An example of one of the envelopes, addressed to Richard Bevan in Brighton © The Regency Town House
A series of letters recording the lives of two Regency families between 1824 and 1870 are now accessible to all with the launch of a dedicated website.
For several years volunteers at The Regency Town House Heritage Centre in Hove have been transcribing and researching the correspondence between the Bevan and Dewar families. The new site collects their efforts in one place, together with a family history section and photographs of each letter.
The team are currently on the look out for more contributions to the Explore section, which contains articles written by volunteers about issues raised in the letters. It is hoped this area will become a space for sharing opinions and information on related history and heritage.
Nick Tyson, Curator at the Town House, said: “This collection provides a research point for specialists as well as a wonderful insight into Georgian family history for members of the general public.”
“In due course we will be adding more Bevan records to the site. In the meantime there’s already lots of really fascinating material available and those interested in the development of the English postal system can visually track the change from traditional wax-sealed sheets to standardised envelopes with stamps.”
Silvanus Bevan III © The Regency Town House
Patrick Baty, a descendant of the Bevan family, originally donated the letters. Well positioned in Georgian and Victorian society, his ancestors had multiple homes around the country and long associations with Barclays Bank. They produced Robert Polhill Bevan, the nationally renowned painter who later went on to establish the short-lived Cumberland Market Group of artists.
The collection provides a valuable insight into 19th century life, from everyday occurrences to descriptions of more unusual incidents like a tracheotomy or the freak summer hailstorm that damaged one of the Bevan’s houses.
The new website also enables the uploading of the various Bevan records by non-IT literate volunteers. Ellen Scaife, librarian at the Town House said: “Our technology has created a flexible web-based system that is easily accessible and gives us the freedom to create, edit and manage all kinds of different media, including text and images."
“We hope that the system we have evolved will be of use to many other archive projects and would welcome approaches from interested parties.”
For further details of the project go to: http://bevan.rth.org.uk