Cataloguing the Bridgewater Collection
Hello! I’m Sara Downs, an archivist at Shropshire Archives. This year I commenced PhD research about women landholders in Ellesmere and Whitchurch 1760-1860. The main documents that I need to complete the research are in the Bridgewater collection (ref 212) held at Shropshire Archives. As some of you will know, there is an existing hard copy catalogue for the collection. The catalogue is itemised mainly to box level and many documents are not individually recorded, so we have an idea of the types of documents that we hold, but not a precise list.
I planned to start cataloguing on a voluntary basis in April. However, the coronavirus pandemic shut down normal life. On an essential trip into Shropshire Archives to check the stores’ environment and building security, I took the opportunity of photocopying the hard copy catalogue to use at home. Since then, I have made a start inputting the list into our electronic catalogue, highlighting areas where itemisation and further information is required. Following the easing of restrictions, I have been able to check the catalogue entries created against the physical documents. I have also been wrapping documents and checking the conservation needs of documents as I go.
In November, I gave a talk on Zoom to members of the Shropshire Archaeological Society and the Friends of Shropshire Archives about some of my findings in the collection so far. They have agreed to let us link to the talk on YouTube, which you can find here:
In the talk, there is an introduction to the Earls and Dukes of Bridgewater and their successors, the Earls of Brownlow. There is also information about the manorial lordships represented in the collection, items connected to the first Earl and the Council of Wales and the Marches and a selection of seventeenth century maps. Look out for the eighth Earl of Bridgewater, an eccentric, who held unusual dinner parties and had a fetish for shoes!
There will be more updates on the progress of cataloguing the collection and interesting finds along the way over the coming year(s).