Into the Archive at The Argory
Learn more about our hidden archives at The Argory. Follow Sally's blog on a monthly basis to discover stories about the family.
When the National Trust acquired The Argory in the late 1970s, along with all of the furnishings, they also inherited a large collection of letters, photographs, documents and diaries. Dedicated volunteers have created a catalogue of these items, and their findings are quite interesting.
Delving into the archive at The Argory in late November 2017 volunteers had been focused on a collection of letters, mostly dating from the 1930s.
The McGeough-Bond family were very enthusiastic in their correspondence. In 1937, Lady Bond sent 36 letters to her son – who was affectionately known as “Tommy”. When you consider that this equates to a letter – which often ran to several pages in length - roughly every ten days, and that he would not have been her only correspondent, this seems rather remarkable.
So, what exactly did the family find to write about?
Well, the answer is much the same things that we might be communicating about today, albeit through instant messaging or social media. The topics of health and the weather crop up most commonly, along with news of their activities, updates on friends and the extended family, and of course news of the house and grounds through the changing seasons. An excerpt from a letter written by Mr Torrens, a servant at The Argory, sent in March 1937 reads:
“we have had a very bad storm the snow was about 12 ins in yard not mentioning the drifts. I am sorry to have to tell you the cedar tree at the Apple House suffered badly it got the full force of the blizzard from the river side & a lot of boughs are broken down the one at the house escaped being more sheltered. The roof & house escaped well last Sat I got the men on the roof to shovel the snow out of the valleys so that when it thawed the spoutings were able to carry it away without doing any damage the House is very dry & free from damp.”
A tranquil haven
As February rolls around, and the snowdrops start to appear, thoughts turn to the coming of spring. There is a stillness to be found around The Argory at this time of year – a mood perfectly encapsulated by Sir Walter in a letter to his son, upon his return to the house: ‘you are now enjoying absolute quiet; one of the luxuries of to-day – hearing the cuckoo, perhaps signs of the presence of herons, not to speak of a hare on your lawn.’
It is no wonder then that so many visitors brave the cold each year to experience this tranquil haven for themselves.