Grant to conserve Crosthwaite Eyre collection


Grant awarded to New Forest Heritage Trust (NFHT) for their project ‘For the common good: conserving the Crosthwaite Eyre collection ‘
The HAT Board of Trustees awarded the full amount of £10,000 at their Board meeting on 19 July 2022. The project costs are broken down into packaging and materials (£1900) with the residue of the grant for training of volunteers and the services of a professional conservator. NFHT is also seeking additional funding from other sources.
This project will make the archives of the Crosthwaite Eyre family of the ‘Warrens’, an estate in the New Forest village of Bramshaw, publicly available through a programme of conservation and repackaging to enable access to the public now, while ensuring its preservation for future users.
This extensive collection includes estate records, property deeds, agreements, indentures, cashbooks, manuscript and typed correspondence, and photographs, spanning the 18th to the 20th centuries.
The donor of the archive is Oliver Crosthwaite Eyre, former Official Verderer (chairperson of the Verderers, the judicial officers of a royal forest), and former chairperson of the New Forest National Park Authority. The main body of the archive belonged to Oliver’s great, great grandfather, George Briscoe Eyre, who played a significant role in the campaign to resist the initiatives of the Office of Woods, forerunner of the Forestry Commission, and now Forestry England, to eliminate common rights in the New Forest and exploit the forest for timber production. Briscoe Eyre, together with other major landowners, including Lord Henry Scott (later Lord Montagu) of Beaulieu, led a campaign to maintain the rights of commoning in the New Forest and resist the environmental damage posed by commercial arboriculture. This brought to public attention for the first time the unique environment of the New Forest as well as the lifestyles of its inhabitants. Ultimately, this campaign, and the public reaction it prompted, brought about the 1877 New Forest Act, often referred to as the ‘Commoners’ Charter’, which protects and preserves the habitats of the New Forest and the rights of its commoners. This archive provides the context for this campaign and the resultant New Forest Act.
This project will be delivered in collaboration with Hampshire Record Office (HRO) which, in the 1990s, produced a catalogue covering a proportion of the archive now held by the New Forest Heritage Centre (NFHC). The HRO’s conservator, Frances Lunn, was recently engaged by the NFHT to conduct a survey and write a condition report on the Crosthwaite Eyre collection with recommendations for conservation action.
The collection is currently packaged in four different kinds of storage, in varying states of packaging and none of it is accessible for public use. This project will stabilise the entire collection and make it safe for handling. The archives that can be matched to the catalogue previously produced by HRO will be made available for public use directly as a result of this project, with the catalogue going online. This project, harnessed to the existing catalogue, will make the collection publicly available for the first time through the NFHT’s New Forest Knowledge website ‘. HFHT’s intention is to work in close collaboration with HRO to ensure that where appropriate our respective online catalogues align, are streamlined and enable simpler access for users.
Those parts of the collection cleaned and repackaged through this project but not previously catalogued will become available for a proposed future cataloguing project aimed at making the whole collection available for public use as soon as possible. The NFHT has already been working with HRO to this end, and a scoping project commissioned by the NFHT was conducted by Sarah Farley, Archivist at HRO on 27/06/2022. The recommendations and proposals from Sarah’s report will be included in a forthcoming application, most likely to the NLHF, which would enable a complete catalogue to be created.

Work on the conservation project will start September 2022 and is expected to take a year

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