In the record office in Ipswich I almost abandoned any theory around the starting points and resorted to reading the descriptions within the folders opposite the desk (the second stage of searching after the card index). This has been a really successful research methodology as it has turned up a number of excellent things to think about from being able to view a very specific way of adding a seal to a document that I have been looking for to a revelation of new ways of fixing or joining individual papers together, HD/42/7/2/8 – a will and documents held with a metal pin joining. I was particularly absorbed by HD79/AA1/6/1-19 which had an interesting ways of joining with slits a number of folded documents that had been signed within and over the fold and slit.
The never ending record of names, places, dates and human activity – sitting in the record office and at this moment I am subsumed within the legal world of deeds and the documentation of exchanges of property and money between people – totally overwhelming and trying to find the individual narrative is challenging as there is so much individual activity in the form of names long forgotten that there is little space to find one’s own story. There is so much stuff – an almost endless tide of human activity.
The physicality of the objects I have requested today have heavily imposed on my soul – I have felt the presence of the people who owned them, embellishing and burnishing their covers with repeated use, touching and handling, - HD79/B3 – a blacksmiths account book – an aged tool representing hours, days, weeks, years of toil, metal, heat and sweat. HD79/B7 a small note book with examples of Suffolk silk lovingly held in with slits cut from the actual pages. These are annotated with notes about the diet of the worms. This is probably something that my project isn’t about – but.......... one can’t help but be moved by their presence.