Farnham Museum, Plate from 1894 Guide

It is clear from the letters in the Pitt-Rivers papers, Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum [S&SWM], that many people wrote to Pitt-Rivers to ask his permission to visit his private museum at Farnham Dorset. Many of them seem to have been granted the courtesy of an escorted visit by Pitt-Rivers himself (even after 1895 when he seems to have been fairly constantly suffering from ill-health).

An example of this might be the letters from S.G. Hewlett, shown here in their entirety, from which it is clear that without any real introduction, and with no real curriculum vitae being provided, Pitt-Rivers was willing to both send a free copy of the guide to the Museum and also to offer an escorted visit round the museum to one caller. This particular visitor was obviously fired up by his visit because he later became a keen donor of stone tools to the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford (though, so far as we know, he donated no objects to the Pitt-Rivers Museum at Farnham). Hewlett was not a society name or a celebrated figure, he was a schoolmaster with an interest in prehistory. [S&SWM PR papers L1663-4]

Some of the visitors were more celebrated, the next letter to the ones from Hewlett in the S&SWM PR papers is from someone discussing the arrangements for a visit by Dr Hjalmer Stolpe, curator of the archaeological museum at Stockholm to Farnham Museum. [S&SWM PR papers L1665]. In the next letter a copy of Stolpe's paper on Savage Ornament was sent to Pitt-Rivers to thank him for his hospitality during the visit. [S&SWM PR papers L1666]

Another account of a visit to the Museum is given by the Petries, see here.

The escorted visits seem to have meant a lot to the visitors for there are several other letters thanking Pitt-Rivers very enthusiastically.

AP June 2010.

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