Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bt (1792-1872) and the Middle Hill Estate, Broadway

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Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872)

Sir Thomas Phillipps, collector of the largest collection of privately owned books in the world, was born at 32 Cannon Street, Manchester, on 2nd July 1792 and he was baptised later that month in Manchester Cathedral. He was the third son of Thomas Phillipps, calico manufacturer and printer of Manchester. Thomas’s mother, Hannah Judd (née Walton), from Yorkshire, played no part in his upbringing.

Although Thomas spent the first few years of his life in Manchester, his paternal grandparents lived near Broadway. His grandfather, William Phillipps, who was born in London in 1712, farmed several hundred acres in the area surrounding Broadway, Childswickham and Buckland. Thomas’s grandmother, Mary (née Cotterell), was born in 1713 in nearby Saintbury. Mary died in 1800 and is buried in Snowshill, Gloucestershire.

The Middle Hill Estate, Broadway

Middle Hill, Broadway

When Thomas’s father retired in 1794 he purchased Middle Hill, Broadway, a large house situated above the village beneath Broadway Tower. The family moved in to the Middle Hill estate in 1796 where Thomas started his collection of books. Thomas spent all of his pocket money on books and by the age of six had already collected over 110 books.

Thomas was educated locally until 1807 (it is likely that he had a private tutor or governess). He went on to Rugby School before studying at University College, Oxford, for four years. It was at Oxford that Thomas continued to collect rather than merely research and catalogue old books and manuscripts. His hobby proved to be expensive in both time and money. Thomas needed a private tutor to help him prepare for examinations and although he was given access to an annual income of £6000 upon the death of his father on 1st November 1818, the Middle Hill estate was left in trust so that it could not be sold to further expand Thomas’s growing collection.

In 1819 Thomas married Henrietta Elizabeth Molyneux, daughter of Major General Thomas Molyneux and they had three daughters, Henrietta (born 1819), Sophia (1821) and Katharine (1829). In 1820 Thomas was elected a fellow of the Royal Society and made a baronet in the following year aided by his father-in-law’s association with the Duke of Beaufort. In 1825 Thomas was elected High Sheriff of Worcestershire, a post his father had held in 1801.

Middle Hill printing press Thomas Phillipps

Thomas Phillipps’s Broadway Tower Printing Press

From 1822, Thomas started to copy, commission and print transcripts of historical documents and he established a private printing press at Broadway Tower. Publications printed on the Broadway Tower press often carry a stencilled crest of a lion with ‘Sir T. P. /Middle Hill’ and the manuscript number added by hand below. Thomas’s obsession with books and manuscripts meant that from this point onwards he was in debt for the rest of his life. To cut costs he was forced to move to Europe (between 1822-1829), yet this enabled him to have access to manuscripts of leading continental scholars, for example, Gerard Meerman, the Dutch typographic historian (1722-1771), and it did little to curb Thomas’s spending habits.

In 1839 Thomas became acquainted with James Orchard Halliwell, a young undergraduate and Shakespearean scholar who had written to him requesting historical information. In exchange for an examination of the Cambridge libraries, Thomas printed a catalogue of scientific manuscripts that had been assembled by Halliwell and invited him to stay at Middle Hill in 1842. There, James Halliwell fell in love with Thomas’s eldest daughter Henrietta and despite initially agreeing a dowry James and Thomas fell out. The young couple were forced to elope and they married in August 1842. Thomas never forgave his daughter. He shunned numerous attempts at reconciliation with the couple and chose to criticise and deny his son-in-law at every opportunity.

Thomas’s first wife, Henrietta, died in 1832 and in 1848 he secondly married Elizabeth Harriet Anne Mansel, daughter of the Reverend William Mansel (Rector of Eldesborough, Buckinghamshire, and the son of Sir William Mansel, Bt). Thomas continued to expand his collection of books and manuscripts which attracted scholars from all over the world to Middle Hill including the American historians William H Prescott and Jared Sparks, the American painter and author George Catlin and the English born Australian landscape artist John Glover (Thomas was a patron of John Glover and George Catlin).

The Move to Thirlestaine House in Cheltenham

Throughout the 1850s Thomas became preoccupied with what should happen to his collection after his death which by then took up 16 of the 20 rooms at Middle Hill. Discussions held with Oxford University fell through when Thomas proposed in return that he should become chief librarian of the Bodleian Library. In 1861, he accepted an invitation to become a trustee of the British Museum but he then refused them access to the collection when his recommendations for improvements at the Museum were not adopted. The Middle Hill estate remained promised to Henrietta despite her marriage, yet Thomas was adamant that his collection would not be inherited by her husband, James. Thomas moved to Thirlestaine House in Cheltenham (now owned by Cheltenham College) in 1863 which also gave him more space to house his collection. It took two years to transport the 60,000 manuscripts and 30,000 books to the new site where he continued to collect, catalogue and entertain leading academics until his death on 6th February 1872.

Thomas was buried in the churchyard at St Eadburga’s Church, Snowshill Road, Broadway. Thirlestaine House and its contents, including 60,000 manuscripts and 50,000 printed books, were left in trust for his youngest daughter, Katherine, with a life interest for her third son, Thomas Fitzroy Fenwick. The Halliwell family and all Roman Catholics were to be banned from entering the library which was to remain intact. However, by 1885, the Fenwicks could no longer afford to maintain the house and collection and so acquired judicial approval to disperse its contents. Manuscripts were sold in groups to private collectors and foreign governments and there were a series of auctions at Sotheby’s. In 1946, the remaining collection was acquired by Lionel and Philip Robinson, antiquarian booksellers of London, who continued to disperse the manuscripts at further auctions at Sotheby’s and through their own retail catalogues. Between 1977-1983, they sold what was left of their holdings to H.P. Kraus, dealers of New York.

Talk on Sir Thomas Phillipps, Monday 21st October in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Broadway

On Monday 21st October 2019, the Society looks forward to welcoming Gerard Molyneux to give a talk on his bibliophile relative Sir Thomas Phillipps. The talk will take place in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway, starting at 7pm. Talks are free to members (membership £10 p.a), non-members are very welcome £3 on the door.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

 

Sources:
Ancestry.co.uk
Dictionary of National Biography

Further reading: Wikipedia Article: Thomas Phillipps

 

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Programme of Events 2019/20

Following the Annual General Meeting held on Monday 20th May 2019, the Society has released its Programme of Events for 2019/20. The meetings resume on Monday 16th September 2019 with an illustrated talk entitled ‘On the Way to London’ by David Ella on the coaching routes across the North Cotswolds, through Broadway and the Vale of Evesham.

David’s talk will start at 7pm on the 16th September and will be held in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway.

For further information about the 2019/20 programme of events and talks visit www.broadwayhistorysociety.wordpress.com

 

 

Annual General Meeting and Quiz on Worcestershire – Monday 20th May 2019

The Annual General Meeting of Broadway History Society will take place on Monday 20th May 2019 in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway, starting at 7pm. Copies of the Agenda and Annual Accounts can be obtained from the Society’s Hon. Secretary, Nigel Smith, and will be available on the night.

County Flag of Worcestershire

After the AGM, starting around 7.30pm, there will be a light hearted quiz on Worcestershire hosted by Robin Hill. A small prize will be awarded to the winning team. The hall will be set up with tables and chairs and it is suggested that Members (and any quiz loving friends they wish to bring along) make up teams of 4 for the quiz.

A complimentary glass of wine and snacks will be served after the AGM. All are welcome to join us for the AGM and the quiz.

Next Meeting: Monday 18th March “Chedworth Roman Villa” with Dr Nick Humphries

The next meeting of the Broadway History Society takes place on Monday 18th March 2019 starting at 7pm in the Main Hall, Lifford Memorial Hall, with an illustrated talk by Dr Nick Humphries on Chedworth Roman Villa. Chedworth is now managed by the National Trust.

All welcome to attend the meeting. Non-members £3 on the door. Refreshments will be served at the end of the meeting.

Next Meeting: Monday 18th February 2019 “The Broadway Archaeological Dig” with Robin Jackson

The next meeting of the Broadway History Society takes place on Monday 18th February 2019 starting at 7pm in the Main Hall, Lifford Memorial Hall, with an illustrated talk by Robin Jackson, Senior Project Manager of Worcestershire Archaeology on the 2017 archaeological excavations at West End, Broadway.
During the dig, the archaeologists found evidence of some of Broadway’s earliest known residents: Mesolithic hunter-gathers who lived on the site along Bunchers Brook around 10,000 years ago and some intriguing Bronze Age finds dating back over 4000 years and proved to much more important than expected. The main focus of the excavation work was a complex Iron Age and Roman settlement with some fantastic rare Saxon and Roman finds and an ancient burial site. Medieval remains were also found that predate the foundation of a planned town at Broadway in the late 12th or early 13th century, which later shrank in size to become the historic centre of the village we know today.

All welcome to attend the meeting. Non-members £3 on the door. Refreshments will be served at the end of the meeting.

Able Seaman Robert Warner Clarke and the Sinking of Submarine HMS P311 January 1943

Today we remember Able Seaman Robert Warner Clarke of Broadway who died, aged 19, 76 years ago during the Second World War. Robert, known as Bob, was a member of the crew on submarine HMS P311 when she was sunk by a mine on 8th January 19431 off the coast of Tavolara Island, a small island to the north east of Sardinia.

Bob, was born in Broadway, one of nine children of Frank Thomas Clarke and May Clarke (née Meadows). After the outbreak of the Second World War, Bob enlisted with the Royal Navy Submarine Service and was posted to serve on HMS P311.

On_Board_the_Submarine_Depot_Ship_HMS_Forth,_Holy_Loch,_Scotland,_1942_TR526

1942: On board Submarine Depot Ship HMS Forth, Holy Loch, Scotland. The depot ship HMS Forth is transferring a practice torpedo to the HMS P311. HMS Sibyl (P217) is seen alongside and another submarine can be seen in the background.

HMS P311 was a T-class submarine and the only boat of her class never to have been given a name. She was launched on 5th March 1942 and commissioned 5 months later on 7th August. HMS P311 was supposed to have been assigned the name Tutankhamen but was lost before this was formally done. She had joined the 10th Submarine Flotilla at Malta from Scotland in November 1942 and was attacked and sunk whilst en-route to Maddalena, Sardinia sometime between her final signal on 31st December 1942 and her failure to report on 8th January 19431.

When HMS P311 was lost she was carrying a crew of 71 men, commanded by Richard Douglas Cayley, DSO, RN2. The wreck recently found by divers on 21st May 2016 close to Tavolara Island in the Mediterranean. The vessel is reported to be in good condition with only her bow damaged by the mine explosion and all the bodies of the men are reported to be still on-board having died of suffocation.

Prior to her sinking, whilst in Malta, Able Seaman (no. P/JX 321879) Robert Clarke sent the following letters3 home to his family in Broadway:

4th December 1942

Dear Mum, Dad and all at home,

I hope you received the cable alright & that you are having some good weather & keeping well. I am feeling lovely as where I am the weather is scorching hot. How is everyone down Broadway, tell Dennis Cook4 I will drop him a line very soon but it’s hard to say how long it will take to reach him. When you write to Sid5 tell him I am ok but I don’t expect to see him for a very long time. I wish I could tell you where I am & what this place is like but I can’t.

When you write to me it is best to send it by CW Graphs as they don’t take long to travel.

I am only allowed to send one page so for now I will close with lots of love to all.

From Bob.

20th December 1942

Dear Mum, Dad and all at home,

I hope this short letter finds you in the best of health as it leaves me. I hope you all had a good Xmas as I didn’t do so bad myself accordingly. Last night I had a great surprise I walked into a club with my mate and met Eddie Procter6 the chap from Willersey who married Kathleen Keyte from the bottom of our avenue, he looks well and seems quite happy, him and I are going out together tomorrow if everything is ok.

Has Sid been home on leave lately or has he gone abroad? I would like to see him now. I expect it will be a long while before I am home again but when I do come I hope to have some money saved up. Did you get the £2 I sent to go on my Savings Book that Auntie has got? I will send some more as soon as I can if you will put it on the Book for me.

Give my best to Nibs and all the rest, and tell Kathleen Keyte I saw Eddie.

With all my love Mum,

From Bob.

Bob and the rest of the crew of HMS P311 are commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval War Memorial (Panel 74, Column 1) in Hampshire and Bob is commemorated on the War Memorial in Broadway.

portsmouth-naval-war-memorial2

Portsmouth Naval War Memorial, Hampshire

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

Notes:

  1. HMS P311 was reported overdue on 8th January 1943 when she failed to return to base and it is now presumed that she was sunk by Italian mines on or around 2nd January 1943.
  2. Richard Douglas Cayley (1907-1943) was one of the most decorated British submariners of the Second World War. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1941. His prowess earned him the nickname “Deadeye Dick”.
  3. Bob’s letters are published with the permission of Andy Clarke.
  4. Dennis G. Cook (1922-1977).
  5. Sid was Bob’s older brother born in Broadway in 1921. Lance Corporal 11416496 Sydney Richard Clarke served with the 7th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment. during the Second World War. He died, aged 24, on 1st April 1946 and is buried in the churchyard at St Eadburgha’s Church, Snowshill Road, Broadway, and is commemorated on Broadway War Memorial.
  6. Edgar William Proctor served with the 44 Squadron Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve as a Flight Sergeant/Air Gunner. He was killed, aged 22, on 22nd January 1944 and is buried in Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany, Collective Grave 6. L. 1-7. Son of Thomas and Emily Proctor and husband of Kathleen Elsie Proctor of Broadway, Worcestershire, he is commemorated on Broadway War Memorial.

Next Meeting: Monday 21st January 2019 ‘Sentenced Beyond the Seas, Worcestershire Women Convicts sent to Australia’

Our next meeting and talk by David Clark, entitled ‘Sentenced Beyond the Seas, Worcestershire Women Convicts sent to Australia’, will take place on Monday 21st January 2019, starting at 7pm in the Lifford Memorial Hall.

In 1787, Britain chose Australia as the site of a new penal colony and the first fleet of 11 convict ships set sail for Botany Bay arriving on 20th January 1788 to found Sydney, New South Wales, the first European settlement on the continent. Other penal colonies were later established in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in 1803 and Queensland in 1824. Western Australia was founded in 1829 as a free colony and received convicts from 1850 onwards. South Australia and Victoria, established in 1836 and 1850 respectively, remained free colonies. Penal transportation to Australia peaked in the 1830s and dropped off significantly the following decade. The last convict ship arrived in Western Australia on 10th January 1868.

The majority of convicts were transported for petty crimes. More serious crimes, such as rape and murder, became transportable offences in the 1830s but since they were also punishable by death, comparatively few convicts were transported for such crimes. Amongst the convicts were women from Worcestershire. David will recount the true and fascinating tale of 8 Worcestershire female convicts sentenced to death or transportation in the 1780s to the ‘Land Beyond the Seas’. One of the women would be the progenitor of the largest living family group in Australia today, another would return to England a rich woman.

David Clark was born and raised in London and has lived and worked in Germany and Australia but returned to the UK in 1970 to live in Worcestershire where he is now retired. His career has included working in a shipping office in London’s dockland, as a rep for foreign newspapers and magazines, at Plumrose Foods, Kalamazoo Business Systems, Mazda cars and Rothmans Cigarettes. David has worked in theatre management, had two shops and ended up working for Age Concern. He was also a City Councillor for 20 years and served as Mayor of Worcester.

All welcome. Non-members £3 on the door.

Refreshment will be served at the end of the meeting.