Celebrating new collections: Southampton University Officers Training Corps

The Special Collections has just acquired a small collection of material relating to the Southampton University Officers Training Corps providing additional information on the formation and workings of this Corps in the 1930s to 1951.

Southampton University Officers Training Corps archive material [MS416/26 A4348]

The Southampton University Training Corps traces its origins to November 1902 when around 20 students, mainly from the Education Department of Hartley University College, formed a Company for the Second (Volunteer) Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. Foot drills were performed at the College Assembly Hall on a Saturday night after the Choral Society meetings and weapons training was held at the Drill Hall in Carlton Place.

In 1908 the Volunteers became part of the Territorial Force and joined the Fifth Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. By 1912 the Company was formed of approximately 100 men and was considered to be one of the best in the battalion.  It was the county champion in the first Battalion Annual Sports meeting of 1912.

At the outbreak of the First World War members of the Company were immediately commissioned.  Those who remained in the Company were sent to India as part of the Hampshire Regiment.

The Fifth and Seventh Battalions were merged in 1922 and, in 1929, a College Platoon of the Hampshire Regiment was formed.  This latter was to form the nucleus of the University College Southampton Senior Division Officers’ Training Corps that was established in 1937. With this new Corps the long association with the Hampshire Regiment ended and it became the responsibility of the Rifle Depot at Winchester.

Memorandum on the proposed OTC, 1937 [MS416/26 A4348]

The new archive contains the memorandum on the proposed OTC by J.W.Ackroyd, University College, Southampton, 27 January 1937, in which he sets out the main items of expenditure required to support a Corps of 30 cadets, including for grants, certificates, uniforms at £3 each, office expenses, a miniature rifle range, drill hall, office, armoury and clothing store.

The War Office accepted the proposal and in their letter to the Registrar of University College, Southampton of 13 May 1937 replied that “I am commanded by the Army Council to acknowledge your letter No 916 of 20th April, 1937, and to inform you that they gratefully accept the offer of the authorities of the University College, Southampton, to furnish an infantry continent of the senior division, Officers Training Corps, and that an announcement to this effect will be made in Army Orders in due course.”

The OTC had over seventy cadets by 1939, but at the declaration of war that year all Officers Training Corps at Universities were abolished and replaced by Senior Training Corps.

Senior Training Corps, 1942 [MS1/7/291/22/3]

Wartime undergraduates had to spend a considerable time in military training with compulsory parades at lunchtime and once per week. All cadets from the STC also were automatically enrolled into the Home Guard.  Many hundreds of cadets served in the Corps between 1940 and 1944 and were commissioned into all branches of the armed forces. In 1944, the Ministry of Labour excused students from compulsory military training at University, with recruitment for the Senior Training Corps reverting to the voluntary system.  This led to a drop in numbers, but the Southampton Corps continued although contingents in London, Exeter and Reading all closed. The University Training Corps replaced the Senior Training Corps in 1948. This change meant that for the first time cadets were enlisted in the Territorial Army, received pay for parades and were clothed and equipped at public expense.

However, this new status did not halt the dwindling strength of the Corps and in April 1951 it was placed in suspended animation. It was re-established in 1979, at the request of the University Military Education Committee, with Carlton Place becoming its permanent accommodation.

The new archive material for the OTC covers the period 1936-51.  It is composed of a series of record books and parade rolls that provide details of the cadets, their training and service.  The record books, 1937-48, provide a detailed account of the training and drills undertaken by the recruits in the Corps.  Each cadet is listed by their name, with their date of birth, date of enrolment, number of years previously reported efficient – which applied to cadets who have joined the Senior Division at University from Junior Divisions at school – numbers of years attending camp, numbers of drills attended, their musketry level and certificates.  At the end under remarks there are notes relating to resignation, promotion or commission in military service. 

Extract of the first pages of the OTC record book 1939/40 [MS416/26 A4348]

The two first names in the 1939/40 record book, for instance, relate to cadets who were commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals.  Others in the same volume were commissioned in the Royal Marines, the RAF and the Wiltshire Regiment with quite a number also called for military service under the Military Service Act, which related to the conscription of men between the ages of 18 and 41 years in the armed forces.

The archive also contains a small quantity of correspondence and papers relating to the formation and history of the Corps. Of particular interest are papers from 1936-7 relating to discussions for the foundation of the Corps.

This archive provides a valuable addition to our holdings chronicling the history of the University. For more information on the development of the University why not look at our Highfield 100 blog series. And look out for future blogs detailing other new collections.

Spotlight on collections: the Hutchison House Club for Working Lads

In the latter half of the nineteenth century London’s East End saw an influx of East European Jews. The existing welfare institutions found themselves overwhelmed with demand. Consequently, several new organisations were established to keep young Jewish men out of mischief including the Brady Street Lads’ Club founded in Whitechapel in 1896 and the Hayes Industrial School set up in 1901 for Jewish young offenders.

Hutchison House Club report, 1932-3 [MS366/A4222/26]

This blog post will focus on one similar institution: the Hutchison House for Working Lads, known affectionately as ‘The Hutch’. Established in 1905, it became one of several local agencies committed to encouraging young people to combine loyalty to faith and citizenship.  

The temptations which beset boys living in a neighbourhood under the influence of gambling and street-lounging very often prove their undoing, and, but for the presence of the club among them, many would be spending their evenings in the midst of unhealthy surroundings.

[The Hutchison House Club for Working Lads, Fourth Annual Report, 1908]

In 1905 the Hutchison House Club for Working Lads was created by the Rothschild family in conjunction with Max Bonn (1877-1938), an American-born merchant banker and Frank Goldsmith MP. Based at Camperdown House, in Half Moon Passage it aimed to provide support and activities for primarily Jewish young men. It was also the Headquarters of the Jewish Lads’ and Girls’ Brigade. Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942) became the first president. At the club’s opening on 28 June 1905, he declared:

We hope to catch the youth of the immediate neighbourhood, and to help them to rise in the world, to help them out of the temptations which they find in the street, the music-halls and the public houses. We want to instil into the boys ambition, the pride of being Jews and the pride in being Englishmen. We want to teach them the qualities of endurance and sportsmanship.

Hutchison House Club membership card [MS366/A4222/18]

At its creation, the subscription was 4d a week for seniors and 2d a week for juniors. The boys moved to the seniors aged about 16 and a portion of the club was reserved for their exclusive use. By 19 years boys had to be re-elected to retain membership. Payment would be excused providing there was an adequate reason. Candidates for admission to the club must be aged between 13 and 16 and a half although, in special cases, the Management Committee could admit candidates regardless of age. Candidates had to supply details of their former school (at this time, working class boys usually left school before they turned 14), current employment and proof of age.

Sporting activities were a large focus of the club which was generally open every evening. Activities like gymnastics and boxing were seen to have a significant positive influence. Evening classes were offered as well as opportunities in life skills such as debates, French class, concerts and lectures and first aid. There was a library, educational rambles and other hobbies such as dominos, chess, draughts, billiards and bagatelle. Outside the premises the club also offered running, swimming, cricket, football and an annual camp.

Due to the “demoralising effect” of unemployment or unsuitable employment, a key aim of Hutchison House – as stated in their Fourth Annual report – was to find “satisfactory employment” for its members to shorten the gap between leaving full time education and finding work: “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.” They worked in partnership with the Jewish Board of Guardians Industrial Committee and the Lads’ Employment Committee.

Hutchison House Club rules [MS366/A4222/18]

Showers were provided free of charge which, according to the Annual Report from 1908, were “much appreciated and in constant use”. A savings bank facility was also offered. By 1908 they had a membership of around 300 making it one of the largest boys’ clubs in London.

In 1915 the Club’s premises were offered to the government for war work; in 1918 the newly-raised Jewish Battalion of the 38th Royal Fusiliers had a kosher meal here and was inspected in Great Alie Street by Lieutenant General Sir Francis Lloyd, as part of its famous march through Whitechapel. 

The archive material held at the University of Southampton (MS366 A4222) includes minute books of the finance and managing committee, 1905-10; of the education sub-committee and the managing committee, 1908-24; and of the general committee, 1905-12, together with notes of a meeting of the managing committee concerning a change in the rules, 25 Jul 1940. There are small series of correspondence, 1906-12; financial papers, 1906-51, and copies of annual reports, 1908-33.

Further papers of the Hutchison House Club for Working Lads will be found in the Rothschild Archive.

Directing the Steps of Strangers: Guidebooks in the Cope Collection

Choosing a holiday destination is not always easy, even when there is no pandemic. Comparing potential destinations, deciding where to stay and how to travel are questions faced by tourists of any period, and fortunately guidebooks exist to supply the answers. Older editions, often discarded when out of date, now provide a glimpse of holidays past and how they have changed over the years.

Where Shall We Go: a Guide to the Watering-Places and Health Resorts of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales (1892) Rare Books Cope 02

The Cope Collection contains many examples of guidebooks to Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, those that were published locally, local volumes in the long series produced by large commercial publishers and the more general regional guides. The earliest examples of guides that were specifically intended for visitors, date from the 18th century and were usually published by the local printer or bookseller. In the 19th and 20th centuries guidebook publishing expanded enormously, as the advent of the railways and the social and economic changes meant that many more people had the opportunity to travel. Publishers of foreign travel guides entered the domestic market, sending their correspondents around the country to report on the tourist destinations. Popular guidebook series could run for many years such as those produced by Black’s and the Ward Locke Red Guides, published from the 1880s to the 1970s. Railway and steam packet companies also published guides, keen to encourage more people to use their services.

The South Coast Guide: Brighton to Dartmouth (1923) Cope 02

Local booksellers and printers continued to be heavily involved in guidebook production and in the 20th century many local authorities published or commissioned guides. As they often relied on advertising to help offset the publication costs, their guides contain a wealth of local information beyond that of the official text of the guide. In comparison, the larger publishers tended to include a standard set of country-wide adverts in each of their volumes.

For the 18th century visitor to that ‘region of politeness and elegance’ that was the Southampton Spa, the guidebooks emphasise the improvements in health that a visit to the town could bring, especially through drinking and bathing in seawater. Other attractions were its pleasing situation, the purity of the air and the streets full of handsome buildings.

The Southampton Guide (1781) Rare Books Cope SOU 03.5 1781

Amusements included the coffee houses and circulating libraries, the theatre and assembly rooms, the rules for the Ball helpfully included. There was practical information too on ‘the going out and coming in’ of stagecoaches and the rates for hiring sedan chairs. On accommodation, the early guides had comparatively little to say – wealthy travellers of the time often came for lengthy periods and took lodgings in private houses or rented accommodation rather than staying in hotels or inns. Thomas Ford’s Southampton Guide of 1781 describes how ‘the inhabitants vie with each other in fitting up their houses in the neetest and genteelest Manner to accommodate the Company’.

From: The Southampton Guide (1787) Rare Books Cope SOU 03.5 1787

The many guidebooks to 19th-century Bournemouth (the evergreen valley of the south) chart how it began life as a winter health resort and despite the growth in summer tourism, tried hard to maintain its genteel reputation and avoid what were seen as the less desirable aspects of the pleasure resort. Newly developed in the 1840s, it had only one hotel to boast of in the guide of 1842 and attractions were limited to bathing and the marine library. The appendix on the Bournemouth’s climate was longer than the text of the guide itself.

View of Bournemouth from: The Visitor’s Guide to Bournemouth and its Neighbourhood (1842) Rare Books Cope BOU 03.5 1842

By the 1880s Bournemouth was a well-established health resort attracting refined, if ailing, visitors to an impressive range of sanatoria and a further ten ‘principal hotels’. The attractions on offer had also increased and visitors could enjoy promenading on the pier, visiting the pleasure gardens and taking an excursion by steamboat or charabanc. To distance Bournemouth from the pleasure resorts, one guide was keen to point out that detached villas were the form of development favoured in Bournemouth rather than the terraced housing seen elsewhere and another noted that the beach ‘was much less disturbed by the peripatetic minstrel or the importunate shore-pedlar’ seen at the ‘metropolitan watering places’.

Bright’s Illustrated Guide to Bournemouth (1886) Rare Books Cope BOU 03.5 1886

At the turn of the century the growing emphasis on holidays for pleasure brought a change in tone to many guidebooks, which were brought alive by the inclusion of photographs. Although a trip to the seaside was still expected to bring an improvement in health, this was to be gained as much by activity as by rest. Two guidebooks to Southsea published in 1911 and 1919 reflect this change with their lists of sporting facilities – bowling, tennis, croquet and golf and many photographs.

The West Beach, Southsea, from: Southsea and Portsmouth Guide (1911) Cope POR 03.5 1911

Guidebooks of the 1920s and 30s often included large numbers of adverts for hotels and guest houses, by then the preferred form of holiday accommodation, and these give an insight into the guests’ expectations. Offering sea views, proximity to attractions and good food would attract visitors in any age, whilst highlighting ‘electric light throughout’ and ‘separate tables’ in the dining room are definitely features of their time.

From: The South Coast Guide: Brighton to Dartmouth (1923) Cope 02

The guidebooks in the Cope Collection, although intended to have a useful life of perhaps a year or two, have acquired a value beyond their immediate purpose as a resource for the study of the history of travel and tourism in the local area.

Biodiversity and Revd. William Annesley

Biodiversity is emerging as a hot topic with much recent media focus on the scale of biodiversity loss and the urgency of wildlife conservation programmes. The Living Planet Index, which is maintained by the WWF and the Royal Zoological Society, has recorded dramatic declines for some species throughout the globe over recent decades and, closer to home, the State of Nature reports have shown us the challenges facing wildlife in Britain.

Many reasons have been given for the disappearance of wildlife from our lives: urban encroachment on natural landscapes; pesticide use; overfishing; climate change and the sheer scale and intensity of agriculture (according to some estimates more than half of all land in Britain is now dedicated to raising livestock and the production of crops).

Delving into the archives at the University of Southampton’s Special Collections, we find a manuscript volume containing a catalogue of plants growing wild near Andover, and other parts of the county of Hampshire. The catalogue was compiled by the Honorable and Revd William Annesley AM, who resided at Ramridge near Andover, where he died on 1st November, 1830. [MS5/27]

Annesley’s list appears to have been transcribed or edited later by someone named J. P. Jones, who added the following note: “This list was drawn up by the Honorable and Revd William Annesley AM […] Mr A. was a good botanist and accurate observer, and his habitats may be depended on. Where no particular locality is given, the habitat must be considered as being near Andover.”

The very first entry in Annesley’s catalogue is Adonis autumnalis, also known as ‘pheasant’s eye’ or ‘red chamomile’, which Annesley described as “not uncommon in cornfields and turnip fields at Weyhill & near Andover.” It is rather apt then, given today’s theme of biodiversity loss, that this beautiful plant is now classed as an endangered species on the UK Red List and has been marked as a UK BAP priority species.

Adonis autumnalis aka Pheasant’s eye or red chamomile, from James Sowerby’s ‘English Botany’ Vol. V, 1796 (Tab 308) [Rare Books Salisbury Coll. QK 306]

Moving through the list we find many other species described as ‘in abundance’ near Andover, particularly those belonging to the genus Ranunculus, better known as the buttercups, spearworts and water crowfoots, including Ranunculus parviflorus. According to the Plant Atlas this particular species appears to be stable within its core areas but had retreated into southwest England by the 1930s and is now rare and decreasing in Ireland.

Ranunculus flammula aka ‘Lesser spearwort’ from James Sowerby’s ‘English Botany’ Vol. VI, 1796 (Tab 387)
[Rare Books Salisbury Coll. QK 306]

Berberis vulgaris, also known as the common barberry, was found by Annesley “among other bushes or the wooded part of Perham Down near Andover in abundance & apparently quite wild.” The plant is described as less common than it once was and the Barberry Carpet moth, which is entirely dependent upon this plant species, is now threatened.

Anemone nemorosa or wood anemone was, rather appropriately, recorded at woods near Andover. This plant is still common in Britain and as it spreads at a very slow pace (around six foot per century) it is a good indicator of the age of ancient woodland.

Anemone nemorosa aka ‘Wood anemone’ from James Sowerby’s ‘English Botany’ Vol. V, 1796 (Tab 355)
[Rare Books Salisbury Coll. QK 306]

Annesley’s catalogue continues for some twenty pages and lists more than four hundred plant species. A full analysis of the volume, rather than the snippets included here, would give a more comprehensive picture of the two-hundred year trend in biodiversity at Andover; but given the examples highlighted and what we already know about the challenges for wildlife elsewhere in Britain, a story of decline would not be surprising.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Thanks to various conservation efforts and a growing awareness of nature under threat, Andover is nowadays home to a few local nature reserves as well as the Broughton Down Nature Reserve, managed by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, which is eight miles away (as the crow flies):

“This 25 hectare chalk downland nature reserve offers spectacular views across the Test Valley to Danebury Hill Fort and Stockbridge Down. The springy, flower rich turf attracts a plethora of butterflies, including the chalkhill and adonis blues, dark green fritillaries and rare silver spotted skippers – look closely and you may even spot a bloody-nosed beetle. Broughton Down is a botanist’s paradise, with horseshoe vetch, wild thyme and common rock roses growing in abundance, as well as fragrant, pyramidal and frog orchids. The woodland is home to tawny owls, great spotted woodpeckers, kestrels and buzzards.”

If you’re interested in learning more about wildlife conservation or volunteering there are a number of opportunities available, searchable by your postcode, with the Wildlife Trusts.

Bevois Mount House

In the 18th and 19th centuries, a number of large houses were built around the edge of Southampton for wealthy owners, encouraged by the short-lived popularity of the town as a spa.  As the 19th and early 20th century progressed, their estates were gradually sold off for housing as Southampton continued to grow.  Some of the houses were re-purposed as schools or hostels, while some became increasingly dilapidated and were eventually demolished.

One of these houses was Bevois Mount House in Lodge Road.  The surrounding land was acquired in 1723 by Sir Charles Mordaunt, the third Earl of Peterborough, who improved and enlarged the existing farmhouse.  He had been among those who had invited William of Orange to invade England and take the throne from James II in 1688.  He became a Privy Councillor in 1689, but fell out of favour in 1697 and was imprisoned in the Tower of London for a few weeks, accused of conspiracy.  After the accession of Queen Anne, he returned to favour and led an expedition to Spain in 1705 during the War of the Spanish Succession, where he captured Barcelona.

The grounds of the house contained an artificial mound, formerly part of Padwell Farm, which according to local legend had been built by the legendary knight Sir Bevois to defend Southampton against the Danes, or alternatively it had formed his tomb.  When he came to name his new house, Lord Peterborough was taken by this romantic tale.  Among his many friends was Alexander Pope, the poet, who visited Southampton several times and helped lay out the extensive gardens.  One of his favourite paths became known as Pope’s Walk and he described the place as “beautiful beyond imagination”.  The Earl loved to show off his grounds and the fine view, but preferred to do this at high tide when the mud in the River Itchen was concealed!

Engraving of Bevois Mount House, late 18th or early 19th century  [Cope SOU 91.5 BEV  pr 942] 

Other guests included Jonathan Swift and Voltaire.  It is said that the Earl chased Voltaire out of the house with a drawn sword due to a dispute over money, but it is possible that this incident took place in London.  Swift described Peterborough as “the ramblingest lying rogue on earth”, while the historian and politician Macaulay called him “the most extraordinary character of that age”.

After Lord Peterborough’s death in 1735, his second wife, the opera singer Anastasia Robinson continued to live in Bevois Mount House until her death in 1755.  The house then passed through several owners including the Earl’s nephew, Sir John Maudaunt, who had commanded a brigade at the Battle of Culloden but was court martialled for the failure of an expedition he led against Rochefort.  After his death, the estate was purchased by the poet William Sotheby.  An account of 1753 describes the gardens in great detail, including “divers circular walks and labyrinths, so very intricate that it is hardly possible to avoid getting lost in them.”  There was “a bowling green or parterre adorned with fine Italian marble statues”, also a small vineyard, grottoes, alcoves and a summer house over a wine cellar.  The Sporting Magazine of 1804 contains a fulsome description of the house and its contents, beginning “The approach to this earthly paradise is a noble lofty gateway, once adorned with beautiful marble figures”.  Inside, there were further classical statues, a Roman altar, and a “well-stocked” orangery.

Estate in 1844 [Hants Field Club Proceedings Vol 5 p.109 Cope q06]

In 1844 William Betts bought the estate, then amounting to 103 acres.  He made extensive additions to the house and further adorned the gardens with lakes, fountains, arbours and greenhouses.  He also constructed the impressive stone gateway known as Stag Gates at the Avenue entrance.  This bore the legend “Ostendo non ostento” meaning “I display but boast not”, being Betts personal motto.  The gateway was presented to Southampton Corporation by William Burrough Hill in 1919 but was demolished not long afterwards to make room for a double tramway.  The donor was upset by what he regarded as an act of vandalism, so he removed the stags to a place of safety.  No-one knows for certain what became of them, but a piece of curved stone discovered in a garden in 1963 may have been part of one.  Some of the masonry from the pillars was reused in East Park for the bases of flower stands, and in path construction.  For many years the memory of the gates was preserved by the town in the name of the bus stop on the Avenue.  The gates are remembered in a recent mural at the junction of Cambridge and Alma Roads, completed in 2016.


Stag Gates watercolour by Peter Cook [Cope: Peter Cook postcards Box 3]

Betts had financial problems in the mid 1850s and was forced to sell the house and gardens to John Wolff who was a shipping agent and consul for several South American countries. Wolff was a patron of the arts, and bought many pictures from F. L. Bridell, a local artist. The rest of the estate was sold to speculative builders who were responsible for constructing Lodge Road and other nearby streets.  The memory of the house was preserved in the names Earls Road, Peterborough Road and Mordaunt Road.  Lodge Road was so named after the lodge that Betts built near the Avenue entrance to his estate close to the Stag Gates.

Plan of new streets [Hants Field Club Proceedings Vol 5 p.109 Cope 06]

In 1871 the house became a school for “young ladies” owned by Mr and Mrs Barns. By then the conservatory and the west wing, consisting of 13 rooms, had been removed, and the long decline began. Mrs Barns leased the house and its grounds to the University College in 1900, for use as a hostel for female students.

Lease of Bevois Mount House Lodge from Mrs Eleanor Barns to Sir F. Perkins J.P. and others, 1900 [MS1/ 2/3/3]

The lease lists the greenhouse, coach house, stable and garden as well as the main house.  In addition to keeping the buildings in good repair, the College must not cut down any of the trees in the grounds without written consent.  The Peter Cook postcard collection contains five different views of the house from this time, including the following:

Front view of Bevois Mount House [Peter Cook postcards PC1923a]
Rear view of Bevois Mount House with garden [Peter Cook postcards PC1926]
Interior (dining room) of Bevois Mount House [Peter Cook postcards PC1924]

At the end of each summer term, a garden party was given in the grounds of the hostel.  Women students were only allowed to attend evening functions if chaperoned by Miss Aubrey, the Supervisor of Women, or one of the female superintendents of the hostels.  Miss Aubrey was a former student and one of the University College’s first graduates and a lecturer in English.  Permission had to be obtained before arranging excursions or accepting any evening invitation.  They could not be out after 6 p.m. in winter or 8.30 p.m. in summer without permission.  Women students were forbidden to talk to men students outside the College precincts except at college functions, but this rule was widely disregarded.

In 1904 the thirty or so women students at Bevois Mount were wearing sailor hats trimmed with a red band, while their male counterparts wore maroon college caps with gold edging and a badge.  There was another women’s hostel for College students at Windsor House, but this was closed around 1911 and the remaining students were moved to Bevois Mount.  That hostel finally closed at the end of the 1911-12 session as the result of the College’s financial problems.  The number of residential women students had dropped by then, and students had to find approved lodgings instead.

After the outbreak of the First World War, the house was used to house German officer prisoners of war.  It is said that passengers on the top deck of the trams could see the inmates taking the air in the garden, and the barred windows.  After the war, St George’s School used it briefly, but by 1922 It was occupied by Borough Motors, who ran their garage business from the back garden.

Borough Motor Works [Peter Cook postcards PC1928]

By this time the house had gone a long way down in the world and was in a poor state of repair. It suffered the same fate of several other large houses dating from the 18th and 19th centuries and was finally demolished in about 1940.  A sad end to a colourful history.

The nature of the mound on the highest part of the hill which gave the house its name is unclear, and various suggestions have been made.  For centuries it was linked with the legendary Sir Bevois of Hampton, and was believed by some to be his tomb.  It is said that a large skeleton was found when a summer house was constructed in the mid 18th century, possible evidence for the mound being a burial barrow.  It could also have been a motte, part of a Norman castle, and perhaps this is the most likely explanation.  It has been suggested that it could have been constructed during the period of anarchy in the 12th century during the civil war between Stephen and Matilda.  The mound must have been quite large, as the description of 1753 details walks and labyrinths cut into it.  It is alleged that Roman coins were found, suggesting the possibility of a small Roman fort or watch station overlooking the Itchen.  However, the top of the hill was destroyed by quarrying in the late 19th century, so it is likely that the true nature of the mound will remain a mystery.

Cecil Roth

In this week’s blog post, we focus on our papers of Cecil Roth (MS 156), who was a Jewish historian and author.

Front cover of Opportunities that Pass: An Historical Miscellany by editors Israel Finestein and Joseph Roth, showing Cecil Roth

Born on 5 March 1899 in Dalston, London, Cecil Roth was the youngest of the four sons of a manufacturer of builders’ supplies, Joseph Roth, and his wife, Etty. Roth was educated at the City of London school, completed active service in France in 1918, and read history at Merton College, Oxford, gaining a first class degree in modern history in 1922. He went on to complete a DPhil in 1924, and his thesis, The Last Florentine Republic, was published in 1925.

Roth married Irene Rosalind in 1928 who was the daughter of property developer, David Davis.

Since his childhood, Roth had a deep interest in Jewish studies, which grew from having a traditional religious education and learning Hebrew. Roth funded himself by freelance writing until he was granted a readership specially created in post-biblical Jewish Studies at the University of Oxford in 1939. Here, he was also a mentor and host to Jewish students.

Roth also later became Visiting Lecturer in History at Jews’ College, London, and President of the Jewish Historical Society of England.

Letter from Rev. M. Adler to Cecil Roth praising his actions at Jewish Historical Society of England meeting, 12 June 1934 [MS156/AJ151/1/A/1/3]

In 1964 Roth retired from Oxford and relocated to Israel, dividing his last years between Jerusalem and New York, where he was visiting professor at Queens’ College in City University and Stern College.

Letter from Maurice Edelman, President of the Anglo-Jewish Association, wishing Roth and his wife bon voyage on their departure to Israel, 23 July 1964 [MS156/AJ151/1/A/1/10]

Roth wrote many important publications on Jewish history, including History of the Jews in England (1941), History of the Jews in Italy (1946), The Short History of the Jewish People (1936) and The Jewish Contribution to Civilisation (1938).

Letter from Lieut. Thomas G. Baroth to Roth expressing his thoughts on Roth’s book A Short History of the Jewish People, 6 January 1956 [MS156/AJ151/1/A/1/43]

Roth had a deep passion for history, and produced works of exact scholarship, in particular bibliographical works and studies of painting. He applied his skills as a historian to the Dead Sea scrolls, and always had a curiosity in art, particularly in Jewish integration.

Roth was also a keen collector, particularly of illuminated marriage contracts, silver ritual objects, rare books, and manuscripts:

“Dear Doctor, I am again in England and would like very much to visit you in Oxford, which I never did. I remember how thrilled I was with your beautiful collection of Jewish religious objects you were good enough to show to me a few years ago when I was in England.”

Sholem Asch to Cecil Roth, 22 June 1951 [MS156/AJ151/1/A/1/14]

One of Roth’s biggest achievements was the editorship of the Encyclopaedia Judaica from 1965. In the year of his death in 1970, the sixteen volumes appeared. He played a major part in the organisation of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, planning allocation of word limits, editing contributions, and writing much of the content himself. As a writer and lecturer, Roth was in great demand for lecture tours in Europe, America and Africa.

Letter from W.F. Albright of John Hopkins University, Maryland, to Cecil Roth, sending his congratulations on Roth’s editorship of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, 23 September 1965 [MS156/AJ151/1/A/1/4]

Roth’s writings enabled the Jewish factor in European economic and political history to be acknowledged by the academic world.

In 1969, Roth was made commander of the order of merit for services to Italian culture by the Italian government. Roth died on 21 June 1970, survived bv his wife.

About the collection

The main part of the Cecil Roth archive (which consists of 7 boxes) was catalogued by the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts in the 1970s and presented to Mrs Roth in 1978.

It describes this collection as comprising of correspondence, genealogical and biographical notes, lecture notes, press cuttings, texts of lectures and articles, draft plan for a Modern Jewish History, book review, offprints and miscellanea.

There was a subsequent donation (A1080) of 4 boxes added in the 1990s, which contains a similar range of material to that in the main sequence.

The correspondence was divided into three alphabetical sequences:

  •  AJ151/1/A contains 549 letters to and from Roth, 1920s-60s
  •  AJ151/1/B 25 letters of third parties, mainly 1920s-70
  •  AJ151/ADD/1 199 letters, 1962-9, again mainly addressed to Roth, filling in gaps for sequence A, replicating the pattern and subject matter.

The sequences are composed of many single letters interspersed with small groups of correspondence with individuals. These include Charles Singer, Philip Guedella, Norman Bentwich, Arthur Franklin, and Herbert Louis Samuel, first Lord Samuel. There is correspondence with organisations, usually single letters, such as the Anglo-Jewish Association, various archives (Archivo General de la Nacion (Spain), American Jewish Archives, Corporation of London Archives), Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Hutchinson Publishing Group, and the Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece. The material is predominately in English, although there is material in Hebrew, Spanish, French and German. The focus is predominately Roth’s research, publications, talks and reflects his research interests in Jewish history and genealogy. There are some personal communications within these series, but these are very much in the minority.

Examples of the documents contained in the collection are displayed below.

Criticism on Roth’s published work

MS 156 AJ151/1/A/1/26-9 Correspondence of W.G.W.Barnard “Fishers of Men” relates to Roth’s book The Nephew of the Almighty

16 January 1934: “To my great regret I discovered that your appeal to strangers to trust in your veracity was far from being justified.”

Letter from W.G.W. Barnard to Cecil Roth expressing his criticism of Roth’s book The Nephew of the Almighty, 16 January 1934 [MS156/AJ151/1/A/1/26]

Discussions about research or publications

Richard Barnett, British Museum to Cecil Roth regarding potential items for research, of which the information could be disseminated to the Jewish Historical Society.

Richard Barnett, British Museum, to Cecil Roth regarding potential items for research, 25 November 1954 [MS156/AJ151/1/A/1/31]

Personal material

1/A/1/5 S. Alexander, Manchester, to Roth, 30 December 1924:

“… I heard from my brother that you had lost your father. I know what this means to you and what a breaking up of thoughts and feelings. From what little I had seen of him, I rated him highly and I am heartily sorry for you and your brother and mother. It will take a little time before you can adjust yourself to a changing world and I can only hope that the process will not be too painful, and I do not attempt to offer you consolation….”

Letter from S. Alexander to Roth, regarding the death of Roth’s father, 30 December 1924 [MS/AJ151/1/A/1/5]

Research material

The collection includes notes and working papers, including notes on Jews of and at Oxford, notes on statesmen of 16th century Turkey and the social history of the Jews in Europe, copies or transcripts of documents, photographs and other papers; genealogies of the Mendes Dacosta, Jurnet and Salaman families, the Liebman, Woolf and Solomon of Penzance and the Jacobs families.

Typed draft of article on the existence of manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible in the early centuries of the Christian era, with annotations by Roth [MS156/AJ151/6/3]

Lectures by Roth on Jewish history from the early medieval period to the 19th century also feature, as well as reviews and articles, newspaper cuttings and offprints.

Other material includes the text of a radio play by Cecil Roth “The King and the Cabbalist”, with manuscript annotations. The play, which was produced by Christopher Sykes, was transmitted as part of the BBC Third Programme on Monday 23 November 1953. The narrator was played by Francis de Wolff, the reader by Derek Hart, the Diarist (Hirsch) by Norman Shelley and Horace Walpole by David King-Wood. In addition, there is also a copy of A Bird’s-Eye View of Jewish History (Cincinnati, 1935) with manuscript annotations. This was done to amend it as the basis of a correspondence course in Jewish history, c.1947.

Collection at the University of Leeds

In 1961 arrangements were made between the University of Leeds and Dr Cecil Roth for the acquisition of his printed books and manuscripts. This purchase was facilitated by a generous anonymous benefactor. The material included modern business papers and letters, of which a large amount related to a small group concerned with the condition of the Jewish community in Salonika, their desecrated cemetery, and Greek Jewry at the end of the Second World War.

Look out for next week’s blog post, which will be taking a look at Bevois Mount House.

Letters from “your most affectionate father”: celebrating Father’s Day through the Broadlands Archives

Father’s Day, celebrated in the United Kingdom on the third Sunday of June, is a day of honoring fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society. Unlike Mothering Sunday, which most historians believe evolved from a medieval practice of visiting one’s mother church during Lent, Father’s Day does not have a long tradition.

This year, to celebrate Father’s Day, we delve into the extensive resource that is the Broadlands Archives; this collection contains dozens of letters between Henry Temple, the second Viscount Palmerston, and his four children. Henry’s first child (also called Henry) was born in 1784. As Father’s Day is a twentieth century phenomenon, the Temple family would not have celebrated it. Despite the letters being over 200 years old, many themes are remarkably similar to modern day life and provide a wonderful vignette of Georgian family life.

Broadlands printed by Ackermann [Cope Collection]
Broadlands near Romsey, the country residence of the Temple family, Viscounts Palmerston. [London, Ackermann, 18- ] Aquatint 11.4 x 18.1 cm. Plate 14, vol. 6 of Repository of Arts, 1809-1818. [Cope Collection cq72 BRO; print number pr 41]

Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston was born in 1739. He married Mary Mee in 1783 and they had 4 (surviving) children: Henry, Frances, William and Elizabeth. In a letter to her husband, sent from Broadlands on 26 December 1788, Mary says:

Harry sends his love, and will kiss the letter, which he thinks the only way of sending a kiss, and Fanny ditto

MS62/BR/11/13/15

The future third Viscount Palmerston would have been about 4 at the time and his younger sister, Frances, just 2. If you note the date, it seems that Father’s Day was not the only celebration that had less significant status in the late eighteenth century!

The Temples spent a fair amount of time apart: probably not uncommon for a noble family in this period. Many of their frequent letters have been preserved, leaving a wonderfully rich resource for historians. Lady Palmerston went to Bath in January 1795 to stay with her ill mother. Lord Palmerston had all the children to live with him at their London residence in Hanover Square and sent regular domestic news to his wife:

Lilly’s cough has been nothing and only seemed to come at times and then was gone and then it came again but Mr Walker thought her bowels wanted clearing which might have something to do with her coughing. She has taken twice calomel which has had a very happy effect and she seems very well…

I will do something about a dentist. I have been talking with two or three people and for the present am inclined to apply to Spence as I understand that he is much used to childrens teeth about the time of changing them and that as some drawing may be requisite he is superior to any body in the respect.

MS62/BR/20/11/2

His remarks are strangely reminiscent of twenty-first century family life, if the medical treatments have advanced somewhat in two centuries! A subsequent letter sends good news respecting the dreaded dental appointment:

I am very happy to tell you that poor Fanny muster’d up a great deal of courage today and has had one tooth out which is what Spence thought most immediately necessary and she says it did not give her near so much pain as she expected and that she shall not much mind having the others out when it is necessary.

MS62/BR/20/11/1
Sketch of Henry John Temple, future third Viscount Palmerston as a young man

Later that same year in May, Lord Palmerston updates his wife that: “the boys are well but I never – but for a moment – see them as their hours are so different that I have no means of doing so, not dining at home, without deranging their studies or their amusements either of which I shd be sorry to do.” [BR20/12/40] Their eldest son would have been about eleven years old at this point and just about to start at boarding school, as we learn in the next letter.

I drove down to Harrow yesterday and had some conversation with Mr and Mrs Bromley. She seems very intelligent and notable and I dare say will take very good care of Harry… They do not wish for more clothes than are likely to be useful… I forgot to ask them about night shirts but I am persuaded they are quite out of the question and wd only make him the joke of the other boys.

Letter from Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, London, to Mary Mee, Clifton, Bristol MS62/BR20/12/41

Harry was later persuaded that a night shirt might be a good idea. We are sure many parents of teenage children have had a similar battle respecting winter coats! The following year, December 1796, Lord Palmerston writes from their London home in Hanover Square to his daughter Lilly:

My dear Lilly

I am much obliged to you for your nice and well written Italian letter. I am very glad to hear that you and your brother and sister are well, and that you have nursed your mama so well…Miss Carter…is much delighted with your theatre, and says you are an excellent little actress… I hope you will not get cold this very severe weather. It freezes here uncommonly hard for the time of year… All the London ice houses are filling up and the ice is two or three inches thick…

Give my best love to all your party and believe me ever

My dear little Lilly

Your affectionate Father

Palmerston

MS62/BR6/3/9

Lord and Lady Palmerston decided to place their eldest son, now fifteen years old, in an intermediary situation between school and an English university. When Lord Palmerston writes to the proposed new tutor Dugald Stewart he acknowledged that his “father’s account” of his son’s character may not be impartial:

My son who was fifteen years of age last October has risen nearly to the top of Harrow School and has given me uniform satisfaction with regard to his disposition his capacity and his acquirements. He is now coming to that critical and important period when a young man’s mind is most open to receive such impressions as may operate powerfully on his character and his happiness during the remainder of his life … I would be cautious of saying thus much in his commendation if it was likely you would have much opportunity on enquiring what he is from others; but as that may probably not be the case, you must, in default of more impartial judges, accept a father’s account with such allowance as you may think proper to make.

[Jun 1800 MS62/BR12/1/4/1]

The tender care and fatherly pride is plainly evident through all of Lord Palmerston’s correspondence with his children. He died two years later aged only 63 leaving his son Henry to inherit his title and become the third Viscount Palmerston.

Many of you will be well aware that commemorative days are not always easy, particularly for children who have lost their father; fathers who have lost children and those who would have loved to have been a father, but never had the opportunity. We would like to take this opportunity to wish all the fathers, and others who take a paternal role in the lives of others, a very happy Fathers Day.

National Immigrant Heritage Month

June is ‘National Immigrant Heritage Month’ in the United States and in president Biden’s proclamation he beseeches Americans to ‘reaffirm and draw strength from that enduring identity and celebrate the history and achievements of immigrant communities across our Nation.’: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/06/01/a-proclamation-on-national-immigrant-heritage-month-2021/

Henry John Temple (third Viscount Palmerston), as well as serving as British Prime Minster from 1855-58 and again from 1859-65, was an absentee Anglo-Irish landlord based at Broadlands in Romsey, Hampshire, but his estate also included land in County Sligo, Ireland. The University of Southampton’s Special Collections hold the Broadlands archive, which includes the estate papers of Lord Palmerston. Amongst these papers we have some letters, written in 1847-8, by Irish emigrants in America to their loved ones back in the old country of County Sligo, Ireland [MS 62 BR146/10/13].

They had fled from the Great Famine, known in the local language in western Ireland as ‘An Drochshaol’, literally ‘the bad life’ or ‘the hard times’. In 1845 a mysterious blight destroyed half of the potato crop in the parish of Ahamlish, County Sligo. Hunger and then starvation emerged in early 1846 as the last of the previous years’ crop dwindled, amidst hopes for a better harvest that year. Alas, the entire crop for 1846 was destroyed and the situation only intensified.

The Great Famine and the lacklustre responses to it, is estimated to have caused 1 million deaths in Ireland with a further two million emigrating from the country in the succeeding ten years. The immediate cause of the famine was a fungus-like disease known as potato blight, which affected many parts of Europe and may have been a factor in the Revolutions of 1848. In Ireland the situation was exacerbated, to dire proportions, by the laissez-faire economic philosophy of the British Whig party, exploitation by landlords, pre-existing poverty and single-crop dependence.

The Broadlands archive was referenced by Tyler Anbinder of George Washington University in his paper ‘Lord Palmerston and the Irish Famine Emigration’, published in The Historical Journal, Vol. 44 Issue 2, June 2001: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/LORD-PALMERSTON-AND-THE-IRISH-FAMINE-EMIGRATION-Anbinder/b7beca9a9fd54d582eec32f94511f9ce52c7cab5.

“[Palmerston] was one of the first Irish landlords to finance the emigration of starving tenants during the great Irish famine. Although the first boatloads of emigrants were well outfitted, by the end of 1847 Palmerston stood accused of cruelly mistreating his departing tenants. One Canadian official compared conditions on the vessels he chartered to those of the slave trade […]

Approximately 2,000 residents from Palmerston’s Sligo estate fled to America in 1847 and Anbinder goes on to note that, whilst Palmerston paid for some of his tenants to emigrate to America, it was rare for landlords to do so: “Only about 6 to 8 per cent of emigrants in this period left Ireland […] as the result of assistance from governments, religious and charitable organizations, or landlords.”

The controversy over Palmerston’s treatment of his emigrating Sligo tenants was addressed in the reminiscences, written in the late nineteenth century, of William Kerringham of Dublin, who had been involved in the emigration of Palmerston’s tenants [MS 62 BR138/19]. He claimed the following:

“In 1847 when Messrs Stewart Kincaid contracted with me for the voluntary emigration from his estates in the County Sligo, Lord Palmerston wrote “[…] let every man and woman have a hot tumbler of the best Jamaica rum – punch after dinner on Sundays…

Rum was brought on board at 4s/9 a gallon as well as sugar to make the “famous Glasgow punch”. It appears that the clergy then wrote to Palmerston or his agents complaining that the alcohol on board was “doing away the good effected by Father Matthew among the people. You will therefore sell the rum shipped in the other ships upon arrival […]”. Subsequently it was agreed that “every man, woman and child have a cup of coffee with a biscuit every day after dinner in lieu.” Half a ton of coffee was shipped in each vessel. A Mr Mascwell from the Dublin office superintended the emigration giving at the request of Lord Palmerston £10 to “each captain to induce them to be kind to the people on board”. Clothing was provided “for such poor passengers as required them’. During the famine year the Marquis of Westmeath allegedly only gave half a Crown to the poor leaving his estates while ‘Lord Palmerston’s emigration cost 7/./. a head” (£7 a head).

William Kerringham’s reminiscences of the emigration of Lord Palmerston’s tenants [MS 62 BR138/19].

In one letter dated 25th November 1847 written by a Sligo emigrant to America, Sally Johnston describes her relatively benign transatlantic passage of 1847:

“We were a month and 4 days coming to St Johns. Bridget was only one day sick on the passage and I, Sally was 14 days sick. The cook was very kind to us we had plenty of provision on the passage, plenty of tea, coffee, meal and flour and oatmeal and biscuits and lots of sugar. We were 6 days in St Johns after landing waiting for the boat to bring us to Boston.” [MS 62 BR146/10/13]

Whether or not Palmerston deserves credit for showing kindness towards his emigrating tenants, where other landlords did not, he had self-interests involved too. One of Palmerston’s complaints was that economic conditions in Ireland were so dire because the land was often broken up into small holdings that were incapable of producing enough food beyond that needed for the tenants’ own subsistence, plus a limited surplus of cash crops. Palmerston and other landlords took advantage of the situation in the 1840s to amalgamate small landholdings into bigger and more productive estates.

One family of Irish emigrants from Sligo, the Gilmartins, settled in Connecticut and life in the new country was certainly preferable to life in the old country, as revealed in a letter from Mr and Mrs Gilmartin of Connecticut, to their son, dated 6th October 1847:

“We are all here safe and sound. Thank God for all his mercies to us these 10 weeks. We spent 5 weeks in New York before we started for this village. We are all here employed at different works we are quite comfortable and happy, there is not a day passed that we do not see each other […] The climate agrees right well with us and we have no reason whatsoever to complain or find fault with our several situations. Your father and mother are in excellent health and good spirits and more comfortable than when at home at least during the latter part of our term in the old country.” [MS 62 BR146/10/13]

The Gilmartins then urge their son to leave for America if he is able to do so and they offer to pay for his passage using money that they were earning in America. They are also keen to hear about the scarcity of food in Ireland and the situation of their old friends and neighbours:

“Your father has a dollar a day and Dennis eighteen dollars a month, and Catherine and Anne six dollars a month each and boarding. We will be able with God’s assistance to send you some money without much delay […]”

But as well as expressing concern and worry for loved ones in the old country there are glimpses of a hopeful attitude and the prospects of establishing new communities in America:

“There is an abundance of corn of every description here and more than eighty Irish of every age and sex living in this neighbourhood and all of us visit each other every Sunday regularly tho’ there was not an Irish man or woman in this part of the state of Connecticut 6 months ago. We have got no priest amongst us as yet but please God we will have one shortly we are not within 18 miles of a clergyman and cannot go to hear mass of a Sunday as there is not a mass house more than once a month in any town through the state.”

America’s immigrant communities often have a painful and darker side to their origin stories, as was the case for the many Irish who fled ‘the bad life’ of late 1840s Ireland but as the letters from the Gilmartin family make clear, in America there is a long tradition of hope for a brighter future…


Middle Bridge, Romsey

For the final blog of Local and Community History month we take a look at the eighteenth-century Middle Bridge. This bridge was replaced in 1931 as part of the proposed Romsey By-Pass with a reconstruction bridge designed by W.J.Taylor but similar in lines and using the stone from the earlier bridge.

Middle Bridge and the River Test, 1930s [MS62 BR135/2]

Although it is not certain when the first bridge was built, it is possible there was one on the site from the thirteenth century. By the late eighteenth century the bridge was again in disrepair and it was on the recommendation of the second Viscount Palmerston that the architect and engineer Robert Mylne was commissioned by the Justices of the Peace for the County of Southampton to survey the condition of the bridge.

Mylne’s report to the Justices of Peace for the County of Southampton set out in great detail both his assessment of the old bridge and his recommendations for a replacement:

First page of Robert Mylne’s report, 10 March 1782 [MS62 BR135/3]

“…Agreeable to the said order, I did take the earliest opportunity to inspect and survey the present state of the said bridge and the nature and intention of the works hitherto carried on for the purpose of repairing the same.

The result of that inspection and survey and of the enquiry of all circumstances relating to the state, situation, form and figure of the said bridge is, that it is highly improper to proceed to repairing the same on account of the general bad state in which the whole of the work is at present, either on account of its old age or other circumstances and that to repair it, in its present form of 2 arches and piers, standing in such deep water, and in so violent a current will cost as much if not more money than if it was rebuilt of a proper form, less bulky and more convenient to the passage over it and under it and after all if it was repaired it would still be liable hereafter to the same disorder which have brought it to ruin without one single improvement in the passage of the publick over it which the business and traffick of the present age require…”

The Justices of the Peace decided after considering Mylne’s report that a new bridge was necessary and gave the order for a stone bridge to be built. Work began in 1782 and the bridge was completed in 1784.

Middle Bridge from B.Bedford Views of Romsey (Romsey 1910) [Cope Collection ROM 91.5]

In his report of 26 September 1784, Mylne set out in detail the work that was undertaken and the cost of the construction work:

“In consequence of various orders made at different sessions of adjournment thereof, I have erected and compleated a new bridge over the Test at Romsey and agreeable to your particular order of the 9th April 1782 have to the best of my power and abilitys finished an undertaking of as much difficulty as I have generally met.

The total expense of it by the account hereunto annexed amounts to £3039 -18s – 3 d.

At first setting of I reported to you the old bridge could not possibly stand any longer and it was pulled down to its foundations.

I reported pointedly that the bridge works could only be contracted for from the surface of the water upwards and by drawing confined to the limits of 4 points one at each corner since at that period of time it was impossible to know how the wings could be extended beyond and through the various incumbrances that then fettered its enlargement for the publick convenience and above these and within their benefit (as to the extent of the work). Contracts were formed for £960 including a temporary bridge.

The old bridge required very little pulling down. It was a compleat ruin for when the new foundations were sunk inclosing the old ones they were found totally incapable of repair.

On forming the scheme for rebuilding the bridge the intelligence most to be depended on represented that there was a stratum of gravel or other hard substance at a certain depth. The fact turned out quite otherwise there is nothing but an endless depth of peat and on that substance the new bridge is erected and stands very well. But then the means to make it stand securely became of course a material cause of expense in addition to all that was to have been and is under water.

The bridge being erected attention was paid on the wings of its in order to support the road leading to and from it. On getting out of some of the difficulty wings of a quarter of a circle were adopted as the best in form and least in expense. They were built in that manner all except one and in rather a slight manner to save expense.

Lord Palmerston on seeing the difficulty’s which the publick convenience laboured under by the property (which we could not touch) being so near the old work very generously came forward and gave us every assistance that publick spirit could exhibit.

The passage of the old bridge within the parapetts was only 13 1/2 feet and the entrance leading to it was but 26 feet barely. The present bridge being made to the enlarged dimensions of 18 feet for the advantage of the publick the approach or entrance to it required a suitable width or opening. Lord Palmerston gave up entirely a bark mill house over it, and a kiln for drying bark besides divesting himself of this piece of property he pulled it all down at his own expense and surrendered the site thereof for the opening of the South East Quarter and for the wing wall extending 50 feet from the contract part of the structure.

At the north east quarter he purchased at a considerable expense two dwelling houses and pulled them down and surrendered up as much of the site thereof as was necessary for a similar opening on the west side and for the same sort of circular wall on that quarter.

At the south west side he allowed me to take as much ground of a field as amounted to 100 yards in length and 30 feet broad next the bridge so that the wing on that quarter was extended to the same form and limits as the others already mentioned. This enabled the road at the west end to be raised by being thus widened which never could have been done by reason of the lowness of the old houses on the north side thereof.

To those instances of solid and permanent good done to the publick in this work it is necessary to and that his lordship has paid for all the additional ornament and embellishment on the side fronting to Broadlands where the same is an expence over and above the work contracted for.

The bark mill being totally removed an opportunity was thereby obtained of removing the mill stream at some distance from the bridge and to throw the discharge of its water at a distance from the foundations.

This removal making a proper bed for it and arching it over was a considerable cause of expence but gave a security to the work at all times thereafter which could not otherwise have been obtained.

In this manner and for these reasons the works have been conducted and in lieu of the narrow confined passage across the River Teste in which the publick was much hampered the publick will hereafter enjoy a wide and easy access better suited to the great traffick and business carried out on in this quarter of the country.”

[Typescript copy of Robert Mylne report of 26 September 1784, c. 1930s, MS62 BR135/8]

Robert Mylne (1733-1811) had been born and raised in Edinburgh before travelling to Europe and studying architecture in Rome under Piranesi. He made his name by being the first Briton to win the triennial architecture competition at the Accademia San Luca. He became known in the UK after winning the competition to design the Blackfriars Bridge. In the wake of this he designed a number of other bridges. However, despite his early successes and his body of work, as an architect Mylne was never to achieve the status of his contemporaries Robert Adam and James Wyatt.

His bridge in Romsey was to prove his qualities as an engineer building a solid construction on such bad subsoil whilst also producing what was described as “a bridge on a very simple and pleasing lines admired by all, and it could not be bettered”. [MS62 BR135/1]

Indeed the Middle Bridge was to inspire the poetry of the Rural Rider, whose verses appeared in print in 1934.

[MS62 BR135/13]

So whilst the original Robert Mylne bridge no longer exists, it is still possible to enjoy some of its features and to consider that for a considerable period of time Romsey enjoyed an engineering feat designed by the individual lauded for his design of Blackfriars Bridge in London.

The British Red Cross and Hartley Witney

We hope you enjoyed last week’s post on Southampton Gordon Boys’ Brigade. The fourth blog in our Local and Community History Month series sheds light on the British Red Cross activities at Hartley Witney, Hants, using the MS 6/16 A335 scrapbook, which contains photographs, newspaper cuttings, and programmes of Red Cross activities at Hartley Witney, Hants, from 1913-31.

British Red Cross nurses [MS6/16 A335]

Formation of the Red Cross

In 1863 the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement begun and was stimulated by Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman. Devastated by the suffering of numerous men at the Battle of Solferino in 1859, Dunant sought to creating national relief societies made up of volunteers who could provide neutral and impartial care to relieve suffering in times of war.

In response, the International Committee of the Red Cross was established in Geneva, and the founding charter of the Red Cross was constructed in 1863. This was followed by Dunant recommending an international agreement be adopted by countries that would recognise the neutral status of medical services and the injured on the battleground. This became the Geneva Convention, which was accepted in 1864.

During WW1, which our scrapbook covers, the Red Cross was able to implement operations learnt from the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, which led to the formation of the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War. The society provided aid and assistance to both warring armies under the protection of the red cross emblem, which was proposed by Colonel Loyd-Lindsay (later Lord Wantage of Lockinge) in a letter to The Times.

In 1905 this society was renamed the British Red Cross, and His Majesty King Edward VII granted its first royal Charter in 1908. To gain the many skilled volunteers it required, the British Red Cross created a permanent arrangement of local branches to expand its existence to communities all over the country.

British Red Cross nurses [MS6/16 A335]

Food parcels for prisoners of war

The first pages of the scrapbook show the distribution of food parcels in Hartley Witney. British prisoners of war (POWs) were in desperate need of food and clothing during WW1. Although supplies were sent to them by their loved ones, many did not reach them or were poorly packed. Others were destroyed by the German forces as a result of containing secret messages. During WW1 the British Red Cross and the Order of St John collaborated to coordinate relief for British POWs through the Central Prisoners of War Committee.

A sufficient amount of food and clothing would be given to every prisoner. Each parcel of food weighed around 10 pounds, and they were delivered fortnightly to all registered prisoners. The standard emergency parcel contained three tins of beef, two tins of cheese or loaf goods, one tin of dripping, two tins of milk; ¼ pound of tea, ¼ pound of cocoa, two pounds of biscuits, and 50 cigarettes.

The food parcels would contain enough food to keep men sustained for around one week. The Red Cross was authorised to hold 12,000 of these emergency parcels at any one time in the various German prisoner-of-war camps.

There were also some special parcels:

  • Turkish and Bulgarian parcels
  • Invalid parcels
  • Vegetarian parcels
  • ‘No tins’ parcels (due to the rules implemented in certain camps by the Germans)
  • Indian parcels
  • Enclosures from relatives

By the end of WW1, over 2.5 million parcels had been organised, packaged, and distributed to prisoners of war in camps abroad.

Distribution of food parcels [MS6/16 A335]

British Red Cross staff

The scrapbook also features photographs of No 16 Hants Detachment Red Cross nurses and their equipment, giving a demonstration in Victoria and Edward VII Halls in Hartley Witney. A large number of residents paid for admission, the proceeds being in aid of further equipment needed. A local newspaper reported “The halls were arranged as a hospital exactly as in time of warfare and the result was a remarkable and convincing demonstration of the great worth of such an organisation.”

British Red Cross nurses at hospital demonstration at Victoria and Edward VII Halls [MS6/16 A335]

While trained nurses were licensed professionals who had spent years training in a hospital with a recognised school, there were also county branches of the Red Cross that had their own groups of volunteers called Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs). These groups were formed as part of the Voluntary Aid Scheme introduced in 1909. Made up of men and women, the VADs carried out nursing, transport duties, and the organisation of rest stations, working parties and auxiliary hospitals.

At the outbreak of WW1, many were inspired to train to help the sick and wounded. While women were taught first aid, home nursing, and hygiene by approved medical practitioners, men  were trained first aid in the field and stretcher bearing. Gifted VADs could take specialist classes to become a masseuse or use an x-ray machine. VADs had to pass exams to receive their first aid and home nursing certificates.

You can find out more information about material we hold on VADs here.

The scrapbook contains programmes and newspaper cuttings relating to dramatic entertainments presented for the Farnborough and Aldershot Voluntary Aid Detachments. “Mr Hopkinson” was performed at the Army Service Corps Theatre in Aldershot on 13 October 1913.  The band of the Royal Army Medical Corps provided the music during the evening, and her Royal Highness Princess Alexander of Teck and His Serene Highness Prince Alexander of Teck were present. They were received by the Hon. Mrs Charles White, vice-president of the local branch of the British Red Cross Society.

Army Service Corps Theatre Programme for “Mr Hopkinson” [MS6/16 A335]

Auxiliary hospitals

Tylney Hall Hospital also features in the scrapbook, which was an auxiliary hospital. The British Red Cross ran auxiliary hospitals and convalescent homes during WW1. They acted as temporary facilities for wounded servicemen. Before the war even began, the British Red Cross searched for suitable properties that could be used as temporary hospitals in the event of a war taking place. This meant that when wounded men began to arrive from abroad, there were equipped and staffed hospitals established and available for use. These hospitals were usually staffed by a commandant, who managed the hospital except for the medical and nursing services; a quartermaster, who was responsible for the management of articles in the provision store; a matron who managed the nursing staff; and members of the local Voluntary Aid Detachment.

Tylney Hall Hospital entrance [MS6/16 A335]

Tylney Hall Hospital was opened in October 1914 with 45 beds, which later grew to 50. The military hospital was recognised as a branch of Cambridge Hospital at Aldershot. The Bachelors’ wing of the large mansion, so generously offered by Sir Lionel and Lady Phillips, was used for the benefit of wounded soldiers. A local newspaper reported “its suitability and completeness of equipment are such as to excite the greatest admiration”.

The local Voluntary Aid detachments undertook the management of the hospital, and proved the value of the Red Cross movement inaugurated in 1905. Mrs Balgarnie, the Commandant in charge and part of the Hants 16 Detachment, had excellent organising powers and was responsible for the furnishing and equipment in the hospital. The hospital housed large, light, and airy apartments, bathroom, and washing-up arrangements. The nurses had their own private sitting room, and their sleeping quarters were separate from the hospital, as well as a spacious and well-equipped kitchen.

Tylney Hall Hospital patients [MS6/16 A335]

In 1914 the hospital had 46 patients, of whom 13 were Belgians. Along with doctors, 15 Red Cross nurses provided their assistance, serving 7 at a time. In the same year, only minor cases were treated at the hospital, however it was anticipated that due to the excellence of the equipment, severe cases would soon be sent there for treatment. What prevented this to start with was the absence of an ambulance. In November 1915, 559 patients passed through, 100 operations were performed, and there was only one death.

The hospital was located in magnificent grounds, which the patients able to walk could enjoy. Other patients could enjoy resting in the warm orangery, where they could play cards or draughts. An Anglican service was also provided to patients every Sunday afternoon.

Tylney Hall Hospital patients and staff [MS6/16 A335]

Before the end of the war Tylney Hall was purchased by Major Hennessy, later Lord Windlesham, and in 1919, both the hall and much of the original estate was acquired by the last private owner of the Hall, Major Cayzer, later created Lord Rotherwick. During WW2, Tylney Hall became the headquarters for his infamous shipping line, the Clan Line Steamers Ltd. In 1948 the Hall became a school until 1984. Following substantial refurbishment, the Hall was re-opened as a hotel and restaurant on 1 October 1984.

Tylney Hall today

Join us next week for our last Local and History Month blog, where we will focus on the eighteenth-century Middle Bridge in Romsey.