What can archives tell us about Hampshire’s natural history heritage?

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Hampshire’s Natural History Heritage

That’s what a new project grant-aided by HAT hopes to show us. At its grants meeting in Jan 2022 HAT agreed to fund cataloguing at Hampshire Archives project on the theme ‘Back to Nature; exploring Hampshire’s natural heritage through archives’,

What archives will be used to reveal this heritage? Hampshire’s written archive collections, held at Hampshire Archives, can help reveal the story of the county’s natural environment and climate. Maps, plans, photographs, surveys and other sources can show changes in landscape features and land use through the centuries. Manorial and farm accounts can reveal how the land was worked by our forebears; diaries, letters etc can provide valuable evidence of weather patterns. More recent records, for example relating to public inquiries, can shed light on 20th- and 21st-century concerns for the conservation of the natural world.

The project would catalogue some previously uncatalogued collections relating to Hampshire’s natural environment and to undertake a range of outreach activities to stimulate discovery and use of these and other archive sources. The records to be catalogued were deposited in a number of separate accessions, but because of their bulk and increasingly limited HRO resources were not catalogued at time of receipt.

The collections included in the project are likely to be 

  • Records relating to the management of Hampshire County Council’s County Farms estate, dating from c1890 to the early 21st century including inventories and valuations, c1926-2005; estate registers and schedules c1890-1975; maps, plans, photographs and sale particulars of farm estates and buildings, c1920s-90s
  • Nature diaries, 1948-99 and correspondence, 1984-99, of Paul Bowman (d1999). Joint author of The Flora of Hampshire with Anne Brewis and Francis Rose (1995), Bowman has been described by a fellow naturalist as a ‘real polymath of a naturalist being a wildflower expert as well as a keen birdwatcher’ (Southampton Natural History Society).
  • Papers relating to the construction of the M3 Motorway including plans and press cuttings, 1970s-1990s.
  • Papers relating to the Dibden Bay Public Inquiry into proposals submitted by Associated British Ports to develop a new deep-water container port at Dibden Bay, on Southampton Water, 2001-2. The papers include an extensive series of submissions to the inquiry by a wide range of stakeholders (including local authorities, wildlife and environmental campaign groups, heritage and local community organisations, and local residents), as well as reports, plans, technical data, maps, etc., giving essential context and information bearing on the proposals.
  • Papers of the ‘LIFE 3’ project relating to sustainable wetland restoration in the New Forest, 2002-6, and involving organisations such as the RSPB, Environment Agency and the National Trust.
  • Papers relating to the Barton Farm Public Inquiry 2011, including planning application documentation from 2009-10.

The project will start 1 April and end 30 September 2022, so not long to wait

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