J is for Jewish Archives

Pages of a letter book of the Secretary of the Jewish Board of Guardians part of the Jewish Care archive, one of the collections acquired by Special Collections since 1990 [MS173/1/11/3]

In the latest of the Special Collections A-Z we look at J for Jewish archives. The Special Collections holds a considerable volume of Anglo-Jewish archive material, yet one of the questions we are asked frequently is why should this be the case. We will look a little at the background that led to the development of Southampton as a repository for Jewish archives.

The prominent Anglo-Jewish figure Claude Montefiore, was Acting President of University College, Southampton, 1910-13, and then President, 1913-34. He was a key supporter in the development of the institution during this time and part of his book collection was donated to the Library. The presence of this material was one of the attractions for Revd Dr James Parkes when he was seeking a home for his own library and archives. The Parkes Library on Jewish/non-Jewish relations arrived at the University of Southampton in 1964. This collection has formed the nucleus of a significant and ever expanding printed Special Collection and been the magnet that has drawn other collections to the University.

The official opening of the Parkes Library at Southampton, 1964: James Parkes is sitting at the far right of the image [MS1/Phot/39 ph3516]

It was the arrival of the Anglo-Jewish Archives collections in 1990, however, which transformed the scale and breadth of the holdings, adding some 5,000 boxes to the Special Collections existing holdings, and making it a significant centre for Jewish archival material.

Anglo-Jewish Archives material arrives 1990
Anglo-Jewish Archives material stored 2022

The Anglo-Jewish Archives collections that came to Southampton in 1990 had been created as part of the Jewish Historical Society of England in the 1950s and were housed but not owned by University College London. Although, unlike their American counterpart the American Jewish Archives based at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinatti, they were considerably underfunded, the AJA were very successful in collecting and also surveying material. Their success meant that they outgrew their temporary accommodation and resources and by the 1980s were in need of rehousing and additional resources. Indeed, in the 1980s there was a growing concern of the threat of a “vanishing heritage” of the destruction or disappearance of archival material. There were a number of initiatives to deal with this, especially in Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. In Manchester, its Jewish Museum was opened in 1984, whilst in Liverpool and Birmingham partnerships were developed between local record offices and Jewish heritage projects. Working in collaboration with the Merseyside Jewish Community Archives, a community archivist helps co-ordinate collecting and encourages its cataloguing and use, while the Liverpool Record Office provides archival storage and access. In London the Museum of the Jewish East End and in Glasgow the Scottish Jewish Archives were formed in the late 1980s. In both heritage preservation and archive collection were part of their initiatives but in both these cases, unlike Liverpool, there was no formal partnership with local record offices.

Another initiative was guidelines for the Anglo-Jewish community on the preservation of material and recommendations for depositing archives produced by the working party on Jewish archives. This working party was formed following a British Library symposium to discuss Jewish archives in 1988.

As part of these recommendations, a framework was set up amongst UK archives and libraries to provide a home for Jewish archival material. As part of this London Metropolitan Archives became the repository for material of London based organisations, while Southampton took on the role of collecting material relating to Anglo-Jewry.

In the decades since 1990, the situation with regards to archives of the Jewish community in the UK cannot be separated from the developments of the designated repositories, particularly London Metropolitan Archives and the University of Southampton.  London Metropolitan Archives has become the repository of archives of a range of London based Jewish organisations, including those of the Office of Chief Rabbi, the United Synagogue and the Board of Deputies.  The Special Collections has built on the core collections acquired by the Anglo-Jewish Archives from the 1950s to 1990 expanding them in both size and range. The collections at Southampton have grown several fold since 1990 and now fill more than 3km of shelves.

Photograph of the booth staffed by Miss Bennett in the interior of the hall at Atlantic Park, Eastleigh, with a number of the refugees in residence at the transit camp, 1920s [MS311/53 A3098]

The newer collections might still include those from the Anglo-Jewish elite, such as the Swaythling or Waley Cohen families, but they also include papers of refugees such as Eugene Heimler, the Adler family from Vienna or the Van der Zyl family or material of Rudi Kennedy who was used as a slave labourer under the Nazi regime and led the fight in the UK for compensation, increasing the range of voices to be heard. Organisational collections have expanded to include a range of liberal and reform communities and communal organisations. And we have given home to papers of pressure groups, such as those who fought for the cause of Soviet Jewry Conscience and the “35s” or the Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry or for social justice such as the Jewish Council for Racial Equality.

Protest by members of the Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry at Wembley Arena, London [MS254 A980/4/22/178]

For further information on the holdings at Southampton do look at the Archive Catalogue and the Browse Collections feature which brings together information on the range of Jewish archival material we hold. Special Collections also has contributed to Yerusha, an online catalogue providing extensive information on European Jewish archival heritage. It features more than 12,000 in-depth archival descriptions from 700 European archives, libraries, and museums in 27 countries.

And next week’s blog shines a spotlight on one of the newer Jewish archive collections with K for Kochan, focusing on the collection of the academic Lionel Kochan.

I is for Island

For the latest in the Special Collections A-Z, we look at I for islands. Special Collections holds a wide range of material relating to islands from the far flung to the very near to home. For this blog we will travel to a small selection represented in the collections to give a flavour of the range of material that can be explored. 

HMS Hecla and Fury in their “winter island” as they are frozen in for the winter [MS45 A0183/2 p359]

For the more distant islands you can view the journals of William Mogg in which he describes his journeys as part of Captain William Edward Parry’s second and third Arctic expeditions, on board HMS Hecla and HMS Fury, 1821-5, including being frozen in at ‘Winter Island’ for nine months when the ice closed in. And there is a further Mogg journal when he was on aboard HMS Beagle exploring the coastline and islands of South America. Such items as Prince Louis of Battenberg’s album of his circumnavigation of the world on board HMS Inconstant provide us with glimpses of life in Japan, New Zealand or the Fiji Islands in the 1880s, as well as visits to St Helena and Gibraltar.

Fiji Islands from the album of Prince Louis of Battenberg [MS62/MB2/A20]
St Helena from the album of Prince Louis of Battenberg [MS62/MB2/A20]

A new acquisition to the Special Collections dating from 1896 is an eleven-volume travelogue of the Hon. Louis Samuel Montagu, later second Baron Swaythling, of his world tour (MS461) which includes not just his observations on his travels and the people and places he saw but some wonderful photographs from Japan. And for the 20th century we have photograph albums of Lord and Lady Mountbatten, as well as tour diaries of Lord Mountbatten, relating to visits to islands from the Mediterranean, the South Seas and the Far East, as well as Australia and New Zealand (MS62).

Images of Madeira from a photograph album of a tour taken by Lady Mountbatten, 1931 [MS62/MB2/L6 page 5]

For nearer to home, quite a variety of material has found its way to the Special Collections relating to the Isle of Wight. This includes items collected by the University’s predecessor the Hartley Institution in the late nineteenth century such as a pardon from James I to Thomas Urrey of Thorley, Isle of Wight, 8 June 1604 (MS6/1).

Pardon from James I to Thomas Urrey, 1604 [MS6/1]

Other items include descriptions of walks around the island such Sarah Jane Gilham’s “journal of seven weeks peregrinations at the most beautiful place on earth, namely the Isle of Wight”, 1850 (MS6/8), or Thomas Flood’s description of his walking tour of the island in 1845 (MS450).

The island was the inspiration for poetry by James B.Fell (MS14) as well as the long manuscript poem “Elizabeth the fair prisoner of Carisbrook”, mid-nineteenth century (MS5/32).

Within the papers of the Gordon family, who resided at Northcourt on the island, are a series of watercolours by Lady Julia Gordon that feature the house and garden (MS80). Special Collections also holds a collection of watercolours by the Revd John Lewis Petit (MS283). Those for the Isle of Wight range from Alum Bay to Yaverland and includes seascapes and landscapes as well as churches, which are the focus of many of his paintings.

Alum Bay: View from cliff top looking across to The Needles by J.L.Petit [MS283/55]

The working papers of the academic Lindsay Boynton includes considerable material on both Sir Richard Worsley and Appuldurcombe House (MS301). Special Collections also holds the editorial notes for the Victoria County History for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (MS29) providing an interesting counterpoint to the range of published histories of the island held as part of the Cope Collection.

For politics on the island in the 19th and 20th centuries you can find a range of material in the papers of the first Duke of Wellington and the Broadlands Archives including extensive files for Earl Mountbatten of Burma as the Governor of the Isle of Wight.

Letter sent by internee at the Aliens’ Detention Camp, Douglas, Isle of Man, to Rabbi Dr Victor Schonfeld, 19 June 1917 [MS192 AJ413/7 f3]

Another island of the UK coast for which we hold quite a number of items is the Isle of Man. This ranges from material on the harbour defence in the 19th century in the Wellington Archive to material in quite a number of the Jewish archive collections relating to the use of the island in the 20th century for internment. This latter material includes not just reports on an inspection of the internment camps in the Second World War which can be found in archive of Solomon Schonfeld, but correspondence of internees in both World Wars.

Sketch of Mooragh internment camp, Ramsay, Isle of Man, by K.Rothschild, c.1940 [MS297/A890/2/1]
Sketch of Ramsay, Isle of Man, by Manfred Steinhardt, 1940 [MS297/A890/2/1]

To complement the more recent material relating to islands in the Mediterranean found in the papers of Lord and Lady Mountbatten, there is 19th-century papers in both the archive of the first Duke of Wellington and those of third Viscount Palmerston relating to the Ionian Islands, the seven islands that include Corfu, Paxos and Cefalonia. This covers the period from the Treaty of Paris in 1815 when the islands were placed under British protectorship, to 1864 when they were officially reunified with Greece.

First page of synopsis for “Refugee island” a proposed TV play by Norman Crisp [MS199/101/1]

And we travel even further with a fictional island although potentially situated in the South Seas. Taken from the archive of the writer Norman Crisp (MS199), this is a synopsis and script for a proposed TV play “Refuge Island”. Written in the response to the threat of the H-bomb, the play follows the story of an individual, who may or may not be a confidence trickster, and his scheme to create a “refuge island”.

To find more islands, or to find out more about any of the items mentioned, do explore the Epexio Archive Catalogue which contains details of the archival collections that we hold.

And do join us next week when we will have reached J for Jewish archives.

H is for Hospitals

In the latest instalment of the Special Collections A-Z, the letter H is for Hospitals, and courtesy of the Cope Collection we have a whistle stop tour of some of the different types of hospital seen in Hampshire.

Hospitals are not always what they seem. Activities which took place within the walls of the twelfth-century foundations did not include a great deal of health care. Often attached to religious institutions, they provided accommodation for the aged and for travellers, and although this might involve a certain amount of care-giving, it was not usually their main purpose. In Southampton, God’s House Hospital was founded in 1185 by Gervaise le Riche to provide an almshouse for four aged men and women as well as shelter for pilgrims. At Winchester, St John’s Hospital, thought to be a foundation of the late Saxon period, supported the local poor and also needy travellers whilst the nearby Hospital of St Cross, founded between 1132 and 1136 by Henry of Blois, housed thirteen poor men, feeding a further one hundred daily.

The Hospital of St. Cross, by D.L. (1783) Rare Books Cope c WIN 33 pr1109

At the medieval leper hospitals there were few options for treatment, instead cleanliness and an adequate supply of food supported physical health and attendance at chapel sustained spiritual needs. Both Southampton and Winchester had leper hospitals and excavations at Magdalen Hill, the site of the Winchester hospital, suggest that it is one of the earliest in the country, dating from the 11th century. As the incidence of leprosy declined in England, the hospital was used as an almshouse until damage by Dutch prisoners of war in the seventeenth century, led to the buildings being abandoned and eventually pulled down in 1788. Of Southampton’s leper hospital, established in the 12th century, no trace remains above ground. Archaeological investigations place it on the main road out of the town in the vicinity of the present Civic Centre, where, like the Winchester hospital, though separated from the town, it was well-placed for collecting alms from passers-by.

Winchester Leper Hospital From: Description of the Hospital of St. Mary Magdalen, near Winchester, from drawings taken by Mr. Schnebbelie, August 1788 (1796) Rare Books Cope ff WIN 24

In the 18th century the concept of voluntary hospitals gained popularity, a local example being the Hampshire County Hospital at Winchester which opened in Colebrook Street in 1736. As the name suggests, voluntary hospitals were independent organisations, run by a committee of governors and funded by donations, often in the form of subscriptions. In the Collection of Papers, Rules and Orders relating to the Rise, Progress and Government of this Charity (1737) much can be learned about the reasons for the hospital’s establishment by Alured Clarke, a canon of Winchester Cathedral, and the way in which it was run. The ‘poor sick’ met the criteria for treatment, but children under seven, unless requiring an operation, pregnant women, people with ‘disordered senses’, those with infectious diseases or those who were unlikely to be cured were excluded.

List of patients treated at Hampshire County Hospital from: Alured Clarke Collection of Papers, Rules and Orders relating to the Rise, Progress and Government of this Charity (1737) Rare Books Cope 61

Subscribers of £1 or more could recommend in-patients who were admitted every Wednesday. Treatment was also available for out-patients and as Clarke believed that sickness was a result of un-Christian living, books of religious instruction were given to all patients. The Collection lists the rules which all those working or being treated at the hospital had to follow as well as diets for the patients.

The patients’ diets, from: Alured Clarke Collection of Papers, Rules and Orders relating to the Rise, Progress and Government of this Charity (1737) Rare Books Cope 61

With its strong connection to the armed forces it is not surprising that Hampshire has been home to major naval and military hospitals, the Royal Hospital Haslar opening at Gosport in 1753 and the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley in 1863. By an order in Council of 1744, naval hospitals were required to be built at Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham, bringing to an end the haphazard system of treating the naval sick and wounded in civilian hospitals and private lodgings. In 1745 land was acquired on a peninsula on the western side of Portsmouth Harbour, although inconvenient to reach by road – most patients being expected to arrive by boat – the isolated position was seen as a way of deterring deserters, many of the patients being victims of press gangs. At the time, Haslar was the largest brick building in Europe and was designed to accommodate 1,500 men, treating medical, surgical, fever, dysentery, smallpox and scurvy cases. Despite the addition of two new wings in 1762, it was often overcrowded and on occasions old hulks had to be used to accommodate the overflow of patients.

Perspective view of the Royal Hospital now Building for the Reception of Sick and Wounded Seamen at Gosport, Hants. (1751) in Views in Hampshire v.2 no.160 Rare Books Cope ff 91.5 – only 3 sides of the building were built

For soldiers, medical treatment had traditionally been arranged on a regimental basis, large military hospitals first appearing in England towards the end of the 18th century. The Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley, which opened in 1863, was created in response to the Crimean War. Planned as a central block with two wings extending on both sides, the internal layout of the hospital famously met with Florence Nightingale’s disapproval. The small, poorly ventilated wards ran counter to the large wards with direct access to fresh air which she advocated, and although some concessions were made, including replacing the windows of the corridor fronting the hospital with arched openings, it was too late for significant changes to be made. With its 138 wards, Netley could accommodate 1,000 patients and as at Haslar, its relatively isolated position made desertion less likely. 

Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley near Southampton.
engraved by T.A. Prior, drawn by E. Duncan. (19–) in Views in Hampshire v.5 no.160 Rare Books Cope ff 91.5

Another type of hospital of which there are many examples in Hampshire is the cottage hospital. These were founded in the second half of the 19th century and were generally located in rural settings where they were intended to deal with emergencies – perhaps more prevalent with the mechanisation of farming – and to overcome the problem of patients and visitors having to travel long distances to the nearest voluntary hospital. A more homely environment was also thought to aid recovery. Petersfield Cottage Hospital opened in 1871 and with its hung tiles, gables and casement windows, it appears the epitome of the cottage hospital. Each of its wings had two small wards but like Netley, its ventilation was judged inadequate.

Petersfield Cottage Hospital (1910) Rare Books Cope postcards PET 61 pc615

At the other end of the spectrum of hospital provision is Southampton General Hospital, which began life as the Southampton Workhouse Infirmary in 1902. Taken over by the Borough Council in 1929, it became Southampton General Hospital in 1948 and part of the National Health Service. The 1970s saw work beginning on the construction of a new 1,300 bed hospital at the rear of the site, provision also having to be made for the new Medical School, which opened in 1971 in partnership with the University.

View of the site for the new General Hospital behind the original buildings in A Teaching Hospital for Wessex (1969) Univ. Coll. LF 789.4M3

This was not the first involvement of the University with a hospital. In 1914 University College Southampton’s new buildings at Highfield, including those that now form part of the Library, had been lent to the War Office for use as a temporary hospital. For many years after the College re-occupied the site in 1919, much of its teaching was carried out in the huts previously used as the wards of the University War Hospital, the establishment of the University as a major provider of medical and nursing education then being some years away. 

University College buildings showing huts retained from War Hospital, 1925 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3076]

To find out more about the University War Hospital see the previous Special Collections blog post They came from near and far to do their patriotic duty – staffing the University War Hospital

G is for Gurwood

For the next instalment in our Special Collections A-Z series we hand the reins to Freida Stack for a post about John Gurwood, editor of the Duke of Wellington’s Dispatches. She kindly tells us she spent “four very enjoyable years working in the Archive”.

John Gurwood (1788-1845) was the career soldier who proposed to the Duke of Wellington that he should collect, edit and publish the Duke’s military papers from India to Waterloo. Over the course of fifteen years he produced a volume of the General Orders, 12 volumes of the Dispatches, a one volume Selections in English and in French, and he was working on the last of the eight volumes of the second and expanded edition of the Dispatches when he died.

Morton, Andrew; The Duke of Wellington with Colonel Gurwood at Apsley House; The Wallace Collection; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-duke-of-wellington-with-colonel-gurwood-at-apsley-house-209676

MS61/WP2 “General Correspondence 1832-52” in the Wellington Papers contains the letters that the Duke and Gurwood exchanged as they worked closely together on this project. Papers relating to Gurwood are in MS321, seven Guard Books which were assembled by the Esher family, the descendants of Gurwood’s stepdaughter Eugénie Mayer.

Active service

On 30 March 1808 Gurwood enlisted as an Ensign in the 52nd Light Infantry. He served in the Peninsula War from August 1808 until April 1814 and MS321/5 contains letters that he wrote home to his mother. ‘My ink is made of the scrapings of Camp Kettles & Wine my other implements of writing accord with it therefore excuse my writing.’ In addition to accounts of army life and military battles the letters include requests for new clothes – a ‘small deal box’ with a new jacket and epaulettes, ‘2 shirts and a few socks may be crammed in’. He sent items home for his family – 2 Pipes of Wine, rings for his mother and the music of a waltz for his little sister.

He was severely wounded at Sabugal and received a bad head wound at the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo in January 1812 where he was in the Forlorn Hope in the lesser breach. He and his men got to the Citadel where he took the Governor’s surrender. Wellington rewarded Gurwood by presenting him with the Governor’s sword.* ‘If I have trodden the path to fame, how richly am I rewarded!’ he wrote to his mother. From this time Gurwood was well known to Wellington, frequently dining, and indeed hunting, with him.  

An extract from Gurwood’s diary [MS321/5]

Gurwood’s diary lists the places through which the army passed in the campaign of June 1813 to April 1814 along with brief notes of incidents – ‘Coughlan killed. With Gen Pakenham in a flag of truce twice to bury the dead on condition of the French not taking away the arms under fire.’ He went home on leave after the end of the war and then became ADC to Sir Henry Clinton, the second in Command to the Prince of Orange. He resigned after a contretemps, and fought with the 10th Hussars at Waterloo where his horse was shot under him.

Service in peacetime

Gurwood’s ambition all his life was to be a career soldier. He was still a regimental Captain at the end of the war and was aware that, with the coming of peace, his chances of promotion were severely diminished. The seniority rule had already told against him. His enlistment at the age of 20, rather than the more usual 16 or 18, had prevented him from being promoted as a reward for fighting in the Forlorn Hope because he had not served long enough as a Lieutenant.  

What was even more serious for Gurwood was that promotion in the army was customarily by purchase where a man sold his current rank in order to buy the next one thus offsetting the cost. Non-purchase commissions could not be sold and so Gurwood was faced with paying the full £3200 for a Majority in a Marching Regiment and then £4500 for a Lieutenant Colonelcy. The son of a London merchant who had died when his son was three, he had neither a substantial private income nor a father to support him, and he was forced to make persistent and embarrassing applications to Horse Guards, to the Duke of York as Commander in Chief, and most tiresomely of all to the Prince Regent who was the Colonel of his Regiment. Gurwood describes the solicitations that he made again and again in person and in writing, and the numerous occasions on which he was promised a promotion and it did not materialise.  

He did become a Brevet Major in 1820, brevet being a non-regimental rank with a little extra pay and a supposedly stronger case for promotion within his regiment, and seven years later he was made Brevet Lieutenant Colonel when he was ordered to the West Indies. He was still however a regimental Captain. 

Editing the General Orders

Gurwood took with him to the West Indies the General Orders that Wellington had issued in the Peninsula, France and Belgium, these amounting by the end of the war to seven large printed volumes.  General Orders were issued daily by Headquarters and regiments were required to convey them to their officers and soldiers. They covered all aspects of army life – rations, forage, mules, plunder – and this attention to detail made a major contribution to the success of the campaigns. Gurwood reduced the massive amount of material to one volume. He arranged it under headings listed in alphabetical order with the contents cross-referenced. The Duke gave his consent to publication of the General Orders in 1832 and the first edition of 1000 copies sold rapidly.

Registers of general of general orders issued by the Adjutant General’s department of the army in the Peninsula and Southern France [MS61/WP9/1/2]

Editing the Dispatches

The Duke’s delight with the General Orders emboldened Gurwood to propose to him that his military papers should be published. The Duke’s reply that he had ‘not the smallest objection to what you propose to do’ belied the energy with which the Duke entered into the project. Over the course of the next years Gurwood sent the Duke every document for approval and the man who prided himself on doing the business of the day in the day turned the material around quickly despite his many public and private commitments: ‘there is no impediment to any serious occupation like a House full of Company; particularly when part of the Company is a Member of the Royal Family.’  

Assembling the material proved to be much more problematic than Gurwood had envisaged.  It was difficult even to find papers in the Duke’s many residences. In December 1833 the Duke reported that he had found some interesting correspondence and would seek for more when he got to London. In August 1834 he said that he had spent three days in ‘a diligent search’ for some papers but without success.  Gurwood tracked down papers in official institutions in England – the Commander in Chief’s Office, the Ordnance, Horse Guards – and sought papers from the Portuguese War Ministry. 

He wrote, sometimes repeatedly, to ask recipients for copies of letters from the Duke. Many were pleased to respond but some were elusive or unwilling. Admiral Berkeley’s daughter came up with a succession of obstacles to handing over her father’s papers, which were eventually obtained by his son in law after what Gurwood described as a ‘burglary’. Lord Clarendon was extremely unhappy about placing himself in the public domain having already been heavily criticised in Napier’s History. The Duke’s reassurance that nothing would be published which did not redound to Clarendon’s honour gave him the confidence to send his papers.  

The issue of deletions and omissions came up very early in the project. The Duke wrote to Gurwood on 28 November 1833 that he would not like ‘any correction of other peoples statements’ but two weeks later was extremely concerned about the inclusion of the allegation that he had hanged 10 to 15 men in India.  Gurwood responded by marking up in red passages that could be deleted on the grounds that some were irrelevant and some might ‘be subjected to misconstruction if laid before the public.’ From that time the Duke made deletions on the grounds that the sensibilities of living protagonists and their families had to be taken into account as well as political and diplomatic consequences. Requests by individuals to omit material were evidently common, Gurwood telling the Duke that ‘almost every person who has assisted me in the compilation has made, or suggested, stipulations.’   

In the summer of 1835 the Duke lost confidence in the efficacy of publishing anything at all. ‘I shall certainly be involved in a Controversy with Nations as well as Individuals which will not be an agreeable pastime in my old age.’ Gurwood confronted the Duke’s doubts directly and listed three options:  continuing the publication under the Duke’s direction; continuing in this way but depositing the printed copies securely with the Duke; discontinuing the project. At the risk of being ‘still more presumptuous’ he observed that although the Duke had had ‘many difficult and unpleasant duties’ imposed upon him he still owed a duty ‘to history and posterity’. There is no reply in the Wellington Papers but it is a sign of the Duke’s respect for Gurwood’s abilities as an editor that the work continued. The Duke’s son, Lord Douro, was clearly impressed and amused by Gurwood’s temerity. ‘I must say I think his Grace must have opened his eyes when you dictated his duty to him.’  

The Duke saw every document several times during the editing process. He approved the text at every stage and it was he who gave the final consent to what was published. It is clear from their letters that the Duke and Gurwood worked extremely well together, both turning the material round quickly while paying great attention to detail. His editorial work took a heavy toll on Gurwood who rose early and worked late. He suffered all his life from the after-effects of his wounds, and periodically had a physical and mental collapse from over-work causing great concern to his family and his friends. ‘Come abroad,’ his friend Lord Hertford wrote in December 1838 when Gurwood was faced with compiling the Index to the 12 volumes of the Dispatches, ‘resume your old and pleasant life’.

Letter from Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington to Lieutenant Colonel J.Gurwood, 19 May 1836: “the truth is that I am obliged to look at everything. I am always upon the stage. People are always endeavouring [f1v] to find the means of picking holes in my jerkin.” [MS61/WP2/40/26]

The Dispatches were an immediate success with booksellers reporting that readers were always anxious for the publication of the next volume. Gurwood produced a one volume Selections to meet the complaint that the twelve volumes were too expensive, and indeed too long, for some readers. In 1842 he started work on a revised edition that would include the many new papers that were still being discovered. Gurwood was awarded a pension from the Civil List for literary services and in late 1839 on the Duke’s recommendation he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of the Tower of London.

In late 1845 Gurwood started to experience severe insomnia. ‘I have been confined to my room with Insomnia for ten days – not a wink of sleep!’ He made his will and wrote a long document listing his property. It ended with instructions on how the last volume of the Dispatches should be completed.  On 27 December he committed suicide.

An inquest verdict of temporary insanity allowed his burial to be in consecrated ground. He lies in the vaults of the Tower of London and there is a memorial to him in the Tower Chapel.

*The sword along with a bust of Gurwood, his snuff box and his Waterloo medal are on display at the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester.

If this has whetted your appetite for more, Freida has published a book on Gurwood available from gurwood.stack@gmail.com for £13 incl p&p.

F is for Floras

The sixth instalment of the Archives A-Z concerns certain works in one of our collections of printed material: the Floras donated to the University by Sir Edward Salisbury in 1977-78, which form part of the Salisbury Collection.

Sir Edward James Salisbury (1886 -1978) spent most of his 92 years pursuing his passion for botany, from his boyhood spent examining and documenting the flowers around his home at Limbrick Hall on Harpenden Common, to adulthood spent largely in academia at University College, London, and East London College. Most notable amongst his published works are a series of textbooks written in collaboration with fellow botanist Felix Eugen Fritsch, and his popular book The Living Garden (1936), for which he was awarded the Veitch Memorial Medal of the Royal Horticultural Society, recognising “outstanding contribution to the advancement of the science and practice of horticulture.”

Detail from cover of The Living Garden, 1936. Salisbury Coll. SB 453 SAL

His involvement in, and honours from eminent botanical societies are almost too numerous to list, but his positions include founder member of the British Ecological Society in 1913, vice-president for both the Royal Society (who awarded him the Royal Medal in 1945) and the Linnean Society, secretary of the British Ecological Society, and president of Section K (Agriculture) of the British Association. He was also a member of the Agricultural Research Council, was awarded Honorary LL.Ds from both Edinburgh and Glasgow University, and was Fullerton Professor of the Royal Institution from 1947 to 1952.

Perhaps Salisbury’s greatest challenge came in 1943, when he became Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, a position he held until his retirement in 1956. With little funding or staff, he was responsible for the recovery of post-war Kew; his work included restoring the famous Palm House and establishing an Australian House for antipodean plants. He was knighted in recognition of his work in 1946.

Naturally, as enthusiast, academic, author, gardener and Director of Kew, Salisbury amassed a large collection of botanical works, including many Floras: published works listing plants of a particular region (the word in this context is usually capitalised, to distinguish it from the lower-case flora, meaning the plants themselves). During the 1977-78 academic year, Salisbury donated his collection of regional Floras of the British Isles to the Biological Sciences section of the Wessex Medical Library at the University of Southampton. His books, combined with botanical works presented by the family of Walter Frank Perkins in 1948, are now housed in Special Collections in the Hartley Library as the Salisbury Collection. 

The earlier Floras in Salisbury’s collection form part of the Rare Books sequence, and reflect the 19th century’s shift in perspective of the study of botany: from a subject for dedicated, educated scientists to one that could be enjoyed as a hobby by the wider public.

Among the earliest Floras is Richard Relhan’s Flora Cantabrigiensis (1785). Like most scientific publications until the early 19th century, it is written in Latin, including the preface, with few English notes, and may have been somewhat impenetrable to the general public and certainly to a modern-day amateur! Relhan was a botanist and Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, and his intended readership would have been academics who had learned Latin as the international language of scholarship. It wasn’t until around 1800 that the publication of scientific works in Latin began to diminish, and started to be written in the vernacular language of the author, which allowed the wider public greater access to scientific knowledge. I certainly needed the help of an online translation tool to discover that the Anemone pulsatilla (more commonly known these days as pulsatilla vulgaris, or pasqueflower) is a violet colour!

Richard Relhan, Flora Cantabrigiensis, 1785. Rare Books Salisbury Coll. QK 306.C2

Floras which might also prove troublesome for the amateur are those which don’t include descriptions of the plants, for example Flora Sidostiensis (1849), by W. H. Cullen. The author writes in the preface that he “will feel amply repaid for any trouble in compiling this little publication, if it attracts but one individual to the Study of Botany”, yet we may wonder how this individual could begin to study botany with no descriptions with which to identify the plants he finds?

William Gardiner explains the customary process in the introduction to his Flora of Forfarshire (1848):

“It is not in accordance with the rules laid down by some of our best botanists for the construction of a local Flora, that the plants should be described, which would only render the volume more bulky without adding to its usefulness. Every one studying British botany, it is presumed, is in possession of one or another of the standard Floras, and there the characters and descriptions … are detailed at length. With a descriptive Flora in one hand, and a local one in the other, therefore, each will perform its legitimate part …”

Page numbers of the descriptive Floras Hookers’s British Flora (1842) and Babington’s Manual of British Botany (1843) are given in Gardiner’s book, so that the reader could refer to these “standard Floras”, but I imagine that consulting two separate publications in order to identify one plant could be quite tricky, especially if the plant was in a hard-to reach area, such as a mountainside. It would be difficult to go back for another look, and equally as hard to take two books, or to stand in a perilous position and make notes!

William Gardiner, Flora of Forfarshire, 1848. Rare Books Salisbury Coll. QK 308

Other Floras are closer to the all-in-one, comprehensive guide that would appeal to an amateur plant-spotter. M. H. Cowell’s A Floral Guide for East Kent (1839) includes a map of potential walks, with the plants listed according to each walking area, divided into months, and brief descriptions, so that “ … The student is thus shewn the precise spot in which many of the plants are to be found … he is also enabled to see, at one view, such of the characters, the color … as will lead him, with tolerable probability of success, to recognize a plant, for which he may be in search; it only remains, then, for him to determine its identity by referring to a descriptive catalogue.” While this still requires a descriptive Flora to make a definite identification, it seems much easier to have the basics to refer to in the same volume as the suggested locations of the plants!

M. H. Cowell, A Floral Guide for East Kent, 1839. Rare Books Salisbury Coll. QK 306.K4

It’s evident that by 1881 and the publication of Wild Flowers of the Undercliff, Isle of Wight (1881) by Charlotte O’Brien and C. Parkinson that the practice of identifying plants was no longer the preserve of scientists, botanists or botany students who may already possess a descriptive Flora, but also appealed to a wider audience with an occasional interest. Charlotte O’Brien herself was neither a student of botany nor a scientist, but an activist for social reform and an amateur plant collector. Her philanthropic spirit reveals itself in the introduction where she write of her hope that the book “… will be considered to have fulfilled its mission if it succeeds in providing a definite and healthful object for the daily walk, when, perchance, the peaceful floral trophies gathered by loving hands from wood and field may rejoice the heart and gladden the eyes of some beloved invalid at home.” With colour illustrations and easy descriptions, it’s a far cry from the Flora Cantabrigiensis of almost 100 years earlier.

Charlotte O’Brien and C. Parkinson, Wild Flowers of the Undercliffe, Isle of Wight, 1881. Rare Books Salisbury Coll. QK 306.W4

The Salisbury floras are the tip of the iceberg of botanical material held in the University of Southampton Special Collections. Works on gardening and garden design, herbals, botanical illustrations and a 19th century herbarium span several collections including the Cope Collection, the Perkins Agricultural Library, and the library of the Hampshire Gardens Trust. For more information on this fascinating material, see these previous Special Collections blog posts:

A passion for plants

Botanical illustrations from the Special Collections

Springtime in Special Collections

E is for Electricity & the Electrical Association for Women

The next instalment in our Special Collections A-Z is E for Electricity and, specifically, the Electrical Association for Women.

The Electrical Association for Women was formed in 1924: at this time most houses had coal fires and stoves, and many had gas lighting. However British electrical production had increased by over 100 percent during the First World War period. Electricity was becoming recognised as a source of power for many purposes besides lighting; and labour-saving electrical appliances – cookers, kettles, toaster and vacuum cleaners – were beginning to find their way into the home. It has been suggested that very few households in Britain actually owned electrical appliances, apart from the electric iron before 1940 and the “tools of the housewife” – the washing machines, driers and refrigerators were only, in the late 1950s, coming to be regarded as necessities instead of luxuries.

MS383/A4000/2/2 Advertisement from the Electrical Association for Women annual conference programme, 1939

Mrs M.L. Matthews was a member of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) formed in January 1919 to speak for, protect and advance the interests of those women who faced dismissal from engineering firms and positions at the end of the First World War. It was Matthews that conceived the idea of “a scheme popularising the domestic use of electricity”. The WES council accepted the idea and a new committee decided to form a “Women’s Electrical Association” (WEA).

The WEA held its first council meeting on 16th December and appointed Caroline Haslett as director.

[She] believed firmly in the value of education and training for women for all jobs – in the home, or in the business and professional world and in the wide sphere of public service…..Believed in equal opportunities for all…had a clear vision of the benefits which the use of electricity in the home could bring to women. She thought of it as their real emancipator setting them free from household slavery in order that they could seek and find themselves both an individuals and as members of the community.


Caroline Haslett CBE as Director of EAW taken c.1925. The Archives of the Institution of Engineering and Technology

On 30th April 1925, to avoid confusion with the initials of the Workers’ Educational Association, the name was changed to the Electrical Association for Women (EAW).

The EAW began with three main objectives 

  1. To educate women in the uses and benefits of electricity. It did this through activities such as lectures, summer schools for teachers and school visits. It published a journal, the Electrical Age for Women, the first issue of which appeared in June 1926.
  2. Educating the male-dominated electrical industry by informing the suppliers of electricity and of electrical and other household equipment what women really needed in their homes
  3. To open up opportunities for women to pursue careers in the electrical and allied industries. Electricity as a career for women was scarcely heard of in 1924. A woman who wished to combine a career with running her home had not only to break down the barriers against the employment of women but also to free herself from her “arduous housekeeping chores”.

The EAW grew rapidly and branches were soon established in Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester. Often, especially in the early years, the leaders of the local branches were the wives of electrical engineers who served as managers, or in some other capacity with a local electricity supply undertaking.

Advertisement from The Electrical Age, 1939 [MS383/A4000/3/4]

In 1949 there were 100 branches with a combined membership of 10,000 women; ten years later there were over 180 branches. By 1960 the number of branches had more than doubled to 202 and in another five years stood at 246. As late as 1971 there were 262 branches.

Most of the members of the EAW were either wealthy or at least comfortably middle class and the bulk of the membership was made up of housewives, business and professional women and teachers. Less privileged rural and working-class women were never excluded in principle, however. The EAW also targeted the quintessentially modern woman, the “Bachelor Girl”.

Advertisement from The Electrical Age, 1939 [MS383/A4000/3/4]

The EAW pioneered an “electrical housecraft” course which could be taken at most domestic science and technical colleges in the country. From 1931 a Diploma for Demonstrators and Saleswomen was offered and by the 1940s its Electrical Housecraft Certificate and Diploma – on “the application of electricity to household duties” – were recognised qualifications. Housewives and students could study for a “home worker’s certificate”; this covered topics such as electricity generation and transmission; meters, fuses and switches, cookery, refrigeration and kitchen planning.

The Special Collections holds records for the E.A.W. primarily for the 1930s and 1940s in the papers of Gladys, Lady Swaythling who served as both treasurer and president. There is also some material for the 1950s in the papers of Edwina, Countess Mountbatten.

Photograph of Gladys, Lady Swaythling by Hay Wrightson [MS383/A4000/6/1/5/F2]

Lady Swaythling commented on the work of the E.A.W in a speech:

One of the pioneer women’s organisations in their country, whose educational work has, both directly and indirectly, helped to increase the happiness of women in their homes and in their careers. And this, of course, is just what teachers of domestic subjects themselves set out to do…

More than ever before a stabilising influence is needed for our young people, and nothing can better provide this than a comfortable happy home with its sense of permanence and security…

There is a danger that too many labour saving aids, may result in laziness – but it is here the domestic subjects teacher can help to inculcate a right attitude towards home making and encourage the swing back to the home from families who find their pleasures and entertainment outside it.


As described by Deidre Beddoe, there was an inter-war call to women to come ‘back to home and duty’; the EAW was certainly part of this. Post-1919, the women’s movement splintered into special interest groups and married women were encouraged to make their primary focus their home rather than a job. Their Victorian mothers had visited the poor to fulfil their philanthropic duty; an active role in the EAW could have been the early twentieth century equivalent for some women. Alison Light coined the concept ‘conservative modernity’ and the EAW does appear to be an expression of this period when women and the home were placed at the centre of British life. In her article “Domesticating Modernity” Carroll Pursell suggests that the women of the EAW accepted their social role of domesticity, but strove to transform that role through modern technology.

The EAW continued to flourish after Haslett’s death in 1957. But in the 1970s its membership was aging by the mid-1980s it was no longer attracting new members. It was voluntarily dissolved in 1986.

D is for Data…

Here we have the fourth instalment in our Special Collections A-Z series. D is for ‘data’.

Data is hard to pin down, one definition being: “[…] individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of values of qualitative or quantitative variables about one or more persons or objects, while a datum (singular of data) is a single value of a single variable.”

Once data has been analysed or sorted it becomes information, but raw data can take many forms: statistical, cultural, scientific, financial, meteorological, geographical or natural!

The numerical data found in archives forms the statistical bedrock underlying our knowledge of the world around us. It has been noted that it is easy to lie using statistics, but that it is even easier to lie without statistics. Data, therefore, is a precious resource in the quest for truth, particularly when the archival custodianship of data ensures its authenticity and preserves its provenance.

Some of our collections are explicitly about data, such as the Historic River Data Archive (MS347), which amounts to some 240 boxes-worth of unique ecological data on the health of England’s rivers: a collection of technical data, both biological and chemical, relating to the Rivers Trent and Thames and for the Anglian Region, which was gathered by Professor Terry Langford, who was Visiting Professor at the Centre for Environmental Sciences, in the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton. As Professor Langford noted in a blogpost published by Special Collections in 2010, at that time the River Trent upstream of Burton on Trent was:

“[…] clear, showing waving water weeds on a clean gravel bed. Large numbers of brilliant blue Beautiful Demoiselle damsel-flies (Calopteryx splendens) were flitting over the water and landing on the marginal vegetation prior to mating. An impressive sight for any conservationist or ecologist. Standing on exactly the same spot almost 50 years previously I had seen a flow of black, foetid, fishless water with a layer of foam up to 1m thick in places. A hand-net sample of the river bed produced nothing but a Gordian knot of writhing bright red sludgeworms, the product of millions of gallons of poorly treated sewage and untreated industrial effluents from Birmingham, the Black Country and Stoke on Trent all many miles upstream. Biological diversity was virtually nil.”

The ecological data which enabled measurements to be made of the river’s health over a fifty-year period was rescued by Langford and colleagues from the Centre for Environmental Sciences from the shed of a biologist! They had studied the rivers in the 1950s and 1960s and maintained a treasure trove of data which included ‘22,000 individual records of biological surveys in the River Trent Catchment, all carefully organised in date order, plus reports and contemporaneous field notes.’

“Thanks to their foresight and the willing and enthusiastic assistance of the staff at the University of Southampton Archives and Manuscripts, these raw data from biological and chemical surveys, which were about to be ditched by the Agencies, were saved from destruction and the individual records, the products of thousands of man-hours work, are now safely stored and catalogued for academic analysis, future management planning and future work by students. In addition, similar data for eastern rivers were sent to the archive by the Environment Agency in East Anglia, again some dating back to the late 1950s and early 1960s. These data form the longest run of raw river ecology data in England and perhaps in Europe.”

Amongst the papers in this collection, in addition to the river data itself, are data from air monitoring surveys, including a 1982 report by the Central Electricity Generating Board on comparison of methods for the collection of cloud water.

Central Electricity Generating Board study on cloud water collection, 1982 [MS347/A2073/8/1/5]

Data can also be photographic, rather than numerical, as is the case for the many archaeological photographs in our Honor Frost collection, amounting to 79 folders, 17 slide boxes and 4 customised boxes of photographs, negatives, glass plate negatives and slides, which document the Mediterranean seascapes that Frost devoted her life to studying. In this picture we have a gridded aerial view of the island of Arwad off the Syrian coast.

Aerial view of Arwad, Syria [MS439/A4278/HFA/8/1/7/2]

In 1963, Frost was sponsored by the Syrian Department of Antiquities to undertake an investigation of the island of Arwad in Syria. Her objectives were three-fold: to carry out a surface and underwater survey of the harbour facilities, to check the existence of ancient wrecks and to study the use of modern anchor since they can provide insight on the Bronze Age votive copies of anchors found in temples. The area covered by the 1963 survey included the main island, 5 km of adjoining reef, Tabbat el Hammam on the mainland, and the island of Namel to the north. Frost located several ancient wrecks during her survey.

There is also plenty of acoustics data in our archives, including the collection of Professor Phillip Ellis Doak (MS373).

Doak was recruited as a founder member of the newly formed ISVR at the University of Southampton in 1962, as the Hawker Siddeley Lecturer in Acoustics and Vibration. In the late 1960s he was instrumental in designing the acoustics for the Turner Sims Concert Hall. Amongst the data in his collection are magnetic tapes of the Turner Sims reverberation tests and two charts of results of these tests, dating from 1974 [MS373/A3048/5].

If you think that you, or someone you know, might be a bit of a hoarder and is keeping too many boxes in the attic, it might be worth considering the extent of the data cared for by Special Collections here at the University of Southampton. We have hundreds of distinct collections housed in nearly 35,000 boxes containing approximately seven million manuscript items (we try not to lose count halfway through when numbering things…); this amounts to 5,765 linear metres of shelf space. We also hold 50,000 items in our printed collections, more or less, including 4,000 rare books in the general sequence and approximately 13,000 altogether if you include the rare books in our named collections. These date from the fifteenth through to the nineteenth centuries.

In the strong-rooms with one of our 35,000 archival boxes

C is for Charlotte Mary Yonge: A Rediscovered Novelist of the Nineteenth Century?

The Cope Collection on Hampshire and the Isle of Wight contains publications on all aspects of local life. It is fair to say that books describing the area and its history predominate, but the collection also includes works by or about local writers, whether recognisable names such as Jane Austen or, as we can see from Roger Ottewill’s blog those ripe for rediscovery. We hope you enjoy the third installment in our Special Collections A-Z: C is for Charlotte Mary Yonge.

What do the following have in common?

The Apple of Discord (1864)

The Dove in the Eagle’s Nest (1866)

The Heir of Redclyffe (1888, but first published in 1853)

The Daisy Chain (1893, first published in 1856)

The Lances of Lynwood (1895, first published in 1855)

One answer is that they are the titles (together with publication dates) of five novels by the frequently overlooked but in her day, well regarded and popular Victorian novelist, Charlotte Mary Yonge (CMY). A second is that they can all be found in the Cope Collection of the University Library catalogued under OTT 96, with a number of copies being in the Rare Books section of Special Collections.

Title page for The Dove in the Eagle’s Nest, 1866 edition [Cope OTT 96 YON]

The initials OTT refer to Otterbourne a ‘pleasant village, situated 4 miles south from Winchester and 8 miles north-west from Southampton’ (Kellys Directory 1885, p.732), CMY’s home for the whole of her life. As well as being a prolific novelist and writer of works for children CMY made a useful contribution to local history, with two works, both of which are in the Cope Collection.

The first is John Keble’s Parishes (HUR 92) a history of Hursley and Otterbourne. It is based on an earlier work by the Revd John Marsh, curate of Hursley, which had been published in 1808.

Map from John Keeble’s Parishes

This CMY considerably altered and enlarged, using post-1808 research and making much useful material on, for instance, the archaeology of Old Otterbourne Church, more readily available. She also brought the book up to date to 1892, supplying invaluable references for historians and biographers of the Oxford Movement, which profoundly shaped her religiosity, and its protagonists. Alongside her historical and antiquarian interests, CMY was fascinated by folklore, dialect and natural history. Consequently, this work includes a list of old Otterbourne dialect words and phrases; a detailed account of the Otterbourne Mummers’ Play, with speeches; and a list of local birds and plants.

The second is Old Times at Otterbourne (OTT 03) a short work consisting of a collection of her reminiscences, preceded by a short history of Otterbourne. Her recollections are valuable both as social history and as an account of the 19th century development of Otterbourne in general, which is missing from John Keble’s Parishes. CMY’s contribution to local history has been recognised with a profile for the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society’s Celebrating Hampshire’s Historians project.

CMY was not only an observer and chronicler of village life but also an active participant. As she recorded, her parents Mr William Crawley Yonge J.P., sometime of the 52nd Regiment, and Frances Mary Bargus ‘had two children, Charlotte Mary, born August 11th, 1823, and Julian Bargus, born January 31st, 1830 (John Keble’s Parishes, 1898, p.91).’ There are references to CMY’s father in the Wellington Papers, including the recommendation for his appointment as a magistrate (MS61/WP4/5/1/35).

CMY’s birthplace was the family home Otterbourne House, which still exists, although it has now been converted into flats.

Otterbourne House today

Halfway through her life, in 1862, she moved a short distance from Otterbourne House to Elderfield where she died on 24th March 1901.

Unsurprisingly, given her religious sensibilities and the influence of the renowned Tractarian [or High Church] clergyman, the Revd John Keble, on her views, the Church was of central importance to her. Keble was vicar of Hursley and Otterbourne from 1835 to 1866. In her early teens, CMY witnessed the building of a new church in the village. As she records:

Otterbourne had, even before Mr Keble’s coming, begun to feel the need for a new church. The population was 700 greatly overflowing the old church, so that the children really had to be excluded when the men were there. It was also at an inconvenient distance from the main body of the inhabitants, who chiefly lived along the high road. Moreover the South Western Railway was being made, and passed so near, that to those ears were unaccustomed to the sound of trains, it seemed as of the noise would be a serious interruption to the service (John Keble’s Parishes, 1898, p.99).

Although too young to have played a direct part in the planning of the new church, CMY would have been well aware of the contribution of her father. It took two years to build and was consecrated in late July 1839. As reported at the time: ‘The situation of the church is much more convenient to the parishioners than that of the old one, and it is calculated to hold fully three times the number of persons’ (Hampshire Chronicle, 5 August 1839). Here CMY was a regular worshipper and an assiduous Sunday school teacher. Dedicated to Saint Matthew, the Church remains an active place of worship to this day and this is where she is buried.

CMY’s grave at St Matthews, Otterbourne

As her involvement with the Sunday school testifies, CMY was passionate about education and this extended to day schooling. She frequently attended Otterbourne village school to assist with teaching in all subjects and served as a manager. In addition, she spent a great deal of her earnings on the school and the one at Allbrook, giving prizes every year for attendance and punctuality and performance in examinations.

Otterbourne School House (courtesy of Celia Lowthion)

Apart from the Church and School, CMY would have taken advantage of many of the facilities available in the village. One of particular significance, in terms of getting her manuscripts to the offices of her publisher, Macmillan in London, and communications more generally was the Post Office situated next door to Otterbourne House. From entries in successive editions of Kelly’s Directory it is possible to chart improvements in the service. Thus, in 1867: ‘Letters arrive from Winchester at 8.00 a.m.; dispatched at 6.30 p.m. (Kellys Directory 1867, p.575); in 1885: ‘Letters arrive from Winchester at 6.00 a.m.; dispatched at 7.55 p.m. & on Sundays at 7.55 a.m.’ (Kellys Directory 1885, p.733); and in 1896 and likewise 1898: ‘Letters arrive from Winchester at 6.10 a.m. and 1.00 p.m.; dispatched at 1.05 & 7.55 p.m.’ (Kellys Directory 1896, p.225). No doubt these improvements assisted CMY in communicating with her publisher.

Otterbourne Post Office (courtesy of Celia Lowthion)

In recognition of the bicentenary of her birth the Charlotte Mary Yonge Fellowship, in collaboration with the Local History Section of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society, are planning a commemorative event. This is scheduled for Saturday 24 June 2023 and will take the form of an outing, with talks and visits, to Otterbourne in the morning and Hursley in the afternoon.

The use of the word ‘rediscovered’ in the title of this blog is justified because CMY has attracted the attention of a number of today’s academics, including Dr Clare Walker Gore of Trinity College Cambridge, and Professor William Whyte of St John’s College Oxford. Moreover, the CMY Fellowship is a lively literary society with an international membership. Although CMY’s novels are of their era and reflect sensitivities which for most of us have been superseded, they do offer insights into a Victorian outlook on life that is worthy of respect and understanding.

B is for Battenberg: that Battenberg cake, where did it come from?

Here we have the second instalment to the Special Collections A-Z series. This one’s all about cake; specifically Battenberg cake so it’s making an appearance this week for B.

Many people ask us what is the origin of the Battenberg cake, and is it connected with Lord Mountbatten’s family?  Mountbatten’s father was Prince Louis of Battenberg, but he was forced to change his surname to Mountbatten during the First World War, when anti-German feeling was very strong.  He then took the title of Marquis of Milford Haven, which was inherited by Mountbatten’s older brother, born Prince George of Battenberg.

Photo of Battenberg family in 1902, showing the future lord Mountbatten on his mother’s lap.  On his left are his sisters, Alice, later the mother of Prince Philip, and Louise, the future Queen of Sweden  MS62/MB/3/52

One theory is that the cake was invented to celebrate the wedding of Mountbatten’s parents in 1884, but there appears to be no evidence for this. 

Photo of Princess Victoria of Hesse and Prince Louis of Battenberg two years before their marriage [MS62/MB/3/86]
Photo of Princess Victoria of Hesse on her wedding day, 1885  [MS62/MB/3/86]

Another theory is that the four squares represent the four Battenberg brothers: Prince Louis, Prince Alexander (briefly king of Bulgaria before abdicating), Prince Henry who married Princess Beatrice (Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter) and Prince Franz Joseph, but this can not be true as the original cake consisted of 9 panels.  This idea seems to quite recent, and was repeated on The Great British Bake-off.

Photo of the three brothers of Prince Louis: Alexander, Henry and Francis Joseph MB3/86

Also there appears to be no connection with the Prussian village of Battenberg from which the family took their name. 

Print of Battenberg  [MS62/MB/3/66]

One theory can be dismissed easily: that it was invented by Hitler’s mother or grandmother!  Apparently one can fit a swastika into the design.

The most accepted explanation is that the cake was invented by a 19th century pastry cook, Frederick Vine, in 1898, much later than the Battenberg marriage.  Vine published the recipe in his book Saleable Shop Goods, in which his cake had nine sections, alternately red and white and encased in almond paste.  Vine had previously published (in 1890) a simpler recipe, also called Battenburg cake, which was a fruit cake with no coloured panes.  Also in the 1890s several similar cakes with multiple panes were being made with different names including the Neapolitan Roll published by Robert Wells, which only had four panes like the modern cake, and the Gateau à la Domino which was probably invented by Mrs Agnes Marshall, the editor of The Table magazine.  A Dundee baker, John Scrymgeour advertised his Battenberg cake in the Dundee Courier in 1885, using fresh fruit for flavour and colour, while Thomas Sims advertised his cake in the Gloucester Echo in 1887 using lemons at a cost of 6d each.

The name may have been added as a marketing ploy, to connect it with royalty, though it was often spelt incorrectly as Battenburg.  It may well have been in existence for many years previously, known as the Church Window Cake.  The simpler four panel version we know today was probably begun to facilitate mass production in the 1920s by the Lyons company and others.

Crush four ounces of almonds with one egg and two table-spoonfuls of rum; then put twelve ounces of sugar with twelve yolks of eggs into a pan. Beat this until it is frothy, then add the crushed almonds, two ounces of currants, blanched and cleaned, and two ounces of mixed peel that has been passed through hot water.
Add slowly eight ounces of flour rubbed through a sieve. Mix slowly, putting in the ten whites of eggs whipped firm. Finish with six ounces of good melted butter. Cook in a plum-cake mould, buttered. Turn it out of mould to cool. Soak it in kummel, brush over with apricot jelly, and ice with fondant or syrup of kummel. Sprinkle the sides and top with chopped pistachios. Probable cost, 3s. 6d.

Recipe from Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery

The modern recipe does not contain dried fruit.  Fortnum and Mason’s have been serving up their version of the cake as part of their afternoon tea since the 1920s.

There was another Battenberg wedding in the 1880s, that of Prince Henry to Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria in 1885.  Their wedding cake was a very elaborate affair, bearing no resemblance to any version of the Battenberg cake as we know it.

[Credit: Gary Perkin iStock]

Today, the chequer pattern on emergency vehicles is officially called the Battenberg pattern, and is in use in many countries including, Australia and Iceland.

We’d like to credit food historian Ivan Day who has conducted much of the research on this topic.

Join us next week in our A-Z journey when we move onto to C for Charlotte Mary Yonge, the nineteenth-century novelist.

A for Aviation: Those magnificent men in their flying machines: The Battenberg family and early aviation

Welcome to a new series of blogs as we consider the Special Collections from A to Z. And we begin with a look at aviation.

Lord Mountbatten’s father, Prince Louis of Battenberg, was keenly interested in the early days of aviation.  In 1911 he was a senior admiral and Commander in Chief of the Nore fleet, based at Sheerness. On 31 July 1911 he took his family to the airfield at Eastchurch, on the Isle of Sheppey, later to become the site of the Naval Flying School. Both his daughter, Louise and 11 year old son, Prince Louis Francis (later to become Lord Mountbatten) took turns to fly as passengers as well as their parents. Miss Nona Kerr, later Mrs Richard Crichton, the lady in waiting of Prince Louis’s wife, Princess Victoria, was also taken up. She seems to have been a woman of spirit, as the following year she travelled to Greece to help Princess Alice, Mountbatten’s eldest sister and Prince Philip’s mother. Together they helped set up and run hospitals to deal with the casualties of the Balkan War of 1912 between Greece and Turkey – details of which can be found in photo album MS62/MB2/C8). There was very little room for a passenger on these early biplanes, so it involved sitting astride the petrol tank on a little stool behind the pilot!  Louise, later Queen of Sweden, recorded the occasion on her box camera, and these images are preserved in the Mountbatten archive. 

Short S27 biplane on the ground at Eastchurch [MS62/MB/2/B4/24]

This is presumably the plane that the family flew in, designed by Horace Short of Short Brothers, whose factory was situated adjacent to the Eastchurch airfield. It is of the “box kite” type, an equal span “pusher” biplane, i.e. the propeller was positioned behind the wings, as opposed to a “tractor” plane where the prop was in front. It was steered by a single rudder under the tail plane. Powered by a 60 h. p. Gnome rotary engine, it could reach speeds of 42 mph, which sounds very slow by modern standards, but must have been at the cutting edge in 1911. The aircraft was a wooden structure covered in canvas, painted with a waterproofing substance.

Short S27 in flight at Eastchurch [MS 62MB/2/B4/25]

The first S27 was owned by the pioneer aviator, Cecil Grace, who set a new British altitude record in June 1910, by flying up to 1,180 feet. Grace was sadly lost over the English Channel in the following December, also flying an S27, one of the earliest casualties of aviation along with Charles Rolls (of Rolls Royce fame) who was killed during an air display at Bournemouth in July 1910. A memorial stained glass window in All Saints Church, Eastchurch is dedicated to both men, displaying two female figures representing Hope and Fortitude.  In the village of Eastchurch there is now a memorial to all the early aviators, unveiled in 1955.  It is in the form of a wall with allegorical sculptures and a frieze of early aircraft, dedicated to the memory of the birthplace of British aviation. It is inscribed with the names of the pilots, including Charles Samson and Arthur Longmore,  and engineers such as the Short Brothers. Nearby stands the Eastchurch Aviation Museum, containing a collection of photographs and artefacts, while the sheds used by the Short Brothers survive as listed buildings. 

Lieutenant Charles Samson [MS62/MB/2/B4/119]

Samson was one of the pilots who took members of the Battenberg family up for a flight. Along with Lieutenant Arthur Longmore and two other naval and Royal Marine pilots, he began flight training on 1 March 1911, completing the course in six weeks. Samson was the first pilot to take off from a ship, the battleship HMS Africa, using a modified Short S27 and a platform on the deck. He also carried out the first seaplane experiments and pioneered cross country flying at night. When the Naval Flying School was established later in 1911, Samson was its first commanding officer. He eventually rose to the rank of Air Commodore. His colleague, Lieutenant Arthur Longworth, took up Princess Louise Battenberg and the young Mountbatten.  He later became an Air Chief Marshall.  Samson is pictured with his spaniel, who was the mother of a puppy given to Princess Louise, which she called Aera appropriately.

The Battenberg ladies were not the first women to be taken up as passengers from Eastchurch. In May 1911 Mrs Assheton Harbord was a passenger with Lieut. Longmore. She was a keen balloonist and a very intrepid lady. Longmore’s mother was annoyed that she had not been the first woman, so her son took her up the next day. Apparently she didn’t enjoy it very much and complained it was too draughty.  There was no protection from the weather for the pilot on these early planes, but Horace Short later devised a windscreen after altering the control position.

This was not the first experience of flying for the Battenberg children. In 1909, the family was staying in Hesse, Germany where Prince Louis owned a country house (Heiligenberg) and where his brother-in-law, Ernest, was the Grand Duke. Mountbatten’s “Uncle Ernie” arranged for a Parsifal airship to visit his country estate.  Louise was about to take flight in the airship when the pilot realised that more ballast was needed. Grand Duke Ernest picked up young Mountbatten, then aged about 9, stating he would do instead of sandbags, and put him in the airship’s gondola.

Also in 1909, Prince Louis had witnessed the completion of the historic first flight across the English Channel by the French pioneer aviator Louis Blériot. He wrote “I think we had him under observation for seven or eight minutes.” He goes on to describe the landing when the pilot ran the nose of the plane into a grass bank to avoid some mushroom pickers. The plane was damaged but Blériot was unhurt.

Lieutenant Samson corresponded with Prince Louis in 1911 about what was being done at Eastchurch.

“I am very pleased to report that on Wednesday Lieut. Gerrard did a very fine flight carrying as passenger Lieut. Wildman-Lushington RMA. He flew on a course between Massel Mann at Leysdown and HMS Actaeon. He stayed up for 4 hours 13 minutes when he had to descend owing to darkness. … On Saturday I went up on the other biplane … to try to beat this. I started at 4.51 am with Lieut. Hardy RN as passenger, this officer very sportingly came out from Sheerness at 3 a.m. My motor could not develop full power … I decided that it was not safe to risk my passenger’s life any longer. So I landed, filled up with petrol and went by myself to see how long I could stay up….I stayed up for 4 hours 58 minutes beating the previous British duration record.  At the end of the flight 1/16th of an inch of petrol was left so that I could only have kept up for another 2 minutes. This beats the previous English record by 11 1/2 minutes.  So these two flights prove that for naval work long flights can easily be done by pilots who are in good practice. A monoplane of Blériot type arrived in August.”

[MS 62 MB1/T9/43  Letter to Prince Louis of Battenberg 20 August 1911]

A subsequent letter of 1 September from Samson lists things to be done soon:

“Yesterday I went to the Admiralty and saw Sir Arthur Wilson and Admiral Briggs. They were both very kind and seemed very keen about aeronautics. We are going to be kept on here.  If the Treasury are willing, the following things are going to be done as a start.

  1. Mr McLean’s two machines [the Short biplanes] are to be bought by the Admiralty…. No.2 biplane was put at £600 and No. 3 biplane at £550.  I consider they are very cheap at this price.
  2. They are going to build 2 sheds at Eastchurch [for use as hangars]
  3. They will stand the cost and damage I and the others will entail practising on Mr McLean’s monoplane.  I have already last week had a try on that and rather badly damaged it landing.
  4. They are going to send an Engineer Officer and some Artificers down here for instruction.
  5. They are going to buy a monoplane from Short Bros.
  6. They want to get out of acceptance of the Valkyrie monoplanes presented by Mr Barber so it was decided that Mr Barber should be requested to give a demonstration on the 2 actual machines he has given.  Admiral Briggs was very keen that Mr Barber should fly them down to Eastchurch.  I doubt very much if Mr Barber will be glad to do that or could do it.
  7. Sir Arthur Wilson seemed to think that experiments should be made to land on a ship.  I consider that a Biplane should be used for the first experiments.
  8. Meanwhile they wanted us to  …  make flights up the Thames to Tilbury and Gravesend, noting all we saw.
  9. Nothing was said about us coming under the control of the Airship officers and I hope that it will not come about, as they are two absolutely different things.

From what Sir Arthur Wilson said, we all four [the first four naval pilots] feel very grateful for what you have done for us”.

[MS 62 MB1/T9/43]

 In January 1912 Rear Admiral Sir Charles Ottley wrote to Prince Louis, who by then was First Sea Lord, asking his opinion about what use the navy should make of aviation. He mentions Lieutenant Samson’s experiments in landing on a ship and in water, lists the many uses that aircraft could make, and asks whether they should be under the command of the navy or the army. In 1911, Churchill had written that pilots should be part of a new force, separate from the army. “Terms and conditions must be devised to make aviation for war purposes the most honourable, as it is the most dangerous profession a young Englishman can adopt” Prince Louis replied “I cordially agree with these points.”

There was considerable discussion about the use and development of naval airships, especially in the light of the German success with Zeppelins. On the whole, the development of heavier than air machines was favoured, influenced by the failure of the first attempt to build a sizeable airship, the Mayfly, which ended in disaster when it broke up on take off due to high winds.

Aerial view of Darmstadt [MS62/MB/2/B4/191]

On 12 September 1913, Princess Louise took a photograph of Darmstadt from a Zeppelin, during a commercial flight that she made with her family from Frankfurt to Darmstadt. It shows the castle, the headquarters of her uncle, Grand Duke Ernest of Hesse.

The interior of the Zeppelin, with Princess Louise, her elder sister, Princess Alice of Greece (later Prince Philip’s mother) and their uncle, the Grand Duke [MS62/MB2/B4/188]

The family’s love affair with aviation was clouded by the tragic crash of a Sabena Airline Junkers aircraft carrying Grand Duke Ernest’s son to a family wedding in London. On 16 November 1937 the aircraft hit a brick chimney at Ostend in fog, and there were no survivors. The Grand Duke had died the previous month, and his wife, son, George and daughter in law (Mountbatten’s niece Cecile) and two of their children were all killed.

However, Mountbatten’s interest in aircraft continued throughout his life. During the 1970s, he supported a project at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovil, Somerset, to build a replica of the Short 27 biplane that he had flown in back in 1911. This is still on display.

Mountbatten in flying kit after landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle after a flight in one of the ship’s aircraft, September 1964, presumably not piloted by himself.[MS62/MB/13/1/11/9]

I can find no record of Mountbatten ever having piloted himself, though this may be just as well, as he was notoriously a bad car driver (always too fast) and also drove the ships that he commanded at reckless speed. Philip Ziegler states in his biography of Mountbatten that if it was possible for a warship to leave skid marks, all the seas that HMS Kelly had sailed would have been disfigured.