An ambitious project in Lodsworth has been officially opened at a packed meeting of members of the Lodsworth Heritage Society.
The highlight of the November meeting was the opening of the Lodsworth Community Archive and Study Centre in the village hall.
James Tree, who is the present Lodsworth Heritage Society chairman, thanked Lodsworth Community Trust, The Lodsworth Village Fete and the many individual donors who had made contributions to the project and helped to make it become a reality.
And in front of 70 members and friends, Wendy Walker, the West Sussex County Archivist, unveiled the new plaque on the door of the room which will be home to the new archive and study centre, a valuable research facility in the village.
It will be open every Tuesday, initially from 9.30am-11.30am.
James told the Observer: “Visitors to the study centre will be able to conduct their own research using the genealogy website ‘Find-my-Past’, see the display of photographs, examine the census records which identify who was living in the village, and in which houses, and generally peruse the mass of information that is available.”
He said the new centre provided safe storage of all the society’s historic documents and photographs as well as those of other Lodsworth organisations and clubs who wished to participate.
Earlier in the evening, Ian Buckingham had given an illustrated talk which was ‘Misfortune, plague, death & burial in Lodsworth’.
Ian described the surprising peaks and troughs in the death rate over the years, and made some suggestions as to the reasons these may have occurred.
His talk complemented the first showing of the complete St Peter’s burial register from 1557 to 2017 which includes much more information than the basic records, as well as photographs and inscriptions of all the graves in the lower churchyard and most of those in the upper and middle churchyards.
County archivist Wendy Walker, then gave the meeting a flavour of the work done by the West Sussex Archive Office.
Lodsworth Heritage Society was formed in 2010 by a group of parishioners, keen that the considerable volume of historic documents, scrap books, photographs and maps which were in private hands were not lost to the community and were more readily available for study.
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