The blog writing course by The Gentle Author, founder of Spitalfields Life, encouraged course members to do many things. Visiting small museums, was one of his top tips, “Because they are always full of enthusiasts” were his exact words.
Saltash has a Museum, which I have never visited, a shameful admission. I do know, however, that it would fit the description of small.
I did a little pre-visit research and discovered that the museum themes the exhibition space annually. This year’s theme is Grannies Attic, Grandads Shed. As a new grandparent, it was quite exciting to think I could pick up some attic tips.
As a side reason for visiting, I wanted to check the local archive and see if there was any information on the past life of theoldmortuary.
What I also found, just as Paul ( The Gentle Author) had predicted was enthusiasts. Upstairs above the small museum is the Local History Centre. This is where the enthusiasts hang out. So many of them too.
Bruce Hunt, the vice chairman applied himself to my research. To be honest we didn’t find anything specific to theoldmortuary but loads about the locality. Intriguingly just 10 steps from our front door was the location of a now non -existent pub called The Church House Inn, owned by the church and run by the vergers. Their signature beer was called Church Ale, The war memorial stands in the pubs exact location. 10 steps from our front door makes the current 30 steps to The Cecil seem like a marathon. The church, St Stephens, features frequently in the photographic archive and about 2,000 St Stephens wedding photographs are held there. The wedding picture at the top of this post is James McIntire and Susan Lanyon in July 1937.
The Local History Centre was buzzing with activity on the Wednesday afternoon I popped in. People sorting photographs by hand and others transcribing paper data onto computers. Terry, the archivist was everywhere and when he wasn’t obviously somewhere his name was being called.
Bruce pulled up a couple of maps that showed theoldmortuary. One, the 1841 Tithe map, showed two dwellings on the site of theoldmortuary, 60 years before our home was built in 1902 or 1903 . The same dates that the Cecil Arms, the current pub was built, sounding the death knell for The Church House Arms which was demolished as soon as The Cecil was open.
My time upstairs took me beyond closing time of the museum, so another visit is needed. All I could manage was a quick peak into Grandads Shed. A perfect recreation, including the politically incorrect pin ups. Shame it didn’t have the fragrance of Old Holborn tobacco and wood shavings.
All images courtesy of Saltash Heritage.
Thanks to Bruce Hunt for information and research.