Deciphering old documents

Friday 14 July 2017


The course

This workshop helps beginners and those with a small amount of knowledge, to read 16th and 17th century handwriting, and is helpful for later palaeography as well.  It is useful for family and local historians.  The course takes the participants through wills, inventories, registers, deeds and even the mystery of the suet pudding in a Quarter Sessions case.  We concentrate on the letter forms that the clerk was making, and once you’ve got the new letter forms, it becomes an enjoyable puzzle like Sudoku or a crossword.

The tutor

Dr Caroline Adams has a BA (Hons) in history from the University of York, an MA in landscape and regional history from the University of Leeds, and a PhD from the University of Chichester on Elizabeth I’s visit to West Sussex in 1591.  She is a fully qualified and registered archivist, and is a member of the Archives and Records Association.  Until July 2014 she was Senior Archivist at West Sussex Record Office, and now is a freelance archivist and historian.  She has written and lectured widely on local and family history, and at professional conferences, and has co-authored and edited a number of publications.  She is presently researching 16th and 17th century gentry in Sussex.

Participant information

Places are limited to 12 people. All equipment will be provided.


£60 per person, including tuition, teas and coffees.
The Museum café will be open for lunch-time snacks or alternatively participants can bring their own packed lunch.

The Museum

The Weald & Downland Living Museum has over 45 historic building exhibits. It is also home to the award winning and innovative Downland Gridshell, which houses a conservation workshop and artefact store, and is also used for many practical courses. The Museum runs a full programme of courses in historic building conservation and traditional rural trades and crafts, along with MSc programmes in Building Conservation and Timber Building Conservation validated by the University of York. Please telephone for further details.


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