Help & Support
These pages provide help and support to explain the Archive and this site more fully.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How Can I Use the Images on this Site?
- How Do I Search the Collections?
- How Do I Use the Search Facility?
- What are synonyms?
- What Document Details Are Available?
- Why do you have a watermark on your images?
- The text on the website is too small
- How do I search for a name?
- What is the difference between the Advanced Search and the other searches?
- What if I can't find the answer to my question?
How to Search the Collections
You have two choices: either you can go straight to the Collections Search Page from the 'Search The Collections' link in the Quick Menu, or you can follow the links from the Collections Page reached by clicking on the Collections tab in the Main Menu or 'The Collections' in the Quick Menu.
If you go via the Collections Tab, you will need to choose which collection you are interested in. At present you can choose from:
- Main Parish Archive
- Indentures: Apprenticeships, Examinations and Removal Orders
- Tithe Apportionments Register
- Churchyard Headstones & Memorials
- History Group Archive
Choosing one of these will take you to a page that provides more information about your chosen Collection.
If you choose the Main Archive, Indentures, Headstones or History Group Archive, you will be shown an initial index of the items catalogued in that collection, which you can select from if you wish.
If you do want to select an index item, click on the 'Details' button next to the item you are interested in and you will be taken directly to the search having pre-selected that item.
When you proceed to the Search pages from Tithe Apportionments you will have pre-selected that Collection but will not have pre-selected any specific areas of interest. You can do that on the Search page itself.
If you choose to go directly to the Search page without passing through an individual Collection first, nothing will be pre-selected, so the first thing you have to do is select which collection you are interested in.
Note that you can now also choose the 'Combined' collection, which is the other four collections combined together as a single collection.
The Search Page: The Widecombe Archive Search and Display
This is the page from which all Collections searching is carried out. Once you have chosen a Collection to search, you can do a basic search or an advanced search. You can click on 'Show Tips' in order to display some information to help you make the most of the Search facility.
The Advanced Search is hidden by default. Click on 'Show Advanced Search' to display it.
The Advanced Search is intended for use as a more complicated search, and should be of value when you are trying to narrow down your search or when you do not know exactly how your search terms are spelt.
Note that, especially in old documents, spellings may vary from one document to another, as writers often wrote down what they heard, so they recorded names etc phonetically, or what they understood as the spelling.
The Advanced Search provides the following options, which can be combined so that, for example, documents are selected where the text must be present AND the document date must be within the dates chosen:
- Text Search: This allows you to enter one or two pieces of text which will be searched for in all documents in your selected Collection. Each piece of text can be treated as a complete word by checking the 'Whole Word?' checkbox. You can specify whether both pieces of text or any one of them can appear in your results by selecting 'Both' or 'Either' from the drop-down list.
- Synonym Search: This allows you to select some common surnames and places where we know that different spellings are utilised within our documents. If you spot others, we would appreciate it if you would let us know. For this option you just choose which set of synonyms you want to search for and documents where any one of the values listed will be returned by the search. (Note that the synonym search is now incorporated into the basic search as well. See 'What are synonyms?' for more details.)
- Date Search: This allows you to provide a single date or a range of dates for searching. enter the earliest or only date in 'First Date' and enter the second date (if needed) in 'Second Date'. If you don't know or are not interested in a specific day of the month, leave the Day as 'Any'. If you don't know or are not interested in a specific month of the year, leave the Month as 'Any'. Using 'Any' in this way is equivalent to requesting a range of 1st January to 31st December in the chosen year, or if two dates are entered it is 1st January in the first year to 31st December in the second year.
Once you have entered all your search terms click on the 'Search' button to run the search. If you want to clear everything out and start again, click on the 'Clear Form' button.
To hide the Advanced Search, click on 'Hide Advanced Search Options'. Note this just hides the text etc it does not clear the search terms.
Your search results are returned in the table underneath the heading 'Search Results'. The first thing to be displayed is the caption 'Total Number of Items Found: x Displaying Page 1 of y', where x is the number of items found and y is the number of pages over which those items are spread. For convenience, items are spread out at approximately 20 items per page. To move through the pages you can click on 'Next Page' to go to the next page, 'Last Page' to go to the final page, and if you are not on the first page you can choose 'Previous Page' to go to the page before, or 'First Page' to go to Page 1.
For any item displayed in the search results table, some basic detail is given which should be enough for you to know if it is of interest. If you want to look further, click on the 'More Details' button and you will be taken to a new page with the full catalogue information about the item, including links to the images associated with that item. For more information on this please go to Document Details. Please note that an individual item may well be a single page from a document or a small number of pages. This should be clear from the 'Brief Description' field.
Please note that we are still in the early stages of this site and you may encounter problems from time to time. If you do encounter problems, please Contact Us to let us know. Our aim is to make this facility as efficient and user-friendly as possible given that it is completely provided on a voluntary basis.
What are synonyms and how are they used?
You should note the use of the synonym list, even in the Basic Search. The idea behind this is that it is very difficult to predict what spelling will be used in the archive for any particular surname or place name. For example, Jordan Manor has variously been known as Dewdon, Dudon and Deandon amongst others and it is very difficult for researchers to know all of these variations and where they are used. Therefore, in the basic search, where a search term is provided that is present in the synonym list (e.g. Jordan or Dudon), the search is extended to include ALL the terms present in the list for that entry. That is, matches on Jordan, Dudon, Dewdon and Deandon will all be returned. If you don't want this to happen then please use the Advanced Search which does not extend the search in this way but provides a separate synonym search that you can use if you wish to.
To view the synonym list open up the advanced search in the archive search and display page by clicking on 'Show Advanced Search Options' and click in the Synonym Search drop down list. This will show you all of the synonyms we currently have recorded. If you think there are some items missing from the list; either additional items in an existing row, or additional rows then please tell us about them and we will add them to the list.
Detailed Information for a Catalogue Item
As its name implies the document details page is the page that shows the detailed information about a catalogue item.
The information available for any document is determined by the cataloguing that has been carried out for that item. The level of detail does vary from one item to another. Where little detail is available, it is the intention to revisit these items in the future and catalogue them further. However, in all cases, images of the original documents are available for display, so even if the detail you are looking for is not provided, you can perhaps work it out by studying the images provided.
A transcript may be available for a document. This transcript is included as a part of the search facility. To view a transcript file click on the PDF symbol alongside the transcript filename.
To view an image, click on the corresponding thumbnail.
To close the Detailed Information page, click on the 'Close Window' button.
Using the images on this site
All images on this site and the collections data are licensed under a Creative Commons 3 licence for non-commercial use. This means you may freely copy and download the images as long as your use of this material is of a non-commercial nature.
We watermark our images in order to limit their value to you. If you do want an image free of a watermark, you can buy one using the PayPal 'Add to cart' button. We do this because we need to raise money to cover the cost of maintaining this site and this archive and this is one way to do that.
If you have special requirements not covered by the above, please contact us directly.
The watermark gets in the way. Why do you need it?
The watermark is there to protect our images from mis-use. If you want an image free of a watermark you can buy one using the PayPal 'Add to cart' button. However, the watermark is slightly transparent and if you zoom in on the image you should be able to read through it and obtain the information you want.
What if I can't find the answer to my question?
If you have a query that you can't find the answer to, please Ask Us!
The text on the website is too small
You can use your browser's zoom function to zoom in to make the web page larger. The way that the zoom function works is different from one browser to another, so you may need to consult your browser's help facility or do a web search to find out how to use it. However, on a PC, you can try Ctrl and + (plus) to increase the zoom or Ctrl and - (minus) to decrease it and on a Mac try cmd and + or cmd and - (this should work without using the shift key).
How do I search for a name?
There is now a specific name search on the Search and Display page and on the home page. You enter the last or family name in the first text field and the first or other name in the second field and then click 'search'. The selected collections will be searched for the two names occurring together in either order. Synonyms, or alternate spellings, if any, will automatically be included as well. Note that text, especially in transcripts, has a completely flexible layout within the archives. This means that first names can occur both before and after the last name, and where there is a list of names then the first name of one person can appear after the last name of another person (e.g. ...John Townsend James Warren...) and so occasionally the search will pick up the wrong name (e.g. a search for James Townsend will return a valid match). This is an inevitable result of the way that material is digitised and is not something we can do anything about. We have preferred to return more results than not enough.
What is the difference between the Advanced Search and the other searches?
The Advanced Search is a more precise search. For instance it allows you to restrict a text search to a particular date range. It also includes various ways in which you can treat your search terms such as requiring either one of them to be present, to treat the terms as a whole word or part of a word etc. It also includes a specific synonym, or alternate spelling, search whereby last names and place names that appear in the archive with different spellings but do in fact represent the same thing can all be searched for in one go. If there are spellings that you know of that we have not included, then please do let us know and we will update the list.
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