Following Hampshire Archives Trust's recent fundraising campaign, we are delighted to announce that we have been successful in securing the necessary funding - £12,000 - to purchase the Wellow album (described below). An excellent response from local organisations as well as individual Trust members and the Trust's Rescue Fund has allowed us to apply with success to two grant-giving bodies to complete the fundraising; the Friends of the National Libraries and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, who have awarded us £2,000 and £6,000 respectively.
Our grateful thanks go to all those who contributed towards securing this uniquely important album for Hampshire.
Have you ever wished you could see the people of your village, or your rural ancestors, at work 150 years ago? Photographs can be a wonderful source, but all too often they concentrate on the local ‘big house’, or show groups posing stiffly for a long exposure. How exciting it would be to be able to look over the shoulders of 19th-century cottagers as they milked the cows, hung out the washing or ran through the snow.
That is just what we can do, for the village of Wellow in western Hampshire, close to Romsey, thanks to an artist who produced a hitherto-unknown album of just over 100 drawings in pencil, often heightened with chalk or with colour washes, showing the houses, people and landscapes of Wellow.
Following the artist around the village, we can see a woman feeding chickens, children playing outside their school, pigs in a farmyard, and labourers in a hayfield, and we can gaze into a camp-fire with a group of travellers. The artist does include Embley Park, childhood home of Florence Nightingale, but soon returns to the cottages, beehives and apple-trees of the villagers, disturbed only by the arrival of a coach and horses, which almost whizz across the page. In almost every case, the name of the householder, or the farm, is given.
The drawings buzz with activity – and what makes them so unusual is that this is the activity of farm labourers, women and children: suddenly people who have just been a few lines in parish registers or census returns can be seen going about their day-to-day lives.