Banish the Backlog! Bexhill Museum’s Pre-1930s Hat Collection
Project Lead: Dr Ruth Cereceda (Head of Teaching & Learning, Senior Lecturer in Art History)
In 2019 Collection’s Trust UK launched the 5.0 version of the Spectrum system (museum management protocol), together with the Banish the Backlog project, an initiative to support regional small museums in improving their documentation processes and align them with the spectrum guidelines.
Bexhill Museum is involved with the initiative and forms part of the East Sussex regional backlog-banishing support group. In collaboration with the Museum Director (Mr Julian Porter) and the Costume Curator (Mrs Georgina Bradley), Dr Cereceda has developed a project that looks at cataloguing the museum’s pre-1930’s hat collection, with the double objective of helping to reduce the cataloguing backlog in the museum, and identifying items for a temporary exhibition. The exhibition, scheduled for late 2023, will put in relationship the museum’s hat collection with historic photographs of local residents (also in the museum’s collection) in order to identify local headgear styles, trends and individuals.
The project has been designed to fit with Bader College’s Experiential Learning and Career Ready frameworks and also connects with the Colonel and the Party Palace research project led by Dr. Claire Kennan. Further, this project was successfully submitted to the 2023 USSRF program and undergraduate student Carolyn Kane was selected to carry this project forward. Carolyn and Dr Cereceda will be working at Bexhill Museum between early May and late June 2023.
Establishing a Biodiversity Baseline for the Bader College Estate: Environmental DNA Monitoring in a Changing Landscape
Project Lead: Dr Simon Coppard (Science Coordinator, Senior Lecturer in Biology)
Levels of biodiversity on the 600-acre Bader College Estate are largely unknown. Such baseline data are essential for measuring and understanding changes through time that aid decisions about conservation. This project will for the first time use eDNA to measure vertebrate and invertebrate diversity on the estate including the presence of rare and endangered species and invasive species.
One of Bader College’s strategic goals is to have an international role in nature restoration and biodiversity and as such for the estate to become a living laboratory for students providing them with an opportunity to contribute to its ecology. A range of rewilding interventions are planned that include meadow creation, wetland creation and arable reversion. This project will provide baseline data by which we can monitor change in species composition and determine whether our efforts to enhance habitats and ecosystems have been successful. It aligns with UN sustainable development goals 13 (Climate action), 14 (Life below water) and 15 (Life on Land) and the key pillars of sustainability which aim to protect, improve and diversify habitats and ecosystems, bolster wildlife populations and effective delivery of ecosystem services (UK Government).
The aim of this research is to document the biodiversity of vertebrate and invertebrate animals on the Bader College Estate using environmental DNA. This will produce for the first time true species biodiversity metrics including species not previously observed or recorded, including rare species and invasive species. The methods used provide a reproducible and quantifiable method to make future comparisons. Results from this research will be disseminated through an open-access database that shows the diversity of species in different habitats on the estate with a link from the Bader College website.
The Colonel & The Party Palace: Life at Herstmonceux Castle in the Roaring ’20s
Project Lead: Dr Claire Kennan (Research Coordinator, Senior Lecturer in History).
The ‘Roaring ’20s’ conjures images of exuberance, partying and glamour. Whether it’s the Great Gatsby or Downton Abbey, the 1920s has captured the popular imagination and it’s easy to see why – it was an age of transformation as the world emerged from one of the greatest conflicts in history.
With the centenary of the 1920s upon us this is the perfect opportunity to explore what life was like at Herstmonceux Castle 100 years ago. Particularly as this is a period in the castle’s history that we know very little about.
This student-led research project ran from 2021 – 2023 and resulted in a brand new digital exhibition focussing on the themes of people, place and parties. The latest research output from this project was a recording of the Verily Anderson play Making Moonshine! which is a fictionalised account of events during the 1920s at Herstmonceux Castle.
Ecology and Land Stewardship at Herstmonceux Castle
Project Leads: Dr Simon Coppard (Science Coordinator, Senior Lecturer in Biology)
This is a series of research projects which focus on the environment in and around the castle grounds. For 2022 – 2023 research has focussed on the biodiversity of the estate and the science of beekeeping. Later this year a brand new project Twittering Trees will be set up which will allow us to measure growth rates, water retention and the effects of climate change.
Environments of Change: Digitising Nature, History & Human Experience in Late Medieval Sussex
Project Lead: Professor Steven Bednarski (University of Waterloo).
Environments of Change is an interdisciplinary research project supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The project explores, from multiple perspectives, the environmental history of late medieval Sussex using emerging digital tools. It aims to understand better the reciprocal relationship between humans and nature in the past and, in so doing, to apply these frameworks to present situations and contexts. It develops digital tools and resources that allow individuals to understand the complex and dynamic relationship between societies and the natural world. These tools will have application in educational, academic, policy, and tourist settings.
More information about the Environments of Change Project can be found here.
Beating the Bounds, Breaking Boundaries!
Beating the Bounds is a local tradition dating back to Medieval Britain and is a way of marking the boundary lines of a parish and common land. Today, boundary marker stones still surround areas of the Pevensey Levels, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and historical importance in East Sussex. This practice-led research project asked participants to question their place in the local landscape and its history, thinking about how we can all work together to support environmental sustainability.
Beating the Bounds was the result of a research partnership between Bader College, the SSHRC-funded Environments of Change project and Bexhill Museum with the Hailsham Pavilion as a project partner. The outputs from the project were a community documentary, created by students and members of the local community in June 2022, a Being Human cafe as part of the British Academy and AHRC-funded Being Human Festival and a chapter in the forthcoming Brepols volume Environments of Change: Nature and the Human Experience in Medieval and Neo-Medieval Landscapes edited by Steven Bednarski, Simon Coppard, Claire Kennan, Caley McCarthy and Andrew Moore. The documentary was premiered at a Being Human Cafe at the Hailsham Pavilion in November 2022 and the edited volume is due to be published in 2025.
GuideTags: A New App for Exploring the Herstmonceux Castle Estate
Project Leads: Dr David Brown (Brock University) & Anthony Montagano (Brock University).
GuideTags is a mobile phone and web-based app which allows users to choose how they navigate and interpret a site using their digital device. The app contains various thematic point-of-interest (POI) pages containing interpretive content like images of key features, GPS coordinates, and an interactive map to create an accessible, interpretive resource for users.
GuideTags offers users different modes to navigate a destination. TOUR mode allows users to follow a pre-determined linear route with accompanying narrative through the destination. DISCOVER mode is more unstructured, and allows users visit any points-of-interest nearby in any order they prefer. Providing visitors with these options allows them greater flexibility with how they engage with this content, which can develop user appreciation of the importance of heritage in education.
This research project is part of Environments of Change