Category Archives: Manuscript Collections

The stories they tell: diaries of Iris Castello on travels to Palestine

In the spring of 1923 and then again in the late summer of 1924 through to the spring of 1925 a young lady named Iris Castello travelled from her home in England to Palestine. She was the niece of Herbert Louis Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel – a Liberal politician who served as leader of the Liberal Party from 1931-5 as well as Home Secretary in the National Government under Ramsay MacDonald from 1931-2. He also served as the first High Commissioner for Palestine from 1920 to 1925 and it was in this capacity that Iris accompanied her uncle and other family members and friends in the course of both official and informal events on their travels through Palestine.

Special Collections hold the diary entries kept by Iris in our collection MS432, documenting her experiences in Palestine and giving us a fly-on-the-wall account of the work of the High Commissioner and the world of the British elite at this crucial period in Middle East history. Iris was based in Jerusalem but ventured far and wide to various places including Nazareth; Amman in what was then the Emirate of Transjordan; Damascus in Syria and Baalbek in Lebanon to name just a few.

Countryside at Bethany from MS84/3, Bundle 1, p1: Iris visited Bethany twice, once in March 1923 and again in January 1925, when she visited the tomb of Lazarus

The diaries range from the mundane and rather prosaic details you’d expect from most amateur writers keeping day-to-day accounts of their travels through a foreign land, such as their notes on the weather, the quality of their bedding, games of badminton, ping-pong and Mah-jong or the tedious and tiresome characters one is forced to endure at parties and other gatherings. However, they also include unique details of historical interest on the characters and settings of 1920s Palestine and the Near East more generally.

Amongst the more prominent characters Iris encountered was the Emir Abdulla of Transjordan, who visited her uncle Lord Samuel on 11th September 1924 and whom she described as “a good looking man with a nice twinkle. He is very worried about the Whabis marching to Taif & came over to discuss with Uncle Herbert.”

Soon after this initial encounter ‘Uncle Herbert’, Iris and others in their entourage travelled to meet again with the Emir at his camp in Amman:

After an early tea Col Cox escorted us to the Emir’s Camp right up on the top of a hill.  Very fresh & cool.  As Uncle Herbert stepped out of the car ‘God Save the King’ was played.  We watched the little Prince and others galloping their horses, it was then prayer hour so we were shown to our tents to remain there till dinner time.

Uncle Herbert had a large tent divided into a bedroom & sitting room.  May & I shared a small tent, so did Professor Wallas & Reggie.  Our tent was furnished with two extremely uncomfortable beds, two chairs & a washstand.  The first thing I did was to anoint my bed thoroughly with Keatings and thus escaped any visitors.

At 7.30 an official dinner party was given.  Decorations were worn.  The Emir looked very magnificent in some sort of military uniform.  We were 30 altogether.  I sat between the doctor and the Chief Justice.  The doctor was an extremely interesting man and spoke excellent English.

The dinner was badly cooked & dull food.  We started off with luke-warm soup, then some sort of pastry, chicken & rice, beans done up, macaroni, fancy rice, mutton done up, a very sickly pudding & dessert.  The Emir must be short of forks because after each course our dirty fork was left for the next course.  Only water to drink.  After dinner we returned to the Emir’s tent and after chatting up for a short time we retired to our tents & bed.  An extremely interesting & novel experience.

Iris also describes in some detail the visit of Lord Balfour to Palestine in March and April of 1925:

The next excitement & a national one was the arrival of the Balfour party.  The city was quite deserted, because all the Arab shops were shut as a sign of protest & the Jewish shops as a sign of rejoicing.  There was no demonstration at all.

Mixed in amongst descriptions of some of the better known characters from modern history are the more obscure individuals who peopled Iris’ world and the manner in which she describes them puts one in mind of an Agatha Christie novel, with all the prejudices and predilections a young English woman of the middle or upper classes of that era might hold. On 26th September 1924 Iris meets a Dr Weizmann who, unfortunately was “not at all what I expected. Very much the Lenin type. Rather silent but this was put down to overwork.” On 3rd March 1923 she met another doctor: “At lunch the doctor became conversational.  I did not like him.” On 1st October 1924 yet another doctor: “I was taken in by Col Holmes (Head of the Railways) a fat jovial man & sat between him and Wing Commander Tyrrell the doctor at Sarafend. Very Irish & rather noisy.”

Jerusalem as it would have looked in the 1920s, from MS84/4 Bundle 6

In her travels through Palestine Iris encountered many of the archaeological excavations that were taking place there at that time, including those in the Valley of Kidron at Jerusalem:

[…] went in the car to the Tomb of Absalom, and from there walked to the City of David to have a look at Macalister’s  Excavations.   No one working, but we found the guardian there whose duty it is to keep visitors away.  He turned into an excellent guide.

We saw the corners of the old wall of David and some very interesting caves that have been discovered & are still being excavated.

Professor Wallas had some difficulty in getting down the rather narrow gangway to the caves, so the guide just lifted him up & gave him a pig-a-back.  No light weight, but a most amusing sight

Iris was invited to many talks and lectures given at the British School of Archaeology including one held by a Dr Karlie on malaria which she deemed ‘rather interesting’; one given by a Mr Garrow Duncan on Mount Ophir that she found ‘wonderfully interesting’; and another by a Dr Grenfell on Labrador that was both ‘interesting and brightly delivered’.

However, both Iris and her uncle also endured talks that were less well received, including Professor Gastang’s fourth lecture on excavations in Jerusalem given on Monday 17th November 1924: “It was boring, but Uncle Herbert expected it to be as he told me to nudge him if he fell asleep.”

The countryside near Jerusalem, from MS84/4 Bundle 6

As a young woman on the fringes of her uncle’s official business in Palestine, Iris’ diaries carry an often light-hearted even flippant tone that allows the reader to enter into the world of British colonial politics in the Near East through the lens of an informal and somewhat unserious yet highly perceptive observer.

The stories they tell: Lady’s Palmerston’s rewards of industry

Mary Mee was the daughter of Benjamin Mee, a London merchant living in Dublin. She married John Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, on 5 January 1783 and they had four children including the future British Prime Minister, Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston. Described as a lively, charming woman and elegant society hostess she had a kind heart and devoted much of her energy and own money to helping the poor of Romsey. This included setting up several schools. Information about her ventures comes mostly from her letters to family and friends.

Hand drawn and coloured reward card given as prizes to children at Lady Palmerston’s School of Industry, c. 1801 [MS62 Broadlands Archives BR183/27]

From the records, it is hard to tell exactly how many schools there were and whether they operated simultaneously or sequentially. She frequently refers to her “girls” and it’s not clear whether she also offered opportunities for boys.

Mary lived many years before the provision of state education at a time when there were very few schools in England. In the 18th century the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge created the first charity schools for children aged 7 to 11 years. ‘National Schools’ were founded by the Church of England from 1811 onwards; a similar venture supported by non-conformist Christians has been established a few years earlier which started ‘British Schools’. Despite this, many children from the labouring class would not have had the opportunity to go to school.

[MS62 Broadlands Archives BR183/27]

Her schools probably didn’t provided an education akin to modern-day establishments; more likely the children would have received practical training that they could then use to generate income, as well as a safe, dry space and a hot meal. She refers to her “school of industry” as well as her spinning schools, specifying one for flax [spun into linen] and one for hemp [commonly used to make sail canvas] which give an indication of the sort of skills the children were learning. In 1803, 55 children had knitted their own stockings.

In 1801 Mary described to her son how the problem was “too extensive for particular charity” and required actions “on a large scale”. [BR21/7/8] And in terms of numbers, it’s clear that Mary was helping a significant number of local children. In 1801 she reports that numbers at her school[s] have increased to 60; by 1803 she has about 100 children “in all my schools”. That same year she also expresses her hope to establish an “early” or “young” school.

MS62 Broadlands Archives BR183/27

It appears that in 1801 she was employing 2 or 3 members of staff : a governess plus a teacher and [?or] sub-governess. The only person referred to by name – and from whom we have one letter – is Ann Rout. In 1802 Mary bought presents for the assistant ladies who attend her school and the following year she tells us she has two spinning mistresses.

It appears Mary took a very modern carrot – rather than stick – approach to motivation, even for the prospective parents attending her lecture on the school rules in 1803: “I have treated them with bread & cheese & to prevent it being a dry lecture I have ordered them some strongbeer.” [MS62 Broadlands Archives BR21/9/6]. PTA’s around the country, please take note!

MS62 Broadlands Archives BR183/27

She writes to friend Emma Godfrey in Jan 1803 that she has been organising rewards for her girls: 60 cloaks are to be cut plus plans to provide a dinner for 75; she was inviting some past scholars to dine. Later that year she held the annual school fete at which, she reports, her own children were waiters. Mary’s two daughters, Elizabeth and Frances, were certainly involved in her work and it is possible that they made the beautiful reward cards, examples of which illustrate this post.

The stories they tell: the mobile ambulance synagogues

As we mark International Day of Charity 2020 on 5 September, we look at the story of the mobile ambulance synagogues, an initiative of the Chief Rabbi’s Religious Emergency Council used to provide welfare support in liberated Europe at the end of the Second World War. Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld, who was the Executive Director of the CRREC and was awarded the British Hero of the Holocaust award in 2013 for his work with refugees, played a leading role in this initiative.

Consecration of a mobile synagogue, 1945

Image of the consecration of a mobile synagogue ambulance from the Annual Report of the CRREC, 1945 [MS183/593/1]. This ambulance was supported from donations from the Jewish community in the USA.

Supported through a fund raising campaign across the Jewish community worldwide, the first of these ambulances was sent to Europe in 1944. The vehicles functioned as both synagogues and as first-aid clinics. Each was stocked with kosher food, clothing and religious requisites. Although originally used by military chaplains on active service for Jewish military personnel, their role was extended to provide relief for Jewish survivors within the liberated territories in Europe.

Mobile synagogue ambulance, Athens, December 1945

Mobile synagogue ambulance at the Central Jewish Board Office, Athens, December 1945 [MS 183/374]

The aim was to provide 50 such mobile ambulance synagogues in total: the CRREC report for November 1945 noted that there were 13 vehicles completed and in operation across Europe at that time. They were at that point in 1945 at work in the following locations: Synagogue Ambulance Number 1 was in France, whilst Synagogue Ambulance Number 2 was in use in Czechoslovakia under the supervision of the Czech Red Cross; Mobile Synagogues Numbers 3 and 4 were working with the British Army of the Rhine; Mobile Synagogue Number 5 was with the Central Mediterranean Forces; Synagogue Ambulance Number 6 operated with the Community Council in Athens; Synagogue Ambulance Number 7 was in use in North Western Germany with the Relief Unit of the Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad; Synagogue Canteen Number 8 was in use in Belgium with the Children’s Homes of the Comité Centrale Israelite pour la Réorganisation de la Vie Réligieuse en Belgique; Synagogue Ambulance Number 9 was in Amsterdam; Synagogue Ambulance 10 was in Poland and 12-13 were en route there; and finally Synagogue Canteen 11 was based in the Netherlands.

Mobile synagogue at Chalcis, December 1945

Mobile synagogue at Chalcis, December 1945 [MS183/374]

By December 1945, Synagogue Ambulance Number 6 had made its way from Athens to the Island of Euboea to support the Jewish community in Chalcis.  Of the Jewish community in Chalcis, only 22 of the 327 members were to perish in the Holocaust, as the remainder were hidden and assisted by their Christian neighbours.

An innovative idea, the mobile ambulance synagogues and synagogue canteens scheme was to prove its worth in contributing to the relief effort in liberated Europe as well as a testament to the work and commitment of those, such as Schonfeld, who initiated it. The archive of Rabbi Schonfeld contains considerable material on the work of the CRREC.

The Stories They Tell: Raiza Palatnik

In this week’s blog post, we tell the story of Raiza Palatnik, and her journey as a Refusenik.  

Raiza Palatnik [MS254/A980/2/16]
Raiza Palatnik [MS254/A980/2/16]

Background Information 

Jews were persecuted in the Soviet Union through much of the 20th century. Extreme nationalism took place in Russia, following the Leninist principle of all Soviet citizens falling into one general populate with no nationality distinctions. In the 1970s, Moscow had a large Jewish population, yet there was only one synagogue. There was no way to become a rabbi or even eat kosher food; therefore Jews were discouraged from learning and practicising their Jewish cultural identity. 

After continual denial, Jews wanted to emigrate from Russia. Although they could apply to leave, the majority were refused permission and were often unable to get a job afterwards, even if they were a qualified scientist or librarian. Instead, the government would assign you a job, such as the roles of stoker, shovelling coal, or elevator operator. 

The Russian government wanted to discourage large-scale Soviet-Jewish migration by imprisoning leaders of the Jewish movement.  

Raiza Palatnik’s story 

On the 14th October 1970, Raiza Palatnik was asked by two men who came to the Library where she worked, to go with them to her apartment. They claimed to be Police Officers of the Criminal Investigation Department. Outside her apartment building, they were met by an Investigator who had a warrant signed by the Prosecutor to authorise a search for stolen items from a nearby school. The search lasted for 5 hours and her typewriter and material on Jewish issues were confiscated. This material included speeches of Nassar before the Six-Day War; the interview of Golda Meir in the New York Times; and a stenograph of Joseph Brodsky’s trial. Upon signing the protocol, Raiza reported that all the items taken were her personal possessions and had nothing to do with the search stated in the warrant, and ordered their immediate return. 

The next day, Raiza was addressed again at her place of work by Investigator Alexiev, who instructed her to go to the KGB office immediately. Here, she was demanded to reveal the names of the people from whom she received the anti-Soviet material. In her response Raiza stated that the search and demands were acts of persecution for her wish to go to Israel, as she had previously submitted a request that her relatives in Israel be located. The interrogation lasted for four hours and she was threatened with arrest if she refused to provide the names. At the same time, five Jews and a Russian woman were asked in a nearby room if they had been provided anti-Soviet literature by Palatnik, whether she had publicly advocated for emigration to Israel, if she had been seen with anybody who had been arrested in Leningrad, Kishniev and Riga. 

Every few days Palatnik would be called in for questioning with psychological pressure, threatening her with unpleasant consequences if she did not speak the truth on who provided her with the anti-Soviet material. After not being told what she was being accused of (in accordance with the Soviet law), Palatnik wrote to the First Secretary of the District Communist Party, and complained against the unlawful procedures and persecutions by the KGB because of her wish to go to Israel. She sent a similar letter to Breznev, but received no responses. Raiza also wrote an open letter on the 20th November, explaining her cause and motivation.  She finished this letter with the following “in my trial I will cry out against all anti-semites in the Yiddish I was taught by my Mother and Father.” 

Open letter of a Jewess, Raiza Palatnik, 20 November 1970 [MS254/A980/2/16] 

On 20th November the KGB searched Palatnik’s parents’ apartment for anti-Soviet literature, and found nothing. In subsequent interrogations Palatnik refused to speak in any other language but her mother tongue, Yiddish, and demanded a translator. The interrogator refused her request, and so Palatnik refused to answer any questions, only stating “nein” in Yiddish.  

In the mean time, the KGB continued to summon Palatnik’s relatives and friends, and even complete strangers, to find out whether Palatnik had been distributing the anti-Soviet literature, and if she was campaigning for emigration to Israel.                        

On 1st December 1970, Raiza Palatnik was arrested by the KGB. Her apartment shared with her sister had been searched for material condemning the Soviet Union. 

The next day, Palatnik’s husband and sister went to the KGB and requested to see documentation that stated what charges were being made against Raiza. After receiving no information from Larionev they went on to ask the Prosecutor, who revealed that Raiza was suspect of “distributing false stories slandering the Soviet State and society, according to paragraph 187 of the Ukrainian code”. 

The KGB later summoned Raiza’s parents. The investigator wanted testimony from her father that his daughter had fallen “under the influence of criminal Zionist elements”. In response, Raiza’s father claimed that this was not the case, and that Raiza was a decent and honest human. He further demanded to see the documentation of the charges made against his daughter, which was refused. Raiza’s brother, Valdimir was also questioned, on Raiza’s mental health. 

In March 1971, Raiza was psychologically examined, and the doctors attested that her mental health was absolutely sound. On 22nd June 1971 the trial of Raiza Palatnik took place, and she was sentenced to two years imprisonment. During her time in prison, Palatnik became very ill, and suffered paralysis in one of her arms. Her daily diet consisted of thin soup of gruel, rotten fish, and tea with and without 20 grams of sugar; cabbage soup made from water and bones; and oatmeal or a small potato with veg, as well as 500 grams of bread distributed daily. She was required to work in a sewing room with over 200 women prisoners, with the work involving the sewing of gloves, overalls and other garments, as well as quilt covers. The equipment used was over ten years old and there was no ventilation, first aid equipment, or disinfectant. 

In December 1972 Palatnik was released. On hearing the news that thirty-five-year-old librarian Raisa Palatnik from Odessa had been arrested for distributing samizdat, (banned literature), a small group of women decided to hold a protest outside the Soviet Embassy in London. From these modest beginnings grew the campaign on behalf of the refusniks. This group became known as the 35’s, and were called the Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry. During Palatnik’s time in prison, this pressure group distributed leaflets asking members of the public to protest to help her, as she stood on trial in the Soviet Union. They requested telegrams and letters to be sent to the Soviet Ambassador at an address in Kensington Gardens, London, or to Intourist Moscow Ltd in Regent Street.  

Members of the 35’s demonstrating for the release of Raiza Palatnik 

You can find out more about the group and the material we hold on them at the following links: 

Human Rights and the Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry 

Protest stories (3): We Protest! – campaigning for change 

Archivist projects: Cataloguing the Papers of Michael Sherbourne 

Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry collections 


The stories they tell: Celebrating the hero through objects

This “The stories they tell” blog looks at the use of objects for commemoration and how the engravings on this wonderful nautilus shell were used as part of a narrative of the Duke of Wellington as a national hero.

Wellington’s reputation might be forever linked to the battle of Waterloo, but in the nineteenth century his victories in the Peninsular War had already made him a household name. His likeness had begun appearing on a range of merchandise, such as clocks, tea services, door stops and snuff-boxes, from 1810 onwards: this was simply amplified after Waterloo. At his death in 1852, Wellington was again elevated to the status he had enjoyed in 1815 and celebrated as a national hero with a lavish state funeral attended by massive crowds. The Times wrote in his obituary that “He was the very type and model of the Englishman”.

This recognition and celebration of national heroes was a spirit of the age, well captured by Thomas Carlyle in his work, Heroes, hero worship and the heroic in history (1840). Carlyle’s work put at the centre of the past the lives of great men. Wellington was seen as one such great man; Lord Nelson, celebrated as the great naval hero, was another.

Both Wellington and Nelson were to be represented in this heroic mould in works by the prolific engraver of nautilus and turban shells Charles H.Wood. Working during middle decades of the nineteenth century, Wood was renowned for the fine work produced whilst engraving his shells with a simple penknife. Notable examples of his work were displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the Great International Exhibition of 1862. In the 1850s, Wood produced shells commemorating Wellington and Nelson as well as ones engraved with Britannia.

MS351_6_A4170_28_0043 (2)

Duke of Wellington [MS351/6 A4170/28]

This engraved shell of Wellington promotes the idea of him as a great English national hero. On one side we have the Duke dressed in military uniform, mounted on a horse, with details of the offices that he holds and the titles that he has in the peerage all around him. On the opposite side of the shell there is a depiction of St George, the patron saint of England, slaying a dragon.


Opposite side of nautilus shell showing St George slaying the dragon [MS351/6 A4170/28]

This symbolism was used by Wood in other nautilus shells that he engraved in the 1850s. One commemorating Nelson’s victories, again showing St George on the opposite side – although with the additional symbols of Britannia and the British lion – is in the Royal Museums Greenwich. A further example of a shell celebrating Lord Nelson‘s victories is in the Australian National Maritime Museum: here Britannia and hope are depicted on the shell.

There is more on commemoration of Wellington in the blog Remembering Wellington and Waterloo.

Exploring the Gillow heritage

For this week’s blog we take the theme of #CollectionsUnited to explore the archival heritage of the Gillow family, the renowned eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century furniture makers.

Dr Lindsay Boynton (1934-95) has been described as a pioneer in establishing the study of decorative arts in universities in the UK and developing furniture history as an academic discipline. He was the principle founding member of the Furniture History Society in 1964 and as secretary of the Society he was involved in the successful campaign to save the Gillow Archive from export in 1967. He periodically worked on this archive for the remainder of his life. His research culminated in a two volume study: the first, Gillow Furniture Designs 1760-1800, was published just before his death and a complementary study of the history of the firm was in preparation.

His archive collection at Southampton (MS301) contains extensive working papers for his publication Gillow Furniture Designs 1760-1800, including an an invaluable visual record of the firm’s work. Other material in the collection relates to his work on Sir Richard Worsley, British Resident in Venice from 1793, and one of Britain’s most notable collectors of paintings and antiquities. This reflected another facet of Dr Boynton’s interest in visual culture.

MS301_A1055_26_bookcasephoto (3)

A Gillow bookcase with a writing desk base [MS301 A1055/26]: Boynton has notes on a similar library book case produced for Thomas Park of Liverpool which had a base the same as a clothes press.

Gillows of Lancaster and London were leading cabinet makers in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Founded by Robert Gillow in Lancaster, the business was expanded by his sons to London.  When Gillow family members ceased to be actively involved with the firm in the early nineteenth century subsequent partners and owners retained Gillow in the firm’s name. A byword for quality using old slowly grown timber such as solid mahogany, the furniture was referred to by Jane Austen and William Thackeray in their works. Although they did create unique furniture, Gillows tended to use designs of other well-known firms including Chippendale, Sheraton and Hepplewhite.


A “Carlton House Table” pattern Gillow desk, late eighteenth century [MS301 A1055/3]

This desk follows a pattern which Gillows called their “Carlton House Table”, based on a design for a “Lady’s drawing and writing table” produced by Sheraton in 1793. The prototype appears in the firms’ Estimate Sketch Book in 1796 when the quoted price was £17.8s.8d: this book can be found in the Gillow Archive at the City of Westminster Archives.

The Gillow Archive were purchased by Westminster City Libraries: the major part of the collection is at City of Westminster Archives, although there are small collections of items held in other archives. Westminster holds extensive company records for Gillows and its subsequent partnerships, including waste books (1729 onwards), estimate sketch books, 1784-1905, and pattern books, 1775-1800. The Archive represents one of the longest and largest collections of material of a cabinet maker to survive.


The stories they tell: Development of Football

As Southampton prepare to play Sheffield United on Sunday, we take a look at how football developed as a sport. As you read through this blog post, you will see photographs of the University’s football teams from the University Collection.

Men’s football team, 1953-4 [MS1/7/291/22/4]

Men’s football team, 1953-4 [MS1/7/291/22/4]

The beginnings

Some sources suggest that football was first launched in England as early as 1170 from an account describing young people going to the field for a ‘game of ball’.

Aspects of the sport can even be found in the history of China, where the military used to play a game called Tsu’ Chu in the second and third century BC. The game involved kicking a leather ball filled with hair and feathers through a small opening and into a net fixed onto bamboo canes. Touching the ball with your hands was banned and you had to use your body to defend. Around 500 years later, the Japanese invented a game called Kemari, which involved working as a team to stop the ball from touching the ground. Furthermore, Ancient Greece had the game Episkyros which involved using the feet, and the Romans had a similar sport called Harpastum. This involved trying to get the ball across boundary lines in the opposition’s section of the pitch.

While the Chinese had paved the way of football with a leather ball, the English played with an inflated animal bladder. The game became so popular, that in the 1300s, Edward II was concerned that it was distracting people from practising archery, at a time when he was preparing to go into battle with Scotland. He enforced a ban on the sport, which was to be the first of many inaugurated by powerful figures such as Edward III, Henry IV, and Oliver Cromwell.

The game continued to be played, taking us through the medieval period, and gradually being shaped and developed in boys’ public schools such as Winchester School. In the nineteenth century the need for official rules for football became recognised when different public schools wanted to play against each other.

Men's 1st football team, c.1900 [Univ Photo Collection MS1/LF781/7]

Men’s 1st football team, c.1900 [Univ Photo Collection MS1/LF781/7]

The development of rules

Two schools of thought were developed in regards to the rules. The first one was based on handling and tackling, which was played at the newer public schools, such as Rugby School and Marlborough College, and was based on what is now known as rugby. The second one was based on kicking, with handling and tackling banned, which was promoted by the older public schools such as Eton and Westminster. Rules for football were finalised as a result of the formation of the Football Association in 1863 and the Rugby Football Union in 1871.

Men's football team, 1910-11 [MS1/7/291/22/1]

Men’s football team, 1910-11 [MS1/7/291/22/1]

Football gains popularity

As well as at public schools, football began to be played elsewhere following the establishment of Britain’s expanding railway system, and a sharp increase in inter-city transport such as coaches and trams. Both of these developments not only allowed inter-football competitions to take place, but also made accessible to the working-class fields of play. Football also became easier for the labouring population to play following half-day Saturdays being implemented in most factories, mines, and workshops. In addition, parliament passing the Education Act of 1870 meant that a school had to be placed within reach of every English child, meaning that as well as facing lessons in a classroom, English schoolboys also learnt how to play organised games. Some go so far as to argue that football became socially valuable, in terms of providing somewhere for the working classes to vent their aggression, therefore reducing criminal behaviour. This is supported by late-Victorian England criminal statistics, although it could be argued that education and economic prospect and more efficient policing heavily contributed to this trend.

The sport not only became popular in Britain, but also in other countries as a result of Englishmen working abroad. The first ever match to be recorded outside of Europe was in Argentina in 1867.

Men's football team, 1927-8 [MS224/12/A919/5]

Men’s football team, 1927-8 [MS224/12/A919/5]

Official competitions

Perhaps the first officially organised football tournament was the Football Association Challenge Cup, which began to be played in 1871. In 1872 the first F.A. Cup was won by the Wanderers, a football team based in Upper Norwood, London, against the Old Etonians.

The big clubs still competing in the Football Association were established in the 1870s and 1880s, originating out of Sunday schools or Nonconformist chapels. For example, Aston Villa formed in 1874 with members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel, and the Bolton Wanderers formed at a local Sunday school. Between 1875 and 1880, Birmingham City, Everton, Burnley, and Wolverhampton football teams formed out of similar religious organisations.

Football teams also grew out of grammar schools and new comprehensive schools, such as Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City, and Sunderland; as well as trade unions, such as Stoke City, Man United, Arsenal, and West Ham.

To oversee international competition among the national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in 1904.

The first World Cup was held in 1930 in Uruguay, with 13 nations contesting. The competition was won by Uruguay.

The English Football League

It was recognised by Aston Villa Committee Member, William McGregor, that organisation was required in order to conduct a regular timetable of matches involving the main clubs. In 1888, he wrote to the Aston Villa board and several clubs based in the North and Midlands, suggesting an official league be established that would guarantee members matches every year. After two meetings, the Football League was formed and named. On the 8 September 1888 the new league begun with the strongest professional teams, who were from the North and Midlands. These included Aston Villa, Everton, Stoke (later named Stoke City), Blackburn Rovers, Preston North End, Accrington, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Notts County, West Bromwich Albion, and Wolverhampton Wanderers. A second division was formed in 1892, and a third division was added in 1920, which was later restructured to accommodate a fourth in 1958.

As a result of economic demand from television and other resources, the Premier League was formed in 1992, which was formed by the first-division clubs. This in turn led to better stadiums, and profitable broadcast and sponsorship deals, attracting the world’s best players and managers. Scotland established their own premier league in 1998.

Amendments to the rules

Over the decades various rules have been added into football for the sake of consistency and management of the game. One of the first notable ones was when the penalty kick became part of the rules in 1891. The next change in rules did not happen until 1925, when the offside rule was changed so that there had to be two opposition players between the attacker and the goal instead of three.

Before 1958, players who had injury or illness simply had to play on if they didn’t want their team to be reduced in number. Thankfully the system of substitutes was introduced during this year. Yellow and red cards were not introduced until 1970.

Men's football team 1956-7 [MS1/7/291/22/4]

Men‘s football team 1956-7 [MS1/7/291/22/4]

Women have also played football, since the late nineteenth century. There was a particular increase during World War One, when women had taken on jobs that were otherwise traditionally conducted by men. The first ladies team to compete in an international game was a team from Preston against Paris. After World War One the Football Association briefly forbade women’s football due to regarding it as inappropriate. This ban was eventually lifted in 1971, and since then women’s football has continued to grow in Britain and abroad. In 1991 the first FIFA Women’s World Cup took place, in China. The United States won.

Football clubs such as Arsenal, Everton, and Chelsea have female teams that compete at home and internationally.

You can view more University sports teams photographs on our Flickr University sports teams exhibition. Feel free to provide comments, stories or extra information on the photographs. We also looking for more University of Southampton sports teams photographs to add to our collections, so if we would like to provide any to us, please contact us at


The stories they tell: the Southampton Fifth

On 8 October 1942, eighty young men assembled for a dinner at Connaught Hall in Swaythling. They were attendees of the Fifth RAF Short Course run at University College, Southampton, and this week’s blog will look at the archives relating to this cohort.

On the outbreak of war in September 1939, Parliament introduced a National Service (Armed Forces) Act imposing military service on men between the age of 18 and 41 years. Cadet schemes were introduced to encourage men to volunteer for initial training. In partnership with a number of universities, the Air Ministry launched a scheme where candidates considered suitable for air crew training could spend six months at a University pursuing an academic syllabus whilst also undergoing basic training. Cambridge, Oxford and Durham were some of the other institutions that hosted such courses. The first course at Southampton was held in October 1940 and the final one was completed in 1946. However, it is believed the Southampton Fifth was the only one to document its membership and record their experiences. The archive relating to the course forms collection MS303.

Photograph of personnel of Southampton Fifth RAF Short Course, c.1943

Group photograph of cadets on the Southampton Fifth RAF Short Course, 1942-3 [MS303 A1058/4/1]

The young men on the course were enrolled in the RAF Volunteer Reserve and issued with RAF uniforms with a white “flash” in the caps indicating Air Crew under training.  The RAF training, provided by RAF officers and instructors, was held on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday afternoons and Saturday morning and included drill, morse code, physical training and classroom instruction on aircraft recognition and theory of flight. Cadets also gained some flying experience in a Tiger Moth. They wore their uniform and were under service discipline whilst attending this training. For the rest of the week the cadets, attired in civilian clothes, studied either an Arts or Science syllabus at the University College and engaged in the full range of student activities, playing sports, joining societies, contributing to the student publications and attending dances and other social events.

At the end of the course at Southampton the cadets were transferred for further training, which was often completed overseas: only two were to complete their training in the UK. Most of those on the course were not to see each other again, although they kept in touch through the Southampton Fifth Newsletter.

North American edition of Southampton Fifth Newsletter, October 1943

North American edition of Southampton Fifth Newsletter, no. 1, October 1943 [MS303 A1058/3]

The terms of reference for the newsletter, was written by Dominic McDonnell for the first edition, but was not included.

“On October 8 1942 `We’ were a nondescript band of youths from all walks of life, gathered together by authority for an important purpose – the motive was distant but none the less insistent. Time has shown us that this purpose was well and fully achieved. From a purely utilitarian standpoint – that of authority – our course was successful as any course could be. What more was to be expected?

…But now, since the exigencies of service have largely divided us, the need for preservation of an intellectual companionship is an urgent matter. This newsletter is an attempt to meet the situation… For all its shortcomings we hope it may achieve its primary purpose: to recall to your memory that grand and gallant company of which you were once a member and remind you of those lavishly happy days when we were guests of the Senate and students of University College Southampton.”

[MS303 A1058/1]

For David Hart, who was to return to Southampton after the war to undertake further study, the Short Course provided him with a welcome opportunity to decide his future direction. He noted “had I not had a Short Course plus time in the RAF to think about what I wanted/thought I ought to do with my life, it is likely that I would have given myself a far narrower range of choice”.

Two others, Bert Gurmin and Jeffery Turner recalled their callow youthful selves.

Bert A.Gurmin saw himself as “very much the country lad in the big city… It was my first time away from home on my own and for a good deal of the time I’m quite sure I was completely overwhelmed by the whole thing. I think to this day that I asked for the wrong course of study (I did ‘C’ Flight Physics Met. and Astro Nav.) While the knowledge I gained was useful not only subsequently in the RAF but in a school staff-room. I know now that the Rev. Kenneth Vickers… was quite right. He said to me ‘Young man, change now… From what I hear from Dr Potter you should be studying the Humanities…’ I didn’t of course (at 18 one knows best!) so I’ve taught maths for 32 years… but my greatest joy in my spare time now is reading social and economic history”.

University College Southampton rowing crew, with Jefffery Turner [MS303 A1058/4/1]

Jeffery Turner, standing on the right in the back row [MS303 A1058/4/1]

For Jeffrey Turner it was the sense he was “the odd one out in that I didn’t have benefit of an Air Training Corps education. I joined the OTC in 1938 (no uniform, khaki belt and a Lee Enfield, learning to`form fours’ in those days)”. On arriving at Waterloo station on 8 October he spotted someone who lived a quarter of a mile from his home. “I shared a room with Leslie Savage in Connaught, a comfortable association although our interests tended to follow different paths. Within ten minutes I found that a near neighbour was the captain of rowing at the school I had left, and I was signed up for college rowing before I could say `Hello’.”

Although not altogether impressed with the University course “in Mathematics we were taught about `Vectors’, a dry-as-dust subject on its own, and with an uninspired presentation”, but made up for it by “completing a failed physics subject in the London Intermediate Engineering exam, which provided sufficient brownie points to make a mark”. It was, however, “the interaction with the many and varied folk that one met, seemingly with every positive view of life, was an inspiration that contrasted with the rather pedestrian formal education that I had previously endured”.

This Southampton Fifth collection provides an insight into both one aspect of the University’s activity during the Second World War and the personalities who attended the course. This was only one of the wartime courses and we would be interested to hear about anyone attending others during this time.


The stories you have shared with us

This week we dedicate our blog post to the users who have told us their University stories after seeing our archives online. These range from reminiscing about the mascot Kelly the skeleton, to why a large wooden spoon was kept in the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research Elfyn Richards Library, to a personal rag fundraising journey overseas, which we begin with below. 

Rag Day logo from 1953

Rag Day logo from 1953

Philip Sheppard’s personal rag fundraising journey across the pond (student 1977 – 1980)

“Dear Sirs,

Reading your article “Rag through time” and especially the story about the Queen Mary, reminded me of my own Rag fundraising with a maritime theme.

Glen Eyre J-Block residents Philip Sheppard and Carsten Ahm (1977 – 1980) hit upon the idea of selling Rag Mag 1978 in Paris. To maximise income the objective was to get there and back for nothing. Townsend Thoresen ferries obliged with two free tickets to Le Havre. And so we took the Friday evening Southampton Corporation double-decker bus to the Docks, convincing the conductor of the wisdom of free transport.

Townsend Thoresen ferries

Townsend Thoresen ferries

The ship’s purser agreed we could sell magazines on the crossing and we ran perilously close to de-stocking before landfall. On the boat we met a kindly man who drove us to Paris…Early Saturday morning we were on the Champs Elysées café au lait in hand and Rag Mags for sale.

We leveraged Carsten’s Danish connection with owner Thorkild Kristensen of the super-trendy Frontpage restaurant in Rue Saint Denis. Jeans-clad barman Tony made oversize cocktails for paying guests, leaving enough in the shaker for two thirsty students.

As a member of the free hosting association Servas, we had arranged to stay Saturday night on the floor of the Rue de Vaugirard flat of the lovely Mlle. Daru who lived on a diet entirely consisting of pates beurré au parmesan. Though empty by day, we found 10 snoring Nigerian students on our return to her small apartment that evening.

A hitch in a lorry to Le Havre with a driver lacking all sense of direction allowed us to just make the Sunday ferry. And by the close of the weekend we were back at Glen Eyre Hall with the proceeds of 250 Rag Mags sold to bemused Parisians only a handful of whom would get the jokes.”

Kelly the skeleton

After publishing a blog post on the development of Rag through time at the University, our colleague found so much information on Kelly the skeleton, that she dedicated a whole blog post to the skeleton that “once haunted Southampton’s halls of residence and refectories”. This in turn led to further stories provided to us on Twitter and our blog:

“Further to Pamela Waterer’s account of Kelly’s visit to Highfield Hall in 1953/4: he spent the night in my room. I threw a blanket over the glass-topped coffin in the middle of the night as I found his gaze unsettling. I’ve no idea how on earth we managed to get him in and out of Hall without being noticed by the authorities.” Ann Renn (née Charlesworth)

“I was at Soton 1973 to 1976. During that time Kelly was looked after by the Mech Eng Dept.. Every year a new “Kelly Keeper” was elected. I’ve no idea of what happened to poor old Kelly after we left.” Peter Day

“She was still around in 1986. Though when she was carried, in a coffin, into the welcome talk Chris Swann, the Academic Registrar was giving, it was by the Engineering Society who were, by then, treating her as their mascot, I think.” Matthew Wright

A photograph of Kelly from 1891 [MS1 7/291/22/1/0001]

A photograph of Kelly from 1891 [MS1 7/291/22/1/0001]

The wooden spoon 

Matthew Right also gave us some useful facts as to how this heavily signed wooden spoon was used at the University, which was previously housed in the Elfyn Richards Library.

“The spoon used to be awarded to the group that came last in the annual @ISVRsouthampton [Institute of Sound & Vibration Research] sports day. Among the signatures should be that of Graham Gladwell, father of Malcolm @Gladwell. Elfyn Richards was a proud Welshman. At a meeting with the Concorde engineering teams there was a disagreement about whether the business should be conducted in English or French, so he and Shôn Ffowcs Williams addressed each other in Welsh. Elfyn went on to be Vice-Chancellor at @lborouniversity and a hall of residence was named after him, but at his insistence it was called Elvyn Richards Hall because he thought it more important that his name be pronounced correctly than spelt correctly. When he ‘retired’ in the 90s he came back to ISVR and was invited to give a talk about its history. He was about half an hour over his time when he had to finish, at which point in his account @unisouthampton had just been granted its charter.”

The wooden spoon, found in the Elfyn Richards Library

The wooden spoon, found in the Elfyn Richards Library

The construction of the Turner Sims

Our image of the construction of the Turner Sims from the 1970s provoked some interesting information to be provided on how the Turner Sims came into existence:

“She [Miss Margaret Grassam Sims] actually left money for a chapel to be built on campus, but the VC of the day (Jim Gower, after whom the Gower building is named) persuaded the executors of her will that we needed a concert hall more. A number of designs were proposed, plans for which can be seen in @hartleyspecialc, including one version with a roof garden. Professor Philip Doak of @ISVRsouthampton was put in charge of the acoustical aspects by Elfyn Richards (of the wooden spoon, ibid); he assembled a team of assistants who got to work while Doak went on sabbatical to help Lockheed-Georgia quieten jet engines. The money wasn’t enough money for the architect’s grand roof-gardened vision, so Doak and Co came up against the biggest challenge for small concert halls: how to make the Reverberation Time long enough. They did what they could but their equations showed them that the planned building just didn’t have quite enough volume to get the sound they wanted. It was at this point that the VC, the ever-pragmatic Jim Gower, came to the rescue! Around the time that this photo was taken he dropped by the site for a chat with the builders. As a result of his words they added several extra courses of bricks before the roof was put on. And so the wonderful-sounding concert hall we know and love came to be, thanks to an acoustician and a vice-chancellor. Read Phil Doak’s (overly modest) recollections here:

After Phil Doak died I arranged for a plaque commemorating his contribution to be placed in the @TurnerSims foyer; it was unveiled by Michael Barron of @UniofBath, one of his original assistants who went on to be an acclaimed figure in the world of concert hall acoustics.” Matthew Wright

Construction of Turner Sims Concert Hall, 1970s [MS373 A3048/4/1]

Construction of Turner Sims Concert Hall, 1970s [MS373 A3048/4/1]

All of our Highfield Campus 100 blog posts can be accessed here:

Please feel free to comment on them with your stories of your time at the University!

Look out for our next blog post, which will be a story one of our researchers tells, focusing on the records of the Jewish Association for the Protection of Women Girls and Children.




The stories they tell: a letter before Waterloo

To mark the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, for this “The stories they tell” blog we focus on one of the soldiers who fought on that day. The Archives and Manuscripts holds the letter that Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ferrior wrote to his brother in Pembrokeshire a few days before the battle: it was to be his last letter as he died at Waterloo.

MS88_4_back (3)

Detail of letter from Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ferrior to his brother Benjamin, June 1815 [MS88/4]

Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ferrior (1772-18 June 1815) was born in Pennar, Pembrokeshire. A career soldier, he first appears as a cornet in the First Life Guards in 1797 and remained with this regiment, becoming a captain in 1802, a major in 1810 and subsequently a lieutenant colonel.

At Waterloo, the First Life Guards were part of the First (or Household) Brigade of Heavy Cavalry under the command of Major General Lord Edward Somerset.

Ferrior was in the thick of the action and led eleven charges during the battle. He is said to have died late in the day of the 18th June after leading a final charge, believed to be at dusk when the cavalry was ordered forward to harry the retreating columns of the Imperial Guard. The record shows that he was killed, although it is likely that he died of wounds.  In the Waterloo Roll Call, Charles Dalton, notes that it “is said to have led his regiment to the charge no less than eleven times and most of the charges were not made till after his head had been laid open by the cut of a sabre and his body pierced with a lance”.

On 7 June, when he was encamped in Flanders with his regiment, Ferrior wrote a letter to his brother Benjamin at the family farm of Pearson, St Brides in Pembrokeshire. This was, as the note on the back states, to be his final letter.  In it he describes the British army assembled for the Waterloo campaign, reviews of the troops by various dignitaries, and the countryside of Flanders and their farming methods. It also contains a heartfelt tribute to his brother for his kindness and friendship.

MS88_4_back (5)

Concluding part of letter from Lieutenant Colonel Ferrior to his brother when he thanks him for his “kindness and real brotherly friendship”. [MS88/4]

Ferrior’s letter is also written in a style reminiscent of official correspondence and despatches, very formal in tone and concise in details. There was a common tradition of soldiers’ correspondence being shared much more widely, not merely among friends and family but also in published form. This is a letter which Ferrior wrote on the eve of a momentous battle, perhaps conscious that it could be his last missive. The tone and the style represent both the image of the brave and sanguine officer ready to do his duty: “I have the satisfaction”, Ferrior wrote at the conclusion, “of finding myself compleately equipped according to my rank in the service.”

MS88_4_f1r (2)

First page of the letter from Lieutenant Colonel Ferrior to his brother, 7 June 1815 [MS88/4]

“We marched as I expected a few days after I wrote my last letter, we embarked at Ramsgate and landed at Ostend on the 3rd May without any casualty of consequence, we continued our march to a village three miles this side of Ghent, were we halted for the first day since we left Hyde Park Barracks. We remained there 7 or 8 days and then came here which is the headquarters of the cavalry. L[ieutenan]t General the Earl of Uxbridge who commands the cavalry is quartered at a convent adjoining the town which before the French revolution was a most magnificent place, but now in a state of decay, Bonaparte having thrown away all the fine pictures, destroyed the furniture and sold the large territories attached to this convent, but the church is still very fine. The rest of the cavalry are in cantonments in the surrounding villages, the King’s German Legion cavalry more in advance and nearer the French frontier. The First Life Guards is brigaded with the 2nd Life Guards, the Blues, and First Dragoon Guards, in all 10 squadrons all in most excellent condition and fine order and allowed to be as fine a body of cavalry as was ever seen and I think that my Reg[imen]t is not the worst amongst them. Lord Edward Somerset commands the brigade as Lord Wellington is at Brussels about 15 miles from hence, which is the headquarters of the army and about there our infantry are quartered. We are at present all quiet, we have no news, and we look at the London papers to see how the world is going on. We believe, and I am of that opinion, that as soon as the Prussians come up and join us, no time will be lost in commencing hostilities. A part of them, we hear, are now on the Rhine. It cannot therefore be long before we begin…”

Ferrior goes on to describe being presented to the King of France, whose court he described as “not very splendid” and the King as fat, unwieldy and suffering with gout.

He then describes how they had been reviewed three times since they had arrived:

“The first time the 1st and 2nd Regiments of Life Guards and Blues and being the senior officer, I had command of the three regiments in the field. Lord Uxbridge inspected us minutely and was pleased to express his entire approbation of the appearance and movements of the 3 regiments. Our second review was of the whole heavy cavalry, Lord Uxbridge wishing to pay a compliment to the Princes of Orange. The Prince accompanied by many foreigners of distinction reviewed and was much gratified by our appearance. Our third review as however superlatively grand by Field Marshal His Grace the Duke of Wellington accompanied by the Princes of Orange, by old Blucher, the Duke of Brunswick, by Marmont and by foreigners of different nations of high distinction. We were drawn up in three lines, the Hussars in the first line, the heavy cavalry in the second and the Light Dragoons in the third line, the artillery at different points of the line, in all 40 squadrons beside 9 troops of Horse Artillery, about 6000 men. The First Reg[imen]t had the [honour] of giving the guard of honour of one troop with its officers to Lord Wellington on the ground and a squadron received him at the convent, Lord Uxbridge’s quarters, where a grand dinner was prepared for the Princes, general officers and heads of departments and officers commanding regiments. It was very brilliant and Lord Wellington did me the high honour to come up to me and address me by saying that my regiment was in very fine order…”

After a long description of the countryside and the farming methods, Ferrior concludes his letter with the following message to his brother: “I can never sufficiently thank you for your kindness and real brotherly friendship for me”.

A reading of an extract of Ferrior’s letter can be accessed and downloaded at MS88.  You also can find a discussion of and reading of WP1/471/4 the condolence letter that the Duke Wellington sent to Lord Aberdeen on the death of Aberdeen’s brother Lieutenant Colonel Sir Robert Gordon at Waterloo. Both provide a glimpse of the individuals who took part in this military campaign and of the human cost of war.