Author Archives: krspecialcollections

The Wellington archive and Ireland

It was 35 years ago, on St Patrick’s Day 1983, that the archive of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, arrived at the University of Southampton.

Wellington Papers, 1828 [MS 61 WP1/950]

Group of Wellington Papers, 1828 [MS 61 WP1/950]

This collection of around 100,000 political, military, official and diplomatic papers for the first Duke was accepted for the nation in lieu of duty on the estate of the seventh Duke of Wellington and allocated to the University of Southampton by the Secretary of State for Education and Science. The official opening of the Wellington Suite, the archive accommodation created to house the archive took place in May 1983, and was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Wellington.

Official event to mark the arrival of the Wellington archive, 1983

Official opening for the Wellington archive: 1983: Bernard Naylor, University Librarian, Professor Smith (hidden), Chris Woolgar, Archivist, and the Duke of Wellington looking at display of papers

Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) was born in Ireland, the son of Garret Wesley, first Earl of Mornington, and Anne Hill, who was the daughter of the first Viscount Dungannon. The archive forms the principal collection of papers of Wellington and covers all aspects of his career from 1790 until his death in 1852. Papers relating to Ireland feature heavily within the collection, ranging from maps and plans to extensive series of papers on parliamentary and government business.

Coloured sketch plan of Dublin Castle and adjoining barracks, March 1844 [MS 61 WP15/26]

Coloured sketch plan of Dublin Castle and adjoining barracks, March 1844 [MS 61 WP15/26]

Wellington started his career as aide-de-camp to two successive Lords Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Westmorland and Earl Fitzwilliam, 1787-93. Between 1790 and 1797 he sat in the Irish Parliament as Member for the family seat of Trim. Wellington was Chief Secretary for Ireland, 1807-9, managing the government interest in Parliament at Westminster and government business in Ireland. Within this material is much on security and maintaining the peace during a period of turbulence and threat of invasion by Napoleonic France.

In a letter from Wellington to Lord Hawkesbury, Secretary of State for Home Affairs, 23 April 1807, he sends details of the preparations made in Cork to deal with the threat of invasion:

“There are two regiments of cavalry and ten battalions of infantry at Cork and in the neighbourhood, which could be assembled at any point in the course of a few hours.

There is a depot of artillery at Cork, a heavy brigade at Fermoy, and a depot at Clonmell, about forty miles from Cork, so that there are means of defending that part of the kingdom if the fleet should turn out to be an enemy.”

[MS 61 WP1/167/18]

Between 1818 and his death in 1852, Wellington held a number of political offices and official posts, including serving twice as Prime Minister. Several thousand letters for the period 1819-32 relate to Ireland, including political, economic and social discussions and material on the introduction of the Catholic Relief  Bill. The descriptions of this material can be accessed through the Wellington Papers Database.

First page of draft Catholic emancipation act drafted by Wellington and Robert Peel [MS 61 WP1/993/80]

First page of draft by Wellington and Robert Peel of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, January 1829  [MS 61 WP1/993/80]

The main series of Wellington’s correspondence for the period 1833 onwards includes material relating to the Irish representative peerage, politics and elections in Ireland, parliamentary bills, church reform, education, the Irish church, tithes, law and order and military defence, the Young Ireland movement and the prospect of a rising in 1848, as well as the Wellington monument in Dublin.

Report of the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick (London, 1820) [Wellington Pamphlet 1104/5]

Report of the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick (London, 1820) [Wellington Pamphlet 1104/5]

The connection between Wellington and Ireland also can be found amongst papers for the numerous societies and organisations with which he was associated. One such was the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick set up to provide “relief for the poor and distressed Irish residing in and around London, and that of their children”. Wellington was a Vice President of the Society in 1820 and was voted as chairman for the following year. The list of subscribers for 1820 listed his donation as 121 guineas: a donation of 20 guineas made the donor a governor for life.

Anniversary festival of the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick [Wellington Pamphlet 1104/5]

Anniversary festival of the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick [Wellington Pamphlet 1104/5]

The Society held an annual festival, usually on St Patrick’s Day. The festival in 1820, held at the City of London Tavern with George Canning in the chair, was delayed until the 6 May due to the death of the King.  The Investigator or Quarterly magazine for 1820 reported that:

“The children were, after dinner, paraded through the room. Their appearance was exceedingly interesting; all of them being clean, healthy and robust.  Several fine young women, who were educated by the society, who are now earning a comfortable and reputable livelihood closed the procession… The Duke of Wellington was nominated chairman for the ensuing year, which office was handsomely accepted by His Grace.  The treasurer then read the list of subscriptions, the total of which, including a bequest of £500 by Captain Morritt, was £1,800.”

The Wellington archive is complemented by a number of other significant manuscript collections that relate to Ireland. These include the Congleton archive (MS 64) which contains personal, family, estate and political papers for the Parnell family, Barons Congleton, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century; the Broadlands archives (MS 62); the Carver manuscripts (MS 63), a collection of papers of the family of Wellington’s older brother Richard Wellesley, first Marquis Wellesley; and papers of the Earls of Mornington (MS 226 and MS 299).

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.


William Mogg and Arctic exploration

As Britain and Europe experiences a period of extreme cold and snow, we delve into the journal of William Mogg describing his experience of Arctic exploration in the early 1820s.

Iceberg adhering to icy reef, 1828

Iceberg adhering to icy reef [MS 45 AO183/2 p.349]

William Mogg (1796-1875) was born in Woolston in Southampton. He joined the Royal Navy as a volunteer in 1811 and served in the continental blockade of the Napoleonic war. He was part of a number of survey expeditions in the brig Investigator in 1817 and in 1827-30 voyaged on the Beagle alongside Charles Darwin. Mogg  also served as a clerk during Captain William Edward Parry’s second and third Arctic expeditions, on board HMS Hecla and HMS Fury, 1821-5. The journal – part of a set of 6 volumes (MS 45) held in the Special Collections – covering these journeys provides a fascinating insight into these expeditions.

Captain Parry was to be a key figure in the discovery of the North West Passage and the three voyages that he made between 1819 and 1825 produced invaluable research. During his first expedition, he voyaged through the Parry Channel and three quarters of the way across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

HMS Hecla and Fury sailed from Deptford in April 1821 for the second expedition, the goal this time being to find a passage near the northwest end of Hudson Bay. Having sailed through Hudson Strait and investigating Foxe Basin, they found themselves frozen in at ‘Winter Island’ for nine months when the ice closed in. During Parry’s third expedition in 1824-5, ice in Baffin Bay disrupted progress and the expedition was forced to winter in Prince Regent Inlet.

HM Ships Hecla and Fury in winter quarters

HM Ships Hecla and Fury in winter quarters [MS 45 AO183/2 p.359]

Mogg describes how “the ice began to form in a compact manner around the ship … strongly indicated … that our present position should become our winter quarters”. [MS 45 AO183/2 p.62] Crews were put to work cutting a channel to enable the ship to sail further up the bay. “Our first weeks imprisoned in our first icy quarters was fully occupied, clearing and preparing for the winter, every arrangement was made, which could contribute to our general health and comfort by our worthy Commander (Parry).” [MS 45 AO183/2 p.63]

Conditions were testing. While there was provision of a warming stove as way of heating, the crew had to undergo a reduction of rations to ensure that there were sufficient supplies.

Despite the hardships endured, Mogg’s journal reflects the indomitable spirit of those on the expedition, recording delight at the encounters with the groups of inhabitants of those inhospitable regions of the world, whom Mogg called Esquimaux, of the wildlife he observed, including bears, foxes, wolves and whales, and of the adventures of the crew.

Snow village of the Esquimaux

Snow village of the Esquimaux [MS 45 AO183/2 p.141]

Of the measures introduced to relieve boredom of life on board – theatrical performances and evening schools – Mogg wrote of the production of R.S.Sheridan’s play The Rivals: “the first performance came off this evening and evidently gave general satisfaction if we may judge by the constant plaudits from the stentorian voices of the audience”. [MS 45 AO183/2 p.72]

List of cast for The Rivals as performed by crew for the Theatre Royal, Winter Island

List of cast for The Rivals as performed by crew for the Theatre Royal, Winter Island [MS 45 AO183/2 p.70]

There also was a pleasure to be derived from culinary treats. He noted that on Christmas Day 1821, the crews enjoyed a dinner of roast beef, which had been killed and frozen upward of 12 months previously, “garnished with mustard and cress, of a pale colour from being grown between decks in the dark, … with sundry pies and puddings of preserved meats and cranberries, not to be despised in any climate”. [MS 45 AO183/2 p.82]

Explorations by the crew on the ice in temperatures of “59° below the point of freezing” brought with them the risk of frost bite. “It is not an uncommon circumstance that in the operation of applying the hand to the frozen cheek, or nose, it also becomes frozen while doing so, but in order to prevent serious casualties of this nature Captain Parry issued general instructions that no person should quit the ships alone, or un-armed, in order that the companion might detect the burns in each other’s face.” [MS 45 AO183/2 p.90]

So as we venture out into the snow and chilling temperatures, let us give a thought to Captain Parry, Mogg and the intrepid crew of these Arctic ventures.

Heywood Sumner: artist and archaeologist, 1853-1940

George Heywood Maunoir Sumner came from a family of clergymen including an archbishop of Canterbury (his great uncle), while his mother, Mary Sumner, founded the Mothers Union. He was brought up at Old Alresford, Hampshire, where his father was rector. He, however, decided to study law rather than enter the church. Sumner was called to the bar in 1879, but by this time his real interests were in the arts. He soon became a successful artist in the Arts and Crafts tradition, and was a follower of William Morris, but was also influenced by pre-Raphaelite design and later Art Nouveau. Morris and Co. commissioned a design for a tapestry depicting a medieval deer hunt incorporating scenery based on the New Forest. This is now owned by Hampshire Museums Service.

Tapestry of The Chace, designed for Morris and Co.

Tapestry of The Chace, designed for Morris and Co.

He married Agnes Benson in 1882, and for the next few years worked as a professional artist in London, producing many drawings for books and magazines, also watercolours, posters and wallpaper designs. The quality of his illustrations was appreciated by his contemporaries including Walter Crane. His most innovative work was in sgraffito art, made by scraping away the top layer of plaster to reveal a design in two colours. Surviving examples can be seen in several churches including Church Crookham in Hampshire. The decoration of the nave apse at St Agatha’s Church, Portsmouth is described in the Hampshire volume of The Buildings of England as his masterpiece and “one of Portsmouth’s few major works of art”. He also produced designs for mosaics, stained glass and furniture.

Title page of Sinram and his companions (1883) [Rare Books PT2389.U4]

Title page of Sinram and his companions: a romance translated from the German of Friedrich de la Motte Fouque (1883) [Rare Books PT 2389.U4]

Among Sumner’s earlier works is a volume of etchings, showing views in the Itchen Valley, and a further volume about the New Forest by John Wise for which he contributed twelve etchings. We hold both volumes among the Cope Collection, along with loose plates from the volumes in the Print Collection.

Boldre Ford near Queen's Bower from John R.Wise The New Forest: its history and scenery {Rare Books Caope quarto 97.03]

Boldre Ford near Queen’s Bower from John R.Wise The New Forest: its history and scenery {Rare Books Cope quarto 97.03]

Sumner’s many interests included traditional music, and in 1888 he published The Besom Maker and other country folk songs with his own illustrations. He had collected the songs himself (mostly in Hampshire) and so was a pioneer in this field, predating Cecil Sharp by some years. He was a member of the newly formed Folk Song Society.

Sumner, his wife and five children, moved to the New Forest in the early years of the twentieth century after some years in Bournemouth. He had a house built to his own design and using local materials at Cuckoo Hill, South Gorley, (now a care home). This resulted in The Book of Gorley, an illustrated collection of his writings on local history and rural life. It includes his feelings about this time of year, with which many of us would sympathise: “I was born and bred on Hampshire chalk, and I love it, but I do not love it as a home when the rains fall and the springs rise in the New Year. Then during the months of January and February and March …the usual keen air…has a clammy breath and chills to the very marrow.” Apparently he found the climate within the New Forest more congenial, and much enjoyed walking through winter woodland: “The bare, deciduous trees reveal exquisite tracery of branch and twig, surmounted by a veil of varied tinted buds. Green mosses of vivid hues mingle with the grey fur of lichens on bole and trunk and bough.”[‘A winter walk in the New Forest’, Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club Vol IX, 1925.]

In 1924 Sumner published The New Forest, an illustrated guidebook reprinted in 1972, which thirty years after the author’s death, the publishers considered “still the only book on the Forest which is both entertaining and a valuable source of reference”.

The mizmaze at Breamore Down from The Book of Gorley [Cope GOR 03]

The mizmaze at Breamore Down from The Book of Gorley [Cope GOR 03]

Sumner soon became deeply interested in the earthworks and Roman pottery kilns of the area. As well as making surveys, he excavated a number of sites which resulted in many drawings annotated with his characteristic handwriting. He was inspired by the example of General Pitt-Rivers’ excavations in the nineteenth century, and always recorded his findings with great care. Special Collections holds several of his archaeological publications, and his accurate illustrations of pottery types would not look out of place in a modern excavation report. At the same time, he vividly described, with an artist’s eye, the trees and wildlife which surrounded him during his excavations. He also investigated Stonehenge and the earthworks of Cranborne Chase. He published The Ancient Earthworks of Cranborne Chase in 1913, described by Professor Barry Cunliffe as a masterpiece: “its meticulous plans are minor works of art, while the descriptions are models of clear observation and precise recording”.

Kiln being fired

Kiln being fired: Plate IIIA from Heywood Sumner Descriptive account of Roman pottery sites at Sloden and Blackheath Meadow, Linwood, New Forest (1921) [Cope 97.93]

By the time Sumner died in 1940, he was considered one of the leading archaeologists in the country. By then much of his art had been forgotten, or thought of as “old-fashioned”, but that is now no longer the case and he is again widely appreciated.


A glimpse of China

To mark Chinese New Year 2018, this blog catches a glimpse of China as seen by Prince Louis of Battenberg, on board HMS Inconstant in 1881-2.

Decorations for Chinese New Year, February 1882

Decorations for Chinese New Year, Hong Kong, February 1882 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives MB2/A20 p. 81]

A career naval officer, Prince Louis of Battenberg (1854-1921) became a cadet in the British navy at the age of 14 years in October 1868. The following year Battenberg joined the Royal Alfred as a midshipman, achieving pr0motion to the rank of lieutenant in 1876. In August 1881, he was appointed to HMS Inconstant, the flag ship of Rear Admiral Lord Clanwilliam, and part of the “Detached Squadron”.

HMS Inconstant [MS 62 Broadlands Archive MB2/A20]

HMS Inconstant [MS 62 Broadlands Archives MB2/A20]

HMS Inconstant was one of only three steam-assisted but also fully masted frigates that were built by the Royal Navy. Designed by Sir Edward Reed, who was Director of Naval Construction, in response to faster American frigates, the ship carried a crew of 600. The “Detached Squadron” left Spithead in October 1880, eventually arriving at Shanghai on 23 November 1881. From there it called at Amoy (Xiamen) in December and remained in Hong Kong from December until February 1882, although it left before Chinese New Year. The Squadron arrived back in Spithead in October that year, almost two years to the day from its departure.

Pagoda near Shanghai [MS 62 Broadlands Archives MB2/A20 p.71]

Pagoda near Shanghai, 1881 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives MB2/A20 p.71]

English quarter, Shanghai, 1881 [MS 62 Broadlands Archive MB2/A20 p.76]

English quarter, Shanghai, 1881 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives MB2/A20 p.72]

Shanghai and Amoy (Xiamen) were among the treaty ports opened to foreign involvement from the 1840s onwards. Shanghai grew at a phenomenal rate in this period, changing from a village into a city which contained enclaves administered by the British, French, and Americans, each with it its particular culture, architecture, and society.

Xiamen, known as Amoy, 1881 [MS 62 Broadlands Archive MB2/A20 p.76]

Xiamen, known as Amoy, 1881 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives MB2/A20 p.76]

Xiamen, or Amoy, as it was known in its Romanised form in the nineteenth century, being the primary international port for Fujian, became a centre of China’s tea trade, with hundreds of thousands of tons shipped yearly to Europe and the Americas. European settlement in the port was concentrated on Gulangyu Island rather than in Xiamen: here as in Shanghai these foreign enclaves had their own particular architectural style.

Further information on Prince Louis of Battenberg or other material in MS 62 the Broadlands Archives can be found at the online resources.

We wish you a very Happy and Prosperous Year of the Dog!


Holocaust Memorial Day 27 January 2018

The Power of Words – the theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day – is a conviction which was shared by James Parkes and one which was instrumental in the creation of his Library. Parkes set out ‘to get a picture of past centuries from their actual works’ when researching the history of Jewish-Christian relations in order to confront the anti-Semitic student groups he found in Europe during the 1930s. To this end he began collecting books on the subject and welcomed others working to combat anti-Semitism to the Parkes Library, based at his home in Barley from 1935 to 1964.

Holocaust Diaries and Testimonies

Holocaust Diaries and Testimonies

Books on the Holocaust now form a large section of the Parkes Library and alongside those by historians are the published letters, diaries and testimonies of victims and survivors. These amply demonstrate the power of words in providing both a record of individual experiences and the evidence to confirm that such events did indeed take place. The motives of the writers varied; some sought relief in creating a personal diary, whilst for others the intention was always to document the crimes committed in the hope that in the future, justice would be served on the perpetrators. Great efforts were made to ensure the survival of the manuscripts, some being given to other people for safekeeping, whilst others were buried or hidden within buildings.

Herman Kruk (1897-1944), was one who did his best to ensure the survival of his writings. On 17 September 1944 he made his last diary entry and buried the papers in front of six witnesses, one of whom survived to retrieve them – Kruk and the other inmates of the Lagedi Camp being shot the next day. Published in English as The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from Vilna Ghetto and Camps 1939-1944 (2002), Kruk’s writings include diaries, narratives and poems recording his own experiences and providing an eyewitness account of events in the Vilna Ghetto, where he estimated that 29,000 Jews were living in an area previously occupied by 4,000 people.

Cover of Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania

Cover of Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania

Not only does the diary provide evidence of the destruction of a Jewish community, it also stands testament to the importance of the written word in Jewish culture, at such a dark period. Formerly Director of the Yiddishist Grosser Library at the Cultural League in Warsaw, Kruk ran the Vilna Ghetto Library, the popularity of which is apparent from his report for 1942 in which he records a stock of 39,000 books and 200 users a day – a celebration being held to mark the 100,000th loan. Kruk described how the book acted as a ‘narcotic’ for those seeking an escape from their daily existence and ‘carries them over the ghetto walls to the wide world‘. Kruk was also a member of the ‘Paper Brigade’ the members of which risked their lives to preserve the Jewish cultural heritage by hiding books and documents in the Ghetto, whilst ostensibly working for the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, a Nazi organisation which transported such material back to Germany for study or destruction.

It is fitting that the Memorial Museum of Holocaust in Lithuania and Vilna Ghetto, which will hold Holocaust documents including collections of diaries, is to be established in the building which once housed the Vilna Ghetto Library, bringing into reality a hope which Kruk expressed in a poem, these being the final lines of the English translation:

And let it remain though I must die here

And let it show what I could not live to tell.

And I answer my neighbors:

Maybe a miracle will liberate me.

But if I must die, it must not die with me

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day there is an event at the University of Southampton on Sunday 28 January, Jewish Spaces, before, during and after the Holocaust Study Day, organised by the Parkes Institute.



Honor Frost Archive weighs anchor in Southampton

The Special Collections is delighted to have recently added to its manuscript holdings the Archive of Honor Frost (1917-2010).

Honor Frost was described as a woman of many talents – artist, ballet designer, scholar and writer – with a consuming passion for the world beneath the oceans. Honor Frost was a pioneer in the field of underwater archaeology and in its pursuit as a scientific discipline.

Honor Frost

Honor Frost

Honor Frost studied at Central School of Art, London, and the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, and then worked as a designer for the Ballet Rambert and director of publications at Tate Gallery before moving into the realm of archaeology.

In her account of her early experiences as a maritime archaeologist Under the Mediterranean: travels with my bottle (1963) Honor wrote of how she was introduced to the delights of diving in a garden well in Wimbledon. Thus began a lifetime’s devotion to underwater discovery. In the early 1950s, she began training at Cannes with the Club Alpin Sous-Marin, where she met Jacques Cousteau, the inventor of the aqualung. Cousteau’s assistant, Frédéric Dumas, became her close friend and mentor. It was under Dumas’s guidance that she dived to her first wreck, that of a Roman ship at Anthéor, later know as the Chrétienne A.

Honor Frost subsequently worked as a draftsman for an archaeological expedition led by Kathleen Kenyon at Jericho in 1957. Realising that terrestrial archaeology was not for her, Honor moved to Lebanon where, under the auspices of the Institut Français d’Archéologie in Beirut, she began to explore the ancient harbours of Byblos, Sidon and Tyre. This also marked the start of her interest in stone anchors: anchors being a key to identifying wrecks and showing trade patterns.

Artefacts from wrecks surveyed by Honor Frost in Turkey [HFA/1/13/5]

Artefacts from wrecks surveyed by Honor Frost in Turkey [MS 439 HFA/1/13/5]

In 1960, Honor was involved in the first season of the excavation off the coast of Turkey of a Bronze Age Phoenician ship. This was the first excavation of a shipwreck using techniques under the direction of underwater archaeologists, marking the genesis of scientific underwater archaeology. Between 1966 and 1967, Honor surveyed and partially excavated a Roman shipwreck, in Mellieha Bay, Malta. Among her most important projects was an expedition, sponsored by UNESCO, in 1968, which surveyed the Pharos (lighthouse) site in the Port of Alexandria. She confirmed the existence of ruins representing part of the Pharos, as well as the remains of submerged buildings representing the lost palace of Alexander and the Ptolemies, thus establishing the site’s importance.

In 1969, the Sicilian authorities and the British School at Rome appointed Honor to direct the underwater survey of an area off the coast of western Sicily near Marsala. In August 1971, her team discovered a Punic shipwreck believed to have been a “longship” (perhaps an auxiliary military supply vessel) used by Carthage in the Battle of the Aegates Islands (241BC), the last battle of the First Punic War. For several years Honor and an international team of marine archaeologists worked on the site, before eventually restoring the wreck for display in a local building requisitioned for its museum display.

Honor Frost was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1969. She was awarded a medal for pioneering submarine archaeology in Egypt by the French government in 1997, and, in 2005, the British Sub-Aqua Club presented her with the Colin McLeod award for furthering international co-operation in diving.

The Honor Frost Archive (MS 439) provides a comprehensive and meticulously collated record of Honor Frost’s archaeological work. It includes significant material for her maritime projects in France, Sicily, Malta, Egypt, and in the Eastern Mediterranean (Lebanon, Syria and Turkey), together with material relating to Honor’s research on stone anchors and photographic material recording her excavations and travels. Most importantly the archive has an especially complete record for the Marsala ship expedition.

Honor published and lectured prolifically and the archive contains original drafts and offprints of all her key publications on maritime archaeology, together with a comprehensive set of drafts of lectures, c.1961-2007.

Archaeological drawings and sketches from Lebanon and early ballet set designs from 1940 to the mid-1950s beautifully illustrate Honor Frost’s artistic skill.

Sketch by Honor Frost of buildings in Lebanon [HFA/1/9/1/1]

Sketch by Honor Frost of buildings in Lebanon [MS 439 HFA/1/9/1/1]

A prolific letter writer, the archive contains a series of correspondence that Honor maintained with other key figures in the field of underwater archaeology, including Frédéric Dumas, Lucien Basch and Paul Adam. Due to her practice of keeping drafts or carbon copies of letters sent, there is often outgoing correspondence to supplement that of letters received.

The Honor Frost Archive provides a fascinating insight into the work of a pioneering figure and will be available to researchers from 30 March 2018: See the access arrangements for the Archives and Manuscripts.

Honor Frost Archive

Honor Frost Archive

The Honor Frost Foundation seeks to promote the advancement and research of maritime archaeology.  The Centre for Maritime Archaeology provides a focus for maritime archaeological research at the University of Southampton.



Happy New Year

As we ease our way into 2018, we raise a toast to a very Happy New Year.

MS 242 A800 page 51

MS 242 A800 page 51

And to help us celebrate, we have a few lines of poetry for the New Year composed by Mr Lewis for Anne, Lady Palmerston, Broadlands, 5 January 1734:

“If life’s a blessing, as we hold it dear,
‘Tis just to greet you on our new born year….
And if the skies retain in all their store
Some kindlier beams than e’er they shed before.
Be’t with peculiar joys to crown your days,
On you & yours descend those blissful rays!…”

[MS 62 Broadlands Archive BR3/81]

Happy 2018!


The not so commonplace – commonplace books

Commonplace books have been described as the ancestors of our blogs or our list of favourites. They are essentially handwritten notebooks or scrapbooks that contain collections of quotations arranged in some way, perhaps topically or thematically, for easy retrieval and as an aid of reference for the compiler. Despite their name, there was nothing commonplace about such books, as each was unique to its compiler, reflecting their particular interests and providing an insight into people’s habits of mind.

Illustration and poem from A lady's commonplace book, 1820s [MS242 A800 p.32]

Illustration and poem from A lady’s commonplace book, 1820s [MS242 A800 p.32]

Commonplace books had their origins in antiquity in the idea of loci communes, or “common places,” under which ideas or arguments could be located in order to be used in different situations. They flourished in early modern Europe and continued to develop and spread during the Renaissance period, as scholars were encouraged to keep them. By the seventeenth century, commonplacing had developed into a recognised practice that was taught to university students.

John Locke

John Locke

The philosopher John Locke began keeping his own commonplace books in 1652, the year that he became a student at Oxford University, and in 1685 he published “Méthode nouvelle de dresser des recueils,” which appeared in 1706 as A new method of making a common place book. In this Locke explained his method of indexing and gave advice on how to arrange material by subject and category, using a ‘head’ word.

Commonplace book of poetry "Poems on several occasions by several celebrated authors",c.1739-19th century [MS7]

Commonplace book of poetry “Poems on several occasions by several celebrated authors”, c.1739-19th century [MS7]

The production of commonplace books continues to the present, providing a rich and diverse array of examples, from the uniquely individual to the ready-to-use commonplace books that could be bought with topics and categories already written at the tops of pages just waiting to be filled in. Whilst some examples, such as the volume MS 7, focused exclusively on poetry, others were much more wide ranging in terms of subject matter and formats used.

‘Personalia’ commonplace book of Revd F.N.Davis [MS269 AO155/3]

‘Personalia’ commonplace book of Revd F.N.Davis [MS269 AO155/3]

The ‘Personalia’ commonplace book kept Revd Francis Neville Davis (1867-c.1946), rector of Rowner, Hampshire, between 1919 and the late 1930s, included not only literary material, but extracts from newspaper articles, family history, brief extracts from diaries, lists of manuscript volumes of Revd Davis, obituaries and a list of receipts from fetes. The focus here reflected the interests and preoccupations of Revd Davis as he considered his family and its antecedents, his legacy and his role in church life.

The lady’s commonplace book compiled between 1820 and 1825 [MS 242] illustrated a preoccupation with the literary and artistic. The volume contains poems, short stories, watercolours, pencil and pen and ink sketches of plants, landscapes and individuals. With entries in a number of hands, it was probably compiled for an individual who spent time in Scotland and in the East Indies.

Illustration from A lady's commonplace book, 1820s [MS242 A800 p.56v]

Illustration from A lady’s commonplace book, 1820s [MS242 A800 p.56v]

The commonplace book has played a role in the way that we organise information. And whether we are aware of it or not, the techniques that they engender continue to influence us as we move into the digital world of information organisation.


Reflections on war

To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Siegfried Sassoon, this blog will look at a number of collections in the Special Collections reflecting on warfare in the 20th century. These include two poems by the long-time friend of Sassoon, Edmund Blunden.

Edmund Blunden (1896-1974) was the longest serving First World War poet, and saw continuous action in the front line, between 1916-18. According to his friend and fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon, Blunden was the poet of the war “most lastingly obsessed by it”. The period that Blunden served at the front saw some of the most violent and bloody fighting, including the Battle of the Somme and the Third Battle of Ypres. He had very definite views on war writing, insisting that it had to be accurate in detail and  in spirit and he shared with Sassoon a belief that the First World War had been a terrible waste of life.

The Special Collections holds two of Blunden’s poems (MS10): fair copies of ‘Portrait of a colonel’ and ‘The passer-by’. Both were published in Retreat (London, 1928) with the former renamed as ‘On a portrait of a colonel’.

Opening lines of Edmund Blunden's Portrait of a colonel [MS10 A243/2]

Opening lines of Edmund Blunden’s ‘Portrait of a colonel’ [MS10 A243/2]

A more substantial literary collection held at Southampton is MS328, that of Frank Templeton Prince (1912-2003). He is probably best remembered for his collection Soldiers Bathing (1954), the title poem of which is one of the most anthologised poems of the Second World War. His archive collection contains not only notebooks and drafts of poems and prose writing, 1920s-87, but long series of correspondence, including correspondence with Edmund Blunden, 1932-58.

F.T.Prince [MS328 A834/1/11/10]

F.T.Prince [MS328 A834/1/11/10]

The soldier hero has proved to be one of the most durable and powerful ideas of idealised masculinity in western tradition since antiquity. For the poet Martin Bell, however, there was nothing heroic about either soldiering or military service, for him it was a life of crushing boredom. Bell volunteered for the Royal Engineers in 1939, in order, so he claimed, to avoid being called into the infantry. He spent his war service in camp as a hospital orderly both in UK and in the Mediterranean, and later as an instructor. His collection (MS12) of correspondence to Joan Broomfield, who was one of his circle of friends from his days at University College, Southampton, contains scathing comments on army life as well as reflecting his literary progress and including poems he had written. In a letter to Joan Broomfeld, from 1943, he expressed his dislike of army life and the boredom of his duties “we Pavlov’s dogs commended by imperious telephones, we cramp our reluctant flesh into organisation…” [MS12 A767/37]

The collection (MS376) of the poet Judith Lask Grubler provides very different reflections on warfare during the Second World War, drawing as she does a picture from the home front. In her writings, which date from the 1930s onwards, Grubler gives a contemporary account in such war related poems as ‘After the raids’ of the experience of civilians facing bombing raids on London.

This material fits well with a small collection of correspondence of Nora Harvey, a student at University College, Southampton, 1939. She writes of the impact of the war on the University as well as Southampton’s role as a port of embarkation and as a military camp. She noted that: “….Part of the college building is being used for a hospital and ARP depot etc….  The Common is horrid – all roped off, full of soldiers and rest camps. Lorry loads of troops are continually going up and down outside our window, and we can hear troops being drilled at all hours of the day.” [MS310/63 A4028]

Students outside a sandbag protected University College of Southampton, 4 October 1939 [MS310/43 A2038/2]

Students outside a sandbag protected University College of Southampton, 4 October 1939 [MS310/43 A2038/2]

Other papers reflecting on war include: diaries of Revd Michael Adler (MS125); letters and diary of Private Paul Epstein (MS124); correspondence and diaries of Leonard Stein (MS170); correspondence of Fred Salinger, Gallipoli (MS209); and correspondence of Frederick Dudley Samuel (MS336).

Revd Adler was one of a small number of Jewish chaplains attached to the forces in France. He, along with his colleagues worked tirelessly to visit the camps, training areas and hospitals to fulfil their pastoral duties. The four diaries that Adler kept for this period provide a brief record of his activities during his tours of duty rather than an analytical or personal account of his experiences as chaplain. They are detached and sparse in their detail and tone, as befits the type of record they represent, but also perhaps representing the need for detachment in dealing with a traumatic situation.

Private Epstein was a Russian conscript to the Royal Fusiliers (the Jewish Regiment) who served in the Palestine campaign. He suffered greatly from home sickness and this is recorded in his diary and correspondence. His letters describe daily events in great detail and he maintained his diary, even when he had nothing to record. Sometimes he summarises the content of his letters home in his diary. He used his letters as a means to maintain some sense of normality and create a strong link with home. As he noted in a letter to his parents of 16 March 1918: “A line to inform you that I received your second letter last Fri[day] March 13th and the sight of it was worth to me untold wealth…” [MS124 AJ 15/2]

Major Frederick Dudley Samuel [MS336 A2097/1]

Frederick Dudley Samuel [MS336 A2097/1]

Frederick Dudley Samuel, CBE, DSO (1877-1951) served in the South African war of 1901-2 and then with the British Expeditionary Forces in France, 1915-18. His archive consists mainly of correspondence written on an almost daily basis to his fiancée, later his wife, Dorothy, 1909-18. His letters from France depict the grim detail of life at the front line. In a letter of 5 April 1917 he talks of the “frightful waste of men, material and time it all is, all devoted to distruction when it should all be devoted to production”. [MS336 A2097/8/2/31]

Envelope of letter from Fred Samuel to his wife, 1917 [MS336 A2097/8/2/31]

Envelope of the letter from Frederick Samuel to his wife, 5 April 1917 [MS336 A2097/8/2/31]

The collections at Southampton provide a range of material and of experiences of 20th-century warfare and the reflections they contain still speak to us as loudly today as they ever did.


Swimwear fashions

First released in June 1960, at a time when bikinis were still considered as risqué, the song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini is credited with helping to make the garment more socially acceptable.

The modern bikini was launched in 1946, when two French designers produced two-piece swimsuit ranges, although illustrations can be found in a number of locations showing women from Roman times wearing bikini-like garments for athletic competitions. An increasing number of glamour shots of actresses in bikinis in the 1950s did much to make the bikini popular, as did the appearance of the teenage Brigitte Bardot in Manina, la fille sans voiles (released in March 1953). Following the appearance of Ursula Andress in a white bikini in the 1962 Bond Film Dr No, the popularity of the bikini became assured.

Multi-coloured bikini from 1993 [MS332/4/17]

Knitted bikini from 1993 [MS332/4/17]

The bikini marked a very long way forward from the serge, flannel and eventually wool long-sleeved nineteenth-century bathing dresses designed to preserve decency. Double suits were common, with a gown from shoulder to knee plus a set of trousers with leggings down to the ankles. As the century progressed ankle-length drawers replaced trousers as the bottom half of the ensemble, the top became hip length, the bottoms were shortened to knee length and both became more fitted.

As well as modest bathing costumes for women, bathing machines were developed as changing rooms on wheels. These enabled the machines to be pulled by horses into the sea, thus allowing women to enter the water without showing their bathing costume.

Bathing machines

Bathing machines, Illustrated London News, August 1888

Queen Victoria had a bathing machine at the beach near Osborne House, Isle of Wight, where she and her family spent their summers. In her journal of 30 July 1847 she notes her first experience of sea bathing:

“Drove to the beach with my maids and went in the bathing machine, where I undressed and bathed in the sea (for the 1st time in my life)… I thought it delightful till I put my head under water…”

With the dawn of the twentieth century, the yards of fabric used in Victorian bathing suits for women — which could be up to 9 yards of material — was reduced, allowing costumes to show a little more of their figures.

Sea bathing and costumes, 1910s [MS402/1/1]

Sea bathing and costumes, 1910s [MS402/1/1]

The year after the 1912 summer Olympics, when female swimming debuted and women wore costumes similar to those worn by the men, the designer Carl Jantzen produced swimwear that was a close fitting one-piece with short sleeves and shorts on the bottom.

Swimwear continued to evolve, new designs assisted by the development of manmade fibres and synthetics. In the 1930s, the tank suit, or maillot, became popular.

Swimming costumes, 1934

Swimming costumes, 1934 [MS1/7/291/22/2/27]

As swimwear developed in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, it followed the silhouette more closely. Cutaway swimsuits became popular in the 1970s and 1980s, inspired by the fitness regimes of the period.

Whilst swimming costumes might be bought, suits also were hand knitted at home. This seems to have been particularly popular between the 1930s and 1950s, although there are patterns available from the 1900s. Later patterns include those for the crocheted cotton bikini of the 1970s, which had the unfortunate habit of stretching when wet.

Knitted bikini, Barcelona, 1993 [MS332/4/16]

Knitted bikini, Barcelona, 1993 [MS332/4/16]

Possibly destined never to test whether it would stretch if it became wet, this striking yellow bikini from the Montse Stanley Collection at Southampton was a garment designed to look elegant and bring a little glamour and style to the beach.

As well as the knitted swimwear, the Montse Stanley Collection also contains a selection of French and English seaside postcards and photographs featuring swimwear, ranging from bathers at the beach to some of those glamour shots of film stars. Montse Stanley was enthusiastic for all aspects of the history of knitting, a fact reflected in the impressive array of materials that form her collection.  The collection that is a rich resource for anyone interested in the creative possibilities of knitting.

Sea bathing and costumes, 1910s [MS402/1/1]