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The transcription and interpretation of Lady Somervilles Diaries
The original Lady Somerville's diaries were acquired from the book trade in the latter part of the 20th century. Investigation discovered that they had originated from the former library of Matven Hall in Northumberland, England. Along with the diaries, the original Somerville family contemporary photo albums were also discovered and many of the pictures reproduced on this web site emanate from this wonderful archive.
The diaries record the Somerville family holidays in the 1850s. The railways were a new development and Lord and Lady Somerville used this as an opportunity to take their five children together with 5 or more servants to places of interest and relaxation. This involved hiring a complete railway carriage for the family, servants and baggage.
The Somervilles at Newbold Comyn, their home in Leamington Spa.
Written in Lady Somerville's distinct hand, the diaries record the detail of the holidays which lasted for about three months in the summers of the 1850s. This was pioneering a new style of tourism at a time when Queen Victoria ruled a substantial British Empire. The locations of the holidays were for the first time ever, within a days travel of Leamington Spa where the family normally resided. The activities of this somewhat elite family were then diarised for posterity. Fortunately the diaries have survived and subsequent transcription and interpretation enables them not only to be read and enjoyed for their own sake; they also provide a written record of leisure in the changing landscape of an advancing industrialised society.
To access the transcripts click the panels below which give details of date and location. Each annual diary also has an informative introduction. The diary texts detail the specific day when each entry was written and the page number of each individual text book. Footnotes, that are numbered, clarify and add to various comments in the diaries. Introductions and informative notes are of more recent origin and prepared at the time of transcription of Lady Somerville's original text.
During the 1850s the Crimean War was a major consideration for the British and French. Numerous references are made of this conflict with Russia in the above diaries. After the war, Russian cannon were shipped to England and subsequently distributed throughout the British Empire as War Memorials to those communities that lost loved ones in the war. Some of these cannons survive. To lean more click the cannon below and review our international database of such memorials.
Dr Bruce Osborne – Chairman Spas Research Fellowship.
We welcome your comments and observations on the Somerville Diaries. Contact us by emailing email@example.com
The diary transcriptions and interpretation is the intellectual property and copyright of Dr B E Osborne/SRF and may not be copied or reproduced without permission. All rights reserved.