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Shropshire Archives is open in a phased way from 21 April 2021.

Shropshire’s LGBTQ+ history

February 23, 202112:14 pmLeave a Comment

As part of LGBTQ+ history month, which is celebrated throughout February, staff at Shropshire Archives have investigated some of the resources we hold. These are a couple of examples from our collections.

We are very aware that there will be many other examples of LGBTQ+ material within our holdings and plan to investigate this further over the coming months.

In addition, we know our current holdings are very partial and incomplete. If you are aware of any relevant collections out in the community, please do get in touch at [email protected]

Shropshire Lesbian and Gay Campaign Group Records


This collection, reference 7698, was brought together by campaigners in Shropshire.

It includes newspaper and magazine cuttings, posters and brochures and photographs and covers both local and national issues dating from the 1970s onwards.

The collection has now been catalogued and can be found online here.

One section features photographs of the first gay wedding in Shropshire between Peter Roscoe and Geoff Hardy in 2005.

Please note a number of the newspaper cuttings are not completely legible online, and some are also restricted for copyright reasons. We will ensure paper copies of all these are available once Shropshire Archives reopens to the public.

The Attingham Collection – Lady Berwick’s friends

Theresa, Lady Berwick (1890-1972) had an amazing collection of friends, based across Europe and beyond, including a number of gay and lesbian individuals. Her correspondence with them is a fascinating part of the Attingham collection, reference 112.

Attingham PH/A/28/2/8

One of her friends was Joan Derriman (1909-1999). Joan’s father was Chief Constable of Salop when he re-joined the Coldstream Guards in 1914. He was killed in action in 1915. In 1929 her mother married Sir Offley Wakeman, who died some days later, whereupon Lord Berwick granted Lady Wakeman and her daughter a lease of Atcham House (the present-day Mytton & Mermaid pub). Her mother died in 1930, and Joan went to live in London with her companion, Hilda Sykes, known as Bill. Joan Derriman was the most frequent visitor to Attingham, often accompanied by Bill. During the summer months of 1931, 1932 and 1933 they camped out in the grounds. Joan was for many years active in the London Bach Choir. She died in 1999 at the age of 90. Hilda Norman “Bill” Sykes (1897-1978), was the daughter of a South London ironmonger. She was employed in the household of Lord Howard de Walden as a Personal Assistant.

Links to Joan’s correspondence with Lady Berwick

Winifred Gisela Yvonne ffrench (1901-1989), biographer, principally of famous women; daughter of 1st Marquess of Castel Thomond and Winifred Thursby; born at Leighton Hall. She first came to Attingham to “examine Lord Berwick’s papers” (see 112/21/4/19/5); became a friend of Lady Berwick. She and May Vosslived at the same address in London for three decades. May Voss, otherwise Countess Francesca Giovanna Maria Beatrice Voss, née Ricci (1890-1959), was the widowed daughter of a Florentine marchese.

Links to Winifred’s correspondence with Lady Berwick

Leslie Poles Hartley (1895-1972), author of “The Go-Between” and many other successful novels. Some of us will remember the iconic film made of the novel in 1971 with Julie Christie and Alan Bates. For many years he was a holiday visitor to Venice, Lady Berwick’s family home, and a frequent visitor to Attingham. He drafted Lord Berwick’s epitaph for the memorial in the deer park.

Links to L P Hartley’s correspondence with Lady Berwick 

Among L P Hartley’s circle of friends were Ethel Sands (1873-1962), an American-born artist, and her partner Nan Hudson (1869-1957). Sands’ impression of Lady Berwick’s boudoir, painted after a visit in 1929, was purchased for Attingham at an auction in 2013. She is mentioned on 22 occasions in Lady Berwick’s diaries from the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Link to Ethel’s correspondence with Lady Berwick 

Written by sarahd

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