Revisiting the Parker Hore Collection

Irene Hore

For the past few months I have been making an inventory to assess the condition of the Parker-Hore collection. The archive of the Parker-Hore Collection is a family story covering the period from the 1840s to the onset of World War II in 1939. It is a portrait of a granddaughter’s dedicated completion of a task started by a grandmother whom she never met. These two women inspired many contemporaries in their quest for tracings of decorative medieval paving tiles in England, Wales, Ireland and northern France. Also included in the collection are notes, drawings and examples of traders’ tokens mainly from the local area.

The collection spans three generations from Mrs John Henry Parker to her son James Parker through to his daughter Mrs Irene Hore and on her death in the 1940s at Malvern Link the archive (some 20,000 items in total) was presented to Worcestershire Archaeological Society. It is currently stored in the basement of Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum. The plan is to put in a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for conservation work and proper storage of the collection and to make the collection more accessible to the public and to the churches where she undertook her research who may be oblivious to the collection.

Watercolour of tile from Bredon Church, Worcestershire

The collection encompasses the work and dedication of a whole family but one thing I have discovered through my work so far is, that although Irene was obviously very interested and passionate about her work, this is an academic collection not a personal one. From the collection you get very little sense of what she was like, although occasionally you get snapshots from the odd photo of her home life and family, a reminder that she was a real living, breathing person. The detail in the notes and drawings are incredible and from her letters you can tell that Irene was an intriguing women, as it is important to remember that it was unusual for a woman of this period to be so immersed in such an academic hobby which makes her ability to get information on such a wide range of objects from all over the country all the more remarkable.

Irene Hore’s lecture notes and her record slips of individual tiles and locations demonstrate a considerable knowledge of the subject and her collected extracts from books and journals along with her archaeological books are evidence of much scholarly research into the subject.

Sketches from Droitwich, Worcestershire

She was interested in the processes of manufacture as well as the interpretation of the designs. Her reference keeping was meticulous and her enthusiasm almost boundless. Not only were the tiles traced and references researched, but the watercolours she then produced were photographed to produce her index and she used lantern slides to illustrate her lectures. A notebook containing a miscellaneous collection of jottings in Irene Hore’s handwriting, also includes details of appropriate lenses and plates for photography, as well as an account for a camera, plates and chemicals for development, suggesting that Irene Hore also undertook her own photography.

More information about the Parker-Hore collection and family, details and an online archive of the watercolours of tiles can be found at TileWeb Paving-tile Watercolours Online.mht

 Blog written by Grace Campbell: just finished A-Levels at Worcester Sixth Form College, Worcester and in September will be going on to study Archaeology at the University of York.

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