Lady Laura Ridding

100 years ago the first British women were granted the vote and to mark this occasion I would like to share with you a small selection of papers from the Earl of Selborne and Laura Ridding collection we hold at Hampshire Record Office (collection ref 9M68).  The items relating to Lady Laura Ridding include correspondence, letters to family, foreign and domestic travel diaries, war time diaries, poems and articles written by Lady Laura, and periodicals containing her contributions.

Laura RiddingPhoto of Lady Laura Ridding – Courtesy of the Earl of Selborne. Continue reading “Lady Laura Ridding”


Finding your way through title deeds

Have you used title deeds as a source for local history or family history, or have you found some deeds in your attic, or been handed a bundle of deeds when you paid off your mortgage? Are you baffled by complicated conveyances, mystifying mortgages or tangled tenancies? Title deeds can be a wonderful source of information about properties and the people who have owned or lived in them, but being faced with a mountain of parchment documents filled with seemingly endless repetition can be daunting. Fortunately, title deeds run on very predictable lines, and once you can spot where to find the key pieces of information it becomes much easier to work out what they are telling you. So here is a quick guide to finding your way around a title deed. Continue reading “Finding your way through title deeds”

Poor law records: please, sir, I want some more

How did the past look after their poor? What would have happened to your ancestor if they couldn’t work? Records at Hampshire Record Office can often provide a revealing insight into the stories of the poor and how society treated them. Unsurprisingly, the poor and homeless have left few records to tell us how they felt about their situation, so for the most part we have to rely on the official records of church and state, the authorities attempting to deal with the widespread problem of poverty.  Nevertheless, these are important social documents which can reveal a great deal of information. Continue reading “Poor law records: please, sir, I want some more”

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

A customer recently asked a question to which the only answer was ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know.’

It does sometimes happen! As an archivist – especially in a local authority-run record office, where collections are diverse and can be very large – you never know what you might be asked. Any aspect of any historical period in the last thousand years could crop up, so you can’t possibly hope to know everything. There’s an old adage in this business which says that archivists know ‘a little about a lot’, whereas historians, who tend to immerse themselves in one particular period or subject, know ‘a lot about a little’. It’s certainly true. Continue reading “Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder”

Moving through time

The way we travel has dramatically changed over the last two centuries with the rise of the railway, the automobile and our pursuit to fly. These dramatic transformations to our society are revealed by some fascinating documents held in Hampshire Record Office.  I’ve been delving into the archives to discover what we hold about transport ,for our evening event in February, and I thought I would share with you a couple of my favourite stories which I have so far found.

Continue reading “Moving through time”

Celebrating Hampshire’s folk traditions

Hampshire Archives and Local Studies holds a wealth of information on the folk customs of the county.  Some of these customs are practised up and down the country, whilst a few are peculiar to Hampshire alone.  The passing of the seasons plays a large role in our folk traditions as in centuries gone by man gave thanks for the harvest and welcomed new life in the spring.

May Day is celebrated on 1st May and echoes the earlier Pagan Celtic festival of Beltane.  This was a time to celebrate fertility and the re-awakening of the earth after the long winter. Ovington, May Day
Ovington, May Day c1897 (ref: 41M93/77/8) Continue reading “Celebrating Hampshire’s folk traditions”

The Home Front: a personal recollection of Netley Hospital

Hampshire Archives holds many documents relating to military hospitals in Hampshire during various conflicts.

The document which has personally struck me is a diary of Victor Shawyer (reference 170A12W/D/2375).  In this diary he recalls his time spent at Netley Hospital in WW1.  Often amusing, sometimes sad, sometimes not what we would say PC, but a personal insight into how things were at Netley.  What follows are extracts from a Hampshire man of his time spent at Netley Hospital in the latter months of WW1…

‘Eventually my turn came around to be put on a hospital train the one proceeding to Netley Hospital….

Netley Hospital, ref 92M91/2/15 Continue reading “The Home Front: a personal recollection of Netley Hospital”

Powlett family – a colonial story

In the midst of winter, as we celebrate Christmas and New Year, thoughts of cricket may be far away. This year though, is an Ashes winter.  Despite their already sad loss, many will still be anticipating the Boxing Day Test match, held at the famous Melbourne cricket ground, home of the Melbourne Cricket Club. Few will be aware however, that Frederick Powlett, a member of a well known Hampshire family was one of the founder members of the Melbourne Cricket Club in 1838.


MCG city shot lg_jpg_MG_7809Then and Now of Melbourne Cricket Club. Credit Melbourne Cricket Club library.

Continue reading “Powlett family – a colonial story”

Pantomime in the archives: It’s behind you! Part Two

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Welcome back after the interval to Pantomime in the archives. I hope you enjoyed your ice cream and are sitting comfortably waiting for the curtain to rise.

Alongside pantomimes at professional theatres, amateur productions have been enjoyed by both audience and performers alike for many years. Continue reading “Pantomime in the archives: It’s behind you! Part Two”

Pantomime in the archives: It’s behind you!Part One

It’s the pantomime season again (oh yes it is, oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is! Right, that’s got that out of the way!).

I’m a big fan of pantomime, and usually attend two each year, in Sheffield at the Lyceum, which this time is presenting Mother Goose, and locally at the Theatre Royal in Winchester, which is showing Peter Pan this season.

Pantomime features across the archives, in both amateur and professional guises, and across all formats, paper-based, digital and audio-visual. So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, nans and grandads, please take your seats as I wave my magic wand to conjure the latest blog from our archives, where there are definitely no white mice or King Rats!


A performance of Robinson Crusoe by the Winchester Dramatic Society , 1958. Continue reading “Pantomime in the archives: It’s behind you!Part One”