With Hampshire Record Office’s 70th anniversary fast approaching I thought it would be nice to share with you some of my favourite items from the archives.  This was no easy feat as there are so many interesting documents in our collection; however, I have kept it short and sweet and managed to narrow it down to my top three.

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A page from a World War I autograph book.

The first item (ref 83M93/65) is one my colleague came across whilst searching for items about dancing, and I’m pleased to say it kept us both occupied for a good while.  The document in question is a small printed book entitled ‘The Polite Academy or School Behaviour for Young Gentlemen and Ladies.  Intended as a Foundation for Good Manners and Polite Address in Masters and Misses.’

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The authors of the book have dedicated it to school-masters, governesses, parents, guardians and ‘all who have the care of children’.  Within, there is guidance on dancing, conversing, polite behaviour whilst in the company of others, and even detailed instruction on how to bow, curtsey and walk with grace.  Why not follow the instructions in the photograph below and see how gracefully you can walk from one side of the room to the other, having tried it, I can say it isn’t as easy as it sounds!

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This autograph book (ref 68A06/1) was signed by patients recovering at Eastleigh Military Hospital during World War I.  Although it is not clear who owned this book, it is possible that it belonged to Daisy Eydmann, who may have been a nurse at the hospital.  The entry on the first page, a small poem, was written by Daisy on December 21st 1915 and another, Daisy’s name and the date made from pressed flowers, was made on March 30th 1920.  Despite being at war and recuperating in a hospital, the patients appear in good spirits; with humorous rhymes, sketches and even romantic verses being put in the book!

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The third and final item is a map, and although it would be very easy for me to simply include all of our maps in my top three, there is one that I am particularly fond of; a reproduction of Christopher Saxton’s map of Hampshire, in colour (ref 139M89/1/1).  Saxton produced the map in 1575 as part of a commission to map all of the counties within England and Wales, and the reproduction was printed in 1966.  From ships and sea serpents to rivers, forests and cathedrals, the details are so impressive, I spot something new every time the map is brought into the searchroom.

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Don’t forget to visit Hampshire Record Office for our 70th anniversary open day on Saturday 9th September, 10am-4pm.  This is a free event and is an excellent opportunity to have a tour behind the scenes (advanced booking required), view Hampshire’s history through various documents and let the children take part in a treasure trail!
For further information and to book onto a tour please contact our reception on 01962 846154.

Steff Palmer, searchroom assistant

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