The R.S. Thomas Research Centre at Bangor University, the poet’s alma mater, houses a unique collection of R.S. Thomas manuscripts, letters, journals and memorabilia, built up over the last two decades, an archive which in normal times receives many visitors from the UK and abroad. The present purchase represents a major addition to our already substantial holdings. We believe it to be, in fact, the most significant collection of R.S. Thomas material which remained in private hands.
Search FNL grants since 1931
Emily A. Atkinson sat in a lecture hall 131 years ago assiduously taking notes on mental and moral philosophy. She was one of the first cohort of students to pass through Royal Holloway College, founded three years before, in 1886, for the education of women. The lecturer was John Henry Muirhead, freshly appointed to the post, in an early step in a long teaching career. The notes form a small volume bound in marbled paper, signed by Atkinson inside the front cover. Covering topics such as “Ethics”, “Plato’s Republic” and “Butler’s Sermons on Human Nature” they date from 8 October 1889 until 8 May 1890.
This remarkable resource comprises 265 book illustrations (from volumes including Imperial Rome, Prehistoric Britain, Norman Britain and illustrations for an edition of the Holy Bible), 195 working drawings,102 sketches, 38 sketchbooks, 34 diaries and 80 letters. The archive is multi- and inter-disciplinary, traversing archaeology, art, and the historiography of the archaeological discipline.
During 2020 FNL received an exceptional, restricted gift in kind, with a value of £500,000, from the Chatsworth Settlement in the form of The Book of Lismore, a 15th century medieval Irish decorated manuscript and considered one of the Great Books of Ireland. FNL was involved because it is one of a very limited number of bodies listed in Schedule 3 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984. As such FNL can facilitate gifts to eligible institutions of previously exempted works of art without giving rise to a tax charge on the donor family, and it can enable acquisitions by eligible institutions of artefacts accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax. FNL received the manuscript as a restricted gift and gave it in turn to the UCC Educational Foundation, a UK registered charity established for the benefit of University College Cork.
Winchester has a special connection with John Keats, who spent two months in the city in the summer and autumn of 1819.
The deed relating to the Sharington family of Lacock Abbey is an important acquisition for us and is now reunited with the Lacock Archive, which was also purchased with the support of Friends of the National Libraries. With other documents in the archive it enhances our understanding of the family’s history and the development of the estate.
The document highlights the extent and value of the manors and confirms that, regardless of any other documents issued by Sharington, the manors and lands “at all times hereafter … shall continue, remain and be unto the said Edward Bynton, his heirs and assigns.” The manors included 120 messuages, 4,000 acres of land, 4,000 acres of pasture, 4,000 acres of meadow, 200 acres of wood, 2,000 acres of heath and furze and £4 of rent with appurtenances.
Henry Sharington was the younger brother of Sir William Sharington, who bought the estate the Lacock Abbey estate from Henry VIII in 1540. Sir William Sharington was a prominent Tudor courtier and a wily political operator, eventually becoming Under-Treasurer of the Bristol Mint, which he defrauded, keeping the profits to invest in rebuilding Lacock Abbey.
These three letters from Richard Cobden to François Barthélemy Arlès-Dufour provide an important insight into both Cobden’s political views and his family life and will be of great interest to 19th-century political historians, particularly when viewed in conjunction with the Cobden Archive held by West Sussex Record Office.
Arlès-Dufour was a French silk merchant, leading exponent of Saint-Simonianism, and a friend and frequent correspondent of Richard Cobden. He collaborated with Cobden over the Cobden-Chevalier Treaty, a free trade agreement between the United Kingdom and France signed in 1860.
The letters, dated 12 Jan 1855, 12 Nov 1861, and 2 Mar 1865, were written at a particularly volatile time in European and American politics and reflect Cobden’s views on a wide range of subjects. In the letters, Cobden discusses the Suez Canal, the Crimean War, the American Civil War, and the longevity of British politicians.
This medieval charter dates to the 2nd Earl of Warwick’s incumbency. WCRO were keen to pursue this particular document, not only because of its content, but also because we hold two collections to which this charter relates, the Warwick Castle Collection and the Parish Church of St Mary’s, Warwick.
The following describes the charter:
“Grant in alms by Roger [2nd] Earl of Warwick to Master John of £4 10s annually from the rents of the Borough of Warwick, land from Longbridge, which he held in fief; 4d, which John used to pay rent for his house; and the right to hold a manorial court. Witnessed by Gundrada, wife of the earl; William Giffard, Henry Dapifer; Baldwin and William, deans; Walter and Jordan, chaplains; Richard, canon, Master Eustace; Everard, priest (prebyter); Roger and Ro(d)bert, priests, (sacerdotes); Roger, deacon; Nigel of St Mary; Robert, clerk; and William of Arden. Seal missing.”
A substantial family archive relating to the Glasgow produce broker William Davidson (1861-1945). Davidson is well known as the client for whom Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) designed Windyhill, and he remained a loyal friend and supporter throughout Mackintosh’s life.
The archive comprises some 20,000 items in total, dating from c. 1870 to the mid-20th century. The papers include personal and family correspondence, business records, letters relating to art exhibitions and art collecting, and numerous photographs. There is a significant amount of correspondence about the death of one of William Davidson’s sons in the First World War. Also significant is a group of several dozen receipts connected with Davidson’s important collection of Scottish art. Some of these receipts refer directly to works now in the Hunterian Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow, but they have wider importance as evidence of the artists that Davidson favoured, the prices he paid, and the dealers he used. The archive contains several Mackintosh-related items of considerable importance, including an autograph letter from Mackintosh to Mrs William Davidson that evidences his early sense of independence – and isolation – as an artist.
This collection was formerly owned by Maureen and Monty Baker-Munton. Maureen had been PA to Daphne’s husband, “Boy” Browning during the Second World War and continued to work for him after, during which time she and Daphne became good friends. After du Maurier’s death, Maureen’s husband Monty Baker-Munton was her Joint Literary Executor with her son, Kits.
The University of Exeter was able to purchase some of the letters sent from Daphne to Maureen. Many reveal the closeness of their friendship and discuss Daphne’s domestic life, family relationships and her husband’s illnesses in later life. Others mention her writing: in one letter, for example, she tells Maureen that she was busy in the Autumn “continuing and finishing the last novel old Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch ever wrote … which was great fun and a challenge”. This was the unfinished novel, Castle Dor, that Arthur’s daughter and Daphne’s friend, Foy Quiller-Couch, requested her to complete after her father’s death: the novel was published in 1961.