Catalogue of the Townend Family Papers

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Lucy McCann
2018



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Table of Contents

Introduction
A   Letters 1929-1945
B   Trek journals 1929-1936


Townend Family Papers

1929-1945

Abstract:
Correspondence between members of the Townend family writing from India, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa with accounts of some treks in the Himalayan foothills.

Extent: 1.65 Linear meters, 11 physical shelfmarks
Language(s) of Material: English

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 13103/1-11

Biographical/Historical

Herbert Patrick Victor Townend (sometimes known as Toto) was born in Dublin on 11 March 1887. He was a Scholar of the King's School, Canterbury, and a Scholar of St John's College, Oxford. In October 1911 he departed for Bengal to take up an appointment in the Indian Civil Service.

Lettice Joan Bevington was born in Essex on 27 December 1892. She was educated by governesses and at a day school in Southsea before attending St Monica's School, Kingswood, Surrey. She married Herbert Townend in August 1913 and they sailed for India in December.

The Townends initially lived in Barrackpore, then Contai and Asansol. Herbert Townend's appointments then varied between Calcutta and country districts with leave in England every few years. Their eldest child Richard was born in Darjeeling in 1917, Annette in Calcutta in 1919 and Rosemary (Romey) in Darjeeling in 1923. The children were sent to boarding school in England and their parents wrote regularly to them, describing life in India and commenting on current affairs.

Joan was very keen on moutaineering and took part in treks in the foothills of the Himalayas. She was closely involved in the Himalayan Club and helped to organise Everest expeditions before World War II. She was very interested in the Sherpa porters and compiled a 'Porters Register' with a photograph and climbing record of each man. She also revised and edited Percy Brown's book, Tours in Sikhim and the Darjeeling District.

Herbert was on leave from October 1940 to August 1941 and he and Joan spent the time in Australia and New Zealand. He took early retirement the following year and they left India in December 1942, going initially to South Africa until they secured a passage back to England in August 1944. They settled in Oxford and Herbert died in 1950 and Joan in 1966.

Richard was at Merton College, Oxford, and then became a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was listed as missing in action over the North Sea in August 1942. Annette went to Somerville College, Oxford, and then, from July 1940, worked at Bletchley Park, translating and analysing Luftwaffe Enigma messages. She died in 2000. Rosemary was evacuated to Canada in June 1940 and never returned to live in England. She died in 2008.

Scope and Content

Letters primarily from Herbert and Joan Townend to their children, with journals of Joan's treks in the Himalayan foothills.

Acquisition

Donated by Helen Thornton, the grandaughter of Herbert and Joan Townend, in March 2018.

Preferred Form of Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Library, [followed by shelfmark, e.g. MS. 13103/1].

Transcripts of the letters and journals and additional information are available at https://wayback.archive-it.org/org-467/*/http://www.townendletters.uk/ .

Related Material

Letters from Annette Townend to her parents from 1939 to June 1940 and her diary, 1936-1941, are at Somerville College Library, Oxford. Her letters to her parents from Bletchley Park, July 1940-1944, are in the Bletchley Park Archive.

Personal name(s) (NCA Rules)

Townend | Herbert Patrick Victor | 1887-1950 | Indian Civil Servant
Townend | Lettice Joan |1892-1966 | nee Bevington

Place name(s) (NCA Rules)

India
Tibet Region

Subject(s) (LCSH)

20th century
Australia -- History
Civil Service -- India
New Zealand -- History
South Africa

A   Letters 1929-1945

Scope and Content

Letters from Herbert to Joan Townend and from Herbert and Joan to their children, with a few to or from other family members. Many of Herbert and Joan's letters are typed carbon copies which were sent to all of their children, sometimes with manuscript annotations.

Full range of shelfmarks

MSS. 13103/1-9


Letters from Herbert to Joan Townend
Date: 1930, 1936
Shelfmark: MS. 13103/1
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

The letters from 1930 describe the shooting incident at the Writers' Building in Calcutta on 8 December 1930 in which Herbert was injured and Colonel N.S. Simpson, Inspector General of Police, was killed. There is also one letter from Charles A. Bentley, a colleague in the Writers' Building, describing the events.

Letters from Joan to Annette Townend
Date: 1929-1935
Shelfmark: MS. 13103/2
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Letters from Joan to Annette Townend
Date: 1936-1940
Shelfmark: MS. 13103/3
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Letters from Joan to Annette Townend
Date: 1941-1944
Shelfmark: MS. 13103/4
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Letters from Herbert to Annette Townend
Date: 1929-1936
Shelfmark: MS. 13103/5
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Letters from Herbert to Annette Townend
Date: 1937-1945
Shelfmark: MS. 13103/6
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Letters from Joan and Herbert to Rosemary Townend
Date: 1932, 1936-1940
Shelfmark: MS. 13103/7
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Letters from Joan and Herbert to Rosemary Townend
Date: 1941-1944
Shelfmark: MS. 13103/8
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Letters from Joan to family and friends with some Airgraph letters between family members
Date: 1935-1944
Shelfmark: MS. 13103/9
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Comprising

B   Trek journals 1929-1936

Scope and Content

Joan Townend's journals describing treks in the Himalayan foothills.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 13103/10-11


Bound journal of a trek to Gyantse, Tibet Region, Aug-Sep 1929, illustrated with photographs.
Date: 1929
Shelfmark: MS. 13103/10
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Also some dried blue poppies with a letter from Lloyd's Botanical Garden, Darjeeling, identifying the specimen, notes on Tibet and words of 'The Ragyaha' chant.

Journals of treks
Date: 1932-1936
Shelfmark: MS. 13103/11
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Comprising


Transformation from XML (EAD 2.0) to HTML
13 May 2019