Residents of Fulleylove Court, a retirement complex in Bolsover, took part in The Art of Letter Writing during October and November 2018. On the 8th October they visited the Record Office in Matlock to see the archive letters in situ. All the previous groups who had taken part were visited by an archivist who brought the letters out to their meeting place.

Apart from having a nice trip out, everyone was bowled over by the building and keen to find out more about what happens there. Archivist Karen Millhouse had selected some wonderful documents for us to look at in addition to the letters, including a recipe book hand written by Clara Palmer Moorewood from Alfreton Hall in 1825.

The subsequent workshops took place back at Fulleylove Court on a weekly basis and participants were really well engaged throughout. During the session when people shared their own letters, one lady brought along eight letters written in 1901, from her grandfather to his wife when he was taking the water in Buxton. An important and unexpected outcome was that these letters have now been donated to the Record Office and will be looked after and be available for research for generations to come!

As a special surprise, members of Rhythm and Rhyme, a local poetry group attended a session to recite some of their poems, two written especially for the visit about the joys of writing letters. There was a lovely connection and commonality with the poets and residents due to the fact that everyone was local and people recognised some of the places and individuals featured in the poems. One participant, Sylviah Hawkins was so inspired, she wrote a poem of her own about her experience of taking part in the project!

After letters had been written and illuminated letters made the conclusion of the project was marked with a celebration event, for family and friends. We were joined by Bolsover District Council Cllr. Mary Dooley who thanked everyone for taking part and spent most of the afternoon talking to the residents about participating in the project.

This particular delivery was funded by a 5 Ways to Wellbeing grant. We spent some time talking about how we can use the 5 Ways to make small changes everyday that can support us to lead happier and healthier lives. One lady, Jean, was so impressed, she said she would put her 5 Ways sticker on her fridge door as a reminder to make more of an effort and even asked for one to send to her elderly brother who lives in Eastbourne.

Here are some quotes from the residents of Fulleywood Court:

Visit to the Record Office
“It was a privilege to touch and see the letters as the Record Office”.

“We were talking about it for ages afterwards!”

“I was watching that programme on BBC2 about the house and I realised how important those documents are at the Record Office”.

Illuminated lettering
“I watch a lot of history programmes and I always think what wonderful work the monks did. Now I’m doing it myself. It’s like a re enactment!”


              I like the activities – the ‘doing bit’ best. That’s what I’m better at.


“I’m chuffed to mint balls!”

 Writing letters
“It look me ages to write that letter but now it’s done, I can feel proud. I’m glad I did it.”