Tag Archives: Hampshire

“Everyone is in admiration of it”: visiting the country house

In the second of our Historical Association’s ‘Local and Community History Month’ blogs, we look at the development of tourism of the country house.

In  the modern times the country house has a significant British culture presence, with heritage tourism generating billions of pounds. Yet looking around country houses has long been a popular English pastime. The country house speaks of the power of the landed classes, telling of their interests from classical architecture to landscapes of the picturesque, agriculture and rural improvement, from old master paintings to model dairies. Such establishments were at the height of their importance in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And during this period visiting country houses, including such houses in Hampshire, became an established form of tourism.

With the developments in the road network, which enabled easier and faster travel, the number of travellers to country houses increased. Visiting these establishments offered a glimpse at the lives of the rich, an opportunity to view fine collections of art and architecture and to tour the grounds.

"Highcliffe in Hampshire" drawn by Callander, 1784 [Cope Collection]

“High Cliff in Hampshire, the seat of the Earl of Bute”: drawn by Callander; engraved by W.Watts, London, 1784 [Cope Collection cqHIH 72; print number pr599]

For the owners there was no financial incentive to granting access but it was seen as an indication of their politeness, as this letter from Mary Mee, Viscountess Palmerston, to her husband, second Viscount Palmerston, describing a visit by Lord Duncannon to Highcliff, shows.

Lord Duncannon had been in the morning to see Highcliff.  The servants refused him even entering the outward gate. He however sent in a note to Lady Bute and she ordered him to be admitted to the great astonishment of all the servants, but to the housekeeper in particular who could not refrain from exclaiming all the time she was shewing the house “Well I cannot conceive how you got in.  Its the most extraordinary thing I ever knew.  You are the first person that ever was admitted when my lord was down.” 

[MS62 Broadlands Archives BR11/11/1]

The growth of tourism within the UK saw a parallel development in travel writing and production of tour guides.  These guides included descriptions of country houses in their pages, elevating their status to that of public sites of importance.

John Bullar’s tour guide for the area around Southampton, for instance, included a map that listed the country houses. Although the county was essentially rural, comparatively few aristocrats had their principal residence in the area, and there were probably only around 50 families in the county with estates in excess of 3,000 acres.

Map of the county around Southampton for John Bullar (1819) [Cope Collection]

Map of the country around Southampton printed for John Bullar A companion in a tour round Southampton comprehending various particulars, ancient and modern, of the New Forest Lymington, Christchurch, Ringwood, Romsey, Winchester, Bishop’s Waltham, Titchfield, Gosport, Portsmouth, etc., with notices of the villages, gentlemen’s seats, curiosities, antiquities, etc. occurring in the different roads described; and various biographical sketches fourth edition (Southampton, 1819) [Rare Books Cope 04; copy number 52-293007]

Bullar was to describe Broadlands, the seat of Lord Palmerston, in the following terms:

 About a mile from Romsey, we cross the Andover canal, and approach Broadlands, the sate of Lord Viscount Palmerston. The house is highly finished, in a style of elegant simplicity. There is a fine collection of paintings. The park and gardens are excellent. Few dairies are more singular tha[n] that of Broadlands. The cattle are all of the same breed, and are curiously belted round the body with a broad stripe of white. The river Test runs through the park; and the neighbouring bridge across it, is a good object from the house.

Broadlands printed by Ackermann [Cope Collection]

“Broadlands, seat of the Rt. Hon. Lord Viscount Palmerston” [London, Ackermann, 18- ] Aquatint 11.4 x 18.1 cm. Plate 14, vol. 6 of Repository of Arts, 1809-1818. [Cope Collection cq72 BRO; print number pr 41]

The Brayley and Britton guidebook The beauties of England Wales likewise focused on the simplicity of the Broadlands house and its fine art collection

The house is a neat edifice of white brick, standing on the eastern side of the river Test, which flows through the park; it was rebuilt by the late Lord Palmerston, who ranked among the most eminent connoisseurs of his time. The collection of paintings made by this nobleman and preserved in this mansion, is extremely fine.

In their description of Paulton’s, another Hampshire county house, they focused instead on the grounds. Paulton’s grounds, like Broadlands, had been landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, and they “present a pleasing specimen of his skill, the area being judiciously opened into ample lawns, which too thickly crowded with timber: the house is in a low and secluded situation”.

[Edward Wedlake Brayley and John Britton’s The beauties of England and Wales; or, delineations, topographical, historical and descriptive...: vol. 6 (London, Vernor & Hood, 1805) Rare Books Cope 03; copy number 59225007]

Lithograph of Paultons, [c.1830] [Cope Collection]

Lithograph of “Paultons, the seat of William S.Stanley esq.” printed by Engelmann, Graf, Coindet & Co. [c.1830] [Cope Collection cq72 PAU; print number pr60]

Whilst the number of visitors in no way compares to those experienced by heritage sites of today, it could certainly be claimed that by the early nineteenth century, country-house tourism had become a significant cultural practice.

Protest stories (1): We Protest! – 19th-century protests

Join us in the next three blogs as we explore highlights of the Special Collections exhibition We Protest! which is now closed to visitors due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

In putting together this exhibition we took as its starting point the Cato Street Conspiracy, the bicentenary of which was in February. This so-called “horrible conspiracy” fitted into the pattern of unrest over a range of social, economic and political issues at the end of the eighteenth and start of the nineteenth century, issues that were also to factor in the two other nineteenth-century protest movements that we feature.

The exhibition has proved an opportunity to utilise some little-known material relating to these protests within both the Wellington and Palmerston collections. Pages of notes taken by Lord Palmerston as the Cato Street conspirators were examined before the Privy Council in March 1820 were one such exciting discovery. Whilst the Wellington Archive provided not only samples of handwriting of the conspirators, but a hand-drawn map of the “Swing” riots in Hampshire and amongst the intelligence collected and sent to him about Chartist activity, a fascinating and slightly macabre illustration of the Chartist ‘rising’ in Newport in 1839.

Cato Street Conspiracy

Illustration of Cato Street, 1820

Illustration of Cato Street from a view published in Old and New London (1820)

On 23 February 1820, the Cato Street Conspirators were arrested. This small group, led by the prominent radical Arthur Thistlewood, included individuals from England, Scotland and Ireland, as well as one Jamaican man, William Davidson. Influenced by radical ideas, and responding to repressive measures by the government to previous protests, their aim was to assassinate the cabinet. By this action Thistlewood hoped they would trigger a massive uprising against the government.

Unfortunately for the group, they had been infiltrated by a police spy, George Edwards. The authorities stormed the room at Cato Street and arrested the conspirators. During the fracas Thistlewood shot and killed a policeman.

The Cato Street Conspirators were tried at the Central Criminal Court in London, but as the document below shows also were questioned before the Privy Council. This extract records that Arthur Thistlewood had nothing to say, whilst James Ings expressed a hope that he might be comfortable since he had not previously had “the necessities of life” such as a clean shirt.

Notes by Lord Palmerston of the examination of Cato Street Conspirators before the Privy Council, 1820

Extract of notes taken by Lord Palmerston when Thistlewood and Ings, alongside the other conspirators, were examined before the Privy Council, 1820 [MS62 PP/HA/A/4]

Thistlewood along with James Ings, John Brunt, William Davidson and Richard Tidd were executed on 1 May 1820 after being found guilty of treason; other conspirators were transported.

Sample of the handwriting of Arthur Thistlewood

Sample of the handwriting of Arthur Thistlewood, written at Newgate Prison, 27 April 1820 [MS61 WP1/660/1]

Report of the Cato Street Conspiracy in the Gentleman's Magazine (1820)

“Horrible conspiracy and murder!”: report of the Cato Street Conspiracy in the Gentleman’s Magazine (1820) [Rare Books Per A]

Report from the Gentleman’s Magazine (1820):


                Wednesday, Feb.23.

                In consequence of private information received by the Civil Power, that it was in the contemplation of a gang of diabolical ruffians to make an attempt on the lives of his Majesty’s Ministers, whilst assembled at the house of Earl Harrowby, in Mansfield-street, to a Cabinet Dinner, this evening, R. Birnie, Esq. with a party of 12 of the Bow-street patrole, proceeded about eight o’clock to the place which had been described as the rendezvous of these desperadoes in Cato-street, John-street, in the Edgeware-road; where, in a kind of loft, over a range of coach-houses, they were found in close and earnest deliberation. The only approach to this Pandemonium was by a narrow ladder. Ruthven, one of the principal Bow-street Officers, led the way, and was followed by Ellis, Smithers, Surman, and others of the patrole. On the door being opened, about 25 or 30 men were seen within, all armed some way or other; and, for the most part, they were apparently engaged, either in charging fire-arms, or in girding themselves in belts similar to those worn by the military. There were tables about the room, on which lay a number of cutlasses, bayonets, pistols, sword-belts, pistol-balls in great quantities, ball-cartridges, &c. As the Officers entered the room, the conspirators all immediately started up; when Ruthven, who had been furnished with a warrant from the Magistrates, exclaimed, “We are Peace-officers! Lay down your arms!” In a moment all was confusion. A man, whom Ruthven described as the notorious A. Thistlewood, opposed himself to the Officers, armed with a cut-and-thrust sword of unusual length. Ruthven attempted to secure the door; and Ellis, who had followed him into the room, advanced towards the man, and, presenting him pistol, exclaimed, “Drop your sword, or I’ll fire instantly!” The man brandished his sword with increased violence; when Smithers, the other patrole, rushed forward to seize him; and on the instant the ruffian stabbed him to the heart. Poor Smithers fell into the arms of his brother Officer Ellis, exclaiming “Oh God!” and in the next instant was a corpse. While this deed was doing, the lights were extinguished, and a desperate struggle ensued, in which many of the Officers were severely wounded. Surman, one of the patrole, received a musket-ball on the temple; but fortunately it only glanced along the side of his head, tearing up the scalp in its way. The conspirators kept up an incessant fire: whilst it was evident to the Officers that many of them were escaping by some back way. Mr. Birnie exposed himself every where, and encouraged the Officers to do their duty, while the balls were whizzing round his head. At this moment, Captain Fitzclarence (one of the gallant sons of his Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence) arrived at the head of a detachment of the Coldstream Guards. They surrounded the building; and Captain Fitzclarence, with Serjeant Legge and three files of grenadiers, mounted the ladder and entered the room, now filled with smoke, and only illuminated by the occasional flashes of the fire-arms of the conspirators. A ruffian instantly approached the gallant Captain, and presented a pistol to his breast; but as he was in the act of pulling the trigger, Serjeant Legge rushed forward, and whilst attempting to push aside the destructive weapon, received the fire upon his arm. Fortunately for this brave man, the ball glanced along his arm, tearing the sleeve of his jacket from the wrist to his elbow, without wounding him. It is impossible to give a minute detail of the desperate conflict which followed, or the numerous instances of personal daring manifested by the Peace-officers and the military, thus brought into sudden contact with a band of assassins in their obscure den, and in utter darkness. Unfortunately, this darkness favoured the escape of many of the wretches, and the dreadful skirmish ended in the capture of only nine of them. These were instantly handcuffed together, placed in hackney-coaches, and brought down to the Police-office, Bow-street, under a strong military escort; and Mr. Birnie, having arrived at the same moment, instantly took his seat upon the Bench, and prepared to enter into the examination of the prisoners. They were immediately placed at the bar in the following order:- James Ings, a butcher; James Wilson, a tailor; Richard Bradburn, a carpenter; James Gilchrist, a shoemaker; Charles Cooper, a bootmaker; Richard Tidd, a bootmaker; John Monument, a shoemaker; John Shaw, a carpenter; and William Davidson, a cabinet maker.

                Davidson is a man of colour, and a worthy coadjutor of Messrs. Watson, Thistlewood, and Co. upon many occasions. At the meeting in Finsbury market-place a few months ago, he was one of the principle speakers.

                Ings is a hoary ruffian, a short squat man, apparently between 50 and 60, but of most determined aspect. His hands were covered with blood; and as he stood at the bar, manacled to one of his wretched confederates, his small fiery eyes glared round upon the spectators with an expression truly horrible. The rest had nothing extraordinary in their appearances. They were for the most part men of short stature, mean exterior, and unmarked physiognomy.

                The office was crowded with soldiers and officers, bringing in arms and ammunition of various kinds, which had been taken on the premises; muskets, carbines, broadswords, pistols, blunderbusses, belts, and cartouch-boxes, ball-cartridges, gunpowder (found loose in the pockets of the prisoners), haversacks, and a large bundle of singularly-constructed stilettoes. These latter were about 18 inches long, and triangular in form; two of the sides being concave, and the other flat; the lower extremity having been flattened, and then wrung round spirally, so as to make a firm grip, and ending in a screw, as if to fit into the top of a staff. Several staves indeed were produced, fitted at one end with a screwed socket; and no doubt they were intended to receive this formidable weapon.

                The depositions of a number of officers, most of them wounded, and several of the soldiers, having been taken, their evidence substantiating the foregoing narrative, the prisoners were asked whether they wished to say any thing. Cooper and Davidson the black were the only ones who replied; and they merely appealed to the officers and soldiers to say, whether they had not instantly surrendered themselves. Ellis, the patrole, who received the murdered body of his comrade Smithers in his arms, replied, that Davidson made the most determined resistance. At the moment when the lights were extinguished, he had rushed out of the place, armed with a carbine, and wearing white cross-belts. Ellis pursued him a considerable distance along John-street, and, having caught him, they fell together; and, in the deadly struggle which ensued, Davidson discharged his carbine, but without effect, and Ellis succeeded in securing him.

                Capt. Fitzclarence had seized and secured one or two of the prisoners with his own hands; and he was not only very much bruised, but his uniform was almost literally torn to pieces.

                At eleven o’clock, the deposition having been taken, as far as the circumstances of the moment would permit, the Magistrate committed the prisoners for further examination on Friday; and they were then placed in hackney-coaches, two prisoners being placed in each coach, accompanied by two police officers, with two soldiers behind and one on the box, and the whole cavalcade escorted by a strong party of the Coldstream Guards on foot.

                The following morning an extraordinary Gazette was issued, offering 1000l. for the apprehension of Arthur Thistlewood. He was taken by Bishop and a party of police officers, about 12 o’clock the same day, at No. 10, White-street, in Little Moor fields.

                The house is kept by a person named Harris, who is foreman to a letter-founder; at the time of the apprehension Harris was from home, and supposed to be at his work; but the offices took his wife with them to Bow-street. The house is full of lodgers; none of whom were aware of Thistlewood being on the premises till the officers entered; nor was he ever seen there before.

                The following are circumstantial particulars of Thistlewood’s arrest. At 9 o’clock in the morning, Lavender, Bishop, Ruthven, Salmon, and six of the patrole, were dispatched; and, arriving at the house, three of the latter were placed at the front, and three at the back door, to prevent escape. Bishop observed a room on the ground floor, the door of which he tried to open, but found it locked. He called to a woman in the opposite apartment, whose name is Harris, to fetch him the key. She hesitated, but at last brought it. He then opened the door softly. The light was partially excluded, from the shutters being shut; but he perceived a bed in a corner and advanced. At that instant a head was gently raised from under the blankets, and the countenance of Thistlewood was presented to his view. Bishop drew a pistol, and presenting it at him, exclaimed, ‘Mr. Thistlewood, I am a Bow-street officer; you are my prisoner:’ and then, ‘to make assurance double sure,’ he threw himself upon him. Thistlewood said, he would make no resistance. Lavender, Ruthven, and Salmon, were then called, and the prisoner was permitted to rise. He had his breeches and stockings on, and seemed much agitated. On being dressed, he was handcuffed. In his pockets were found some ball-cartridges and flints, the black girdle, or belt, which he was seen to wear in Cato-street, and a sort of military silk sash. A hackney coach was then sent for, and he was conveyed to Bow-street. In his way thither he was asked by Bishop what he meant to do with the ball cartridges? He declined answering any questions. He was followed by a crowd of persons, who repeatedly cried out, ‘Hang the villain! Hang the assassin!’ and used other exclamations of a similar nature. When he arrived at Bow-street, he was first taken into the public office, but subsequently into a private room, where he was heard unguardedly to say, that ‘he knew he had killed one man, and he only hoped it was Stafford,’ meaning Mr. Stafford, the Chief Clerk of the office, to whose unremitting exertions in the detection of public delinquents too much praise cannot be given. Mr. Birnie, having taken a short examination of the prisoner, sent him to Whitehall, to be examined by the Privy Council. Here the crowd was as great as that which had been collected in Bow-street. Persons of the highest rank came pouring into the Home Office, to learn the particulars of what had transpired. The arrest of Thistlewood was heard with infinite satisfaction he was placed in a room on the ground floor, and vast numbers of persons were admitted in their turn to see him. His appearance was most forbidding: his countenance, at all times unfavourable, seemed now to have acquired an additional degree of malignity: his dark eye turned upon the spectators as they came in, as if he expected to see some of his companions in guilt, who he had heard were to be brought thither. He drank some porter that was handed to him, and occasionally asked questions, principally as to the names of the persons who came to look at him. Then he asked, ‘To what gaol he should be sent? – he hoped not to Horsham.’ (This was the place in which he was confined in consequence of his conviction for sending a challenge to Lord Sidmouth.)

                At two o’clock he was conducted before the Privy Council. He was still handcuffed, but mounted the stairs with alacrity. On entering the Council-chamber he was placed at the foot of the table. He was then addressed by the Lord Chancellor, who informed him that he stood charged with the twofold crime of treason and murder, and asked him whether he had any thing to say for himself? He answered, that ‘he should decline saying any thing on that occasion.’ He was then committed to Coldbath-fields prison.

                The other prisoners, apprehended the night before, were likewise taken before the Privy Council, and recommitted. In addition to the Cabinet Ministers, there were present, Viscount Palmerston, the Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer of Scotland, Sir William Scott, Mr. Sturges Bourne, the Attorney and Solicitor-General, Sir John Nicholl, &c. They continued in examination of the prisoners till past six o’clock, when the prisoners, who had been kept in separate rooms, were removed in hackney-coaches to the House of Correction, escorted by a party of the Life Guards, amidst the execrations of those assembled round, and Thistlewood was loudly hooted and groaned at when he was taken from Bow-street Office.

                In the course of the day, further arrests took place. Among others secured is a man of the name of Brunt – who is stated to have been second in command to Thistlewood. He was apprehended at his lodgings in Fox-court, Gray’s-inn-lane; in his room a vast quantity of hand-grenades, and other combustibles, were found.  These were charged with powder, pieces of old iron, &c., calculated, upon explosion, to produce the most horrible consequences. A great number of pike-blades, or stilettoes, such as were discovered in Cato-street, and a number of fire-arms, were likewise found. The whole of these, together with the prisoner, were taken to Bow-street. He was afterwards sent to Whitehall, and then committed to Coldbath-fields.

                Firth, the person by whom the stable was let to Harrison, has likewise been arrested. He admits that he has attended some of the Radical meetings, but denies any knowledge of the conspiracy. Warrants have been issued for securing six others, whose names and descriptions are known.

                John Harrison, who hired the room in Cato-street, was apprehended in his lodging in Old Gravel-lane. He was 10 years a private in the Life Guards, from which he was discharged about six years ago.

                Robert Adams, who had been five years a private in the Oxford Blues, and Abel Hall, have also been taken. Adams is a middle-aged man, and of respectable appearance.

                The lodgings of Thistlewood, and of all the others who were in custody, have been searched, and several important papers, and quantities of arms, have been discovered and seized.

                It is a singular fact, that when Thistlewood was arrested, he had not a farthing of money in his possession. The same observation may be made with respect to his comrades, all of whom were in the most wretched state of poverty.

                A man was apprehended by Taunton and Maidment, charged with making handles for the pikes which were seized at the stables. He was committed for further examination.

                Wm. Symmonds, a footman, at No. 20, Upper Seymour-street, was apprehended by Lavender and Bishop, charged on suspicion of being concerned with the assassins. He is suspected of giving them information respecting the transactions of the higher orders. He was detained.

                Since obtaining the preceding intelligence, the following particulars have been received: –

                A detachment of thirty of the Cold-stream Guards was ordered from Portman-street Barracks a quarter before eight o’clock (the men thought it was to attend a fire); Captain Fitzclarence headed them. On coming into the neighbourhood of Cato-street, Capt. F. commanded them to halt and fix bayonets, and every man to be silent. Almost immediately afterwards they heard the report of a pistol: they were instantly commanded to advance in double quick time, upon the spot from whence it proceeded. On reaching the stable, a man darted out and was making off, but was prevented: finding his retreat intercepted, he pointed a pistol at Captain Firzclarence; Serjeant Legge broke his aim knocking the pistol off at the instant of its discharging, and was thus himself wounded in the right arm; the man was then secured. The Captain then ordered the men to follow him into the stable; their entrance was opposed by a black man, who aimed a blow at Captain F. with a cutlass, which one of his men warded off with his firelock: he exclaimed, “Let us kill all the red-coats; we may as well die now as at any other time;” he was also secured. They then entered the stable. Captain F. being first, was attacked by another of the gang, who pointed a pistol, which flashed in the pan: the soldiers took him likewise, to whom he said, “Do’nt kill me, and I’ll tell you all about it.” The soldiers then mounted into the loft; there they found the body of the murdered officer, and another man lying near him; the latter, who was one of the gang, was ordered to rise; he said, “I hope you will make a difference between the innocent and the guilty. Don’t hurt me, and I’ll tell you how it happened.” Five more were then secured, one of whom declared he was led into it that afternoon, and was innocent.

                Davidson was one of those who, at the last meeting in Smithfield at which Hunt presided, paraded the streets of the metropolis with a black flag, on which was described a death’s head.”

Although the Cato Street Conspiracy was used by the government to justify the Six Acts of Parliament that it had passed two months previously — dealing with groups training with weapons, mass meetings, sedition and libel — this did not mark the end of protest for causes in the subsequent decades of the nineteenth century as we shall see.

The “Swing” riots

The “Swing” riots of 1830-1 saw agricultural workers protesting about low wages and the inadequate Poor Law allowances that were used to supplement these wages, as well as the use of threshing machines which they felt threatened their livelihood. Labourers became desperate and resorted to poaching to try and feed their families, leading to an increase in crime rates. William Cobbett had recorded in his Rural Rides his horror at the state of the rural poor in Hampshire, which had a sizeable population of agricultural labourers on subsistence wages. And Hampshire was one of the counties where these riots were most severe. It was also where the riots were most severely punished, as the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, the Duke of Wellington, was determined to crush any unrest. One of the particular characteristics of these riots was the threatening letters signed by “Captain Swing” sent to all landowners in Hampshire, including Wellington, an example of which is below.

Threatening letter from Captain Swing to the Duke of Wellington

Letter signed by “Captain Swing” to the Duke of Wellington threatening assassination, n.d. c.November 1830 [MS61 WP1/1159/114]

The alarm felt by the Hampshire gentry at the prospect of riots is illustrated in a letter from Henry Holmes, Romsey, to Lord Palmerston of 21 November 1830. Lord Palmerston was, of course, another Hampshire landowner and resident of Romsey.

“Your Lordship is of course aware that the country is in a very disturbed state generally…. We are (thank God) quiet as yet in this immediate neighbourhood, but when we see in several parts of this, and adjoining counties, frequent acts of outrage committed and know that a seditious spirit is openly exhibited almost everywhere, we think it proper to call your Lordship’s attention to the subject, and take the liberty of enquiring whether your Lordship thinks it probable that his Majesty’s Government will adopt any general measures for the preservation of the peace….

In the neighbourhood of Andover much mischief has been done as your Lordship will see by the papers. I have just had a man with me who saw the mob break open the gaol and rescue a prisoner.

I had written thus far this morning, when I was interrupted by my man servant whose father had left the mob at Compton near Kingsomborne, where they broke the thrashing machines of Mr. Edwards and extorted money and drink. They had previously attacked Mr Penleazes’ House at Bossington and Mr. Edwards’s at Horsebridge. I sent my son on horseback to reconnoitre – he arrived at Kingsomborne just as they had passed for Ashley. Mr Lutott is just arrived from London – he saw Sir William Heathcote and Mr. Stanley go from Winchester with a troop of cavalry towards Crawley which is not far from Ashley. We are swearing in special constables here, and I have conferred with Watson as to being prepared to defend Broadlands if it should be attacked – but as the troops are on the alert I dare say the mob will be dispersed.

If Government would let us have the old arms and accoutrements of the yeomanry we would equip a troop and act in concert in case of necessity – as it is we are almost defenceless, but if they come here I trust we shall be able to make a fight, and keep down our own disaffected who are very numerous I am sorry to say.”

[MS62 BR113/12/29]

The extent of the rioting that took place across the county on 22 November is illustrated in a hand drawn map sent to the Duke of Wellington:

Hand drawn map of Swing riots in Hampshire, November 1830

Hand drawn map showing instances of riots across Hampshire, 22 November 1830 [MS61 WP1/1157/2]

Over three hundred men who had been involved in these riots were tried before the Special Commission at Winchester in December 1830. Despite over ninety men being sentenced to death, only two executions were carried out, those of Henry Cook of Micheldever, convicted of riot, robbery and aggravated assault and James Thomas Cooper of Fordingbridge, convicted of destroying machinery and a manufactory at Fordingbridge. Sixty-nine of the prisoners received prison sentences and a further sixty-eight were transported to Australia.

Copy of a letter from the Duke of Wellington, to Lieutenant General Sir Herbert Taylor, sets out the result of the trials, 30 December 1830

 There were 98 capital convictions. Of these the law has been allowed to take its course in relation to six. Three of them concerned in the destruction of manufactories aided by machinery, one in the destruction of poor houses, one for a robbery by night, one for a robbery by day – this last is the man who struck Mr. Baring. It will be recommended that the others should be transported for life.

 Several have been sentenced during the commission to transportation for life, and some for terms of years. But this morning twenty were sentenced to transportation for seven years, and ten to confinement and hard labour from twelve to eighteen months for destroying machines.

Upon the whole this commission has worked well, and has already produced a good effect and I hope that its consequences will be long felt.

It is very curious that throughout these trials we have scarcely heard of distress. Few of the people convicted have been agricultural labourers. They are generally publicans and mechanics. Of those left for execution, one was a hostler at an inn, another a publican, two blacksmiths, one carpenter and one bricklayer.

[MS61 WP4/2/2/58]


The Chartist movement, which could claim to be the first mass movement driven by the working classes, grew out of the failure of the Reform Act of 1832 to extend the vote beyond the property owning classes. In 1838, a People’s Charter was drawn up for the London Working Men’s Association and this was presented to Parliament in June 1839. Its rejection led to unrest across the country, which was quickly and harshly dealt with by the authorities.

The Duke of Wellington was one of the members of the government who received intelligence on possible unrest and within his archives are examples of intercepted letters from Chartist activists. The following is a copy of a letter from a leading Chartist in the north which were passed on to the authorities by “one of the converted Chartists”, since he was concerned “that bloody scenes would soon break out in the middle and north of England, to the disadvantage of the operatives and the ruin of the country”.

Copy of a letter from an unnamed Chartist to Mary Anne, 6 December 1839

“My dear Mary Anne,

You are the prince of correspondents but [f.9r] I do not wish you to do so again unless you think it of importance and above all do not put even your initials, but take another name altogether as the name of the town is sufficient and I know your writing and allusions. Put any name you like but your own and write it at full length, as initials are suspicious should the letter be opened and I do not wish you to be brought into scrapes. I must see our friend, who is ill, at all hazards and that right soon, so, as early as you lay hands on him tell him to put himself in communication with me by letter addressed as your last. Matters are coming to a crisis and that in short space. Most shall not be tried or will have companions he little thinks of; keep this in mind and be astonished at nothing. Depend upon it there will be a merry Christmas. All here are already preparing for a national illumination, I presume in anticipation of the Queen’s marriage, but you know best. These [f.9v] Radicals are humble fellows; at least half a dozen emissaries have been sent to see what state the north of England was in and the universal feeling is that there is no county like [blank]. This is partly to be attributed to the vast extent of moorland which has generated a race of hardy poachers, all well armed and who would think themselves disgraced if they missed a moorcock flying seventy yards off. This, together with the number of weavers necessarily in want has made a population ripe for action, and its neighbourhood, to the Scottish border, with the facilities for a guerilla warfare are said to have determined [blank] to make it the headquarters for a winter campaign. That he is mad enough to attempt this you will easily believe even if there was no other movement in England because, from the feeling of the people towards him, they would follow him to the death and England has not troops [f.10r] enough to quell a border riot with that man at its head. It is too far away, however, to have any effect for a long time…..

[MS61 WP4/10/66 ff.8v-10r]

Wellington likewise received information about the ‘rising’ in Newport in November 1839 which saw thousands of armed Chartists march on the town. In this violent clash at the Westgate Hotel, an estimated twenty two Chartists were shot dead and many more were injured. It has been called the most serious manifestation of physical force Chartism in the history of this movement.

Westgate Hotel, Newport, 1839

Illustration of the attack and defence of the Westgate Hotel, Newport, November 1839 [MS61 WP2/64/74]

Ground plan of Westgate Hotel, Newport, 1839

Illustration of the ground plan of the Westgate Hotel, Newport, showing the position of the 45th Regiment defending the building and of fatalities from the battle, November 1839 [MS61 WP2/64/74]

The illustration of the Westgate Hotel includes images of the soldiers firing from a downstairs window to defend the property. Below it is a ground plan of the hotel which includes pikes to show the points where the Chartists entered the building, firelocks to show the points where the 45th Regiment defended the building and there are stick figures on the plan showing as near as can be ascertained where individuals died.

For our next blog we shall be moving on to protests in the twentieth century and looking in particular at the “Battle of Cable Street”. We hope you can join us.


“Beware! Beware! Beware!”: Wellington and “Captain Swing”

Part of a threatening letter sent by “Captain Swing”, 1830 [MS61 WP1/1159/114]

In the winter of 1830, driven by grinding poverty, the agricultural workers of the southern and eastern counties of England, including Hampshire, were involved in uprisings. The combination of poor harvests, low wages and high food prices with high unemployment and inadequate poor law allowances, led to hunger among the workers and their families. The introduction of new technology, in particular the threshing machine, which took away one of the few remaining opportunities for work during the winter months, made their situation worse.

The protests started in Kent  and Sussex in August and spread fairly rapidly to surrounding counties. They reached Hampshire, where the first Duke of Wellington was the Lord Lieutenant, by November 1830. Hampshire was one of the most severely affected counties and also was the county in which the protest was repressed most severely.

The journalist and champion of traditional rural life, William Cobbett, recorded in his Rural Rides his horror at the poverty amongst the rural poor, making particular reference to the situation in Hampshire. And a letter of 22 December 1830 to the Duke in the Wellington Archive attributed much of the crime recently committed in Hampshire “to the influence of the published opinions of Cobbett” and of the radical politician Henry Hunt, both of whom had resided in the county. [MS 61 WP1/1157/3]

William Cobbett Rural Rides (1830) Rare Books Cope BOT 96 COB

The Swing riots took their name from “Captain Swing” – a made-up name that represented the anger of the poor labourers, but also was designed to spread fear and to protect the identity of the protest leaders. The organisation of the movement was on a local level with leaders or “captains” chosen from the community. The usual practice was for groups of men to travel from farm to farm demanding higher wages and soliciting donations from landowners, with the threat of destroying threshing machines if this was not forthcoming. But in some cases the protesters set fire to hay ricks or destroyed machinery: a threshing machine was destroyed in Rookley House in Hampshire by a large band of men and the “donation” money carried away.

Although the riots in Hampshire only lasted from around 10 to 26 November, they were more widespread and severe than in other counties: the extent of the incidents on 22 November is shown on a map sent to Wellington in December 1830.

Hand drawn map sent by Mr Hollis to Wellington of the riots that took place in Hampshire on 22 November 1830 [MS61 WP1/1157/2]

Wellington, alongside other landowners and farmers throughout Hampshire, was to be the recipient of threatening letters signed by “Captain Swing”. Similar letters had been sent out in both Kent and West Sussex in the earlier riots in these counties. A number of examples of those sent to the Duke can be found in the Wellington Archive at Southampton.

Letter from “Captain Swing” to Wellington, 4 November 1830 [MS 61 WP1/1159/93]:                                                                                         “Your base vile conduct and treatment of your fellow subjects; your determination to turn a deaf ear to their remonstrances, has made you an object of popular vengeance and of popular hatred. Take my advice, act openly and nobly, as becomes a Briton, reform that vile nest of corruption which is bred in Downing Street, destroy those vultures that prey on the public liver or beware, I say beware, beware, beware.”

As the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Wellington was responsible for the maintenance of law and order within the county. He established a Special Commission, which was held at Winchester in December, to deal with the rioters. The Commission handed out what was later considered overly harsh sentences to the accused. 95 of the 300 prisoners tried were formally sentenced to death – although in the end only 6 had their sentences confirmed – many others were imprisoned or transported overseas.

A report of the Proceedings at the Special Commission, holden at Winchester, December 20, 1830, and Eight Following Days (London, 1831) Rare Books Cope 35

Items on the Swing Riots form part of the We Protest! exhibition currently at the Special Collections Gallery. We hope you are able to come along.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Travels

After following intrepid travellers to far-flung places, in the last in our series of travel posts we look at those who stayed closer to home.

The south coast’s scenery and climate have attracted a range of visitors over the years – especially those in search of a picturesque view, a health cure or even a combination of the two.

Hampshire by John Cary (1793) Rare Books Cope c 90.5 1793

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the Isle of Wight became a magnet for artists keen to record its picturesque scenery, despite the fact that William Gilpin, the main proponent of the picturesque as an aesthetic ideal, found the Island sadly lacking in this this quality.

William Gilpin Observations on the Western Parts of England Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty, to which are Added, A Few Remarks on the Picturesque Beauties of the Isle of Wight (1798)

Gilpin wrote that whilst there were elements of the picturesque in the shipwrecks and in the sea-fowl which darkened the air, the Isle of Wight was really “a large garden or rather a field, which in every part has been disfigured by the spade, the coulter and the harrow”, the coastal views being “much less beautiful than we had expected to find them”.  Naturally, there was some consternation at this description locally and in the Hampshire Repository’s review of his book in 1799, Gilpin’s views were strongly rebuffed, the reviewer going as far as to retrace his footsteps and provide an alternative opinion on the scenery.

Others who visited the Isle of Wight were more impressed with what they saw. John Hassell, a London based artist who illustrated his Tour of the Isle of Wight (1790) with aquatints of his drawings (many with unusual colour washes), wrote of Carisbrooke Castle “it affords a fund of delight to the traveller whose mind is susceptible to the transports which picturesque scenes excite”.

Carisbrooke Castle from: John Hassell Tour of the Isle of Wight v.2 (1790) Rare Books Cope 98.91

A few years later Charles Tomkins recorded both the architecture and the picturesque views of the Island in his Tour to the Isle of Wight (1796), describing how Blackgang Chine “strikes the mind with horror at its dark and sable aspect” .

Blackgang Chine from: Charles Tomkins A Tour to the Isle of Wight v.1 (1796) Rare Books Cope 98.91

In 1784 and again in 1791 the artist and satirist Thomas Rowlandson toured the Island and taking a different approach, made sketches of the various incidents that made up the journey.  The sketches were lost for many years, reappearing at the end of the nineteenth century when they were reproduced in an article in The Graphic (Summer 1891), by Joseph Grego, who added his own commentary on the journey.

From:The Graphic Summer Number 1891 Rare Books Cope folio 91.5

Many of the Isle of Wight visitors travelled via Southampton, which offered tourists excursions to the gothic ruins of Netley Abbey as well as a mineral spring and sea-water bathing to restore their health. Royal patronage had made Southampton a fashionable resort in the later years of the eighteenth century, the Hampshire Chronicle printing a weekly list of arrivals during the summer season.  Southampton’s reputation as a spa waned during the early part of the nineteenth century, as its commercial importance grew, but other resorts developed to cater for the ‘health tourists’ of the day.

 Hampshire Chronicle (17th August, 1778)

Favoured by their sheltered locations and warm temperatures, both Ventnor on the Isle of Wight and Bournemouth (then part of Hampshire) developed as resorts largely thanks to their promotion in prominent publications. In the second edition of The Influence of Climate in the Prevention and Cure of Chronic Diseases (1830), Sir James Clark wrote of his surprise that the Isle of Wight’s Undercliff had been so long overlooked, given its scenery, dry air and a climate which allowed myrtle and geraniums, to flourish even in the colder months. He recommended it as a location superior to any other on the south coast for invalids with pulmonary disease.

Ventnor, Isle of Wight, from: Thomas Roscoe Summer Tour to the Isle of Wight (1843) Rare Books Cope 98.91

Some years later Bournemouth was mentioned very favourably (especially in comparison with Ventnor) in A.B. Granvilles’s The Spas of England and Principal Sea-Bathing Places (1841) “no situation that I have had occasion to examine along the whole southern coast, possesses so many capabilities of being made the first invalid sea-watering place in England”.

Bournemouth from the water, from: Philip Brannon The Illustrated Historical and Picturesque Guide to Bournemouth and the Surrounding Scenery 7th ed. (1863)

Both resorts developed ‘Sanditon style’ in areas previously sparsely populated. At Ventnor, development was piecemeal, resulting in buildings of varying styles. In A few Remarks about Ventnor… (1877), William Spindler, a  German industrial chemist who retired to the Isle of Wight, wrote “We have hotels, churches, shops, cottages and villas in every conceivable style and every outrageous shape” adding that an assembly room, pleasure garden and more planting for shade would be beneficial.

In contrast, Granville thought Bournemouth safe from speculative ‘ brick and mortar contractors’ as fewer landowners were involved in its development. He saw it as having commodious and well-arranged dwellings amongst the pine trees, suitable for invalids “of that class who happen to be wealthy”, with hotels and boarding houses catering for a superior class of visitor.

Ventnor and Bournemouth succeeded in their ambitions to attract wealthy visitors seeking the benefits of a mild climate and sea air, but eventually both resorts had to balance catering for this market with the needs of new tourists holidaying purely for pleasure and amusement.

Bournemouth from the Pier [postmarked 1904] Rare Books Cope pc 326

As the holidays are behind us and we return to the normal routine, we hope you have enjoyed the travellers’ tales from Special Collections.

World Poetry Day

For this year’s World Poetry Day, we’re celebrating the work of the little-known Hampshire poet, Burnal Charles Lane.

B.C.Lane was born at Hordle, near New Milton, Hampshire in 1900.  His father worked on a market garden belonging to Miss Anna Bateson and she instilled in Lane a love of nature, an interest in literature and also taught him to speak French.

Lane as young man

Burnal Charles Lane aged 20 [MS 16 A655/5]

Lane wrote his first poem aged 16. He was called up for National Service in 1918 and, once it was discovered he could speak French, he worked as a interpreter, including in France and Belgium for the War Graves Commission.

This verse by Lane feels appropriate for the time of year. Note his aside; he must have been interrupted half way through!


[MS 16 A655/1/3]

Lane married Mabel in 1930 and they had one daughter, Sarah E. Lane, born in 1945.

Lane with wife and baby

Lane pictured with his wife Mabel and baby daughter Sarah in 1945 [MS 16 A655/5]

Following Miss Bateson’s death, Lane’s father bought the market garden and Lane became a partner.  Lane retired in 1965 which enabled him to devote much of his time to his biggest interest, poetry.  The five boxes of material housed in our strongroom attest to the fact that Lane spent as much time as he could writing!  He also loved walking in the New Forest, usually with his cairn dog.

Lane published some of his poems privately in 1975 with an introduction by the English poet and translator, John Heath Stubbs, of whom Lane had been a fan:

These are the poems of a countryman who was devoted very many years with a single-minded devotion to the making of verse… the best of them seem to me to be lyrics of the purest water.

A fitting close feels to be this rousing verse which Lane penned in about 1924, ode to his beloved home county.

My Own Hampshire

Rich county, I hail thee! the gem of the South!

Southampton, Winchester and sunny Bournemouth!

Thy forest, thy meadows, hills valleys and streams

Are a source of delight to all who dream dreams.

And, if not a dreamer or poet, you’ll find

That Hampshire folk know what is best for mankind.

So come, drink your glass of wine or good ale 

Or, if you prefer it fresh milk from the pail,

And then all together, O come let us sing:

“Of all England’s counties Hampshire is king!”

Fair mistress of England, where Alfred the Great

In Winchester city established his state;

Where stout-hearted Saxon fought Norman and Dane,

And Williams, called Rufus a-hunting was slain.

O, England remembers, remembers thee yet!

Can England her once royal county forget?

So come, drink your glass…

[MS 16 A655/1/1]


National Sporting Heritage Day: Sport Sources in Printed Special Collections

To mark National Sporting Heritage Day, we take a look at the sources we hold on Sport in Hampshire in our Printed Collections.

The Old Bowling Green, Southampton (Peter Cook Postcard Collection Vol 10)

The Old Bowling Green, Southampton (Peter Cook Postcard Collection Vol 10)

The sources can be found in our Cope Collection, which is a major resource for the study of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

For studying the history of sport in Hampshire, A History of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Volume V, Victoria County History, (1912) is a useful text. In its chapter titled “Sport Ancient and Modern”, the volume tells the reader about the introduction of foxhunting, and the ancient origin of flat racing in Hampshire, as well as shooting, and angling. There is also a section on sport in the New Forest, written by the Hon. Gerald Lascelles:

“Fishing is not one of the special features of New Forest sport, although in the streams of the forest itself are to be found plenty of small brown trout, diminutive in size but excellent in flavour, and very good baskets have sometimes been realised, chiefly with the worm.” [Page 568]

The chapter finishes on cricket, where it explains how first-class cricket was born in the small village of Hambledon, which is located approximately 15 miles north of Portsmouth:

“The great players of the club in the latter half of the eighteenth century besides Richard Nyren, were John Small, sen., a shoe maker and musician, who is said to have pacified an angry bull in the middle of a paddock by playing on his violin. His cricket balls were celebrated for their excellence, and Mr. Budd bought the last half-dozen he ever made at a guinea a piece; he was the best batsman of his time.” [Page 574]


A Hampshire cricket team (pc4337)

Other useful historical resources relating to sport include the Hampshire Papers publication series, which cover cricket and football. In his work Association Football in Hampshire until 1914, Norman Gannaway explains how the first reference to football being played in Hampshire is in Vulgaria, a publication published in 1515 by Headmaster of Winchester College, William Horman.

After explaining the important contribution that public schools made to nineteenth-century football, Gannaway goes on to discuss Hampshire club football, where he confirms Fordingbridge Turks as being the oldest Hampshire football club in existence.

Hampshire Papers Publications

Hampshire Papers Publications

The Cope Collection also features the Sport in the South official directories, which date from the twentieth century. The publications feature strategic plans of the Sports Council, ‘Sport in the South’ award winners, lists of national sports centres in the southern region, and adult education sports opportunities.

Sport in the South

Sport in the South official directories

As well as holding Hampshire sport histories and publications, we also hold an important visual record of sports teams and sports facilities. This can be found in the Peter Cook Postcard Collection, which contains over 3000 postcards of Southampton. These include images of cricket teams and bowling teams, and others showing the old Bowling Green. Examples can be seen at the beginning of this blog post, and below.

Sports facilities displayed include the Central Baths in Southampton, which were located in Harbour Road. Containing the Southampton Olympic Pool, competitors travelled from afar to use the 100 feet bath and diving tower with its various heights. Due to new regulatory standards, such as the need of a separate diving pool, the Central Baths were knocked down in 1964. The facility was replaced by what is now the Quays Swimming and Diving Complex.

Central Baths, Southampton (pc4345)

Central Baths, Southampton (pc4345)

The postcard collection also features images of Southampton Football Club’s previous football ground, The Dell; and the Municipal Sports Centre in Bassett. The postcards provide a useful resource for studying the development of the city over time, and the leisure facilities provided.

Sports Centre, Southampton (pc4363)

Sports Centre, Southampton (pc4363)

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:


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


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.

Christmas wishes

Watercolour from a commonplace book, 1820s, MS 242 A800 p.77r

Watercolour from a commonplace book, c. 1820s,
MS 242 A800 p.77r

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and share a snowy scene from 200 years ago. This little watercolour appears in a lady’s commonplace book, which records the author’s travels to Scotland and the East Indies, c. 1820-1825. It is filled with beautiful sketches and watercolours of places and scenes that she had visited.  Perhaps these children were playing in the Scottish snow at Christmas?

The giving of gifts has always been a priority at this time of year – and not just in modern times – as shown by the following examples from the Broadlands Archives:

BR11/24/6 Mary, Lady Palmerston, to the second Viscount Palmerston, 23 Dec 1797

Mary, Lady Palmerston, to the second Viscount Palmerston, 23 Dec 1797 MS 62 BR11/24/6

In 1797, Mary, Lady Palmerston, wrote a letter from her home at Broadlands to her husband, sending a list of Christmas presents that he might buy for their children in London. The letter is dated “Saturday night, 23 Dec 1797” so this was to be a last-minute shopping spree!!

“With respect to the children’s presents, the things they would like the best I believe would be as viz. – Harry a small tool box, Fanny a small writing box, Willy the same, and Lilly a little gold necklace. If these are too expensive, then Harry a Spanish Don Quixote, Fanny the same, Willy the Preceptor [a book of instruction] and Lilly an atlas …. with a clasp.  They know nothing of your intention but we were supposing that if we were to have the offer of presents, what we should all like.

I will not trouble you to buy any thing for me except some shoes and a book which I shall write to Walsh about – without you see a nice plated nutmeg grater which would be a great treasure.”

The list gives an insight into the characters of Mary and the children. (Was the “nutmeg grater” the fashionable gift of the day?!) And we all know how difficult it is to buy the perfect present – and keep it a secret at the same time!

Twenty years later, the question of Christmas presents was also on the mind of Emily, Countess Cowper, (who later married the third Viscount Palmerston). This time it was her brother, Frederick Lamb, who had been charged with the shopping:

Emily Cowper, Countess Cowper, to her brother Honourable Frederick Lamb, 4 January 1820, MS 62 BR29/3/1

Emily, Countess Cowper, to her brother, the Honourable Frederick Lamb, 4 January 1820, MS 62 BR29/3/1

“My dearest Fred. I got a letter from you today and a large collection of cards, some very pretty, and last week I received a very pretty gold cup, the saucer of which puzzled us a great deal.  We could not think what it was meant to represent till by daylight next day we saw the reflection in the gold. Thank you for all these things. I am sorry George sent my letter of commissions after you and that you should have taken any trouble about it for they were really not things I absolutely wanted but I could not let people go to Paris and return empty handed.  I thought it was too good an opportunity to let escape and was obliged to sit down and think what I could want, however, if they come I shall be very glad to have them and particularly the ormoulu candlestick: three candles is handsomer but I said two because I had just then seen one of two which Lady Jersey generally uses….”

I wonder what he made of that letter from his sister – and how much trouble it had been to buy all the gifts?!

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy 2018.