Category Archives: Study visits

Study Day: Whitworth Art Gallery

November 16th 2015


We will be taking a small group to visit the Whitworth Art Gallery ( for a tour of the gallery and a curator-led session in the new Study Center looking at domestic furnishing textiles and wallpapers from the Whitworth’s extensive collection with Amy George, Curator (Wallpaper and Textiles).

A recent £15 million development has transformed the Whitworth, doubling it in size and creating new spaces to display and explore the collections and has this year been awarded the Art Fund’s prestigious prize of Museum of the Year 2015.

The Whitworth houses one of the most important wallpaper collections in the country along with an internationally important collection of over 20,00 textiles from across the world, dating from the third century AD to the present.

The study day is free to attend, but booking is essential as places are limited and allocated on a first come, first served basis.

To book a place: please return a completed booking form  to Danielle Patten


We will meet at the address below at 1.30pm

The Whitworth

The University of Manchester

Oxford Road


M15 6ER





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SSN Study visit to Leeds

Abstracts of papers presented at the SSN Study Visit to Leeds (Friday 23rd March 2012) are now available under our Resources section here.

Archivist Liza Giffen gave delegates an overview of the University of Leeds’ Designated Cookery Collection at the Brotherton Library. The Collection now comprises printed cookery books from the 15thC to 1975, with some manuscripts. A donation in 2011 has brought the Collection up to date with a large number of recent publications (awaiting cataloguing). The Collection gives insights into the close links between health and food, publishing history – particularly women writing in a professional capacity, trade links and circulation routes of ingredients among others. The introduction was followed by a handling session, and some of the treasures brought out for the group included the first edition of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management and the pocket-sized Widowes Treasure from 1585. Librarian Nicola Feggetter gave a paper about Mrs Beeton, the brand.

Delegates looking at M&S Archive collections

Delegates during handling session at the new M&S Archive in Leeds, 23 March 2012









Company archivist Katharine Carter traced the history of the M&S Company Archive from its beginnings in 1982, with the opening of the new Archive facility in March 2012. The Archive contains material on “every aspect of the company as a working organisation” including

  • reports and corporate records
  • advertising material
  • photographs
  • oral history recordings (including oral histories from food & textile technology R&D staff)
  • garments
  • food packaging
  • World War II material

An online collections catalogue gives access to the 70,000 items in the Archive.

Delegates were then given a tour of the permanent exhibition, Marks in Time, and a chance to find out more about the design concepts of the exhibition. The day ended with PhD student Josie Freear discussing her own work with the M&S Archive, and the challenges of using such a rich collection.

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Bookings open for SSN Study visit to M&S Archive

M&S Archive and University of Leeds Special Collections Study Visit

Friday 23 March, 11am-3.45pm, Michael Marks Building, University of Leeds Campus

The SSN Study Visit to Leeds will be the third in a series of SSN events to highlight the wealth of home-related material held by important libraries and archives across the UK. This half-day event will be a special opportunity to visit the new M&S Archive in Leeds shortly after its public opening in March 2012. Delegates will have the chance to explore two different collections held in Leeds through talks and handling sessions.

The Cookery Collection, Brotherton Library
With a collection of over 3,000 volumes of printed books, the Cookery Collection holds rare treasures including John Partridge’s The Widowes Treasure (1585) and Sir Hugh Plat’s Delightes for Ladies (1605). The core of the collections covers British publications and works published before 1861, as well as British and French cookery up until the 1930s. While centrally concerned with books of recipes for cookery, the collection also includes many works on food production, on food’s medicinal uses, on gardening and other food-related topics. Household management, including financial matters and the management of servants, is widely covered.
A consistent feature of the collection is its inclusion of long sequences of editions of outstandingly popular works through which it is possible to trace the evolution of the texts over time and thus to observe innovation and changes in taste and fashion, as well as developments in the book trade. There are for example 11 editions of Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife (1727 – 1766) and as many as 26 different editions of Elizabeth Raffald’s The Experienced English Housekeeper (1769 – 1834).

The M&S Archive
In November 2011 the M&S Archive relocated to a new purpose-built archive facility. Built in partnership with the University of Leeds, the new Archive Building will open in March 2012 and will allow public access to one of the UK’s most important business archives for the first time. The Archive consists of over 60,000 items and spans economic, social and cultural history. It includes key merchandise from M&S product ranges including top sellers, innovative material or design and iconic pieces, as well as advertising and marketing material.

Tickets: £10
To book please return the Leeds Archive Study Visit Booking Form by email, fax or post by Wednesday 14 March 2012 to SSN Co-ordinator Krisztina Lackoi at, Geffrye Museum, Kingsland Road, London, E2 8EA

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The Country House Kitchen

The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum is offering a series of day courses aimed at staff and volunteers working in historic houses, museums and other heritage attractions. The first in the series, Communication skills for heritage interpreters, will take place on Thursday 6th October – read more here.

A two day course in July 2012 will examine life below stairs in the large households of the 16th to 20th centuries. The Country House Kitchen course will be taught by food historian and historic house consultant Peter Brears.

Day One:
A look at the 16th & 17th centuries, including

  • sources of information available including plans, household ordinances and inventories
  • the study of household management at Hampton Court
  • the study of preparing and presenting food, the role of food in emphasising status and table manners
  • a site visit to Cowdray House ruins.

Day Two:
Looking at the 18th to 20th centuries including:

  • the increasing complexity of the organisation of the household staff
  • the development of the Country House Plan, including the function of each room, male and female departments and the analysis of plans for surviving buildings
  • the developments in water supplies, bakehouses, kitchen ranges, ovens etc
  • the changes in preparation and presentation of food, the use of still houses and dairies, and methods of serving food
  • A site visit to parts of Petworth House.

Dates and costs for the course will be announced early next year, click here to make a booking request.

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