Grant funding award to digitise historic diaries

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The Friends of Lydiard Park have won a prestigious national award to digitise the 1920’s diaries of local farmer Elliot Woolford of Hook Farm, Lydiard Tregoze, and make them available to the wider public via The Lydiard Archives.  The £1,000 award by Townsweb Archiving recognises the national as well as local importance of the diaries and the contribution they will make to the history of farming and social life in this small Wiltshire village.

Local historian, author and Friends’ Trustee, Frances Bevan, is transcribing the diaries which span a period of over forty five years.  She says:

‘These diaries are a wonderful resource for family and social historians. Here is a record of what life was really like for the farmer and the agricultural labourer during the late 19th to the mid 20th century. Elliot was writing purely for his own reference. He had no audience, no one to impress; he would probably be amazed that we find the diaries so interesting and valuable more than a hundred years later.’ 

Diaries being collected, November 2022. Standing L to R: Richard Woolford, James Woolford, Claire Woolford of Hook Farm, Lydiard Tregoze. Seated L to R: Casper Smithson and Dan Shek of TownsWeb Archiving.


The Friends of Lydiard Park  are incredibly grateful to the Woolford Family for sharing Elliot’s diaries with us and to Townsweb Archiving for helping us to begin the work of digitisation.  We have selected the 1920’s volumes as they represent a period of significant social, economic and agricultural challenges that followed the First World War.

Casper Smithson, Chief Operating Officer at TownsWeb Archiving said:

We are thrilled to have the opportunity to support The Friends of Lydiard Park with match funding as part of our annual TWA Digitisation Grant. The diaries will provide a fascinating insight for both local life in the small rural parish of Lydiard Tregoze and for the wider national interest into agriculture of the 1920s. We are excited to play our part and can’t wait to see the digitised diaries online via The Lydiard Archives.

Elliot Woolford as an elderly man c1940

Elliot and his brother Rowland acquired the tenancy of Hook Farm in 1899 from the 5th Viscount Bolingbroke. In 1930 Elliott was able to purchase the farm when part of the Bolingbroke estate was sold by the Viscount’s widow, Mary in 1930. The Woolford family remain there to this day, continuing to innovate and expand the farm business.

Richard Woolford’s great grandfather, Elliot recorded the weather, all the jobs undertaken on the farm by him, his family and his employees, farm and household accounts, national events, and the social life of the village in which he played a prominent role.  This included helping to fundraise for the village nurse, organising the children’s Christmas party and establishing a tennis club in Hook. Appropriately, Richard Chairs the Village Hall Committee today.