A recent report in the East Anglian Daily Times about a local historian’s efforts to find a local home for his substantial collection of local photos, records and books prompted this blog.
Although the issue was that he wanted his collection to stay in the town that was its subject, it does prompt the wider question of why such collections are so valuable and the difficulties of finding accessible places in which to preserve them.
We live in an age where the increase of online sources of information and opinion-forming are everywhere and instantly available, but it could be argued that this has limited both people’s abilities to store information in their memories and has also shortened attention spans.
While most of us wouldn’t want to go back to the way people lived centuries ago, it is interesting to look at the development of possessions through the ages.
It is only in the last hundred years or so that what we consider the essentials in our homes has become such a long list.
How many people are aware that two Suffolk sisters, both born in June, made a significant impact on women’s lives?
Recently, the first ever statue of a woman was installed in London’s Parliament Square. That woman was Millicent Fawcett, born in Aldeburgh to a Leiston Entrepreneur, Newson Garrett, in June 1847. She was famous for her work to promote Women’s Suffrage and a president of the Suffragist Movement for 50 years. She was also one of the founders of Newnham College, Cambridge.
Millicent’s elder sister Elizabeth Garret Anderson was born in June 1836 and she, too, was a pioneer on behalf of women. Not without considerable struggle and in the face of some determined male opposition Elizabeth was the first woman to openly qualify in Britain as a physician and surgeon, the first female dean of a British medical school, the first female Doctor of Medicine in France and the first ever female mayor of Aldeburgh.
Our Most Famous Artist
Our third famous June birth is the landscape painter John Constable, who was born in East Bergholt in June 1776. He was the son of the son of Golding Constable, who owned mills at Flatford and Dedham and also ran a barge transport business. Many of John Constable’s landscapes feature the beautiful countryside around his home, the Stour Valley and Dedham Vale and among the best known of his many works is The Hay Wain, completed in 1821.
Flatford Mill John Constable
Did You Know?
Joseph Conrad, the Polish author of Heart of Darkness, about the Congo during its period as a Belgian colony, arrived in Lowestoft in June 1878 on the British steamer, the Mavis, knowing just six words of English.
The author George Orwell was actually born Eric Arthur Blair in India in 1903. He went to school in Southwold and returned to live there for a number of years from 1929. He named himself George Orwell after the River Orwell.
Another famous author, Hammond Innes lived in Kersey with his wife Dorothy in his later years and died there on the 10th June 1998. A prolific writer of adventures and thrillers, four of his early works were made into films. They were The Lonely Skier, The White South, Campbell’s kingdom and The Wreck of the Mary Deare.
Thomas Wolsey was educated in Ipswich and then studied at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was ordained around 1498 and became chaplain to the archbishop of Canterbury and later chaplain to Henry VII.
He was known as an efficient administrator and was often sent on diplomatic missions but his real rise in influence came in the reign of Henry VIII, when he was created archbishop of York and a year later the pope made him a cardinal. Soon afterwards the king appointed him lord chancellor.
For the next 14 or so years, he was given the responsibility for more and more state business, eventually gaining almost complete control over England’s foreign policy.
He amassed great wealth which he invested in building both his London home, York Place in Whitehall, and at Hampton Court, 20 miles south west of London. He also founded Cardinal College at Oxford (later King’s College, and now Christ Church). Whilst in Ipswich at St Peters Church stands “Wolsey’s Gate”. It is Grade I listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Not surprisingly increasing arrogance contributed to his lack of popularity, but his downfall came when he failed to arrange the annulment of Henry VIII’s first marriage to Catherine of Aragon, whose nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, dominated the pope at the time.
Wolsey was accused of treason and arrested near York in 1530 and died in November of that year on his way to London to face trial.
Preserving and storing photographs is important for historical research. Photographs are of immense value to scholars in many fields, not only for historians, as a visible record of many aspects of life throughout the centuries, they also have great sentimental value for families and individuals throughout their own lives.
The older they are the more vulnerable to damage photos become. Printed on paper and given a coating of chemicals they are sensitive to light, heat and even to touch.
Paper can become brittle and yellow if exposed to too much light. Handled too often photographs can become