I was very pleased to attend to the “Letchworth Stories, Celebrating South Asian Heritage” event on the 12th June,  along with my colleague Sharon McCafferty, on behalf on North Hertfordshire Museum Service.


This event celebrated the work that has taken place on this Heritage Lottery Funded project so far and was an opportunity to  launch the project to the wider community.

It took place at  North Herts College, and consisted of delicious refreshments and Indian food, as well as a live performance by The Dhol Drummers Bhangra dancers, followed by audience participation in which we all learnt some of the basics of Bhangra dancing!

The event was well attended, including members of the community who have already been involved with the oral history and reminiscence work, and students and staff from Wilbury Junior School, University of Hertfordshire and Letchworth Community members, who produced a special a special short animation for the project.




Whilst continuing our audit of the social history store at Burymead we have come across two interesting items; they are a human jawbone and an incomplete set of teeth.

The first object, the jawbone was dug up in the grounds of Hitchin Priory in 1852 and is believed to be that of a young male.


The second item is an incomplete set of human teeth with some detail of them being from the body of a Joan Biggs who was a suicide victim who was later exhumed in 1906 from what we believe to be the crossroads by the Radcliffe pub in Hitchin. The body was exhumed as the grave had become a landmark.


We have attempted to research who Joan Biggs was, but so far have been unable to find a record of her so feel she may have been from another area or perhaps an asylum or almshouse.

If you have any further information regarding these two items please comment on the post and we will be in touch!

Whilst carrying out an audit of the social history store at Burymead, in a box labelled ‘Cosmetics and Hygiene’, we came across this beautiful box in almost perfect condition containing a bottle, which on further inspection was still full of the original talcum powder. The talcum powder itself still had its original rose fragrance; the box also contained some advertisements from the cosmetic company DuBarry and claims to give ‘satin smoothness of the skin’.


DuBarry was  the first American made cosmetic line and was created by Richard Hudnut. By 1903 he had taken over his fathers drug store (in New York) and transformed it into a classy showroom for his cosmetics and fragrances, inspired by exotic fragrances from Europe. It was an instant hit and many other drug stores across New York started selling DuBarry cosmetics. At its peak DuBarry was more successful than Revlon today.

In 1940 Hudnut set up the ‘DuBarry Success Course’ which taught women how to be successful and beautiful no matter what their social status was, and was attended (either in lectures or by correspondence) by thousands of women.

DuBarry was named after the Comtesse Jeanne DuBarry, who was thought to portray ‘the essence of feminity’ and is pictured on the box of talcum powder.