6th of May 2023 marks the coronation of King Charles III. Coronations are often associated with pomp, pageantry, music and tradition. New works are published and events are recorded by people attending or celebrating the coronation of a new monarch.
One example of this can be found in our Collection of books published in the 19th Century. In 1727 George II commissioned his favourite composer George Frederic Handel to compose new music for his coronation. Handel’s Anthems for the Coronation included The King Shall Rejoice, Let Thy Hand be Strengthened, My Heart is Inditing, and perhaps most famously, Zadok the Priest. Special Collections holds a copy of the music of the four anthems, published in 1843 by the Handel Society. Since George II’s coronation the anthems have been used in all coronations since.
Traces of the pageantry and celebrations of coronations past can also be found in our archives. In August 1902 King Edward VII was crowned at Westminster Abbey and London was well decorated for the occasion! In one of the photograph albums of our Plowden Archive we find several photographs, likely taken a member of the local Bell family of industrialists, of preparations for the event. This included the hanging of garlands in the City, the erection of temporary stands for spectators of the processions to and from Westminster Abbey, and a temporary annexe built at the West end of the Abbey to allow formal processions to assemble under cover.
In our photograph albums, compiled by the Trevelyan family of Wallington we find another link to the 1902 coronation in the form of an admission ticket to 49 and 50 Parliament Street. This address is only a very short walk from Westminster and would have given the bearer a prime seat to see the king travelling to and from Westminster Abbey.
King Edward reinged until 1910, when he was succeeded by his son, who became King George V. His coronation was held on the 22nd June 1911. In our Plowden Archive we find evidence that members of the Bell family had an even closer view of proceedings than close by on the procession route. This is in the form of an official invitation to His Majesty’s Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire and Lady Bell to attend the coronation service in Westminster Abbey. They are better known as Sir Hugh and Lady Florence Bell, industrialists, and parents of explorer and political figure Gertrude Bell.
In 1904 Hugh and Florence’s daughter, Molly (Mary) married Charles Philips Trevelyan a landowner and politician. His political career led him to joining the Privvy Council in 1924 and becoming Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland in 1930. In early 1936 George V died and he was succeeded by his son, Edward VIII. Edward’s reign was a short and controversial one which ended with his well-known abdication on the 11th of December 1936, without him being crowned in a coronation. His younger brother George VI succeeded him, and as a member of the Privvy Council Charles Trevelyan had a front row seat at the proclamation of the new king. As he wrote in a letter to his wife Molly “I am going to St James’ Palace to the signing of the Proclamation and whatever other formalities there may be in regard to the new king.”
Later letters in the archive go on to document the celebrations surrounding King George VI’s coronation in 1937 which was attended by Charles and Molly, and the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. The archive was deposited with Newcastle University by Charles and Molly’s family following Molly’s death in 1966.
There are many other items in our rare book and archive collections which document celebrations around the crowning of a new monarch, ranging in date from the crowing of Queen Victoria in 1838 to the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. These include song books, Many of these have been digitised and can be found on our CollectionsCaptured site here: https://collectionscaptured.ncl.ac.uk/digital/search/searchterm/coronation
As part of the Special for Everyone project to address equality, diversity and inclusion in Special Collections & Archives, Finding their Voicesis an exhibition celebrating the many diverse voices present within our collections.
Many of the voices within Special Collection & Archives have long been visible and heard, yet those from marginalised groups in society have often been obscured. Our Special for Everyone project is actively working to diversify the voices included in our collections and to illuminate the hidden or lesser-heard voices they contain. We are doing this by taking a fresh look at the sources and, where necessary, reading between the lines to uncover those which are harder to find.
Finding their Voices is a celebration of some of the people we have encountered through this work. It features people who found and made their own voices heard despite their often-marginalised position, and those whose voices have been more difficult to hear. We are amplifying them here to enable a new generation of researchers to discover them.
The exhibition contains items from across Special Collections & Archives. Below are some of the exhibition highlights:
Working-Class Mining Communities
The lives of people from working-class communities in the past can often be difficult to discern within the official record. However, closer examination and interrogation of sources can help to uncover their history and voices.
Thomas Hair (c.1810-1875) was a local artist whose illustrations depict the North East’s coal mining industry in the 19th century. His work captures the everyday workings of the industry, with many of the illustrations focussing on collieries, machinery, and river trade. Hair’s work provides visual evidence of the coal mining landscape and reveals the industry’s impact on the built environment. These images can tell us much about the lived experience of miners in this period, giving a ‘voice’ to their lives and the hard-working conditions they faced.
David Bateman and Shtum: the stutter poems
Poet David Bateman had a severe stutter as a child and teenager. He had successful speech therapy in 1980, aged 23. Since then, he still has a slight stutter in ordinary life but performs his poetry widely and has won many poetry slams and competitions. He writes poems, stories, scripts and articles. His book Shtum is a frank and personal account of what it is to have a stutter, the process of seeking the right help, and of finding your voice.
The poems in Shtum were mostly written between 2009 and 2015, but some have their origins in work from as early as 1980. David Bateman had never really considered writing about his stutter until he was prompted to think about how it was woven into his work when asked to participate in a radio documentary about stuttering in 2009. The project led him to return to some previously unpublished work made up of incomplete poems, unrealised ideas and prose diary entries. He felt ready to rework these early pieces and develop many new poems. The result is Shtum: the stutter poems.
The Pride Movement
The UK’s first Pride march took place in London on 1st July 1972 with around 2,000 participants. Over 50 years later, London Pride now sees over 1.5 million people marching together to celebrate LGBTQ+ rights. The Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) was established in Lancashire in 1964. Special Collections & Archives holds the archive for CHE’s Tyneside branch, including documents which illuminate the story of the Pride movement since that first march over five decades ago.
Within the Tyneside CHE Archive, it is possible to look back at Pride marches from across the past five decades. The first Pride march in 1972 took place 5 years after the Sexual Offences Act 1967 was passed, which decriminalised sex between gay men over the age of 21 in England and Wales. However, at the time of the first Pride march, the LGBTQ+ community still faced much discrimination. For example, gay marriage was not legal, and gay and bisexual people were banned from joining the armed forces. As well as campaigning, CHE also provided a social and support network for gay men and lesbians, providing a space for members of the LGBTQ+ community to make their voices heard.
The everyday lives and voices of women are often not well-documented. Through personal belongings such as books and correspondence, however, it is possible to gain glimpses into the ordinary day-to-day lives of women. We can see the importance of friendship amongst women, and the bonds and relationships they made through their social networks. In historical periods women found themselves in charge of running the household whilst their husbands were away at work. The exhibition highlights items which are testimony to the importance of companionship and mutual support between women and reflect how we can uncover their voices through what they left behind.
Jane Loraine’s recipe book from the 17th century contains a recipe ‘good for conception’, one ‘to prevent miscaring [miscarrying]’ and one ‘to make teeth white’. These recipes highlight the shared experiences of women and their attempts to help one another, not only with culinary recipes but also with fertility and more general health concerns. Different handwriting styles and recipes are attributed to different women. This indicates that the manuscript had multiple female contributors. Recipes were also often passed between class boundaries, highlighting the communal and collaborative nature of domestic knowledge in the early modern period.
The classic image of women from the past is one of confinement, lack of agency, and a life of drudgery, domestic boredom or excess. In reality, whilst this might have been true for some, there have always been women who defied the expectations of their gender and exploited their talents to support themselves financially. Many gained a degree of respect in their chosen field and enjoyed popular success. Finding their Voices showcase items written and illustrated by women with talents and expertise in areas as diverse as science, art, storytelling, philosophy and pedagogy. Through their writings and illustrations their voices have a lasting impact.
Elizabeth Blackwell (1707-1758) is one of the women highlighted within the Finding their Voices exhibition. She was the first woman known to have produced a book of botanical work in Britain. Despite having a wealthy background, she was forced to use her skill of botanical drawing to raise money to support herself and release her husband from debtor’s prison. Even more unusually, Elizabeth Blackwell undertook all stages of the illustrative process herself rather than employing specialist engravers and painters. She completed two volumes consisting of about 500 illustrations with accompanying commentary in under two years. The book was intended as a reference work for doctors who needed a thorough knowledge of medicinal plants.
Kamau Brathwaite and the Caribbean Voice
Barbadian poet, literary critic and historian Kamau Brathwaite (1930–2020) is a significant figure in the Caribbean literary canon, and one of its major voices. His work is noted for its rich and complex examination of the African and indigenous roots of Caribbean culture. He sought to create a distinctively Caribbean form of poetry which would celebrate Caribbean voices and language.
Kamau Brathwaite was born in Bridgetown, Barbados. Originally named Edward Lawson Brathwaite, he received the name Kamau from the grandmother of the Kenyan writer and academic Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, when on a fellowship at the University of Nairobi in 1971.
Kamau Brathwaite co-founded the Caribbean Artists Movement, a collaboration of artists which celebrated a new sense of shared Caribbean ‘nationhood’, in 1966. Caribbean identity and culture are central to Kamau Brathwaite’s academic writing as well as his poetry. Brathwaite felt that the traditional meter of the English iambic pentameter (where every line is composed of ten syllables and has five stresses) could not express the breadth and depth of that experience. He instead used African and Caribbean folk and jazz rhythms in his poetry. He combined that with the use of Caribbean dialect and patterns of speech to create a distinctively Caribbean form of poetry, which was written to be performed out loud and heard.
These items can be found alongside many others within the Finding their Voices exhibition on Level 2 of the Philip Robinson Library from Monday 10th April – June 2023.
Written by Daisy-Alys Vaughan, student working on the Special for Everyone project.
If you drive (or walk!) west out of Newcastle along Sandyford Road, you will pass John Dobson’s Jesmond Cemetery on the left. Look over the road and you will see a stone wall with a grand entrance featuring two large stone columns on either side. A modern sign informs you that this is the entrance to Sandyford Park. Entering the grounds, a narrow winding road passes sheltered accommodation and mature trees before arriving at the main entrance to the Newcastle High School for Girls. This appears to be a large old house, which, in the late 19th century, was the home of Dr Charles Gibb. Dr Gibb was a respected Newcastle surgeon immortalised in the Geordie anthem, ‘The Blaydon Races’:
Sum went to the Dispensary an’ uthers to Doctor Gibb’s, An’ sum sought out the Infirmary to mend their broken ribs.
The Gibb (Charles) Archive contains papers relating to Dr Gibb’s career as a local GP. It also features some interesting photographs of his home at Sandyford Park. We’ve been along to Newcastle High School for Girls and they very kindly let us walk around the grounds so we could attempt a then-and-now comparison of locations.
Here’s the entrance to Villa Real/Sandyford Park in the 1880s and a current (March 2023) view (seen below). The two original inner columns have disappeared (from this location) but the lamps appear to have survived or are reproductions of the originals.
The house was built by Newcastle architect John Dobson for Captain John Dutton in 1817 and was originally called Villa Real. It was one of Dobson’s earliest designs, set in 21 acres of land featuring a fishpond, fishing house, and spring. There was a lodge on Sandyford Road, and wide curved lawns edged with woodland, with glasshouses to the north-west and two pineries and vinery sheds with a chimney in the woodland behind. East of the house was a vast walled garden with a cistern at its centre. Further east there was a melon ground.
The impressive entrance porch was supported by Tuscan columns. The house was designed with large bow windows which gave views onto an expansive lawn and across the field to a fishpond.
Dr Gibb had taken up residence in Villa Real after living and practicing in the centre of Newcastle. His home/surgery is now memorialised with a blue plaque as Gibb Chambers at 52-54 Westgate Road, where the injured Blaydon Races revellers went to seek treatment. Villa Real became Sandyford Hall in 1883 and then Sandyford Park. When Gibb died in 1916 the property was taken over by the Poor Sisters of Nazareth for nearly 80 years, and was renamed Nazareth House. In 1996 the Sisters transferred to London and for a while the house was managed by Catholic Care North East. It is now known as Chapman House, the main reception for the Newcastle High School for Girls. It was given an English Heritage Grade II listing in 1987.
The Gibb (Charles) Archive also contains internal shots of the house, showing the high Victorian penchant for rooms with an (over-)abundance of paintings, ornaments, and furniture.
Written by Ella Fothergill, Listen to this Story!an exhibition about Children’s Books and Black Britain exhibition placement student (September-November 2022) – this was a joint exhibition with 7Stories, across 2 sites (Newcastle City Library and the Philip Robinson Library).
It is no secret to those who know me that I love children’s literature. My reasons for being passionate about this genre (and why I dedicated my postgraduate degree to studying it) would make for a very long list. But, in a nutshell, I find that children’s books are so fascinating because of the large role they play in shaping young people’s perceptions of the world. In other words, what we learn when we are young profoundly influences our understanding of the world and everything in it and, as such, children’s books have significant power over what beliefs, biases and ideas we harbour as adults.
Given this, I was very excited to see a student placement opportunity which focused on children’s works and Black British publishing – the two subjects which have been the centre of my Masters research. Specifically, this placement offered the opportunity to work with archived children’s works within Newcastle University Special Collections, curating a city-wide exhibition that would highlight the literary work done by Black British people. After reading the job advertisement, I applied immediately and … a few weeks and one interview later, I was offered the position!
Now, three months down the line and my internship is almost over. I have learned a lot along the way and have met many creative, talented people. Here is a summary of my internship highlights and responsibilities:
Before the opening of the exhibition, I was responsible for writing a caption to go alongside each exhibited work. I really enjoyed this because it involved handling the archived children’s texts myself, some of which were up to two hundred years old. I particularly loved flicking though the first few pages of each book where there was often a handwritten note or an old library stamp.
I have also had the opportunity to meet and work with graphic designers, authors, archivists and architects. I especially enjoyed meeting the children’s author and illustrator, Ken Wilson-Max, at the exhibition’s opening at Newcastle City Library. He hosted a brilliant talk about “Navigating the World of Children’s Publishing”.
Following the opening of the exhibition, I have also been involved in a few post-launch activities. These included writing a questionnaire for any exhibition visitors, writing tweets to promote the exhibition on social media, writing blog posts (such as this one and the Listen to this Story! blogpost) and conducting visitor tracking to observe visitor behaviour in the space.
All of these experiences have been both valuable and enjoyable for me. This internship has also allowed me to witness the extraordinary talent and effort that goes into creating an exhibition as well as helping me to understand the world of children’s publishing more fully!
Written by Robinson bequest student Becky Sanderson
Newcastle University Special Collections and Archives currently houses 972 transcripts which contain the detailed radio transmissions of day-to-day stories and science told by the members of the British North Greenland Expedition (BNGE) 1952-1954. The BNGE traversed north Greenland, exploring the great white landscape from Dronning Louise Land in the east, to Thule in the west. The team undertaking this feat ranged from glaciologists and geophysicists to naval wireless operators and naval medical officers. Within the team, familiar scientific names jump out including Stan Paterson, Colin Bull, Malcolm Slessor, James Simpson, and Newcastle University’s own Hal Lister.
Hal was an undergraduate student at Newcastle before, and an academic staff member after the expedition. Hal was also a member of many Antarctic missions and potentially one of the first people to overwinter in both Greenland and Antarctica. While on the expedition, he maintained his links to Newcastle University when applying for a Shell Studentship. Hal needed the reference of a senior academic at his institution and reached out to Professor Henry Daysh (head of the Department of Geography, now School of Geography, Politics & Sociology, up until his retirement in 1966).
My interest in the archive is driven through my love of glaciology. I am currently undertaking my PhD within the Physical Geography department at Newcastle University focusing primarily on Antarctic research. Therefore, my knowledge of the archive was very limited until reading the 1957 book ‘High Arctic’ by Mike Banks (one of the expedition members) and delving further into the archive. I was given the opportunity to transcribe and order the transcripts through the Robinson Bequest Bursary. Before I begin, my understanding was that I would be trawling through hundreds of pages of scientific reports and findings. However, much to my delight, not only does the archive contain scientifically important datasets, methods and polar expedition logistics, but the archive also contains heart-warming Christmas messages (Fig. 1), birthday messages, notifications of the birth of family members, requests for alcohol and cheese and many jokes about how cold the temperature is in the Arctic.
Overall, the BNGE was a huge success. The research findings and data collected on the expedition (Hamilton, 1958 and references within) have contributed to long term quantification of ice sheet change studies (Paterson and Reeh, 2001) and generated scientific questions that are still relevant for those researching the ice sheets today. The way scientific findings were communicated through the transcripts vary from detailed glaciology reports (Fig. 2), to the self-proclaimed “trilling instalment” of direct measurements of scientific information (i.e. ice thickness: Fig. 3). Not only this, but throughout the expedition, the team built up strong international collaborations with the Americans, Danes, French, Australian and the Icelanders. By doing so, they were able to share and gain information on safe passage, weather reports or general advice. The successful logistic operation of the expedition is worthy of note. The partnership between those on the ice and the RAF worked effectively and efficiently. The RAF provided support from the air throughout the two years on the ice. The relationship flourished so well that the RAF dropped a Christmas hamper for those at main base in the first year.
I have mentioned the huge success of the expedition, however, most polar exploration does not go without a few hiccups. For those on the BNGE expedition, there were certainly a few hiccups. Polar expeditions are often highly dangerous and the challenges that the team faced is highlighted throughout the transcripts. Although no specifics are recorded, the transcripts detail the gratitude of the family for the support they received after the death of Danish team member Captain Hans Jensen. Hans was the only fatality, however, there were several other “lucky escapes”. Weasels (snow tractors) often broke down in the middle of the ice sheet, exploded or fell into crevasses (Fig. 4). There were other incidents of fires breaking out in the engine room of their huts and bases. However, one of the most notable disasters was the “Ice Cap Crash” of 1952, that even made BBC news at home in the UK. Video footage of the crash site and drop operation was captured in this Ice Cap Men Return From Greenland (1952) video.
A large portion of the transcripts detail the rescue plans and effort of the members on the ice, the RAF and the collaborators at the American base in Thule. The rescue took eight days, the three injured members of the aircraft crew made a full recovery in the hospital in Thule.
The BNGE was one of few scientific polar expeditions that took place in the mid-20th century and can be viewed as the inspiration for many internationally important scientific and geophysical investigations that followed. The knowledge and experiences gained by those on the expedition has moulded our understanding of the physics of ice sheets. It has also shaped the way that I view my own work, the incredible challenges that the team faced in the field are often now taken for granted because of technological advances. It has been a privilege to read through the personal accounts of each members experiences and the uplifting messages that they were able to send home.
‘A Very Pretty Little Christmas Carol’ from A Garland of Christmas Carols (Chapbooks 821.89 GAR)
Chistmas day is growing near so here’s a little carol to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
This carol is from A Garland of Christmas Carols chapbook, which consists of many other Christmas Carols. A Chapbook is an early type of popular literature. They were produced cheaply, were commonly small paper-covered booklets that were usually printed on a single sheet and folded into books with 8, 12, 16 and 24 pages.
Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle from ‘Illustrated London News, Christmas Supplement’, 1848 (19th Century Collection, 19th C. Coll, 030 ILL)This illustration from the December 1848 Christmas Supplement to the Illustrated London News, shows the royal family gathered round a christmas tree at Windsor Castle. When this image first appeared in the Illustrated London News, it attracted a huge amount of attention. The upper classes had been decorating trees for some time, having been introduced by Queen Charlotte in the 18th century, but this image spread the fashion to the rest of society.
Decorating a tree with candles and gifts was a German tradition that was enthusiastically enjoyed by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This image of the royal family, which depicts children, parents and grandmother, all enjoying themselves around the tree was influential in promoting Christmas as a family occasion. By the end of the 1840s, Christmas had become a festival celebration of the Victorian calendar.
Kissing Couple from ‘Impresses Quaint’, 1889 (Joseph Crawhall II Archive, JCII/7/96)
Is kissing under the mistletoe a Christmas tradition for you?
Joseph Crawhall II was born in Newcastle in 1821 and was the son of Joseph Crawhall I, who was a sheriff of Newcastle. As well as running the family ropery business with his brothers, he also spent his time illustrating, making woodcuts and producing books.
“We meet in China’s sunny clime, A Tea Plantation as here seen, Where plants the sloping hill-side climb, In straggling tufts of evergreen. This then as you will plainly see, Depicts the origin of Tea.”
Above transcription taken from page 1 of The Story of Cup of Tea in Rhymes and Pictures. Beautifully illustrated, this book takes you through the tea plantation, culture, gathering, drying, roasting and rolling, sorting, buying, mixing, carrying and finally drinking tea. The story ends…
“Hurrah! at length we see it here, Upon our own Tea Table placed; And soon our spirits it will cheer, From out the Urn that it has graced.
Let each and all the grateful be, And hail a welcome guest in Tea”.