Family archives of prominent DLI officer to remain in the region

MEMOIRS of the Great War plus other heirlooms and archives of a once prominent North-East family are to remain in the region.

Archivists from Durham and Northumberland county councils have joined forces to successfully secure a collection of photographs, estate papers and regimental records.

All relate to what is considered a remarkable Northumbrian family, prominent in regional social and sporting circles, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

A package of grant funding enabled the councils to purchase items relating to the Morant family, from the recent sale of contents from their former home, The Hermitage, near Hexham.

It includes two specially-bound volumes of war-time memoirs compiled by Lieutenant Colonel Hubert HS Morant, commanding officer of the 10th Battalion of The Durham Light Infantry (DLI).

They are expected to prove of great interest to military historians as the First World War centenary approaches.

They feature photographs, trench maps, reports, sketches and several critical observations over the planning of British infantry attacks.

Morant’s letters to his wife Helen offer a more personal perspective on the war.

Other items tell the story of The Hermitage, an 18th Century country house, once the home of a Dr Jurin, a prominent scientist and physician of the day.

Most of the military items will be held at the Durham County Record Office, at County Hall, Durham, as well as at the nearby DLI Museum and Art Gallery, at Aykley Heads.

Family and estate papers will be preserved at Northumberland Archives, at Woodhorn Museum, near Ashington.

Both archive services will catalogue the new collection in coming months, but expect the records to be available for public consultation next year.

Copies of pages from the war-time memoirs will then go on public display later in the year.

Purchase of the collection was backed by support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Friends of the National Libraries and the V & A Purchase Grant Fund.

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