Creating an archive of York Gate’s history by volunteer Gillian Smith

My name is Gillian and last year I responded to the call for volunteers for the York Gate Heritage Project. I was assigned to the Family History team and together with Judith, and now Meryl, I have been looking at the old archive materials found at York Gate.

In the beginning our visits were spent sorting through dusty, old boxes found in an upstairs store room. The archive contains items from the Spencer family: Sybil’s albums, diaries and letters, Robin’s school memorabilia and Fred’s Certificates. There are books, magazines, garden brochures, plans for the house alterations and lots of photographs and slides. Our first task was to sort the archive into categories and we now have six archival quality boxes containing the above items together with additional archive from the Executors of the Spencer estate and documents from Perennial’s garden team.

Our task now is to catalogue all the items individually and Meryl has been assiduously listing the items on her computer so that information can be disseminated to other project team members. Next week we shall be undertaking Archive Training and this will prepare us for creating the formal archive storage.

The work is very interesting, especially for me as a long time visitor to the garden who can remember Mrs Spencer sitting at the garden entrance welcoming her guests. Both Meryl and I have been fascinated and excited to get an insight into the lives and loves of the family and have often stayed longer than planned, engrossed in our endeavors.

Gillian (left) and Meryl working on the archive
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