Tag Archives: Perkins Agricultural Library

Celebrating British beer

15 June is officially `Beer Day Britain’, which has been celebrated annually since 2015. This date is significant as it was when the Magna Carta was sealed in 1215. Ale is mentioned in clause 35 of the great charter:

Let there be throughout our kingdom a single measure for wine and a single measure for ale and a single measure for corn, namely the London quarter.

Over the past few years there has been a renaissance in home-brewing, micro-breweries and beer culture generally, as drinkers explore new styles and experiment with new recipes as an antidote to the standardised fare on offer from the large breweries. In honour of ‘Beer Day Britain’, we brewed a beer to accompany this blog post, inspired by a recipe from the University of Southampton’s Special Collections.

Malt

In earlier times home-brewing was just one small part of a more self-sufficient culture wherein people supplied many of their own daily needs, before the rise of mass markets and modern commercial society. In some respects beer culture has come full-circle with the resurgence of home-brewing and the smaller craft-breweries, although it remains to be seen whether home-brewing will ever move beyond a dilettante pastime and supplant the mass produced beverage entirely!

The University of Southampton’s Special Collections has a number of sources on home-brewing including William Cobbett’s Cottage Economy published in 1822. Cobbett, a radical journalist and polemicist who sympathised with the plight of the rural English in the face of the industrial revolution, applauded what he saw as the imminent resurgence of home-brewing by the masses:

The paper-money is fast losing its destructive power; and things are, with regard to the labourers, coming back to what they were forty years ago, and therefore we may prepare for the making of beer in our own houses, and take leave of the poisonous stuff served out to us by common brewers.

In addition to helpful tips and recipes for home-brewing Cobbett’s Cottage Economy also offered its readers advice on animal husbandry, bread-baking and bee-keeping. However, modern readers partial to a cup of tea should beware; Cobbett has nothing positive to say about tea-drinking, which he views as having supplanted the comparatively weak ‘small beers’ that often accompanied a hard day’s labour in agrarian economies:

The drink which has come to supply the place of beer has, in general, been tea. It is notorious that tea has no useful strength in it; that it contains nothing nutritious; that it, besides being good for nothing, has badness in it, because it is well known to produce want of sleep in many cases, and in all cases, to shake and weaken the nerves. It is, in fact, a weaker kind of laudanum, which enlivens for the moment and deadens afterwards. At any rate it communicates no strength to the body; it does not, in any degree, assist in affording what labour demands. It is then, of no use.

In addition to its alleged lack of nutritional value and the concomitant ill health effects, Cobbett goes on to dismiss tea-drinking as a time-consuming and expensive habit as well as ‘an engenderer of effeminacy and laziness’ [p.18]; as fatal to pigs where a bushel of malt is not (‘it is impossible to doubt in such a case’) [p.19]; as responsible for leading young men to idleness with young girls faring no better as the ‘gossip of the tea table is no bad preparatory school for the brothel [p.20]’. Thankfully for our sakes, having revealed the nefarious effects of tea-drinking, Cobbett goes on to provide the ingredients and the recipe required for the home-brewing of beer. Those interested in Cobbett’s recipe can find a modern recreation published online.

Our beer was brewed using a source from Southampton’s Special Collections: The Complete Family Piece published in 1739 by George Faulkner, Containing good and useful instruction for brewing fine, strong, good, wholesome, and palatable Drinks, as Beers, Ales &c. in small Quantities, and at easy Rates, for the Use of all private families. The four basic ingredients of malted barley, hops, yeast and water included in most beers of today have been used in Britain since at least the late 1300s and they form the basis of this recipe from 1739. Modern drinkers may be rather astonished, however, to find this recipe advocating the addition of ingredients such as ivory shavings in the ‘wort’ to keep it from going stale. This particular ingredient may be harder to come by nowadays and was not included in our beer, brewed by the author and his brother; we named our version ‘Family Piece’, honouring both our brotherhood and the source of our inspiration.

It would be fair to say that we did not recreate this beer, rather we produced our own, inspired by elements of this 1739 recipe. Neither did we use the rather large quantities of barley-malt included in the 1739 recipe nor did we ‘put in a Pint of whole Wheat and 6 Eggs; then stop it up: and Let it stand a Year, and then bottle it.’ We did, however, adopt the time-consuming technique of mashing our grains three times in order to produce a stronger beer with a final estimated ABV of 6.8%. We also included the handful of rosemary flowers from the 1739 recipe, although floral notes were not evident in the final product.

Rosemary flowers

Ingredients for 4.5 L (1 gallon):

1.5kg of Malt. (We used a lager malt but would have preferred to use Golden Promise. Our malt was probably more finely crushed than eighteenth century malts would have been, which may lead to more efficiency in the brewing process and a higher final ABV).

8g of Target hops (home grown).

1 g of Rosemary Flowers.

Saison yeast (mixed house culture).

5.2 litres of liquor (‘Liquor’ is just a brewer’s term for water. We added a few millilitres of a chemical solution know as AMS, which is used by modern home-brewers to transform their hard tap water into soft water, closer to the kind of pond water or spring water favoured by traditional brewers).

OG: 1.054

FG: 1.003

Final ABV was 6.8%.

Bitterness: 25 IBUs (estimated)

SRM (colour): 4

Hops and rosemary added to mash at 90 minutes

Hops

Recipe:

Throw a handful of malt into 2.8 litres of liquor (treated with AMS) and then bring to 80°C.

Place 1.5 kg of Malt in a bag into the mash-tun with the liquor (The 1739 recipe states that you should wait until the steam has cleared, thus we put the malt in the liquor at 50°C – this stage is known as ‘mashing in’ and the typical mashing temperature used by modern brewers is about 60°C).

We added another litre of liquor with AMS because we weren’t happy with our liquor to grain ratio at this stage (there was too little water).

Leave to ‘Mash’ for 2 hours at 50°C – our temperature was 56°C after 2 hours. (This first or ‘primary mash’ is usually all modern brewers will do, but we also cooked the malt another two times as per the 1739 recipe).

After 3.8 litres of liquor in we got 2.1 litres of ‘wort’ from the primary mash – the wort is the liquid extracted from the mashing process – which we then boiled for 1 hour 30 mins.

Add 8 grams of Target Hops and 1 gram of rosemary flowers at 90 mins into the boil.

Put the malt bag back into the mash tun and add another 2.8 litres of liquor with AMS at 60°C into the mash tun with the malt to begin secondary mash for 1 hour 50 mins.

Put 2nd wort into 1st wort for boil.

Add 1.4 litres of liquor to the mash tun for 3rd mash.

When your mash has cooled down, siphon off into a demijohn and add your Saison Yeast.

Ferment in the demi-john for 15 days.

After approx. 2 weeks of fermentation you can then bottle the beer, add ½ tsp of sugar per 500 ml bottle to aid further fermentation in the bottle.

Bottle condition for a further 2-4 weeks. Then Enjoy!

Bottles of beer

It should be borne in mind that home-brewing by modern dilettantes typically involves the production of much smaller quantities of beer compared with that described by the 1739 recipe in The Complete Family Piece. In those days people were home-brewing beer in quantities sufficient to last for the entire year or a larger part thereof, just as a self-sufficient farmer might only deem it worthwhile his time and energy to produce a crop sufficient to last a season or a year. Additionally, agricultural labourers would often consume weaker ‘small beers’ throughout the day, whereas nowadays we tend to rely on tea or coffee to power us through the working day and we partake of beer, if at all, in the evenings and on the weekends only.

It should also be pointed out that the June 15th date for Britain’s National Beer Day taken from the signing of Magna Carta in 1215 refers more precisely to ale rather than beer. Traditionally, a distinction was made between ale (un-hopped) and beer (hopped) and it wasn’t until the later fourteenth century that the English began brewing with hops, thanks to immigrants from the Low Countries who brought their hoppy beers with them. Although the story of a Parliamentary ban on hops may be apocryphal (Henry VIII had both ale brewers and beer brewers in his royal household), there was nonetheless a strong distinction between the two styles for a few hundred years in the early modern period.

The Country Housewife’s Family Companion (London, 1750) [Perkins TX151]

Another source from Special Collections’ Perkins Library, the Country Housewife’s Family Companion, published in 1750 by a Hertfordshire farmer named W. Ellis, includes a recipe for October or March stout beers. It warns the home brewer to beware of whools, weevils and other insect infestations amongst the malted barley, which can ruin a good beer:

…wevilly Malt will cause the Beer to give its Drinker a Sickness, and when many of these stinking poisonous Insects are among it, a very panick Sickness indeed. The Londoners have no Notion of this; and that in some Country Towns, where are several Malt-Kilns, they are never free from Wevils all the Year.

Modern home brewers, besides avoiding insect infestations, should take great care in ensuring their ingredients and materials are kept clean and sanitised. The author of the Country Housewife’s Family Companion also advises those suffering from Gout or Gravel to ‘put some Treacle into the Copper when he puts in his Malt Wort to boil; this opens the Pores, and promotes perspiration, to the great relief of the Body.’ Whatever the actual medicinal qualities of beer, it surely has its effects! We advise all June 15th revellers to enjoy their beverages in moderation, whether home-brewed or not, and to drink responsibly… Cheers!

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Ireland in Print

Special Collections at the University of Southampton holds rich resources for the study of the political, social and cultural history of Ireland. There are substantial collections of manuscript papers relating to the Irish estates of the Temple and Parnell families, particularly in Sligo and Dublin (MS 62 Broadlands Archives and MS 64 Congleton Manuscripts); and much political material in the papers of the first Duke of Wellington (MS 61). The papers of the Earls of Mornington (MS 226, MS 299), and the papers of the family of Richard Wellesley, first Marquis Wellesley (MS 63 Carver Manuscripts) also contain complementary material on estate management.

Mullagmore, Co. Sligo. Copy of a plan by Mr Nimmo, January 1825 BR139/8

Mullagmore, County Sligo. Copy of a plan by Mr Nimmo, January 1825 (MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR139/8)

There are also many printed resources relating to Ireland in Special Collections which may be less well-known. The following examples demonstrate the range of material available:

The History and Antiquities of Ireland... Walter Harris,, (Dublin, 1764 ) Rare books DA 920

The History and Antiquities of Ireland by Walter Harris Dublin (1764) Rare Books DA 920

The Rare Books sequence in Special Collections extends to approximately 4,000 items, ranging in date from the late 15th century to the 20th century. A number of these books were published in Ireland, or provide an insight into Irish history. The title page, above, is from The History and Antiquities of Ireland, Illustrated with Cuts of Ancient Medals, Urns, &c..: With the History of the Writers of Ireland… Written in Latin by Sir James Ware; Newly Translated into English, Revised and Improved… And Continued Down to the Beginning of the Present Century, by Walter Harris, Dublin (1764) Rare Books DA 920.

Irish matters were strongly reflected in the political, social, and economic questions facing Great Britain in the first half of the nineteenth century. The Wellington Pamphlets, which were presented to the first Duke of Wellington by authors and interested individuals, are a valuable source for contemporary views. They date from the late 18th century to the mid-19th century and number more than 3,000 items. Hundreds of these pamphlets relate to Ireland: and they cover a wealth of topics, from agriculture, drainage, and land improvements; to the condition of the Catholic and Protestant churches; Catholic Emancipation; harbours, trade, and industry; schools and education; distress, emigration, dissent and rebellion; reform; elections; government and law; poor law, poor rates and relief; medical relief and reform; and public health – to name a few.

Royal Dublin Society, Report from The Committee of Agriculture and Planting, 1 March 1832 (Wellington Pamphlet 963/9 pp.4-5):

Royal Dublin Society, Report from the Committee of Agriculture and Planting, 1 March 1832 (Rare Books Wellington Pamphlet 963/9 pp.4-5)

This plan of a model cottage is taken from the Royal Dublin Society Report from the Committee of Agriculture and Planting, 1 March 1832 (Rare Books Wellington Pamphlet 963/9 pp.4-5). The report notes:

“It may assist such landed proprietors as are desirous of providing comfortable habitations for their tenants and cottagers, to refer them to the annexed plan of a cottage (which may be enlarged or reduced as circumstances may require)…the system of allotting small portions of land to the cottages of labourers is making considerable progress in England with a view of diminishing the burthen of the poor rates”

The Potatoe Plant, Its Uses and Properties: together with the cause of the present malady.. By Alfred Smee F.R.S., London 1846, Perkins SB 211.P8

The Potatoe Plant, Its Uses and Properties: Together with the Cause of the Present Malady.. by Alfred Smee F.R.S., London (1846) Rare Books Perkins SB 211.P8

Walter Frank Perkins (1865-1946) gifted the Perkins Agricultural Library of books on agriculture, botany and forestry to the University College of Southampton, and published the bibliography British and Irish Writers On Agriculture in 1929His collection of some 2,000 books and 40 periodicals, ranges in date from the 17th century to the late 19th century. It includes varied works on the condition of Ireland and Irish farming, for example, on the cultivation of crops such as potatoes, flax, and grasses; concerning Irish peat and turf bogs; Irish manufactures; population; and poor houses.  Above is the frontispiece to Alfred Smee’s The Potatoe Plant, Its Uses and Properties: Together with the Cause of the Present Malady.. London (1846) Rare Books Perkins SB 211.P8.

'Railway Map of Ireland and England’, W.H.Lizars, Edinburgh, March 1863, (MS64/557/1)

‘Railway Map of Ireland and England’, W.H.Lizars, Edinburgh, March 1863, (MS 64/557/1)

Other interesting printed material relating to Ireland can be found in our manuscript collections, such as this printed map of Ireland, dated 1863, part of the Congleton Manuscripts (MS 64/557/1).

Irish political periodicals feature in the papers of Evelyn Ashley, M.P. (1836-1907) as part of the Broadlands Archives (MS 62 BR61; BR148/12). Evelyn succeeded to Lord Palmerston’s estates at Broadlands and Romsey in Hampshire, and Classiebawn, County Sligo, in 1888.  A Liberal M.P., he was defeated in the election for the Isle of Wight in 1885, and joined the Liberal Unionists when Gladstone announced his adoption of the principle of Home Rule in 1886. He unsuccessfully fought seats in a number of later elections and retained a close interest in politics until his death in 1907.

Papers of Evelyn Ashley, (MS 62/BR 61) including Notes from Ireland...; The Liberal Unionist; and Home Rule Bill, c. 1893

Papers of Evelyn Ashley, (MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR 61) including Notes from Ireland…; The Liberal Unionist; and Home Rule Bill, c.1893

Evelyn’s personal copies of these periodicals are an interesting source for the political questions of the 1880s and 90s. Notes from Ireland “A Record of the Sayings and Doings of the Parnellite Party in the Furtherance of their “Separatist” Policy for Ireland; and of Facts Connected with the Country. For the Information of the Imperial Parliament, the Press, and Public Generally”, survives for the years 1886-1891 (MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR 61/3/4, BR148/12). The newssheet had been established in 1886 and was published by the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union. Evelyn’s copies of The Liberal Unionist survive for the years 1887-1892 (BR61/3/6). The other item pictured here is a printed version of the (second)Home Rule Bill, dating from c.1893.

For details of our related manuscript sources for Ireland see our online guide: Sources about Ireland: Information Sheet.

In praise of apples

21 October has become celebrated as Apple Day. Launched in 1990 by Common Ground in Covent Garden, the aspiration for this was to celebrate and demonstrate the variety that is in danger of being lost, not simply in apples, but in the richness and diversity of landscape and ecology.

Golden Pippin and Scarlet Nonpareil from Rare Books Perkins SB 356 Charles McIntosh The orchard (London, 1839)

Golden Pippin and Scarlet Nonpareil from Rare Books Perkins SB 356 Charles McIntosh The orchard (London, 1839)

Apples have been cultivated for centuries: Pliny records details of sweet and culinary apples grown by the Romans in Italy. Whilst there is evidence that apples were grown in Great Britain in the Neolithic period, it was the Romans who introduced new sweeter tasting apples. After the withdrawal of the Romans from Britain, many orchards were abandoned as the countryside was beset by raiders. It was only in the wake of the Norman Conquest that apple growing was revitalised and new varieties of apples were introduced from France. During the thirteenth century, several kinds of apples became established in Britain, often grown in orchards attached to monasteries. In the sixteenth century Richard Harris, the chief fruitier to Henry VIII, introduced a number of new grafted varieties, including the famous Pippins and developed modern-style orchards in Kent. Herefordshire orchards were augmented by the best cider apples from France by Lord Scudamore, British ambassador to France during the reign of Charles II. The more scientific cultivation of apples, however, did not occur until the late eighteenth century. Seen as the most valuable and generally cultivated of European fruits, the apple was considered by Dr Thomas Andrew Knight “not the nature produce of any soil or climate, but owes its existence to human art”. The work on pollination undertaken by Knight, who was President of the Horticultural Society of London, led to improved varieties. It was to influence the work of others gardeners throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Until the eighteenth century fruit plants had been an essential part of the landscape in gardens on large estates. However with the swing from Renaissance formality to a more “natural” look, the cultivation of fruit and vegetables was moved to the, usually, walled kitchen garden. Owners were proud of their kitchen gardens both for their layout and display and considerable effort was taken with the cultivation and development of fruit varieties.

MS 62 BR103/6 Plan and notes by second Viscount Palmerston on fruit grown within the garden, 1769

MS 62 BR103/6 Plan and notes by second Viscount Palmerston on fruit grown within the garden, 1769

The kitchen garden at Broadlands House in Romsey was developed in the eighteenth century and the design of it showed an appreciation of the ascetics as well as the productivity and the variety of fruit to be grown. Fruit was an essential part of the diet in a household and would be used to impress guests with unusual varieties. The Italian practice of fresh fruit at the end of a meal became the height of fashion in the nineteenth century.

The Perkins Agricultural Library at the University contains a range of books that reflect this interest in both the planning and cultivation of kitchen gardens and the craft of growing fruit trees. Guides on the development and successful propagation of fruit plants include Dr Thomas Andrew Knight’s A treatise on the culture of the apple and pear and on the manufacture of cider and perry (London, 1818); William Forsyth A treatise on the culture and management of fruit trees ( London, 1803) and Charles McIntosh The orchard (London, 1839).

Court Pendu from Rare Books Perkins SB 356 Charles McIntosh The orchard (London, 1839)

Court Pendu from Rare Books Perkins SB 356 Charles McIntosh The orchard (London, 1839)

In addition to practical advice provided in such works, others such as The Complete family piece provided recipes for medicinal cures and for cooking.

“To make an apple tansy
Take 3 Pippins, slice them round in thin Slices, and fry them with Butter; then beat 4 Eggs with 6 Spoonfuls of Cream and a little Rose-water, Nutmeg and Sugar and stir them together, and pour it over the Apples. Let it fry a little and then turn it with a Pye Plate. Garnish with Lemon and Sugar stewed over it.”

[Rare Books Perkins TX 151 William Thomas Smyth The complete family-piece and, country gentleman, and farmer’s best guide (1739)]

Knight’s Treatise has a manuscript note added at the end of the volume by James Corbett suggesting the best fruit to make cider:

“The fruit I should recommend for cider is the Black Norman, the Green or Brown Thorn, the Red Stier and the Wilding. If you plant these sorts, they will be all ripe together and therefore fit to grind at the same time, which is of very great importance in making cider. If you grind one fruit quite mellow and another quite green, you will find the fermenting (which spoils all ciders) not easily prevented.”

Apple Day is now an integral part of the calendar of many villages, local authorities and city markets and a focus for activities organised by a range of organisations such as the National Trust properties, Wildlife Trusts, as well as museums and galleries and horticultural societies. For information on the day go to: http://www.national-awareness-days.com/apple-day.html

Celebrating our meadows and grasses

National Meadows Day, which takes place on the first Saturday of July, has become an annual event to celebrate our meadows. There are over 100 events planned across the UK on Saturday 2 July providing the chance to visit meadows and raising awareness of this overlooked habitat. For further information go to:
http://www.magnificentmeadows.org.uk/celebrating-meadows/national-meadows-day

While it is not uncommon to find pressed flowers within the pages of an older book, finding books in which plant specimens were part of the original publication is relatively unusual. The Perkins Agricultural Library is fortunate in having seven such books of dried grasses, ranging in date from 1790 to 1896. The publications resulted from the ongoing drive to improve the quality of pastures in order to support more livestock; farmers needed to be able to identify pasture grasses accurately and for this purpose dried plant specimens were preferred to botanical illustrations.

Only one author mentions in any detail the practical problems involved in producing such a book. In his introduction to Natural Illustrations of the British Grasses (Bath, 1846), which contained sixty-two specimens, Frederick Hanham wrote that 62,000 plants had to be collected and prepared, with half as many again to ensure successful specimens. Not surprisingly he described the undertaking as involving “no slight or ordinary anxiety and exertion”.

Rye-grass or Lolium Perenne in Frederick Hanham Natural Illustrations of the British Grasses (Bath, 1846) Perkins f. SB197

Rye-grass or Lolium Perenne in Frederick Hanham Natural Illustrations of the British Grasses (Bath, 1846) Perkins f. SB197

Broadly similar in aim, the books differ in approach. In John Milne & Sons’ British Farmer’s Plant Portfolio (1896) there are only a few pages of written description, but the grass specimens are superb and well displayed. David Moore in Concise Notices of British Grasses Best Suited to Agriculture (1851) also includes tables of the quantities of seeds of different grasses required for various purposes, whilst Hanham’s Natural Illustrations of the British Grasses (1846) is an altogether different undertaking. As well as describing the plants, he also includes “instructive and appropriate extracts from the best authors”, and hopes that the reader, through nature, may look to nature’s God.

Zig zag clover in John Milne & Sons’ British Farmer’s Plant Portfolio (1896) Perkins f. SB193

Zig zag clover in John Milne & Sons’ British Farmer’s Plant Portfolio (1896) Perkins f. SB193

Hortus Gramineus Woburnensis (1816) by George Sinclair is the only book of the seven to report the results of experiments involving grasses, in this case a comparison of the nutritive qualities of grasses sown on different soils. This lavish folio volume is also unusual in containing dried seeds as well as dried grasses.  In his introduction, Sinclair wrote that the scientific study of grasses had been neglected in favour of other branches of agriculture – exactly the same opinion being expressed by Milne some eighty years later.

We do hope you enjoy taking part in National Meadows Day and perhaps you will participate in events identifying some of the grasses on view in these neglected habitats.

The “small work” of compassion: philanthropic sources in the Special Collections

Next Wednesday (20 April) we’re hosting the next in our series of “Explore the Collections” afternoons: a display of philanthropic sources followed by a talk by Professor David Brown.

Educational Home for Young Ladies, Harrage Hall

Educational Home for Young Ladies, Harrage Hall

As one of Professor Brown’s specialisms is the history of social reform and philanthropy in nineteenth century Britain, he’s the perfect person to talk in more depth about these matters. Professor Brown is currently working on a project to publish the diaries of the great Victorian social reformer and philanthropist, Anthony Ashley Cooper, the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury which are held in the University’s archives.

Shaftesbury made the following diary entry on 7 April:

Engaged more than ever: small works compared with the political and financial movements of the day – a lodging house, a ragged school, a Vagrant Bill, a thieves refuge! No wonder that people think me as small as my work; and yet I would not change it. [SHA/PD]

Charitable giving runs as a thread through many of our collections. In fact, the University itself owes its very existence to a bequest of money in a will made over 150 years ago. The Hartley Institution, founded in 1862, is the legacy of Henry Robinson Hartley, the son of a Southampton wine merchant. Several of the major printed collections housed in the Hartley Library – the Cope Collection and Perkins Agricultural Library, for example – are thanks to philanthropic bequests by the collectors.

Known internationally for our Jewish collections, these records provide a particularly rich resource for the study of compassion and benevolence. In Judaism tzedakah – the Hebrew word for acts of charity: giving aid, assistance and money to the poor and needy or to other worthy causes – has a special significance. Derived from a root word meaning righteousness, justice or fairness, tzedakah is not viewed as a generous, magnanimous act; it is the performance of a duty, an act of justice and righteousness. We hold papers or organisations such as Jewish Care (an amalgamation of the Jewish Board of Guardians, Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls, Women and Children and the Jewish Blind Society) and Norwood (formerly the Jews’ Hospital and Jews’ Orphan Asylum) as well as individuals including Gladys Montague, Baroness Swaythling and Mrs George Joseph.

jbg_books

Letter books of the Jewish Board of Guardians, now part of the Jewish Care collection [MS 173]

A look at philanthropic collections can shine a light on the underrepresented role of women in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Two particular individuals spring to mind: Mary Mee (d. 1805), second wife of the second Viscount Palmerston who lived at Broadlands House. She did much to help the poor of Romsey including setting up soup kitchen and a school of industry.  The archives holds records of the school plus Mary’s charity account books.

Around one hundred years later, Mary’s great-great-great-granddaughter also gave much of her life to public service and the common good. While perhaps more famous as a socialite and for her scandalous love life, Louis Mountbatten’s wife Edwina, Lady Mountbatten actually devoted much of her time, energy and intelligence to the service of others. During the Second World War Joint War she proved a brilliant administrator for the Red Cross and the Order of St John. In the later 1940s she worked for the United Council of Relief and Welfare, co-ordinating all the major voluntary organisations, who struggled to help the peoples of the Indian subcontinent who suffered indescribably following the partition of India and Pakistan.  There are many files in the Archives which document Edwina’s service including an extensive photographic collection.

Edwina Mountbatten in Singapore

Edwina Mountbatten in Singapore [MB3/89]

Why not take a look at our Facebook page where each week we’re posting images from our philanthropic collections.  This is just a taster of the many fascinating manuscripts and rare books we’ll have out on display in our Reading Room so if you’ve not already done so please book your place for what promises to be a really enjoyable and interesting event.

Food and reflection

As we settle into 2016 we reflect on recent activities from the past year…

Over the holiday season many of us have indulged in a range of winter comfort foods and festive treats, from turkey and sprouts to mince pies and puddings. In the lead up to the Christmas break visitors were invited to Special Collections for our third and final Explore Your Archives event of the year, with the focus of the afternoon being (somewhat appropriately) food! The material on display covered areas such as the cultivation of food, food preparation, household management, food supplies, consumption of food (including some fine dining), and food relief.

Lankester & Crook price lists for the Christmas Season on display for the 'Food, Glorious Food' open afternoon

Lankester & Crook price lists for the Christmas Season on display for the ‘Food, Glorious Food’ open afternoon

Beginning with a section on cultivation, one of the first items was a plan and catalogue for trees in the kitchen gardens at Broadlands from 1769 which, incidentally, coincided with work done on the estate by ‘Capability’ Brown whose 300th anniversary will be celebrated later in the year. This was followed by a selection of material relating to the management of crops and livestock.

The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses, with the aim being to “promote broad discussion and cooperation at the national, regional and global levels to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by pulse farmers, be they large scale farms or small land holders.” As the planet’s population continues to increase, pulses such as beans, lentils and peas, are recognised as a sustainable crop which provide a low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

The Perkins Agricultural Library, which primarily supports research on the general practice and improvement of agriculture in the 18th and 19th centuries, also holds a range of material focusing on areas such as household management. On display was William Ellis’ The country housewife’s family companion (London, 1750) which contains the following useful tips for preserving broad beans and peas: “To preserve broad beans and pease dry: take them out of their pods before they are ripe and while their skin is green strip them of their skin and dry them thoroughly in the sun; rub them all over with winter-savory, and barrel them up in straw or chaff, or without either, provided you keep the air from them. In winter or spring, or when they are wanted, soak them six hours in warm water, and then boil them for eating…” [Perkins TX 151]

A highlight from the selection of cook books and recipes was Florence Greenberg’s classic Jewish Cookery Book. First published in 1947, the book proved hugely popular with post war Anglo-Jewish households, bringing a mix of British and continental cooking. She described the Jewish influences as being seen clearly in the fish dishes, sauces and puddings.

There were also many examples of fine dining drawn from the papers of third Viscount Palmerston, Lady Swaythling, Lord Mountbatten, and W.W.Ashley and Cunard cruise ships, including menus, dinner books, and letters reporting on dinner parties and social gatherings. In contrast, somewhat less savoury culinary descriptions were to be found among the journals of William Mogg. Written during his time on Captain Edward Parry’s expeditions to the Arctic in the 1820s, Mogg describes methods used to thaw the crew’s frozen supplies — leaving them in a fire hole for three days — as well as the Christmas festivities enjoyed by the crew.

Chris Woolgar giving his talk on food related resources

Chris Woolgar giving his talk on food related resources

The visit to Special Collections was followed by a talk by Chris Woolgar who provided a highly engaging and comprehensive analysis of a number of the items on display. The evening was then rounded off with some tea and seasonal treats!

As we plan events for the year ahead we would like to thank everyone who attended our open afternoons over the past few months. Details of forthcoming events will be announced on our blog and website in the near future.

We hope to see you in Archives soon!

Perkins Agricultural Library Digitisation Project

Although well-known in agricultural history circles the Perkins Agricultural Library remains something of a hidden treasure within the Hartley Library’s Special Collections. The Perkins Digitisation Project aims to remedy this by both increasing awareness of the collection and improving access. Catalogue records for the books are being added to WebCat, and these will contain links to freely available digital copies. Where none can be found, the Perkins books will be assessed by Conservation staff, and condition permitting, digitised by the Library Digitisation Unit. The online copies will be made available through WebCat and the Internet Archive’s Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Wild White Cattle of Great Britain

John Storer
Wild White Cattle of Great Britain
London: Cassell, [1879]
Rare Books Perkins SF 199.W4

Consisting of 2,000 books on British and Irish agriculture printed before 1900, the collection was presented to the University College of Southampton in 1946 by Walter Frank Perkins, an Honorary Treasurer of the College and a former M.P. for the New Forest. Perkins collected a wide range of books on farming, including practical handbooks, textbooks, studies of crops and livestock as well as books on the development of agricultural chemistry.

General View of the Agriculture of Berkshire

William Mavor
General View of the Agriculture of Berkshire …
London: Printed for Richard Phillips, 1809
Rare Books Perkins S 453

Initially the digitisation project will focus on nineteenth-century publications, online access to earlier titles already being available through the subscription services Early English Books Online and Eighteenth Century Collections Online. The areas to be targeted have been identified with the help of Dr Malcom Hudson and Dr Nazmul Haq from the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, and include pamphlets on the economic aspects of farming and studies of individual crops. Many of the books contain information of potential interest today on crop varieties, yields achieved and environmental conditions of the time. The agricultural handbooks also have value as historical sources, describing contemporary agricultural practices and various aspects of rural life. The series of county agricultural surveys sponsored by the Board of Agriculture between 1793 and 1817 is especially important in this respect.

The Skelton at the Plough, or, The Poor Farm Labourers of the West

George Mitchell
The Skelton at the Plough, or, The Poor Farm Labourers of the West
London: G.Potter, [187-]
Rare Books Perkins HD 1534

Perkins clearly preferred to collect books in a pristine condition, but some still show traces of their previous owners – annotations include recommendations of the best cider apples to grow and recipes for horse powders. Samples of alpaca wool are the most unusual find to date. They accompany a letter dated 1846, from William Danson of Liverpool, asking the recipient to consider using alpaca in the manufacture of velvet, and are found within William Walton’s A Memoir Addressed to Proprietors of Mountain and other Waste Lands, … on the Naturalization of the Alpaca (1843).

For information about the collection and how to access it see the Library website and the digitised books can be seen on Internet Archive.