Author Archives: sjmaspero

The 1918 Education Act and Herbert A.L. Fisher

This week we mark the 100th anniversary of the Education Act (1918) by looking at material we hold relating to education in our Cope Collection. Often known as the Fisher Act, because it was drawn up by Herbert Fisher, it raised the school leaving age to fourteen and included the provision of additional services such as medical inspection, nursery schools and centres for pupils with special needs. It applied to England and Wales (there was a separate act for Scotland).

Photograph from the George Grantham Bain collection at the Library of Congress.

Herbert A.L.Fisher (1865-1940) was an English historian, educator, and Liberal politician. He was educated at Winchester College and became a tutor in modern history at the University of Oxford.  In his autobiography, he recalls his own school days with great fondness:

I enjoyed every moment of my life at Winchester; the work, the games, the society of my fellows and of the masters, and the compelling beauty of the old buildings, of the College Meads, and of the sweet water-meadows…

[H.A.L.Fisher, An Unfinished Autobiography, Oxford: 1940]

In 1916, Fisher was asked by David Lloyd George to join the coalition government as President of the Board of Education because “the country would take more educational reform from an educationalist than from a politician.”  Lloyd George assured Fisher that money would be available for reform and that he would have his full support.   Fisher describes how despite a largely conservative cabinet, the Prime Minister’s support ensured the acceptance of every plan.

In 1917 he submitted a memorandum to the Cabinet, detailing the deficiencies in public education and the appropriate remedies.  His maiden speech in the House of Commons introduced a new scheme of educational finance.  That same year he also obtained a second reading for an Education Bill that would curtail industrial labour and give local authorities the ability to promote education from nursery schools upwards.  It became apparent that his proposals were too drastic: there was concern on the part of local authorities who would have to administer the act plus from employers would be losing adolescent labourers.  However, in 1918 the Education Act was passed.  That same year, it was supplemented by the Teachers’ Superannuation Act which provided a pension for all teachers.

The University’s Cope Collection contains Proceedings of Education Committee from 1918 onwards for the administrative county of Southampton.  The minutes record how. in November 1918, several farmers in Overton and Micheldever Districts appealed for the release of children from school for potato digging.

One aspect of the Education Act was the provision of medical inspection and the Library also holds contemporaneous medical reports of the School Medical Officer.  One dating from 1922 states that medical inspection of school children had been in existence in Hampshire for 14 years: the County must have been ahead of the times in this regard.  What was not so advanced is the language used to describe those children we would today consider to have special needs.

The report describes how two groups of children were assessed: “entrants” aged 5 and “leavers” aged around 12 or 13.  There used to be a third assessment of an intermediate group, ages 8 or 9, but this had to be stopped due to lack of staff time: some things never change. During the year, 3,456 children were discovered to have “verminous heads”: any carer of a school-age child will tell you that head lice are still a big problem today.  It should be remembered that this report pre-dates the founding of the National Health Service.

Fisher’s Act had a significant impact on a whole general of children: education provision in the country was not significantly changed for another 26 years until the Butler Act of 1944.

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Celebrating 70 years of the National Health Service

On 5 July 1948 the Minister of Health, Aneurin Bevan, launched the National Health Service.  2018 marks 70 years since its establishment and during this time it has become the world’s largest publicly-funded health service.

The NHS was created out of the ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth, and at its heart remain the same 3 core principles:

  • that it meet the needs of everyone
  • that it be free at the point of delivery
  • that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay.

The Hartley Institution, the first incarnation of the University, long pre-dates the founding of the NHS but not, of course, the provision of healthcare.  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.

The Hartley Institution in the High Street, Southampton, below the Bargate

Prior to this, Albert Temple Patterson, author of The University of Southampton, reports that local medical students attended lectures at the infirmary or in the “private residence of our medical men.”  A few students received instruction at the Institution with some winning scholarships to London hospitals.

The Hartley Institution became the Hartley College in 1896; Hartley University College in 1902 and the University College of Southampton in 1914.  The College calendars give details of the instruction offered for those students wishing to prepare for the medical profession.

Timetable from the Hartley University College Southampton Prospectus of day classes suitable for medical and dental students, session 1905-1905 [Univ. Coll. per LF783.5]

Courses for training health visitors were instituted in 1948-9 with Miss P.E.O’Connell appointed tutor-in-charge.  The venture was a  successful piece of co-operation between the University College and local authorities who were finding it difficult to secure qualified individuals for the new health service.

The establishment of a medical school was considered in 1950 but the University Grants Committee considered the current provision for medical education to be adequate.  However, two appointment were made for lecturers in medically related biological studies in the later 1950s, once the institution had received University status.

In 1967, the Royal Commission on Medical Education advised the Government that there was a strong case for establishing a new medical school in Southampton.  The previous year it had established that there needed to be an immediate and substantial increase in the number of doctors.

Professor Donald Acheson, Foundation Dean of the new Medical School, University of Southampton, 1968-78

Sir Kenneth Mather, (Vice Chancellor 1965-71) whose specialism was genetics, had been an enthusiastic supporter of the project.  Professor Donald Acheson arrived in October 1968 to be the foundation Dean and the first intake of students arrived two years later, in 1971.  Acheson was later appointed Chief Medical Officer under the Thatcher administration.

The nursing degree course was launched in 1982 with some 20 students.  This was greatly increased in 1995, the result of the Government’s recognition that most nurses should have degrees, and its decision to hand over training of the nurses from the NHS to the universities.

Planting a tree in honour of the first nursing graduates, October 1986 [MS 1/Phot/1/26/1]

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.

The university maintains a presence at Southampton General in partnership with the NHS trust operating the hospital. It is home to some operations of the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Health Sciences, although these two faculties have bases on Highfield campus. As a teaching hospital, it is used by a range of undergraduate and postgraduate medical students, research academics and clinicians.

Aeriel view of Southampton General Hospital, 1996 [MS 1/Phot/13/1]

The General Hospital is the biggest site of the University Hospital Southampton which also manages the Princess Anne, Southampton Children’s Hospital, Countess Mountbatten House, Royal South Hants and the New Forest Birth Centre.

In 2007, the University chose to venerate Professor Dame Sally Claire Davies, DBE, FMedSci, FRS with an honorary degree.  She is the current Chief Medical Officer for England (appointed in 2010); the first woman to be appointed to the post which has substantial de facto influence over NHS policy.

Professor Sally Davies with the Chancellor, Sir John Parker in 2007 [MS 1/GR1/18/21]

From humble beginnings, the University is today a national leader in medical education.  Working in collaboration with the NHS, the Faculty of Medicine has trained thousands of doctors and scientists.  Nursing at the University is ranked ninth in the world and the Faculty of Health Sciences also provides a first-class environment for cutting edge research to prepare tomorrow’s physiotherapists, midwives, occupational therapists, clinical phycologists and podiatrists.

Knit in Public Day

Tomorrow, 9 June, is World Wide Knit in Public Day (WWKIPDAY).  This is the largest knitter-run event in the world, and its mission is “Better living through stitching together”.  It started in 2005 with 25 local KIPs, or Knit-in-Public events.  By last year, this had amassed to 1125 KIPs in 54 different countries.  Each local event is put together by a volunteer (host) or a group of volunteers. While the origin of the name denotes that it’s all about knitting, over the years it has become an inclusive event for all “fibre lovers”.  The nearest KIP events to the University are in Dorset and Portsmouth.

Image from the Montse Stanley collection [MS 331/2/1/5/195]

Among the papers in the Special Collection strongrooms are those of Montse Stanley which passed to the University following her death in 1999.  She was committed to bringing to a wider audience both creative knitting and the history of knitting. Her personal enthusiasm for all aspects of the history of knitting was based in a professional and very successful career in knitting. She was a well-known designer and maker in her own right, and she also did much to popularise the creative possibilities of hand knitting through books, television and video, and by curating exhibitions.

Image from the Montse Stanley collection [MS 331/2/1/5/198]

Fans of knitting may also be interested to know that the sixth interdisciplinary and international In the Loop conference will be held at Winchester School of Art (WSA), University of Southampton 19-20 July 2018. This year marks the tenth anniversary of In the Loop and to celebrate this WSA is hosting In the Loop at 10, a special conference which will celebrate the outstanding contribution that the conference, its organisers, and its participants have made to knitting scholarship, while also promoting new research on all aspects of knitting.

Image from the Montse Stanley collection [MS 331/2/1/5/205]

Farewell to Killarney

After a busy month of travelling, it’s time to say adieu to Ireland. The following verse, by Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, provides an appropriate goodbye. Palmerston visited Ireland several times: his family owned estates in County Sligo but he was also a keen traveller.

Upper Lake of Killarney

Killarney (Irish: Cill Airne, meaning “church of sloes”) is a town in County Kerry, southwestern Ireland.

Old Weir Bridge

The version of the poem held in the Archives is an undated copy in the hand of his son, Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, nineteenth-century Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister.

Glenaa, a mountain in Killarney

Adieu Killarney loved retreat

Where every grace and beauty meet

From thee I part perhaps no more

To view thy wild romantic shore

To float upon the silvery plain

Or thread thy trifled isles again

Along whose haunted margins green

A fairer band of nymphs are seen

Than decked Cythera’s myrtle grove

To beauty sacred and to love

But though a wanderer hence I fly

To realms beneath a distant sky

Yet fancy oft in colours bright

Shall paint the moments of delight

That saw me midst thy social train

A pleased and willing guest remain

Shall oft recall the blushing grace

Of each engaging artless face

That smiled along thine opening glades

Or danced beneath thy checkered shades

And from the crowded scenes of life

The haunts of dullness noise and strife

My wandering thoughts shall oft remove

With fond delight again to rove

Where every grace and beauty meet

In sweet Killarney’s loved retreat

[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR23AA/2/2]

Map of Killarney showing its hills and lakes

All images taken from John Carr, The Stranger in Ireland, 1806 [Rare Books DA 975]

A passage to Ireland

This month we celebrate all things Irish and we’re kicking off by looking at some eighteenth and nineteenth century accounts of travel to the Emerald Isle.  Various passages, such as Fishguard-Rosslare or Liverpool-Belfast, are available but, for today at least, our travellers will be sailing from Holyhead to Dublin.

Dublin in John Carr, The Stranger in Ireland, 1806 [Rare Book DA 975]

Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston made the crossing several times – as well as being landowners in Broadlands in Romsey, his family owned estates in County Sligo.  He writes to his wife, Mary, from Dublin in 1788:

I just write a few lines to tell you that I arrived here this morning about eleven perfectly well after having been 36 hours on board the packet.  On first coming out on Monday night the sea off Holyhead was uncommonly rough and made me very sick […] Yesterday the weather was fine and we were coming on with a tolerable fair wind tho slowly and had hopes of being here in the afternoon when the wind died away and what little there was came directly against us so that tho we were very near Dublin at 4 o’clock yesterday we could not get up till 11 this morning.  There was only one passenger beside myself that I saw anything of and he not a conversable man so that I was very glad when the business was over. [MS 62/BR20/5/7]

Packet-boat (or mailboat) was the main mode of transport; these were medium-sized vessels used for mail as well as passengers and freight.  Being a sailboat, the journey was heavily dependent on good weather and this is a recurrent theme in the accounts.  Johann Kohl (1808-78), a German travel writer, historian, and geographer, considers the Irish Sea has a reputation for being “particularly rough and stormy” although nervous passengers should be reassured that “those who have been little at sea are always more anxious than they need to be in an uproar of the elements.” [Travels in Ireland by J.G. Kohl, 1844 Rare Book DA 975]

The rare books prove a good resource for this topic.  Sir John Carr (1772–1832), an English barrister and travel writer, gives an account of his passage in 1805.

The distance was only eighty miles to Ireland: the treacherous winds at starting promised to carry us over in nine hours, but violated its promise by, of all other causes of detention the most insipid, a dead calm, for two tedious days and nights, which was solely attributed by the sailors to our having a mitred prelate on board. [John Carr, The Stranger in Ireland, 1806]

Bay of Dublin, taken from Dalkey in John Carr, The Stranger in Ireland, 1806

Despite unpredictable and often unpleasantly rough weather, many writers feel duly compensated by the beautiful vistas on arrival.  The following account comes again from Kohl:

The Bay of Dublin […] presents a beautiful site to the stranger, especially if he contemplates it on a cheerful morning, from the deck of a steamer in which he has passed a story night.  The land, stretching out in two peninsulas, extends both its arms to meet him.  In the southern hand it bears the harbor and town of Kingstown, and in the northern the habour and town of Howth.            

Sir John Carr was similarly impressed:

As we entered the bay of Dublin, a brilliant sun, and almost cloudless sky, unfolded one of the finest land and sea prospects I ever beheld.

We hopes that the weather was kind to you during your passage and you’re not been left with any nauseous that would impede your exploration of Ireland over the next few weeks.  Don’t miss our post next week when we’ll be delving into the literature of Ireland.

Happy birthday Charlie Chaplin!

Today would have been Charlie Chaplin’s 129th birthday.  While best remembered as a slapstick comic actor from the era of silent film, he actually wrote, produced and directed most of the productions in which he starred.

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Chaplin with Edwina and Louis Mountbatten in Hollywood [MS62/MB/L1/138]

He is pictured with Louis and Edwina Mountbatten who were visiting Hollywood as part of their honeymoon in 1922.  Out of his trademark make up, he is almost unrecognisable.

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Mountbatten (left) and Chaplin [MS62/MB/L1/174]

While the Mountbattens were in Hollywood, Chaplin made a short film: Nice and Friendly (1922) as a wedding gift.  Both Edwina and Louis star alongside Jackie Coogan; Lieutenant Frederick Neilson, British Embassy in Washington, DC, and ADC to Lieutenant Lord Louis Mountbatten and his wife; Colonel Robert Thompson, U.S. Navy and Mr and Mrs Stephen H.P.Pell.  Edwina stars as the owner of a pearl necklace which various crooks attempt to steal.

[MB2/L1/165]

The film was shot in the gardens at Pickfair, the home of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, where Lord and Lady Louis Mountbatten and their party stayed whilst in Hollywood.  It is available to view on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBXq_CmNaRI.

The images come from a black and white photograph album of Lord and Lady Louis Mountbatten’s honeymoon tours of Spain, Germany and the USA, 4 August 1922 – 9 December 1922. [MB2/L1].  Also from their stay in Hollywood, there are photographs taken at Cecile B.De Mille’s film studio.

Love stories from the Broadlands Archives

Saint Valentine’s Day, or The Feast of Saint Valentine, has been associated with romantic love since the fourteenth century and the time of Geoffrey Chaucer when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By eighteenth-century England, it had evolved into an occasion which resembled our modern-day celebration where people express their love by sending flowers, chocolate and greetings cards.  To mark Valentine’s Day 2017, we’re going to delve again into the wonderful resource that is the Broadlands Archives.

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Nineteenth century valentine card from the collection [BR46]

Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, resident of Broadlands house near Romsey wrote on 24 June [1767] to “my dearest Miss Poole”:

I will not attempt to describe how melancholy and uncomfortable I have felt ever since you have been gone. I never in any solitude felt so much alone as I have done in this town these last five days, and most of all as when I have been in company. [BR16/9/1]

The object of his affections, Frances, was the daughter of Sir Francis Poole and his wife, also called Frances. Palmerston felt she had “all the qualities he could wish for in a wife” but did not want to press her for a decision “at this time”: one of Frances’s brothers, Henry, was very ill – and in fact died the following month – which was partly the cause of the delay in their marriage negotiations.  Frances appears more cautious than Henry: “you deserve a woman beautiful & young, & with every quality of the mind that can make her amiable.” [BR16/9/3].

Frances was 34 and six years senior to her suitor, hardly old, but possibly more unusual by eighteenth century standards. Henry attempted to reassure her:

The disproportion of age is nothing: the consideration with me is not about years but qualities and I am fully convinced that no woman in the world but yourself possesses all those that are requisite to my happiness [BR16/9/16]

Frances did marry Henry, the second Viscount, on 6 October 1767 but sadly died, only two years later, in childbirth at his Lordship’s house in the Admiralty on 1 June 1769.

Matrimonial ladder

Matrimonial ladder [BR34/6]

Palmerston was lucky enough to find love a second time, this time with Mary Mee, the daughter of Benjamin Mee, a London merchant living in Dublin.  Towards the end of 1782 he writes to her:

br20-1

Letter from Henry to Mary dating from when they were courting in 1782 [BR20/1/9]

My dearest M:M’s [Miss Mee’s] kind note found me just beginning to write a few lines to her (tho with such a headache I can hardly see) as I could not refrain from telling her how much I think of her and long for her society. [BR20/1/9]

They married on 4 January 1783.  The Broadlands Archives contains extensive correspondence between the couple who were clearly in love and wrote frequently whenever apart. Towards the end of his life, in November 1801, he reflects on his relationship with his first wife to his second:

I cannot conceive why one is never to speak of what one has felt the most; and why the subjects that lie the deepest in one’s heart and are the dearest to one’s remembrance are to be eternally banished from one’s lips [BR20/18/8]

A few days later, 12 November 1801, he comments that he has been going through his deceased wife’s papers. [BR20/18/9]. He passed away less than six months later on 16 April 1802 of “ossification of the throat”.

Mary was clearly distraught at the loss of her soul mate.  She writes from Lavender House, home of her sister and brother-in-law near Henley-on-Thames, in early May 1802 to an unknown recipient:

My heart is so loaded with sorrow that I hardly know how to support myself […] alas if I do not unburthen my sorrow to some friendly bosom my heart with surely break. [BR19/15/3]

Henry and Mary had four surviving children, the eldest being Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, future Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister. A week after his father’s death, 23 April 1802, Mary sent her son a long letter full of advice.  Among many things, she advises that he marry “at no very early age”, how he should treat his wife and the qualities he should look for in one, including “to be sure neither madness or evil affects her family”. [BR21/8/19]

Lord Palmerston as an elder statesman, West Front, Broadlands: an albumen print probably from the 1850s [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR22(i)/17]

Lord Palmerston as an elder statesman, West Front, Broadlands: an albumen print probably from the 1850s [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR22(i)/17

Palmerston married the widow Emily Cowper, née Lamb in 1839, aged 55, although they had likely been having an affair from around 1808: not sure if this was exactly what his mother had in mind!  If you would like to read an excerpt from a poem Palmerston sent to Emily on their tenth wedding anniversary – as well as other love stories from the Broadlands Archives – take a look at last year’s Valentine’s Day blog post.

If you are interested to know more about the development of Valentines – in the second week of February 1841, for example, an extra half million letters were delivered, one eighth of all the mail, because of the traffic in Valentines – you could take a look at this post from Chris Woolgar from 2015.

“Sans peur and sans reproache”: Emily, Lady Palmerston

Writing from Paris in 1826, Emily, Countess Cowper – later Lady Palmerston – described herself as “without fear and without reproach”: while the city is full of gossip “if you should hear anything of me you may not believe it” she assures her brother Frederick. [BR30/6/13]

At a time when government appeared ostensibly to be a male domain, Emily’s life illustrates the significant role played by women in the political arena of the nineteenth century. Beautiful, charming and intelligent and although not a political thinker, she was astutely aware of the realities of the political system and a great believer in the power of social influence. She was the première political hostess in London of her time – a leading lady in Almack’s, an upper-class social club – and anyone who was anyone attended her parties.

ms62_br28_11_3_0002

Lady Palmerston and her daughters Fanny (right) and Minny (left) BR28/11/3

Emily was born to Peniston Lamb and his wife Elizabeth in 1787. She had three brothers, William (twice Prime Minister), Frederick (a diplomat) and George (a playwright).  Her first marriage was to Peter Clavering-Cowper, fifth Earl Cowper. In 1839, two years after his death, she married her long-term lover Lord Palmerston.  Emily had three sons and two daughters, all born during her marriage to Lord Cowper, although unlikely to all have been fathered by him: George Cowper, sixth Earl Cowper (Fordwich); William Cowper-Temple, first Baron Mount Temple; Charles; Frances (Fanny) Jocelyn, Viscountess Jocelyn and Emily (Minny), wife of Anthony Ashley-Cooper, seventh Earl of Shatesbury.

The University’s archives holds a collection of Emily’s letters; the bulk of the correspondence is to Emily’s brother, Honourable Frederick Lamb; from 1844, there is also correspondence with her second husband, Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston. Emily covers a wide range of topics in her letters.  In terms of political affairs, the Reform Bill and Catholic Emancipation Act feature heavily and she usually includes society gossip.  As she is writing to her brother, it is natural that she should frequently discuss their parents, siblings and her children: “whatever else may be said of me nobody shall ever doubt my being a good mother and a good daughter” she comments in March 1820. [BR29/3/7]

The letters make reference to Emily’s brother William’s marriage to Caroline Lamb. Their son George Augustus was born with severe mental health problems.  Unusually for an aristocratic family of the time, William and Caroline cared for their son at home; his “fits” are often mentioned.

LadyPfuneral

Lady Palmerston’s funeral at Westminster Abbey, 1869

The letters shed a little light on Emily’s first marriage to Earl Cowper. Married in 1805 aged 18, Emily is remembered as beautiful and charming, In contrast, her husband is described – in the more favourable portraits – as quiet and shy, and less sympathetically as dull and slow.  When advising her brother Frederick about affairs of the heart in 1821 she comments how “at best [marriage] must always be a lottery.”  She still, however, recommends that he should marry:

From a man’s comfort it is almost better to have a bad wife than to have no wife. Besides it is always a man’s own fault if his wife is very bad.  [BR30/2/3]

The following year, 9 November 1822, she wrote to her friend, Fanny, Lady Burrell “I well know how unpleasant (and often hurtful to the tranquillity of a ménages) a third person is and I well know if you cannot get rid of her now you never will.” [BR2815/10]. A few years later, circa 1826, she wrote to Frederick:

Dear Ld C. in the most sheepish way asked me the other night if I had any objection to [?Lady] Sarah coming to P[anshanger] [BR30/6/18]

Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston

Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston pictured at his country residence, Broadlands

While Emily’s affair with Lord Palmerston was long standing, she was discrete about these matters in her correspondence. She reported to Frederick in 1825 that “Lord Palmerston went to call upon Fordwich in the course of his canvass and was quite delighted with him.” [BR30/5/14]. Being her eldest son and heir, she was anxious regarding Fordwich’s education and future prospects and expresses these concerns in February 1827:

Ld C. takes no trouble about him tho’ he is very fond of him[…] Ld Palmerston whom I have consulted for want of better advice says he might go back to Cambridge now…[BR29/13/2]

Emily lived during a time when women were not permitted to vote let alone serve in Parliament. Her social status would likely have afforded her considerable independence and influence.  Despite commenting in 1822, “women in general may be wise for keeping out of politics” [BR29/7/14] that same year she was happy to intercede with the King on Frederick’s behalf: “for so shy a person as I am it is astonishing how bold and determined I can be when it is worthwhile”. [BR29/8/4]

In later letters the support Emily provided for her husband Lord Palmerston is referenced. In November 1840 she tells Frederick she has come to Brighton for the sea breeze having spent the last “two months doggedly to help fight [Palmerston’s] battles”: at this point Palmerston was Foreign Secretary. [BR29/15/3]. A few months later (February 1841) she comments how her “brilliant Saturday parties […] do much good”  [BR30/13/3].

Wellington_portrait

Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington

Emily refers frequently to the victor of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington; the highs and lows of his career are charted through her letters. Rather acerbically in 1821: “he is better seen at a distance when the glitter looks like gold”, with reference to his concern at his waning popularity. [BR30/2/4] She clearly has a soft spot for the Iron Duke, however, and ensures that Mrs Arbuthnot has been invited to a party in July 1825 because “there is nothing I would not do to please him, he is such a love’. [BR30/5/6]”

Emily’s correspondence, held by the University’s Special Collections, provides an insight into her life, influence and opinions. Recently listed at item level, these letter-by-letter descriptions will facilitate greater access to a resource detailing the life of this fascinating nineteenth-century aristocratic woman.

Food and feasting at Christmas time

The keen bakers among you will know that we’ve already missed “Stir-up Sunday”.  This is informally marked in the Anglian calendar on the last Sunday before the season of Advent; the Book of Common Prayer’s collect for the day begins with the words, “Stir up, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”.  The day has become associated with making Christmas puddings as most recipes require it to be cooked well in advance of Christmas and then reheated prior to serving.

Avid followers of our blog will know that a Southampton student spotted Mary Berry, a “cook maid” listed in a Broadlands account book from 1760. Great British Bake Off enthusiasts might like to consider whether judges Mary and Paul got some of their recipes for the show’s technical challenges from a manuscript recipe book found within the paper of Miss Annie Trout, formerly a maths lecturer at University College, Southampton.  It includes many seasonal favourites but, like many older recipes, they are little sparse in terms of instructions and often lack cooking times or temperatures.

Bread sauce: Crumble the bread & soak it in milk put a whole onion in & cover it in the oven taking care that it never boils.  Remove the onion beat it lightly with butter, cream, pepper and salt.

Christmas cake: ¾ lb flour; ½ lb butter; ½ lb currants or sultanas; 3 eggs; lemon peel. 2 oz glace cherries; salt; ½ teaspoon b[aking] powder.  Cream the butter, add the sugar add the egg, beat with a wooden spoon, the add flour and b[aking] powder. Mix lightly. Layer of dough and cherries alternately, a few for the top.  Bake in a hot oven for 3 hrs. Let the oven cool for a bit so as to soak well.

Fig pudding: Soak 8 or 9 figs all night. 8 oz breadcrumbs, 2 oz suet, 2 oz brown sugar, 1 egg beaten with a little milk, 1 level tablesp treacle, pinch of carbonate of soda dissolved in warm milk. Mix all dry things – add eggs and steam at least 2 hours.

[MS 112 LF 780 UNI 2/7/75/266 Miss Trout’s recipe book]

Of course, all these festive ingredients need to be purchased.  The Special Collections hold some price lists for the local chain of grocery stores Lankester & Crook dating from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

lankestercrook

Lankester & Crook Christmas price list, 1913

They sold, among other things, dried fruit, candied peel and spices plus readymade mincemeat and Christmas cakes as well as Cadbury’s chocolate, “delicious, nutritious, wholesome and pure”: this would surely be unacceptable under today’s trading standards!

It is customary to share food and drink with family and friends over the festive period.  On 22 December, aged about 11, Henry Temple [later third Viscount Palmerston, Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister] wrote to his mother, Mary Mee, “in her dressing room upstairs”:

Mr Temple will certainly do himself the honour of waiting upon her ladyship on Christmas day to gobble up mince pies or whatever else there is for dinner [BR21/1/5]

Palmerston-1801

Sketch of Palmerston as a young man

Many years later we find a subsequent resident of Romsey’s Broadlands estate, Lord Mountbatten dining with the troops during Christmas 1945 at Raffles College in Singapore during his tenure as Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia.

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Dinner with other ranks and ratings of headquarters

And finally a more sobering thought for this time of year, sometimes criticised for its excesses when many still have so little.  Contained within the Wellington Pamphlets is A well seasoned Christmas-pie for “the great liar of the north”, prepared, cooked, baked and presented by Richard Oastler.  Printed in 1834, it concerns Oastler’s campaigns for better conditions for factory workers and his letter to the Leeds Mercury on the subject.  The demand was to limit the working day to ten hours – all very Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit.

National Tree Week

The UK’s largest tree celebration, National Tree Week, has been running since 1975 and launches the winter tree planting season. This week, in honour of our ‘treescape’, we take a look at the trees and forest in Hampshire through items in our University Special Collections.

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King Edward VIII planting a tree at Adsdean Park, Mountbatten’s house in West Sussex, summer 1936. MB2/L17 p58

There is a long – and royal – tradition of tree planting for commemoration and celebration: in this photo, King Edward VIII wields a spade at Adsdean, Earl Mountbatten’s home in West Sussex – (note the pipe!) Mountbatten’s guests were often invited to plant trees. In April 1957, H.M. the Queen and Prince Philip planted mulberry trees in the gardens at Broadlands to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the granting of Romsey’s Royal Charter. During the royal jubilee in 1977 the Queen returned to Hampshire to plant trees at Ampfield and Woodley.

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Watercolour view of Broadlands and Romsey, n.d. MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR Map 142.

Earlier owners of Broadlands were also concerned that trees should enhance the beauty of the pleasure grounds. After a ‘perfect hurricane’ in March 1842, Samuel Hereman, head gardener at Broadlands, wrote to Viscount Palmerston to report damage to a great many trees:

“One of the large elm trees in the pleasure ground immediately behind the dairy yard fell, broke down the cow shed, where the cows were, and took off a piece of the garden wall, but I am happy to say all the cows escaped unhurt. The large tree in the stable yard near the kitchen entrance to the mansion fell and took down with it all the wall from the small door leading through the shrubbery to the ashes and faggot shed immediately adjoining the brushing room.  The tiled roof of the stables is considerably deranged, many parts quite stripped.  The fine Cedar of Lebanon close by the large doors entering into the pleasure ground at the east front of the mansion lost two of its largest limbs, which in their fall, broke down the wooden fence and wall, and drove the coping stones to a considerable distance.  Besides these many of the finest trees have lost very large branches and others have been torn up by the roots both in the pleasure ground and park…” [BR114/5/17/1-2]

The Broadlands estate papers show that Palmerston was keen to replace these losses – in November that year Hereman listed more than 200 shrubs and trees ‘arrived from London’ including ‘40 Lombardy Poplars… 6 Leucomb [Lucombe] Oaks… 40 Pinus Pallasiana’ [pines] and ‘6 Upright Cypress’ trees [BR114/6/53]. One of the more exotic trees to be planted was the Monkey Puzzle tree.  In May 1842, Palmerston was sent a small box containing two cones of the Araucanian Pine from Colonel John Walpole in Chile.  “You will often have heard of the beauty of this tree in its conformation and I know of no one of the species which can rival it for size and proportions.  I send you these seeds because from the applications which I have directly and indirectly received from English nurserymen I have reason to think that they have not yet become common…”[BR114/5/37-8]

By May 1843, Hereman had carefully planted the seeds in the vinery, the melon yard, and the new greenhouse at Broadlands, exactly following ‘the last directions given in the Gardener’s Chronicle’ [BR114/8/17]. By this date the practice of managing and planting woodland was becoming more scientific, aided by the growing number of publications offering advice. Timber after all was a valuable resource for estate owners. Early examples among our rare book collection at Southampton include: The Manner of Raising, Ordering, and improving Forrest-Trees by M. Cook, published in 1676; and A sure method of improving estates by plantations of Oak Elm Ash Beech and other timber-trees, by Batty Langley, 1728 [Rare Books Perkins SD 391].  William Cobbett – the famous farmer and political commentator who lived in Hampshire – also wrote The Woodlands, a treatise that was serialised in the Political Register between 1825-8.

So trees have been associated with both profit and pleasure down the ages. Some are even visited as tourist attractions, famous due to their size or age. You might have seen the ancient Knightwood Oak near Lyndhurst, thought to be from 450 to 600 years old, and probably the oldest oak in the New Forest.  Other local trees acquired notoriety for more amazing reasons:

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The Hampshire Wonder or The Groaning Tree being a full and true account of the Groaning Tree, in the New Forest, near Limington in Hampshire, which has been heard for some time past by thousands of people, who come from all parts to hear this amazing and portentous noise, by P.Q. M D. F.R.S., London, 1742, Cope 97.58.

The Groaning Tree apparently stood ‘about two Miles distant from Limington in a solitary part of the New Forest’. It was a famous elm tree ‘which has been heard to groan like a human Creature in the Agonies of Death, for several Hours together’…. ‘the amazing Groans which are now every Day heard to proceed from its Trunk; and these indeed are so terrible and shocking to human Nature, that few who hear them have Power to stir from the Place till proper Cordials have been administred to revive their sinking Spirits and confounded Imaginations.’

Enjoy National Tree Week!

http://www.treecouncil.org.uk/Take-Part/national-tree-week