Changing the Record 2020/21
Heritage Doncaster’s “Changing the Record” project is a community research programme. Community researchers look at Heritage Doncaster’s collection through new eyes and aim to uncover the hidden voices of groups and people who are underrepresented in traditional stories of Doncaster’s past.
Explore the research of the 2020/21 cohort of Changing the Record researchers here. Download their articles, watch the videos and view the artwork.
Colonialism and Class: Irish Migration to Doncaster
In March 2020 Kylie moved from London to Doncaster, one of few Irish people currently living in Yorkshire. Kylie’s relatives in London are part of post-war migration Britain. Data collected from the 2011 census on the number of Irish people living in Doncaster reveals that Irish people are the fourth largest migrant community in the town. Analysing migration in the 19th century, revealed that whilst the majority of Irish migrants to Doncaster were poor some were middle class. Research, drawing upon census data, UK Army Roll of Honour and UK Military Deserters records shone a light on the conditions of the Irish famine, the role of Irish men in the British army and a case study of middle-class migration.
Harriet Wrightson, daughter of Cusworth Hall: an Introduction
Harriet Wrightson of Cusworth Hall was a remarkable woman. In 1816, age 28 she accompanied her brother, William, on the Grand Tour of Europe. She travelled from England to Belgium, west to Frankfurt, south through modern day Germany and Switzerland, and into Italy. During this time she climbed mountains, sailed across lakes, and visited palaces, many of which are still popular tourist attractions today, such as the ruined castle at Heidelberg – ‘the finest ruin in Germany’. Upon her return to England she eventually married, age 31, to Frederick Sylvester North Douglas, an upcoming MP and grandson of the former Prime Minister Lord North. We know about Harriet’s life through the incredible amount of letters she received and kept, and whilst we don’t have many letters written by Harriet herself, we can begin to form an image of the woman she was based on the things her various correspondents wrote to her.
The Yearling Sale at Doncaster
The Yearling Sale at Doncaster is a fantastic pictorial record of late Victorian Doncaster. It depicts a crowd at a racehorse auction in 1885. Each subject was a real person, who paid a fee to appear in the painting. The more they paid, the more prominently they are displayed. This project set out to identify all 149 subjects and provide brief biographical information on each. In the process it has uncovered some fascinating stories – many of which have never before been told. Most subjects were involved in some capacity in the vibrant Victorian horse-racing scene. Some are lords, ladies and politicians, but most are quite obscure today. Though wealthy enough to appear in the painting, many were of relatively humble origins. A few have well known descendants, but there must be many more whose recent ancestors are depicted in the Yearling Sale. Are you one of them? Check it out.
Alice Maud Jenkinson: Doncaster Visionary
In 1933 Alice Maud Jenkinson opened Cooplands bakery at 34 Hallgate in central Doncaster. Coopland was her maiden name, she is the daughter of the family who started the Cooplands bakery chain in Scarborough that now also has branches in Doncaster. By the time Alice Maud died in 1953, Cooplands bakeries were dotted across Doncaster and moving into the rest of South Yorkshire, an expansion continued by her son, David. Alice Maud opened a hotel, the Mount Pleasant in Rossington, in 1939, having bought the old farmhouse to the Rossington Hall estate. Her husband, Captain Thomas Stocks Jenkinson, was a builder who refurbished the farmhouse into a hotel. Today, Cooplands is out of the family control but still a key presence across Doncaster, while the hotel is run by the descendants of Alice Maud’s daughter, Mary, and has a luxury spa and restaurant in addition to 84 rooms.
Doncaster’s Black History- Six Case Studies
Doncaster’s black history spans thousands of years. Through six case studies uncovered in Heritage Doncaster’s collection and community discussions we can see the vibrancy of local black history, as well as national issues being projected on to a local stage. The Pollington Sarcophagus and the North African Roman woman buried inside, reveals evidence of people of colour in Roman Yorkshire over 2000 years ago. If we turn our attention to Parish records we find the story of William Wilson, a black soldier whose burial is recorded at St George’s Church in 1807 whilst stationed in Doncaster. We also find the names of Caesar and Jane Watson, listed as the servants of the Watson family, farmers in Sykehouse in the 1780s. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Britain some wealthy white families had black servants, as it was considered fashionable. More recent history uncovers the stories of Doncaster’s Windrush generation, who answered the British government’s calls for help rebuild the country after the devastation of Second World War. Workers from the Caribbean and Guyana came to work in Britain, in its factories, in coal mines, and in the newly formed NHS. The 70s and 80s saw race riots dominate headlines across the UK, and black people in Doncaster also faced racism, whilst socialising and working in the town. The final case study examines the Black Lives Matter movement that had a resurgence in 2020 after the death of George Floyd, demonstrating that history is always being made.
Until the Fires Go Out: Doncaster’s Women and the Fight for Jobs
Few outside of the UK’s former mining towns and villages remember Women Against Pit Closures (WAPC), a radical women’s movement that ensured miners and their families were fed and clothed during the strike of 1984 – 1985. Fewer still are able to recall the occupations that took place at the most threatened collieries as they were slowly closed down, less than a decade later. Whilst Barnsley’s Ann Scargill and Betty Cook may be the most recognisable of the WAPC activists, the women of Doncaster were equally instrumental in what is remembered as ‘the fight for jobs’: establishing soup kitchens, joining their husbands on the picket lines, and staging occupations. This film unearths the incredible stories of three women – Aggie, Brenda and Margaret – each of whom had a different role to play in this chapter of Doncaster’s mining heritage.
Lilian Lenton- The Elusive Pimpernel
Lillian Lenton was a Suffragette, a member of an activist women’s organisation who fought for women’s right to vote in public elections. She took an active role in the 1912 window-breaking campaign. She was arrested and sentenced to two months in prison. In 1913, she was suspected of burning down the tea pavilion at Kew Gardens in Surrey and was imprisoned. She went on hunger strike whilst in prison. Lilian was released after two days after falling seriously ill. The Home Secretary denied that she had been force-fed before government papers showed that she had been. Once Lilian had recovered, she went on the run and managed to evade capture for some weeks, until she was arrested in Doncaster after setting an empty house on fire in Balby. In this painting, Lilian is shown on trial following her arrest in Doncaster. She was imprisoned at Armley Jail and was released after her hunger strike. Lilian escaped to France, disguised as a boy. When she returned to London, she was arrested at Paddington Station. Her imprisonment and release cycle continued, with many people helping and supporting her. The Representation of the People Act did not allow her to vote, so she continued to campaign for women’s rights after 1918.
Women in Doncaster – Cockle Bread and Weak Ale
During the lockdown Zoe was lucky enough to work on later Conisbrough Rolls purchased by Doncaster Archives. The Conisbrough Rolls show the local people in their quarterly courts, often with minor infractions of the law that meant a fine. Bread and beer had to be a certain weight and strength due to the Statute of Ale and Bread brought in during the reign of Henry III 1216-1272. But it was the odd comment for a fine, for allowing pigs to destroy a neighbour’s garden or causing a ruckus in the street. Opposed to the ladies of the Conisbrough Rolls was Lady Maud de Clifford, wife of two unfortunate husbands, aunt of the man who was later to kill two of her second husband’s descendants and one of the overlooked people therefore linked to the War of the Roses.
Joan Jurdie – the Witch of Rossington
Joan Jurdie a married, middle-aged, mother of two living in Rossington was twice accused in the 1600s of murder by witchcraft. Testimonies survive from the first occasion. They show Jurdie to have an enemy amongst her neighbours called Katherine Dolphin. The charges were dismissed by a Grand Jury of local magistrates. The second time she went to trial – again Dolphin the main accuser. It was long assumed that this time she was executed, but examination of parish records reveal her death twenty years later. This challenges long-held assumptions about witch trials, but Jurdie is not an outlier. Despite the introduction of new laws by King James in 1603, few were ever executed in Yorkshire for witchcraft. However, accused witches were often bullied and assaulted by their neighbours prior to the involvement of magistrates and courts. These victims were almost always poor widows, marginalised, vulnerable and without male protectors. Read more about Nick’s discovery in the Yorkshire Post.
Albert Wainwright and LGBTQIA+ Germany
Albert Wainwright was born in May 1898, in Castleford. The youngest of the three children, Albert raised as a Methodist to become an engineer by his father. Alice Gostick, an art teacher at Castleford Secondary school, nurtured his artistic abilities, which allowed him to leave the predetermined career and pursue an education at Leeds School of Art in 1914. Albert’s artistic career would lead him to become a contemporary of Henry Moore, and exhibit his artworks in a series of shows. In the mid-1920s Albert travelled Germany and sketched many of his experiences. In 1927 Albert Wainwright stayed at the Jübermann household. At this time, he fell in love with Otto Jüberman and formed a relationship. Otto is a prominent portrait within Wainwright’s sketches and watercolours from this time, including one portrait in the Doncaster Art Gallery collection. Albert’s time in Germany coincided with a time of relative sexual freedom, including research on sexual identity at the The Institut für Sexualwissenschaft. Albert Wainwright died suddenly in August 1943, age 45, of meningitis. He left a rich body of work behind that gradually became unknown. His works were rediscovered in the 1980s.