Buriton's Heritage Bank
The Buriton Heritage Bank was established in 2001 to ensure that historical information about the rural Hampshire parish was collected together, shared more widely and recorded for all time.
The parish has a rich agricultural and industrial heritage and some fascinating local history. But, as with many other places, there was a danger that, over time, much of the knowledge and many photographs of the past could be lost.
The Heritage Bank idea allows anyone to ‘pay in’ or ‘deposit’ information, experience and research and also to be able to ‘draw out’ information from the ever-expanding pool of knowledge – to enhance their own appreciation of the local heritage and to develop their own studies.
The initiative engages the whole of the local community in exploring local life in years gone by. Open Day Exhibitions, walks, workshops and meetings not only yield a significant amount of information about the parish, but also help residents and visitors to find out more about the local area and to understand and respect it.
The project won early awards from the Heritage Lottery Initiative, the Countryside Agency, the East Hampshire AONB, the Nationwide Building Society and from East Hampshire District Council.
Within two years a series of nine lavishly-illustrated books about the local history and heritage of the parish had been published – all produced by the local community, all crammed with fascinating historical information and all provided free-of-charge to every household in the parish.
The project includes at least one major Open Day / Exhibition every year linked to workshops, walks and talks, with other sign-posting services in between and access via a bespoke website: http://www.buriton.org.uk/. It continues to attract interest and contributions from near and far. Hundreds of people have visited the exhibitions, some of them travelling thousands of miles to visit their roots and to meet up with long-lost friends and relatives.
Visitors bring along old photographs of the parish, of local farming, hop-picking, lime-burning and domestic activities for scanning/copying and inclusion into the project’s swelling archives.
In a relatively short space of time, the project has collected almost 2,800 old photographs (many dating back to the 19th century): quite an achievement for such a small community.
The project has developed an impressive array of exhibition materials which summarise a wide range of topics, help everyone to appreciate the variety of heritage interests in the area and encourage people to want to find out more.
The project also includes a series of oral tape recordings, research from old newspapers and scrapbooks and videos of more recent events.
Over the years it has been very rewarding to see:
- young people in the parish being able to draw on the knowledge of older residents
- newcomers to the village learning from those whose families have lived in the area for generations
- those with a good knowledge of the local natural history sharing and explaining it to others and
- people all finding out more about the local area – and learning to understand and respect it.
As well as the series of publications the Heritage Bank Project has provided resource materials for local schoolchildren and a number of contributions to local archives, the Petersfield Museum and the Hampshire County Records Office. It has also been a source of encouragement to a number of follow-on activities including an award winning ‘Buriton Chalk Pits’ project
The project continues to thrive, year on year, with interest and involvement spreading widely. Contacts and contributions via the website range from Cornwall to Chile, New Alresford to New Zealand, West Bridgford to the West Indies and Australia to Afghanistan.
We are always looking to learn more about Buriton!