Details of how to bury those who died from the plague and parish council notes and accounts are just two of the intriguing documents uncovered by Dr Stuart Jennings from the University of Warwick during his research and archiving of material deposited at the Nottinghamshire Archives by Newark and Sherwood District Council.
Dr Jennings, Chaplain for the University and a former Open Studies Tutor, has spent 12 years indexing documents and writing up his research, which has helped to contextualise the wide collection of artefacts from the civil war period acquired by the Newark Museum authorities.
“Military artefacts from the Civil War are plentiful but much rarer are the social sources that give us an insight into everyday life at that time,” he explained.
The variety of documents he has catalogued ranges from council minutes over the plague outbreak to petitions from destitute citizens caught up in fighting around Newark. Amongst the more interesting items includes a petition from a man from Newark whose house was destroyed during the second siege which reads:
The humble petition of Charles Piggot - humbly sheweth that your poore peticioner hath in a verie large manner tasted of the miseries and affliccons of these tymes for at the last fight against Newarke he had his house blowne upp with a granado and all his goods burnt and broken to the utter undoeinge of your poore peticioner, his wife and seaven children.
Another item lists instructions for burying people who had died from the Plague and contains payment details for the cost of searching the corpses of the dead for signs of plague and payments for food and ale for those shut up in their houses with plague.
Dr Jennings added: “These wonderfully preserved insights into everyday life help us build a clearer picture of what it was really like to live during the Civil War period and which capture the interest of young people. It’s so important for our children to understand and appreciate history and these personal letters and reports really do bring history to life.”
Dr Jennings has worked alongside Nottingham Trent University, Nottinghamshire Archives and the Newark and Sherwood District Council and his work and expertise has contributed to the successful bid for £3.5 million heritage lottery funding to create a National Civil War Centre in Newark.
The museum, due to open in September 2014, will feature the national story of the British Civil Wars through the experiences of Newark, which was a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War.
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Images kindly provided by Nottinghamshire Archives.