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Celebrating Gilbert White’s Anniversaries in the past

Jo Bailey has researched how Gilbert White's anniversaries have been celebrated in the past, with thanks to the Special Collections at Hartley Library, University of Southampton. 

As this week marks the 300th anniversary of Gilbert White’s birth, we thought you might be interested to see how the Selborne Society invited a Hampshire society that shared its interest in the environment to mark another of his anniversaries back in 1893.

Nearly 300 members of the Hampshire Field Club and the Selborne Society met in Selborne for a splendid-looking lunch a couple of days before the 100th anniversary of Gilbert’s death. So many people travelled by train that they were advised to get off at different stations so that there would be enough ‘brakes’ to transport them to the village.

A member of the Field Club found the menu last winter whilst thumbing through the Society’s material in the University of Southampton’s Rare Books Collection in the Hartley Library. It caught her eye because it was the only splash of colour in 13 volumes full of press cuttings and programmes that the Society put together from 1885, the year it was set up, until 1933.

The press cutting that accompanied the menu recorded a punishing schedule of guided walks and talks continuing well into the evening. No doubt they were all helped along by the excellent lunch.