Week 10, 7th-11th Dec

Letters sent from Greece Sep & Oct 1928
File of letters from John Pendlebury to his father, from Greece. September – October 1928. Copyright: The British School at Athens

This week I have finished cataloguing John’s letters written to his father during his studentship at the BSA (British School at Athens) from November 1927 to May 1928. I have also completed the descriptions for letters that John sent to Herbert (his father) from London and Cambridge during the summer of 1928; and from Athens, the Peloponnese and Thessaloniki in September and October 1928.

The letters sent during John’s studentship contain information relating to an item in the museum collection at the BSA. The correspondence reveals that during a trip to Aegina John and Hilda “picked up” parts of a Minyan bowl near what John described as the temple of Aphrodite (probably the temple of Apollo). Later letters reveal that John gave the fragments of the bowl to the BSA’s collection and that it had been found in a “dump of sherds” left by a German archaeological team during their excavations at the temple. With the help of the BSA Archivist I looked for this item in the museum catalogue, and there it was – or what seems highly likely to be the same bowl.

The information from the John Pendlebury Family papers can be added to the museum catalogue to give the item more context. Here we have a clear example of how cataloguing a specific collection can enrich the overall knowledge of collections, particularly where there are these explicit links.

The letters sent from London and Cambridge in the summer of 1928 include Johns announcement of his engagement to Hilda. John quotes, what can be assumed was Herbert’s letter announcing his engagement to Mabel Dickinson, writing…

‘Your own style is best. “You will probably be surprised to hear that I am engaged” – to Hilda White who got back today from Greece.’

John and Hilda Pendlebury
John and Hilda Pendlebury on their wedding day (15 Sep 1928), from the Pendlebury Family Papers. Copyright: British School at Athens

John and Hilda were engaged in June and married in September. They then returned to Greece for a week-long honeymoon in the Peloponnese and some work in Thessaloniki (sorting sherds from an excavation in Chalkidiki which John had been part of earlier that year).

The latest section of letters that I have catalogued describe the honeymoon, the work in Thessaloniki and arrangements for their journey to Egypt – John and Hilda’s next stop.

Back of letter with route of honeymoon
A map of the route of John and Hilda’s travels for their honeymoon in the Peloponnese, on the back of a letter to Herbert Pendlebury. Copyright: The British School at Athens

Next week I will be continuing to catalogue John’s letters to his father, beginning with his first dig season in Egypt.