‘A time of great troubles by reason of the warres’ – some Hampshire sources for the English Civil Wars

The English Civil Wars and Interregnum, which lasted from 1642 until 1660 when the monarchy was restored, represent a fascinating epoch in our history – years of military campaigns, major social upheaval, religious change and of course the overthrow of the monarchy and rule by Parliament.

The world was indeed ‘turned upside down’ in this period, so that it would not be surprising if the survival of local records was poor. And there are many gaps in Hampshire sources – for example, no quarter sessions records between 1642 and 1646, with the abolition of the episcopacy no diocesan records between 1643 and 1660, and very evident patchiness in other areas.

But enough survives to provide intriguing glimpses of Hampshire in these turbulent times. Some of the most intriguing are the references, often incidental, to military and anti-monarchy activity found in official archives of the period ­– particularly parish, county and borough records. For example, the meticulously maintained parish register for Romsey records the burials of nearly 20 soldiers between July 1643 and March 1644. These include on 12 December 1643 seven soldiers ‘slaine at the routing of the kings forces at Romsey’ (below)…

…on 6 February 1644 ‘Richard Gold a soldier slayne by his owne muskett per misfortunne’ (below)…

and on 13 March 1644 ‘William Morris a soldier hangd upon the Swan signe poll’. (10M58/PR2.)

In another parish register, for Whitchurch, we find a more oblique reference – when it was noted in 1644 that ‘this was a time of great troubles by reason of the warres and so many were omitted to bee registered’. (83M76/PR2.) Then, the churchwardens’ accounts for Upham from 1642 record a payment made ‘for cleanseing the church against Christmas aftter the Troopers had abused it for a stable for their horses.’ (74M78/PW1, below, with detail.)

And those for Chawton, in c1642 record a payment of 5s, ‘to him that strooke out the kinges armes’, that is obliterated the king’s arms which had been displayed in the church. Interestingly, the same Chawton accounts record a further payment, in 1660 when the monarchy was restored, ‘for inblazinge the kinges armes in the church. (1M70/PW1.)

Hampshire quarter sessions order books which resume in 1646 contain many orders for the repair of bridges. This is usual quarter sessions business – but their dilapidated state in these years is often attributed to the ravages of war. For example, in April 1646 there is an order that Robert Oldinge be reimbursed for the cost of rebuilding the bridge at Redbridge, near Southampton, which had been ‘pulled down by a partie of the kings forces’ in December 1643. (Q1/2.) The Lymington town book, well-kept throughout the Civil War years, includes in its 1644 accounts payments ‘for releeving divers companies of souldiers coming from Cornwall’, ‘for straw to lodge souldiers’, ‘to Captaine Green for him and his men’, ‘to James Garrettes wife for a sicke souldier’ and ‘for a shrowde for him’.  (27M74/DBC2, below.)

And Winchester’s records include a number of entries which shed light on the war’s impact on that city. For example, the city’s ordinance book for the period contains a transcript of Oliver Cromwell’s letter to the mayor William Longland, dated 28 September 1645, asking to be allowed to take the city without force. Cromwell writes at 5 o’clock at night: ‘Sir, I come not to this city but with a full resolucion to save it and the inhabitantes thereof from ruine. I have comaunded the souldyers upon payne of death that noe wrong bee done which I shall strictly observe. Only I expect you give mee entrance into the city without necessitateing mee to force my way….’ He ends ‘I expect your answeare within half an howre…’ (W/B1/4.)

Longland’s speedy reply, dated the same day is also recorded. ‘Sir, I have received your letter by your trumpett and … retorne you hearty thanckes for your favourable expressions therein. But withall I am to signifie unto you, that the delivery up of the city is not in my power it being under the commaund of the right honourable the Lord Ogle… In the meane tyme I shall use my best endeavor with the Lord Ogle to performe the contentes of your letter…’ Winchester finally surrendered to Cromwell’s forces in October 1645. (W/B1/4.)

Sarah Lewin, Information and Archives Manager

WFSA Student Placement – Ellen Lilywhite

I undertook a volunteer placement with Wessex Film and Sound Archive as part of my Cultural Heritage and Resource Management degree. Unfortunately, it had to be carried out remotely due to lockdown restrictions, but I was still able to get to know the archives and Zoe, who works with them. Luckily, WFSA has some of its archive films available to watch on their YouTube channel and on the British Film Institute website. 

I started off by familiarising myself with the films WFSA has in its collection. Watching a Stoll Bailey film from the 1920s, I was struck by how relatable the footage was. Despite the differences in years and technology – all I have to do is pull my phone out of my pocket, but in the 1920s there would have been expensive and complicated equipment to set up – the things being filmed were exactly the kinds of things I would film. People playing with their dogs, interactions between friends and family, and pretty scenery interspersed with cows and squirrels. I felt an understanding and a connection stretching back through the years. It helped me to appreciate that history is filled with people just like us, and how important the stories of ordinary people are. 

Still from AV557/11 Stoll Bailey films: The New Forest Area 

Another highlight of the placement for me was getting the chance to write a series of social media posts around the theme of 2021 being a census year, and encouraging people to take part in Making History: Making movies, which encourages people to submit 5 minutes of footage to share their experience of the past year, and also showcasing the work of amateur film makers. At first, I felt a little intimidated because I knew that what I wrote would be representing WFSA and Hampshire Archives, but soon I was having so much fun looking through the films to find the perfect image to go alongside the interesting census facts I’d found that I forgot all about my concerns. Unfortunately, I never did find the perfect place to use perhaps my favourite image… 

Still from AV665/3/V1 Family Christmas Home Movie – https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-family-christmas-home-movie-1948-online

I really appreciate that I was given the creative freedom to pursue the things that caught my attention and interested me. I had the opportunity to learn about so many different things, from amateur cine societies to  the subculture of amateur skateboarding film-makers. I loved that each film I watched had a story to tell. Even though those stories were sometimes difficult or even impossible to follow up on, I still enjoyed the search and being allowed a glimpse into the moments that were meaningful and important in the lives of people in the past. 

I also enjoyed being able to help WFSA with their digitisation strategy. The arrival of a new scanner means they will be able to digitise more of their films, making them easier for current and future generations to access. I carried out a small focus group with some of the other students on my course to determine what kind of archive footage people like to watch, and how they like to watch it. I was happy to be a part of making more of these wonderful films more widely available for everyone to watch. 

Overall, the placement was a positive experience that I am grateful to have taken part in. 

WFSA YouTube channel: 


For more information on the Making History: Making movies project: 


Written by Ellen Lilywhite

The Olympics in Hampshire

As the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games get under way, we take this opportunity to look back at some in places in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight which have been used as Olympic venues or training facilities in previous Olympiads.

The first modern Olympics held in the UK were the 1908 Games. Although London, especially the stadium at White City, was the principal focus of the events, a number were held outside the capital.

Olympic motorboat racing was staged on Southampton Water in 1908.  Races consisted of five laps of an eight nautical mile course. Entrants included five British crews and one French crew.  Tom Thornycroft won two gold medals as helmsman of Gyrinus II. It was designed by his father Sir John Thornycroft, founder of the Thornycroft shipbuilding company at Woolston, Southampton.  After 1908 motorboating disappeared from the Olympic programme.

Southampton Water from Hythe waterfront, 1926, H/CL5/1H/25/17
(photograph by H W Salmon and Son, Winchester)

The Royal Yacht Squadron had to turn down the British Olympic Commission’s request to stage the yachting events at its Isle of Wight headquarters due to a clash with Cowes Week.  As a result the Olympic sailing events actually took place at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Ryde, with Great Britain winning all four gold medals.

Yachting at Cowes, Isle of Wight, c1905, 115A08/186/7
Newspaper cutting of engraving of HRH Prince Albert laying the first stone of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club House, Ryde, TOP375/2/33

Forty years on, in 1948, the Olympics returned to the UK, once again based in London, but once again with several events taking place further afield.  Fratton Park is the home of Portsmouth Football Club, but on 26th July 1948 it was the venue for the Olympic football match between the Netherlands and Ireland: a crowd of 8,000 saw the Netherlands triumph 3-1.

Tweseldown Racecourse at Church Crookham, near Fleet, had already been in existence for over 80 years when it became an Olympic venue in 1948 used for the cross-country element of the three-day eventing and a 5000m steeplechase, as part of the modern pentathlon.  The course was so difficult that only ten participants completed it within the required ten minutes.  Competitors borrowed army horses trained in Aldershot, which were allocated to them by ballot.  The eventual winner, Captain Willie Oscar Guernsey Grut, a Swede, had the best score in Olympic history riding Minstrel Boy.  The venue is still in use today for cross-country eventing.

Tweseldown Camp, Church Crookham, c1900, TOP4/2/7 (published by Frank Parker, Fleet)

Tweseldown was one of several locations in north-eastern Hampshire used during the 1948 London Olympics.  Aldershot Military Stadium (also known as the Central Command Stadium) was used for the dressage and show jumping equestrian events: 103 riders competed, from 17 countries.  The three-day eventing team gold was won by the USA and Bernard Chevallier of France won individual gold.

The Army School of Physical Training’s Gymnasium at Aldershot (also known as Fox’s Gymnasium) staged the fencing element of the modern pentathlon in 1948 from 31st July to 1st August.  Willie Grut of Sweden and Aëcio Coelho of Brazil came joint first in the event with 28 wins each.

Photographs of the fencing element of the modern pentathlon at Aldershot,
published in The Sphere, 1948, 180A12/H6/1
(© images reproduced courtesy of the
Illustrated London News)

On 3rd August Aldershot Municipal Pool (Aldershot Lido) was the venue for the swimming event of the modern pentathlon, a 300-metre freestyle race won by Willie Grut of Sweden. The pool was opened in 1930 and still exists today.

Aerial photograph of Aldershot Lido, published in The Sphere,
around the time of the 1948 Olympics, 180A12/H6/1
(© image reproduced courtesy of the
Illustrated London News)

Timsbury Manor House was built in the 1840s on the site of Timsbury Manor Farm by the Hon. Ralph Dutton MP.  During the 1960s the Manor was used as a training retreat by the International Athletics Club.  The British Olympic team used the facility for training purposes in the lead up to the 1964 Tokyo Games and the 1968 Mexico City Games.  The latter year also saw a pre-Olympic athletic match at Alexandra Park, Portsmouth.

Programme for a Pre-Olympic Athletic Match at Alexandra Park, Portsmouth, 1968, 3M81/G19

More information about the modern Olympic Games in the UK, and their predecessors in Britain, can be found in The British Olympics: Britain’s Olympic heritage 1612-2012 by Martin Polley of the University of Southampton (English Heritage, 2011)

This post is based on research undertaken by Mark Pitchforth, Archivist, for an exhibition at Hampshire Record Office in 2012.

David Rymill, Archivist

Basingstoke’s First Female Burgesses

In most narratives charting the enfranchisement of women on equal terms with men, one very early milestone is often overlooked. Under the provisions of the Municipal Electors Act 1869, a small number of appropriately qualified women acquired the right to vote in municipal elections. To do so, they were required to have the same property qualification as men thereby becoming burgesses. This meant that during the current and previous year, they had to occupy a house, warehouse, counting house, shop or other building within the borough; live within the borough or within a seven mile radius; and have paid all their rates by 31st August. In addition, in boroughs, such as Basingstoke, which were not at this stage divided into wards, they had to own real or personal property worth £500 or land assessed at £15 or more. Thus only women, who were ‘heads of households’, were designated burgesses and entered on the burgess roll. The Act did not refer to marital status, so qualified married, as well as unmarried, women were initially entitled to vote. This changed, however, in 1872 when a ruling in Rex v Harrald ‘held that the Act did not enfranchise married women’ (B. Keith-Lucas, The English Local Government Franchise: A Short History, Basil Blackwell, 1952, p.166).

Thanks to the survival of Basingstoke’s burgess roll for 1869 (HRO Ref: 148M71/1/2/1/12) together with data from the 1861 and 1871 censuses and an 1875 Trade Directory some insights can be gained into the backgrounds of these ‘trailblazing’ female burgesses. Of the 727 persons on the roll, 93 (i.e. about 12 per cent) were women. Of those 58 were widows, 24 spinsters and the remainder unknown.

Five extracts from the burgess roll, where there are concentrations of women, are shown below. From each one or two examples of female burgesses have been selected to illustrate their diversity.

In many respects Isabella Apletre(e) (no 25) had the highest status of all the female burgesses. She had been married to Francis Russell Apletree who died on 23 June 1845 aged 36. At the time of the 1861 Census she was living with her father-in-law, William, at “Goldings”. They had four servants. William died on 9 December 1867 aged 85, so that by 1871 Isabella, aged 57, was the head of a household consisting of  two daughters, a visitor and six servants. She is described as an ‘annuitant’. “Goldings” was a substantial property, greatly enhanced during the Georgian period, and is today a Grade II listed building.

By contrast Mary Albury, also a widow by 1861, had been a dressmaker. In 1871, aged 55, she appears to have had no occupation. However, she had a lodger, an agricultural labourer, aged 70, whose rent was presumably her principal source of income. Her daughter, aged 15, was still living with her.

Like a number of female burgesses, Sarah Cook was a shopkeeper. By 1871, aged 66 and a widow, her occupation was that of ‘grocer’ and she was living with her unmarried nephew, a labourer. Her husband, William, had been a ‘general dealer’.

In 1861 Olivia Ifould, aged 55, was living at “The Lamb” with her husband Job, a ‘grocer and beer retailer’, plus one daughter, three sons and a lodger, an agricultural labourer. Job died during the October quarter of 1864 and in 1871 Olivia was now the proprietor of “The Lamb Inn” where she resided with an ‘extended family’ of two sons, two daughters and two granddaughters.

At the time of the 1861 census Mary Pursey, aged 58, was living with husband John, a foundry labourer, and a son and daughter in Cliddesden Road. John died in about 1863 and by 1871 Mary, a ‘nurse’, had moved Hackwood Road, where she was living with Emma Lowe, three grandsons, one granddaughter and a male boarder, an upholsterer.

Harriett Whistler,aged 41 in 1861, was unmarried and lived with her widowed mother, formerly a laundress, in Church Street, together with a husband and wife and three children as lodgers. Following Elizabeth’s death in 1865, Harriett, a laundress, became head of the household which in 1871 comprised a female lodger, who was also a laundress, a male lodger, employed as a smith, and two nephews.

The varied circumstances of Basingstoke’s first cohort of female burgesses emphasise the need to be cautious in making generalisations about their status and contribution to the town’s economic life. Undoubtedly some were as important as men in providing services and employment opportunities. Other relied upon income from annuities, family members and letting rooms. In the latter case, they can be said to have assisted economically by providing accommodation for members of the younger generation, who were in employment.

Roger Ottewill, June 2021

Florence White and The English Folk Cookery Association

Increasing awareness of environmental issues has recently led to a growing desire for locally-grown food. This current interest has similarities with an organisation set up in the late 1920s by Florence White, called The English Folk Cookery Association. One of its aims was to ‘use as much fresh home and locally produced food as possible instead of sophisticated foods’. As well as promoting English food and cookery, the Association set up a cookery school in Fareham. Papers received by Hampshire Record Office in 2009 (44A09/A1-A11) give fascinating details about the school and the work of Florence White. But who was Florence, why did she found the English Folk Cookery Association and what were her links with Fareham?

EFCA leaflet, Jul 1936 (44A09/A3) 

Florence was born in Peckham, London on 20 June 1863. Her father was a lace buyer for a City firm, and she had a happy early life. This happiness ended when she was six, with the death of her mother. A few months later she lost the sight in one eye after an accident. Florence was to suffer from poor eyesight and ill health for the rest of her life. Her father remarried and her stepmother convinced her she would never marry as she only had one eye. Her stepmother later forbade her to enter the family home, and Florence had no settled home for the rest of her life. She was very resourceful, however, and once grown up took a wide variety of jobs around the country, in at least 28 occupations including journalist, schoolteacher, waitress, social worker and cook-housekeeper. Ill health, principally a weak heart, prevented her from keeping jobs for long. She often had to resign, rest for a while, then look for another job.

Florence had always shown an interest in English cookery. As a child, she had occasionally visited her aunts, Louisa and Harriet White, who from the 1850s to the 1880s were the proprietors of the Red Lion Inn, Fareham. Here she witnessed traditional English dishes being made. Her aunts were supplied by nearby country houses with poultry, eggs, fish, game, vegetables and fruit. As she states in her autobiography, by watching her aunts, Florence learnt to ‘prepare and cook in the best English way the best English country food’. Throughout her life, Florence believed in self-improvement and education. She enjoyed local history, but as well as investigating events and people from the past, she was keen to find out what they ate and cooked.

This interest finally came to fruition when she was in her sixties and semi-retired. She was working as a freelance journalist, specialising in cookery, and her work involved researching in the British Museum Reading Room and the Patent Office Library. She wrote for a number of newspapers, trying to make more people interested in English cookery. Frustrated by what she saw as the promotion of French food and cookery and a lack of interest in English cookery, she started to travel around England ‘to restore England’s good cookery to its former high standard and proud position’.

Realising she could not do all this alone, she wrote to The Times suggesting that all who were interested should form an English Folk Cookery Association. The EFCA was not a commercial enterprise but a learned society formed with the intention of restoring and maintaining England’s former high standard of cookery. It also aimed to collect recipes of traditional English dishes. Florence advertised in The Times for such recipes, and received hundreds. This resulted in the publication of Good Things In England, a cookery book containing over 800 recipes reflecting the cooking traditions from all over the country.

Examples include Derbyshire Oatcakes, Scarborough Muffins, and directions as to ‘how they raise a piecrust in Warwickshire’. It also includes a ‘stew of pigeons’, a recipe used at the Red Lion Hotel, Fareham in the mid-19th century.

In 1936, Florence decided to return to Fareham and start an English Folk Cookery Association School of Cookery. She had been shocked a few years earlier to find that many women did not know how to cook even a potato. In her autobiography she states ‘many unhappy marriages are due to bad cookery’. The documents we have received are mostly printed brochures and advertisements for this cookery school.

The brochures describe the spacious house she rented, 160 West Street, Fareham. It could accommodate four resident visitors as well as non-residents. It was intended for all social classes. Individual lessons were given by cooks, and students ‘taught to cook complete meals, not merely single dishes. They can learn to recognise good food before it is cooked, to buy and prepare it for table, to arrange different meals by the day or week according to the income at command and according to the requirements of different households’. Florence was keen to return to what she called ‘good epicurean English cookery’, such as her grandparents had experienced. Even in 1936, she was bemoaning the use of canned food, white flour and butter substitutes. She championed locally-produced food, and in another brochure, lists all the local suppliers in the Fareham area who provided all her needs.

Some of the food cooked by the students could be bought at cost price, and was displayed in the ‘shop’ window at 160 West Street. A poster (see below) shows what was on offer, including Fareham Puff Pastry ‘the best in the world’ and ‘delicious sweets’ including Nesslerode pudding and Grassy Corner pudding (the latter consisting of jelly, pistachio nuts, cream and isinglass). Also available were the 1930s equivalent of ‘ready meals’, hot dishes which could be ‘fetched by car just before lunch or dinner and heated up for a few minutes at home in the oven’.

Poster advertising the House of Studies shop at 160 West Street, Fareham, c1936. (Ref: 44A09/A11)

Florence had hoped that the organisation would still flourish after her death, but sadly this was not to be. Already ill in 1936, she only lived four more years, dying on 12 March 1940. She is buried in an unmarked grave in Fareham Cemetery.

No references to the EFCA have been found after this date, the Second World War undoubtedly contributing to the difficulties of continuing such an organisation at that time. Her legacy and influence however remain. Good Things in England has been republished a number of times since the 1930s and has influenced other food writers such as Elizabeth David. With the cataloguing of the EFCA brochures and booklets, let us hope that her work and aims will not be forgotten.

Sarah Farley, Archivist

(This article was originally published in the Spring 2010 Hampshire Archives Trust Newsletter)

Skating around the edges of history

When I think of history and heritage, it’s all too easy to bring to mind manor houses, ancient monuments, and newsreel footage of VIPs. Of course, these things are an interesting and important part of our past, but I can’t help wondering how relatable are they? What can the stories of the rich and powerful really tell us about past societies and how ordinary life was for everyday people? There’s so much to learn about history from regular people and the things they cared about.  

What I’ve enjoyed about getting to work with Wessex Film and Sound Archive’s collections is seeing the types of things that amateur film makers captured. The collection offers a special kind of insight that can’t always be found in newsreels and documentaries. Amateur films can uncover the hidden stories and people that might not otherwise be heard about, but are still just as fascinating as what is taught in schools and shown on television. 

For example – skateboarding. Watching archive footage, I was surprised to see a film about skateboarding in Portsmouth that was filmed in 1978 by amateur filmmaker George Sloane. I’d always thought of skateboarding as a more recent thing, perhaps first becoming popular in the 1990s. In fact, it first appeared in the early 1960s in California, and in the late 1970s had become so popular that the local authority at Southsea created a Skatepark, the original bowls and runs of which are still in use at the park today. 

Still from AV514/13/V1 George Sloane Films: Skateboarding in Portsmouth

The history and identity of skateboarding is closely linked with film. From the 2001 documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys which uses footage shot in the 1970s, to people uploading videos online today, film is a way for skateboarders to create a sense of community and shared history. Interestingly, the skateboarder Tony Alva, a member of documentary’s Zephyr team, was one of the first skateboarders to use the Southsea Skatepark when it opened in 1978. It is through film that skateboarders share their identity and history with other community members, and it has more practical uses for learning new tricks and techniques. In the George Sloane film, a still from which can be seen above, there are many instances of people watching others as they perform impressive feats of speed and balance. 

Further searching through the archive footage revealed that Southsea Skatepark was built on top of an existing roller rink that had been in operation from the 1930s. Local, national and international competitions were held there for figure skating and roller hockey. The speed and elegance of the roller skaters in Archibald Peskett’s 1940s film is just as mesmerising as the skateboarders who would later take their place. 

Featured in Peskett’s film is Jean Phethean, a figure skating champion from Manchester. Alongside her partner, Ken Byrne, she won the World Dance Championship, the World Pairs Championship, and the European Dance and Pairs Championship. The pair are shown in the film giving an exhibition performance. It seems as though the roller rink was an important community space for socialising and exercise, as it continues to be today.  

A still showing Jean Phethean in action from AV9/2/V1 Peskett Films: Southsea – Roller Rink & Seaside Fun
c. 1946

Like many of the people filming skateboarding today, Peskett was an amateur and had received no formal training, instead learning his craft through trial and error. Born in 1904 in Southsea, he worked as an auto-electrician and a trader. He explored his love of film as a member of the Portsmouth Film Society, an amateur ciné club. Ciné clubs were a great way for people interested in film to share ideas, techniques and resources. In this way, they are similar to amateur skateboard filmmakers, who often work together to improve their techniques. Unfortunately, Portsmouth Film Society had to disband when World War Two broke out and didn’t regroup afterwards. Peskett’s lack of formal training didn’t stop him from producing some amazing films, and experimenting with light and rhythm. His skills can be seen in the still below, which incorporates the artistic technique of filming people’s shadows as they skate, and is now a ubiquitous shot in any skateboarding film. 

AV9/2/V1 Peskett Films: Southsea – Roller Rink & Seaside Fun c. 1946

My wanderings through the archive footage took me on an unexpected and enjoyable journey. From learning about the origins of skateboarding in the 1960s, to amateur ciné clubs in the 1930s, and the links of community and knowledge-sharing that connect the two. I’ve uncovered interesting facts about places and people I might not otherwise have heard of – Southsea Roller Rink, Jean Phethean, and Archibald Peskett. People who aren’t likely to show up on the school curriculum or on a documentary, but who are important vibrant people with their own stories to share with anyone who wants to find them. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my journey through the archive footage; where will yours take you? There’s no limit to how far you can go – whether it’s just a little fact that makes you think, or the starting point on a deeper investigation. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed your journey with me, now I’m off to dig out my old skateboard! 

Ellie Lilywhite, Student placement (WFSA)


AV514/13/V1 George Sloane Films: Skateboarding in Portsmouth – https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-skateboarding-in-portsmouth-1978-online

AV9/2/V1 Peskett Films: Southsea – Roller Rink & Seaside Fun c. 1946 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PiEjM7lTy8  


Buckingham, D. (2009) ‘Skate Perception: Self-representation, Identity and Visual Style in a Youth Subculture’. In: Buckingham, D., Willet, R. (eds.) Video Cultures. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 133 – 151 – https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230244696_7

Nicholson, H.N. (2012) Amateur Film: Meaning and Practice, 1927 – 1977. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 

Black Britons in Hampshire: Black Inclusion Week 10-15 May 2021

Back in Black History Month (BHM) 2020 we outlined our intentions to address the lack of representation of black and ethnic minorities in Wessex Film and Sound Archive (WFSA) and in the wider Hampshire Archives and Local Studies catalogue and collections. 

WFSA is an historic film and sound repository that covers the old Wessex region – Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire; the collection contains over 38,000 film and sound items. There are a staggering 12,000 cinefilms, over 10, 000 video tapes and over 11,000 audio formats. We are based at Hampshire Record Office with our HALS colleagues, and together we share strongrooms that house over 8 miles of shelving. 

In our BHM blog we acknowledged that archives have a responsibility to address systemic issues relating to the collecting of Black archives.  There is a lot of work to be done – and we knew at the outset that it would take some time to enact many of the changes that we highlighted as necessary.  

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

We have been working towards: 

  • Modelling Black and Minority Ethnic archive content, to encourage community engagement, through actively seeking out content from our collections that features black and minority ethnic heritage, and sharing through our social channels. We’re hoping this will become slightly easier now we have increased access to collections; we’ve be working with limited access for over a year now.  You can follow us on Twitter @HantsArchives and Facebook @HampshireArchives to see our content. 
  • Actively collecting contemporary material from Black and Minority Ethnic communities. We continue to reach out to Black communities to encourage contributions to the archive – either through our Making History: Making Movies project, but also through other initiatives. 
  • HALS colleagues have been working hard to collate a list of known items in the collection for BAME heritage. This is a work in progress and will be added to as items are identified. 
  • In addition to collating details of items within our own collections, HALS colleagues are preparing a list of websites, other archives, research projects etc that relate to BAME heritage – both of these lists will eventually made available for researchers. 

We need your help… 

Choosing the right words 

One of the tasks that we are keen to progress involves a dialogue around generating the most appropriate terms and keywords that will help improve the discovery of Black heritage in the archive catalogue. 

There is a need to ensure cataloguing key words are updated for Black and Minority Ethnic visibility and appropriateness, taking into account how use of language has changed.  

We are seeking to identify what keywords might be most helpful; how might your ancestors self describe? How would you self describe? What words are most helpful to you, in locating your heritage? 

Collecting community archives (yes, that box of stuff that your gran has in the loft!) 

We are also interested in actively collecting retrospective material (paper archives, film and sound) from Black and Minority Ethnic communities. 

If you have a relative who has lots of material that tells their own, their family’s or their community’s history, we are keen to safeguard this for future generations.  

Please get in touch with us and we can chat through the options for these kinds of materials. 

If you have any questions about the work we are doing, please do get in touch at archives.enquiries@hants.gov.uk . 

Parchment to Petabytes: Born Digital Records at Hampshire Archives (Part 2)


Figures taken from Ofcom, The Communications Market: Broadband: Digital Progress Report, 2007,<broadband_rpt.pdf (ofcom.org.uk)> and BBC, UK average broadband speeds up despite lockdown wobble, 13 May 2020, <UK average broadband speeds up despite lockdown wobble – BBC News>.

Internet speeds have also played a significant role in the increase of digital record use. This, coupled with the introduction of new storage media and management software such as Microsoft SharePoint and Flash Drives in 2001, Microsoft OneDrive in 2007, iCloud in 2011 and Google Drive in 2012, have helped change the digital landscape.  
Another issue facing us in the born-digital realm is maintaining records’ authenticity and reliability. The importance of this cannot be understated as authentic reliable records are the ‘pillars of accountability and transparency’8 in society.  

Technology, however, renders records susceptible to editing, copying, deleting and reformatting which can affect both their authenticity and content, whereas paper records are much harder to manipulate without leaving traces of any alterations. The structure (appearance and arrangement) of records can also be distorted or unclear when software updates render file formats unreadable or unclear. Finally, the context of records, that is the provenance, and the metadata are not easily discernible in born-digital records. For instance, understanding who an email is from/to, dates, and content are all hidden until they can be read by a computer, whereas a letter can be opened and the information is readily available. Specific software is needed to extract this information from digital records.  

Here at Hampshire Archives and Local Studies we use DROID, a file format identification tool, to extract metadata such as file formats, size, software versions and date of last modification from records. This metadata is also added to our Microsoft Access database which contains all the digital archive metadata together for reference, making it easy to search and locate different types of file format.  

Image: Example use of DROID on Southampton Photos. Top: Droid Front Page, with file ready to be extracted. Bottom: Results of file extraction, opened in Excel.

DROID draws on more than 1,300 different digital file formats, but with such a large number of formats available the challenge of being able to access and open them all is constant, especially considering that obsolescence of file formats is an ongoing issue. In a study on file format endangerment levels, it was found that within the next 11-20 years several file formats will become inaccessible such as PowerPoint (ppt) and Windows Media Video File (wmv).9 Archives must either begin converting and migrating records or hoarding software and equipment that can ensure records remain usable and accessible over time. 

Another major issue is the archival description of born-digital records. If you look at the folders on your computer now, many of you will have files named with all sorts of different titles that make no sense to anyone but you. There will also be file names that you do not remember, either what is in them, or what they are, because they are not labelled in any meaningful way. This happens at both an individual as well as at larger commercial and business levels. Records like these are often referred to as the second generation of born-digital records, the ‘digital heap’ where ‘basic record-keeping and information management practices have not been applied’,10  making it very difficult to process records in the traditional way.  

Archival description is, however, a major part of the cataloguing process, but simply changing the file names to something more representative of the contents, though an obvious choice, is not good practice as it would constitute tampering with the original record. Some examples from TNA’s catalogue are: ‘Next week (2).msg’, ‘RE 2 random thoughts.msg’, ‘ClseUp Extra swg slip[A204460].jpg’ or even ‘561,B4 OvVw Lwr Rat eaten[A206843].jpg’.11  

This means that the description fields for these records must contain more detailed information that explains what lies within the record, thereby increasing the time spent on cataloguing and describing for archivists at a time when born-digital record accumulations are increasing daily.  

The future preservation of and access to born-digital records, whether it be family photos, emails, novels or artwork may be uncertain, but its success lies in partnerships with IT organisations. For many outside the profession, however, archives will still be seen as dusty, dark places where seemingly little is organized and piles of manuscripts, paper, books and volumes are hoarded for an unknown use. 

Kyle Thomason, HALS staff

[8] P. Svärd, Enterprise Content Management, Records Management and Information Culture Amidst e-Government Development, 2017 < https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Enterprise_Content_Management_Records_Ma/f_5PCwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0>.

[9] H. Ryan, ‘Who’s afraid of file format obsolescence? Evaluating file format endangerment levels and factors for the creation of a file format endangerment index’ (unpublished dissertation thesis, University of North Carolina, 2014) < https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjezY39qfHuAhXNUMAKHTSqCSgQFjABegQIAhAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcdr.lib.unc.edu%2Fdownloads%2F41687j38c&usg=AOvVaw0eRi9wuJAAnnTvceeiw-Yo>  

[10] TNA, Digital Catalouging Practices, 2017 < Digital Cataloguing Practices at The National Archives>.

[11] J. Garmendia, ‘Digital Description and Metadata at the National Archives. Digital Strategy’ < https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02125010/document?fbclid=IwAR0e4D-fMcCcmLMqqmpdmc3FwgAUrJy3FWjKSUOz_KXZhrYrssaoru5FdHE>.


The National Archives (UK), CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons, <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_view_of_the_server_room_at_The_National_Archives.jpg>.

Parchment to Petabytes: Born Digital Records at Hampshire Archives (Part 1)

Images: HRO: 150M87/25 – Lease for life of house, in Stratfield Turgis, 1411 (Left) & The National Archives Server Room, 2011 (Right)

Archives have existed in one form or another for thousands of years and over this period the medium of archival material has changed. Archivists no longer deal in clay tablets (for the most part) but everything from papyrus, parchment, paper, photographic material, analogue audio-visual materials such as tapes or film, and much more from across the historical spectrum are accessioned and catalogued daily. Added to this is the more recent establishment of born-digital records, which has created a dramatic shift from the physical record to a completely digital format.  For instance: 

  • Email 
  • Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc.  
  • Google Docs 
  • PDFs
  • Photos 
  • Videos 

‘The digital realm is now a place where history happens: a president’s Tweets, an email commissioning a composer to write a symphony, the Word document comprising the manuscript of a novel…’,1 all are events that at one time may have occurred on paper but today provide new challenges for archives. 

Born-digital records have grown over the last three decades since Tim Berners-Lee created the first website. In 2010 it was estimated that 1.2 million petabytes of data existed globally2 but by 2025 this number would be reached in just over 2 days; these numbers are hard to comprehend but it is the equivalent of more than 212 million DVDs worth of data per day.3 Granted all this data will not end up in an archive but some of it will. At present Hampshire Archives and Local Studies has accepted 160GB of born-digital material.  

A good example of the sheer volume of records that need to be processed: when cataloguing the work of poet Stephen Gallagher, Hull University Archives received the first external hard drive and the file transfer was 13.6GB, containing some 14,320 files.4 In the past an archive would receive physical records which would then be accessioned, appraised, catalogued and made available. Today these steps are still required but new methods are needed to be able to access, read and achieve the same outcomes on a much larger scale.  

A born digital record for example, received in the archive today, is only readable ‘if the appropriate hardware and software are available to turn the…0s and 1s into human readable form’.5 This software and hardware may be obsolete after a few years meaning digital records require consistent attention over time, unlike printed material which can be conserved and held in climate-controlled conditions, lasting for decades without interaction. 

Here at Hampshire Archives and Local Studies, we hold 3 copies of any born-digital material that we receive. One copy is stored on HCC servers which are managed by IT, one in NAS (Network Attached Storage) storage on-site and the third is an access copy, currently we have to use CDs for this unfortunately.

The current rate of technological change, however, means our desire for ‘long-term, stable access to authentic, unchanging information’6 will be a ‘challenge to satisfy…using a set of tools which will change even as we are considering how to employ them’.7 In another thirty years the modern storage and preservation solutions of today will likely be just as archaic as floppy disks and VHS tapes are to many of us now. 

To be continued tomorrow….

[1] TNA, Plugged In, Powered Up: A digital capacity building strategy for archives, 2019-2022, <https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/archives/digital-capacity-building-strategy.pdf>.

[2] R. Wray, ‘Goodbye petabytes, hello zettabytes’, The Guardian, 03 May 2010 <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/may/03/humanity-digital-output-zettabyte>.

[3] J. Desjardins, ‘How Much Data is Generated Each Day?’, The Virtual Capitalist, 15 Apr 2019, <https://www.visualcapitalist.com/how-much-data-is-generated-each-day/>.

[4] Digital Preservation Coalition, Hull University, AIMS Project and Approach, 2011 < What does success look like? – negotiating the deposit of born-digital archives (dpconline.org)>. 

[5] J. Mcleod and C. Hare, How to Manage Records in the e-Environment, London, 2010, p. 25.

[6] ICA, ‘Electronic Records: A Workbook for Archivists’, Studies 16, 2005, p. 47.

[7] Ibid.

After Jane Austen: the Harris Bigg-Wither Story

The acceptance and subsequent refusal of Harris Bigg-Wither’s proposal of marriage is a much discussed fact in biographies of Jane Austen. It was a turning point in her life, and if she had not reconsidered overnight on the 2nd December 1802, we may never have had the pleasure of reading some of her novels.

Manydown House, home of Haris Bigg-Wither (Select illustrations of Hampshire comprising picturesque views of the seats of the nobility and gentry, 1833) (728.8)

Marriage to Bigg-Wither would probably have denied Jane the time to devote to her writing, and her rejection of him is something we should all be thankful for, but how much do we actually know about Harris Bigg-Wither , the man who might have become Jane Austen’s husband? He has over the years had rather a bad press, described by Caroline Austen as:

‘very plain in person, awkward and even uncouth in manner’1

A crucial factor about Harris Bigg-Wither is, a few months after being turned down by Jane Austen he joined the North Hants Militia. We do not know his reason for doing this, he may have been planning it for a while, but we can speculate. It is possible he was full of patriotic zeal and military enthusiasm wanting to do his bit for his country at a time when war had recently been declared again between England and France. On the other hand it is also possible that a rebuffing of his proposal was considered by him as a humiliation which necessitated a removal, at least for a period, from his current society. The joining of a militia regiment would enable him to do this without loss of standing and at comparatively little expense to himself. Having failed with Jane he may also have felt he had a better chance of procuring a wife from outside of his immediate circle. Being an officer in the militia offered ample opportunities for balls and socialising in new areas and new societies:

‘For the officers, regimental life could with luck become an agreeable holiday, attendance at drill occupied the morning and some afternoons, but they could make and receive calls and mix in good society…. the officers give balls where ever the regiment went and local gentry entertained officers lavishly’2

Expenses of a ball and supper for the North Hants Militia at Lymington, May 1799 (44M69/G6/2/4/1)

In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen makes it clear that the arrival of the militia in a community such as Meryton was seen as a good opportunity for girls to find husbands:

‘they could talk of nothing but officers; and Mr Bingleys large fortune the mention of which gave animation to their mother was worthless in their eyes when opposed to the regimentals of an ensign’3

Winchester barracks (TOP343/2/92)

Harris did appear to be slightly anxious about entering militia life, as can be seen by this letter to Colonel Jervoise of 29th June 1803, when he worries about when he should make an appearance and how he should tie his hair

After Harris became Captain of his Company he removed to Lewes where the North Hants Militia were quartered. It was from Lewes that Lieutenant Colonel Frith (who was accompanied by his wife and daughter), wrote to Colonel Jervoise on 21st December 1803:

‘We have been rather gay here of late with balls, concerts, oyster clubs and regimental dinners’4

Harris must have presumably entered into these society functions, for on 15th January 1804, Frith informs Jervoise that his daughter is engaged to Harris Bigg-Wither

Letter from Frith to Jervoise (44M69/G6/2/1/14)

From this we can see that Harris was very keen to be married and did not want to wait. Merely thirteen months after being rejected by Jane Austen and six months after joining the militia he was again engaged. Harris must have won his father round, as on 24nd April 1804 Frith wrote again to Jervoise:

‘I find it will be necessary for me and Mr Wither to have a conference to finally arrange family matters, for which purpose he has politely requested that Mrs Frith, my daughter and myself should pay him a visit at Manydown’5

Matters must have been arranged satisfactorily, for on 2nd November 1804, Harris Bigg-Wither married Anne Howe Frith at East Dean, Sussex.

It appears that Lt Colonel Frith was happy with the prospect of his new son in law, if maybe a little hesitant about his manner: a letter from him to Colonel Jervoise, dated 19th November 1804 echoes the sentiments expressed by Caroline Austen:

Letter from Frith to Jervoise (44M69/G6/2/1/15)

Little time was wasted by the couple in starting a family: on 19th September 1805, 11 months after the marriage, Frith tells Jervoise:

‘Captain Wither I understand has informed you that his wife has brought him a fine boy, I have just heard from them, they are all well and the Captain this day for the first time has missed his ague’6

It seems at this point, having obtained a wife and started a family there was no reason for Harris to remain in the militia. He appears to have resigned sometime in 1806, though no letter of resignation has been found. A mention of Wither’s resignation appears in a letter from a fellow officer, Stephen Terry, on 21st Mar 1806, which talks of his own desire to resign, but should he defer resigning for a period he would get six months’ pay as did his colleagues Thistlethwaite and Wither. Terry continues in his letter to relate his reason for resigning, which were that he did not want to leave his wife and family claiming that militia life was not conducive to family life. Harris, now with a young family, probably felt the same.

Harris Bigg-Wither and Anne had ten children and appear to have led a contented married life together. Would he have been as happy with Jane? We will never know. She was not attracted to or in love with him, but perhaps if she had seen him in his uniform, things might have been different.

‘This was exactly as it should be; for the young man wanted only regimentals to make him completely charming’ 7

Officers in red coats (44M69/G6/3/3/20)

Sarah Farley, archivist

This blog is an abridged version of an article which first appeared in the Spring 2017 HAT Newsletter


Manuscript sources

Hampshire Record Office, Jervoise of Herriard Collection, 44M69

Printed sources

Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice (Penguin: Clays Ltd, 1995)

Honan, Park: Jane Austen: Her Life (Phoenix: The Bath Press, 1997)

Weston JR: The English Militia in the Eighteenth Century (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965)


1 Holograph by Caroline Austen, quoted in Jane Austen, Her Life, p190

2 The English Militia in the Eighteenth Century, p397

3 Pride and Prejudice, chapter 7

4 44M69/G6/2/1/12: Frith to Jervoise, 21 Dec 1803

5 44M69/G6/2/1/14: Frith to Jervoise, 24 Apr 1804

6 44M69/G6/2/1/19: Frith to Jervoise, 19 Sep 1805

7 Pride and Prejudice, chapter 15

Any Old Iron: Medieval Arms and Armour (once) at Farnham Castle

The Archives have two fascinating documents in their care (11M59/B1/53 and 11M59/B1/56). They are long pieces of parchment known as ‘pipe rolls’. The first was written in 1296-7, the second in 1299-1300. They record the contents of Farnham Castle. The castle (just a few miles from Aldershot) was held by the bishops of Winchester (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Stained Glass of the See of Winchester (45.143)

Like any castle, the owner had to provide soldiers and their equipment. The short section on arms in the first roll lists:

ten targes (round shields), 12 crossbows – one vice-drawn and one a two-footer (i.e. for two-foot-long bolts), ten chapel de fers (open-faced helmets), ten aketons (padded fabric body defences), 40 lances, 50 large quarrels (crossbow bolts), 200 small quarrels, three pairs of trappers (fabric horse covers), four pairs of plates (torso defences made of metal plates), three iron basinets (helmets), two arming saddles, two pairs of plates with bracers (arm defences), four plate gorgets (neck defences), five pairs of plate gauntlets, two iron basinets, five pairs of iron jambers with iron poleyns and cuisses of plate (leg defences with metal plates for the knees and thighs), one pair of trappers, four aketons, and two arming saddles.

Very little arms and armour from this period survives. We can get a really good insight into what it would have looked like from artwork and later examples. In this beautiful English stained glass Saint George – the warrior saint – bears a slightly more advanced kind of plate armour than that in our pipe rolls (Fig. 2). In an exquisite Parisian ivory the warrior-saint is in armour and his horse has a trapper emblazoned with the cross (Fig. 3). There are crossbows and basinets that survive from later in the fourteenth century (Fig. 4 and Fig. 5). Many more treasures of this sort will, no doubt, be dug up or happened upon in museum stores and private collections in the future.

Figure 2. St George Stained Glass (45.86)

Where is all the arms and armour such as that recorded at Farnham Castle now? A canny knight advised Edward II to make a long truce with the Scots, so that “thair armyng sall worth ald / And be rottyn, distroyit, or sald.” (Barbour’s Bruce, ed A. A. M. Duncan (Edinburgh, 1997), p. 347) Materials and metals could be upcycled in various ways. Metal plates could be cut up and sewn into fabric to form flexible torso defences. Glasgow Museums has a helmet that has had its face opening crudely sheared back at some point, probably to give a better view to an archer (Fig. 6). Until the Gothic Revival of the eighteenth century stirred up much of society’s fascination with all things medieval, arms and armour was indeed ‘any old iron’.

Figure 6. Sallet or Barbute (E.1939.65.al)

The bishop’s men at Farnham were clearly very diligent in looking after their equipment as the second roll of 1299-1300 records all the same items. There is even one extra crossbow quarrel. In contrast, inventories of many other castles describe much fighting gear as rotten, worn out, of no value – and even eaten by rats!

Documents such as these pipe rolls are incredibly precious, for they offer us a glimpse into a lost world of medieval arms and armour. The physical objects listed are so incredibly rare to us now but would once have been a regular sight in any castle.


Figure 1. Stained Glass of the See of Winchester (45.143)


Figure 2. St George Stained Glass (45.86)


Figure 3.  St George Ivory (21.9)


Figure 4. Crossbow (E.1939.65.sn)


Figure 5. Basinet (E.1939.65.aj)


Figure 6. Sallet or Barbute (E.1939.65.al)


Dr Ralph Moffat, FSA Scot.

Curator of European Arms and Armour, Glasgow Museums

Louis Ourry: A French Protestant in the English Army

Today, we often think of Louis XIV of France as ‘The Sun King’, famous for his lavish parties and for building an extravagant palace at Versailles. But his reign was rocked by war and political tensions, and, in the 1680s, the restrictions he placed on religious diversity in the country began to get harsher and harsher. In 1685, Louis XIV banned Protestantism outright with the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and hundreds of thousands of French Protestants, or ‘Huguenots’, as they are also known, left to practise their religion elsewhere. Many settled in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States, but a great number also came to England. Hampshire in particular became a haven for these refugees, as a French Reformed community had already been established in Southampton following the bloody Wars of Religion in the 16th century.

A number of Huguenot refugees wrote memoirs detailing their experiences of persecution in, and escape from, France. A transcription of one of these memoirs can be found in Hampshire Record Office, among the archives of the Lempriere family of Pelham Place, Newton Valence (4M52/1). The story belongs to Louis Ourry. In 1699, Ourry left his hometown of Blois, aged just 17, out of fear that he could be forcibly taken from his parents and sent to be re-educated in a Catholic convent.

The cover of 4M52/1 translates as: ‘Journal of Monsieur Lieut. Louis Ourry – Father of Madame Beuzeville’. It would appear to be a transcription of an earlier manuscript – the notebook within which the Journal is contained dates from the early 19th century and contains a description of an English court case from this period at the back. The last page of Ourry’s story features an abrupt end to the transcription: after the letters ‘Po’ (presumably ‘pour’, ‘for’ in French), someone has written ‘Here the manuscript is so damaged that we cannot properly continue the journal’.

When Ourry leaves his parents’ home at age 17, he leaves a note for his father, and dramatically describes how he started on his journey with just ‘a piece of bread in [his] pocket, a baton stick in [his] hand, and, for expenses along the way, [he] had around three gold doubloons.’

After a stay with an aunt in Paris, Ourry travelled south, and ended up joining the British army to fight in the War of the Spanish Succession. Following military activities in Spain, Ourry was deployed to Italy, and travelled up through the country to the Tirol region, and then to Germany. He encountered some difficulties crossing through different towns and regions on account of his nationality and commission, and writes that, when a governor gave him a German passport, he was placed in a more comfortable position. He worked his way from Frankfort to Cologne, and then eventually to Holland, where he was forced to stay for a while due to freezing weather.

Finally, the ice in the port where he was staying in Holland melted enough for the ship for his passage to England to be able to come through. The cold continued to cause issues for the trip, but, Ourry tells us, after 16 hours at sea, his group managed to dock at Harwich. From there he took a carriage to London, arriving on 3 March 1707, after having left Barcelona with the army around 14 or 15 December 1706.

Due to the dangerous warfare and weather encountered on the way there, Ourry considered his safe arrival in England ‘a miracle of Providence.’ However, after just six weeks, he was given a new army commission to travel to Portugal. The transcribed manuscript ends with a description of the beauties of Lisbon, following his arrival there. But there is also a further note from the person who has commented on the fact that the manuscript is damaged. This gives a brief overview of the later phases of Ourry’s life. After getting married, he went to live on Jersey with his family. Eventually he managed to pay a visit back to his family in Blois, 29 years after he had first left the city. The note ends by stating that Ourry died at Bethnal Green on 4 January 1771 – exactly 250 years ago last month – and is buried there. This date is corroborated by two copies of the epitaph for Ourry erected by his daughter, Elizabeth Beuzeville, also found in the archives (4M52/6).

Nora Baker, DPhil student, Jesus College, Oxford

Nora is researching memoir writings by French Protestant refugees in the wake of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.