Opening Hours

Christmas Closure

The Special Collections and Archives will close to enquiries at 6pm on Friday 22 December 2017, re-opening at 10am on Monday 8 January 2018.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our researchers!

Gloucestershire Poets Writers and Artists

Visit to the John Masefield Society Archive

Last week I visited the John Masefield Society Archive in Ledbury. It is always nice to get out from behind the desk, and having been a fan of Masefield’s The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights since childhood I found myself driving to Ledbury with some excitement.

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The Master’s House – Ledbury


The John Masefield Society Archive is based at the wonderful Master’s House. The building was originally a fifteenth century mansion, and has been lovingly converted into Ledbury’s public library (and incidentally is the nicest public library I’ve ever visited). I was warmly greeted by Bob Vaughan, who spent the next two hours showing me the collection and giving me a fantastic overview of Masefield’s life and works.

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Letters from John Masefield to Eileen Colwell in the John Masefield Archive


Masefield was born in Ledbury in 1878 to a middle-class family. After being orphaned at a young age he attended King’s School in Warwick before being sent to join HMS Conway as a young mariner. The influence of the sea can be found throughout his work, in poems such as his Salt-Water Ballads (1902) to pirate rats in The Box of Delights (1935). His maritime career ended abruptly after he discovered he suffered from seasickness, and Masefield abandoned his occupation on arrival in New York in 1895. He then lived as a vagrant in New York State, working in bars and even a carpet factory, which he describes in detail in his autobiography In The Mill (1941). Masefield returned to England in 1897, after deciding to become a writer. He initially found employment as a bank clerk in London, but went on to form an enduring friendship with W. B. Yeats and published his first volume of poetry (Salt-Water Ballads) in 1902. Masefield continued to publish both poetry and prose alongside writing for the Manchester Guardian. His publication of The Everlasting Mercy (1911) became an instant hit.

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Walking sticks belonging to Masefield and his daughter


Masefield went on to complete war work in a British Red Cross hospital on the Western Front during the First World War, then took charge of a motorboat ambulance service (despite the seasickness). He completed a lecture tour of the United States, and in 1930 became the 16th Poet Laureate after a nomination from Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. He continued to write, including subjects from children’s novels to social issues. Masefield died in 1967, aged 88.

The Archive is a fantastic resource, incorporating just about all of Masefield’s published works along with original letters, photographs and objects. As archives have a way of doing, I’m inspired to find out more about the man, his works and life, and I can think of no better place to start than this collection. We also hold a selection of Masefield’s publications in our Gloucestershire Poets, Writers and Artists Collection at the University of Gloucestershire (being a contemporary of the Dymock Poets and from just over the border in Herefordshire), and a set of John Masefield Society Journals. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

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Laurel wreath worn by Masefield




Dymock Poets, Gloucestershire Poets Writers and Artists

New John Drinkwater material

We recently purchased some new John Drinkwater material to add to our extensive holdings on the Dymock Poets. These plays and speeches were once part of John Drinkwater’s own personal library, and includes a cancelled edition of the play ‘Puss in Boots’. All items are signed and accompanied by handmade slip-cases.

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The new titles are:

Cophetua (1911)

Puss in Boots (1911). Cancelled version. Includes colour illustration “for John”

The Only Legend: A Masque of The Scarlet Pierrot (1913)

Rebellion: A Play in Three Acts (1914)

Robin Hood and The Pedlar (1914)

The Storm (1916)

The British Academy Warton Lecture on English Poetry XIII: Some Contributions to the English Anthology (With special reference to the Seventeenth Century) (1922)

“The Other Point of View”: The Oration Delivered by Mr John Drinkwater” (1928)

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John Drinkwater (1882 – 1937) was a playwright and poet who went on to become manager of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. His first major success came in the form of the play ‘Abraham Lincoln’, first performed in 1918. He was a member of the Dymock Poets, and published in their journal ‘New Numbers’. He was an associate and friend of many actors and writers during the early half of the twentieth century.

The Dymock Poets were Lascelles Abercrombie, Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, Robert Frost, Wilfrid Gibson and Edward Thomas. They lived in and visited Dymock in the months leading up to the outbreak of the First World War, gaining inspiration from each other and the surrounding Gloucestershire/ Herefordshire landscape.

These new titles are available to search on the University’s library catalogue, along with our other Dymock Poets publications. Archive material including original letters and photographs can be found on our Special Collections and Archives catalogue.


General, Projects

New Home for Special Collections and Archives

The Special Collections and Archives service has moved from Francis Close Hall to Delta Place, where all of our collections are now located.

Over the summer we’ve transformed an open-plan office into a repository for the University Archive and several special collections. We also have two new collections; the ITN News Archive and an Artists’ Books Collection.

Before – A blank canvas


Nine lorry-loads of shelving and boxes were gradually delivered and the space began to take shape.

During – Controlled chaos!


Delta Place is now home to thirteen diverse and engaging collections that encompass literary giants such as the Dymock Poets; vast resources on local and national history in the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Library; archives of artists and sculptors in our Whittington Press and Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail collections; documentary photographs charting national and international news during the later twentieth century in the ITN News Archive; and of course the rich history of the University of Gloucestershire covering the past 170 years.

After – Ready to welcome back our researchers


The service is open to staff, students and members of the public. Archivist Louise Hughes is on hand to help with your research, whatever topic big or small. Academic staff are also encouraged to contact the Special Collections and Archives for module-specific archive sessions using our wealth of material.

Our online archive catalogue continues to grow as our collections are catalogued and made available to search online. All collections are also accessible in-person by making an appointment.

Open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 10am – 6pm:

Special Collections and Archives

University of Gloucestershire

Delta Place

27 Bath Road



GL53 7TH

01242 714851

Delta Place location map

Displays and Events, University History

Heritage Open Days 2017

We’re excited to announce that this year the University of Gloucestershire will again take part in Heritage Open Days, a national initiative that sees places of historic interest open their doors to the public for free.

On Sunday 10th September 2017 we’ll be hosting tours of Francis Close Hall (from The Chapel) at 10am and 11am, and Park Campus (from Elwes Reception) at 1pm and 2pm.

Francis Close Hall opened in 1850 to accommodate the male students of Cheltenham Training College. Designed by Samuel Daukes, it is one of Cheltenham’s best examples of a Victorian-Gothic building. The tour will take in the grounds and buildings, recounting the history of both and the students who have studied here.

The Park Campus was originally planned as a zoological garden by Thomas Billings. Despite opening on Queen Victoria’s coronation day, 28 June 1838, the enterprise failed and Billings sold the site to Samuel Daukes, who operated it as a pleasure garden and built the villas that still border the campus today. The tour of the grounds will uncover the history of the site and how we came to own it.

Tickets for both tours are free and can be booked via Cheltenham Tourist Information Centre, based at The Wilson Art Gallery, in person or be calling 01242 237431.

More information on other Heritage Open Day events in Cheltenham and beyond can be found on the national website