SEND Inventions Workshop

During the summer term of 2023, specialist SEND practitioner Noel Hayden and the Education Team worked with a group of post 16+ students from Henry Tyndale SEND School in Hampshire. We worked with the students at their school and they also visited The National Archives, to find out more about the records in our collection and the ‘Spirit of Invention’ exhibition.

Using the exhibition and the Victorian BT Design Registers as their inspiration, the students went on to design and make their very own inventions. Each design was centred around the themes of well-being, keeping clean and looking after yourself. The students produced some wonderful ideas to create their proto-types including a ‘Disco Bathroom’, ‘Laser Nail Cutter’ and a ‘Super Clothes-Hanger’ that can organise clothes by colour and de-crease them at the same time!

At the end of the project, the students returned to The National Archives to celebrate their hard work. Friends and colleagues were also invited to view the students’ inventions on display in the ‘Spirit of Invention’ exhibition space, and to hear some of the students give short presentations about their designs.

Thanks to the work of the Exhibitions team, three of the students also saw their inventions animated and set to music!

Please see the TNA website for more information about this project. The link can be found here.

Rebels in the Records

For several years the Friends have been supporting the TNA Education Department to create classroom resources based on records held in the National Archives. One example is the ‘Rebel in the Records’ series of films combining puppetry, model-making and animation created by young people in July 2021. They explored people and groups who have stood up for what they believed in, campaigned for change or lived in a different way to their contemporary society. The young people created, animated, scripted and recorded their films remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Please see for the results of this and earlier education projects.

Cataloguing the Great Cowcher Books

An exciting new FTNA-funded project to catalogue the Great Cowcher Books is underway. The Great Cowcher Books of the duchy of Lancaster (TNA, DL 42/1-2) are some of the greatest treasures deposited with The National Archives. They are perhaps second only to Domesday Book in their importance as a record of medieval landholding and lordship across many counties of England and Wales. Equally, the books are compiled using the finest, most high-quality materials. Yet, both their beauty as objects and the importance of their content to researchers remain under-appreciated. Thanks to this new project, Lordship, Identities and Communities: The Duchy of Lancaster’s Medieval Estates, this is all about to change.

On 18 May 2022 Professor Louise Wilkinson gave an update to the project entitled ‘The Treasures of the Medieval Duchy of Lancaster’ to Members of the Friends. The talk was recorded and is available to Members by logging in and navigating to The Talks Programme /Archive of Past Talks / Other Historical Topics.

Your Unfortunate Servants

The Friends provided funding towards the making of a digitally recorded version of a radio play specially written by Dominic Green, Writer in Residence at TNA. “Your Unfortunate Servants” is inspired by a set of letters from a number of paupers held at The National Archives. The play is set in 19th century Wales (Cardiff), and dramatizes the plight of paupers under the New Poor Law and behind the doors of the Victorian workhouse. These letters were found in uncatalogued volumes of correspondence as part of The National Archives/Nottingham Trent University collaborative research project In Their Own Write (ITOW).  ITOW is focused on examining the agency of the Victorian poor – what did they think in regard to welfare, what did they want and how did they respond to the conditions of the time – particularly the workhouse where many thousands of people were confined? For more information please see The National Archives website here.

Art and Archives

The Friends provided funding towards three events in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University which looked at the developing, nurturing and inspriation of creative practice with the collections at The National Archives.

Art and archives day 1- Archives as Creative Practice:

Art and archives day 2: Creative Encounters with Archives

Council Housing Online for Share

The Friends provided funding for the delivery of an online workshop based on the Council Housing Movement to engage disabled members of Share, a Battersea-based charity, as part of the Wandsworth Heritage festival. The aim was to help learning disabled adults explore and understand architectural and design features within their local area and to enjoy an activity that connects them both with the past and present. In so doing, TNA staff felt they were responding to TNA’s overarching Archival strategic aims to engage more diverse audiences, in the knowledge that young adults especially those with a learning disability are struggling right now. Material from HLG (Housing Design) as well as BT52 (Images of household objects) was supplemented with images of gardening and household object advertisements held at Wandsworth Archives.