The story of King George III’s illness, the repeated bouts of mental instability and derangement from which he suffered from 1788 until the end of his reign, known variously as “the Royal Malady” or “the madness of King George”, is a familiar one.
This bulletin, carrying the latest news on the status of George III’s illness, was issued from Windsor Castle by his doctors and physicians on 18th January 1811, during his final and longest bout of illness and just a few months after his final public appearance at a reception at Windsor.
Bulletins on the king’s health were issued throughout his illness and were intended for public consumption as well as for the eyes of the queen and her council. At this stage the bulletins were being issued daily and deliberately lacked any real or valid detail about the king’s health, being designed to allay alarm rather than to record medical facts and to protect the dignity of the king as well as the feelings of the queen and the royal family. This bulletin, therefore, is a typical example of its type.
It is signed by Matthew Baillie, physician-extraordinary to the king, William Heberden the younger, the king’s physician-in-ordinary, and Robert Willis, who specialised in the treatment of mental disorders. Although the bulletin carries the signatures of all three men, it is known that, by this stage, the royal physicians had been ordered by the queen’s council to leave the daily management of the king’s illness to specialist “mad-doctors” and that to this task the council had appointed John and Robert Willis, sons of the reverend Francis Willis who owned a private asylum and who had been credited with bringing about the king’s recovery from his first bout of illness in 1789.
The Willises favoured the use of repressive and coercive forms of treatment such as the use of the strait-jacket and restraining chair, both of which the king was subjected to, as well as enforced confinement and a strict medical regime to bring down his “fever” and “turbulent spirits”, including vomits, purges, bleeding, blistering, the application of leeches and regular doses of medicine. During the king’s last illness both Baillie and Heberden sounded strong objections to the methods of treatment handed out to him by the Willis brothers, but were ignored.
At the time this bulletin was issued, the king had relapsed midway through the previous month and had been very ill over Christmas and New Year. The following month, he would be declared mentally unfit to rule and his eldest son, the future George IV, would be appointed Prince Regent to rule in his place. Thereafter the king would spend the last ten years of his life in a twilight world, deprived of visitors, conversation and outings under the Willises’ regime, losing his sight and growing increasingly deaf, until his death at Windsor on 29th January 1820.
Although George III’s symptoms were identified as insanity by contemporary doctors, it is now widely held that he was in fact suffering from the rare hereditary blood disorder porphyria. A classic physical symptom of porphyria is deep red or purple coloured urine, and this was found to be evident throughout the notes and observations contained in the journals and correspondence of the king’s physicians when they were re-examined in the 1960s. Furthermore, in its acute form, porphyria is known to produce neurological damage and mental instability. Further research in 2005 concluded that the king’s porphyria attacks were quite possibly brought on by a build-up of arsenic in his system (tests on a sample of his hair showed it to contain over 200 times the toxic level), thought to have been caused by one of his medicines, James’ Powder. The Powder, which, tragically, was administered to him several times daily, was made from antimony which in turn contains significant amounts of arsenic.
The bulletin is contained in a collection of medical manuscripts donated to the library by Professor Pybus (1883-1975) who donated his private collection on the history of medicine, including books, manuscripts, engravings, portraits, busts, bleeding bowls and research notes, to the University Library in 1965.
October 27th signals 100 years since the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed by Mustafa Kamal Atatürk following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1922.
An influential archive collection held by Newcastle University Special Collections is the UNESCO International Memory of the World listed Gertrude Bell Archive, a collection of personal correspondence and photographs of explorer, archaeologist and colonial diplomat Gertrude Bell, who witnessed and recorded many significant events involving the Ottoman Empire throughout her life.
In addition to this world famous archive, Special Collections is also custodian of the Sir Austen Henry Layard archive and book collection. Sir Austen Henry Layard was an archaeologist, politician and diplomat who was involved in the colonial administration of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. This blog post focuses on some items from the Sir Henry Layard Collection; it provides an additional perspective to elements of colonial administration inherent to understandings of the Ottoman Empire that is available for research through Newcastle University Special Collections
Before Sir Austen Henry Layard embarked on his diplomatic career, he was first and foremost an archaeologist working on excavations at Nimrud and Nineveh, former Assyrian cities in what is now present day Iraq. The following drawing of Lamassu, with handwritten annotations was located in a large red folder with other archaeological drawings and proofs for the publication, Monuments of Nineveh, along with annotated engravings in English and German.
Sir Austen Henry Layard had been on several unofficial diplomatic missions to Constantinople prior to 1845. However, in 1877 he took on the position of Ambassador of Constantinople which shaped his attitude towards the Ottoman Empire and subsequent diplomatic career. Layard’s belief that Britain could encourage administrative reform in the Ottoman Empire through energetic diplomacy and capital investment and that Turkey should receive greater support from Britain as a bulwark against Russian influence in the region often brought him into conflict with prevailing government policy.
Correspondence in the archive details the connection that Layard had with the Turkish Parliament and the Sultan. Events are captured through the writings of Lady Enid Layard (née Guest) to her sister Charlotte Maria Du Cane (née Guest), which also describe elements of local life and family matters.
The letters provide glimpses of a 19th century perspective to locations that would be encompassed by the modern republic of Turkey in the 20th century, whilst providing a flavour of statecraft conditions which would ultimately lead to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.
The month of October marks both World Architecture Day and World Cities Day (2nd and 31st October 2023 respectively). Not only that, but The Deep Aquarium at Hull is celebrating its 20th year of operation. With this in mind, Farrell project staff wanted to present some interesting features about aquariums that were built, imagined designs that never materialised and the ways in which they contribute to urban planning around the globe, based upon the material available within the Sir Terry Farrell collection.
Because who doesn’t love an aquarium?
The Deep, Hull (1999-2003)
The aquarium provided the central focus of Terry Farrell and Partners wider masterplan for the city of Hull. The objective of the project was to provide a catalyst for the economic regeneration of the city and the location for the aquarium occupied a former shipyard.
In the final design, the building rises at an acute angle to form an angular point directly above the spit of land between the River Hull and the Humber Estuary. Exterior finishes were chosen for their ability to season over time whilst looking aesthetically pleasing. Cladding choices consisted of marine-grade aluminium and reflective ceramic tiles, suggesting fissured rock plates.
Visitor circulation within the building was also carefully controlled. Visitors entered the building and were elevated to the top floor before zig-zagging down in a continuous ramp through the various aquariums and interactive exhibits. The Deep stands out as a personal favourite Sir Terry Farrell and Partners attributed project.
But the real question is… does it look like a shark, a ship or an iceberg?
Biota Silvertown – London (1997-2009)
Whilst you may be lucky enough to visit The Deep, there is also material in the Sir Terry Farrell archive of aquarium designs that didn’t get the go ahead.
One of these proposals was the Biota! Silvertown Quays redevelopment, part of the Thames Gateway redevelopment region adjacent to Royal Victoria Dock, London. It formed one of the main public attractions on this site, which also included the Silvertown Venture Xtreme sport and surf centre.
Biota was intended to be an aquarium based entirely on the principles of conservation, with each of the four biomes representing an entire ecosystem. The eventual building was given planning permission in March 2005 and was expected to be completed in 2008, but was unfortunately cancelled in 2009.
Pacific Northwest Aquarium – Seattle (1999-2001)
Moving across the Atlantic, pausing to marvel at what these man-made aquariums represent, we land at the design concepts for the Pacific Northwest Aquarium.
The Pacific North-West Aquarium sits on the waterfront at Elliott Bay in Seattle. It has occupied the site since 1977 and in 2000 Terry Farrell and Partners were invited to present a scheme with local partner architect Mithun to redevelop the aquarium across two pier arms numbered 62-63. The aquarium straddled two of the pier extensions, with one arm focusing on operational and administrative elements of the aquarium, whilst the other was used for public exhibits.
The shape of the aquarium was to resemble an open basin and contain a microcosm of ‘Puget Sound.’ It was intended to be an iconic structure in the Seattle landscape and hold a revamped exhibition programme. There appears to have been community opposition to the scheme due to its view-blocking appearance and future schemes did not involve Sir Terry Farrell and Partners.
Any Sir Terry Farrell archive related enquiries can be made to email@example.com. Hope you make it to an aquarium near you soon for the buildings as well as the fishes.
Sir Terry Farrell’s archive has been generously loaned to Newcastle University Library and is currently being catalogued. A catalogue is due to be made available to the public at the end of 2023. All rights held by The Terry Farrell Foundation.
As a part of my Museum Studies MA student placement, I spent the summer semester of 2023 working with Newcastle University Special Collections. My work focused on the Sir Terry Farrell Archive, using born-digital materials from the collection to create an online exhibition. I chose to focus the theme of this exhibition around the redesign and restoration of the Great North Museum, formerly the Hancock Museum, which was completed in 2009.
What’s in an Archive?
When someone mentions archives, you might imagine famous library scenes in films, such as Nicholas Cage plotting to steal the Declaration of Independence in National Treasure or Rachel Weisz playing an adventurous librarian at the Cairo Museum of Antiquities in The Mummy. While normal archival research doesn’t typically lead to the more action-packed moments featured on the big screen, it can uncover new and surprising information.
Archives are collections which contain documents, pictures, and other small historic artefacts. Born-digital materials are documents that are created digitally. As technology advances, they are being added to archival collections alongside physical collections. This includes emails, document scans, and even digital artwork/renderings. The Sir Terry Farrell collection includes both physical and born-digital items. Having worked with physical collections in the past, I was excited to use this opportunity to explore the digital materials available and see how working with born-digital objects compares with physical ones.
Sir Terry Farrell & the Collection
In 2021 Newcastle University Special Collections began a two-year project to catalogue the extensive archive of the postmodern architect and urban planner Sir Terry Farrell. Sir Terry Farrell grew up and studied in Newcastle upon Tyne, where he received a degree in Architecture from King’s College (now Newcastle University).
Farrell’s collection, which he gave as a long-term loan to the university, includes thousands of items relating to the creation of his iconic designs such as the MI6 Building in London, the Embankment Place development above Charing Cross station, and the Beijing South Station in China. While part of this collection is made up of physical objects and documents, it also includes a significant number of born-digital items including digital photographs, project documentation, and online correspondence.
Working with Digital vs. Physical Collections
Born-digital archives contain all sizes and types of documents. In architectural collections, such as the Sir Terry Farrell Collection, physical blueprints can run large. I’ve seen blueprints that, when fully open, take up the length of nearly a whole conference table. With so many design variations, there can be multiple versions of the same blueprints for a single site. Digital files allow researchers easier ways to see these documents while also showing the more detailed aspects of the documents and taking up less physical space.
Physical archives can remain safely in storage and be maintained through conservation. Digitized files require periodic updates to keep them accessible for viewing. Some documents can’t be adapted if they were created on older versions of software. If they can be converted, they may not appear in their original format. Those that can’t are at risk of being lost forever.
Physical archival documents can be fragile and need protection through conservation. Digital files don’t need conserving in the same way as physical documents. There is no need to patch up tears or glue things back together, but they do require file format transformations to be kept accessible. CAD drawings (Computer-Aided Designs) often use proprietary software. The use of proprietary software in files, like CAD drawings, can make them inaccessible once archived and require specialist software to access them. They will also need to have copies kept for preservation in the form of jpg/tiff/pdf files. These transformations can take up significant amounts of storage space. For archivists, this may be problematic as their future work will require them to make sure that files are always up to date. For researchers, such as myself, it may mean that there is a limit to what we can access. At the rate that technology is improving, digital collections will have to be constantly maintained to preserve them for future use.
I truly enjoyed my time at the Special Collections Reserve. This project was a great way to learn more about working with born-digital materials in addition to learning more about archival research. I have seen how archivists are handling the addition of born-digital archives to their collections and what it means for how they’re preparing to accommodate future collections. How to best preserve these digital archives is still a concern, but they also present a new challenge for archivists and researchers in how they will approach collections work as future technology develops.
This blog post and accompanying digital exhibition, Making a Museum: Creating the Great North Museum (Hancock), have been created for Newcastle University Special Collections by Kara Anderson as part of the Newcastle University Museum Studies MA placement programme. Images used in this blog post have been used with the permissions of Farrells and uses material kindly loaned by the Sir Terry Farrell Foundation.
The life and adventures of Ann (also spelled ‘Anne’) Jane Thornton, a woman who defied the prescribed gender roles of the nineteenth century, are commemorated in the popular broadside ballad The Female Sailor.
Ann Jane Thornton resisted society’s gender restrictions by dressing in male clothing and going to sea as a sailor. She was born in 1817 in Gloucestershire and was the daughter of a shopkeeper. When Ann was just 6 years old her mother died, and her father moved the family to Donegal, Ireland.
TheFemale Sailor ballad captures Ann’s meeting and falling in love with an American Captain named Alexander Burke when she was just 15 years old. The two got engaged, but shortly afterwards, the Captain returned to New York to visit his father. Not wanting to be left behind, Ann needed a way to finance her travels to follow her beloved, and so she took the unconventional decision to become a female sailor, leaving her life in Ireland behind.
In the nineteenth century, sailing was a male-dominated activity and women were banned from seafaring professions as many believed that having women onboard was bad luck. Women were also thought to be at risk of sexual harassment and violence from the male crew if permitted on board. As a result, the only way for Ann to pursue her goal of following her fiancé was to disguise herself as a man.
Ann proceeded to obtain male clothing and journeyed to England, where she then boarded a ship to New York as a cabin boy. Once in New York, Ann sought out her beloved fiancé but received the devastating news that he had died.
Whilst abroad, Ann needed an income to support herself, and so she took a job as a cook and steward onboard the Adelaide, earning nine dollars a month. TheFemale Sailor ballad stresses how Ann took part in every task the same as her male colleagues, doing her duty ‘like a man’, and convincingly taking on her new identity. As well as working on the Adelaide, Ann also worked aboard the Rover and the Belfast, before eventually heading back to London as a ship’s cook onboard the Sarah.
Ann Jane Thornton was far from the only woman to don male clothing and become a sailor. Another broadside ballad within Special Collections and Archives, called the Female Rambling Sailor, tells the story of Rebekah Young, who went by the name Billy Bridle. Whilst at sea, she died by falling from the top of the mast. This ballad perhaps served as a warning to any other women considering disguising their sex to become a sailor.
Ann lived in her new identity as a man for the whole three years she was away from home, going by the name Jim Thornton from Donegal. Conflicting accounts exist of whether it was upon her return to London, or whilst docked in Lisbon, Portugal, that Ann’s sex was revealed, but either way her identity was outed and her life as a sailor came to an end. The revelation happened as a result of a male colleague on board the Sarah catching sight of Ann’s breasts while she was washing. He threatened to disclose her identity to the ship’s Captain unless she had sex with him. Refusing to submit to the sexual harassment, Ann’s identity was revealed to the Captain. Describing the event later, the Captain claimed he was the last to know and could barely believe it.
It is difficult to determine how much of these accounts are true, with many contrasting versions of the ballad existing. However, the very fact of so many iterations surviving demonstrates the extent to which Ann’s story captured the imagination of the British public. Her story was widely reported in newspapers as well as being popularised in The Female Sailor ballad. After reading the newspaper reports, the Lord Mayor of London allegedly sent a city police inspector to investigate her story. The mayor scolded Ann for leaving her father, but also praised her courage, offering to support her financially until she could return home to Ireland.
Ann’s story was told many times by other people. However, the autobiographical chapbook – Interesting Life and Wonderful Adventures of that Extraordinary Woman, Anne Jane Thornton, the Female Sailor, disclosing important secrets, unknown to the public, written by herself – offers a rare insight into the personal experiences of Ann’s life as a female sailor. The publication of this book ultimately provided Ann with the opportunity to reclaim her adventures and recall them in her own voice.
This Treasure of the Month feature was researched and written by Special for Everyone placement student Daisy Alys-Vaughan of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology. our Special for Everyone project.
I began my career placement module with the Sir Terry Farrell archive collection in December 2022. Having never visited an archive before I was initially unsure what to expect. The image in my mind was a labyrinth of imposing metal shelves and dusty manuscripts veiled within grey boxes, untouched by human life for years. This image would prove to be somewhat of an exaggeration; over the course of my placement I would learn to navigate this dense realm of crumpled documents, confusing cataloguing formats and incessant repackaging. In doing so I learnt a lot about my degree, the workplace and the utility of archives.
The Terry Farrell archive is held in Newcastle University’s Special Collections as part of their larger Team Valley Research Reserve. I was tasked with helping the project team catalogue and store a vast array of documents encompassing the architectural legacy of a man’s entire working life. Having been introduced to the cataloguing process by members of staff I set about working through various item formats. I initially started out with the tubes, primarily focusing on Farrell’s work as master-planner for the Greenwich Peninsula, London (2000-2004). I sought to systematically catalogue each item, likening my efforts to a factory line churning out a belt of catalogued and repackaged documents at a consistent rate. This formulaic approach would soon fall apart as I opened the tubes and began to peer through their contents. Each tube contained a varying quantity of documents encompassing a diverse set of forms. There were sketches, planning diagrams, photographs and concept drawings amongst others. I soon realised that each tube would drastically differ in the time it took to process and the types of information that could be catalogued about each. Focusing on each tube as an individual unit ensured that the detail of my cataloguing improved.
Having spent half my placement cataloguing tubes I moved on to the slides. These were 35mm photographs depicting various projects worked on by Sir Terry within the Terry Farrell Partnership. The projects included Seven Dials (Comyn Ching), (1978-1985) and early iterations of Vauxhall Cross (1989-1994), both in London. Working with a consistent medium that was much easier to analyse and repackage I found myself working through the slides at a much more consistent rate, more akin to the formulaic approach I had tried previously. However, this consistency did not make the task mundane. I familiarised myself with the light-box, allowing me to properly see the content of the slide. The slides were a fascinating medium because they were visually interesting, and they allowed me to see Sir Terry’s projects as they were conceived of in the real world rather than through the abstract sketches and drawings of the tubes.
I found working in the archive useful as it gave me an intricate look into how archives are organised and processed. As a second-year history undergraduate I have started planning my dissertation which will require extensive time in the archives hunting for primary material. I am already planning some other archive visits as a result of this placement. Experience with the Sir Terry Farrell archive has familiarised me with their inner workings which will no doubt aid me in my own research.
The Sir Terry Farrell collection itself is highly useful for anyone interested in researching architecture. As someone with a layman’s understanding of the field, I learnt a lot about the discipline and was fascinated by the archive’s diverse contents. For anyone studying architecture or wishing to conduct research it represents an opportunity to analyse the works of one of Britain’s most prolific and celebrated architects.
In 1865-66, Joseph Crawhall II (1821-1896) set about creating a manuscript catalogue of all the Mayors and Sheriffs of Newcastle upon Tyne, as afternoon and evening recreation. He took his information from manuscripts and published records, such as Henry Bourne’s TheHistory of Newcastle upon Tyne (1736). Crawhall’s manuscript comprises an index of names and dates, followed by chronological illustrations of the crests of those who served as Mayor and Sheriff. Some of the shields are left blank but Crawhall tells us “This M.S. is complete excepting finishing the colouring of the various shields which I reserve for my leisure”. The manuscript has been partially digitised and available on CollectionsCaptured.
Although Crawhall’s catalogue begins in 1401, with Roger Thornton (d.1430), Newcastle has had an elected mayor since 1216. In 1906, the city was awarded lord mayoralty in recognition of it being the principal town and seaport in the north of England. It wasn’t until 1956 that Newcastle had its first female Lord Mayor, Violet Hardisty Grantham (1893-1983) and it was only in 2021 that the first non-white Lord Mayor, Habib Rahman, was elected.
The title page of Crawhall’s manuscript is followed by a splendid hand-coloured coat of arms for the city. Three castles are supported by two seahorses. The castle motif has its origins in the new castle, built by order of Robert Curthose in 1080, from whence the town took its name. The seahorses serve to remind us that Newcastle is a seaport. At the top, is a lion holding the staff (flagpole) of the St. George’s pennant (flag); at the bottom, is the Latin motto which translates into ‘Triumphing by Brave Defence’. The motto was adopted during the English Civil War, after the town defended itself against the Scots in 1644.
As one would expect, those who have served as Mayor have been distinguished people. Thomas Horsley (1462-c.1545) was an agricultural merchant, magistrate, and Sheriff who defended Newcastle’s mercantile interests ensuring Newcastle remained an important centre of trade in the North East and who served as Mayor in 1514, 1519, 1524-25 and 1533. Today, he is remembered as the founder of Newcastle’s oldest educational institution, the Royal Grammar School (RGS), in 1525.
Crawhall has completed Horsley’s coat of arms under his term as Sheriff in 1512. It is a red shield with three horse’s heads (bottom right shield in below image). Next to it, Crawhall has sketched a bridled horse, with the annotation “horses reined or in w”.
John Marlay (1590-1673) would later fall from grace and wealth but was Mayor 1642-44 and was appointed as military Governor for Newcastle by Charles I. A merchant, military commander, and politician, he held the town for seven months while it was besieged by the Scots army and fought in the streets when they stormed the town in 1644. He is also alleged to have saved the distinctive Lantern Tower of St. Nicholas’ Cathedral from destruction by ordering Scots prisoners into the tower.
Crawhall depicts the coat of arms of Sir John Marlay, knight, as a white shield with a black chevron and three black birds (top left shield in below image). He has based this on information contained in a manuscript by Ralph Waters.
Sir Walter Calverley Blackett (1707-1777) was Mayor five times, in 1735, 1748, 1756, 1764 and 1771. He was born in Otley (Yorkshire) to Sir Walter Calverley and Julia Blackett but inherited estates from his uncle under certain conditions, which included his adoption of the Blackett coat of arms. He would later sell several of the estates and move to Cambo (Northumberland) where he improved Wallington Hall. (Upon his death, Wallington Hall passed to the Trevelyan family into which his sister had married, and Special Collections holds the papers of several generations of the Trevelyan family.)
Sir Walter was a philanthropist: he built a library; supported relief for people that found themselves unemployed by the harbour freezing; and regularly supported the Newcastle Infirmary.
It is the Blackett coat of arms that Crawhall has painted under the entry for Mayor in 1735: a white shield with a black chevron on which are arranged three shells. Three black stars are arranged above and below the chevron (top left shield in below image). Under the shield, Crawhall has written in red “Bourne ceases”, in reference to the publication of one of his aforementioned historical sources.
Crawhall has included his own family’s coat of arms as his father, Joseph Crawhall I (1793-1853) was Mayor in 1849-50. Crawhall I was also a magistrate, rope-maker, friend to the naturalist and wood engraver Thomas Bewick, and an artist. Unsurprisingly, Crawhall has rendered his family’s coat of arms with great care (second row, left shield in below image). The lower two thirds of the shield are red, with a stook of golden grain; the upper third is white with three crows. Above the shield, another crow is painted standing on another stook of corn. The family motto, below the shield, translates as ‘I have neither want nor care’.
Joseph Crawhall I was succeeded as Mayor by the industrialist, engineer, and philanthropist William Armstrong (1810-1900), after whom Armstrong College (now the Armstrong Building, Newcastle University) was named.
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.