#Folklore Thursday 09/11/2017

This week its #local folklore so we couldn’t wait to raid our collection of local history books to discover more about the traditions, customs and folkloric events of Leicestershire.

Below is an image taken from The Leicestershire and Rutland Magazine showing a performance of a Mummers Play c 1933 that would have been similar to those taking place in various villages and towns in the county.

The Lutterworth Mummers Play c 1933

In the play St. George defeats a Turkish knight who is then resurrected by a Doctor. The play is thought to have taken place every midwinter on Plough Monday (the first Monday after twelfth night). While every Village in the area would have celebrated Plough Monday not all would have a play performed. The Leicester version of this medieval play was first recorded in 1863 in Lutterworth.

Stephen Butt highlights that Leicester has many haunted and spooky sights in his book Paranormal Leicester (2011) such as the Belgrave Triangle, where unexplained events at three locations has given the area its name.

Front cover of Stephen Butt’s ‘Paranormal Leicester’ 2011


Perhaps Leicester’s most famous folkloric character is the 19th century witch Black Annis. Local legend has it that Black Annis used the subterranean tunnel network beneath the city to emerge at the Trinity Chapel herb garden to collect herbs for her cauldron.

Poems about her nightly escapades were used to frighten children into returning home before dusk lest she catch and skin them!

Tis said the soul of mortal man recoiled                                                                                              To view Black Annis eye so fierce and wild                                                                                        Vast talons foul with human flesh there grew                                                                                    And features livid blue glared in her visage                                                                                        Whilst her obscene waist                                                                                                                        warm skins of human victims close embraced

From Paranormal Leicester pg 40

Unfortunately we could not find an image in our collection so we’ve borrowed one from a local source!

Everards Black Annis label for a porter beer prodcued at a local brewery in Glenfield.




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

40 Years of Kimberlin Library

Kimberlin Library as originally constructed, with the Kimberlin Exhibition Hall (later demolished for the extension).

Kimberlin Library was opened on this day 40 years ago! It’s also 20 years since the addition of the extension and 10 years since the refurbishment of the Learning Zone, making 2017 a special one for the Library.

The Hawthorn Building Library.

In the early days of the School of Art books were kept in the classrooms to be consulted under the watchful eye of the instructors. When the Hawthorn Building was completed in 1936 a room was finally turned into a library. As the institution grew into the College of Art and the College of Technology more libraries were added: the Technology Library in Hawthorn, an Art Library in Fletcher and the Architecture Library in Clephan.

The three libraries.

When the Colleges of Art and Technology merged to create Leicester Polytechnic in 1969 it became apparent that the existing library provision was not fit for the new institution. It was too small, with little room for new stock and with inadequate seating.

Planning soon began for a new central library that would respond to new learning styles. The emphasis in higher education was increasingly on independent study guided by academic staff. The library would therefore play a dynamic role in the education of the student.

The brief asked for an open plan, flexible design where users were in close contact with book stock and a suitably studious atmosphere could be created. It should be compact and easy to navigate, with well-equipped teaching areas and appropriate storage for all kinds of media.

The new Library was opened on 8 November 1977 by Ivy Kimberlin, widow of Archibald Kimberlin. Kimberlin had been a Governor of the Colleges of Art and Technology since 1947 and Chair of Governors from 1971 until his death in 1976.

Ivy Kimberlin at the opening ceremony.

An extension was constructed in 1997, creating a new entrance and extra space for computing.

In 2007 Kimberlin Library revealed a completely refurbished main floor, including new foyer, improved staff offices and a café. The main aim of the work was to create the Learning Zone, intended for active, social and collaborative working. It would be vibrant, flexible and technology-rich, meeting changing student expectations for more friendly and relaxed environments than were to be found in the “traditional library”, somewhere for groups to work in a relaxed manner.

Before the creation of the Learning Zone.

Another view of the ground floor before the Learning Zone.

As for the next 40 years, who knows where changing technologies and student needs will lead!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

#Folklore Thursday 02/11/2017

On the back of #Halloween last week the spookiness continues with a #skeletons theme

Firstly, with some images from two books from the Nurses’ Reference Library:

This Students’ Atlas of Bones and Ligaments c 1880  provides detailed drawings and descriptions for different sections of the skeleton but begins with a plate featuring a typical male skeleton on the left, the female skeleton the right and a newborn infant skeleton in the middle (the black line on the left indicates scale). The authors engage in the own gender myth-making describing the female skeleton as being “more graceful”!! Bonkers!

Some others examples include:

From Descriptive Atlas of Anatomy, 1880

The Greek “Sleeping Beauty” Endymion seen with a skull on the right reminding us that the cost of eternal youth and beauty results in another kind of “death” – eternal sleep/complete passivity. From ‘Cockalorum’ 1950.

Above: the cautionary tale of Tommy and His Soup in ‘Struwwelpeter’, c 1860 who after refusing his soup wastes away, taking on a rather skeletal look before he dies!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Special Collections LibGuide

We’ve made some updates to our LibGuide:


You can find lists of our collections arranged by subjects, with links to the catalogues on the Archives Hub.

Have a look!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Michael R. Hoar

Special Collections is sad to hear that former Fine Art lecturer and landscape artist Michael (Mike) R. Hoar A.R.C.A. passed away on the 11th of October 2017. The news comes some eighteen months after the death of his wife, Lulu Hancock.

Mike graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1964 and subsequently taught at DMU until 2003. Exhibitions of his work have been held throughout Europe and Britain as well as a few on the DMU campus.

His Saatchi Art profile notes that: “working from the Landscape, Mike Hoar has documented extensively his previous place of residence, Leicestershire. Initially producing small observational paintings on site within the landscape, larger works are created in his studio. This practice he has applied to landscapes/ sky-scape/ urban-scape through-out Spain, Japan and now France. Analytical and expressionistic drawing, sense of place, vibrancy of colour are but a few words to describe the sometimes abstracted, sometimes representational works created.

The archive holds some materials on Mike, including images of campustwo posters and exhibition brochures.

To see more of Mike’s fantastic work please follow this link to his website: http://www.hancockhoar.moonfruit.com/

Exhibition poster for “A Decade in the Landscape” by Michael R. Hoar, letter by Hoar and an exhibition brochure of “Spanish Landscapes” by Hoar.


Letter of thanks written by Michael R. Hoar regarding his “Spanish Landscapes” exhibition, 1997.


Press cutting from local Leicester newspaper.

Press cutting from Leicester Trader, 1984.












Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On This Day: the execution of Edith Cavell, 1915

To accompany our posts on students who gave their lives during World War I, I thought it appropriate today to exhibit materials we have relating to Edith Cavell, the British nurse who is known to have helped save the lives of injured soldiers on both sides of the conflict without discrimination.

Front cover of The Illustrated London News Saturday 23rd October 1915 “the heroic Miss Edith Cavell”

Having been arrested by German forces for assisting with the escape of over 200 injured allied soldiers from Belgium, Cavell was executed by firing squad on October 12th 1915. Her story made front page news and there followed a number of articles and artistic impressions in subsequent editions throughout the war that, as well as celebrating Cavell’s wartime contribution, were also serving as propaganda pieces:

An article by the eminent journalist and novelist, G K Chesterton in the 30th October 1915 edition of ‘The Illustrated London News’

‘”Faith and Courage in Death”: An Allegory of Edith Cavell’ by A Forestier. As above.


Over the years, her impartial treatment of allied and German soldiers along with her martyrdom have been the source for many biographies and adaptations, with the first film being produced as early as 1916. In our holdings we have one such adaptation, a made for television play by Andrew Davies, titled Happy in War. Broadcast on the BBC in 1977, the programme is one of several biopic projects Davies worked on at the time.



One of the final pages of the screenplay featuring Cavell’s famous last words: ” Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

120 Years of the Hawthorn Building

The Hawthorn Building was officially opened on the 5th October 1897, 120 years ago today!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tales in Archive Stock Taking Part Three

Buried Treasure!

From the Special Collections that brought you such instalments as Tales in Stock Taking Parts One and Two comes the Third chapter in our trilogy! However, Ewoks and Eagles will not be making any appearances.

With this being the first stock take undertaken by the DMU Special Collections since the creation of the repository back in 2013 we have discovered many intriguing items. One that really caught our eye was this intriguing collection of three engraving.

The provenance of these prints is unknown and can only be guessed at. Most likely they were purchased by a member of staff possibly in Italy during the early years of the Leicester College of Art as it made efforts to travel across Europe to study the art and design being produced elsewhere such as Benjamin Fletcher’s visits to Germany and Austria.

The engravings pictured are from a series by Angelo Biggi who was active around 1870 and are made after Raphael frescoes. Some more investigating needs to be conducting but these three prints might be from a series of 38 of which the British Museum currently holds 10.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Good Luck Helen

It is time to say good bye and good luck to our volunteer, Helen, today. We thank you very much for all your hard work and especially your enthusiasm for cataloguing our vast National Art Slide Library!

After a year with us Helen is now off to start the next part of her archive journey at Aberystwyth on the Archives and Records Management Course. Enjoy and keep in touch.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tales in Archive Stock Taking Part 2

How NOT to store your collections!

Following on from Tales in Archive Stock Taking Part 1, I thought I would counterpoint the beauty of the organised strong room with some horror stories of bad storage that would make any archivist wince.

While going through our Building Studies Collection we discovered many stationery pests in the form of rusty paper-clips and degrading elastic bands that demonstrate the importance of preservation while illustrating the damage that can be done from seemingly benign household items.

The next nuisance to come out of the average stationery cupboard is pressure/sticky tape.

Here you can see how degraded sticky tape has become brittle and fragmented taking a layer of the document with it (the little white bits on the tape).

By far the most shocking effect of a lack of preservation and re-packaging came during a spate of de-framing. While a picture frame may appear to be a good way of storing a picture, photograph, or document – it is behind glass and cannot easily become dusty or torn – they do bring their own hazards:

As well as the risk of photographs becoming stuck to the glass the acidity of the backing board here has started to draw out the ink so much from this framed notice board it has left a legible imprint.

I can thankfully report a happy ending for all our items as many de-framed photographs and pictures have been transferred to Secol sleeves

and rolled and oversized items, where possible, have been stored flat in bespoke folders.

Ahhh, what a relief!

For our final instalment keep a look out for Tales in Archive Stock Taking Part 3: Buried Treasure!




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment