All posts by Cathie Marriage

Heritage Open Days 2020 : Owls in Girlguiding

Why are Brownie leaders named after owls?

Owls feature widely in guiding, particularly in the Brownie age group. In the Brownie story the one person who could explain where to find the Brownies was the Wise Owl. In the story two messy children go to the woods to find a helpful Brownie to help their mum tidy the house, guided by a Wise Owl. As the owl is so helpful to the children, Brownie leaders have been named after owls ever since.

Pre-1968,  Leaders were warranted as a Brown Owl or a Tawny Owl, and the titles were used universally (other than in those countries where owls either weren’t found, or had a bad press). Since then the title has been optional, but many units find it useful to continue the theme, as it gives a name which is less formal than Miss/Mrs/Ms, but not as informal as first-name terms.

Leaders might be called Brown Owl, Tawny Owl, Snowy Owl…. And at one time senior trainers of Brownie Leaders were called Eagle Owls. We have heard too of some modern-day owls being called Pepperoni Owl, Choc Owl and Ginger Owl , as the Brownies chose the names !!!! We love the twist on tradition, led by the girls themselves.

The story has been modernised since it was originally written, but it is an important part of Brownie history.

Click on the picture below to read the current full Brownie Story, or if you would like to watch a version of the story, click on this YouTube link.


Hidden Nature! 

What are owl pellets?

Pellets are the undigested parts of what a bird has eaten. They are produced by many bird species including all types of owls. As owls mainly eat shrews, mice and voles, which they swallow whole, their pellets often contain the bones and fur of these animals. You can see this by gently pulling apart the pellets. To identify what animal the bones came from, measure them and compare to known samples.

Click on the picture to learn how to dissect the pellet and identify the bones.

Enjoy! It’s fascinating, and please take photos to show us what you’ve done, then post them on our  owl post on our Facebook page.


Heritage Open Days 2020 : Birds – Kim’s game

This is a Kim’s game with bird-themed badges from throughout Guiding history.

For each level of difficulty, spend 2 minutes looking at the badges to memorise them, then look away and write down as many as you can remember. You can download the answers afterwards!

For a challenge, try and guess what year/time period each badge is from.

Good luck!


Answers to game 1

Answers to game 2

Answers to game 3

How observant are you really? Have a look at the sketch and post on our Facebook page and follow the instructions. How did you get on? Don’t forget to post you pictures.

Heritage Open Days 2020 : The Farmworker badge

The Farmworker badge was an important part of guiding in the early days.

The badge aims to help girls develop a greater understanding of the natural world around us and the process of farming.

Over the years it has had a variety of forms.  It appears that until the 1980s there were a number of separate badges  for both Guides and Rangers that came and went over the years. These include Landworker,  Dairyworker  and Dairymaid, Farmworker, andBee-farmer.  There were also Friend to animals, Horsewoman, Poultry farmer and Rabbit keeper badges at various times. 

Clockwise from top – Landworker, Poultry farmer, Rabbit Keeper, Dairymaid

In 1983, a new Farmer badge was introduced which covered the former Dairymaid, Poultry farmer, Farmer, Rabbit keeper and Beekeeper badges.

The images on the right are from Policy Organisation and Rules and Badge books in our collection. Click on the pictures to see a bigger image.

Today, we still have badges relating to the outdoors for example Animal lover and Nature.

Fun Fact!

The Hints on Girl Guide Badges (published 1933) explains the kit Girl Guides must wear when completing the Farmworker badge. It states that kit should be workmanlike, loose, and quiet in colour. It also recommends wearing wooden clogs which can be purchased from Wellington Manufacturing Company in Glasgow.



Below are some activities and challenges for you to try out at home. These have been directly inspired by or taken from the syllabuses of the Farmworker badge.

Choose a challenge which appeals to you and have a go. There is no limit to how many challenges you can do. Do not forget to share your photos of what you have got up to with the Archive Resource Centre. You can email us at or find us on Facebook

Challenge 1 – Do you know them all?

“Know the part the following implements play in farm work: plough, harrows, Cambridge roller, flat roller, seed drill, manure distributor, horse-hoe, reaper and binder, mowing machine, tedder or swathe turner, horse rake, hay rake.”

Challenge 2 – The 1938 Farmworker syllabus states that Guides should be able to know the breeds of cattle, sheep, or pigs native to her district.

Research the breeds native to Norfolk e.g. the Red Poll and Norfolk Red Cattle. Can these breeds still be seen in Norfolk? Would you be able to recognise them on sight? Why not have a go at drawing your favourite Norfolk breed? We would love to see your drawings! The Farmworker badge also required girls to have fed calves on milk or a substitute for more than a week. If you want to know more about feeding calves check out this great video in which a modern-day farmer feeds his calves. 

Challenge 3 – During WW1 and WW2 Girl Guide units often volunteered on farms, providing agricultural labour.

This was important as many farms had a lack of male labour due to the war. Research more about this topic and the other ways in which Girl Guides helped the war effort. Challenge: can you find out how many hours of agricultural labour guides had to complete to gain their WWI War Service Badge. The website below might help!

Challenge 4 – The syllabuses state that Guides should have been involved in planting and growing.

Obviously, it’s unlikely that all of us have access to a farm! But maybe you could do some planting at home. It may be September but that does not mean you can’t get green fingered. Research what plants can be grown in September. You may need to be adaptable. If you do not have much room, think small.

Challenge 5 -In the past badges were not mass produced. Girl Guides had to sew their own badges!

Therefore, as a final challenge why not have a go at creating your own Farmworker badge. If you wanted to make a badge in the traditional design, try embroidering a circle of blue felt with the design from above. This website has images of all the versions of the Farmworker badge; why not explore the designs for inspiration.

Alternatively, you could create your own design. What would an updated Farmworker badge look like? Think about how you might incorporate elements of farming and nature into your badge design. Your badges do not necessarily have to be sewn. You could draw, paint, or use a computer. We love to see your badge creations; don’t forget to share!

Thank you for participating in our Farmworker badge challenges as part of our Heritage Open Days. We hope you have enjoyed yourself and maybe learnt some new things! Please share with us on Facebook what you get up to!

Heritage Open Days 2020 : My experience as a 1940s farmworker

I have attended the Norfolk Guides 1940s camp three times.

This incredible camp takes place at Gressenhall Farm. The camp is open to Guides and Rangers, who over the course of the camp travel back in time! The camp is styled like an authentic 1940s camp; from the food served to the tents the girls sleep in. Girls take part in 1940s style activities and traditions. Each camp, girls who attend work towards different interest/proficiency badges that were available to Guides at the time.

During my time as a 1940s Guide I have gained my Needlewoman, Cook and First Aid badges as well 2nd Class Guide and 1st Class Guide rank. One of the badges that I enjoyed completing the most was Farmworker. This was the first ever badge that I completed at 1940s Guide camp and it remains special.

Completing this badge at Gressenhall was fantastic! I helped harvest crops and fed some of the farm animals. I learnt new skills and gained a lot of knowledge about farming and the traditional techniques used. For example, I learnt about hay ricks, where hay is constructed into stacks with conical tops. This allows moisture to run off sides of the hay. This is important because it prevents the accumulation of moisture and allows the hay to dry out.

Completing this badge gave me a much greater appreciation for farming. It revealed to me the effort and work that goes into creating the food on our plates. This is especially true in the 1940s when much of the machinery that has greatly speeded up farming today was non-existent. Completing this badge during a 1940s Guide camp was significant.

During the war, some Girl Guide units volunteered on farms as “land girls”. Many farms needed this help as there was a lack of male labour. Some units would help and in return were offered a place to camp on the farm. Exploring the history of this badge therefore helps us to understand one of the important ways in which Guides helped the war effort.

I think the Farmworker is an important badge which still has relevance today because it allows girls to understand the relationship between people and the land. Completing this badge made me more interested in where my food comes from!

In a time of phones, the internet, and social media it’s so important that we continue to connect with nature. So why not check out the syllabuses for the multiple variations of this badge and see how many points you can check off.

Are you a proficient Farmworker? Have a look at this website where you can explore different variations of the Farmworker badge. 

History Begins at Home Project

Connecting People. Creating History

From the website:

History Begins at Home is all about helping you connect with family and friends through conversation about the past. Chatting with the people you know and love gives us a great sense of well-being and taking the time to do it right now during these extraordinary times, adds further magic. Try it and you will see.

We want to get you chatting with each-other about a whole host of memories from the past – from toys, food and hobbies to cars, TV ads, programmes, music and travel. Join the conversation, create new memories to treasure, and share your stories. We will help you along the way.

A fantastic project, led by the Norfolk Record Office, with guiding included and if you need any prompts about things to talk about they are supplied too, online. Get in touch if you would like them sent to you.

Many thanks to members of Girlguiding Norfolk who helped pilot this part of the project!

Could you make contact with local units and offer to chat to them to share your memories? Via telephone is fine… doesn’t need to be face-to-face!


Virtual work experience at the ARC July 2020

Work experience continues, even during lockdown!

Three girls arrived at the ARC this week, via Zoom! How amazing is that? They were there to spend a week with us doing work experience… and my what a lot of work they experienced! They were awesome and in fact probably achieved more whilst working at home than they would have done at the ARC…. Or it was a different type of work achieved, probably more intense, because it had to be done using our collection which is online or through research.

Two zoom meetings daily included work for the day, information, etc. Several of our volunteers came along to support what we were doing and the girls enjoyed that aspect of others contributing too.

The girls achieved such a lot, including the following, which was not everything!

They worked towards information for a geocaching trail and for Heritage Open Days, did transcription of logbooks and created posters using Canva. Admin included working on our Living in Lockdown badge, sorting lists of numbers, writing for Facebook and researching for information to add to our collection. A quiz has been produced, a podcast, ideas for a reminiscence project… and the list goes on!

And they would like to do more! If you want to join in next time, please get in touch…. We will be having a few more days later in the summer holidays.

Feedback from the girls was lovely, and the ARC volunteers were blown away by what they achieved!  Thank you so much girls.

On our closed Facebook group the girls wrote afterwards:

From Megan:  I just wanted to say thank you for organising this week Helen, I’ve really enjoyed myself and to all the other ARC volunteers for helping us out at the Zoom meetings. Thank you Amelia and Sophie, you have made my work experience week amazing and I hope one day we can meet each other at the ARC.

From Amelia: Thank you for such a fantastic experience; I have loved every minute and its been an honour to meet and work with such a fantastic group of women. Thank you for all your hard work which made this experience possible. I would love to keep supporting the work the ARC does from my home, especially over the sum so please keep in touch.

From Sophie: Thank you very much for the past week, it’s absolutely flown by and I enjoyed every minute of it! It was wonderful to work with such amazing and passionate volunteers, and I felt so welcomed. Would love to stay involved in what the ARC is doing, especially during the summer.