T W Shore was one of Hampshire’s foremost historians. He was born on 5 April 1840 at Wantage (Berkshire), the son of William Shore, an architect/builder, and his wife Susannah (née) Carter.

It is an irony of biography that, for a man who was to achieve so much and whose writings are so prolific, almost nothing is known of his early life or education. He obtained a Department of Science and Art certificate – a lowly qualification for a man who was to influence the education of so many – and in the 1861 census (taken in April) he is master of the national school in Bulley, a hamlet near Churcham about seven miles west of Gloucester: an unmarried sister is listed as schoolmistress.

A few months earlier, on 24 January, he had married Amelia Lewis, daughter of a shop man in Gloucester. Thomas’s second son, Lewis Erle, was born at the School House, Bulley in August 1863. In 1865 Shore became organizing secretary of the East Lancashire Union of Institutions, a movement for the encouragement of science teaching fostered by Sir James P Kay-Shuttleworth. The family probably moved to Burnley. It is a sign of his growing influence that Shore was one of those sent by the Science and Art Department to report on the Paris Exhibition of 1867 in relation to scientific and technical education; the following year he gave evidence on the subject to a Select Committee of the House of Commons. He was also a Fellow of the Chemical Society.

Shore came to Southampton in 1873 on his appointment as secretary to the Hartley Institution and executive officer of the Hartley Council, a composite post that included the posts of curator to the Institution’s museum and librarian. In 1875 he became effectively principal of the Hartley Institution.

In addition to his administrative duties, Shore lectured extensively, mainly on scientific and technical subjects. He did much to improve the Hartley museum and library, being largely responsible for the posthumous donation of books, pamphlets and prints on Hampshire collected by the Reverend Sir William H Cope, Bart of Bramshill. It was at a meeting in his office on 20 March 1885 that the Hampshire Field Club (later the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society) was founded. He was appointed joint honorary secretary – together with Edward Westlake of Fordingbridge (nephew of William Colson Westlake of Southampton) – ,a post he held until 1887 when he was succeeded by William Dale (q.v.).

Shore’s principal role in the Field Club was the planning of summer excursions to various parts of the county. He not only led the excursions but also prepared meticulous notes to explain the history, archaeology and geology of the area to be visited. He was, as his fellow excursionists soon discovered, an indefatigable walker. He jocularly described himself as “the Hampshire Tramp”, and visited many areas of the county, often in company with the Reverend G N Godwin, in his quest for historical and topographical knowledge. He often recorded now-lost local traditions and folklore. He was elected a fellow of the Geological Society in 1878 and, on the visit of the British Association to Southampton in 1882, was secretary to the geology section. Shore retired from the Hartley Institution on 1 January 1896 and later that year he moved to London, continuing however as honorary organising secretary of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society until his death.

In London Shore took advantage of the British Library and the national record office to continue his antiquarian researches. In March 1900 he became joint secretary of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society. He is credited with infusing new life into the society and published three papers on Anglo-Saxon London and Middlesex. He moved to Balham in 1903 or 1904 and there founded the Balham Antiquarian Society. He died at 157 Bedford Hill in Balham on 15 January 1905, aged 64 years. Publication of a memorial volume (Hampshire papers, edited by the Reverend G W Minns) between 1908 and 1911 by the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society recognized his immense contribution to the history of the county. Membership subscriptions were controversially raised in order to complete the three-part memorial as part one had been embarrassingly over budget. Much of what we know of Thomas’s life outside Southampton comes from the biographical introduction written by the Reverend Minns.

T W Shore was a prolific author. Only a year after he came to Southampton, the Southampton Times published his Fragments of the antiquity and history of Southampton, chronologically arranged. He wrote a Guide to Southampton and neighbourhood to assist visitors to the British Association meeting in 1882. He provided the text to Vestiges of old Southampton: a series of twelve etchings by Frank McFadden, published by Henry March Gilbert in 1891. The following year saw publication of A history of Hampshire, including the Isle of Wight, one of the Popular County History series published by Elliot Stock of London. The same firm in 1906 posthumously published Shore’s Origin of the Anglo-Saxon race: a study of the settlement of England and the tribal origin of the Old English people, edited by his two sons and with an index prepared by his daughter Blanche. Many papers were published in the Papers and proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society – including works on ancient hill forts, ancient camps and fortifications, clays of Hampshire, springs and streams of Hampshire and Hampshire mudlands – whilst local newspapers regularly gave space to papers read as lectures. The Shore memorial volume, referred to above, consisted chiefly of papers read to members of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society but previously only published as essentially ephemeral newspaper pieces. He also wrote for The Antiquary, Notes and Queries, Archaeological Review, Journal of the Anthropological Institute and Walford’s Antiquarian.

Five children were born to Thomas and Amelia:

1) Thomas William, doctor of medicine and later Dean of the Medical School of St Bartholomew’s Hospital and OBE;
2) Lewis Erle, doctor of medicine and later fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge and university lecturer in physiology and awarded the OBE in 1919;
3) Alice, later of Newnham College, Cambridge;
4) Catherine;
5) Blanche, later a student at the Hartley Institution and in 1906 living at Breslau in Germany (presumably accompanying brother Lewis who had a post at the hospital there).

Amelia died in May 1891 and was buried at St Mary Extra cemetery in Sholing. Thomas is buried next to his wife.


Further reading:

‘One hundred years of the Hampshire Field Club,’ by E A Taylor, in Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society, volume 41, 1985. (H/f)
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, Volume 50.
The University of Southampton, by A Temple Patterson. (HS/ls)


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