The British Paediatric Association (BPA), which became the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) in 1996, was founded in 1928. After an inaugural meeting of six attendees, its membership grew to 60 in the first year. The members had a few things in common: they all worked in or had a professional interest in practicing, teaching or researching paediatrics, and they were exclusively men.
In the 19th century, there was huge prejudice against women as doctors and many were unable to study medicine in the UK. World War I gave women the opportunity to progress in medicine as medical schools began allocating places to women to fill the spaces left by men away fighting, but after the end of the war, they were banned from studying medicine again until the 1930s. This led to many women leaving to study abroad, mostly in Europe, before returning to the UK to take up posts.
Most female doctors of the early 20th century were unmarried and childless, and many left the profession after starting a family. At this time, women also usually came into paediatrics from other routes, such as general practice or public health, rather than specialising from the start of their career.
Although there was nothing in the early rules of the BPA to say that membership was exclusively for men, only male doctors were invited to become members and attend the first meeting in May 1928. The aims established when the BPA was founded were to advance the study of paediatrics and to promote friendship amongst paediatricians, but this did not seem to extend to the female paediatricians male members were working alongside in hospitals.
This led to an awkward situation in 1938 when the BPA planned a joint meeting with the Canadian Paediatric Society. As women were allowed to be members of the Canadian society but not in the British Association, the BPA were in a situation where they were treating Canadian female doctors as their equals, but not the women they worked with. At a meeting of the Executive Committee, it was unanimously decided that female members of the Canadian Society would be invited to the meeting as they would be coming as members rather than individual guests. It was stated that “this should not be regarded as a precedent” and British women continued to be excluded.
Discussions of admitting women to the BPA began in the early 1930s after being raised by various members but each time it was agreed no action would be taken. It wasn’t until April 1944 that a vote was taken at a meeting of the Executive Committee on whether to admit women as members. Minutes of the meeting state that the BPA was “criticised as not representing those actively engaged in the Practice or Teaching of Paediatrics or in Paediatric Research”, reflecting the growing numbers of women in paediatrics.
All members were asking if they would be in favour of amending the rules for women to be elected as members and the response was in favour of changing the rules, although not by a large margin. Of the 65 members, 45 responded, with 34 in favour of allowing women to become members, 12 against and one member remaining “doubtful”. It was a step forward for equality in the profession, and at the next Annual General Meeting in 1945, the first women were elected into the BPA. Catherine Chisholm became an Honorary Member and Helen MacKay, Hazel Chodak-Gregory and Beryl Corner were made ordinary members.
While it was a step forward for the Association, female paediatricians still faced prejudice in their work. June Lloyd, the first female president of the BPA, was advised early in her career to pursue a specialty that was less male-dominated than paediatrics and Mildred Creak, the first purely psychiatrist member of the BPA who joined in 1949, applied for over 90 jobs before securing a post. It was the determination of women like these that aided the acceptance and rise of women in paediatrics.
While criticised in its early days for not representing female doctors, the BPA quickly became supportive all members and were recognised for their achievements, regardless of gender. Dame June Lloyd was instrumental in the BPA becoming the RCPCH and features as a supporter on the coat of arms alongside Thomas Phaire, and is one of the few coats of arms to include a woman.
Today, 60% of members are women and, although much has been achieved in the past 75 years, the RCPCH still continues to strive for gender equality and examines what we can do as a College to support and encourage women in the profession.
Kate Veale Archivist and Information Governance Co-ordinator Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
The Devonshire Collection Archives held at Chatsworth span over 450 years and date back to the time of Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury (c.1527-1708, better known as Bess of Hardwick), with elements of the archive dating from even earlier. They document the lives, careers and estate management of the Cavendish family – one of the most important aristocratic families in English history, counting amongst its number politicians, art connoisseurs and collectors, industrialists, and leading society figures.
Filling over 6,000 boxes, the archives can be divided broadly into estate and family papers. The family papers comprise the personal archives of many of the Dukes and Duchesses of Devonshire, other family members, families who married into the Cavendish line, and some individuals who had a close association with the family, such as the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, and the landscape gardener and architect Sir Joseph Paxton.
Sorting and listing of the family correspondence began in the 1920s, resulting in several extremely large series of correspondence focused on chronological or specific ducal periods. However, our first submissions to the Archives Hub – published this month – focus primarily on a separate group of smaller archives known as the ‘Devonshire Family Collections’. These predominantly date from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries, although they do contain some much earlier material – notably in the form of papers relating to the marital dispute between Bess of Hardwick and her fourth husband George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. Money and property played a major role in this dispute, but the rift between husband and wife was exacerbated by Shrewsbury’s role as custodian of Mary Queen of Scots for 15 years. So notable were the couple involved that Queen Elizabeth I herself intervened in an attempt to reconcile husband and wife – although this ultimately had little effect.
From the 18th and 19th centuries, there are extensive networks of family correspondence. Letters were exchanged between family members in the UK – between those resident at or moving between different properties and estates, between city and country, and between parents and children at school. Letters also crossed continents as a crucial means of keeping in touch when family members were travelling or working abroad: there are letters home from family members undertaking the continental Grand Tour in the eighteenth century; letters from William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire, sent home from an American trip in 1859; and – from the same writer as a much younger man – some wonderfully detailed letters sent to his mother from Russia in 1826, where he accompanied the 6th Duke of Devonshire to attend the coronation of Tsar Nicholas I. Amongst descriptions of palaces, country houses, working mills, customs and language, the voice of an 18-year-old also shines through: in one letter he remarks rather wearily that he hopes when they get to Moscow they will not have to look at any more relics of Peter the Great as they have seen so many already.
Cavendish family members served for centuries as MPs in the Whig and Liberal cause, so there is extensive political correspondence amongst the family papers. The papers of Spencer Compton Cavendish, the 8th Duke (better known throughout his political career as the Marquess of Hartington) include letters from W.E. Gladstone amongst others. His wife’s papers (Louise Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire) contain letters of condolence she received on his death, including one from a young Winston Churchill expressing his gratitude for having had an opportunity to work with the 8th Duke. Also notable are the papers of the 8th Duke’s brother, Lord Frederick Cavendish (1836-82), which contain references to the 1867 Reform Act, industrial reform, education and much more. There are also posthumous papers relating to his death in a politically-motivated murder in Phoenix Park, Dublin, in 1882.
In addition to letters, there are diaries of various family members, including one documenting the 4th Duke of Devonshire’s Grand Tour in 1739-40; scrapbooks and commonplace books – including some compiled by Duchess Georgiana (1757-1806), whose papers also contain some of her own literary manuscripts; personal and household accounts; official documents; and keepsakes and mementoes such as locks of hair treasured by parents and spouses in memory of lost family members.
Special mention must be made of William George Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (1790-1858). An art collector and bibliophile who loved entertaining and travel, he was also responsible for transforming Chatsworth through the addition of the great North Wing and his support of Joseph Paxton’s innovative work in the gardens. As so many of the family collections date from the 19th century, he and his activities feature in many of them.
The 6th Duke also had a great archival sensibility and his own papers are particularly rich: significant trips, visits or activities are meticulously recorded in scrapbooks containing letters, cuttings, tickets, invitations, calling cards and other printed ephemera (Papers of William George Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire). Alongside journals, diaries and notebooks, he also kept yearly datebooks detailing places he visited. A great socialiser, he recorded lists of acquaintances as well as keeping guest books and visitors’ books.
There are also the manuscript and proofs of his Handbook to Chatsworth and Hardwick (1844), which stands the test of time as an engaging and accessible guide book to his two principal houses; his writing was admired by Charles Dickens, who read his copy of the Handbook on a train journey back to London after visiting the 6th Duke at Chatsworth and commented that the writing was worthy of a novelist.
Most of the family collections now have item-level catalogues available in PDF form via the Chatsworth website. Many of the other, larger, collections have item-level lists in various states and formats which can be provided on request. We will be submitting further collection-level descriptions to the Archives Hub in due course.
A new exhibition at the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery at the University of Leeds explores the story of a forgotten Yorkshireman whose achievements are now being reassessed.
Dr Bryan White, Senior Lecturer in the School of Music at the University of Leeds, has been researching the material collected by the Sheffield-based organist, antiquarian and collector William Thomas Freemantle (1849-1931). Dr White’s investigations have revealed a tenacious collector who would “endure martyrdom in Siberia” to acquire unique treasures for his library.
W.T. Freemantle’s musical interests extended widely and he gathered a valuable collection of manuscripts and prints. Much of this material has only recently been catalogued, and more still remains to be explored.
“W.T.” was born in Chichester and moved with his family to Sheffield in 1855. At the age of 16 he was apprenticed organist at Lincoln Cathedral and developed an interest in the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847).
Freemantle’s enthusiasm for Mendelssohn ran against the tide. At the mid-point of the nineteenth century the composer was a towering figure in the musical landscape, particularly in Britain. Mendelssohn’s reputation waned in subsequent decades, but Freemantle continued to value his music highly. Today Mendelssohn is again one of the most popular Romantic composers, and Freemantle’s collection has much to offer the researcher.
Freemantle described his metamorphosis into a collector in a lecture entitled “How I became an autograph collector and what I have got”. He tells of a visit to a Sheffield market where he stumbled upon a “rather soiled looking lot of manuscript music”. As he worked through the pile he found a Mendelssohn signature and felt “my blood had heated, my pulse had quickened” … “Oh! That bundle of music! I was now indeed an autograph collector.”
Several decades later his Mendelssohn collection encompassed 40 autograph manuscript scores, 300 letters, and hundreds of books, musical prints, concert programmes and other ephemera touching upon all aspects of the composer’s life and that of his family and colleagues. In the 1870s Freemantle began a biography of the composer, but eventually put the project aside when the extent of the surviving material overwhelmed him.
Freemantle collected music by other significant figures, and in particular committed himself to the music of Charles Dibdin (1745-1814), a prolific composer of theatre music and songs. Freemantle acquired a substantial set of Dibdin’s autograph manuscripts, working with great skill and dedication to organise and identify this very disordered material.
W.T. also took a strong interest in Sheffield history. He acquired books, pottery, painting, prints and tokens from the local area and wrote and lectured on local history. His collection of Rockingham pottery was eventually bought by the Sheffield Corporation and now resides at Weston Park Museum along with his collection of coins and seals.
Freemantle sold his Mendelssohn collection along with his entire library to Lord Brotherton of Wakefield sometime in 1927-28. The purchase was probably brokered by Brotherton’s personal librarian, J. Alexander Symington (1887-1961). Symington had oversight of the Freemantle Collection before it was formally accessioned by the University Library in Leeds, and he took the opportunity to sell significant parts of the Mendelssohn and Dibdin material to libraries and collectors in the United States. His actions played a significant role in suppressing the extent of Freemantle’s activities and his reputation as a collector.
Had Freemantle’s music collections remained intact he would be recognised as a pioneering figure in Mendelssohn studies, and more widely as a significant British collector of his era. Thankfully, the rest of Freemantle’s materials were left untouched and now form an important part of Special Collections at the University of Leeds. Now that Freemantle’s work is being reassessed, the real story of his achievements can begin to be told!
The exhibition runs from 1 March-31 July 2019 in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery at the University of Leeds.
On show for the first time to the general public are many of the Mendelssohn manuscript scores housed in Special Collections at Leeds University Library, alongside other items from Freemantle’s extensive music collections.
The Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery is free and open to all. For directions, opening times and our programme of related events see:
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Special Collections at Leeds University Library is home to hundreds of thousands of rare books, manuscripts, archives and artworks. Our collections offer a rich resource for staff, students, and the wider research community. Start your search here:
Over the past year, staff and volunteers at Hull University Archives have been working on the collections of two maritime charitable organisations: The Anglican run Missions to Seamen; and the Catholic run Apostleship of the Sea.
Background to Seamen’s Missions
During the 18th and 19th centuries there was a growing concern over the spiritual wellbeing of those who spent their working lives at sea. First came the development of bible societies which existed to provide literature to sailors for their moral enrichment. Following on from this was the development of the seamen’s Bethels, which provided floating spaces where seamen could listen to sermons and take part in religious services.
The impetus for the establishment of both Missions to Seamen and Apostleship of the Sea can be found in the extension of this area to include concern with the physical welfare of seamen. Since their inception, the work of both organisations has been fundamentally the same: to minister, both spiritually and physically, to the needs of seafarers who find themselves away from home and family because of work.
The Missions to Seamen was founded in 1856 as a denominational society, Anglican in outlook. The first minute book of the society illustrates that the practice of ministering to seafarers was already active at the point of formation. Many of the pages, for instance, are taken up with discussions of how best to integrate existing local work, such as that undertaken by the Bristol Society established in 1837, with the newly formed national society.
The formation of the Apostleship of the Sea came later, in 1920, although the work of the Catholic Church in this area began much earlier. The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul had been undertaking charitable work on behalf of the poor, including seamen, since 1833. In 1894, the ‘Société des Oeuvres de Mer’ was established in France to tend to the needs of fishermen, and represented the first dedicated Catholic Mission. In Britain, five years later, a society was established at Glasgow under the name of the ‘Apostleship of Prayer’ by a Father Egger, again as a dedicated mission to those working on the sea. It was the work of this Glasgow society which eventually led to the papal sanctioning of the establishment of the Apostleship of the Sea as a Catholic society in Britain.
Ship Visiting and Seamens’ Centres
From the earliest days of their establishment, the undertaking of ship visiting by chaplains and the running of seamens’ centres in ports was at the heart of the work of both societies. The Missions to Seamen was known throughout the world by the sign of the ‘Flying Angel’, whilst the Apostleship of the Sea was known internationally as the ‘Apostolatus Maris’. For over a century, these symbols were displayed on badges worn by chaplains and on flags flown outside the centres operated by the two societies. The signs became immediately recognisable by seamen of all nationalities as symbols of aid.
Chaplains were appointed by both societies to minister to seamen on ships entering individual ports. Where ships were docked and crew unable to alight, the chaplain had responsibility for visiting the crew on-board in order to deliver spiritual reading material and to check on their welfare. Bibles were provided and publications produced by both societies were handed out to seamen. Both collections contain series of these publications, which include newsletters, journals, prayer cards and pamphlets. Missions to Seamen also contains an extensive series of personnel files for chaplains and lay readers who undertook this aspect of work. The files consist mostly of correspondence, applications for posts, and some photographs of individuals about their work.
Seamen’s centres were established at significant ports up and down the British Isles and, later, across the world. They provided facilities for relaxation, refreshment, and spiritual nourishment, and were intended to provide for seamen needing a place to stay whilst in port, whether this was overnight or merely for a few hours. Facilities included games rooms, libraries, dining areas, and a shop. Most centres incorporated a chapel where services and prayers were held, or else were associated with a local church where such spiritual ministry could be sought. In some ports, these centres were operated jointly by both societies as a more efficient way of ministering to the seafaring community which they served.
Both collections contain series of individual port files which include reports, correspondence, photographs and pamphlets. Hull, as a significant port town during the 19th and early 20th century, features heavily in the archival material, as does Southampton and Bristol, along with ports on the rivers Thames, Mersey, Tyne, Wear, and Tees. Internationally, Antwerp, Buenos Aires, Dunkirk, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Kobe, Mombasa, Port of Spain, Rotterdam, Santos, Vlissingen, and Yokohama, are well represented in the records.
Lighthouses, Lightships and Launches
The work of both Missions to Seamen and Apostleship of the Sea extended beyond those sailing on board ships to include those maritime workers who faced months of isolation manning lighthouses and lightships. Launches were acquired to enable chaplains and representatives of the societies to visit these remote workers. The launches were used to deliver reading material and personnel to allow the holding of services at lighthouses or on-board lightships. One such launch was the ‘John Ashley’ motor vessel. Operated by the Missions to Seamen, it was named after the Reverend John Ashley, an Anglican clergyman responsible for the establishment of the Bristol Mission in 1837. A significant number of files relating to the management and operation of the ‘John Ashley’ can be found in the Missions to Seamen collection, and these files include correspondence, photographs and minutes of the management committee.
In the 1920s, a ‘Lighthouse Adoption Scheme’ was established by Missions to Seamen, whereby groups attached to local schools or parish churches were encouraged to take on responsibility for writing to and sending monthly reading material to lighthouse keepers. These groups were known as ‘parents’, and had special duties at Christmas time when they would raise money to send hampers and care packages containing food and warm clothing. One such group was constituted from members of the Guild of St Anne in 1925 to oversee efforts at Bishop Rock lighthouse in the Scilly Isles. Over the years, members of the Bishop Rock ‘parent’ group included Miss Jean Austin Dobson, Miss Ivy Shotter, and Miss D. Hobson. The collection contains Lighthouse and Light Vessel files consisting of correspondence, photographs, reports and minutes, and includes one file which contains correspondence between the Bishop Rock ‘Parents’ and headquarters in London.
The work of both societies continues to this day, largely unchanged, although increasingly incorporating themes of justice and legal rights for seamen. Meanwhile, work on these historic records continues at Hull History Centre. Whilst the records of the Apostleship of the Sea have been fully catalogued [U DAPS], work is ongoing to complete the cataloguing of the records of the Missions to Seamen [U DMS]. This work is expected to be finished by August 2019, however, access may be possible before then with prior notice by email.
Claire Weatherall Assistant Archivist Hull University Archives at Hull History Centre
The work of car manufacturer, engineer, scientist and inventor Frederick Lanchester (1868-1946) is being celebrated by the Lanchester Interactive Archive project at Coventry University. He was one of the UK’s leading automobile engineers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and creator in 1895 of the first all-British four-wheel petrol driven motor car.
He also made significant contributions in aerodynamics, helping to establish key principles of powered flight and publishing work about it in the 1890s before the Wright brothers’ first successful take off in 1903. His mathematical theories on military combat and strategy have formed the basis for operations models commonly used in business, and he advised the government on military matters in the First and Second World Wars. His interest in these areas, along with work on optics and field of vision, colour photography, musical notation, pneumatic-framed buildings, radios, loudspeakers, gramophones and many other subjects has led to him being described as the ‘British da Vinci’.
His work on cars led to him building the first all-British motor boat in the 1890s and then the first outboard motor engine – because restrictive speed limits on roads meant that he could not carry out meaningful engine tests in cars.
The Lanchester Engine Company (later Lanchester Motor Company) was formed in 1899. Acquiring factories in Birmingham and then Coventry, Frederick Lanchester spent much of his life and career in the West Midlands. His experiments revolutionised the development of gas and petrol engines. His early car models contained a radical new gearbox design later adopted by Henry Ford, and in 1902 the Lanchester Motor Company became the first to market disc brakes to the public. Another car innovation ahead of its time was a hybrid petrol-electric car built in 1927, which is now at thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum.
In 1930 the Birmingham Small Arms Company bought the Lanchester Motor Company and made it a subsidiary of Daimler, where Frederick Lanchester continued to set benchmarks in car design. His models were favoured by the then Duke of York and future King George VI. The last Lanchester cars were produced by Daimler in Coventry in the mid-1950s.
Despite this, Frederick Lanchester has not become a household name even though his skills were widely recognized by his peers in the scientific community, so the Lanchester Interactive Archive project aims to rectify this and increase awareness of this talented man.
The project started in earnest in early 2016 to digitise much of the material in the collection, which is the largest Frederick Lanchester archive in the world. Although the project’s first phase (supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and others) ends in April 2019, Coventry University will continue to support the project and the Lanchester Interactive Archive space (LIAS) that was created in its library to showcase Lanchester’s life and his work. The university will also explore more external funding to digitise further items.
The outreach work that has taken place during the project will carry on, such as the Lanchester Days held during Coventry Motofest, which include a variety of Lanchester cars parked outside the university library. Individuals and groups will still be able to visit the LIAS, which specialises in showcasing science, engineering, history and creative thinking. The project also celebrated in October 2018 the 150th anniversary of Lanchester’s birth.
Workshops tailored for any age group, and visits to schools, organisations, and communities will continue; and augmented reality (AR) and pop-up displays mean that the message can be taken outside the university.
The LIAS has touch screens that include interactive games and puzzles to explain the engineering and technical aspects of Lanchester’s work and his inventions, and visitors can point AR tablets at the exhibition images to produce additional information on the tablets. Visitors can also sit in a car built by one of the project consultants (Lanchester historian and enthusiast Chris Clark).
The project had its official launch in April 2017 and a special guest was Danella Bagnall, a former student at the university’s predecessor Coventry Polytechnic, who is now Executive Vice-President Product Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover (China/Asia Pacific Region).
Over 21,000 images from the collection will be available by April 2019 via the university’s online catalogue including personal and business correspondence, sketch books, pocket note books, copies of his patent applications, blueprints, copies and manuscript originals of his published works and a large collection of contemporary photographs of Lanchester cars and other vehicles.
Other items that have not been catalogued yet include Lanchester family papers, objects, and donations from individuals and organizations such as the Lanchester Trust, a charity that supports the university’s Lanchester collection work.
The project aims to open up Lanchester’s archives for use and show their potential for research in a variety of subjects, and to inspire a new generation of engineers and designers. One student at Coventry has already used an 1897 Lanchester patent for an aircraft design in his work. As part of his MSc in aerospace engineering, Osita Ugwueze created a flight simulation model of the manned flying machine, which was never built at the time. Osita used advanced computer software to prove that Lanchester’s machine would have flown. His work also suggested it would have been more aerodynamically stable than the Wright brothers’ machine that was used in the world’s first powered flight. The simulation was among several designs showcased by Coventry University students at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow.
Last year the Britten-Pears Foundation completed a project, funded by the National Cataloguing Grant programme, to catalogue Imogen Holst’s archive held in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, at The Red House, the former home of composer Benjamin Britten and his partner the singer Peter Pears.
Imogen Holst (1907-1984) was the daughter of composer Gustav Holst, best-known for The Planets. Holst, herself a composer, is perhaps best-known today as Britten’s musical assistant, but she also had an exceptional, wide-ranging but lesser known career as, amongst other things, educator, conductor and music traveller for CEMA, the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts, work which put her at the forefront of the development of music education and community music-making in England in the twentieth century.
Every Tuesday afternoon in Stories from the Archive a member of the Foundation’s collections team gives a short talk to Red House site visitors focusing on an item from the holdings. I chose to share with visitors my enthusiasm for an item from Holst’s papers: her 1932 to 1934 scrapbook. This is the sixth of ten large scrapbooks she started as a student at the Royal College of Music in 1926, and continued until 1941, in which she pasted letters, postcards, programmes, press cuttings, photographs, tickets, drawings and other ephemeral material, writing captions next to the items. These volumes represent a colourful social record of cultural and musical life in pre-war England as well as telling the personal story of a passionate and open-minded woman musician.
Holst left the RCM in 1930, having received the Octavia Travelling Scholarship for composition, a prize of £100 which she spent travelling round Europe, returning home in May 1931. In this sixth scrapbook we see Holst at the start of her career – using her talents as composer, arranger, piano accompanist, conductor, public speaker, teacher, writer and organiser, as well as her immense enthusiasm, to earn a living. All the threads are already here that will run through the rest of her life, echoing through her entire archive – skills she continued to use, and passions she followed, whilst teaching at Dartington Hall, Devon, after moving to Aldeburgh in 1952 and in her role as artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival from 1956 to 1977.
Early in 1932 Holst joined the staff of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. She was passionate about the preservation and spread of our folksong and dance heritage and her scrapbook is full of press cuttings and programmes documenting her travels throughout the country lecturing, teaching, conducting and playing as accompanist for the Society, as well as her work arranging traditional folk tunes for amateurs and professionals to play and sing.
This sixth scrapbook epitomizes Holst’s enthusiastic and lifelong work on amateur and community music making, and the important role she played in the democratization of music. We see her as a keen supporter of the newly formed Pipers’ Guild, which encouraged people to make and play their own musical instruments. Items in the scrapbook document Holst lecturing on the making and playing of bamboo pipes, arranging old English airs for performance on pipes as well as composing original tunes for both beginner and more advanced players.
Almost a decade later Holst’s passion and gift for working with amateurs led her to work, from 1940 to 1942, under CEMA, a forerunner of the Arts Council, as a music traveller to boost home morale during the war by encouraging musical activities in rural communities. Holst was allocated the south west of the country and travelled the wartime countryside, often cycling or walking between villages, to keep people singing, dancing and playing while the bombs fell. The reports Holst filed whilst working in this role were digitised as part of our cataloguing project and can be read in full from the Britten-Pears Foundation’s online catalogue. They illustrate the central role played by women in the crucial task of morale-boosting on the home front during the war.
Imogen Holst’s continuing enthusiasm for writing for and working with amateurs made her a much-loved part of the music scene in Aldeburgh and more widely in Suffolk.
This enthusiasm emanates from the scrapbook page recording a Gustav Holst Concert on which is pasted programme and press cuttings from a concert held in Carlisle on 12 Feb 1933 featuring first performances of new works by both father and daughter. Imogen Holst’s composition, a suite for brass band entitled The Unfortunate Traveller, was dedicated to St. Stephen’s Band – the group of amateurs giving the work its first performance. Here Holst crossed social and cultural barriers, not only by writing for brass band, – the News Chronicle article reports on ‘the first occasion on which an original brass band work by a woman composer has been publicly performed’ – but also by conducting the performance herself. Holst is quoted in The Daily Mail review ‘This is the first time, so far as I know, that a woman has conducted a brass band at a public concert’. We see Holst as a pioneer, composing throughout her career for instruments such as brass band, pipes, recorders and hand bells, bringing these instruments into the art music or cultivated music worlds.
Imogen Holst pasted into this scrapbook one of the last letters she received from her father, in May 1934, the month he died. Her papers represent the most significant father-daughter relationship in 20th century British music and culture, one that added immeasurably to the democratization of music during this period, as both Holsts spent their lives and careers dedicated to the task of encouraging amateur music-making. The archive tells the story of the shared ideals, interests and talents of father and daughter – as composers, conductors, music educators, ethnomusicologists and community musicians – however we see from Gustav’s letter that he did not share his daughter’s enthusiasm for pipes!
Holst’s scrapbooks encapsulate, in a wonderfully lively and colourful way, what a remarkable, gifted, pioneering, energetic, generous and busy woman she was. Her papers form part of the Britten-Pears Foundation Archive which documents the lives and work of Britten and Pears, as well as their wider collaborative relationships through the papers of librettists, singers, producers, designers, musical assistants and organisations with whom they worked.
Judith Ratcliffe Archivist Britten-Pears Foundation Archive
Calvin Percival Bamflyde Wells (1908-1978) was a pioneer in the study of disease in archaeological skeletal remains, otherwise known as palaeopathology. A qualified medical doctor who spoke several languages Wells’ publications continue to be cited by researchers and academics working across a range of disciplines, including bioarchaeology, anthropology and the history of medicine. In 2017 the University of Bradford received a Wellcome Trust Research Resources grant to catalogue Wells’ archive of writings, research material and correspondence. One of the most significant parts of the collection relate to Wells’ skeletal reports, which document his analysis of excavated human remains from archaeological sites around the world.
Upon his retirement from medicine at the age of 55 Wells started to study palaeopathology full-time, and soon became the United Kingdom’s leading authority on the subject. Working out of his cottage in rural Norfolk Wells received specimens by post which he examined on his kitchen table, or weather depending, garden. A consummate professional Wells offered an efficient service though insisted that he was paid for his reports, and preferably published in a noteworthy journal. Among Wells’ clients were many distinguished archaeologists, such as Glyn Daniel, Sonia Chadwick-Hawkes, Cecil Hackett, and Charles and Barbara Green. Aside from his first and most impactful book Bones, Bodies and Disease, Wells’ most influential work remains the 120 skeletal reports he produced between 1965 and 1978. A biography of Wells in the Global History of Palaeopathology notes that:
“Calvin Wells’ skeletal reports are remembered for two reasons: the data presentation is meticulously executed and useful to bioarchaeologists today, and his interpretation for the evidence of disease are fascinating and creative, if not necessarily scientifically supported”
The extent of Wells’ dedication to the scientific method is revealed in the archive material, which includes handwritten notes, tables and graphs alongside photographs and radiographs of bone specimens. Almost paradoxically Wells combined a clinical approach to palaeopathological examination with an imaginative, if eccentric, manner in interpreting causes of injury and death in ancient people. For those familiar with Wells’ skeletal reports it would not be surprising to learn that he wrote a considerable amount of short fiction in his spare time. A fascination with the romantic and tragic bled into Wells’ skeletal reports, which has since left an indelible mark on his scientific bibliography.
One example among many which show Wells’ imaginative reading of skeletal remains is a 1963 report title The Human Skeleton from Cox Lane, Ipswich. The report contains Wells’ scientifically sound analysis of male skeleton in his early thirties with six injuries caused by blunt force trauma. It is only when Wells’ attempts to “deduce the probable sequence leading to the man’s death” that he veers into the realms of fiction. In this instance Wells concocts a scenario wherein the victim is pulled from horseback by two assailants before being gruesomely stabbed by a third. Wells concludes that the victim was:
“A young, vigorous energetic man who had probably led a not unadventurous life and finally died in some blood foray fighting desperately and it would seem not ingloriously”
While intriguing, this narrative does not hold up to scientific scrutiny, and there are many similar instances of Wells subjugating objective facts and the historical record to salacious invention. In consideration of these various faults, to what extent are Wells’ skeletal reports valuable for contemporary researchers in bioarchaeology?
As with all pioneers in unexplored disciplines, Wells was prone to deviation and false starts on his journey to new discoveries. For example Wells was among the first palaeopathologists to undertake serious examination of cremated skeletal remains, revealing that it was possible to ascertain age, sex and, in some cases, pathological change with some degree of certainty in charred bone. Wells was also the first to introduce the important concept of pseduopathology, which states that the appearance of disease may be caused by other factors such as bacteria, soil erosion, wildlife and the excavation process itself. Additionally Wells authored several significant reports which examined leprosy, Paget’s disease and Harris lines in archaeological human remains. Wells is also credited for reintroducing the use of radiography in palaeopathological examination.
The fact that citations of Wells’ bone reports in scientific and academic journals have increased in the forty years since his death are a testament to their enduring value. In the process of cataloguing his archive we have discovered the depth of research and preparation Wells invested in every single skeletal report. As a result of the cataloguing project, contemporary researchers can now access Wells’ original research material providing an opportunity to form improved or revised conclusions about the specimens he examined. In addition to unlocking the research potential of Wells’ archive, the cataloguing project has unveiled a lot about the ‘Sherlock Holmes of Palaeopathology’s’ enigmatic life and personality. Although forthright and resolute in his opinions, Wells by no means thought himself as completely infallible. As he was keen to remind scholars attempting to diagnose disease in the remains of the past:
“When we remember the many ways in which a pseudopathological appearance can be produced – or a genuine lesion obscured – it no longer seems extraordinary that palaeopathologists occasionally make a wrong diagnosis. The wonder is that we ever make a right one”.
James Neill Project Archivist – Calvin Wells Collection Information Services University of Bradford
Bones, Bodies and Disease by Calvin Wells (London: Thames & Hudson, 1964)
‘Pseudopathology’ by Dr. Calvin Wells ‘Diseases in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diseases, Injuries, and Surgery of Early Populations’Edited by Don Brothwell Springfield, Illinois: C.C. Thomas (1967)
‘Calvin Percival Bamfylde Wells (1908–1978)’ by Charlotte Roberts and Keith Manchester ‘The Global History of Paleopathology: Pioneers and Prospects‘ Edited by Jane Buikstra and Charlotte Roberts New York, NY: Oxford University Press (2012)
‘Crooked Timber: The life of Calvin Wells (1908-1978)’by Tony Waldron in Journal of Medical Biography (May 2014)
On the 9th July 2018, the V&A Theatre and Performance Department opened a new display in our galleries titled Censored! Stage, Screen, Society at 50. The display commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Theatres Act, which abolished state censorship of the British stage. As well as tracing the broader 300-year history of stage censorship, the display also looks at the censorship of music, film and print in the UK.
Uniquely for one of our displays, much of the material is taken from our collection of almost 500 named archives that form the V&A Theatre & Performance Archives. A significant portion of these are catalogued on the Archives Hub website, and all can be consulted by appointment in our Reading Room at Blythe House in London.
Telling a story of censorship
Censorship is a story shaped by legal documents and correspondence. Its battles were often fought on paper and were won and lost through Parliamentary Acts.
This meant that the core of the display had to be taken from the rich resource of company, theatre and individual archives which are comprised of these letters, licenses and administrative records.
Curatorially, we considered the challenges of presenting archives carefully:
We wished to avoid overwhelming the visitor with paperwork;
To select key documents which could communicate both a specific example and the overarching narrative of censorship;
Balance a paper-driven aesthetic with colour and innovative exhibition design
We carried out rigorous research, and found fantastic theatre designs, posters and photographs which equally contributed to the narrative of the display. We were also lucky to work with political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, who created a special commission for the display, as well as leading graphic designers Barnbrook who conceived the display design concept.
There were obvious important examples of censorship that we wanted to include, such as the play Saved by Edward Bond. This was performed as a private ‘club performance’ at the Royal Court Theatre after it was banned by the Lord Chamberlain for its violence and profanity.
In the English Stage Company / Royal Court Archive, it was fantastic to find correspondence from Edward Bond to the Lord Chamberlain refusing to make alterations, as well as a handwritten note written by a theatre staff member recording a conversation with a police officer who came to investigate the illicit performances.
There were also surprising discoveries within named archives. Joan Littlewood of Theatre Workshop had directed a semi-improvised play You Won’t Always Be On Top in 1958. She was prosecuted for producing a show which did not have a script for inspection by the Lord Chamberlain.
We discovered a letter in the Vivien Leigh Archive which Littlewood had written to the actress to ask for her public support. Leigh and husband Laurence Olivier were vocal supporters of the removal of censorship, and Littlewood was successfully defended in court. As well as this letter, we were also generously allowed to display photographs of the production from the Theatre Royal Stratford East Archive.
The display also features a section on OZ magazine, which was the subject of a notorious obscenity trial in 1971 for the publication of its Schoolkids Issue. This was edited by children and featured a depiction of Rupert the Bear in a sexually explicit scenario. The successful defence of the magazine’s editors was a ground-breaking testament of an increasingly liberalised culture.
The acquisition of the Felix Dennis / OZ magazine archive in 2017, with the assistance of the Art Fund, provided with us with fascinating material for display. Not only tracing the creative process, including paste-up boards by Martin Sharp, the archive also contains a wealth of material relating to the trial and the magazine editors’ supporters, including flyers for benefit concerts, badges and a fundraising record by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
This a small selection of the fascinating stories uncovered in the archives and now on display. Visit in person to listen to a playlist of banned songs, hear interviews from leading practitioners and cultural critics, and contribute towards the debate ‘what is censorship?’.
Barclays Group Archives has just posted a collection-level description for the records of Jonathan Backhouse & Co. of Darlington, one of the three principal partnerships that combined in 1896 to form the modern Barclays, which by the mid-20th century became the largest domestic clearing bank in Britain. The Hub entry for Backhouse bank complements descriptions previously posted for the other two principals in the merger, Barclays of Lombard Street and Gurneys of East Anglia.
The 1896 merger was described by The Economist at the time as ‘the largest of its kind that has yet taken place.’ It signalled the end of a long tradition of private banking, both in London and the provinces, the culmination of a process by which most of the private banks had converted themselves into, or been absorbed by, joint stock companies, during the previous 70 years.
Measured by total customer deposits, the three banks ranked as follows:
Barclay, Bevan, Tritton & Co., Lombard Street (est. 1690) £8,589,530
One of the distinctive features of all three was their origin in Quaker business enterprise. In both Gurneys and Backhouses the Quaker influence remained noticeable well into the 19th century, and another press comment on the 1896 merger referred to it as a combination of those ‘well-known Quaker firms’.
Although by 1896 few of the partners directly involved in the amalgamation were still practising Friends, they were content to claim a heritage that looked back to the Quakerly qualities of frugality, prudence and trustworthiness that had been so attractive to customers, and which had contributed to the remarkable growth of the banks in their early decades.
The reasons why so many Friends entered the business world in the first place are long acknowledged. Exclusion from mainstream professions and occupations led many to establish their own businesses, relying on their hard work and moral code to become trusted and respected figures within the mercantile community.
The historic core of the modern Barclays traces its origins from John Freame and Thomas Gould, two Quaker goldsmith bankers who in 1690 started a business in the heart of the City. The partnership was one of the most successful amongst the early bankers, pioneering the discounting of provincial bills of exchange. This success sprang at least in part from what has been described as ‘Quaker competitive advantage’.
They financed Quaker traders in the American colonies and helped to finance the Pennsylvania Land Company; they were actively involved in Quaker-dominated enterprises such as the London Lead Company and the Welsh Copper Company. The latter produced silver as a by-product, which Freame and Gould then sold to the Royal Mint. They were also the closest thing the Quakers had to an official banker, holding the Society of Friends’ central funds.
By the mid-1700s the partners were amassing fortunes which may have seemed at odds with the Quaker principles of simple and plain living; on the other hand, a Quaker who went bankrupt was liable to be disowned by the Society. While the fear of bankruptcy may have spurred the Barclays on to ever greater profitability, they still had not lost sight of other Quaker virtues.
David Barclay the younger, who became a partner in the Bank in 1776, remained an active Friend throughout his career. A keen supporter of the emancipation campaigner William Wilberforce, he used his influence to persuade other Quakers to take a stronger stand for the abolition of slavery. Later, David Barclay found himself the owner of a plantation in Jamaica in settlement of a debt. His decision to free the slaves and transport them to Philadelphia cost him £3,000.
The country banks, too, sprang from the original business of their founders. In the case of both Backhouses and Gurneys this was textiles, though the former also had interests in shipping, coal mining and railways. One of the most eye-catching documents in the Backhouse archives is a signed and sealed agreement (currently on loan to Tyne & Wear Archives as part of the Great Exhibition of the North), between the subscribers for the construction of the pioneering Stockton-Darlington railway. The signatories comprise a roll-call of Quaker business families, including bankers who would, decades years later, come together in the modern Barclays: Backhouse, Pease, Barclay, Leatham, Gurney, and Birkbeck.
Jonathan Backhouse junior (1779-1842), grandson of the founder, argued in favour of a railway during a public meeting at Darlington town hall in 1818, stressing its commercial advantages over those of the conventional option, a canal. The first track was laid in May 1821, and the completed railway opened on 27th September 1825. Jonathan served as the company’s first treasurer until 1833. In 1811 he had cemented a significant Quaker banking alliance by marrying Hannah, daughter and co-heir of Joseph Gurney of Norwich: “of crucial importance…..this dynastic alliance in itself transformed the prospects for transport improvement, especially when the Backhouses allied themselves with the Quaker Pease family of Darlington in the raising of capital.” [M W Kirby, ‘Jonathan Backhouse’ in Dictionary of National Biography ] The Backhouses were also connected with the Barclays by marriage. After 1833 Jonathan left the business in the hands of his son Edmund, in order to devote himself full-time to the Quaker ministry.
Meanwhile the Gurneys of Norwich were establishing themselves as one of the leading commercial families in England, and came to be connected by marital, social and business ties with other Quaker banking families, including Barclay, Birkbeck, Buxton, Backhouse and Pease. Notable Gurneys in the bank’s history include Joseph John (1788-1847), religious writer, Quaker minister, anti-slavery campaigner and, like his sister Elizabeth Fry (nee Gurney), also active in prison reform; Hudson (1775-1864), scholar, member of parliament and philanthropist; and Samuel (1786-1856), philanthropist and partner in the Norwich bank for nearly forty years. Notable partners in the Norwich bank from the other families included Henry and William Birkbeck, Thomas Fowell Buxton, and Henry Ford Barclay. By 1838 the Gurneys were said to be ‘exercising an influence and a power inferior to that of no banking establishment in Great Britain – that of the Bank of England alone excepted.’
Like other successful Quakers, some of the Gurneys found it difficult to reconcile faith with wealth. Joseph John chose to become a ‘plain Friend,’ dedicating his life to his bank, his religion and good causes. In 1837 went on a three-year mission tour of the West Indies and America, giving away one third of his share of the bank’s profits for the duration. He was a renowned Quaker author, and his 1824 work, ‘Observations on the Religious Peculiarities of the Society of Friends’ was reprinted several times. His attitude is exemplified by his statement that “I suppose my leading outward object in life may be said to be the Bank. While I am a banker the Bank must be attended to. It is obviously the religious duty of a trustee to so large an amount to be diligent in watching his trust.
The history of the Quaker banks reveals all sorts of connections. For example, it’s no coincidence that the Backhouses used Barclay & Co. of Lombard Street for their London clearing agents in the 19th century. Both Backhouses and another Quaker country bank in the 1896 merger, Bassett & Harris of Leighton Buzzard, commissioned one of the renowned Gothic revival architects of Victorian England, Alfred Waterhouse, who was also from a Quaker family, to design new banking houses for them in the 1860s – the result being two remarkably similar buildings. Waterhouse also designed at least three country houses for the Backhouses in county Durham.
The Backhouse and Gurney archives each contain papers about the partners’ activities as Friends. For example, a Backhouse bundle from 1776-79 includes brief reports on the state of the various Meetings in Ireland visited by James Backhouse on his mission tour. Amongst the Gurney archives are papers concerning the old Friends’ burial ground at St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin, and a scarce contemporary print showing John Gurney, ‘the Weavers’ Friend’, with a printed testimonial following his speech before parliament on behalf of the Norwich weavers in 1720.
Although the bulk of the surviving records document the partners’ banking and business activities, there are also many items of wider interest in the collections listed on the Hub. Amongst the Gurney papers is a series of letters written during the 1850s-80s, between John Henry Gurney (bank partner, sometime Liberal M.P. and amateur ornithologist), his son of the same name, and various naturalists of their circle including Alfred Russel Wallace, mainly about birds and their classification. In the same archive is an eye-witness account of the devastating Lisbon earthquake of 1755 by Benjamin Farmer, member of a mercantile family connected with the Barclays.
At least three of the smaller banks in the 1896 merger also had Quaker founders or partners, and in due course their archives, too, will be described on the Hub: Sharples, Tuke, Lucas & Seebohm of Hitchin; Fordham, Gibson & Co. of Royston; and Bassett, Son & Harris of Leighton Buzzard.
Cambridgeshire Archives is privileged to hold the records of the Bedford Level Corporation. This significant archive, which includes records of Commissions of Sewers dating as far back as 1362, documents, arguably, the greatest land reclamation seen in the country’s history; the drainage of the Fens.
2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the commencement of work on one of the more controversial and problematic drainage projects undertaken; the Eau Brink Cut.
The Great East Swamp
Piecemeal attempts to drain the Fens (commonly referred to as the Great East Swamp and described by William Elstobb as the “deep and horrible fen”) enabling more land to be brought in to use for summer grazing began in medieval times. The swampy conditions were due to the constant tidal flooding of the Ouse, Nene and Welland which would overspill their natural banks causing widespread crop damage and creating an ideal environment for diseases such as malaria, known locally as Fen ague. Yet, this watery landscape also provided a livelihood peculiar to Fen dwellers who were unwilling to give up a traditional way of life trapping eels and fish and shooting wildfowl.
In 1630, despite local opposition, Francis 4th Earl of Bedford contracted with a number of landowners to drain, within six years, the area of the Southern Fen afterwards known as the Bedford Level. Sadly, the records of the work carried out over this period were stored in the Fen Office at the Inner Temples Chamber and largely destroyed during the Great Fire of London.
The Society of Adventurers and Cornelius Vermuyden
After the Civil War, Francis’ heir, Sir William Russell, 5th Earl of Bedford with some of the original ‘Adventurers’ and other interested parties, picked up the work again, this time with the aim of making the Bedford Level ‘winter ground’ capable of growing crops which could sustain cattle over the winter months. Under the Pretended Act of 1649 they came to be known as the Bedford Level Company or the Society of Adventurers. The Dutch engineer, Cornelius Vermuyden, who had been commissioned by Charles I in 1626 to drain Hatfield Chase in the Isle of Axholme in Lincolnshire, was appointed Director of Works.
That same year, Jonas Moore took up office as Surveyor to the Bedford Level Corporation and was charged with producing ‘one general Complete Map of the whole Levell of the fennes with the Adventure Land and lott devisions.’ It was to become the finest map of the Bedford Level ever published but Moore did not live to see its release in 1658.
The Great Levell of the Fenns…drained
One of the many projects directed by Vermuyden was the construction of the Denver Sluice near Downham Market intended to ‘’force the tidal waters in a straight course up the Hundred Foot river, instead of allowing them to flow in their natural and more circuitous channel up the Ten Mile, or Ouse River.’ It was a heavily criticised undertaking, blamed, ironically, for causing flooding in the South Level of the Fens and the build-up of silt and sand downstream which proved injurious to navigation in the port of King’s Lynn. After a particularly high tide ‘blew up’ the sluice in 1713, merchants in the towns enjoying unobstructed navigation campaigned, unsuccessfully, against its reinstatement and it was reconstructed in 1748 by Charles Labelve.
The Eau Brink Cut
There is a wealth of material to be found in the Corporation’s archive, correspondence, reports, minutes and plans, for anyone wishing to trace the long and contentious struggle to come up with an effective and affordable means of improving the Ouse near King’s Lynn.
The eventual cost of obtaining the first Eau Brink Act, in 1795, was nearly £12,000. Further delays ensued so it is this year, 2018 which marks the 200th anniversary of the actual commencement of work on the Eau Brink Cut, a two and a half mile straight channel dug between St German’s Bridge and Lynn to provide an alternative route to the existing six mile bend in the Ouse.
The construction of the Eau Brink Cut, under the aegis of engineers Thomas Telford and John Rennie, took nearly 4 years then, in April 1822, only a few months after the new cut was opened, they submitted a report recommending the channel be widened since a bank of sand and mud had already formed extending about 400 feet upwards from Denver Sluice.
The humble petition of John Owen
John Owen blamed the Eau Brink Cut for the destruction of his smelt fishery and having leased fishing rights in the Hundred Foot River for almost 40 years, petitioned the Corporation for a reduction in his rent so he could afford the £200 needed to invest in new nets and other equipment. Thousands of other memorials and petitions presented to the Corporation, all individually catalogued, now help document the personal impact of the monumental endeavour which was the draining of the Fens.
Public Services Archivist