Microscopy

Post by Ursula Ackrill, Special Collections Librarian. “It seemed to me,” said Swammer, coming close to Peregrine, “it seemed to me, my dear Mr. Tyss, as if a flea were on your collar.” Peregrine Tyss, the protagonist of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s humorous fantasy novel ‘Master Flea’ (1822), does keep the company of a friendly …

Elenor Mundy’s Cookery Book: Cracknells

This is a guest post by Library Assistant Safiya Williams. Like many during these strange and uncertain times I have found comfort in food, faced with shelves empty of my everyday food staples – pasta, rice, yeast – I found myself flipping through cookbooks and notebooks trying to make do with what I have. I …

Horticulture

As the grounds of stately homes and houses begin opening up after lockdown, we’re taking a look at horticulture, which can be broadly defined as “the art or practice of garden cultivation and management”. Horticulture features prominently in the estate papers of local aristocratic families, who had the space and resources to create extensive gardens …

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

In the 17th and 18th centuries, a time before Instagram, National Geographic, or even David Attenborough, there was great interest amongst Europeans in the animals which roamed distant realms. These fantastic beasts were eagerly read about in publications written by explorers brave enough to adventure to far-off lands, with detailed engravings made from eye-witness accounts …

Colley Cibber

If ever there was a case of success and fame being the result of luck, rather than talent, then Colley Cibber is it. He was an awful poet who became Poet Laureate through his political connections; a middling actor who connived to became a pioneering actor-manager in Drury Lane; and an unscrupulous and divisive man …

Homage to the Arboreal World

Trees have long been of significant importance to the human species. Our relationship with trees began with their ability to satisfy neolithic needs such as shelter and nutrients, which progressively shifted towards trees’ later central contribution to the evolution of agriculture and machinery. Indeed, major socio-economic changes over the 15th to 18th Centuries saw the …

Off to the races!

As today is final day of the Cheltenham Races, we’re trotting out some documents about horse racing in Britain and how some of its notable figures crop up in our collections. It’s become a  cliche that the feckless elder son of an aristocrat gambles away the family fortune on cards and horses, but although there …

Monday Mystery: Celebrity Scrapbook, 19th century style

The Manvers family of Holme Pierrpont were one of the most influential families in Nottinghamshire in the second half of the 19th century. The men held high-ranking positions in various Army regiments, served as local MPs, and held other important civic offices, such as magistrates or Master of the Hunt. The archives we hold very …

The Witches of East Mids

Early Modern European society is notorious for its waves of enthusiastic witch-hunts. The causes have been debated by historians, but they were almost always a combination of religious, societal and economic upheaval and uncertainty. Powers commonly ascribed to witches include turning food inedible, flying, and making people and livestock ill and crops fail. Witches were …

Meet our German manuscripts and Special Collections

Have you ever wondered what DIY books were available to borrow from an East German public library? Is the distribution of pigs in 1930s Germany a persistent niggling gap in your knowledge? Do you worry that when the 18th century dispute between the Houses of Hesse-Homburg and Hesse-Darmstadt comes up in casual conversation, you won’t …