30 June 2015

Percy Manning: The man who collected Oxfordshire

Regular MEG conference attenders with long memories will recall that the 2008 conference theme was 'Museum Ethnography at Home'. This conference arose out of a research project at the Pitt Rivers Museum (members of which project helped to host the conference) called (in short-hand) The Other Within

The after-life of this project continues to this day. One of the folklorists and local antiquarians whose collections were considered during the project was Percy Manning (1870-1917). He spent his adult life in Oxford, and collected many hundreds of objects which are spread between the Ashmolean, Bodleian and Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. 

Mike Heaney, who wrote Manning's entry for the Dictionary of National Biography, has convened a working group of representatives from all the main Oxfordshire institutions who have an interest in the collections to organize a series of events, exhibitions and activities to celebrate the centenary of his death in 2017. It is early days yet but the following events have been mooted:

Morris dancer's costume from Kirtlington, Oxfordshire (1895.46.1 )

1. An exhibition in the Lower Gallery of the Pitt Rivers Museum from February to March 2017. This will comprise a series of objects donated by Manning and his close collaborator Thomas James Carter including a morris costume from Kirtlington. We are hoping to work with members of the 2015 Kirtlington Morris to provide images and related activity events.

2. In connection with this it is hoped that the VERVE project will organize a series of folk and morris events around May Day 2017 which will celebrate Manning's contribution to the renaissance of morris in the early twentieth-century.

3. Linked exhibitions at the Ashmolean and Bodleian (Weston Library)

4. Trail of the other Manning related objects in the Pitt Rivers Museum which will be made available to the visiting public free of charge

5. The digitalisation, annotation and publication of Manning's map of Oxfordshire which records many previously unknown archaeological sites

Possibly a website, publication and workshop are also being discussed and planned. 

Further information about these events will be circulated nearer the date to MEG members. If you know your museum has any objects or manuscript collections from Percy Manning, or you wish to know more about the man, his collection or his centenary please contact us.

Faye Belsey, Madeleine Ding and Alison Petch
Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.

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