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159 posts categorized "Leisure"

30 May 2024

The Victorian Diary of William Fletcher of Bridgnorth

As part of Local History and Community month, David Fitzpatrick discusses the compelling diary of a young Victorian bank clerk living in a quiet corner of Shropshire.

Talking With Past Hours: The Victorian Diary of William Fletcher of Bridgnorth comprises a personal diary for 1858-60, edited by archaeologist Jane Killick.  Since 1996, the original handwritten diary has resided in the University of Birmingham’s Special Collections, following its purchase from a dealer.  Its prior whereabouts remain unknown.

Front cover of Jane Killick  Talking With Past Hours The Victorian Diary of William Fletcher of BridgnorthFront cover of Jane Killick, Talking With Past Hours: The Victorian Diary of William Fletcher of Bridgnorth. Copyright Moonrise Press.

William Fletcher was born on 20 October 1839 and was baptised in the Catholic Apostolic Church in Bridgnorth, where his father, also William, became a minister.  When eighteen-year-old William begins his diary in June 1858, he is a devout attendee at church and a well-respected clerk in Cooper’s and Purton’s Bank, located at the southern end of the high street (now the local HSBC branch).  He often works at a sister branch in nearby Much Wenlock and sometimes walks the eight miles there.

Oldbury Terrace  Bridgnorth  where William lodged from February 1858 to June 1859Oldbury Terrace, Bridgnorth, where William lodged from February 1858 to June 1859. Photograph by David Fitzpatrick, 2024.

William documents almost every aspect of his life in succinct yet candid entries, recording details of his correspondence, work, and social activities in Bridgnorth and beyond.  He appreciates a good sermon, smokes tobacco, and enjoys ‘some splendid ale’.  He takes an interest in local affairs and comments on the construction of the Severn Valley Railway, which would open in 1862.

View from Castle Hill  Bridgnorth.View from Castle Hill, Bridgnorth. Photograph by David Fitzpatrick, 2017.

Central to the first year of the diary is what initially appears to be a budding romance with a young woman named Mary Anne Jones (often referred to as ‘my dear Marianne’), with whom William eventually breaks off correspondence in frustration, following an apparent lack of reciprocation.  His failed courtship touches on universal romantic themes, yet readers who have lived in Bridgnorth will find it especially evocative, given the familiar setting.  For instance, in one entry, William recounts how Mary Anne’s brother, also named William, relayed to him that Mary Anne and her sister Martha had heard that William ‘had been seen with some girls on the Castle Hill’, which he dismisses as ‘utterly false’.  It is easy to imagine young people making similar accusations and refutations almost every year since then, all centred on Castle Hill, with its fine views of the Severn Valley.

Report of William Fletcher’s sudden death – Shrewsbury Chronicle 7 August 1863Report of William Fletcher’s sudden death –Shrewsbury Chronicle 7 August 1863 British Newspaper Archive

Also prominent throughout the diary is William’s struggle with tuberculosis (though not named as such), including consultations in Birmingham, and a trip to Bournemouth for ‘a change of air’.  As Killick’s supplementary notes inform us, William’s illness ultimately led to his premature death in Bridgnorth on 29 July 1863, aged just 23.  On 7 September 1863, Mary Anne married a man named Thomas Titterton, in Port Elizabeth [Gqeberha], South Africa. 

The Fletcher family headstone in Bridgnorth cemetery  made with local sandstoneThe Fletcher family headstone in Bridgnorth cemetery, made with local sandstone. Photograph by David Fitzpatrick, 2024.

William’s diary is an absorbing read, enhanced by Killick’s footnotes and additional biographical information (and an appendix containing an aborted diary by William, dated March-April 1857).  It is a fascinating insight into daily life in Bridgnorth during a time of great change, and a reminder of the fragile and ephemeral nature of life.

David Fitzpatrick
Content Specialist, Archivist, British Library/Qatar Foundation Partnership

Further reading:
Jane Killick, Talking With Past Hours: The Victorian Diary of William Fletcher of Bridgnorth (Ludlow: Moonrise Press, 2009)


16 May 2024

Bridgnorth: A Town of Unique Distinction – Part 2

David Fitzpatrick marks Local and Community History Month by looking at notable histories and guides relating to his home town in Shropshire.

View of Bridgnorth  from The Antiquities of Bridgnorth  1856View of Bridgnorth, from The Antiquities of Bridgnorth, 1856. Image used with the permission of Shropshire Archives.

The Antiquities of Bridgnorth by Rev George Bellett, published in 1856, goes somewhat beyond the scope of its title and traces the town’s history from its assumed Anglo-Saxon beginnings to the end of the Stuart period.  It covers royal visits and battles, highlights several historic buildings and landmarks, and discusses esteemed former residents such as Richard Baxter and Bishop Percy.  It informs all later writings on the town.

View of Bridgnorth  from ‘High Rocks’View of Bridgnorth, from ‘High Rocks’, which ‘rest immediately upon Permian beds.’ Featured in The Tourist’s Guide to Bridgnorth, 1875. Image used with the permission of Bridgnorth Library.

The Tourist’s Guide to Bridgnorth, published in 1875, is chiefly a visitor’s guide, as its title suggests.  It aims to ‘seize only the salient features of the place’, rather than provide a ‘detailed and exhaustive history’.  It focuses mainly on significant buildings and landmarks, and nearby places of interest, weaving a potted history into its descriptions.

An extract from William Shakespeare’s Henry IV  included in A Popular Illustrated Guide and Handbook to Bridgnorth and its EnvironsAn extract from William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, included in A Popular Illustrated Guide and Handbook to Bridgnorth and its Environs, 1891. Image used with the permission of Bridgnorth Library.

Published in 1891, A Popular Illustrated Guide and Handbook to Bridgnorth and its Environs addresses a perceived need for greater promotion of the town, noting ‘a general opinion that, if its attractions were better known, it would become a popular resort of the holiday seeker, the [a]rtist and the [g]eologist’.  Similar in structure to the 1875 guide, it describes the town’s features and the history behind them, while also mentioning surrounding villages and hamlets.  In addition, it lists principal hotels and licensed houses, some of which still exist today.  Unlike its predecessor, it contains advertisements, mainly for wine, spirits and tobacco merchants but also for various sports clubs.

Views of Bridgnorth’s Town Hall and St Leonard’s ChurchViews of Bridgnorth’s Town Hall and St Leonard’s Church, from Bridgnorth (Salop), “Queen of the Severn”, The Official Guide, 1937. Image used with the permission of Bridgnorth Library.

First published in 1937, Bridgnorth (Salop), “Queen of the Severn” begins with a brief history and itinerary of the town before covering other aspects including accommodation, housing, places of worship, sports and pastimes, and local industries.  Its layout closely resembles that of later 20th-century guides, in which advertisements take precedence over detailed historical background.  It features black and white photographs of notable buildings and landmarks, and multiple advertisements for local shops and businesses, all of which are long gone.  In contrast, the golf, cricket, hockey, and tennis clubs remain in their given locations.  So does the cinema, which opened in 1937.

Advertisement for a local newsagent in Bridgnorth 1937Advertisement for a local newsagent in Bridgnorth, from Bridgnorth (Salop), “Queen of the Severn”, The Official Guide, 1937. Image used with the permission of Bridgnorth Library.

These items are just a selection of the many Bridgnorth guides and histories published from the second half of the 19th century onwards.  For those familiar with Bridgnorth, these publications (alongside other fascinating archival material) illustrate how much and yet also how little the town has changed.  Some buildings have disappeared, but many are extant; shops have come and gone, yet the cinema remains, as do the sports clubs and many pubs (perennial features over the decades and, in some cases, centuries, though they are sadly decreasing in number).  In a broader sense, the visitor’s guides are particularly valuable sources for studying local and community history, providing snapshots of a certain time and place, while also informing wider studies of how Britain’s towns (and accompanying guides) developed during the 19th and 20th centuries.

David Fitzpatrick
Content Specialist, Archivist, British Library/Qatar Foundation Partnership

Further reading:
George Bellett, The Antiquities of Bridgnorth; With Some Historical Notices of the Town and Castle (Bridgnorth: W. J. Rowley; London: Longmans & Co, 1856): 
The Tourist’s Guide to Bridgnorth, Being a Complete Handbook to Places of Interest in and Around Bridgnorth (Bridgnorth: Evans, Edkins, and McMichael; Madeley: J. Randall, 1875)
Elizabeth P. Morrall, A Popular Illustrated Guide and Handbook to Bridgnorth and its Environs etc. (Bridgnorth: Deighton & Smith, 1891)
Bridgnorth (Salop), “Queen of the Severn”, The Official Guide (Cheltenham and London: Ed. J. Burrow & Co. Ltd., 1937)

Bridgnorth: A Town of Unique Distinction – Part 1

30 April 2024

A military wife in India - Deborah Marshall's letters

The wives of Army Officers offer a unique perspective into history.  They were often close to conflict and military action but distanced from their husbands and extended family.  Such is the case for Alice Deborah Marshall, known as Deborah, (1899-1993), whose letters sent to her mother document her life as a military wife between 1927-1933 in the North-West Frontier Provinces, India [now Pakistan].  These letters are now part of the India Office Private Papers series Mss Eur F307.

Extract from a letter sent by Deborah Marshall to her mother describing an incident where a young British soldier was shot on a train  28 July 1931Extract from a letter sent by Deborah to her mother Isabella Alice Cree describing an incident where a young British soldier was shot on a train, 28 July 1931 - India Office Private Papers Mss Eur F307/5

Deborah was the wife of Major-General John Stuart Marshall (1883-1944), who served in the Indian Army between 1904-1940.  She came from a military family herself, born to Major General Gerald Cree (1862-1932) and Isabella Sophie Alice née Smith (1874-1966), with a brother, Brigadier Gerald Hilary Cree (1905-1998), whose very active career during World War Two is well documented.

The life described in her letters is one she seems at ease with despite the hazards and constant upheaval.  In her witty and descriptive manner, she documents the lively and gossipy social life of a military town and the characters involved, as well as the minutiae of how she occupied her days and her responsibilities as a mother to her daughter Suzanne Mary (1924-2007) .

We see the towns she lived in, Gulmarg and Peshawar primarily, changing over the year, becoming lonely ghost towns when the army moved on or weathering the destruction the monsoon caused.  Golfing and gardening are casually discussed alongside the daily conflicts of the Indian Army and the dramatic events of the Afridi Redshirt Rebellion (1930-1931).

Crowd on Khissa Khani Bazaar 31 May 1930 Crowd on Khissa Khani Bazaar in Peshawar, 31 May 1930 -  British Library Photo 345 (66) Images Online

Her husband John Stuart Marshall’s military duties and his involvement in the conflict are described in detail.  Between 1930 and 1931 battles fought against the Afridi tribal freedom-fighters in the Tirah Valley as well as in the Khajuri Plains are described by Deborah to her mother.  At the end of the year in December and January 1931-2 we see the intensity of the mass arrests of ‘Redshirt’ sympathizers in Peshawar.  ‘Rebels’ were beaten bloody and imprisoned and Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the anti-colonialist activist, was arrested. While living in Army-occupied Peshawar at that time Marshall writes to her father:
'They [the British soldiers] combed the City through and when they marched out (...) were salaamed on all sides by a perfectly silent crowd!  Those with any tendency to shouting hicalab [revolution] by that time were nursing horrible bruises at home! (…)  Everyone is very hopeful on the effect this may have on the rest of India, when they see what a very strong line they have taken here' (Mss Eur F307/5 f.287).

Scenes such as this and Deborah’s observations reveal the everyday British attitudes towards their own rule during a time when great political upheaval was imminent.  John Stuart Marshall would eventually go on to become Chief Administration Officer of Eastern Command in India and of the Eastern Army before passing away in 1944.  Deborah was re-married in 1946 to Major Arthur John Dring (1902-1991) of the Indian Political Service, subsequently becoming Lady Dring until her death in 1993.

Maddy Clark
India Office Records

Further Reading:
Deborah Alice Marshall Papers India Office Private Papers Mss Eur F307– a paper catalogue of the contents is available to consult in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room.
Allen, C. 1975. Plain tales from the Raj : images of British India in the twentieth century. St Martin’s Press, New York.
Papers of Lt Col Arthur John Dring 1927-c.1948 India Office Private Papers Mss Eur F226/8.


05 March 2024

What about the East India Company Women? Emma Roberts and the spinsterhood of India

'There cannot be a more wretched situation than that of a young woman who has been induced to follow the fortunes of a married sister, under the delusive expectation that she will exchange the privations attached to limited means in England for the far-famed luxuries of the East.  The husband is usually desirous to lessen the regret of his wife at quitting her home, by persuading an affectionate relative to accompany her, and does not calculate beforehand the expense and inconvenience which he has entailed upon himself by the additional burthen.’

These are the words of Emma Roberts whom we met in a previous blog post.  They appear in her book Scenes and characteristics of Hindostan, with sketches of Anglo-Indian society which was published in 1835.

Title page of Sketches of Anglo-Indian Society by Emma RobertsTitle page of Emma Roberts, Scenes and characteristics of Hindostan, with sketches of Anglo-Indian society (London, 1835)

Emma had travelled to India in 1828 with her sister Laura, who was married to Captain Robert Adair McNaghten of the Bengal Infantry, so it seems that she was speaking from experience.  She explained that it was likely that the family would move up-country soon after arriving in India, and this was when the poor young woman's’s troubles began.  She was ‘an incumbrance’, the third person in the buggy, always finding herself in the way.  Outdoor recreations were denied, except riding in a carriage, and she was not allowed to walk beyond the garden or verandah.  The climate made gardening impossible even though she was surrounded by exotic plants.  Hot winds split the wood of pianos and guitars, and sheet music was eaten by white ants.  Drawing was a possible pastime, but supplies of necessary materials might be lacking.  The climate did not suit needlework.

Any young men at the station would avoid giving attention to a single woman unless they were contemplating matrimony, fearing that ‘expectations’ would be formed which they were not inclined to fulfil.  Few young women who had accompanied their married sisters to India possessed the means to return home however much they disliked the country.  They were forced to remain ‘in a state of miserable dependence, with the danger of being left unprovided for before them, until they were rescued by an offer of marriage’.

Tom Raw's Misfortune at the Ball -  dancers in a ballroom, with young soldier Tom Raw about to tear a muslin gown by standing on the hem accidently‘Tom Raw’s misfortune at the ball’ from Tom Raw the Griffin; a burlesque poem (London, 1828) Shelfmark: C.119.d.25 British Library Images Online

Emma identified two other categories of ‘spinsterhood’ in India apart from the sisters and near relatives of the brides of officials.   The first consisted of the daughters of civil and military servants, merchants and others settled in India, who had been sent to England for their education. They generally returned to India between the ages of sixteen and twenty, expecting to be married.

The second was made up of the orphan daughters, both legitimate and illegitimate, of men resident in India.  These girls were educated in India and often had no family connections to help them.  A large number, supported by the Bengal Orphan Fund, lived in a large house at Kidderpore near Calcutta.  The practice of holding balls for invited men to meet the resident girls was discontinued by the 1830s – ‘this undisguised method of seeking husbands is now at variance with the received notions of propriety’.  Emma said that the girls then had no opportunity to encounter suitors unless they had friends in Calcutta to invite them to social events, or ’the fame of their beauty should spread itself abroad’.  The increasing number of young women arriving from England every year lessened the Kidderpore girls’ chances of meeting eligible matches.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Emma Roberts, Scenes and Characteristics of Hindostan, with sketches of Anglo-Indian society (London, 1835) British Library shelfmarks 1046.e.10. and T 37078

12 October 2023

Mapping the Dining Culture at Holland House, 1798–1806

Holland House, Kensington, was one of the most important cultural sites in Regency London.  The cosmopolitan circle established in 1799 by Lord and Lady Holland advocated political and religious liberty, and the couple made their home a kind of alternative ministry for liberal culture and politics during decades of Tory rule, receiving European authors and politicians who they hoped would spread reform at home and abroad.  The centre of exchange for this group was the dining room, where Elizabeth Vassall-Fox (Lady Holland) was chatelaine, hosting the leading figures of the day.

Holland HouseHolland House in Kensington by George Samuel - Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

A dinner book is a written record of who dined at a given location on a given night, and Lady Holland assiduously kept such books to document forty years of her salon.  The books also acted as a diary, noting when the Hollands and their friends dined elsewhere or went to the theatre, and marking holidays in the country and abroad.

Holland House dinner bookHolland House dinner book  - British Library Add MS 51950)

The Dined project has created a database of the first dinner book (British Library Add MS 51950) which covers dinners from 1799 to 1806.  The database can be searched by date and person, and manuscript images like the one above can be browsed.  You can see information about diners in the Index of People, and about the locations visited by the Hollands in the Index of Places, and what they did in the Index of Events.  Literary figures who dined at Holland House included the poet Thomas Campbell, the novelists Matthew ‘Monk’ Lewis and Caroline Lamb, the travel writer Adélaïde de la Briche, and the philosophers Jeremy Bentham and William Godwin.  More important than any individual is the regular attendance of Henry Brougham, Francis Horner and Sydney Smith, three of the founders of the Edinburgh Review (arguably the most significant periodical of the 19th century).  The dinner books also bear witness to the period’s great events including the battle of Trafalgar and the Acts of Union with Ireland, and the death of national figures such as Nelson and Pitt.

While famous diners and events present themselves on almost every page, the books also chronicle the Hollands’ family life.  Lady Holland records her children performing scenes from Shakespeare in Christmas 1805, and is a stickler for recording birthdays, illnesses, and anniversaries, and even on one occasion notes that her mother is coming to babysit.  Browsing the books also illuminates the long-forgotten names who dined beside famous figures such as the Duchess of Devonshire, Fox, and Sheridan.  Few will now remember such figures as Richard ‘Conversation’ Sharp, the celebrity hatter who dined at the house, and organised a meeting between the Hollands and John Horne Tooke; or Don Roberto Gordon, the Hispanicized Scottish vintner who was distantly related to Byron, and who, following dinners in 1800 and 1801, convinced the Hollands to visit him in Jerez in 1803; or Serafino Buonaiuti, the opera librettist at the King’s Theatre who kept the Hollands’ library and later wrote for the Literary Gazette.  It is the presence, and the opportunity to recover, these characters and their stories that make the dinner books captivating to explore.

Will Bowers
Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Thought, Queen Mary University of London


07 September 2023

A Victorian holiday embarrassment

On holiday in Brittany in 1864, a Victorian clergyman from Norwich bravely tested the seaside facilities at St Malo, unfortunately with embarrassing results.

Head and shoulders portrait of Arthur Charles Copeman sporting a large beardPortrait of Arthur Charles Copeman via Wikimedia Commons

Three diaries of the Reverend Canon Arthur Charles Copeman (1824-1896), father of the medical scientist Sydney Monckton Copeman, have recently been added to the British Library’s collections.  Two describe the daily life of an English clergyman, while the third volume details a month-long tour around Brittany with his brother-in-law, seeing the sights.

Two weeks into the trip, the pair walked from Mont Dol to the town of St Malo.  Having secured a room in a local hotel, they made their way down to the beachfront, presumably to refresh themselves after their hot and dusty journey.

View of St Malo with windmills on the shore and boats sailing on the seaView of St Malo from Vues des côtes de France dans l'Ocean et dans la Méditerranée peintes et gravées par M. L. Garneray, decrites par M. Étienne de Jouy. British Library shelfmark: 650.b.7 Images Online

Copeman describes in detail what they discovered at the shore:
‘We found a congeries of little wooden cells ranged on the sea-ward side of a gentle slope which was thronged with ye ladies & gentlemen of S.Malo with whom it appears the favourite and fashionable promenade – and an office for the issue of bathing tickets which was beset with applicants’.
(Congeries, an unfamiliar word, defined by the OED as ‘a collection of things merely massed or heaped together’.)

Having secured a bathing ticket, the pair were pleasantly surprised to find it entitled them to temporary possession of two of the beach huts, together with towels and bathing costumes.

The Reverend was particularly taken with the available attire, enthusing it was ‘of the simplest construction but of imposing & indescribable effect’.  Once within this pair of loose blue shorts and sleeved ‘gaberdine’ top, he thought he would have been unrecognisable to even his closest friends.  However, Copeman believed he and his companion attracted ‘the admiring inspection of the promenade’ as made their way down to the sea.

And yet, their favoured bathing suits would prove to be their undoing.

‘When emerging after a delightful bathe, we found our wondrous costume clinging everywhere tenaciously to the skin & bringing out in strong relief every irregularity of a development somewhat obtrusively bony.’

Shocked by the betrayal of their previously modest attire, the pair ‘took fright & with a leap & a run we regained our dressing houses whence were heard roars of convulsive laughter till we re-appeared in civilised attire’.

Bathing at Brighton - bathers standing in the waves in front of the bathing machines

Bathing at Brighton from George Cruikshank, Cruikshank's sketches British Library shelfmark: RB.23.a.34787 Images Online

It is perhaps reassuring to know that self-consciousness in a bathing costume is not new, and was affecting people nearly 160 years ago.  Fortunately, the Reverend also refers elsewhere in his journal to other occasions when he bathed without incident, away from the prying eyes of a popular promenade, in locations more suitable to the shyer swimmer.

I am pleased to report that Copeman did not let this event dampen his spirits or lessen his opinion of St Malo, as this final quotation demonstrates:
‘Joking apart however no one can fail to be struck with the admirable arrangements here & elsewhere on ye French coast for the enjoyment & safety of the bathers’.

Matthew Waters
Manuscripts Cataloguer

Further reading:
Add MS 89721/3 - Journal of the Reverend Arthur Copeman of a walking tour of Brittany, France.


20 July 2023

Women’s football in the 1880s

As the Women’s World Cup opens in Australia, here are two newspaper items about women’s football from the 1880s which show the kinds of prejudice that the sport has had to overcome.

In June 1881, the Huddersfield Daily Chronicle reported that an evening match had taken place at the ground of Cheetham Football Club between two teams of eleven women from England and Scotland.  The players, dressed in a costume 'neither graceful nor very becoming', were driven to the ground in a waggonette, and were followed by a crowd composed  mainly of youths eager for 'boisterous amusement'.  Very few people paid for admission but many gathered outside and tried to see what was going on.  Police constables were there to maintain order whilst 'the so-called match' was being played, but after about an hour they lost control and the ground was overtaken by a mob.  The women, fearing that there would be a repetition of the rough treatment they had met with in other parts of the country, ran back to the waggonette.  They were immediately driven away amidst jeers and disorder.

'The lady footballers at play’ at the north versus south match at Crouch End in 1895'The lady footballers at play’ at the north versus south match at Crouch End - Daily Graphic 25 March 1895

In April 1887 a letter was sent to the editor of the Wakefield and West Riding Herald about 'the exhibition in the Thornes Football Club field'.  The correspondent stated: 'The sight of women so far unsexing themselves as publicly to wear the dress of men, and play a game we are accustomed to regard as a purely masculine sport, is not easily reconcilable with our ideas of the fitness of things'.  The 'athletic and inspiriting game of football' played by men was a pleasurable amusement for spectators of both sexes.  'Delicate susceptibilities' were seldom wounded by unseemly remarks made by bystanders when watching young men play football.  But at the women's match the 'few respectable persons whom the novelty of the thing induced to see and judge for themselves the propriety or impropriety of the proceedings, were speedily driven from the ground by the disgusting remarks they could not avoid hearing, as well as by their individual reprehension of the whole affair'.

The correspondent believed that 'this unpleasant exhibit' was one of the last ways in which 'womanly women' would want to earn money.  His disgust was mingled with pity 'as the unavoidable feeling arises that the barriers of modesty and self-respect must have been largely broken down before such a way of life could have been decided upon’.  The letter ends with the call to oppose anything 'that has a tendency to lessen or destroy the innate delicacy of the female character'.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive (also available via Findmypast)  - Huddersfield Daily Chronicle 23 June 1881; Wakefield and West Riding Herald 23 April 1887.


18 July 2023

A soldiers’ guide to Bangalore

In 1917 the Army Young Men’s Christian Association in Bangalore, India, published a guide to the town for British soldiers.

Front cover of A Soldiers' Guide to BangaloreFront cover of A Soldiers' Guide to Bangalore

Henry Venn Cobb, the Resident of Mysore, wrote a foreword to the book, welcoming all ranks of His Majesty’s Forces quartered in Bangalore.  He said that they would be living amongst friends and well-wishers in as good a climate that India could give.  Bangalore was the stepping stone to what all the soldiers wanted – a speedy transfer to the far-flung battle lines.

The Lal Bagh garden at Bangalore, looking towards the glass houseThe Lal Bagh garden at Bangalore, looking towards the glass house

The guide opens with general information about Bangalore – the government, population, climate, electricity supply, manufactures and agriculture – followed by an historical overview.  It describes some places of interest both in Bangalore and nearby –
• Cubbon Park – over 100 acres in size and beautifully laid out, with a bandstand for regular concerts.
• The Museum with collections of carvings, birds, insects, fishes, shells, and geological specimens.
• The Old City and the Fort.
• Tata Silk Farm, given to the Salvation Army around 1911.
• Lal Bagh, a pleasure garden with a rare and valuable collection of tropical plants, a menagerie, and a glasshouse for exhibitions.
• Maharajah’s Palace, designed on the model of Windsor Castle.
• Bull Temple with a huge bull carved out of rock and dedicated to the god Siva.
• Ulsoor Temple, an example of pyramidical architecture.
• Military Dairy Farm run by the British Government to supply produce to its forces.
• Tata Institute for scientific study and research.
• Mysore Government Experimental Farm.
• Cauvery Falls.
• Kolar Gold Fields.
• Mysore City.
• Nandidroog, a fortified hill providing wonderful views.
• Seringapatam, an old town with a fortress.
• Sivaganga, a sacred hill.

There are sections on missionary work in and around Bangalore, and on the Y.M.C.A.

Soldiers visiting Bangalore on furlough could stay at the Church of England Institute or the Wesleyan Soldiers’ Home.  Details are provided of all the churches in Bangalore with times of services – Church of England, Church of Scotland, Wesleyan, Methodist, Baptist, Roman Catholic.

Health hints are given to the soldiers –
• Inoculation for enteric and malaria.
• Getting at least seven hours’ sleep, eight if possible.
• Taking a sponge bath every morning if nothing better is possible.
• Eating only foods known to be good and properly cooked.
• Drinking water only when the source is known to be pure, or after it has been boiled.
• Not drinking or eating too much of anything.
• Taking some form of vigorous exercise – football, hockey, cricket, fives, basketball, tennis, golf, swimming, boxing, wrestling.
• Forming ‘high ideals of sex relation’ - medical science has proved that sexual intercourse is not necessary for the preservation of virility.
Soldiers should remember the folks at home; think clean thoughts; eat clean foods; and drink clean drinks.

There are explanations for a short list of Indian words.

Explanations for a short list of words

Explanations for a short list of words

The Guide ends with recommendations for reliable merchants and business houses in Bangalore whose advertisements had paid for the publication of the booklet.  The goods and services offered include furniture, stationery and books, Indian curios, clothing, footwear, jewellery, tools, cinema, car and cycle hire, medicines, toiletries, and confectionery.

Merchants' advertisements - curios, pharmaceuticals and cyclesMerchants' advertisements - curios, pharmaceuticals and cycles


Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Army Y.M.C.A., A Soldiers' Guide to Bangalore (1917) British Library General Reference Collection 10056.de.13.


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