Diana Clutterbuck:  Young Diarist of Hartlebury

85 members of the History Group attended Diana Clutterbuck’s talk on’ The Young Diarist of Hartlebury’.

The subject of the talk was Emily Pepys (pronounced Peppis) who came to Hartlebury in 1841 when her father was enthroned as the Bishop of Worcester. The diary covers the latter six months of 1844 and into the New Year of 1845 and was written when Emily was only ten years old. Her literary prowess may be attributed to Samuel Pepys (pronounced Peeps), the famous Diarist, who was an ancestor of her father’s.

Emily had three siblings – Henry, aged 19, an undergraduate at Cambridge, Louisa, aged 16, about to ‘come out’ in Society and Herbert, aged 13, at the time of writing the diary. Her diary contains amusing, detailed, engaging anecdotes and observations and is written with a child’s innocent comments, but is also interspersed with a mature and wry perspective on people and events. It gives a lively insider view on the activities of a well-brought up young girl of the mid-nineteenth Century and chronicles her social activities eg dances and visits to concerts; her tasks as befitted her station in life eg visits to poor parishioners; her leisure pastimes, for example: games of battledore and shuttlecock and games of chess and cricket and her lessons and education.

Emily records the first County cricket match played in Worcestershire, Worcester against Stourbridge (then in Worcestershire) on August 23rd 1844. There is also a detailed account of the big fire in the Schoolroom at Hartlebury on Christmas Day 1844.

Throughout the diary Emily’s personality shines through – teasing, full of fun, but ‘biddable’. This is a rare insight into an era usually portrayed as austere and formal and Emily’s diary breathes life and excitement into the age.

Diana Clutterbuck’s presentation conveyed all the humour and innocence of the diary and the talk was very well received.

The diary is published by Prospect Books with ISBN 907 325 24 6.  It can possibly be obtained from Kidderminster Library and may be purchased on Amazon.


Heidy Hague