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Labor] Bradley, Edith.



The Edith Bradley Archive
[Labor]. Bradley, Edith. Manuscripts, Correspondence, and Printed Matter. 1895-1935
Edith Bradley (c.1859-1943) is a significant and neglected figure in the fight for women's equality, remembered best as the first Warden of the Lady Warwick Hostel, Reading, and of the Lady Warwick College, Studley (1898-1905). The rest of Bradley's interesting and committed career has to be pieced together from newspaper reports and other sources, and through the manuscript material and printed matter detailed below.
In 1892 Bradley proposed a "scheme for the 'Employment of Women Graduates and others as Pioneer Lecturers'" at the Women Workers' Conference at Bristol (Times, 9 November 1892; and letter by her in Times, 21 November 1892). Five years later (1897) she was sub-editor, under the Countess of Warwick, of the volume Women's Education in the British Empire. She was also Honorary Secretary of the Educational Flower Show and Rural Education Union, on its foundation in 1901. In the years that followed she was lecturing with lantern slides.
By 1907 she had resigned her position as Warden, and in March of the following year, together with Miss Baillie Hamilton, she "acquired Greenway Court, near Maidstone, for the development of a model small holding, the intention being to demonstrate what can be done by women in the lighter branches of agriculture" (Times, 19 July 1909). The following year "the Mercia Small Holding, Greenway Court, Hollingbourne, Kent" was reported, "through the energy and skill of the owners," to be "working its way into prominence as a centre of experimentation and proficiency in practices suitable to holdings of restricted area, these including dairying, fruit growing, fruit preserving, market gardening, pig keeping, poultry keeping, and bee keeping" (Times, 25 July 1910). Three years later the opening of a "new wing and other alterations and improvements" were celebrated at what was now called the Mercia Dairy and Poultry Farm.
During the Second World War Bradley was District Representative for the West Kent Women's County Agricultural Committee, and Manager of the Mercia Jam Committee. These activities, too, are reflected in the collection. By 1920 Bradley was advertising "Practical TRAINING for gentlemen in Gardening, Fruit and Dairy Farming" at Greenway Court (Times, 8 October 1920). By the mid-nineteen-thirties Bradley, resident in Rusper, Horsham, was editing the journal Farming (see below).
Bradley's death was reported in the Times of 18 December 1943 as follows: "BRADLEY. - On Dec. 3, 1943, at Littledean, Gloucestershire, EDITH BRADLEY, aged 84, first Warden of Lady Warwick College, now Studley College, Warwickshire." A scant tribute to an accomplished woman.
The archive breaks down as follows:
'Programme of Morning Concert (in Aid of the Women Lecturers' Association) at Stafford House by kind permission of the Duchess of Sutherland on Thursday, April 25th, 1895, at 3 o'clock.' 4to, 3 pp. Bifolium. Printed on pink paper. From (Bradley's home) the 'Office of Women Lecturers' Association, 4, Caroline Place, Mecklenburgh Square, W.C.'
Letter to 'Miss E Bradley | Mercia Apiary' from M. H. Read of the Irish Bee-Keepers' Association, Sallypark, Clondalkin, 15 May 1914, supplying her, at the request of the Rev. Mr Digges, 'with synopsis of Exam for Experts' Certificates'; 4to, 1 page. Accompanying the letter, in Read's hand, are two 4to pages of questions, the first page headed 'Preliminary Exam. for Experts' Certificate'. All three pages on the Association's letterheads. Also present is a manuscript, in Bradley's hand, of notes for 'Bee Lectures' (8vo, 2 pp).
Three printed circulars for the West Kent Women's County Agricultural Committee, all three printed in green, and the first two signed in type by Bradley. The first item, dated 27 December 1915 (folio, 1 p.), headed 'War Work. Women and Agriculture' urges the reader to look over official leaflets relating to 'the all-important question of our Food Supply. | All Women living in the Country are ask [sic] to help. We have been called the Second Line of Defense.' Bradley has been 'requested to represent the District of Hollingbourne with its 23 villages'. The second item (12mo, 1 p.) is a small handbill poster for a public meeting at the Garden Room, The Elms, Sutton Valence, headed 'WAR WORK. | West Kent Women's County Agricultural Committee. Hollingbourne District.' States that 'The Work which Lord Selbourne wishes to be done to increase the FOOD SUPPLY will be explained by Miss Edith Bradley, District Representative'. The third item, dated 23 February 1916 (folio, 1 p.) is almost identical to the first, but this time Bradley states that she has been 'requested to start the movement in the District of Maidstone with its 6 Wards and 16 Villages.'
Manuscript register for the West Kent Women's County Agriculture Committee, Hollingbourne Rural District, with the signatures and parishes of those attending area meetings between 14 January and 20 June 1916. The first entry is headed "West Kent Women's Agricultural Meetings, Hollingbourne Area Meeting. Jan 14th," and the last, "Meeting of Village Registrars, Maidstone & Arlingbourne Districts, Sessions House, Maidstone, June 20th. 1916." For Bradley's intimate involvement, see Item Three.
Manuscript minute book of Mercia Jam Committee ("Manager: Miss Edith Bradley"), Hollingbourne, with entries dated between 29 May and 19 July 1918. 4to, 9 pp., with seven 4to pp. of typewritten matter loosely inserted, including five pages (statement of expenses; quantity and variety of fruit used; stocks of jam) on the Committee's letterhead, and with Bradley's cyclostyled signature. Also included is a manuscript list of "Jam Orders to Complete," dated 30 August 1918, and another list of jam orders for 20 June [1918]. The first entry in the minute book begins: "The allocation of 3 tons of Sugar by the Hollingbourne Food Control, to Miss Bradley (as a 'Small Jam Manufacturer') to be converted into Jam, & sold to the General Public at Govt. Price, necessitated the formation of the above Committee."
Quarto minute book (around 150 pp. in manuscript with typescript additions) of the South-Eastern Jersey Club (Edith Bradley, Secretary until the beginning of 1924) from April 1922 to December 1925. Begins with the signatures of those attending the "three Preliminary Meetings." Capably laid out, with printed reports of general meetings inserted. At the meeting of 2 January 1924 "Miss Bradley protested strongly" when Captain Watson Smyth moved "That an endeavour be made to find out whether some member of the S. E. J. C. can be found who will undertake the duties of secretary on a purely honorary basis," he considering "that the administrative expenses of the Club, as shown in the Statement of Accounts was out of proportion to the work done." Bradley responds with three detailed points before tendering her resignation, the President of the Club also offering to resign, as "he did not care to continue with a different Secretariat."
Collection of material relating to willow growing, comprising: First, Bradley's printed pamphlet "Willow Craft. Revival of Willow Growing and Fine Basket Work for Women" (dated 22 January 1929; printed by "Fred Holmes, The Printer, 17, North Street, Horsham"). 8vo, 7 pp. Good, in original printed grey wraps. Scarce: no copy in the British Library or on COPAC. Bradley's address is given as "Willow Craft Guild, Westons, Rusper, Horsham." Second, a typewritten correspondence between Bradley and Major E. G. Sheppard, General Secretary, West Sussex Rural Committee Council, Chichester, between November 1926 and April 1928, comprising five letters from Sheppard (a total of seven 4to pp.), with the drafts of three replies by Bradley (a total of four 4to pp.). The correspondence centers on Bradley's acceptance of the position of "Rural Industries Investigator," with regard to willow growing. During the course of the correspondence Bradley clarifies her figures on "the amount of Willow imported into Littlehampton."  In the last communication Bradley complains at ill treatment by the Committee, despite the fact that when she began her investigations "the Revival of Willow Growing in West Sussex seemed likely to end, but by my persistent efforts I have aroused so wide an interest in the subject throughout the County, that it is not likely to be forgotten." Together with this second section of Item Seven is a typewritten folio page of statistics (by Bradley), headed "COST AND WEIGHT OF WILLOW REQUIRED FOR LOBSTER FISHING INDUSTRY. BASIC FIGURES AS STATED." Third, a mainly-typewritten correspondence between Bradley and Henry P. Hutchinson of the University of Bristol, Agricultural & Horticultural Research Station (National Fruit & Cider Institute), between December 1926 and March 1927, comprising four letters from Hutchinson (each 4to, 1 p.) and the drafts of three replies by Bradley (each 4to, 1 p.). The correspondence concerns the correct method of planting and growing willow, with reference to Bradley's brother's farm in Worcestershire.
Correspondence between Bradley, as editor of 'Farming', and R. W. McKellar of Barcombe Place, near Lewes, Sussex, between June and August of 1935, primarily regarding a proposal for McKellar to contribute a regular column entitled "Stock and Land." Comprising five letters from McKellar (two in 12mo, making a total of five manuscript pages; and three in 4to, making a total of one typewritten page and two manuscript ones) and five drafts of typewritten replies by Bradley (each 4to, 1 p.). On June 15, 1935 McKellar writes, following a conversation at Roseley Park, to thank Bradley "for your kindness in arranging these very interesting functions and also for honouring us with your very kind invitations, secondly I would like very much to have a talk with you on the lines of Empire reciprocity before I return to Australia."

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