As winter approaches, keen cooks will no doubt be getting out their recipes for nourishing soups and stews and hoping, supply chains permitting, to obtain all the ingredients they need. That this was not possible for much of the past is made clear in the Perkins Agricultural Library books which testify to the amount of planning and work involved in preserving or storing food for winter, or even for short periods of time throughout the year.
Whilst most of the books in the collection are concerned with farming practice, some are essentially manuals of country living, advising their readers on how to be as self-sufficient as possible. The Complete Family-Piece and Country Gentleman and Farmer’s Guide (1739) is one such book. Consisting of three parts, it claims to contain over a thousand “receipts” for both food and medicines – Leprosy treatment follows Lent potato pie in the index. A comprehensive guide, it also advises on hunting, shooting and fishing, cultivating fruit, flower and kitchen gardens, improving the land and managing a farm.
Although autumn was a peak time for preserving foods of all kinds, with livestock which could not be fed over winter often being killed around All-Hallows Day, (1 November), the summer months were no less busy, with recipes for preserves calling for fruit, such as strawberries and currants to be not “full ripe” to ensure the best results.
Traditionally, foods were preserved through curing, pickling and sugaring. Curing was used mainly for meat, with salt or brine removing moisture to prevent microbial growth, a process which might be followed by smoking. Pickling required the food to be immersed in an acidic solution such as vinegar to kill bacteria, with herbs and spices being added for flavour, whilst in sugaring the food was dried and packed in sugar or in liquids such as honey or sugar syrup. A riskier method and potential cause of botulism, was potting, in which cooked foods, usually meat, were sealed in solidified fat within earthenware containers.
Published “Purely for the Good of private Families”, the Complete Family Piece contains a chapter of “many excellent Receipts for Picking and Preserving of all Sorts of Fruits, Tongues, Hams &c which will, no doubt, be found very beneficial to all private Families, in as much as by the Help of this Chapter, they may have all those Things in good Order throughout the year.”
Amongst the pickling recipes are those for meat, fish, nuts and vegetables, including mushrooms, French beans, artichokes, walnuts, oysters, herrings, pork and salmon, whilst the recipes for preserving include green fruits, apricots, gooseberries, apples, raspberries, cherries, currants and dried fruit.
Some of the foods and processes – salting bacon and ham would be familiar today, others, pickling sparrows or potting curlews, less so. Potted goose and turkey (a similar idea to a two bird roast) with an instruction to “Keep it for Use, and slice it out thin” may not be an option this year, but there is a recipe for keeping peas till Christmas – by cooking them and bottling them in mutton fat.
Another manual for country living The Country Housewife’s Companion by William Ellis (1750) is rather more forthright in the advice offered to the wives of country gentlemen, yeomen and farmers. Ellis pronounces, for example, that “it is Very ill Housewifery to buy Bacon or pickled Pork at Shops” (as is done by thousands) when there is Conveniency to prevent it, by feeding Swine at home.” Other more general advice was that a wife should keep “a Pair of Scales by her, in readiness to weigh the Goods she buys” and make sure that servants did not lie too long in bed – “to rise at Five is the Way to thrive.”
Given Ellis’s views on pickled pork, it is no surprise that he includes ten pages on it amongst the many recipes for preserving food. It is a meat praised as being “the cheapest Sort, but is ready at a minute’s wanting it, to become pleasant, wholesome, hearty Meal; either eaten cold or fry’d … most of the good housewives of Farmers … commonly prepare and keep souced Pork by them (at times) from about Michaelmas ‘till Lady-Day”.
There is also advice on storing fruit and vegetables, with variations supplied by a “Lord’s Gardener” and “Hertfordshire women” amongst others. Apples could be stored in layers of straw on a chamber floor or by layering them in straw within a cask which was then buried. Peaches, nectarines and apricots were layered in wood ash or sand in a box. Methods of storage for vegetables included barrelling broad beans and peas in straw or chaff, and root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes were stored in straw lined pits, or as suggested by one Lord, brought into a ground room and stored in a thatched pile, which was then covered by gravel.
Guides of this kind were clearly aimed at households of a certain standing, the country wives having servants and directing operations, not necessarily undertaking them themselves. For farmers’ wives, ensuring that there was sufficient food for the fluctuating number of seasonal workers as well as for the household was a particular concern and whilst the advice given in the guides appears comprehensive, how useful it was is known only by the owners, such as Jane Dean, owner of the Library’s copy of The Country Housewife’s Companion.
This week marks a special time for the Special Collections at the University of Southampton, as we launch our new integrated Archive Catalogue. We have worked with the Metadatis, the team that created Epexio, to deliver an archival discovery platform that brings together for the first time all catalogue descriptions of the archive collections in one online system.
Before looking forward, however, it is perhaps appropriate to look back and consider Southampton’s long involvement in automated archive catalogues. The Wellington Papers Database marked the first foray into computerised cataloguing and it could claim to be one of, if the not the earliest, online archive catalogue in the UK. Investigations into a system to support this were already underway in December 1982, prior to the arrival of the papers of the first Duke of Wellington at Southampton in March 1983. In July 1983 the University decided to develop a manuscript cataloguing system using STATUS software and it was in use for cataloguing material early the following year. The cataloguing was done “offline” by the archivists on BBC microcomputers equipped with rudimentary word-processing packages – but no memory – all text was saved onto floppy discs. It was subsequently transferred to an ICL mainframe computer for incorporation into the database by batch programme. This being the days prior to the WWW, the initial database was made available by the Joint Academic Network (JANET) and the public switched telephone network. It was initially scheduled to be made available 156 hours a week, rising to 168. How times have changed!
The introduction of the new Epexio Archive Catalogue marks the most significant change of all for the online archive catalogues at Southampton. Drawing together and replacing the databases that Southampton has hosted via a website since the 1990s – a Guide to the Archives and Manuscripts, the Wellington Papers Database, the Mountbatten Papers Database and the Palmerston Papers Database – it is an integrated system that includes catalogue descriptions of all collections across the hierarchical structure of archival records. The Archive Catalogue enables keyword searches across the breadth of the archive holdings and the archive descriptions, allowing you to delve deep into the fine detail of a collection.
For anyone interested in just gaining an overall idea of what sort of material we hold, then the Browse collections feature is for you, offering a great introduction to our collections.
And if you wish to look at some of the significant holdings of archive, then why not look at the Featured collections.
To coincide with the launch of the Archive Catalogue we have produced a short series of four films:
So do check out the introductory films and most of all enjoy searching the richness and breadth of the archive holdings at Southampton. We would welcome to hear how you get on. Please send any feedback to Archives@soton.ac.uk.
Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld (1912-84) was the second son of Dr Avigdor Schonfeld, the founder of the Jewish Secondary Schools Movement (JSSM). Dr Schonfeld died in 1930, when Solomon Schonfeld was eighteen years old and just in the early stages of a law degree. Schonfeld abandoned his law studies and became a yeshiva student in Czechoslovakia and Lithuania, completing a doctorate at Königsberg University.
On his return to Great Britain in 1933, Schonfeld succeeded his father as Principal of the JSSM and also became Presiding Rabbi of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations. A man of action and boundless zeal, these qualities were particularly apparent from Schonfeld’s work with the Chief Rabbi’s Religious Emergency Council. From its foundation in 1938 until about 1948, Schonfeld was executive director of the Chief Rabbi’s Religious Emergency Council—an organisation formed under the auspices of his father-in-law, Chief Rabbi J.H.Hertz.
Originally formed in July 1938 as the Chief Rabbi’s Religious Emergency Fund for German and Austrian Jewry with the aim to assist rabbis in those countries, the name was changed to the Chief Rabbi’s Religious Emergency Council in December of that year. At the same time a special department was created for the Refugee Committee, in conjunction with the B’nai B’rith Committee for the Care of Refugee Children, to care for the child refugees being brought to Great Britain in the aftermath of Kristallnacht. The CRREC was to be utilised by Rabbi Schonfeld not only to organise rescue work of Jewish refugees, particularly children, but to provide temporary havens for Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. Using the authority of the CRREC, Schonfeld helped the Vaad Hatzalah bring 500 teachers and students from Lithuania to make their way overland to Shanghai where they maintained themselves until the end of the war. The organisation provided support for refugees in Great Britain throughout the wartime period, including setting up synagogues and kosher kitchens in internment camps, and supported the emigration of refugees to other countries after the war.
In 1946-7, Schonfeld travelled to Poland, chartering a ship and arranging for a group of Jewish children and teenagers orphaned in the Holocaust to travel to Great Britain. Bureaucratic problems, such as the lack of passports or other travel documents, were resolved with ingenuity by the creation of a special CRREC card for each child on which they could receive their British visa. The work of the CRREC also encompassed support for British and Allied Jewish service personnel, through the kosher food service, the Passover and Religious Welfare Fund and the Passover Service.
Another facet of the CRREC’s activities was the equipping of mobile synagogues or synagogue ambulances which were at first used by Jewish chaplains for their work with the Allied Forces, but later were used in liberated Europe. As well as religious equipment, these mobile synagogues carried kosher food stuffs and were equipped with a cooking stove, water tank and sink. They also could be used as ambulances if necessary.
Through his work with the Jewish Secondary Schools Movement, Solomon Schonfeld fulfilled a plan for Orthodox Jewish education and Jewish day schools put forward by his father in September 1909, in his inaugural address at the North London Beth Hamedrash. Dr Avigdor Schonfeld saw the first Jewish Secondary School, at Finsbury Park, London, opened in September 1929, before his untimely death at the age of 49, the following year. After succeeding to the office as Principal in 1933, Solomon Schonfeld set about expanding the operations of the JSSM. New premises were acquired for the school in Amhurst Park in 1934-5 and a girls school was opened in 1936 based at the former Northfields School, Stamford Hill. Activities were to move out of London for a while during the Second World War as the staff and pupils were evacuated to Shefford, Stotfold, and surrounding villages in Bedfordshire in 1939. In 1944 property was acquired in Golders Green for a Secondary and Boarding School and in Shirehall Lane for a Preparatory School. The Hasmonean Grammar School opened its doors in January 1945 and the Menorah Primary School also commenced activities in that year. In 1954 another new Hasmonean school was established when the Edgware Hasmonean Preparatory School opened its doors. The JSSM schools have continued to develop, weathering changes in government education policy with the introduction of the comprehensive school system and financial uncertainties. Throughout all of these changes Schonfeld was an indominable force fighting on behalf of the JSSM.
The overall collection had not previously been sorted or catalogued, although some of the Chief Rabbi’s Religious Emergency Council material had been microfilmed prior to its arrival at Southampton. The papers of Chief Rabbi Herman Hertz and other members of the Hertz family found here probably belonged to Judith Schonfeld (née Hertz). Some of the Polish material which has been collected with the Chief Rabbi’s Religious Emergency Council papers may have originally come from a separate source, but as there was overlap in the work of relief organisations, this is not clear. Additional material collected by Jonathan Schonfeld and Dr Jeremy Schonfield, mainly related to the Jewish Secondary School Movement, has been incorporated into the collection.
This week’s blog post takes another look at the life and work of the pioneering maritime archaeologist Honor Frost (1917-2010), whose career and artistic achievements we’ve previously showcased.
It was in January 2018 that we first announced the arrival of the Honor Frost Archive (MS439) at Special Collections and in March 2020 we documented her artistic talents. Today we will be delving into a newly accessioned supplement to the Honor Frost Archive (A4301). This new acquisition includes a range of material from Honor’s professional and personal life, ranging from log-books and diaries that she kept of her archaeological expeditions dating from 1958 onwards; to a collection of various writings by Honor and her friends or associates including poetry, short stories and some of her own translation work; as well as personal photographs and various miscellanea from her early years.
Honor’s artistic leanings were evident as early as her teenage years at Eastbourne High School, as shown in issues of their Chronicles from 1932-5.
Prior to attending Eastbourne High School it appears Honor was a student at the École Vinet’ – a gymnasium and college for young girls in Lausanne, 1930-31.
Upon graduating from Eastbourne High School Honor was awarded certificates from both the National Society of Art Masters and the Board of Education for drawing and in 1938 she also qualified in painting.
By the time she was in her early twenties Honor was illustrating for a student union publication at the London School of Economics – the Clare Market Review.
During the Second World War Honor found work as a truck driver, as shown in a letter of recommendation dated 24th October 1941, affirming her eligibility for such work.
A few years later Honor was working for the National Fire Service, as demonstrated in a letter dated 27th May 1943, where it becomes clear that sitting in a damp basement and answering a telephone that seldom rang was doing little for Honor’s complaint of lung trouble. After spending much of this period of national service on sick leave, it appears she started a course of lectures on civics for the fire service.
After the war Honor’s artistic talents re-emerged and by the early 1950s, as a gifted polyglot, she was undertaking the translation into English of various texts by illustrious cultural figures, including a translation of Stendhal’s ‘The Lives of Haydn, Mozart and Metastasio’, which she translated in 1953.
Honor was immersed in literary culture, as shown by the folders of poetry and short story drafts, apparently written by her friends and acquaintances.
The diaries she kept from 1958 onwards document her travels throughout the Mediterranean working on various sites and by this time Honor was publishing articles on her experiences as a diver.
It was around the time of writing this article that she realised, based on her work as a draughtswoman for Kathleen Kenyon’s excavations in Jericho, that she preferred to work underwater rather than on land and the vocation for which she is now best known began to crystallise.
The material includes numerous diaries and log books documenting her emerging interest in maritime archaeology from the late 1950s onwards; the series runs until the 1990s and includes her accounts of travels and archaeological work in Greece, Malta, Marseille, Rome and elsewhere. Honor learned to dive in the late 1940s, training with George Barnier and the Club Alpin Sous-marin at Cannes. The first wreck she explored was that of the Balise de la Chretienne, a Roman vessel off Antheor, not far from Cannes. One of her diaries includes notes and sketches on Antheor from September 1961.
After her death in 2010 the Honor Frost Foundation was established; this organisation supports those wishing to continue Honor’s legacy by funding maritime archaeological work in the eastern Mediterranean.
It was Sir Robert Waley-Cohen who first considered the idea of a permanent fund for the benefit of Jewish Youth Clubs. This idea was well received by the leaders of the Association of Jewish Youth (A.J.Y.), including Ernest Joseph, with whom he initially discussed the proposal at a dinner party hosted at his house. Sir Max Bonn, Ernest Joseph and their colleagues in the A.J.Y. soon provided their support as generous far-sighted benefactors of Anglo-Jewry, concerned with the welfare and training of youth.
The Jewish Youth Fund was established in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI with the object of strengthening Anglo-Jewish youth work. The first meeting took place on Wednesday 7th July at 51 Branston Court, W.1. at 8.45pm. Resolutions on the appointments of advisory committee members were made, as were conditions on how applications to the Fund would be dealt with.
The establishment of the Jewish Youth Fund was even applauded in the Jewish Chronicle in its 7 May 1937 issue:
“The best news – Jewish news – that has come the way of the Community for a long time is the announcement that at long last a strong effort is being launched to put the Jewish Youth Movement on a wider and firmer basis, a basis worthy of the Community and measuring more closely up to imperious Communal needs.”
Support towards the appeal came primarily from the ‘leading families’ and the usual followers of the A.J.Y. and affiliated clubs. The Jewish Youth Fund received its largest subscriptions from Messrs N. M. Rothschild & Sons, the first Lord Bearsted and Mrs Robert Sebag-Montefiore. Others that made substantial contributions included Sir Max Bonn, Sir Robert Waley-Cohen, and Ernest Joseph. After the first batch of seven-year covenanted subscriptions had expired, £56,000 had been raised, including tax recovered. Later this total would go up to £66,000 after subsequent contributions.
On 1st July 1937, the Jewish Youth Fund was incorporated under the Companies Act 1929. As a result of the founders of the Fund being closely associated with the A.J.Y. the principles and ideas of the Fund and A.J.Y. are very similar.
The first of the fifteen objectives specified in the Memorandum of Association was:
“to promote and protect the religious, moral, educational, physical and social interests of young members of the Jewish Community within the United Kingdom.”
Another of its objects was:
“to give financial and/or other assistance… to the Association for Jewish Youth… and/or other clubs, societies or Associations, having for their objects the religious, moral, educational, physical and/or social welfare of the young members of the Jewish Community within the United Kingdom and to encourage the formation of other Associations, clubs, societies or institutions of a similar kind and object.”
The organisation has continued to add to its Memorandum of Association, as reflected in the 1967 document below.
To achieve these objectives, the Jewish Youth Fund have granted loans of various amounts totalling more than £70,000 to different Clubs and Associations. Some have been on a short-term basis to help cover the cost of building extensions and improvements, or for the purchase of essential Club or Camp equipment. Big loans have been provided to supplement local efforts to purchase or erect Club buildings where needed, holiday and training centres and playing fields.
During the beginnings of World War Two, Ernest Joseph designed, and the Jewish Youth Fund contributed to the cost of an air-raid shelter at the A.J.Y. Camp, which continued to be used regularly until the heavy air-raids started. The war led to new problems in youth and community services, such as evacuation finding Jewish schoolchildren and mainly unattached women (their husbands in the Services) wondering how to adjust to their strange surroundings. The Jewish Youth Fund and Ernest Joseph encouraged and funded the A.J.Y. to investigate the circumstances and needs of these new temporary communities. A sum of money was set aside for ‘War Emergency Grants’ to help fund the provision of Club and social facilities for Jewish groups in these new areas and around twenty grants were given in support of such areas in Ely, High Wycombe, Swindon, Southend and elsewhere.
In the early post-war years the assistance of the Jewish Youth Fund stimulated and encouraged organisations endeavouring to help young people in a changing economic, social educational and moral environment, which remains the position today.
Until the early 1960s the resources of the Jewish Youth Fund tended to be used to purchase or build Jewish youth work premises. As the Jewish community moved to new areas, however, most of the original premises were sold and the proceeds of this form the Jewish Youth Fund capital funds. Skeet Hill House, the sole remaining property, is operated as a conference and activity centre managed by The Bradians Trust.
Skeet Hill House
Skeet Hill House was originally purchased for the Brady Boys’ Club for £3,500 in 1943 as Sadeh’s retreat centre by the Jewish Youth Fund. Sadeh is the UK’s Jewish farm and environmental community, and promotes positive environmental change through environmental education and the cultivation of the land.
As Sadeh’s retreat centre, Skeet Hill House acted as a place of relief from the war-torn East End of London. Firstly leased to the Brady Boys’ Club, Brady Maccabi offered in 1982 to relinquish the lease and a new lease was then issued to the Bradians Trust. The Trustees had all benefited from Skeet in their youth and desired to continue to provide these same benefits and opportunities to future generations. The house has been managed by the Bradians Trust since then. The Trust is responsible for the maintenance of Skeet Hill House, and in the last 30 years has managed to raise over £350,000 for investment in the house as capital to fund new facilities. The Trust has also ensured that nearly 50,000 weekends have been enjoyed at Skeet by youngsters throughout the community.
Today, the centre can be booked for most weekends and weekdays throughout the year including during the school holidays.
A significant Jewish Youth Movement that the Jewish Youth Fund has helped is Habonim Dror, a registered charity that had been meeting in the UK for 76 years. Since the early 1950s, its London activities as well as the national headquarters have been at 523 Finchley Road, NW3. The original purpose was to provide facilities of a youth club which was used extensively at weekends and on weekday evenings for educational, cultural, sporting and recreational activities. Mainly as a result of changing trends in youth activities, demand began reducing in the 1970s and the rooms in the building began to be used for different purposes leading eventually to a few rooms as a nursery. The building later began to host fewer youth activities and continued to house the offices of Habronim Dror. The top floor was converted to a residential flat and the nursery continued until closing during the summer of 2005.
The Jewish Youth Fund today
The Fund continues its work of making grants or loans to Jewish youth organisations throughout Great Britain to support projects that will enhance the Jewish youth service. Grants are allocated twice a year: in November and June. Grants range in size between £1,000 and £10,000.
About the collection
Both accessions contain documents reflecting the operations of the Jewish Youth Fund, such as minute books, correspondence, and legal and administrative papers. They also contain applications to the Jewish Youth Fund, which provide an insight into the extent of Jewish Youth Movements that exist, and what kind of resources they needed funding for. Reports by the Jewish Youth Fund on reviewing the Jewish youth services and organisations in the United Kingdom also feature.
While the first accession additionally contains papers of the Jewish Tercentenary Commemorative Fund, the second accession includes papers relating to the B‘nai B’rith Leo Baeck (London Scholarship). This scholarship was awarded to Jewish students wishing to complete post-graduate or post-doctorate studies or research at UK universities or other approved professional/educational institutions in the UK. Top priority was given to the disciplines physical/environmental/life sciences, mathematics and computing, medicine, technology and engineering. Papers relating to the publicity and the public relations of the organisation is also included, such as newspaper cuttings on opening events, and Jewish Youth Fund and Jewish Youth Movement pamphlets.
This collection would be a great resource for those researching Jewish philanthropic organisations and how they have helped Jewish Youth Movements over time.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post. You can find out more about how the Jewish Youth Fund is run today by checking out their website: https://www.jyf.org.uk
This September Heritage Open Days, England’s largest festival of history and culture, will run 10-19 September. To mark this event, we feature in this blog a new manuscript accession that is one man’s appreciation of the history and culture of the Isle of Wight.
The manuscript was written by Luke Thomas Flood (1775-1860), who in 1845 travelled from his home in London to undertake a return tour of the Isle of Wight. The Flood family lived at 23 Cheyne Walk in Chelsea. Luke Thomas Flood was a Justice of the Peace and a significant landowner in Chelsea as well as a great benefactor to the parish, to which he left £3,000 when he died in 1860. He is celebrated by a service at the parish church annually on January 13th (called “Flood’s Day”) and Flood Street was named after him.
Flood recorded his reminiscences of his journey in a manuscript that he entitled “Tracings in a Pedestrian tour in the Isle of Wight in September 1845”. His intention was to write a short piece for publication in a weekly periodical, but, as he notes “as I went on I found so much pleasure in ‛treading my journey o’er again’ that I extended the paper beyond the appropriate limits.” [MS450 A4335/2/1]
Flood began his journey by train to Southampton from whence he caught the steam ferry to Cowes. In the first part of his reminiscences he recounts not only his arrival at Cowes but the arrival of a steamer conveying Queen Victoria:
[p2] “The surface of the water composing that beautiful estuary or rather arm of the sea, called Southampton Water, was beautifully calm and transparent. Three of the West India mail steamers quietly slept on its surface while here and there a pleasure yacht with its snow white sails half filled… just gave a semblance of life to the scene.
The steamers land their passengers at a wharf behind the Fountain Hotel, the largest in the town. There are several others of various degrees of excellence. Having observed in the cabin of the steam vessel a card of the Red Lion Inn, I went thither but found it not exactly to my taste, for instance I slept on a stump bedstead…. I walked out for half an hour on the Parade. I had just reached the walls of the castle when the guns suddenly commenced firing a salute, which was taken up by the RVS Schooner Ganymede. The Queen had just hove in sight or rather the steamer containing her and this was [p.3] her welcome home from Germany. What a curious instance this firing of salute is…”
Flood describes West Cowes as “a pretty town, so far as situation goes. Her streets are narrow, but being at the foot of wooded hills, this defect is lost sight of from the water. A very pleasant walk exists along the West Cliff (which by the bye is no cliff at all)… The views of the Solent and of the Hampshire coast are particularly pretty and much life is caused by the number of yachts usually at anchor off the town, the club house being situate on the Parade.” [p3]
Of Carisbrooke, to which he travelled by omnibus from Cowes, he noted “No village has all the signs of age. The church stands on an elevated round and the church yard is considerably above the road. This place in bygone times used to be considered the capital of the island, the castle being the great centre of strength and attraction….”
And it was to the Castle that Flood travelled, following the carriage road close to the grand entrance, which he described as “a really fine piece of antiquity often sketched and engraved, especially in guide books”.
“There is however a multitude of thoughts that rush through our mind when we behold such a relic actually before us…. Thoughts instead of glittering arms are now set in action by its towering and majestic form!”
“We pass through the portal to a small wicket admits us within the walls. We are shewn on the left the window from which Charles I endeavoured to escape and on the right is the chapel which has been rebuilt by George 2nd. On the left is the famous well 500 feet deep… A path also to the left leads to a lofty flight of steps in not very good condition which conveys the explorer to the keep….”
Determined to walk around the island Flood took many coastal paths and describes at length in his account his walk to the Needles.
“The afternoon was beautiful. A light breeze from the eastward was barely felt in the valley and was just strong enough to keep me pretty cool in ascending the down. I decided on walking to the Needles’ Point past the beacon. The distance from the inn is about four miles and the path leads along a ridge which stretches out into the sea which has washed gaps in the wall of rock, then forming those isolated masses known as the Needles. Near the beacon which is placed on the highest point of the Down, the sea cliffs are more than 700 feet high above high water mark. Not a break or ledge to be seen in this stupendous wall…. Large flocks of birds also rest here in the summer season finding holes in which they rear their young…
The view from the beacon is magnificent. The mighty ocean appeared to rise like a lofty blue rampart, the horizon being distantly defined. Many vessels were in sight, some standing in towards the island gently and gracefully… In the opposite direction, the coast of Hampshire was very distinctly divided from the island by the silver Solent. Hurst Castle, or its bank of shingle, was a very prominent object, and near it on the mainland, Milford Church was seen. To the westward the Isle of Purbeck and St Alban’s Head formed the fullest objects in that direction… The town of Yarmouth, situate as the name denotes at the mouth of the Yar on its eastern bank, is very plainly discernible…” [pp. 8-9]
Flood was equally entranced by and lavish in his praise of the Undercliff which he described as a “rugged but most beautiful and picturesque district”. However, his pleasure in the beauties of the district were spoilt in his opinion by the development of properties along the route that did not blend with the environment. He described a “very pretty villa, with a large green veranda has been erected forming a most ridiculous contrast with the dark foaming ravine below”. And also noted that “the spring that flows down the Chine has been also monopolized… I was much disgusted with the artificial aspect so badly assimilating with the rude rough grandeur of the neighbourhood….” [p15]
His is nevertheless the account of an enthusiast for the pleasures of walking and exploring the history, culture and scenery of the Isle of Wight. Alongside his descriptions of the places he visits are observations on the pleasures in simple things, such as the uses for a stout stick or of a wash stand after a long walk.
“Allow me here especially to recommend a stick”, Flood wrote: “It may flourish very uselessly at the commencement of a walk, even to the severing of a few nettle tops and shattering two or three thistle blooms but as the day advances, its point will be found to make very close acquaintance with the dust and when this in its place, the staff will be found an exceedingly valuable help to the pedestrian…” [p5] And he paid homage “to that healthful shrine, the wash hand stand” at the end of a long walk along a dusty road. [p7]
We hope that you manage to visit some of the places that will be open or try out some of the immense range of activities on offer both in person and online for the Heritage Open Days. And perhaps like Flood you might be inspired to write your own account of your adventures.
As we approach the new school year, the subject of this week’s blog is Queenwood College, a Hampshire school which was amongst the first in the country to include laboratory-based science lessons on its curriculum. Issues of the school newspaper in the Cope Collection help to provide a glimpse of school life.
Established in 1847, Queenwood owed its existence to the collapse of the socialist agricultural community set up at East Tytherley, near Stockbridge by Robert Owen and the Universal Community Society of Rational Religionists. In 1839 Owen had leased Queenwood Farm and 534 acres from Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, building the lavishly appointed Harmony Hall to house both the community members and a boarding school, the income from which was intended to support the endeavour. Despite the success of the school, it became clear that the experiment in community living could not continue, there were too few people willing to commit to the new way of life whilst those that had joined lacked the practical and agricultural skills to work the land. In 1845 a protracted legal process to settle its affairs began.
Harmony Hall was suitable only for institutional use and in March 1847 it was leased to George Edmondson, a Quaker schoolmaster then running Tulketh Hall, a school near Preston. At Tulketh, independence of mind and skilled hands were encouraged – the school having its own printing press and carpenter’s workshop, and it was this similarity in approach to the Harmony Hall school which encouraged former members of the Owenite community to ask Edmondson to set up the new school. For Edmondson the attraction of the move was the prospect of creating an agricultural school, which would include study of the new science of agricultural chemistry.
With Harmony Hall renamed Queenwood College, Edmondson and his new business partners set about making improvements, including building a chemistry laboratory (at a safe distance from the main building) and engineering workshops as well as installing a gas works. The College was to be organised in three sections, a boys’ secondary school, an agricultural and technical college and an evening institute. Adverts placed by Edmondson in newspapers before and after the opening in August 1847 focused on the scientific subjects on offer. That in the Hampshire Advertiser of 2 October 1847 carried detailed descriptions of each of the areas of science to be studied: Chemistry, Agriculture, Geology and Mineralogy, Geodesy and Civil Engineering, Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, a few lines on Classics concluding the list. The school fees were fifty guineas per annum, with an extra four guineas for the services of a laundress and sempstress.
Thanks to contacts in the scientific world, Edmondson was able to recruit members of staff to plan and deliver the courses envisaged. Amongst these were the chemist, Edward Frankland, who had worked with Lyon Playfair, and later became Professor of Chemistry at Owens College, Manchester whilst John Tyndall, who taught mathematics and engineering would go on to become Professor of Physics and a well-known public lecturer at the Royal Institution.
The College had much in common with later technical colleges and prepared those taking the vocational courses for careers in agriculture, the railways and mines. According to John Tyndall’s wife, many of the youths at the agricultural school had disappointed their parents in other vocations and needed ‘strong and judicious handling’. It was this section of the College though, which was the first to succumb to competition, closing in the 1850s as training became more widely available.
The boys’ school and evening lectures continued. As well as following the scientific curriculum, the boys were encouraged to develop hobbies, whether undertaking their own projects in the workshops, developing an interest in natural history and forming collections (often of birds’ eggs in those days), keeping pets and also researching subjects of interest and speaking on them at the Friday night meetings of the Mutual Improvement Society. All of these activities were recorded in the school newspaper, the Queenwood Observer which was edited and printed by the boys. Issues of the Queenwood Observer for 1859 show something of their school life and interests.
At Edmondson’s death in 1863, the school was in a precarious financial position, but Charles Willmore, another Quaker with an interest in science, took it on and ran it for over thirty years. An advert for the auction sale in the Hampshire Advertiser of 10 October 1863 gives a description of the college buildings and grounds at that time:
The Mansion contains eight large dormitories, each 33ft by 21ft, lavatories, twenty other bed chambers, noble reception rooms, private parlours, spacious dining halls, banquetting saloon or lecture room, about 40ft by 24ft; a distinct wing, three stories in height, contains about fourteen class and school rooms, and the domestic arrangements are very complete.
The pleasure grounds (through which the house is approached by a carriage drive with lodge entrance) are beautifully laid out; there is also a large kitchen Garden, orchards, playing fields, &c. the out-buildings include laundry, with steam-power, hospice, laboratory and gas works in complete working order, with supply throughout the premises; stabling, hot-house, &c.
Although Willmore spent less time promoting the school than Edmondson, it continued to operate with the usual fluctuations in pupil numbers, maintaining its reputation for teaching the sciences. In issues of the Term Notes (the re-titled Queenwood Observer) from the late 1880s and early 1890s, school life appears much the same. A report of an exhibition arranged in 1889 by the Mutual Improvement Society lists exhibits made by the boys which included a cedar model of a racing-yacht, an induction coil, galvanometer and microphone alongside natural history collections and art work. The Notes include the usual weather report, natural history notes, records of Sunday walks and in some issues, photographs.
A remark in Notes for Autumn Term 1888 that ‘many of the arrangements are still such as old boys will recollect them to have been years ago’ indicates that there was little appetite for change at Queenwood. That times were getting harder for such schools is seen in a prospectus issued by Willmore in 1892. Preceding the description of the school itself, which emphasises its reputation for teaching science, there is a discussion of the competition faced by the school – large public schools, home tutors, day schools, including grammar schools, the conclusion reached, not unsurprisingly, favouring the ‘high-class Private boarding School’.
In 1896 Willmore retired and the college closed, bringing to an end a period of both social and educational experiment on the site. Changes elsewhere in the education system had made it difficult for schools such as Queenwood to survive, but that it provided a high quality training in the sciences over many years is seen in its endorsement by seven members of the Royal Society, including the four former teachers, Heinrich Debus, Edward Franklin, Henry Roscoe and John Tyndall who had been attracted by Edmondson’s vision.
Elinor Alice Moore was born in Fulwood Park, Mossley Hill, Liverpool on 14 September 1887. She was known as Ellie to her family; her parents were Alice and William, a merchant.
Not much is known about Elinor’s early years. From 1911-1914 she was resident at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, studying for a BA in modern history. A reference from this period of her life comes from Eleanor C. Lodge, Vice-Principal and History Tutor, Lady Margaret Hall:
Miss Moore was my pupil for two years and a term during which time she was working for the Honour School of Modern History in Oxford.
She was a student of distinct literary ability, a mature mind, a very general interest in historical subjects, and a good deal of miscellaneous knowledge, gleaned from a wider reading than most students are able to accomplish. She worked methodically and could always be left to plan out things for herself. I should expect her to do well at Librarian’s work, fitted as she would be by her knowledge of books, strong literary interests, and general intelligence.
The following year Ms. Moore took a course in professional library studies run by The Library Association at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, a qualification which she soon put to use as Librarian of University College, Southampton (now the University of Southampton).
She was awarded a teacher’s diploma by Senate House in 1920 and that same year moved to Jerusalem to teach at the British High School for Girls (later Jerusalem Girls’ College). The institution had been founded two years previous and was in existence until 1975.
She was a fervent letter writer and sent frequent epistles to her family in the UK. She writes on 4 October (“St Francis’ day”) 1924 respecting the College which had recently undergone extensive renovations:
Life is full of thrills here, & at present the chief thrill is that of watching a place grow, as it were, under one’s hand. […] Now [the house] is practically ready, clean & orderly. […] We have got some very nice pictures up in the hall too, nice coloured reproductions of the paintings in the Houses of Parliament, chiefly historical.
The very interesting development of our work this year is the coming of Moslem girls. […] They were the chief Moslem family here, the Husseini, & they are sending us a little girl of 7, the granddaughter of Musa Kazin Pasha, the head of the Moslem-Christian Federation & of the Arab political movement. […] So in one dormitory there will be, an Arab, Christian girl (a Lutheran), a Belgian girl (R.C. probably) a Jewess, and 3 Moslems! Did you ever hear of such a quaint mixture? We are only able to take 12 boarders at present with the Hostel being changed into a Day School.
Letter from E.A.Moore to her family, 4 October 1924 [MS84/1/3]
Sadly, not all her account of time spent in the Middle East were positive. She writes in her diary for 1937:
February 21 Grave disorders in Tiberias on Friday & Saturday. Curfew proclaimed…Both Arabs and Jews involved. Police fire over heads of crowds.
February 22 Tiberias quiet. Moslem procession escorted by police. It is Moslem Feast of Bairam but procession was orderly. Our Moslem girls have gone home for the feast.
February 23 Two Arab police shot near Haifa. Bandites held up a car near Jenin. A bomb maker wounded near Bethlehem at Beit Jala.
Year by Year diary for 1937 [MS84/2/1]
Elinor Moore also worked for the Arab Refugee Committee based in St. George’s Close, on the Jordan side of Jerusalem, liaising with the Near East Christian Council and the Anglican Bishopric to help the Arab refugees in the Middle East.
Ms. Moore was a devout Christian and around 1941 she was involved in founding a new lay order within the Anglican Bishopric of Jerusalem. Its aims was to “unite in common fellowship and discipline those who wish to further the work of Christian Education within the Anglican Bishopric of Jerusalem.” It included regular prayer, two annual retreats, bible study and almsgiving.
Every European member must remain in the Near East throughout the summer at least in each alternate year and should use that time to increase his knowledge of the people among whom he is called to work.
[Draft rule and constitution of the Provisional Law order in the Anglican Bishopric in Jerusalem, 31 May 1941 MS84/1 f4]
Later in life she took an MA at Oxford, awarded in 1945.
Moore initially retired from missionary work in 1946 aged 59 but later returned due to the refugee crisis and remained involved with teaching and relief work in Jerusalem and Amman until her second retirement in 1957.
As you might imagine, her “retirement” was not quiet and she still found the time and energy to produced three books: Ancient Churches of Old Jerusalem: the evidence of the pilgrims (Beruit, 1961); Some Soldier Martys of the Early Christian Church in East Jordan and Syria (Beruit, 1964); and The Early Church in the Middle East (Beruit, 1968).
The blog post can only give a superficial summary of the detailed correspondence housed in the strongrooms and merely scratch the surface of such a varied and interesting life.
This week we will be taking a look at a new collection – the Papers of Walter Schindler (MS447). Schindler was born about 1896 and earned his medical degree from Breslau University in the 1920s. From 1920-27 he worked as a medical assistant at various hospitals: the Medical University Clinic Berlin; Friedrichshain Municipal Hospital (Berlin); University Psychiatry Clinic (Vienna); Polyclinic for Nervous Diseases of Dr Cassirer (formerly the ‘Oppeiheimsche Clinic’). At the clinic of Dr Cassirer he was head of the psycho-therapeutical department for three years where he lectured and trained a considerable number of German psychotherapists. From 1930-1938 Schindler had his own private practice as a specialist for nervous diseases in Berlin. During this period he acted as the Chairman of the Berlin Society of Depth Psychology and also co-founded the ‘Deutsche Psycho-Therpaeutische Gesellschaft’ in Berlin; he also worked as a Psychiatric Adviser to the German Health Service.
In his curriculum vitae, c.1941, he is aged 45 years and living in Oxford: “I am a doctor for nervous diseases and came to this country in November 1938 as a refugee from Nazi Oppression” [MS447 A4309/4/1].
Many years later, in a letter dated 16th July 1975 addressed to a Mr Jaeger, Schindler reminisces of his experiences with the Nazis before he fled Germany: “I myself, having been for certain reasons rather a long time under the Nazis in Germany, have also experienced many dangerous encounters. I was called to the Gestapo in the Albrecht Strasse, was threatened with persecution concerning race collusion and was mentioned in the Nazi press in a rather thorough article about a lecture of mine concerning Antisemitism” [MS447 A4309/1/4].
From February 1938 to March 1941 Schindler was a member of the medical staff at the Tavistock Clinic, London and he later had his own private practice as a specialist for nervous diseases at Oxford. He also worked as honorary psychotherapist at the West End Hospital for Nervous Diseases from 1943, where he introduced group psychotherapy. In the late 1940s he was invited by the newly-founded or re-founded Deutsche Psycho-Therapeutische Gesellschaft to become an Honorary President.
By 1951 he was giving lectures at Morley College in London on medical psychology and he also gave lectures on ‘Psychology and Religion’ to the New Liberal Jewish Congregation of London associated with Claude Montefiore (who, incidentally, was Acting President of University College Southampton from 1910-1913 and the President from 1913 to 1934 and is regarded as the intellectual founder of Anglo-Liberal Judaism).
In his time Schindler wrote many papers on the psychological aspects of a wide range of subjects including art, religion, hippie culture, Beatlemania, antisemitism and sex (the latter for the International Journal of Sexology printed in India), all informed by his medical practice as well as his deep involvement in academia. He also wrote on drug-dependence, which he saw as stemming from ‘Sehnsucht’ or longing as a means of overcoming frustrations: “It is quite possible that deep down every addict is a love addict, that means longing for a quantity or quality of love which he is never able to get…” [MS447 A4309/1/4]. He also wrote extensively on both the theoretical and practical aspects of group therapy and other concepts in psychoanalytic theory for the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy (the official publication of the American Group Psychotherapy Association).
A letter dated August 1976 congratulates Schindler on recently becoming an octogenarian, whilst other letters from that time indicate that he was still very much active into his eighties, attending academic conferences in Germany and the like.
Like many academics Schindler had his disagreements with other professionals in his field of expertise, differences of opinion that seem rather opaque and difficult to decipher from the vantage-point of the layperson, including a spat with Dr Siegmund Heinrich Foulkes (1898-1976), another pioneering psychotherapist who contributed to the development of group analysis, a variant form of group therapy, and the editor of the journal Group Analysis. In a letter dated 21st June 1975 Schindler writes to Dr Foulkes: “The more I work through our problem, the more I really come to the conclusion that to a great extent semantic misunderstandings and over accentuations of certain standpoints are the cause of the somehow rather sharp discussion” [MS447 A4309/1/6]. As a psychotherapist, Schindler was able to take a step back and look at his disagreement with Foulkes with a deeper perspective that would not have been possible were he not trained in psycho-analysis: “As an analytically orientated psychotherapist I think there are unconscious strands of a certain animosity in our personalities which need uncovering. I am afraid that our lack of time prevents us from doing so in a rational way, but unfortunately such is life (?)” [MS447 A4309/1/6].
There are other examples in the collection of Schindler’s correspondence in which he psycho-analyses his own personal relationships with academics and friends. Dr Foulkes’ papers, including some correspondence of his widowed wife with Schindler, are held by the Wellcome Library.
Despite their real or perceived intellectual differences, in his letter of 21st June 1975 Schindler thanked Foulkes for his editorship of the Group Analysis journal and claimed to agree with the majority of his thoughts and techniques on group analytical theory.
In a letter dated 17th February 1977, subsequent to Foulkes’ death in the previous year, Schindler wrote to another academic acknowledging that Foulkes had a “historical value because he was, as far as I know, the first to introduce some form of group therapy in this country [the UK]”, although Schindler also claims that Foulkes’ ideas were not original: “In this paper (1951) everything that he later on had to say, without ever quoting me by the way, I had said” [MS447 A4309/1/6]. The paper to which Schindler is referring is his 1951 article ‘Family Pattern in Group Formation and Theory’, published in the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Vol. 1, Issue 2, June 1951.
Walter Schindler’s contributions to group-analytic theory were later acknowledged by Dieter Sandner in an article titled ‘Thoughts On Walter Schindler’s Contribution To Group Analysis Theory and Technique’ published in Foulkes’ own journal Group Analysis, wherein Sandner states: “Already in 1951 Walter Schindler was of the opinion that analytic groups as a whole represent a mother figure, the therapist a father figure and every group member represents a brother or a sister. He was therefore the first who elaborated in a detailed and systematic way the family as a psychological reference for analytic group therapy. It is surprising that this concept has not been more appreciated within the scope of analytic group work, especially as through this concept a systematic analysis of the repeated family constellations could here and now have been completed” [Sandner, Dieter: ‘Thoughts On Walter Schindler’s Contribution To Group Analysis Theory and Technique’ in Group Analysis, Vol. 13, Issue 3, pp.161-164, 1 Dec 1980].
In another letter dated 28th June 1977 addressed to Foulkes’ widow, Elizabeth Foulkes (née Marx) (1918-2004), Schindler acknowledges the intellectual influence that her late husband had on him and his well-deserved place in the intellectual history of psychotherapy as an organiser and promoter of the field, but he takes issue with Foulkes’ ‘ambiguous statements’ and his misunderstanding of his own work.
It is beyond both the scope of this blogpost and the ability of this author to fully assess the merits of the academic disputes between Schindler and Foulkes or to judge the continuing practical or academic relevancy of their work for today’s psychology and psychotherapy. But this new collection certainly captures the life of a gifted scholar, doctor and refugee from Nazi oppression as well as the debates and concerns of twentieth-century psychotherapy. In addition to the correspondence of Schindler we also have his lecture notes and speeches, some early twentieth century news clippings, journal off-prints and pamphlets as well as Schindler’s case notes.
In this week’s blog post, we reflect on the Vietnam War and the sources we hold relating to student protests against the war, and the settlement of Vietnamese refugees at the RAF Sopley Reception Camp in Hampshire.
The Vietnam War was a fight in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam and was the second of the Indochina Wars. The Indochina Wars were a were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia from 1946 to 1991, between communist Indochinese forces against mainly French, South Vietnamese, American, Cambodian, Laotian and Chinese forces.
The level of protest against the war
Around 2.8 million American soldiers served in Vietnam. The conflict affected the whole nation. The period witnessed unrest in other areas of American life – black Americans fought for their civil rights, the Women’s Liberation movement grew and young people protested against the government for a variety of reasons. This coincided with growing opposition to the war in Vietnam.
People had started to turn against the war prior to the Tet Offensive but after it, criticism grew even more. The Tet Offensive was a military campaign launched on 30 January 1968 by the Viet Cong forces and the North Vietnamese People’s Army of Vietnam forces, against the United States Armed Forces and their allies. It consisted of a series of surprise attacks against military and civilian command throughout South Vietnam. The purpose was to trigger political instability, and to therefore trigger rebellions. As results of the Tet casualties and number of draft calls for American civilians increased, American public support for the war declined. In an age of television, millions of the American public could witness the tragic events taking place in Vietnam. The use of napalm (a chemical that burns the skin) had shocked many, as had the public executions.
One of the key groups who protested against the war were students. In April 1965, 20,000 people went to the Washington Monument to protest at a rally led by the group ‘Students for a Democratic Society’. By 1967, protests had become more likely to erupt into violence, some resulting in the United States flag being burnt, which was an arrestable offence. At Berkeley, Yale and Stanford universities, bombs were set off. Violence continued to escalate and in 1970 four students at Kent State University were shot dead by the National Guard.
In the University archives, we hold photographs of student protests that happened at the University of Southampton, like the one below.
Departure of Vietnamese residents from Vietnam
By early 1975 it was clear that North Vietnamese forces would soon overrun South Vietnam. Just before Saigon fell, United States and other foreign forces evacuated the first wave of people seeking to escape. The second wave of refugees emerged as the communist government began to dismantle the old regime. Those associated with the former government were sent for re-education, others lost their jobs or were moved to work on rural reconstruction projects. People began to flee Vietnam, generally via boat in the middle of the night, seeking asylum in neighbouring Asian countries. They left with limited belongings. Amid fears for their safety, more than 3000 infants were flown out of Vietnam, mainly to the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, but also to Australia. Some families were separated.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), three million civilians from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam fled over 20 years, out of which 800,000 Vietnamese fled by boat, leading to them being named in history as the “Boat people of Vietnam”. The boats used were ramshackle fishing boats and were not devised to be used in the open sea. The boats were often overcrowded, and sadly many died from drowning at sea or being attacked by pirates and sold into slavery and prostitution. While the Unites States allowed 200,000 Cambodians and Vietnamese displaced by the war to enter on a ‘parole’ status under the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act passed in 1975, the United Nations resolved to stretch the limits of regular migration to help Vietnamese refugees seek asylum successfully.
Vietnamese refugees arrive in Southampton
The ramshackle fishing boats sailed to areas of Asia with well established Chinese communities such as Hong Kong and Singapore as a result of a large proportion of the “Boat People” being Chinese. Upon arrival the refugees were put in basic refugee camps. By 1979 the number of refugees arriving in Hong Kong had reached such sheer volumes that it was becoming a serious crisis for Hong Kong, and the British government as a result of Hong Kong being a British colony. Numbers had reached over 32,000, and were continuing to rise, and the conditions in the camps were insalubrious. To begin with, the UK agreed to accept 1,500 refugees who had been rescued at sea, followed by a further 1,400. As a result of international pressure however, the British government agreed at the July 1979 Geneva Conference on the Indo-Chinese refugees to accept a further 10,000 Vietnamese refugees from the camps in Hong Kong. The key individuals that ensured this agreement were made were foreign secretary at the time, Lord Carrington and Home Secretary, William Whitelaw, the latter arguing that “it is necessary that we should have a positive and defensible policy towards refugees from a brutal communist tyranny.” Vietnamese refugees were brought to London via the cargo ship SS Sibonga and by plane, and from London, by coach to various cities across the country, including Southampton. 600 refugees were taken to the RAF Sopley Camp. The majority of the responsibility of re-housing and re-settling the refugees fell upon the following voluntary organisations, British Council for Aid to Refugees (BCAR), Save the Children Fund and Ockenden Venture. Guidelines for the resettlement programme were set by the Home Office, restricting the number of refugees each council should receive and instructing that all incoming refugees were to be housed at the ‘Welcome Camps’ for no longer than 3 months, where they would be taught skills to make them employable.
Before being used as a reception camp for the Vietnamese refugees, RAF Sopley was a World War Two station. As a reception camp, it was guarded by the military and patrolled by dogs. It was run by volunteers who sought to make the camp a welcoming space buzzing with organised activities for both the Vietnamese adults and children. It ran as a self-catered camp and had shops issuing food. Facilities included a Lower School for younger children and an Upper School for older children and adults, a medical centre, as well as a Women’s Royal Voluntary Service clothing store and a sewing room. The prime objectives for assimilating the Vietnamese refugees were education and recreation, with football matches and cricket seen as good introductions to ‘British way of life’. Day trips were organised to the Isle of Wight, a Buddhist temple in Southampton, and even to watch speedway racing. Volunteers at the Sopley Camp reported the Vietnamese people to be charming, friendly and resilient, explaining that basic communication could be managed with facial expressions and gesticulations. Vietnamese interpreters were on site.
The Refugee Council suggested the length of stay in the camps should be three months, but it often proved longer, as the refugees waited for accommodation and struggled to adjust to the new language, environment, climate and culture in Britain. Five months was the average stay during 1979. Many families left in large groups for the big cities, such as London, Birmingham and even the country Wales. By August 1982, 209 refugees were settled in Hampshire by the Refugee Council and 117 by Ockenden Venture with the county divided by the zoning process. Vietnamese settlements in Hampshire offered reasonable support from the local populace and the development of an active Vietnamese community. Of those settled by Ockenden Venture, 21 Vietnamese went to Eastleigh, 18 to Gosport, 22 to Portsmouth, and 56 to Southampton. Those settled by the Refugee Council also went to other regions of the country such as the New Forest, some having been residents at Sopley.
Sopley camp resettled more than 1000 people in 12 months. It closed in 1982.
The Papers of Professor Tony Kushner (MS401 A4137) provide a rich insight into the experiences of the Vietnamese refugees settling into the UK, and also capture the reactions of the British press and population to their arrival. Significant articles, information sheets and notes from books provide useful knowledge on the context of why the Vietnamese refugees came to the UK, and also what their cultural traditions are and how the British could help them settle into this country.
As well as newspaper cuttings and booklets created by Hampshire County Council providing this information, the collection also contains written oral interviews with Vietnamese refugees, which portray how big the change of culture was for them. Vietnamese families often lived in one room with no gas or electricity, and food was sold on streets rather than shops. So coming to Britain where it was common to live in houses and have food sold in shops seemed quite extraordinary to the Vietnamese populace. In addition, the Vietnamese found the British’s closed door policy a stark contrast to everybody visiting each other’s houses in Vietnam. They attempted to foster community links by creating groups such as the Vietnamese Community Association in Portsmouth which organised cultural activities and education to maintain traditions. Such experiences are revealed in the interview transcript with Mai Hoang who left Vietnam in 1979:
Q. What did you first notice when you came to GB [Great Britain]? What was the biggest diff[erence] when you first arrived?
“The weather! Cold. I wear a thick jumper. You can imagine. Yes the weather – a big shock & also in Vietnam in the morning there are people to – they sell like breakfast – they sell – you don’t have to cook – do the breakfast, you can buy it…”
Q. What about the landscape? Was that a shock to you?
“Yes. V. quiet!! I used to live in Saigon, a big city very noisy all the traffic. At 6’oclock in the morning you can here a lot of noisy already like London. And suddenly I went to Gosport v.quiet. So I feel a bit different.”
Q. Do you[r] family ever think you’d like to go back to Vietnam?
“ I want to go back to V[ietnam] sometime to visit. I have some rel[atives] there.
Q. But you wouldn’t want to go back and live there then.
“No! I don’t like the Comm[unist] g[overnment]… Comm[unists] make the people poorer. The standard of living before 1975 is higher than after 1975. People are poorer: the comm[unist] people are the poorer people.”
Mai Hoang, 1995 from the Papers of Professor Tony Kushner [MS401 A4137/1/7/2]
Other records include the Hampshire County Council of Community Service booklet Meeting the Needs of the Vietnamese, which begins with explaining what a refugee is, and how the Vietnamese refugees came to be in Hampshire. The nature of the problems faced by the Vietnamese in settling in England are highlighted, and the recommendations in alleviating these problems, which include mother-tongue classes and child care centres for Vietnamese children and better training and re-training for those wishing to continue using the skills they practised in Vietnam. Information is even provided on the Vietnamese family kinship system and child’s sense of identity, so that the reader can gain knowledge on the Vietnamese culture. Interesting facts can be learnt, such as it being normal for the Vietnamese child to sleep in the same bed as its mother until they reach the age of 8 or 10 while the father enjoys the peace of his own room. Other cultural traits noted include the woman being the Home General of the home while the man is the expert in outside matters.
The papers also hold articles on the reception and resettlement of Vietnamese refugees in Britain, as well as leaflets on Vietnamese community development programmes and what volunteers can do to help the Vietnamese refugees. Suggestions include the following:
“Come to the Camp for conversation sessions with small groups; correct grammar and mispronunciations. This can be done naturally over games like Scrabble, Chess, Draughts, or card games, all of which are popular.”
“’Adopt’ a refugee family for the few months they are in the Reception Centre. Show how a British home functions, how we cook, lay a table, entertain. How to make use of public transport. Show them the countryside; farming in different seasons. Build up confidence through a balanced friendship, finding out about their lives and customs as much as teaching them about ours.”
What a Volunteer Can Do leaflet [MS401 A4137/2/6 Folder 1]
Researchers can also gain an insight into how the Vietnamese refugees were perceived by the local press, through the photocopies of newspaper cuttings from local newspaper such as the Southern Evening Echo. The cuttings give you coverage of the arrival of the refugees into Hampshire and their settlement into Britain. They also provide information on the efforts made to set up RAF Camp Sopley for the 600 refugees due to arrive, such as getting a consignment of chopsticks, preparing the 34 huts for the refugees to sleep in and furnishing them to make them more homely. The cuttings also capture the local residents efforts in helping to make the refugees welcome through the lorry and van loads of clothes donated and photographs showing residents giving the refugees a warm arrival with their “Welcome to Britain” sign.
Women’s Royal Voluntary Service papers are also included, which include a letter from the District Organiser Joyce White, explaining the arrival of the Vietnamese refugees in Gosport in December 1978, and photocopies of pages reflecting the organisation’s assistance to the refugees.
We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post. Please join us next week, where we will be focusing on the MS447 Papers of Walter Schindler.