It was a dark and stormy night…

‘Is it my imagination, or is the side of the house moving?’

I don’t think I’ll forget my father’s words, re-told to me down the phone by my mother. It was 26 January 1990, the day after the (second) Great Storm had struck the UK, and I was away at university, removed from the worst of the weather. Continue reading “It was a dark and stormy night…”


The Forest of Halla Haroldi and Churlwood

In the 13th century Hampshire had the highest concentration of Royal Forests in England. Whilst the New Forest is well covered by historians; the others are not. I have been researching these at Hampshire Record Office (HRO) and my particular interest is the Forest of East Bere. One particular mystery with respect of the later is the Forest of Halla Haroldi. Nothing has been published on this important topic and documents at the HRO have provided an important insight.


Roger Clooney inspecting a map at Hampshire Record Office. Continue reading “The Forest of Halla Haroldi and Churlwood”

Women’s suffrage: petitions, protests and pilgrimages

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‘In the suffrage cause there were several names which would live for ever; on the other hand there were those who had undergone a great deal of personal fatigue, and who had given part of their health- a great many thousands in fact- who would never be heard of, and yet they were working from day to day in the cause.’ Miss Fielden addressing a crowd in Winchester, 1913, as part of the Great Pilgrimage. Recorded in the Hampshire Chronicle.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of The Representation of the People Act, which gave women over 30 and ‘of property’ the right to vote. The campaign to gain women the vote often brings to mind Emmeline Pankhurst, the death of Emily Davison at The Derby in 1913 and the often militant actions of The Women’s Social and Political Union, such as setting fire to post boxes and the bombing of David Lloyd George’s house.   However, it is important to note that many other organisations and individuals fought for women’s suffrage and many did this through non-violent means, such as petitions, publications and peaceful protests. We saw in a previous blog how Lady Laura Ridding supported the suffrage movement, for example by writing a response to Lord Curzon’s ‘fifteen good reasons against the grant of female suffrage’.  How did other women in Hampshire, and the surrounding area, seek to push forward the rights of women? Continue reading “Women’s suffrage: petitions, protests and pilgrimages”

Digitithe Hampshire Project

Tithe maps are a fascinating depiction of parishes in the early 19th century and, together with their awards, or apportionments, are a great resource for family and local historians, as well as those studying agricultural and land use patterns, rights of way, or the history of a house.

Using a Geographic Information System (GIS), the aim of the Digitithe Hampshire project is to overlay digital copies of the tithe maps onto modern maps to help users explore the information they contain.

tithe map alton

Alton tithe map, 21M65/F7/3/2 Continue reading “Digitithe Hampshire Project”

More mysteries in the archives

Last autumn we showed you a selection of photographs and other documents from our holdings that we had been unable to identify, and we were delighted that several blog readers got in touch to suggest identifications, which we were able to verify. Those documents are now fully catalogued and it is more likely that researchers will be able to find them using the catalogue. Link to previous blog.

Here is another selection of documents that are mystifying us, and which we hope you may be able to help us with. In some cases the fact that we have found them among the papers of a particular family or organisation means that we have some clues. It is a great pity when we have to admit defeat and fall back on descriptions such as ‘unidentified large house’ in catalogue entries – while being aware that, if only we could identify it, it might be exactly the house that someone is trying to research.

k 136A09_6 GroupPhotoUnidentified event. Continue reading “More mysteries in the archives”

Life in a day

As a newly-qualified archivist many years ago, one of the first jobs I recall being asked to do (i.e. on day 1!), was to run the Map Room at the old record office in St Thomas’s church. I was fresh off the training course and a bit green, to say the least, so it really was a baptism of fire. I soon learnt that the ‘Maps’ bit was somewhat misleading, though the ‘running’ part certainly wasn’t. There was an awful lot more to it besides getting to grips with National Grid and County Series, tithes and enclosures, piddles and perches. You had to dash back and forth from the lift to collect documents for from the top floor search room, make friends with a grumpy photocopier, and trouble-shoot the microform viewers, all whilst trying to ‘supervise’ the public (or ‘searchers’, as we used to call them). Nowadays of course, we have ‘customers’ and ‘help desks’ which are a lot more user-friendly, though the running around part certainly hasn’t changed. They always say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and gradually I got the hang of things. All those years later, I’m still here!


Continue reading “Life in a day”

The lady with the lamp: Florence Nightingale and her Hampshire connections

Florence Nightingale is known as the heroine of the Crimean War, as an adviser to successive governments in peace and war time on subjects, such as sanitation or hospital construction, or perhaps generally as a pioneer in the field of nursing and nursing training. However, many may not be aware of her Hampshire connections, or that there is important material relating to her life and work held by Hampshire Archives and Local Studies. This blog will reveal these connections and some of the documents we hold about Florence Nightingale, as we mark her 198th birthday.


Continue reading “The lady with the lamp: Florence Nightingale and her Hampshire connections”

Pets in Diaries at Hampshire Record Office

Today almost half of British homes contain at least one pet animal. A recent survey found that eighty-nine percent of owners considered them to be part of the family. Although people have had pets for hundreds of years, pet-keeping as we know it today didn’t emerge until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


Jennie Gauntlett Hill and her cat, Trix, ref 130M82/52-p26. Continue reading “Pets in Diaries at Hampshire Record Office”

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”

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”

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”