Literature of Ireland: Spotlight on William Butler Yeats

This month we are celebrating all things Irish, and this week we are focusing on Irish literature in the Special Collections with the spotlight on William Butler Yeats’ works in our Rare Books collection.

W.B. Yeats, November 1896, The Celtic Twilights by W.B. Yeats [Rare Book X PR5704]

W.B. Yeats, November 1896

“Years afterwards, when I was ten or twelve years old and in London, I would remember Sligo with tears, and when I began to write, it was there I hoped to find my audience.” [Reveries over Childhood and Youth, by W.B. Yeats, 1916, Page 27, Rare Books PR 5904]

Son of John Butler Yeats and Susan Mary, née Pollexfen, William Butler Yeats was born in Sandymount, County Dublin, on 13 June 1865. The Yeats family consisted of clergymen and lawyers and married into links across Irish Protestants. While William’s mother came from a wealthy family involved in the milling and shipping industry, William’s father had studied law but abandoned it to study at Heatherley’s Art School in London.

Soon after his birth, William and his family moved to the Pollexfen home at Merville, Sligo to stay with extended family. William always thought of Merville as his childhood home and it was the subject of many poems.

Yeats was raised to support the Protestant Ascendancy, at a time when it was experiencing a power-shift. Major land reform was being demanded by the Land League, and Parliament passed laws that enabled most tenant farmers to purchase their lands and lowered the rents of others. This later led to the growth of the Home Rule movement with Charles Stewart Parnell (Leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party), and the Catholics becoming more prominent. These events undoubtedly had a weighty effect on Yeats and his poetry, and his reflections on Irish character.

Poems by W.B. Yeats, 1865-1939 [Rare Book x PR 5902]

Poems by W.B. Yeats (1895) Rare Books PR 5902

Returning to London in 1887 with the rest of his family, Yeats helped to form societies like the Irish Literary Society of London, preaching to his circle the importance of writing poems on your familiar surroundings rather than on landscapes you dream of. Yeats’ poems also had a focus on mythology and occultism, an interest that grew from his time at Erasmus Smith High School in Dublin. This can be seen in The Celtic Twilight, originally published in 1902.

The Celtic Twilight

The poems in The Celtic Twilight explore the strange and elfin realm of fairies, ghosts, and spirits. Yeats starts the book by explaining how he has “desired, like every artist, to create a little world out of the beautiful, pleasant, and significant things of this marred and clumsy world, and to show in a vision something of the face of Ireland to any of my own people who would look where I bid them” (Page I, Rare Books PR 5904).

The title refers to the hours before dawn, when Druids, members of the high-ranking professional class in ancient Celtic cultures, conducted their rituals. Referring to the dreamy and mysterious atmosphere that is often associated with Irish identity and prose, the volume is based on a diary that Yeats kept while rambling through the west country of Ireland. Here is a quote from ‘A Visionary’, the fourth text in The Celtic Twilight.

“The faeries in whom he believes have given him many subjects, notably Thomas of Ercildoune sitting motionless in the twilight while a young and beautiful creature leans softly out of the shadow and whispers in his ear. He had delighted above all in the strong effects of colour: spirits who have upon their heads instead of hair the feathers of peacocks; a phantom reaching from a swirl of flame towards a star; a spirit passing with a globe of iridescent crystal – symbol of the soul – half shut within his hand.” [Page 19]

Reveries over Childhood and Youth

Yeats published Reveries over Childhood and Youth in 1916. In this work he writes about his memories of living in London and Ireland, and moments shared with family members.

“A poignant memory came upon me the other day while I was passing the drinking-fountain near Holland Park, for there I and my sister had spoken together of our longing for Sligo and our hatred of London. I know we were both very close to tears and remember with wonder, for I had never known anyone that cared for such mementoes, that I longed for a sod of earth from some field I knew, something of Sligo to hold in my hand.” [Page 53, Rare Books PR 5904]

Reveries over Childhood and Youth by W.B. Yeats (1916) Rare Books PR 5904

Reveries over Childhood and Youth by W.B. Yeats (1916) Rare Books PR 5904

On the Boiler

“When I was a child and wandering about the Sligo Quays I saw a printed, or was it a painted notice? On such and such a day ‘the great McCoy will speak on the old boiler’.” [On the Boiler, by W.B. Yeats [1939] Page 9, Rare Books PR 5904]

Published during a time when Ireland was fighting an economic war with Britain, and experiencing its first elected president as head of state; Yeats poured his disappointments with Irish society into his work On the Boiler, which includes chapter titles such as ‘Tomorrow’s Revolution’ and ‘Ireland after the Revolution’.

“I was six years in the Irish Senate; I am not ignorant of politics elsewhere, and on other grounds I have some right to speak. I say to those that shall rule here: If ever Ireland again seems molten wax, reverse the process of revolution. Do not try to pour Ireland into any political system. Think first how many able men with public minds the country has, how many it can cope to have in the near future, and mould your system upon those men. It does not matter how you get them, but get them. Republics, Kingdoms, Soviets, Corporate States, Parliaments, are trash, as Hugo said of something else ‘not worth one blade of grass that God gives for the nest of the linnet.’ These men, whether six or six thousand, are the core of Ireland, are Ireland itself.” [Page 13]

Yeats was dissatisfied with the first printed edition, produced in 1938, and all but four copies were destroyed. Following Yeats’ death, in autumn 1939, a second edition was issued by the Cuala Press. The front cover was designed by Yeats’ brother, Jack B. Yeats.

On the Boiler, by W.B. Yeats, 1916 [Rare book X PR 5904]

On the Boiler, by W.B. Yeats [1939] Rare Books PR 5904

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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.

“An institution of social service”: The Oxford and St George’s Club

To mark St George’s Day we take a look at our sources relating to the Oxford and St George’s Club which form part of the MS 132 Henriques papers.

Jewish Settlement Annual Summer Camp, 1927 [MS132 AJ 220/2/3 f.1]

Jewish Settlement Annual Summer Camp, 1927 [MS132 AJ 220/2/3 f.1]

The Oxford and St George’s Club, was a Jewish youth and community centre formed by Sir Basil Henriques in the East End of London, with the aim of providing a service for local Jews of all ages.

Son of David Quizano and Agnes C. Henriques, Sir Basil Lucas Henriques, CBE, was born on 17 October 1890 in London. After completing secondary school education at Harrow, he went on to study at Oxford University, where he built his interest in philanthropy from learning about the activities of Christian groups in addressing poverty in the East End.

Portrait of Basil Henriques, May 1906 [MS 132 AJ220/2/f1]

Portrait of Basil Henriques, May 1906 [MS 132 AJ220/2/f1]

During the beginnings of the 20th century, there was a high population of Jews in the East End of London. Living conditions were of a low standard, with crowded families living in poor quality housing without a bath or inside toilet. After working at Toynbee Hall in 1913, which was an institution that provided legal advice and English lessons to the underprivileged, Basil decided to create a similar institution that would provide organised activities for young Jewish boys.

The Jewish Settlement boys’ football team, 1923-4 [MS132 AJ220/2/4 f.3]

The Jewish Settlement boys’ football team, 1923-4 [MS132 AJ220/2/4 f.3]

Based in a disused hostel on 125 Cannon Street Road, the Oxford and St George’s Club began in 1914 with a membership of 25 boys. The Club got its name from Basil’s alma mata, and the name of the area of East London that the Club was based in. A year later, a self-taught artist and Basil’s future wife, Rose Loewe, founded an equivalent club for girls at the same hostel. 

Girls in the library of the Bernhard Baron St George’s Jewish Settlement, 1930s [MS 132 AJ 220/2/4 f.3.

Girls in the library of the Bernhard Baron St George’s Jewish Settlement, 1930s [MS 132 AJ 220/2/4 f.3.]

 As well as being social, the Clubs provided educational activities such as religion classes, and taught sports, ballet, acting, physical education, and first aid. In doing this the Clubs prepared children for  pursuing careers. Activities also included the Annual Summer Camps, where several Jewish children were taken for a holiday, which were often held at Highdown near Goring by Sea. “For hundreds of Settlement children, the summer time is the happy time of Camp” (from a draft of a proposed Settlement letter written by Harold F. Reinhart, MS 132 AJ220/3/5 folder 4).

Through the generosity of Viscount Bearsted, adjoining houses were acquired in Betts Street after the war was over. Old Boys Clubs and Girls Clubs were started, along with Scouts, Cubs and a Synagogue founded between 1919 and 1926.

In 1929 the Clubs moved to new premises in Berners Street following the gift of £50,000 (which later rose to £65,000) provided by Mr Bernard Baron. The Bernhard Baron St George’s Settlement building opened in 1930, providing spaces for public worship, administrative offices, the infant welfare centre, the play centre, and accommodation. There was also a roller skating rink, gymnasium, library, and model laundry and kitchen.

Programme for the opening of the Bernhard Baron St George’s Jewish Settlement, 30 June 1930 [MS 132 AJ 195/8/1 f.2]

Programme for the opening of the Bernhard Baron St George’s Jewish Settlement, 1930 [MS 132 AJ 195/8/1 f.2]

To give an idea of what a typical day was like at the Club, here is a quote from a St George’s Settlement Children’s Fund leaflet (MS 132 AJ220/3/5 folder 4):

“Soon he was in a room crowded with boys, rapt in excitement over a game of ping pong. It was an inter-House match, and on its result depended the winning of the cup, which each month was awarded to the House which had won the most points by entering the greatest number of fellows in the various classes held in the Club. A class for which you had to change into kit counted two points – gym., P.T., running, boxing or football, whilst the others- debates, chess, general information, literature, dramatic or drawing – counted one point for the House.”

The Henriques papers provide a wealth of information on the Oxford and St George’s Club and its development through time. Documents include correspondence, pamphlets, reports and an extensive collection of photographs.

Boys boxing in the roof playground of the Bernhard Baron St George’s Jewish Settlement, 1930s [MS 132 AJ 220/2/4 f.3]

Boys boxing in the roof playground of the Bernhard Baron St George’s Jewish Settlement, 1930s [MS 132 AJ 220/2/4 f.3]

After Basil Henrique’s death in 1961, Berner Street was renamed Henriques Street to commemorate his tireless efforts in setting up the Club. The Settlement premises were sold in 1973 and the clubs moved to Totteridge in North London.

Due to decline in membership, the activities of the Settlement have ceased and it is now a grant making organisation.

More information about the organisation can be found here: http://www.oxfordandstgeorges.com/index.html

 

 

 

 

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.

edwinalouis and charlieMS62_MB2_L1_p34

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.

louis and charlie MS62_MB2_L1_p40

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.

Springtime in Special Collections

The arrival of spring and the emergence of spring flowers (despite the weather), presents an excellent opportunity to highlight the botanical and garden-related books in Special Collections. There is a wealth of information on plants, natural and cultivated, and, whether you want to know the healing properties of a particular plant, which wild flowers are native to Hampshire, or how to design your garden, the answer can generally be found in Special Collections.

Detail of a daffodil from The Botanical Magazine v.1 (1787) Rare Books per Q

The Salisbury Collection contains many 19th-century regional floras, originally collected by Sir Edward Salisbury, a former Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. This material is supplemented by botanical books owned by Walter Frank Perkins, who is better known for his agricultural collection. Lists of local flora, past and present, can be found in the Cope Collection, and in the Rare Books Collection there are examples of 17th and 18th century herbals. Books on the practicalities of gardening and garden design feature in the Perkins Agricultural Library, the Hampshire Gardens Trust Library and amongst the books presented by the Southampton and District Gardeners’ Society.

The range of publications reveals the changing interest in plants and their uses. Herbals arose from the need to identify plants for medicinal and culinary purposes, medieval herbals being derived from those of ancient Greece. By the 16th century, herbals were based on studies of living plants, leading to more accurate descriptions and illustrations. John Parkinson’s Theatrum Botanicum (1640) described over 3,800 plants and was used by apothecaries well into the next century.

The Black Hellebore, used to treat dropsy and jaundice, from John Parkinson’s Theatrum Botanicum (1640) Rare Books quarto QK 77.P (in box)

The 18th century passion for ordering the natural world brought a greater emphasis on recording plants, with local floras listing plants of a particular area and thus contributing to the wider botanical record. Whilst most floras were not illustrated, in his Flora Londinensis, the botanist William Curtis set out to produce a lavish record of the wild flowers growing within a ten-mile radius of London. Each of the six fasciculi published between 1775 and 1798 had seventy-two hand-coloured plates, but despite the quality of the work, the publication proved a financial failure, with public interest in the native flora giving way to a passion for newly imported exotic plants, an essential feature of the fashionable garden.

The Wild Hyacinth or Bluebell from William Curtis’s Flora Londiniensis v.2 (1798) Rare Books folio QK 306.L6

Curtis’s attempt to appeal to this new market was The Botanical Magazine. This first appeared in 1787 and was an immediate success, having over 3,000 subscribers, in contrast to the 300 who subscribed to Flora Londinensis. Much of the success was due to the beauty and the scientific accuracy of the illustrations, the artists working from specimens of plants in Curtis’s own botanical garden. Other books intended for the same market were the  Botanists’ Repository (1797) and New Flora Britannica (1812).

Primula and Paeony from Sydenham Edwards’ New Flora Britannica v. (1812) Rare Books quarto QK 306

As well as descriptions and illustrations of individual plants, there are books of botanical dialogue – a form of botanical instruction, usually between adult and child, and examples of calendars of floras which record dates of ‘leafing and flowering’ of plants, as seen in the observations extracted from the writings of Gilbert White and published as A Naturalists’ Calendar (1795). On a practical level there are gardening calendars which take the familiar form of listing tasks to be undertaken each month. Generally intended for larger establishments, activities are divided into the areas of the Kitchen Garden, Fruit Garden, Flower Garden, Nursery and Hot House. Tasks for April include making hot beds for melons and cucumbers, removing pests from fruit trees by means of a ‘garden water engine’, screening hyacinths and tulips from the rain and forcing vines and peaches.

Design for a Knot Garden from The Country-man’s Recreation (1640) Rare Books Perkins SB 97

With the practicalities of cultivation covered, inspiration for creative garden design can be found in the some of the earlier gardening books and particularly in the books of the Hampshire Gardens Trust Library. This includes histories of garden design by period, country and genre, and has many beautifully illustrated books of the work of famous landscape designers.

Public health and sanitation in the 19th century

7 April 2018 marks World Health Day promoting the concept of “Health for all”. The World Health Organisation has found that countries that invest in healthcare make a “sound investment in their human capital”.

Public health act

Outbreaks of cholera in the UK from 1831 into the 1860s were to test the ability of the country to deal with a major health threat and led to the development of public health initiatives and the creation of Boards of Health in 1848 to tackle the disease.

Asiatic cholera had spread to Europe from India, eventually making its way to Britain. Despite attempts to quarantine incoming ships into British ports, the first reported case was that of keelman William Sproat in Sunderland in October 1831. From there the disease spread northward into Scotland and southward toward London: over 14,000 people were to die in London alone.

One of the reasons for the progression of the disease was that the nature of cholera was not fully understood at the time.  A common theory was that it was a air-borne disease carried in poisonous vapours, rather than a water-borne disease transmitted by contaminated water sources. The rapid developments in population in urban environments had not been matched by developments in sanitation and, where sewage came into contact with drinking water, the disease spread with ease.

microbiological examination of well water

microbiological examination of contaminated water

By the 1830s, with the first outbreak of cholera, links were made between the spread of disease and conditions in the towns and cities and Special Collections holds a number of reports sent to the first Duke of Wellington on the subject. These publications form part of the Wellington Pamphlet collection.

Wellington Pamphlet 732

Wellington Pamphlet 732

While the Cholera Morbus Prevention Act of February 1832 gave certain powers to local boards of health, and the 1848 Public Health Act empowered a central authority to set up local boards, whose duty was to see that new homes had proper drainage and that local water supplies were dependable, neither were to have the impact that had been intended.

It was the poor who suffered the most. In his Report to the General Board of Health, undertaken following an outbreak of cholera in 1849, which killed 240 people in Southampton, William Ranger described the insanitary conditions in which people lived in the poorer parts of the town. Of his many recommendations, the most important was that a supply of pure water should be laid on to every house.

Daily deaths from cholera in Southampton, June-September 1849

Daily deaths from cholera in Southampton, June-September 1849

Commenting on deaths in Romsey, it was noted that “the chief mortality has been with children and … it has been confined to the children of the poor”.[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/11 Letter from Josiah George to Lord Palmerston]

The Broadlands Archives MS 62 contains a small series of papers relating to the outbreak of cholera in Romsey and the improvement of sanitation in the town. Lord Palmerston took a keen interest in the situation and in the work of the Board of Guardians to implement recommendations of the Board of Health. The report of Dr John Sutherland, conducted on behalf of the Board, concluded that provision of sanitation in Romsey was “deficient in amount and defective in construction”.[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/12]

Report by Dr John Sutherland on sanitation in Romsey, 1849 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/12]

Report by Dr John Sutherland on sanitation in Romsey, 1849 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/12]

In his letter of 3 September 1849 to J.Lordan of the Board of Guardians,  forwarding Sutherland’s report, Palmerston commented “that there exist in Romsey much more active, efficacious and certain causes of fatal disease than field beans, pea pods and cold water….”  And, dissatisfied with the speed of a response by the Board of Guardians, he noted “I conclude that the anxiety of the Board of Guardians to prove by their acts that they are not careless of the health of the town and of the lives of the poorer inhabitants, will have led them to take active measures for rescuing the poorer portion of the people of the town from those sources of disease and from those causes of death to which by want of proper arrangements have been so long, and of late so fatally exposed.”[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/14]

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/16

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/16

Improvements in provision of sanitation in the urban centres was to take some time. By 1853 over 160 towns and cities had Boards of Health, some of which had introduced important improvements, while in other towns there was resistance to such costly undertakings. However, it was only after the 1865-6 cholera outbreak, which resulted in 20,000 deaths, that the government set up another enquiry into public health, leading to further reforms. A new government department was set up in 1871 to oversee public health and in 1872 sanitary authorities were established.

Nearly 170 years on from the 1849 cholera epidemic that saw loss of life in both Southampton and Romsey public health and healthcare provision remain an issue of importance. Further information on World Health Day and its themes can be found at the WHO site.

‘Doc’ Suffern at Titchfield Haven

 

Titchfield Haven, Fareham (J.G.Romans)

Titchfield Haven, Fareham (J.G.Romans)

This week, as we look forward to spring, we highlight the work of a celebrated Hampshire naturalist. Dr Canning Suffern (1892-1978) made a significant contribution to ornithology in the county and is perhaps most famous for his association with the nature reserve at Titchfield Haven, near Fareham.  His research papers, held in Special Collections, reflect his wide interests in the field of natural history, and include his scientific notes, records of observations and working papers.

Dr Canning Suffern (1892-1978), courtesy of Dr S Dent, Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve

Dr Canning Suffern (1892-1978), courtesy of Dr S Dent, Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve

Canning Suffern grew up in Worcestershire and developed a keen interest in the natural history of his county, particularly in the area around Rubery, near Birmingham. As a boy he was an enthusiastic birdwatcher and throughout his life he kept detailed records of his observations.  He began reading medicine at Cambridge in 1911 but his studies were interrupted by World War I, in which he served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, as a surgeon probationer.  He completed his medical studies at St Thomas’s, London, and held posts in a number of hospitals before turning to medical journalism.  He later joined the staff of The Lancet as a sub-editor.  During World War II, he served as a controller (operations officer) in the RAF and from 1943-5 was stationed in India. His papers include reminiscences of his war-time service – ‘The log of a loblolly boy at sea, 1915-17′ about WWI – and several chapters on his time in India in WWII (MS 205 A523/1/1-2).

Dr Suffern visited Titchfield Haven for the first time in 1921, while staying with his parents, who lived across the road at the site now occupied by Hill Head Sailing Club. His studies in natural history switched to Hampshire and his ornithological work around Titchfield Haven acted as a catalyst for further collaborative study after World War II.  It was shortly after the war that he began taking parties of birdwatchers around the marshes at the Haven with the permission of the owner, Colonel Alston.  Throughout his life he worked to encourage an interest in ornithology, particularly among young people, teaching them not only to identify birds and other wildlife but to accurately record their sightings. Under his guidance, birdwatchers produced the records which highlighted the Haven’s importance as a wetland habit for birds. This data helped lead to the declaration of over three hundred acres of the Lower Meon Valley, including Titchfield Haven, as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1959.

Dr Suffern’s research interests were wide. In Hampshire, in addition to birds, he observed and recorded dragonflies, butterflies, and moths, particularly at Hill Head, Fareham, and Titchfield Haven.

Sketchbook of dragonflies - folio 1 Agrion Splendens

Sketchbook of dragonflies – folio 1 Agrion Splendens

This drawing from Canning Suffern’s sketchbook of dragonflies is embellished with original dragonfly wings. It was part of his research into dragonflies at a pool at Hill Head in 1950. (MS 205 A517/3/4).

Suffern diaries

MS 205 A517/1/1 Diaries, 1940, 1947, 1950 (open) and 1951

His diaries are a working record of the weather, detailing sunshine, rainfall, type and density of cloud cover, and atmospheric pressure. In the summer of 1950, Suffern discovered a relationship between high pressure and the number of S. striolatum emerging at the pool — the peak occurred on 9 July, when he counted 417 in a single day. His research excited the interest of other naturalists and was published in one of the earliest volumes of the Entomologist’s Gazette.

Dr Suffern’s papers include articles from natural history magazines and journals, and related notes; there are manuscripts of his literary works as a naturalist, as well as his reminiscences. His significant ornithological archive – covering several decades of field work – forms part of the papers of the Hampshire Ornithological Society at the Hampshire Record Office, Winchester (HRO 75M94/C1), which also holds notes for his book The birds of Titchfield in relation to those of Hampshire and of Great Britain historically considered, or, A conspectus of birds mainly with reference to T H [Titchfield Haven].

To this day, Doc Suffern is fondly remembered at Titchfield Haven for his 50-year association with the nature reserve. During the 1960s, as an elected member of Fareham District Council, he fought for the future of the Haven. He lived to see the purchase of the estate by Hampshire County Council and the opening of the reserve for visits in 1975. The ‘Suffern Hide’ is named in his memory – a physical reminder of his life’s work.

Canning Suffern’s research papers, MS 205, are freely available in Special Collections at the University of Southampton – a significant legacy for the natural history of Hampshire.

For information on Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve go to:

https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/countryparks/titchfield/visit

For information on Canning Suffern’s ornithological papers at the Hampshire Record Office:

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/archives

We acknowledge with grateful thanks the assistance of the staff and volunteers of the Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve, and of the Hampshire Record Office. The photograph of Canning Suffern is courtesy of Dr Sue Dent and colleagues at Titchfield Haven. Any errors are those of the author.

Rowing against the tide: Boat Clubs at the University of Southampton

To mark this week’s annual Henley boat race between Oxford University and Cambridge University, we take a look at our collections relating to the University’s Boat Clubs.

Starting from Phyllis Court to Temple Island along the famous ‘Henley Reach’, the first Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race for men happened in Henley in 1829. The event didn’t occur again in Henley until 1975, when a Boat Race between men’s lightweight crews from Oxford and Cambridge was organised by Richard Bates, a Cambridge Undergraduate.

The Women’s Boat Race took place in Henley between the years 1977-2014, along with a race between the reserve crews Osiris (Oxford) and Blondie (Cambridge). In 1984, the women’s lightweight race was instated, and a 1,750 metre contest between the two top male and female crews from the Oxford and Cambridge bumps races was inaugurated in 2010.

Another famous route used for boat races between Oxford University and Cambridge University is based along the River Thames from University Post, Mortlake to University Stone, Putney. The plan below shows the route, which is part of a handout for the river race that the University of Southampton participated in on 22 March 1952.

Route for river race from University Post, Mortlake to University Stone, Putney 1952 [MS 310/46 A2075/4]

Route for river race from University Post, Mortlake to University Stone, Putney 1952 [MS 310/46 A2075/4]

As part of the University Archives collection we hold photographs of the Men’s and Women’s Boat Clubs that were part of Hartley Society (previously called the Hartley University College Past Students’ Association). Dating from 1956, the photographs consist of formal ones with the men in their rowing blazers and women in their whites, and celebratory ones showing the christening of new boats given to the Clubs.

The photograph below shows the University’s first team to be entered for Henley Royal Regatta, in the Thames Cup division 1962-3. They also achieved 12th place out of 150 crews in the Reading Head of the River race.

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1st VIII Boat Club team, 1962-3 [MS 1/7/291/22/4]

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First president of the Hartley Society’s Women’s Boat Club, Miss Knowles, acting as cox, 1937 [MS 1/7/291/22/2]

Southampton University Boat Club (SUBC) registered with British Rowing in 1929, and its first president from that year was Mr Randall Cesson. The diagram below shows the planning of the Club’s logo during the late 1950s.

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Diagram of SUBC’s logo as part of the Club Secretary’s Report, 1958-9 [MS 310/46 A2075/9]

In the University’s Boat Club papers (MS 310/46) can be found a range of resourceful items dating from 1946-2015; including correspondence, lists of race results and crews, pamphlets, photographs, and programmes.

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University Women’s Rowing Association 17th Annual Regatta programme, 9 May 1959 [MS 310/ 46 A2075/7]

The correspondence relates to the organising of fixtures, the repairing of boats, and the purchase of equipment. Here is a quote from a circular relating to a Club meeting to members of the Men’s Boat Club dated circa 1960s:

“All present and past members and all newcomers who are interested in rowing are invited to attend. The year’s rowing programme will be discussed as will be the training of novices. The latter is considered to be of paramount importance; all novices who show keenness and interest as well as ability will find themselves rowing in eights after a few weeks initial training in small boats.”

[Men’s Boat Club circular, MS 310/46 A2075/4]

MS310_46_A2075_3_LaunchingBoat_0001

Launching for first outing, 9 January 1961 [MS 310/46 A2075/3]

An insight into the training regime for SUBC in the 1960s can be viewed from the body-building exercise sheets in the Club papers. Such exercises were suggested to be done daily for 45 minutes. Steps included “Sitting, legs straight, hands on floor near hips, alternate leg raising as high as possible” for 50 seconds, and “make like a windmill with arms in circles, breathe deeply” for 30 seconds. The sheet includes 38 steps altogether, ending with “Weight enough until tomorrow”!

SUBC is now one of the largest clubs of Team Southampton with over 100 members. Alumni include several world class athletes, notably Olympic Silver Medallists Per Sætersdal, Miriam Batten, and Guin Batten.

MS310_46_A2075_2_Boatrace_0001

London Head Race, III Boat Club Team, 19 March 1955 [MS 310/46 A2075/2]

For further information on SUBC go to:

http://www.subc.co.uk/

https://www.susu.org/groups/boat

 

The Wellington archive and Ireland

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

Wellington Papers, 1828 [MS 61 WP1/950]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[MS 61 WP1/167/18]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Celebrating the contribution of women: Edith “Edie” Noble

Held annually on 8 March, International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women throughout history and across nations.

The Special Collections at the University of Southampton holds material for a range of women whose contribution in many spheres is worthy of mention. For this blog we will focus on Edith “Edie” Noble, née Davidson or Davidovitz (MS 381).

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Edith Noble, June 1973 [MS381 A4136 1/4]

Born in Hull in 1910, she was one of nine brothers and sisters born to Annie and Hyman Davidovitz. She and her two sisters, Sophie and Min, married three London-born brothers, Ziggy, Charles and Bernard Noble. Edie and her husband Charles joined South London Liberal’s Synagogue in 1939, a year after they married.

Edith was heavily involved with the South London Liberal Synagogue, holding the position of Treasurer in the Women’s Society and as a member of their Council.

Passionate about promoting friendly relations among Jewish women, Edith became a founding member of the Streatham Group of the League of Jewish Women as its Vice-Chairman in 1953.

“From that time in 1953, she has worked untiringly with a will and dedication to make the name of L.J.W. respected in many spheres”. [MS381 A4136 1/4]

League of Jewish Women 25th birthday picture supplement, 1968 [MS381 A4136 3/1/1]

A year later, as group representative, Edith was elected to the League’s National Council. She went on to become founder Chairman of the League’s Publicity Committee in 1957 and National Honorary Secretary in 1961. As the League’s first Extension Officer, Edith worked tirelessly to ensure the organisation was reaching Jewish women all over the country, opening 25 UK groups and achieving thousands of new members between 1967-72.

Edith held many positions in the League of Jewish Women, including President in 1973, as well as positions in the International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW) and the National Council of Women. This reflected her commitment towards raising the profile of these organisations, and strengthening connections between Jewish women nationally and internationally.

Certificate awarded to Edith Noble from the International Council of Jewish Women for her outstanding services to the organisation, May 1978 [MS381 A4136 1/7]

Using her links around the world, Edith succeeded in widening the communication net of these bodies, such as by setting up the 13th International Convention for ICJW in Bournemouth in 1984, which she chaired.

Keen for women to keep well-informed of social issues, Edith was the League representative on the Women’s Consultative Council, a government sponsored forum, from 1961. In 1969 this group became the Women’s National Commission, a body that still enables the government to obtain women’s thoughts on current issues.

Alongside these committee positions, Edith also completed welfare work, which included visiting patients on a Thursday morning at the Birchlands Jewish Hospital, serving tables at the South London Day Centre, and hosting and supporting Jewish girls who came to England from Morocco and Iran to work in the London Jewish Hospital.

The correspondence, working notebooks, papers and other documents relating to the Jewish Women’s organisations that Edith was involved in, provides a wealth of information on the work of the League of Jewish Women and International Council of Jewish Women from a committee member’s perspective.

From Edith’s final speech as President of League of Jewish Women:

“It has been said that if it be true that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, then eternal participation is the price of a good society. May the League never lack women to identify with us and participate in the Jewish contribution to the good society.” [MS381 A4136 1/4]

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Scroll commemorating Edith Noble’s appointment as the Streatham Group of the League of Jewish Women’s first Life President, 26 May 1976 [MS381 A4136 1/7]

For other blog posts we have completed on women, please click on the following links:

The University of Southampton will be hosting a number of events to mark international women’s day and details can be found at the following links:

University blog –

https://www.southampton.ac.uk/blog/sussed-news/2018/03/08/international-womens-day-how-southampton-women-are-changing-the-world/

Events page –

https://www.southampton.ac.uk/diversity/news/events/2018/03/8-womens-day.page?