British Polo Day: Lord Mountbatten and Polo

To mark British Polo Day on the 9th December, which takes place at Jaipur in Northern India, we take a look at our sources relating to polo in the Mountbatten Papers.

“I’ve gone completely dippy about polo, which in my opinion is the best game in the world” [Mountbatten to Prince Albert, 25 January 1922]

Lord Louis Mountbatten on a polo pony, New Barnet, 1923 [MB1/L2/92]

Lord Louis Mountbatten on a polo pony, New Barnet, 1923 [MB1/L2/92]

Polo is a horseback mounted sport, and was invented in northeastern India. The sport was promoted by officers of the British military in the mid-19th century, and is now internationally popular.

The sport is played by two opposing teams with the aim of scoring goals by hitting a small hard ball with a long-handled wooden mallet through the opposing team’s goal. Each team consists of four riders, and the game usually lasts for 2 hours, divided into periods called chukkas.

Lord Louis Mountbatten and the rest of the Warspite polo team, Mandelieu Polo Club, c. January 1927 [MB2/L4/210]

Lord Louis Mountbatten and the rest of the Warspite polo team, Mandelieu Polo Club, c. January 1927 [MB2/L4/210]

In 1921, Mountbatten played his first game in Jodhpur, India. He learnt that it would take practice to become good at polo, which included being a good equestrian. In 1923, he took a month’s course in military equitation with the Life Guards. This, along with coaching by specialists, and a scientific study of his weaknesses, helped him become an exceptional player. As a captain, he helped teams reach achievements that they had not previously, such as the Bluejackets nearly winning the Inter-Regiment trophy twice. The success was a result of detailed discussion and practice. One rule Mountbatten implemented was the team calling each other by their Christian names, which gave the players the opportunity to interpret what the caller was thinking, and to respond appropriately.

“He was the perfect captain, both on and off the field… On the field he never got rattled or bad-tempered. And no matter how silly one was he was always forgiving and encouraging.” [‘Mountbatten and Polo’ by Sir Robert Neville, pp.23-4, MB1/L291]

Lord Louis Mountbatten kissing Queen Mary's hand at the prize-giving ceremony after the Duke of York's Cup polo match, Ranelagh, 1 July 1931 [MB2/L4/211

Lord Louis Mountbatten kissing Queen Mary’s hand at the prize-giving ceremony after the Duke of York’s Cup polo match, Ranelagh, 1 July 1931 [MB2/L4/211]

Mountbatten was not only interested in playing polo, but also improving and refining the sport, going so far as to construct and patent an oval-shaped head to the polo stick which provided “loft and length and a strong head.” [‘Mountbatten and Polo’ by Sir Robert Neville, p.14, MB1/L291] The head was named the R.N.P.A. head, which stands for Royal Naval Polo Association. Mountbatten gave the patent rights to the RNPA, which resulted in them receiving large quantities of royalties for many years.

Frustrated with the existing books on polo not meeting the requirements of a complete beginner, Mountbatten decided to write his own, with the assistance of Peter Murphy. An Introduction to Polo by ‘Marco’ was translated into Spanish and French, and became the bible for all polo-players. Referring to what he learnt when he first started playing polo, Mountbatten begins the first chapter on horsemanship with the following lines:

“Before you start to play polo, make sure that you are able to concentrate on your hitting without having to be busy riding. If you have never ridden in your life, begin by taking lessons from someone competent to give them, for you can’t satisfactorily teach yourself.” [An Introduction to Polo by ‘Marco’ (1931, London), p.3.]

An Introduction to Polo by ‘Marco’ (1937, London) MB6 K3a

An Introduction to Polo by ‘Marco’ (1937, London) MB6/K3a

Mountbatten was also interested in the regulations of polo, which is reflected by the correspondence we hold between Mountbatten and key persons on the proposed international rules of polo. Mountbatten was Chairman of the International Rules Committee between 1939 and 1940, and his role in ensuring one set of international rules was played worldwide involved collecting the International Rules himself, in person. As a result of Mountbatten holding this position, one set of polo rules is used all over the world, whereas previously, the Hurlingham, American and Indian Polo Association rules all differed.

“Your letter dated October 18th with regard to the proposed International Rules and the International Rules Committee arrived here at a very opportune time. The ground that you laid down when you edited the first drafts of a set of International Rules have borne fruit in this country already. I might say that your draft of rules was entirely responsible for the greatest activity that our own Rules Committee has shown in several years. It inspired them to review our own rules completely and at our last meeting numerous changes, none of them fundamental, were suggested.” [Letter from Robert E. Strawbridge, Jr., United States Polo Association, to Lord Mountbatten, 22 November 1939, MB1/L310]

Proposed International Rules of Polo, 1938 [MB1/L310]

Proposed International Rules of Polo, 1938 [MB1/L310]

Thinking of ways that Naval Officers could have their polo interests addressed in the same way that the Army Saddle Club did for Army officers, Mountbatten decided to set up the Royal Naval Polo Association. Organising meetings, funds, and questionnaires, the RNPA was formed in 1930. By 1939 membership of the Association had already reached five or six hundred. The Association changed its name to Royal Naval Saddle Club in 1958.

As well as being the first honorary secretary of the RNPA in 1937, Mountbatten also took up many other committee positions in connection to polo, such as Chairman of the London Polo Committee, Secretary of the Malta Polo Club (and later patron); and in 1955, Patron of Rhinefield (New Forest) Polo Club.

Malta Polo Club Rundle Cup Programme, 4 March 1967 [MB1/L292]

Malta Polo Club Rundle Cup Programme, 4 March 1967 [MB1/L292]

The Mountbatten Papers provide a rich resource for those interested in polo, with material including papers on the early days of the Royal Navy Polo Association and Hunt Club, lists of Royal Naval Saddle Club members and Club minutes, correspondence between different countries on the decision-making of international polo rules, and notes and manuscripts for Mountbatten’s An Introduction to Polo.

“I do hope that you are going to be able to give a little time in your television series to the Admiral’s polo. I believe that you might find that this would be a very popular section of the series with the television viewers. We have had many portrayals of the deeds of the great military Commanders but I think that the combination of outstanding Military leadership with his prowess on the field of sport not only highlights Mountbatten’s amazing ability to keep so many balls in the air at once but makes his exploits of more human and general interest.” [Letter from Major General Sir Robert Neville to Mr Morley, 10 September 1968, MB1/L292]

Lord Louis Mountbatten's polo team, the "Shrimps", after winning the Keyes Cup, Malta, 31 December 1928 [MB1/L4/166]

Lord Louis Mountbatten’s polo team, the “Shrimps”, after winning the Keyes Cup, Malta, 31 December 1928 [MB1/L4/166]

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Richard St. Barbe Baker, Man of the Trees

To mark National Tree Week (24th November – 2nd December) we celebrate the life of Richard St. Barbe Baker (1889-1982), the founder of the ‘Men of the Trees Society’ now known as the International Tree Foundation.

A Hampshire man – his great-grandfather had been Rector of Botley in William Cobbett’s time – Baker grew up at West End in a house appropriately named ‘The Firs’. There he helped his father, John St. Barbe Baker, in the tree nursery that he had established after turning his hobby of growing trees into a business following a financial setback. In the book My Life, My Trees Baker described how as a child he explored the extensive woodland nearby, an experience which had a profound effect on him, influencing his decision to dedicate his life to promoting a greater understanding of the vital role of trees in the natural environment.

His father’s involvement in the Evangelical Movement was another important influence and on leaving school, Baker combined his interest in forestry with missionary work when he fulfilled his ambition to move to Canada. There he attended Emmanuel College, Saskatchewan University, and also worked the land as a ‘homesteader’ in preparation for which he had learned to shoe horses in Southampton and practised pioneering in Burridge.

West End c.1904 Rare Books Cope Postcard WES 91.5 CHU

After three and a half years he returned to Britain to take up a place at Cambridge to read Divinity but his studies were interrupted by World War I in which he was commissioned in the Royal Horse and Field Artillery. Wounded three times, his poor health saw him stationed at the Swaythling Remount Depot, before he was invalided out in April 1918. On his return to Cambridge he took the Diploma in Forestry and on being appointed Assistant Conservator of Forests in Kenya began the conservation work for which he became so well known.

Richard St. Barbe Baker Among the Trees (1935) Cope 96 BAK

Baker was ahead of his time in recognising the role of trees as protectors of the environment and the necessity of replacing those which had to be felled for timber, fuel or simply clearing land. After achieving success in this in Kenya, he established the Men of the Trees Society and following a period of five years conserving forests in Nigeria, spent the remainder of his long life working for the Society. Travelling the world he campaigned for the preservation and restoration of forests and the afforestation of desert areas by writing articles, books and scientific papers, also giving popular lectures and holding discussions with government ministers and heads of state. Through his efforts billions of trees were planted as more and more people were persuaded of his view that ‘unless we play fair to our land the Earth we cannot continue to exist’.

Richard St. Barbe Baker My Life My Trees (1970) Cope 95 BAK

In later years Baker often returned to Hampshire, notably in June 1958, when he undertook a ride of 330 miles through Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex, in emulation of William Cobbett. During the nineteen days in the saddle, he spoke to thousands of schoolchildren with the aim of raising their awareness of the environment. The completion of the ride was marked with a lunch for Cobbett’s descendants which he saw as a way of mending relations between the families, his great-grandfather and Cobbett having fallen out.

When visiting the later owners of  The Firs, Baker spent time reminiscing about his childhood and recalling the first woods he knew. There he had recognised that trees maintain ‘the balance between beauty and utility’ and came to believe  that ‘in the sanctuary of the woods we may breathe deeply, exhaling all thought which is not creative and inhaling the breath of life.’

Richard St. Barbe Baker Green Glory (1949) Cope 96 BAK

Baker’s work was recognised by the award of an honorary doctorate from the University of Saskatchewan in 1971 and an OBE in 1978. Following his death in 1982 at the age of 92, he was also remembered locally with a memorial plaque and road naming at West End, and something he would undoubtedly have appreciated, the planting of a grove of thirty trees by The Men of the Trees at Hatch Grange.

A number of Baker’s books can be found in the Cope Collection and a small collection of his correspondence with Grace Mary Mays is in the Archives and Manuscripts Collections MS 92.

The anniversary of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918

Earlier this year we celebrated the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, 1918.  This extended the franchise in parliamentary elections, to men aged 21 and over, whether or not they owned property, and to women aged 30 and over with land or premises with a rateable value above £5.  Although an important milestone it was just the start of giving British women full political enfranchisement.  This month marks the anniversary of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 which allowed women to be elected into the House of Commons.

There were several organisations established with the aim of votes for women.  These included the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies; the Women’s Franchise League and the Women’s Social and Political Union.  There was also a specific movement within the Anglo-Jewish Community: the Jewish League for Woman Suffrage (JLWS) was founded in 1912 to campaign for, among other things, the vote for British women.  They also worked towards religious suffrage such as votes for female synagogue seat holders.  Core members of the Jewish League came from the upper-middle-class Franklin extended family who worked alongside male supporters such as author Israel Zangwill. Other organisations, such as the Union of Jewish Women, while not established with this specific aim, became involved in the suffrage campaigns. 

The Liberal politician, Hebert Samuel, first Viscount Samuel, was key to the passing of this Act. He had not initially been a support of women’s suffrage but on 23 October 1918 he moved a separate motion to allow women to be eligible as Members of Parliament. The vote was passed by 274 to 25, and the government rushed through a bill to make it law in time for the 1918 election.

Herbert-Louis-Samuel-1st-Viscount-Samuel

Herbert Louis Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel by Walter Stoneman, for James Russell & Sons. Bromide print, circa 1916 NPG Ax39163 © National Portrait Gallery, London

In 1897, Samuel married his first cousin Beatrice.  The Special Collections holds correspondence from Henrietta Joseph, wife of George Joseph, mainly to her younger sister Beatrice, 1916-33.  Henrietta and Beatrice were daughters of a banker, Ellis Abraham Franklin.   The eight bundles of letters reflect Henrietta’s extensive philanthropic and social activities.

One of the founding members of the Jewish League for Woman Suffrage was Henrietta (Netta) Franklin.  She also served as president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.  Her sister, Lily Montague, was the founder of the UK Liberal Jewish Movement.  Netta and Lily’s father was Samuel Montagu, first Baron Swaythling.  Swaythling’s eldest son, and Lily and Netta’s elder brother, was Louis Montagu, later second Baron Swaythling.  The Special Collections also hold papers of his wife Gladys Helen Rachel Montagu, Baroness Swaythling and her family.

Well-known novelist and Zionist, Israel Zangwill was an ardent suffragist and worked alongside his wife Edith and her family, helping to establish United Suffragists, one of the later campaign organisations.  The Special Collections holds several smaller collections relating to Zangwill as well as many of his published books as part of the Parkes Library.

Israel Zangwill

Philanthropist and social reformer Constance de Rothschild, (later Lady Battersea) was introduced to the women’s movement in 1881 by suffragist and temperance worker Fanny Morgan.  Battersea helped Morgan to undertake a political career that resulted in her election as mayor of Brecon.

Constance, Lady Battersea

Constance, Lady Battersea, nee de Rothschild, wife of Lord Battersea, photographed in 1926 aged 81 [MS 116/62 AJ 178/6/2]

It was through connections established by Battersea that the Union of Jewish Women was persuaded to become involved in religious and national suffrage campaigns. This image is taken from the papers of Mrs Violet Rothschild Montefiore-Court whose correspondents included Lady Battersea.

Despite the achievements of 1918, full equality was not achieved for another ten years.  In 1928 the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act was passed giving the vote to all women over the age of 21 on equal terms with men.

Donkeys, Chintzes and a Mysterious Fragment: eighteenth-century trade and politics in Special Collections

In this week’s blog Dr Jonathan Conlin discusses a group visit by undergraduate History students to the Special Collections.

From the slightly soapy feel of vellum to the sweet smell of laid paper, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century archives are a feast for all the senses, not just sight. This week eight third-year history undergraduates joined me at Special Collections for a hands-on session looking at the economic life of eighteenth-century Britain and Ireland. The visit formed part of a year-long Special Subject addressing the great economic thinker Adam Smith (1723-90). In first semester we engage in a lot of close reading of Smith, in search of tools to help us answer the big questions: what is wealth? what is happiness? how can a process of development Smith called “the progress of opulence” make us better as well as richer human beings? Smith’s world can be an alien place, however. Special Collections allows us to touch, smell and even read vestiges of the trading activities which we discuss in the seminar room, week-in, week-out.

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR4/1/1

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR4/1/1

Starting with grand adventures in pursuit of profit, a 1695 contract [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR4/1/1] records Henry Temple’s £100 stake in a £6,000 entreprise: a round-trip voyage to India. Worth around £14,000 today, this was a significant investment in the cargo of two ships, the Scarborough and Rebecca, who would probably have returned with spices and printed cottons. Over the following century the Industrial Revolution would see such chintzes being woven at home in Britain, on machines, rather than handlooms – a process which in turn helped bring about the “Great Divergence” in the economic fortunes of Europe and Asia. These are all big questions we return to again and again in the course. Holding the paper in your hand, however, more urgent questions spring to mind: did the ships complete their perilous journey?

MS 155 AJ144/5A/1

MS 155 AJ144/5A/1

Fifteen years on and the War of Austrian Succession has broken out, with Britain and her allies fighting France in Spain and elsewhere. For government contractors like Joseph Cortissos there was no business like war business: large fortunes were to be made supplying armies in the field with donkeys, wine, horses, bread and other goods. Given the healthy margins, competition was tough, and Cortissos (a former diplomat) would have had to pull every string in his reach to get this prize. Written in Portuguese and English, his accounts of goods provided to allied English and Portuguese armies [MS 155  AJ144/5A] are clearly working documents, as the columns of scribbled sums on the back attest. Contracting was a risky business, however, and just as controversial as it is today in warzones like Iraq (heard of Halliburton, anyone?). Cortissos’ bills were never fully paid.

Detaiil from MS 64/3/1

Detail from MS 64/3/1

A collection of papers [MS 64/3] from Portlaoise (Ireland) dating from the late 1770s shows the grubbier side of Georgian “democracy” in all its glory. The Irish parliamentary seat had been controlled by the Earls of Drogheda, but in 1776 control partly passed to the Parnell family, whose papers are at Southampton. “Management” of elections required keeping close tabs on voters. Voters had first to be created: any Freeman of the Corporation could vote, so borough patrons simply created hundreds of (hopefully!) loyal voters, men (women did not get a look in) who could be trusted to place their vote (in public – no secret ballot then) for the right candidate. Once created, voters had to be watched, as long lists of votes with worried crosses next to the names of voters considered “doubtful” demonstrate. This machine ran on patronage, outright bribery and lots and lots of beer, consumed by the barrel over the week-long poll. Political life was lively and everyone had their part to play: but was it democracy?

And so to the vellum. Tucked at the back of the file is a long thin strip of vellum with what appears to be a list of names partly discernable on it. This clearly is (or rather was) a roll; you can see the join where the sheets of vellum were stitched together. But where is the rest? Is this the electoral roll of the borough? If so, why is it here in Southampton? Someone seems to have snatched it and then attempted to shred it. Why? And, having lost most of it, why did they keep one long, narrow, twisted piece? As a relic? A prize? The most exciting finds are those which defy description.

Dr Jonathan Conlin teaches modern history at the University of Southampton. His books include a biography of Adam Smith, for Reaktion’s Critical Lives series.

 

They came from near and far to do their patriotic duty – staffing the University War Hospital

Staff at the University War Hospital [MS 1/Phot/39 ph3104]

Staff at the University War Hospital, 1918 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3104]

11 November 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the First World War. To commemorate this, we take a look at the contribution of the staff of the University War Hospital at the Highfield campus site.

Under the command of Dr Lauder, who had been the Medical Officer for Health for Southampton, the Hospital was staffed by professional nurses and members of the Volunteer Aid Detachments (known as VADs). As well as nursing, VADs also worked in a range of auxiliary capacities from driving ambulances bringing the wounded to the Hospital, to laboratory assistants, clerks, cooks, housemaids and laundresses.

With the start of the war, Southampton hospitals recruited every nurse, VAD and others who could be spared from auxiliary hospitals in the surrounding counties. But as the war progressed, the need for further staff increased.  Gwynnedd Lloyd, a friend of the daughters of Dr Lauder, was considered too young as a 17 year-old to volunteer in 1914. However, in the aftermath of the battle of the Somme, she was invited to join the VADs and to work at the University War Hospital.

The VADs lacked the training and skill of the professional nurses and tended to perform duties that were less technical. As a new VAD, Gwynnedd Lloyd noted that her duties consisted of “making beds and waiting on sister” as well as taking trolleys around and twice a day collecting rubbish. But as time went on, with the flow of the wounded into the hospitals and the demands it placed on the staff, the line between the professional and the volunteer became far less distinct, leading to recognition that the VAD and nurse differed little beyond the level of training. Gwynnedd Lloyd was assigned to assist with one of the hutted wards at the Hospital and even as a relatively untrained VAD was expected to cover shifts of around 10 hours.

Hutted ward decorated for Christmas, c.1915 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3108]

Hutted ward decorated for Christmas, c.1915 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3108]

The women who volunteered as VADs saw their work as a patriotic duty and a useful contribution to the war effort. Whilst some were local to Southampton, others who served as nursing staff at the University War Hospital came from all across the UK, the Channel Islands, Ireland and Canada. It is estimated that somewhere in the region of 4,500 Irish women served as VADs during the war effort, and amongst the staff of the University War Hospital were women from a number of Irish counties including Counties Kilkenny, Limerick, Longford and Tyrone. Canadian VADs were initially only employed in their homeland working in convalescent hospitals. However, as the war dragged on, it became apparent that they were needed overseas and the staff at the Hospital in 1918 included a number of nurses from New Brunswick in Canada.

Amongst the ranks of the VADs were not only nurses, but a myriad of auxiliary roles such as orderlies, stretcher bearers, clerks, cooks, housemaids and laundresses. Most of the women who served in these roles tended to be from the local area. Fanny Street and her two friends, Jennie Ford and Ethel Taylor, who feature in current Special Collections exhibition My War, My Story, were from Southampton. All three worked in the laundry of the University War Hospital for the whole duration, with Fanny Street becoming the Head Laundress by 1917.

Fanny Street (centre) with her fellow VADs Jennie Ford and Ethel Taylor

Fanny Street (centre) with her fellow VADs Jennie Ford and Ethel Taylor [MS416/13]

And we find that members of the same family all worked together at the hospital. Three members of the Trodd family from Southampton and members of the Bailey family from Eastleigh worked as maids and cooks. Annie and Hettie Needham from St. Denys were both employed as clerks. And Barbara and Gertrude Long, who lived in Freemantle, worked as a clerk and a laboratory assistant respectively. The Archives holds a notebook and three scientific reports kept by Gertrude Long during her time at the Hospital (MS101/8).

Notebook of lab assistant Gertrude Long [MS101/8]

Notebook of lab assistant Gertrude Long [MS101/8]

And so, as we come to the centenary of the end of the First World War, we remember all those who made a contribution, not least the young women who, in some cases, crossed an ocean to help staff the War Hospital here at the University.

The Bridal Chest of Bramshill, or, A Ghost Tale from the Cope Collection

To mark Halloween we need look no further than the former home of the Cope Collection, Bramshill House in Hampshire. Boasting fourteen ghosts and described as ‘one of the most haunted houses in England’, many of its apparitions feature in a memoir by Sir William Cope’s great-grandaughter, Joan Penelope Cope. They include a lady in grey usually seen at 3 a.m., a woman in white, leaping from the balustrade and a green man seen by the Pale Pond, possibly one Sir Henry Cope, who favoured green for his clothing, decor and more unusually, his food. As well as these visual manifestations, heavily spurred boots had been heard on the stairs and visitors in the Chapel Drawing Room reported the sensation of having their hand taken by a child.

View of Bramshill from George Prosser Select Illustrations of Hampshire (1834-39) Rare Books Cope quarto 91.5

Of these tales, one became particularly well-known, that of a young woman dressed in white seen in the Long Gallery and the Fleur-de-Lys Room. The story went that many years ago at a Christmas wedding, the young bride had insisted on playing a game of hide and seek, only to find herself locked in the chest in which she had hidden. Despite the desperate searches of the wedding party, she could not be found. Some years later the chest was opened, revealing her remains, a sprig of mistletoe still clutched in her skeletal hand.

The association of the story with Bramshill was such that in 1890, perhaps after one too many of his visitors had asked to see the chest, Sir William Cope printed a short pamphlet on the subject, The Bridal Chest of Bramshill. Sadly for devotees of the supernatural, Cope reported that the chest concerned was no longer at Bramshill, having been removed earlier in the 19th century by the widow of the tenth baronet, and more importantly, there was no record of any bride in the family having died shortly after her wedding, neither had the ghost been seen by any living witness.

The Bridal Chest of Bramshill (1890) Rare Books Cope BRAMI 39

Cope’s explanation was that the original bridal chest, of Italian origin, had become associated with a story set in Italy of an entombed bride, told in Samuel Rogers’ 1822 poem ‘Ginevra’. Rogers wrote that he believed the story ‘founded on fact’, though at a time and place uncertain, whilst Cope had been informed that ‘a Lady of a distinguished Italian house’ had claimed the story for her family describing the chest as having been sold to an Englishman. The fifth baronet, Sir John Cope, was known to have lived in Italy during the 17th century and to have returned with various items acquired at this time.

Following the publication of the poem, the story was popularised in a ballad of the 1830s, ‘The Mistletoe Bough’ by T.H. Bayly and Sir Henry Bishop and it became associated with a number of country houses. It was retold in a play by C.A. Somerset in 1835, provided the inspiration for Henry James’ The Romance of Certain Old Clothes (1868), appeared as a short story by Susan E. Wallace in 1887 and was the subject of three silent films, including The Mistletoe Bough by Percy Shaw (1904). More recently ‘The Mistletoe Bride’ has again been retold as a short story by both Jeanette Winterson (2002) and Kate Mosse (2013).

For those who might have hoped that both the chest and its ghostly contents had been transported from Italy to Bramshill, it now appears that the story has an origin earlier than the 1822 poem cited by Cope. It is recounted under the title ‘A Melancholy Occurrence’ in the 1809 issue of The Monthly and Boston Review, but in this case the tale is set in Germany and was described as a ‘singular and calamitous event’ brought to light a few years since.

It seems that Bramshill House, currently the subject of development proposals, might be lacking one of its fourteen ghosts, but who can know what the remaining thirteen will make of any proposed changes.

Bramshill House, showing the oriel window of the haunted Chapel Drawing Room Rare Books Cope c BRAMS 72

For descriptions of more recent sightings of the Bramshill ghosts, including the Mistletoe Bride, see: Ian Fox The Haunted Places of Hampshire (1997) Cope 39.

Florence Nightingale, nursing and the Crimean War

In 1825 Henry Holmes, agent for the third Viscount Palmerston reported to his master:

Embley has been sold to a Mr. Nightingale from Derbyshire. He is related by marriage to Mr. Carter the MP for Portsmouth and married to a daughter of William Smith, MP for Norwich.

Embley Park in East Wellow, near Romsey, was a stone’s throw from Palmerston’s Broadlands estate. William and Frances Nightingale moved in with their two young daughters, Parthenope, and Florence who would have been 5 at the time of the purchase.

Watercolour of the entrance into the Walis Orchard from the gate of the Forest Lodge, Embley [Cope Collection cq 91.5 EMB]

William was an enlightened man.  He stood as a Whig candidate for Andover, supported the Reform Bill and moved in the same circles as his neighbour, Palmerston.  In 1830 he wrote asking to see his speech on the “Catholic question” [i.e. Emancipation]. [BR113/12/5].  William seconded Palmerston’s candidacy for his Romsey seat in 1830 and they hunt and shot together. 

William chose to tutor his daughter Florence at home, something which was unusual for the period.  Florence felt her vocation in life to be nursing but her family, particularly her mother, were unsupportive.  However, in 1853 she became superintendent to the Institution for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Distressed Circumstances in London.  Her father had granted her a generous allowance of £500 a year to enable her to take up this position and she impressed everyone with her skills as a nurse and organiser.

Sketch of “Miss Florence Nightingale, the Soldier’s Friend” drawn by Elston, and published by Ellis,1856 [Cope Collection cq 95 NIG]

The Crimean War broke out in March 1854.  The public were appalled by the reports of inadequate nursing of wounded soldiers and the secretary of state at war, Sidney Herbert, was held accountable.  Florence Nightingale was close friends with Sidney and his wife, (Mary) Elizabeth since a meeting a few years previously and thus, on 21 October 1854, she was sent out to the Crimea, with a staff of 38 nurses.  It was during this period that Florence Nightingale began her pioneering work in modern nursing.

After her return from the Crimea, Florence focused on her sanitary and statistical work.  We have three letters she sent to her Hampshire neighbour Palmerston while he was Prime Minister. In May 1862 she writes concerning a reorganisation of the War Office a started by her late friend Sidney Herbert:

This plan ensured direct responsibility in the hands of all departments instead of shifting unstable responsibility hitherto the curse of W.O. administration.

[MS 62 Broadlands Archives GC/NI/5]

The following year she contacts Palmerston again, having been “thinking all night on this matter” [Herbert’s sanitary reforms] in which she is “deeply interested.” [MS 62 Broadlands Archives GC/NI/7]. 

The Crimean War had highlighted the need for an additional hospital.  A site at Netley, on the Southampton Water, was chosen for ease of landing invalids direct from the transport ships.  The plans for the hospital had been made and building started before Nightingale returned from the Crimea.  She wrote a report regarding what she considered to be fundamental flaws in its construction, lighting and ventilation, suggesting alternatives, but Lord Panmure, the [Secretary of state for War / Secretary at War], was unresponsive.  She therefore went over his head to the Prime Minister, her Lord Palmerston but the hospital was built following the original plans.

The Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley. Taken from The Leisure Hour, April 1833 [Cope Collection c NET 45]

Another influential friend of Nightingale’s was Inspector-General Maclean, a Professor of Military Medicine at the Netley Military Hospital.  Here we find a link with the University as Maclean gave the Hartley Institution – a forerunner to the University –  help and counsel in the later nineteenth century.

The University has a long affinity with the health sciences.  In 1894, the Institution was recognised by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons as a place of instruction for students preparing for their first medical examination.  It was not until 1982 that some 20 students joined the University as the first cohort for a nursing degree.  A new school of Nursing and Midwifery was formed in 1995 by the amalgamation of the NHS College of Nursing and Midwifery with the exiting nursing group in the Faculty of Medicine.  Nursing at the University is now ranked 9th in the world and third in the UK according to the QS World Rankings by Subject 2018.

The Nightingale Building on the Highfield Campus which houses the School of Nursing and Midwifery [MS 1 University Collection Phot/19/352]

Florence’s Nightingale’s achievements in the field of nursing are commemorated on campus by the Nightingale Building which opened in September 2000 to house School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Sir Denis Pack: a Wellington ally

As we enjoy this year’s annual Wellington Lecture today, it is fitting that we announce the acquisition of a new collection of material relating to the career of Sir Denis Pack, one of Wellington’s generals. The collection, which includes maps relating to military actions in which Pack fought, complements both the current collection of his papers held by the Division (MS296) and material within the Wellington Archive (MS61).

Sir Denis Pack [MS296 A4298]

Sir Denis Pack [MS296 A4298]

Major General Sir Denis Pack, K.C.B (d.1823) entered the army in 1791. He served in Flanders, 1794-5, Cape of Good Hope, 1806, and subsequently in South America. He fought at Roliça and Vimeiro, 1808 and Corunna, 1809. Having served on the Walcheren expedition and at the siege of Flushing in 1809, he returned to the Iberian Peninsula to serve with the Duke of Wellington. He commanded a Portuguese brigade, part of Marshal Beresford’s Portuguese forces, at Busaco in 1810 and Almeida in 1811.

Detail from map of Battle of Busaco [MS296 A4298]

Detail from map of the battle of Busaco [MS296 A4298]

Pack took part at the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo and the battles of Salamanca, Vitoria and Orthes. In 1815, he commanded a brigade of Sir Thomas Picton’s Fifth Division at the battles of Quatre Bras and of Waterloo. Pack was Lieutenant Governor of Plymouth, serving alongside Wellington as Governor, from 1819 until his death in 1823.

Pack served with distinction at the Battle of Salamanca, 22 July 1812, and was mentioned in the official despatch of the battle written by Wellington to Lord Bathurst of 24 July. He also honourably mentioned for his part in the operations against Burgos later in 1812.

Amongst the maps in the new acquisition is a hand drawn one of the battle of Salamanca, with handwritten notes, providing us with a valuable new resource to supplement and illustrate the written descriptions of this battle.

Manuscript map of the battle of Salamanca, 1812 [MS296 A4298]

Manuscript map of the battle of Salamanca, 1812 [MS296 A4298]

Palmerston and the slave trade

This week we hand the reigns over to PhD student Rob McGregor who has been conducting research on Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston and his relationship with British anti-slavery.  We could have titled this blog post “A beginner’s guide to historical research” as Rob provides very clear and sound advice for masters and  PhD students who wish to use original archival material in their essays.

The Right Honorable Henry John Temple, Lord Viscount Palmerston, G.B.C. Painted by J.Lucas; engraved by H.Cook. [Cope Collection cq 95 PAL pr 102]

Since the nineteenth-century, Britain has been depicted as an ‘anti-slavery nation,’ guiding the rest of the world to follow its lead in abolishing the Atlantic slave trade as well as the institution of slavery. At the helm of the Foreign Office and later as Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, one of Britain’s least known but arguably most important statesmen, led the nation’s crusade against the slave trade. By the time of his death in office in 1865, he had virtually achieved this mission. However, although he has been remembered as many things, neither scholars nor the public have ever regarded Palmerston as a warm and sincere abolitionist. My PhD therefore looks into Palmerston’s relationship with British anti-slavery, considering his unique position, policy and conviction, as well as his motivations for wanting to end the slave trade.

A Bill respecting the Brazilian slave trade, known as the “Aberdeen Act”. It has been annotated by Palmerston; his note on the front reads “This Bill is amended as original prepared and submitted to the Queens Advocate 30 June 1845”. [MS 62 Palmerston Papers SLT/25]

Over the last three years, I have had the opportunity to read a wide range of sources related to the slave trade, but without doubt the most exciting and useful sources underpinning my work have been Palmerston’s private letters and semi-official correspondence, held in the Broadlands archive of Southampton University’s Special Collections.

This body of documents provides a unique glimpse of Palmerston’s own inner thoughts and views. What did he really think about anti-slavery? Were his public statements a true reflection of his private thoughts? Only by analysing his private letters, it seems to me, can these vital questions be answered.

“An estimate of the number of slaves introduced into Brazil during each year from 1826 to 1863 as far as can be ascertained from the records of the F[oreign] O[ffice].” 4 Aug 1864 [MS 62 Palmerston Papers SLT/36]

It can be daunting when first faced with a lengthy catalogue of primary material to explore. When I began my PhD in 2015, I was lucky enough to be conversant with the practice of searching for materials already, since I had used the archive to research my undergraduate dissertation, also on ‘Palmerston and the slave trade.’ Back then, I had been drawn to a sub-division of the archive entitled ‘Papers on the slave trade.’ It looked perfect, containing 37 items all relating to Palmerston’s anti-slavery endeavours. I looked through these papers closely and, once I had got used to reading Palmerston’s hand-writing – which I gratefully learned was excellent compared to some of his colleagues – I found lots of interesting things, like how the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society had presented an address to him in 1842 thanking him for his ‘generous zeal,’ or a note he wrote to himself about how his ‘blood boiled with indignation’ and his heart ‘burned with shame’ at the ‘miseries of the African.’ But when I started my PhD, I realised I was only scratching the surface.

As a Postgraduate, I learned from my supervisor, Professor David Brown, that the largest sub-division of the archive was his General Correspondence, containing around three-quarters of his letters. In total there are around 40,000 items in the Palmerston Papers, so finding things related to anti-slavery felt like looking for a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, navigating this abundance of materials was not as challenging or impossible as I’d feared.

Memorandum, in the hand of Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, of vessels reported as engaged in the slave trade at and near Rio de Janeiro, 1836-7 [MS 62 Palmerston Papers SLT/11]

I soon learnt that since this particular collection is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, the best way to find sources relating to my subject was to think creatively about who Palmerston would be writing to about it, and crucially, when. To begin with then, I searched the archive’s online catalogue for letters Palmerston had written to known abolitionists, members of anti-slavery societies, and above all his Whig colleagues.

To read through Palmerston’s letters to all of these people, however, would have taken years. There are over 1000 letters between Palmerston and Russell alone! I therefore had to limit my searches to key dates when I suspected anti-slavery would be on the political agenda; when important anti-slavery conferences were taking place or anti-slavery treaties signed, when Palmerston was threatening a pro-slavery country or when naval captains were causing furore at home and abroad by their violent actions on the West African coast.

Memorandum, by Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, showing “what has been done about Slave Trade since last year”, 30 May 1837 [MS 62 Palmerston Papers SLT/9/1]

This process served me well. Although I never found one particular letter which answered all of my questions, over time, after reading hundreds of letters in which Palmerston touched on British anti-slavery, a picture was built up which informed the direction and argument of my resulting thesis. Palmerston, it now seems to me, felt a sincere revulsion against the slave trade and wanted to end it not just because it was a long-running British aim or because it was in the nation’s imperial and economic interests, but because he felt genuine humanitarian impulses to end what he considered humanity’s greatest crime.

Thus, for me, using the Broadlands Archive was a creative process, one that required me to think imaginatively and intelligently about how to locate the best sources to help answer my particular research questions. And, due to the unique nature of the sources, it has been both an incredibly exciting and essential part of my PhD research.

Cooking for court and countryside

Held in the autumn, at the same time as harvest festival, British Food Fortnight (22 September to 7 October this year) is the biggest annual, national celebration of British food and drink.

A selection of confections from The Court and Country Cook (1702)

A display of confections from The Court and Country Cook (1702)

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, France set the style of upper-class dining and employing a French cook was the height of fashion amongst aristocratic families (including by Lord and Lady Palmerston at Broadlands). François Massialot was one of the most influential French chefs of the time. His combined works were translated into English as The Court and Country Cook (Westminster Hall, 1702), a copy of which is part of the Rare Books held in Special Collections, and was an influence on subsequent cookery books published in Britain.

Recipe for "burnt cream" in The Court and Country Cook (1702)

Recipe for “burnt cream” in The Court and Country Cook (1702) Rare Books TX 707

Massialot, born in Limoges in 1660, served as chef de cuisine to the French court and aristocracy, including to Philippe I, Duc d’Orléans, the brother of Louis XIV. He described himself as “a cook who dares to qualify himself royal”, since the meals he included in his book “have all been served at court or in the houses of princes, and of people of the first rank.” Massialot’s book contained the first alphabetical listing of recipes. He also is credited for crême brulée, or “burnt cream” as it is referred in the English translation of his book.

William Ellis A Country Housewife's Family Companion (London 1750)

William Ellis A Country Housewife’s Family Companion (London 1750) Rare Books Perkins TX 151

As the eighteenth century progressed,  the growth of the middle classes led to a proliferation of manuals written in plain and accessible English on the art of plain cooking aimed at newly literature social groups, in particular servants and women. William Ellis’s A Country Housewife’s Family Companion (London, 1750) is one such example of this move from courtly to country cooking.  While it might be described as more a manual of country living than a cookery book, it provides much information on the product of English country kitchens. The British love of pudding is well provided for in the book with recipes for both sweet and savoury varieties, including such things as apple or rice as well as black and white “hogs” puddings.

We wish you an enjoyable British Food Fortnight, whatever you might be inspired to make or bake.

In the kitchen: illustration from The Girl's Own Indoor Book

Illustration from The Girl’s Own Indoor Book