the materials and to the environment in which they were working. They were also quick to ask Karen or myself before they moved or touched anything. We have some other TV researchers looking at some of our materials at the moment, and I have to say that if they are all like the Restoration Man crew and researchers, then I will have absolutely no qualms about allowing them to use materials which we hold.

And the results of the research? Well, you will have to watch the programme, which will hopefully be coming onto our screens in January, to find out. All I can say for sure is that both Karen, myself and the crew had a great time filming!

If you are interested in our mills collections, have a look through our webpages to find out more about them.

If you or someone you know is involved in restoring Reed Mill, please do get in touch and let us know how it is going; we would love to add contemporary materials and information to our existing records on this mill.