Don’t you just love going to a fair? No – not the kind with bumper cars and candy floss, but a Family History fair, with the excitement of new resources to browse and buy and Useful Conversations to have!
Back in November I’d been to the West Surrey Family History fair in Woking, but this was a much smaller affair – the Sussex Family History Group ‘Family and Local History Day’, held at the Steyning Centre in, er, Steyning.
When I got to Steyning it was obvious that something else was happening in the town that day, with road closure notices abounding. I made it to the Steyning Centre car park just before some sort of procession started, I think, securing the last space in the car park and then only because I have a very little car!
Heading first to the Sussex Family History Group stall I was able to purchase the CD ‘Sussex Poll Books and Directories’ which I had seen advertised in the journal and thought would be a good resource to have. They seemed to be having a good clearout of old booklets, so I had a good rummage and came away with a number in exchange for a donation. They may be dated, but background reading on, for example, Quarter Sessions, Victorian Censuses and English Noncomformity are often invaluable to dip into I find.
Moving round the hall I was surprised but pleased to see that the Quaker Family History Society had a stall. I stopped to have a chat with them, since the Musketts were some of the earliest Quakers in Norfolk. The Society’s next London meeting is coming up on 9 July.
Staff from The Keep and from West Sussex Record Office seemed to be very busy on their stalls . I had a browse of the postcard stall, but without success. However, I did have a lovely chat with the lady on the West Sussex County Council stall and bought a copy of the book they have produced in conjunction with the Record Office: ‘ West Sussex Remembering 1914 – 18’.
I had not seen this advertised anywhere, but looks a useful book, with chapters covering aspects such as Women at War, The Local Economy and Invasion Threats. On this stall I also learned about West Sussex Past Pictures. This was not a site I had known about previously, but on looking it up when I came home I discovered that it is “a free to access online database of the best scanned photographs and pictures, with detailed descriptions, owned by the County Library Service and seven of the County’s museums”. It offers free downloadable images for use in private research, so looks a very useful resource. I quickly found an image of the interior of West Grinstead Park house, which I had certainly never seen before.
Before leaving I had a look at the WW1 display set out in the adjacent room, put on by the Sussex branch of the Western Front Association. I was particularly fascinated to see the photos from what looked to be a reenactment day, with mounted soldiers pulling equipment and supplies and horse-drawn ambulances.
My exit from Steyning was scarcely less eventful as it coincided with a wedding party leaving the church opposite, unfortunately under umbrellas, but they seemed a very happy party.
All the fun of the fair!