Historical letters added to collection at Northumberland Archives

Harry Carr, chairman of Sir Francis Festing Fund; Graeme Heron of Northumbria Army Cadet Force; Sophie Hearn, volunteer coordinator at Northumberland Archives. Picture by Neil Denham
Harry Carr, chairman of Sir Francis Festing Fund; Graeme Heron of Northumbria Army Cadet Force; Sophie Hearn, volunteer coordinator at Northumberland Archives. Picture by Neil Denham

Historical staff are celebrating after increasing their collection on a solicitors firm.

Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn have received a donation of two volumes of letters, adding to the important collection of papers from Dickson, Archer & Thorp Solicitors of Alnwick.

The original collection – acquired in June last year by Northumberland County Council’s Archives following money raised through a series of grants – charts the history of the 200-year-old practice from its establishment in the late 18th century until its closure and the death of the last managing partner in 2003.

Dickson, Archer & Thorp Solicitors had a wide client base dealing with probate cases from families of relatively modest means to handling the business of many county families including that of the Duke of Northumberland.

Practice partners were also involved in governance both county-wide and more locally.

The additional volumes to the collection include letters from Lieutenant Robert Thorp and Captain Collingwood Thorp between members of the Thorp family during the First World War. The Thorp family were owners of the Farne Islands, which they gave to the National Trust in 1925.

The two volumes were purchased for Northumberland Archives by the Sir Francis Festing Fund, a local charity focusing on providing advice, assistance and relief in need to former members of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers and the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, at a total purchase cost of £5,500.

Harry Carr, Chairman of the Sir Francis Festing Fund, said: “The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers are delighted to be able to donate the two volumes of the Thorp Letters to the Northumberland Archives for research and display purposes, and to further reinforce the relationship between the County and the Regiment in celebrating and commemorating the service and sacrifice of men of the ‘Fighting Fifth’ who served during the Great War.”

Coun Cath Homer, cabinet member for culture, arts and leisure at Northumberland County Council, said: “This is a fantastic acquisition for Northumberland Archives.

“The volumes of letters will provide an amazing resource for those studying local history and also people interested in the First World War. It will give an incredible insight into the Thorp family history and the history of Alnwick.”

Robert Thorp was killed in action on March 22, 1918, and with the centenary of the end of the First World War being celebrated this year, Northumberland Archives would like to invite ex-servicemen and local army, airforce and naval cadets to assist in the transcription of the Thorp letters onto their digital archives system.

If you are interested in getting involved, contact Graeme Heron on graemenufc05@hotmail.co.uk