The Bachelors’ Balls

If a single man in possession of a good fortune was in want of a wife in late nineteenth century Nottingham, he rectified the situation by joining a committee and paying to host a ball to meet eligible young ladies. This volume (MS 243: Minute book of the Bachelors’ Ball, Nottingham, 1908-1928) is the sole surviving …

Robert Boyle, the Biggleswade Bigamist

With dark eyes, broad shoulders and a black suit with a gold-embroidered waistcoat, former soldier Robert Boyle cut a dashing figure. He used his confidence and charm to win the hearts of young ladies wherever he went – and then ruined them. Bigamist Five days into her marriage, Susannah Boyle was confronted with the reality …

You May Now Turn Over Your Papers

Term begins this week and many students will be plunged straight into exams. We’ve had a look through the University Archives to find out what the students of yesteryear faced when they turned over their papers. Music, 1939 Prior to 1948, University College Nottingham had no power to confer degrees. All qualifications (and therefore, examinations) were …

Singing from a different Hymn sheet

‘While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night’ is one of the best-known Christmas carols. It is based on the Annunciation to the shepherds, as described in the Gospel of St Luke. An angel appeared to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem and told them of the birth of Jesus in a scene that has …

A spoonful of spermaceti helps the medicine go down

It’s that time of year when coughs, colds and flu are doing the rounds.  But how did our ancestors cope with ill-health, before the days of ready-prepared pills and potions from the local shop? Manuscripts and Special Collections holds a number of works with useful recipes to be made at home – some possibly more efficacious …

Fragments of a Saint

Tucked away in a bundle of 17th century natural history illustrations was a single page of comparatively plain-looking handwritten text that was obviously out of place. It began abruptly in the middle of a sentence and the edges were slightly more battered- not surprising, considering it was about 200 years older than the rest of the pages. …

It’s All Fun and Games

Did you play Snakes and Ladders, hopscotch and draughts as a child? The chances are you did, as did your grandparents, and possibly generations beyond that. These games are simple and fun, and for those reasons have become classic childhood staples. Many more games which have not survived the passage of time, for equally valid reasons. …

Pirates!

Ahoy there readers! No, this is not a post about digital piracy or illegal file sharing, but the sea-faring pirates of old, to mark that most frivolous of parody holidays, International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Originally started in America as an in-joke between friends, it has become an annual charity fundraising day, where participants …

Beyond the Reading Room: Document Production

It’s 10 years this month that Manuscripts & Special Collections moved to King’s Meadow Campus! Many people have visited the Reading Room over the years, but this is only a small part of the department. As part of the celebrations, we’re giving you a look at what goes on Beyond the Reading Room, continuing with… …

Mr William Saville’s Crime

William Saville (1815-1844) is not a resident that Nottingham, or any other city, would boast about. The child of a violent drunkard who grew up to become a murderer would have been little more than a footnote in Nottingham’s history had it not been for the terrible events at his execution. The whole story is …