Curator's choice - manuscripts


Title deeds and related material for major Wimbledon houses

title deedTitle deeds may seem like boring legal documents, but they help us to trace not only the history of a house and its owners but also the history of other houses built later on the land. The Museum’s Manuscripts collection has deeds for most of the major old houses: Eagle House, Cannizaro, The Keir and, among those no longer surviving, Wimbledon House and Mount Ararat.

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Merton Place deeds

merton place deedsThese enable us to trace the exact extent of Nelson’s purchase of Merton Place in 1801, and the various transactions which culminated in the disposal of the estate by Lady Hamilton in 1808, when her extravagant way of life and subsequent bankruptcy made it no longer possible for her to retain the beautiful house and grounds she had once shared with her husband Sir William Hamilton and Admiral Nelson.

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Scrapbook on the history of Wimbledon

Dr Cloake's scrapbookPrepared by Dr. C.S. Cloake in the 1960s. 2 volumes, with index. This is a detailed and fascinating scrapbook compiled by Dr. Cecil Stedman Cloake (1894-1969), who was a partner in the General Medical Practice at 27 Queens Road from 1923 to 1959.

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Scrapbook of Richardson Evans and Rathbone families 1907-1914

richardson evans and rathbone scrapbookThis is another scrapbook of interest in the Manuscripts collection. It comprises press-cuttings, many with agency stamps, and occasional autograph letters relating to Richardson Evans (founder of the John Evelyn Club in 1903, later to become the Wimbledon Society), and other members of his family.

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The Suffragettes and Women's Suffrage in Wimbledon

Womens' suffrage committee minutesWimbledon has always been a relatively affluent area and had a high proportion of well-educated middle class women who were attracted to the cause of women’s suffrage in the latter part of the nineteenth and early years of the twentieth century. Consequently, the Manuscripts collection has a rich vein of material covering the struggle for women to obtain the vote on the same terms as men. The suffragists are represented by the Wimbledon branch of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage, whose members favoured peaceful and legal means of reform and were affiliated to the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), formed in 1897 and led by Millicent Fawcett.

Read more: Suffrage in Wimbledon