[This post is part of a new series of ‘Musings from the Museum’ written by Society members, volunteers and friends. If you would like to contribute, please email email@example.com.]
I have been fascinated by The Spalding Gentlemen’s Society since I was young and first noticed the stuffed birds in Ayscoughfee Hall where I went for dance classes.
When I got the opportunity to join I was delighted, however filling in the entry form was a bit of a challenge.
What did I have to offer the Society?
Apart from being a bit of a medieval nut, I decided that as an erstwhile acting coach I could probably draw on my wardrobe mistressing skills to help with textiles, and as a mother I could cater. I have never had a problem with talking to people so stewarding was a possibility too.
So far I have stewarded in a minor capacity, helped catalogue the costume collection and baked a cake.
But then I struck gold!
One day Dustin, our librarian approached me. With my literacy and local background would I be interested in joining his work party to learn to care for books and catalogue the Society’s papers? Would I ever!
I have learned about cleaning and storing books, even going to a workshop at Cranwell R.A.F. College which I have always wanted to visit. I have perused the very C18 newspapers that Maurice Johnson himself annotated for meetings and I have studied old photographs that take me back to my childhood and beyond. At the same time I have made good friends with colleagues of like mind to me.
One particular job that Dustin gave me was to check the ‘Literature Stack’ in the library for condition and content. Several weeks of Tuesday mornings found me at the top of a ladder with pencil and paper and little soft brush (this was before the health and safety decree), checking each book. On one occasion, taking a break, I mentioned to Dustin that I had been working on some drama, quite a lot of it in fact, as when I thought I had finished a shelf there was another.
Dustin perked up “Is it a set?”
“It’s not Bell’s British Theatre is it?”
“Yes, that’s what it is called”.
“I’ve been searching the catalogue for that and never found it, though I really hoped that we had one”.
(It was in the catalogue but under the first play in each volume, not as the set).
“What date is it?”
I gave him the date.
“How many volumes?”
I gave him the number.
“That date of issue had that many volumes. I must see this”.
We repair to the library where Dustin gazes in awe.
“That is a complete set. Nobody has a complete set of Bell’s – not even the British Library”.
Reader – we have!
I now feel that I may have something to offer the Society.
Member since 2014