Malton Museum’s quest to revive long forgotten words

There are some great words in the English language that have fallen into disuse.  Take Gallimaufry for instance.  No, it’s not Dr Who’s home planet – that was Gallifrey – it actually means a jumbled medley of bit and pieces. Isn’t that lovely?    Or how about the so-descriptive word Guttle, meaning to gobble greedily.  Perfect to describe Christmas eating!  Why don’t we use that anymore?

Well, though a new talk, offered by Malton Museum’s Education service, we’re hoping to bring some wonderful old words back to life for our audiences in the local area.  And who knows?  Perhaps the campaign to resurrect forgotten words will spread.

What’s in a name?

That’s the title of the talk. If you’re old enough to remember the panel game Call my bluff you’ll have a good idea how it works.  With the help of a panel of three ‘experts’ – who might be museum volunteers, friends, family or even ‘pressganged’ members of the audience – we offer three definitions of a word, and then invite the audience to choose the correct one.   So, for instance, is a Carucate:

  • a spiced pudding popular in Victorian times
  • a term for a measurement of land found in the Domesday book
  • an item of underwear worn by a vicar on a chilly morning?

Hmmm – what do you think?


We had an entertaining time researching likely old words, and an even better time coming up with misleading, but plausible definitions!  As it’s a museum talk we wanted to focus on words that relate in some way or another to Malton’s history.  And as Malton has such a long and lively past it wasn’t too difficult to find some beauties.  So in the space of an hour long presentation we manage to touch on Malton’s Roman heritage, its monastic links, the brewing industry, medicine in the town, coach travel, market days and local traders, and horseracing – in no chronological order whatsoever.   Our aim is to educate a little and entertain a lot!

The guinea-pig audience

Once we’d put the talk together it needed a maiden outing – and we were so lucky with our very first audience; the Over 50s Forum, all 60 or so of them, who meet at Malton Rugby Club.   We couldn’t have had wished for a better group.  Everyone joined in with great enthusiasm. They showed real ingenuity in wrinkling out the correct definitions for some of the words but, to our secret satisfaction, were hoodwinked and bamboozled by other made-up explanations!   And, it was great at the end to chat with people who had their own stories to tell about some of the topics we had discussed and learn a little more about Malton’s colourful history.

Looking for more groups to Jargogle (to confuse or bewilder)

We already have bookings in 2018 for this talk, and for the other talks offered by the Education Service to adult groups.  But we’d love to introduce lots more people to the wonderful world of archaic wordery. So if you’re involved with any groups of societies who are looking for a speaker, do tell them to get in touch with Margaret Shaw, Volunteer and Learning Manager on 01653 691262 or to make a booking.   Margaret is definitely not an Ultracrepidarian (somebody who gives opinions on subjects they know nothing about) and would love to hear from you.

Christine Pietrowski

Learning from Others – Trip to Skipton

I am Nick and I have been volunteering for the museum for nine months.  I have been mainly involved in the media side of things, but I have also done some front of house.  I have very much enjoyed this and have worked with some very nice and friendly people, who have been very helpful and supportive.  It has also been great to talk to visitors.  It has been fantastic to learn about Malton’s history and gain confidence.  I have felt part of a wonderful team.

I have mainly worked on Malton Museums Oral History Project 2017.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this and although it has been a learning curve, the chance to create an important archive for future generations has been brilliant.  Maurag has been a superb interviewer!

The trip to Skipton was excellent.  The Castle was stunning and the tour guide was very helpful and friendly.  We then had a very nice lunch at the very beautiful Holy Trinity Church, next to the castle.  It was good to mix and chat with colleagues and also with some volunteers from Craven Museum.  A lady who had done oral history recordings for Craven Museum gave a fascinating insight into local characters and stories from farmers.  I also spoke to a lad was studying media and who was about to help Craven Museum with some additional history recordings.  I gave him some hints and advice of what I had learned in Malton and he said that I had been a great help.

After lunch we walked to Craven Museum.  It was quite larger than Malton.  The staff were very welcoming and we had an excellent talk from the senior curator.  The museum was very well set out and had many informative displays.  I thought it captured the spirit of the community.  The Roman times, wars and farming life were very engaging.  There was also a computer, which allowed you to view historic photos.  I was also very impressed with the oral history section.  It was easy to operate for visitors and had a number of professional recordings.

As the sun started to set, we then had a quick walk around town and along the famous canal, before heading back to the bus.  It was a grand day out!

To find out about volunteering – please visit the website