I spent around a year working on the rare book collection as a volunteer for Cheshire Archives & Local Studies. The aim of the project was to describe all the items in detail so they could be catalogued and made available to anybody who wants to look at them. The books themselves are varied to say the least. There are of course a large amount of books that relate to the county of Cheshire, and so many about Chester that if you read them all you could be considered the number one expert!
Some unusual things have also found their way into the exclusive club that is the rare book collection. I came across ‘Clog Shop Chronicles’ by John Ackworth, containing stories about life in a fictional Lancashire village and written in 19th century Bolton dialect. My favourite book, however, has to be ‘Buzz a Buzz, or The Bees’ by W. C. Cotton (Vicar of Frodsham), complete with gorgeous illustrations and a humorous story. I admit I forgot my volunteering duties and spent a good thirty minutes reading it!
|The Queen Bee Ref: 014097|
It was wonderful to volunteer for such a fantastic project and getting to touch and browse the marvelous array of materials is something that I don’t have the opportunity to do normally. However it was so much more than looking at pretty pictures, stunning maps and reading interesting facts - it was the chance to acquire new skills. By giving up four hours of my time every fortnight I had the opportunity to acquire cataloguing skills and experience, which will help me in my future career as a librarian.
I would encourage anyone to browse the local studies catalogue for rare books and see what wonderful gems pop up that might be useful for your research, or to simply while away an afternoon reading.
by Jennifer Davies (CALS Volunteer)
Many thanks to our volunteers Jen Davies, Susan Jones, and Kathy Jones for preparing and listing over 600 items in the Rare Books Collection. The work of our volunteers is invaluable to projects like this and greatly appreciated!
The collection includes published material about Cheshire between the 16th and 20th Centuries, as well as early works by Cheshire authors such as:
Ranulph Higden Polycronycon (1527, 3rd edition)
John Speed The historie of Great Britaine under the conquests of the Romans, Saxons, Danes and Normans (1632, 3rd edition)
John Gerard The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes (1633, 2nd edition)
Daniel King The Vale-Royall of England or the County Palatine of Chester (1656)
Peter Leycester Historical antiquities in two books… (1673)
Randle Holme Academy of armory and blazon (1688)
John Broster History of the siege of Chester during the Civil Wars in the time of King Charles I (1790)
J. H. Hanshall History of the County Palatine of Chester. Parts 1-22 (1817-1823)