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Branscombe Visit

21 March, 2012

The Branscombe Project

We travelled across to Devon in the beginning of March to meet with a great community-based team who have been working to collect and then share histories from Branscombe. They have a fantastic website, which we highly recommend if you’re interested in setting up your own local history website and want to know what kind of content you could offer tovisitors. Their website is full of fantastic oral histories and well-researched information about a wide variety of topics from a postcard archive, to the wreck of the MCS Napoli, to a parish registers database.

Meeting the group

The group heard about us through a mutual friend, and we arranged to drive down to talk to them about the Community RTI project that we are starting up. We couldn’t have wished for a nicer first audience for our RTI introduction! There were quite a few volunteers waiting patiently for us in the church car park when we arrived *a little* late after taking a *slight* unintentional detour on the way to the village.

St. Winifred’s Church

Setting up

Hembo speaking to the group about RTI.

St. Winifred’s Church is beautiful. With a gorgeous Norman tower, and lovely neat interior. We all sat inside and Gareth, Hembo and I started up the laptop to show the group an example of RTI, and to explain what we were hoping to achieve with the Community RTI project. The group showed us the work that they have done so far on the graveyard, which takes the form of a detailed and extensive folder of notes and photographs, drawings and plans, of the older side of the graveyard. They are planning to do the same for the earlier portion of the site, and we are going to return in the Spring to carry out a survey with them.

The First RTI

Everyone was keen to get started, and as the weather was perfect (cloudy, with no bright sunlight, but mild), we all went out into the graveyard and the group chose between them a gravestone that had details that were difficult to make out with the naked eye. As we all munched on a Hobnob (other biscuit brands are available) kindly provided by Rose, Hembo talked us all through the set up to RTI a gravestone.

Discussing options

Gareth, Hembo and I talking to the group about the project.

The Stringman

John bravely volunteered to be Hembo’s string man. It’s an important job as the ‘stringman’ makes sure that the portable flash is always an equal distance from a central point on the gravestone, no matter what angle the flash is being taken from. This is done by tying one end of a piece of string around the flash, and the other end around the stringman’s (or woman’s) index finger!

Taking images

Hembo and John doing the first RTI.

If you’d like to know more about the process of RTI-ing gravestones, including what the stringman(woman) does, read our ‘What is RTI’ page for a brief introduction to the whole process.

The Results

We reckon thinking back that it took Hembo and John about 20 minutes to record the gravestone. Then we all went back into the church to watch the ‘RTIBuilder’ software put all the photos together into one interactive file. The results were great! The RTI was clear and crisp, and the words all clearly visible and readable. The group were happy with the results, and so to celebrate, we had some more biscuits (this time provided by Gareth and I as we had spied them in the supermarket that morning and they looked too delicious not to take along with us).

Seeing the results

The group studies the results from the first RTI.

What Happens Next

We are going to be collecting some more RTIs from St. Winifred’s, with the Branscombe Project team, when we visit again in the Spring to do the graveyard survey. We’ll keep you posted here on this website as plans develop. In the meantime, I cannot recommend more a visit to the Branscombe Project website, it really is an absorbing read, but I warn you, once there, you’ll find yourself reading all the stories and will lose an hour or so easily, so prepare yourself for the experience with a cup of tea, and… you guessed it… a biscuit!

With Thanks To…

With thanks to the Branscombe Project, and also to Rose Ferraby and Hembo Pagi for helping with this demonstration, and for letting us use their excellent photographs in this article.

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