Thorney Island Society

Findings (So Far) From the Thorney Island Archive

Over the coming months I’ll be working with the Thorney Island Society, specifically, within their archives. Since 1985, founded by June Stubbs and Ann Carlton, the Society have amassed an incredible amount of documents, artefacts and other ephemera, all relating to Thorney Island. 

I was shown the archive by poet, author, historian and artist Victor Keegan, whose excellent blog and new book you may have recently come across. It’s called Lost London, and is available to read both online and in print. A number of boxes had very kindly been laid out for me to have a good rummage through, so let’s take a look at what I found. This is a general overview of the artefacts, I will go into detail on particular items in further posts. 

Yellow Tray: a selection of incomplete clay tobacco pipes, dating from the 17th – 20th century, incomplete 17th century pewter child’s caudle cup*, London Area Post-Medieval Redware, ca.1500 – 1900, Surrey Whiteware, 1350 – 1500, post-medieval peg tile fragment, large sherd of English Delftware blue and white charger, incomplete Delftware tile from Holland, 19th – 20th century. 

The Dutch Delftware tile is interesting as, judging by the face of the tile, I thought it would have been earlier in date, perhaps early 1800s. However, the ‘Made in Holland’ back stamp would place this tile in the early 20th century. It was found in the ‘large fireplace room’ at 31 Marsham Street. This was a  Georgian property, built in 1760, and adapted in the 1920s as a property for the Women’s Suffrage Movement. The tile was recovered from a site visit in June, 1998. 31 Marsham Street has now been completely modernised, so I will need to return to the archives before I can share more detailed information about the property as it seems to have a really interesting history attached to it.

Shoe Box: a selection of medieval whitewares and post-medieval redwares, all domestic items, such as kitchen items, chamberpot fragments. In addition to this a lovely piece of London Area Post-Medieval Redware, a 16th – 17th century handle from a skillet. 

Medium Box: a warning to the curious, this box contained human remains and I can confirm, although I am not particularly squeamish, this did make me feel a little strange! I have no other information on the items in this box, other than a corresponding note which reads “display skull from police collection under Horseguards”. I will almost certainly need to have a good search through the paper records in the archive to find out more about these items.

Large Box: a selection of interesting items relating to domestic dwellings on Tufton Street, including personal items. My favourite item from this box was a home made wooden plaque that reads “For My Pet”. It was decorated with pyrography, and had a really lovely folklore feel to it. I believe it was hanging on a house on Tufton Street. This box also contained a number of bricks, including Wills and Packham of Kent, 1890 – 1938, and tiles from various buildings, as well as a small 17th – 18th century onion bottle with significant damage. 

Invite to Queen Victoria’s Coronation and the Embroidered Purse: hands down the most precious artefact in the archive, an invite to Queen Victoria’s Coronation, alongside an exquisitely embroidered, lockable purse. I am still researching these items, and will update my notes and the diary here when I have more information!

Please take a look through the images above and let me know what you think! 

* With thanks to Simon ‘Si Finds’ Bourne and  Mike ‘Cuffs’ for the help with identifying the child’s caudle cup.

Thanks also to Richard Hemery for his second opinion on my pottery identification. 

Further Reading

The Thorney Island Society