Diary of a Yorkshireman

Ilka Heale discovers the 19th century diary of a singular York resident



In the Library’s Raymond Burton Yorkshire Collection, there are three volumes of a diary kept by Yorkshire gentleman, Joseph Sherwood (1828-1910). Joseph was born in Hull but moved to York as a teenager; he was an organist and teacher of music, and lived on Bishopthorpe Road. He worked at King’s Manor when it was a school for the blind.

'Diary' by Magic Madzik. Re-used under a Creative Commons licence.

His diary starts in 1858, a year when the Indian rebellion raged, Charles Darwin read his paper on natural selection to the Linnaean society, and the source of the river Nile was discovered. These great events are not recorded by Joseph; his diary reflects the day to day life of a Victorian middle class gentleman in York.

He regularly attended the races, got excited when royalty came to town, and enjoyed the theatre and concerts. He always voted and took all his holidays on the east coast, mostly travelling by train.

Typical diary entry from 1866. Photo courtesy of Paul Shields.
In 1866, Joseph wrote about the Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition in York. The first of these exhibitions was held between 24 July and 31 October 1866 on a site in Bootham Asylum in a temporary building.



Photos courtesy of Paul Shields from the publication Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, York, 1866
These photographs have been taken from a book in the Library: Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, York, 1866.

The York Art Gallery building was originally constructed in 1879 to house the second Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition.  The exhibition building, designed by the York architect Edward Taylor was opened on 7 May 1879, and the area in front - Exhibition Square - was created at the same time. The front of the building was described in the exhibition catalogue as 'in the Italian style of Architecture'.

The Library has a collection of art books from the York Art Gallery collection.  To search the Library catalogue for the books, click on the advanced search option, select ‘Provenance’ and enter ‘York City Art Gallery’.

York Art Gallery is closed for refurbishment and is due to open in Spring 2015.

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