And now for something completely different… In tribute to the late Terry Jones we delve into the archive collections for some ripping yarns and other delights.
No. 1, not the larch, or a character from Cats, but Captain Mogg, who was a real life hero of exploration and whose diaries we hold, describing his pioneering voyages to the Arctic and South America. [MS45] Other intrepid voyages described included to the unexplored shores of Wales and the West of England. He served on many different ships, notably HMS Partridge (not a very aggressive bird for a warship) and HMS Haughty, presumably in the same squadron as HMS Petulant and HMS Indignant.No. 2: Amazing Victorian inventions worthy of Terry Gilliam’s imagination:
The Steam War Chariot, invented by a Cornish engineer as a sort of proto-tank of the steam age. The details were sent to the first Duke of Wellington by John George and Son of Fowey in June 1836, asking the Duke to exhibit it at the Waterloo Banquet. As far as we know, it was never built.A prospectus for lighting up the British Channel and Goodwin Sands with gas to guard against shipwrecks, 1850. No. 3: Moccasins for British soldiers during the Peninsular War. This DIY piece of footwear was designed to deal with the shortage of boots, and may be the proto type for the Monty Python Big Foot. No. 4: And now for something else completely different: the Duke of Wellington’s reply to Lady Honoria Hervey’s request for a post in the army : “her Ladyship is a female!” [MS61 WP2/160/84] No pulling the wool over the Iron Duke’s eyes, an upper class twit he was not.
No. 5: She’s not the Messiah, she’s a very naughty girl! Otherwise known as the Archivist…
No. 6: Not quite the original Monty Python, but a wonderful illustration from one of our rare books on natural history.No 7: Prince Alexander of Battenberg, Lord Mountbatten’s uncle, who was briefly the King of Bulgaria. He had a rough time, being kidnapped by rebels and held on a river boat which was sailed to Russia, however the Russians didn’t want him and sent him back. Not surprisingly he abdicated soon afterwards. No.8: Richard Cockle Lucas: he was a talented artist and local eccentric of the Edwardian era. He was particularly noted for driving a Roman style chariot through Southampton while dressed in a toga. He called his house at Chilworth “the Tower of the Winds” with his “Sky Parlour ” on top. Sadly, this does not survive, but we hold two remarkable albums of his own photos including many pictures of Lucas dressed as Shakespearian characters, also some correspondence with the great and the good including Palmerston, who was a personal friend. Lucas had a strong belief in fairies, and claimed to have met one called Hettie Lottie when he was a child. No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition, but we have to take security very seriously here in the Archives, due to the great historical value of our collections. But you will only see the prof in his cardinal’s robes during graduation. You will be relieved to hear that we don’t have a comfy chair. Please do not compare our facilities to Fort Knox, we have heard this too many times and you will now be fined 50p for saying this – but a prize of 50p for any more original comments. The library café may sell wafer thin mints, but spam is confined to our computers.
Anyone wishing to search for their own Holy Grail in our archives is very welcome. Please see our website for details of access arrangements and archive lists www.southampton.ac.uk/archives