Thursday, March 28, 2013

Is this Hilda Norris?

Believed to be a photograph
of Mrs Hilda Norris, "the only
commonplace person to enter
Dimbola Lodge".

A young woman of my acquaintance, who wishes to avoid the unflattering glare of publicity, has asked me to pass on the following information. She has been charged with the disposal of her great-aunt's effect following that lady's decease. Among the odds and ends in her attic was a locked tin box; the key has only recently turned up, and the contents of the box disclosed ... or have they? At some time in its history the box has suffered from inundation, possibly in sea-water, and the contents, mostly papers, have become damp. Many pieces have become stuck to one another, and such individual items as have been separated have been found to be either illegible, where they bear handwriting, or to have surface damage rendering the print incomplete.

However, with the advice of a professional conservator, the young woman hopes -- indeed, is confident -- that much of the papers will yield their secrets in the fullness of time. The above photograph is an encouraging example. She believes it is probably the likeness of her 19th century ancestress, Mrs Hilda Norris, who, according to family legend, enjoyed a brief celebrity among the 'Freshwater Circle' at Dimbola Lodge on the Isle of Wight. I shall be allowed to publish selected items as they become available. Watch this space!


  1. I heard that the papers were in purple ink, is that true?

  2. Now I wonder where you heard that, Gail? We think there is a long time-span, from perhaps the middle of the 19th century to (relatively) modern times. We're guessing of course at this stage, but we expect most or all of the letters to be those received by Mrs N and others, and so from several different writers. Most ink would have been black, or blue-black; the older stuff will have faded to a sort of sepia. The PROSE may be purple, of course!

  3. Hmm ... seems it might NOT be Mrs N after all ... I await developments ...