Stowe: In My Own Words - an oral history project

Project
Statues in a garden

Buckinghamshire Culture Open Weekend

"Buckinghamshire Culture is a newly formed cultural development partnership, energising the creative and cultural sector in Buckinghamshire and helping it to thrive."

We are proud to be contributing to this significant cultural exchange programme with a three day event promoting community histories at Stowe. 

Please come and share your stories of Stowe with our oral history team. We welcome you to bring an object, photo or artefact which reminds you of a Stowe story and sit down with our volunteers to record your tale. 

We are hosting drop-in sessions from 11am to 3pm daily on Friday 23, Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July. 

See the full Buckinghamshire Culture Open Weekend programme at: 

https://buckinghamshireculture.wordpress.com/open-weekend-whats-on/

Our ongoing work

Our project will uncover and preserve the stories of people who have helped shape the Stowe estate through the years. The Stowe:In my own words project is a collaboration between Stowe, National Trust and Stowe House Preservation Trust and together we aim to:

  • Expand our knowledge about life at Stowe during different time periods. 

  • Learn about how individuals have related to the place and people. 

  • Document stories about working life on the Stowe estate. 

  • Remember Stowe during times of historical significance, e.g., World War II and the COVID-19 pandemic.  

  • Recover memories of the school, gardens, and house. 

  • Record how the Stowe estate has influenced the surrounding community. 

  • Relate tales from long ago to what is happening today.

What is an oral history project?

Oral history is a form of history making that is passed down, typically between generations, by retelling stories, sharing memories and forming folk tales to preserve a legacy. In its very essence, it is an accessible form that resists institutional biases and rejects the hierarchical judgement of whose histories matter most.

Stowe estate’s history has been well documented but it is not the full story. A great number of people care for the land and culture surrounding the Stowe estate from all different backgrounds. Stowe:In my own words will record the personal memories and individual impact of the community of people who have lived and worked at Stowe. 

These stories stand as testament to the individual lives led by stakeholders, students, staff, volunteers and visitors to Stowe gardens and Stowe House.

Where will we archive our stories?

In the 1960s, the National Trust began recording oral histories to preserve the stories of people who have lived and worked amongst some of the most astounding natural landscapes, grand houses and gardens in the UK. Since 2014, the resulting sound archive has been deposited into the British Library to be cared for and built upon for further generations.

The stories we uncover through our project will be added to this significant archive and preserved for future generations. 

http://www.bl.uk/collection-guides/oral-history

Are you a Storyteller? 

We are collecting stories from Storytellers from all backgrounds. 

If you know someone who may be interested, has a wonderful story to share or you yourself would like to contribute to our living archive, then we encourage you to get in touch. 

We hope to record familiar stories, uncover unknown ones and reminisce about the people and the place we all care for.

This summer we are prioritising the stories from a long time ago and will be exploring more recent tales in the Autumn.

Please contact: madeleine.jordan@nationaltrust.org.uk with enquiries.