Update From The Archives
I hope that everyone is keeping well in these uncertain times. I usually start this term’s edition of the OP newsletter by telling everyone how busy I have been and this year is no exception. Returning to work at the end of August has meant that I have been busy trying to catch up with the work that built up whilst I was away, as well as looking for different and dynamic ways for events to go ahead now that they have become ‘virtual’. I think the one thing that has really hit home to me since I returned to work is that there are undoubtedly some benefits to this new way of working as it allows for a wider audience to participate.
The first event of the year to move online was the ‘Very Special Old Princethorpians’ Reunion that took place on Saturday 12 September. During the 2-hour Zoom session, it was a pleasure to be able to share information about some of the donations we have recently received (more on that later) and also to search through the Peeps to look at memories that past pupils had of their time at Princethorpe. It was also a great opportunity for the VSOPs to share some of their memories which is always a delight to listen to. The huge bonus of it being a virtual event is that some past pupils who would not normally be able to attend in person due to the distance they would have to travel were able to take part and reconnect with old friends
I have shared a poem written by Mary Margaret O’Connor from 1949 that strikes me as just as relevant today. It might spark your own memories of climbing to the top of the Tower (or even abseiling back down again). Please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a tweet at @PFdn_Archives on Twitter if you would like to share, I’d love to hear them.
Heritage Open Day Virtual Tour
Our annual Heritage Open Day tour also moved online for the first time. Designed using Google Virtual Tour Creator, it is a self-guided tour around the college with key points of interest in each scene accompanied by a mixture of text, photographs or audio. Because we were not limited on time, Alex Darkes and I were able to include locations that would not normally be part of the tour including Switzerland, the Girls’ School (now G4) and the remains of the Gas Works for the Priory. At the point of writing this, we have had over 600 views which is very gratifying and the feedback we have had has been very positive. Plus, unlike our in-person events that are limited to a 2-hour slot on a Sunday, the tour is still available to view from the comfort of your own sofa just visit https://poly.google.com/u/0/view/a9JBrmdamFP
When most people think of archives, they tend to think of paper records but, as I have mentioned before, one of the great things about being a school archivist is that we get a very diverse range of items donated.
The first item I wanted to tell you about came from Mary Wheildon during the Trinity Term. I returned to work after the summer to discover a brandy bottle in my office – it was empty I hasten to add! The bottle of Cormandon brandy from the Jarnac region was presented to the Wheildon family to thank them for hosting Beatrice Delachanel during the Christmas holidays in 1957. The bottle remained unopened for 45 years until circa. 2002 when two important events coincided. The Delachanel family returned on a visit on the occasion of Arthur Wheildon’s 90th Birthday. Not only did the name V.S.O.P (Very Special Old Princethorpians) take its inspiration in part from the label of that bottle but it was wonderful that Beatrice Delachanel was able to take part in the VSOP re-union in September from her home in Brussels.
Another significant donation came from Sister Mary Lawrence and Sister Mary Placid OSB. It was a delight to receive and the items help to give a real insight into religious life at Princethorpe. Alongside the varied books and leaflets, there were also embroidered holders for the Daily Office, certificates (including Sister Mary Lawrence’s teaching qualification from 1948), and a beautiful Postulator Cross in its original case which contains relics from Pope Pius X. The items have been catalogued at SMP.34.29 and I have already been able to share the beautiful hand-drawn illuminated manuscript (SMP.34.29.12) which details the different ceremonies an individual took part in on their path to being professed with Year 7 classes as part of their R.S. lessons. Poignantly, there was a handwritten label on the outside of the carrier bag written by Sister Mary Placid before her death in 2016 that read "Please offer these items to Princethorpe Priory. It all began there".
I hope that this update has given a reminder of just how special our Archive is here at the Princethorpe Foundation and for it to continue to grow, we are reliant upon donations. If you would like to donate anything to the Archive, please get in touch. We are very happy to receive scans of items if you do not want to part with the originals. We are looking for your memories too and would welcome old stories! To get in touch, please email me at email@example.com or phone me on 01926 634200 extension 334.
Finally, an apology…
It was very gratifying to return to work to an inbox full of enquiries, a number of which had been sent by past pupils and members of staff. Because of the number of other tasks that had also built up, I am still working my way through them so I apologise if you have not received a response yet. I aim to get back to you as soon as I can.