At the November meeting Karen Cooke, the archivist from Gloucestershire Archive who was responsible for the cataloguing of the Hicks-Beach Archive, talked about the project which was sponsored by the National Cataloguing Scheme for Archives. The Hicks Beach Archive brought together several collections which had been obtained at different times plus a more recent deposit. There were estate records from Williamstrip Estate in Coln St Aldwyn and Quenington and the Netheravon Estate in Wiltshire from the 18th and 19th centuries, family and personal records of the Hicks Beach and related families of the 17th-18th century, and political papers of Sir M E Hicks Beach, 1st Earl St Aldwyn of the 19th-20th centuries, business records. Karen also brought a charming display of the Victorian Christmas cards from the family records.
She gave us the history of the Wither, Hicks and Beach families including some romantic incidents that ended badly. Charles Wither (1684-1731) toured the country with his tutor and wrote a daily journal, an example of one of the earliest travel diaries. Sir Michael Edward Hicks Beach, 1st Earl St Aldwyn was Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1885-1886 and 1895-1902 was undoubtedly the most famous member of the family. The estates at Netheravon and Keevil, and their acquisition and disposal were described.
The collection at Gloucestershire Archives is now listed on the catalogue and is available for inspection. For further information about Coln St Aldwyns, Ana Bianchi Evans has written an excellent book called ‘The way we were’ published in 2011 it is available from the shop in Coln and local bookshops as well as from Amazon.co.uk.