publicity for Salthouse's buried records


In the Eastern Daily Press, 20th December: an article about the Salthouse 1538 damaged Register, with pictures: -

Above: The skilled task of gently separating and surface-cleaning the parchment pages.

The large Persex Dome which covers the table where the parchment is
enveloped in a mist from an ultrasonic humidifier which gradually relaxes it.


From the EDP Tuesday December 20, 2005:


Here are a few examples of what the records show:

1639 - Burial: Augustine Anverson an Iseland (iceland) man borne the 25th of the same [April 1639].
1643 - Memoranda that Thomas Bredcocke, son of Thomas Bredcocke of Salthouse beinge slaine in Winterton roade in the Parliament service in the shippe called the Hopefull Luke upon the 3oth August 1643 being Wednesday, was buried in Great Yarmouth Churchyard the 31st of the same, being Thursday.
1658 - Burial: Sarah the wife of Thomas Waterson perishinge in the extremitye of weather the 2nd of Februarye betwixt Holt and Salthouse was found and buried the 23rd of Februarye.
1682 - Burial: John Man son of Mary Man widow 'found drowned in ye channel'


Above: Conservator Antoinette Curtis at the dome.
To see the pages of photos taken by Antoinette already on this website click here
or here for the original story of the Buried Records from the Salthouse book.

From the EDP Tuesday December 20, 2005:

Story told page by page


For years it lay buried. Hidden away to protect it from falling into the wrong hands during the second world war.
And there one Norfolk village's historic records stayed, forgotten, until the 1950s when an enterprising family researcher began looking for it.

But even after the 132-page book of baptisms, marriages and burials was resurrected, it was in such a state that it is only thanks to recent advances in conservation that it can finally be opened up to the world again.

The Register book which contains more than 250 years of parish records from 1538 onwards, was wrapped in newspaper and cloth and buried deep underground by the rector, believed to be Charles Swainson, at the start of the war.

He feared it would be damaged by bombing or would fall into enemy hands but what he could not have realised was the length of time it would remain hidden. Eventually the Register book was uncovered in the churchyard suffering from dirt, damp and considerable mould damage.

Antoinette Curtis, conservator at the Norfolk Archive Centre, said "The book came into the library at Bethel Street in 1959 and was transferred to the record office when it was established in 1963.

"But it was not until recently that advances in conservation techniques meant that it could safely be brought back into a worthwhile state.

"Even 10 years ago doing something like this would have been an extremely complex operation and I'm not sure I would have wanted to tackle it." said Ms Curtis who has been painstakingly conserving the book.

The process begins with the gentle separation and surface cleaning of the parchment pages so that they can be flattened. Leaves are then put on a table enclosed with a large Perspex dome, where a mist is introduced from an ultrasonic humidifier and gradually they become relaxed and can be placed on a low-pressure suction table.

They are then flattened using a press.

The funding for the work has come from Salthouse resident Val Fiddian who wrote a book on the history of the village after getting a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

One of the conditions of the money was that any profits should be reinvested in the community and the conservation project was chosen as the beneficiary.

Dr John Alban, County Archivist at Norfolk County Council, said "The Norfolk Record Office is proud to be associated with the parish in this amazing saga of an important archive buried, resurrected and restored. It's exciting to think that, for the first time in over half a century, people will be able to see the contents of the register again".

He added: "Paradoxically, having to deal with the vast amount of archival material damaged by water through the Norwich Library fire forced us to develop in-house new methods of conservation, and finely honed the skills of the NRO's conservation team."

In the last three weeks, pages 59-132 have been restored and work started on the first part of the book.

Members of the parish will visit the centre in the New Year to see the work first hand and eventually, thanks to digital imaging, they will be able to look at the records to help with their own family histories.