Category Archives: National Trust

Images of a Hero

Back in July I wrote a blog entry about putting together some videos for Quebec House. I finished the videos a while a go and I’ve been uploading them periodically over the last couple of weeks. Check them out if you get a chance on the Quebec House Youtube Channel, I think they’ve come out quite well!

We also got our first comment on the introduction video I uploaded back in July. I think it will be interesting to see if anyone comments back and if the video becomes a social object over the next few months.

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Filed under National Trust, Youtube

The Mountains of Web 2.0

I was updating the title bar for my blog yesterday, as you will see above with images from our collections as opposed to the books which came as standard (which I’ve been meaning to do for the last few months). On logging on to wordpress I saw this featured blog. The geeky but very popular webcomic xkcd produced a new map of online social communites.

It’s an interesting if not entirely scientific representation of based on how popular communities are based on social interaction as opposed to total membership.  Another similar version of the above was also carried out by marketing firm Flotown, both show what has become the pre-eminence of facebook. What is really interesting is if you compare it to the 2007 version below.

Look at how small facebook is compared to Myspace, similarly twitter is notable by its non-existence, something that is hard to believe these days.  One of the other interesting things you notice about the 2010 version is the enlargement of size of things like farmville, social gaming is increasingly popular (as anyone who has a facebook account and is constantly spammed by request to join friends in games will know!).

One of my own favourite things is ‘the plain of awkward social family interaction’ as older users have flocked to facebook in recent years, it appears that the younger audience has dropped off. Maybe having your mother comment on your pictures proves too much for some!

Talking about facebook, it also has provided a platform for a new page for Edward Hussey III of Scotney Castle. The page will be updated a couple of times a week with information from Edwards diaries etc from Maidstone Archives between now and Christmas. It will add snippets of information about the construction of the new house at Scotney and also contain links to images in the collection. So if you want to know Edwards 13 objections to the old house at Scotney, please check out his page!

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Filed under Collections, National Trust, Social Media

Beyond Artefacts?

I was at a loss as to what to do the weekend before last so I took myself off to one of the Heritage Open Days. As I’ve said previously having a bit of a soft spot for all things 18th century and re-enactment I went to the event at Quebec House. Although I’ve concentrated on new ways objects and collections can be highlighted, I’ve tended to keep to all things digital. So today I’m going to the opposite end and talking about a physical way of bringing objects to life, specifically re-enactment.

Guard at Quebec House

The idea of recreating past events is not a new one; in fact the Romans were partial to a bit of recreating the past, in what was known as Naumachiae. Naumachiae being the term for naval re-enactment and the venue in which they took place. Caesar going as far to have a basin built in the Campus Mauritius, where 4,000 oarsman and 2,000 fighters fought a recreated battle costumed as Tyranians and Egyptians. One interesting thing to note is that Rome was not involved in these fights, in case the wrong side won!

Camp at Quebec House

What is increasingly popular idea is that of bringing the past to life through carrying out normal tasks. Increasingly even battle re-enactment will incoportate some sort of camp in which daily tasks such of the past such as sewing, cooking, drill and fatigue duties are carried out better known as living history.

18th Century Surgeon

When you think about it the foundation of re-enactment is really about recreating material culture from the past and using it, be it clothes, a simple sewing needle or reading a drill manual(arguments about standards of reproduction and interpretation are for another day!).

Blowing bubbles with a clay pipe

I think seeing a close reproduction of historical objects in daily use in the right context can bring objects in display cases and houses to life. It will never replace a priceless original, but it does illustrate how it was used and can allow people to engage with the object. It can go beyond being an artefact.

Of course this is just my opinion and certainly opinion is divided on the topic. For instance another Walsh referred to re-enacting as ‘shallow titillation’!

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Filed under Living History, National Trust, Re-enactment

Pseudo Books?

Part of the collections of Scotney Castle are seven visiting albums compiled by Christopher and Elizabeth Hussey covering a period from April 1936 through to September 1968. 

Watercolour and pictures of Corsham Court Wilshire © National Trust / Charles Thomas

The first four albums for the period 1936-1955 are a record of country house visits paid almost entirely in England, Wales and Scotland, while the three albums for 1961-1968 record foreign holidays and travels.

Over the last week I’ve been developing ways we could use these stunning albums in new ways. The first and simplest I’ve been working on is combining all the images into a single .PDF to use as an eBook.

The second has been working on has been creating a page flip version of the album for use on a external device. Having no skill in creating flash files myself, I’ve been scouring the web and I’ve come up with a number of ways to do this, either using software or sending .PDF files to be converted. I’ve also discovered this free version of doing it, so far it seems to be working fine!

Certainly technology like this is exciting and allows us to look at documents and books which are maybe too valuable or distant to be read in a traditional way. Digital versions of books seem to becoming more and more popular. Something apple seem keen to capitalise on with the launch of the book version of Itunes…..Ibooks!

Having access to information easily is important and interesting but is the wow factor of lost in seeing only a digital copy? Can they really ever replace the real thing? Answers on an electronic postcard!


Filed under Ebooks, Flip-Page, Ipad, National Trust

Who was General James Wolfe?

I visited Quebec House on Friday and after a bit of confusion finding my way from the car park to the House I was very impressed with what I saw. I may be a bit of a military history geek, but I thought the place was really interesting. For those who haven’t made the trip to General James Wolfe’s childhood home I highly recommend it. You can even drink port (although I didn’t as I was driving!).

One of things that came out of my visit was using youtube to set up a channel specifically for Quebec House, which I have done. I have also uploaded an introduction video produced by the BBC, which can be seen below (It has 17 hits so far!).

I’m going to do three different simple videos using items from the collections to tell some of the stories and themes relating to Wolfe and his story. One about the long Siege of Quebec in 1759 which ended with the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, but is largely forgotten in the Wolfe story. Then one highlighting the destruction of Quebec, something perhaps felt most by the inhabitants of Quebec today and still a sticky subject if the calling off of the 2009 re-enactment in Quebec is anything to go from. The third and final video is going to involve a placement student talking about some of the art work surrounding Wolfe.

I’ll let you know how I get on with creating my videos, but I’m open to any suggestions which might help! Which do you think will get the most interest?

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Filed under Collections, National Trust, Re-enactment, Social Media, Uncategorized, Youtube

Turning on the Lights

Hi my name is Adam and I’m the new Collections Engagement Officer for the National Trust in the South East Region and this is a blog that I’ll be updating over the course of the next year.

As well as getting to know this entirely new role I’ve been stressing and thinking about exactly what I’m going to write about over the last two weeks. I’ve been drawing ideas from lots of different blogs around the internet and have came to the following conclusion; although this blog is about collections owned by the national trust I didn’t want to make another version of Emile de Bruijn’s excellent blog Treasure Hunt.

So what I’ve decided to do is leave it fairly open, I’m going to talk about collections and objects, but I’m also going to talk about the ways we and others have put the ‘spotlight’ on collections. I’m going to talk about using social media, augmented reality and online exhibitions. I may also from time to time talk about other things. So I’m open to suggestions and ideas so please feel free to leave any comments!


Filed under augmented reality, Collections, National Trust, online exhibitions, Social Media