For many years, the locked cupboards below the bookcases in the Stowe Library have housed an eclectic collection called the Stowe Collection. Precisely when it was first given this name is hard to say but George Clarke (Former staff, 1950-1985), who was a Housemaster and taught History amongst other responsibilities, produced a list so-named in 1983. Re-listing, numbering and boxing this collection has been a key task since I began working at Stowe in January 2019. Having now achieved this, it is possible to take a step back and look at it as a whole.
There are published books, antiquarian and modern, whose inclusion seems to be by virtue of their inscription. For example, Winston Churchill and Queen Mary and others written by Old Stoics, such as Sir Laurence Whistler (Grenville 30) and Gavin Maxwell (Chatham 30). A delightful scrapbook by an Oxfordshire clergyman’s daughter dated 1828 seems to bear no relation to Stowe whatever but graphically illustrates life in the early 19th Century.
Records of school societies are well represented with the minute books of both the Debating Society and XII Club dating back to 1925, as well as in-house magazines of 22 school societies produced between 1965 and 1998; the Epicurean dates back to 1929. There are copies of the School’s own books of hymns and psalms, and poems by JF Roxburgh.
The Collection is now closed, meaning it will not be added to, and in future donations or acquisitions of this sort will be dealt with differently. The finished catalogue is available electronically on SHPT’s new Archive Management System and a hard copy will be placed in the Library. It is an exciting start to delving into the House Archives.
Sarah Charlton, Stowe House Preservation Trust Archivist.