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The Gillingham Historian May 2024

The Newsletter for Gillingham Local History Society and Museum

May 2024 Volume 14 Number 5

7.00pm Tuesday 21 May at Wyke Primary School (doors open at 6.30pm for refreshments)


a talk by Matthew Tagney

A tale of peculiar historical boundaries, pious medieval practices, Mr Raspberry the brolly-maker, and "convenient buildings and exceeding rich meadow land ", wandering from past to present on Shaftesbury's western edges.

Visitors welcome - donations appreciated


SOCIETY MEMBERSHIP If you are a follower of the Historian, and not a member, you can join the Society via the website or request an application form from the Museum.                                                          Please support the Museum which is entirely run by volunteers.    



      MYSTERY PHOTO              

Can you identify this smartly dressed gentleman?

Probably photographed around 1900

by Gillingham photographer Chas. Johnson.   



Museum volunteers have recently completed a new display about local 'Trade and Technology'.

Also in the pipeline is a display in connection with the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Do you have any memories recorded by your parents, grandparents, great grandparents?                                       These memories could relate to local events in 1944 or those servicemen or women who were serving at the time. There may be memories of soldiers billeted in Gillingham in 1944. Photos or memorabilia could be copied for display and retained for the Museum collection.



2nd MAY - ADVERT - NEW, shop soiled only, ROYAL RUST Spring Frame, 3-speed, Clutch and kickstart, complete with lamp, Horn + Tax for year; a Bargain for £37 10s.         STICKLANDS GARAGE, Gillingham. ……….

30 MAY - ADVERT - 3½H.P. Ariel Sports, fast, powerful, £18 or near offer - BUDDEN, Gillingham.

2 MAY - DORSET MEN IN LONDON -   Mr Winston Churchill, a Guest at the Annual Dinner.

The Rt.Hon.Capt.F.E. Guest, M.P. (the president) will preside at the annual dinner of the Dorset Men of London, which is being held at the Holborn Restaurant.

9 MAY - Lad’s narrow escape - A lad named Harold Wiles, son of Mr J Wiles, haulage contractor, of Peasemarsh, had a narrow escape from death in the High Street on Saturday.


 SAD NEWS - Recent Death. Many Gillingham residents

will know of the recent death of Mr Jack Skelton-Wallace. Jack was a past member of the Society and had led a very varied life. Among his accomplishments was his book ‘A Selection of Parish Churches in ... North Dorset, East Somerset, and South-West Wiltshire’ (abridged from an even longer original!), first published in 2004.

Despite its circuitous title, this is an attractively presented and well-written book with some striking sketch illustrations by Clive Forward. The Museum has some copies available to callers at a price of £7. This is a good opportunity to acquire an informative history of some of our local churches. JP




Following the success of the recent collaboration between Gillingham Local    History Society and Gillingham Library to celebrate John Constable’s connection to the town, the two are again joining forces for Local History Week on a project entitled Ethel Freame: a Window into a life, which will run from Saturday May 11 until Saturday May 25.

Miss Freame (shown left) lived in Gillingham her whole life and kept a diary for most of that time, often writing more than a page a day about her social life, visitors, her brother’s business affairs and matters relating to the catholic church. She has left us a fascinating picture of what life was like in and around Gillingham as she saw it daily in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

The Freame Diary archive in Gillingham Museum consists of the 29 hand-written volumes known to have survived, dating from 1886, when Miss Freame was 26, to 1936 – a total of 9,300 pages and a million and a half words! Much of the content was transcribed by GLHS volunteers some years ago, and that work has now been completed and re-edited into a digital edition which can be downloaded, making the entire text available for reading for the first time. To mark the launch of this new digital edition, assistant curator of Gillingham Museum Dr John Porter, who oversaw the project, will be presenting a talk, The Diaries of Ethel Freame, on Tuesday 14 May at 3.30pm in the Library and opening the museum afterwards, where a special exhibit will feature some of the diaries.   

   (below: an extract from Ethel's diary for 6 July 1900) 


Gillingham Library will be presenting a display on diaries, both real and fictional. They will also host a talk, Women’s  Diaries in the Long 18th Century, by Dr Kim Simpson, deputy curator of Chawton House Library, using examples from her library’s collection to explore the role of women diarists in the 18th century.     



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