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Somerset & Dorset
Family History Society

Provoking memories via Yeovil Library window display

Congratulations to Anne Warr and John Damon for producing such an eye-catching display to promote our society in the window of Yeovil Library. This is the second time we have been featured in this window; on the earlier occasion it was to introduce ourselves to Yeovil, shortly after we moved into our Broadway House headquarters.

Anne prepares
John and Anne prepare

The current display contains our new banners which are now pictorial so cannot get out of date in the foreseeable future, which can so easily happen if we use only words.

This time the emphasis of our display is on the messages from our past family lives that are contained within objects, whether these are on paper, in photographs, or via actual objects themselves.

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I have been a longtime believer in the messages we receive in this way from what were once everyday items that have become family treasures. The first time that I discovered this for myself was when I found out that my mother’s willow shopping basket was made by the village basketmaker in Nether Compton more than seventy years ago and this inspired me to find out more about basket making and its importance in the past and present in our area here in Somerset and Dorset.

I am especially pleased to see a sewing machine together with an example of a darning and knitting bag in the front of the window as these essentials were part of everyday life for our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers. Look back into your own past; can you remember a sewing machine like this one in use in your family? I know I can.

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darning and knitting bag

My grandmother came south with her husband and two children as my grandfather was employed by Palmer’s shipyard on Tyneside whose closure would precipitate the Jarrow marches two years after my family arrived in Uxbridge. My grandfather was not a well man and my grandmother’s skills on a sewing machine would have helped to supplement the family finances. When my mother married one of the first things she acquired was a sewing machine and I grew up, like many, in hand-made clothes and home-knitted sweaters. I was very fortunate as I used the family sewing machine from a very early age to make dolls’ clothes and I have never looked back; at one time I too earned my living via my sewing skills.

In the box I keep of memorabilia of my mother there is a small batch of sewing patterns and the one on top is for a smocked dress that we made together for my niece in 1981, when my mother did the smocking and I made up the little dress on my sewing machine. A memory to treasure and I say thank heaven for the sewing machine both back in the day and now.


Do you have a memory of sewing, knitting and making do in your family? Please do share it here.

Barbara Elsmore

Member and Guest Blogs Welcome

We welcome guest and member blog posts on any topic with a family history connection and invite you to send your contributions, which should include photo/photos, to the editor Barbara Elsmore