The Original Archives & Historic Environment Record desks are closed until further notice due to the current public health situation. The Hive and our Self Service area are currently open but may close at short notice. Please check before travelling.

Opening hours are being reviewed on a daily basis, in light of staff shortages and government announcements and we will post updates through our media channels.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by these changes and appreciate your understanding at this time.

News

    An insight into the life of Russian aristocracy during the Napoleonic era

    • 21st May 2013

    As quite often happens when you are looking through the catalogues for particular archives, other entries tend to catch your eye! This happened recently when we spotted a journal written by Elizabeth Milbank in 1812 and deposited with us in 2000.

    At the time Elizabeth was staying with the Countess Heiyden at her house in the city of Mitau, then part of the Russian empire and now in Latvia.

    An extract from the journal of Elizabeth Milbank

    The journal gives an insight into the life of the aristocracy when Russia was on the brink of being invaded by Napoleon’s forces.

    Describing how French soldiers were nearing the town, having already burned down the school, she wrote: ‘I fell with fright against the window and the countess, quite pale, said ‘Then there is nothing left for us but to leave the town.”  Elizabeth and the Countess, together with an entourage of servants, dogs and even a cockatoo, left  the city for the port town of Riga, abandoning the house and all its contents to the mercy of the French army.

    They did return, temporarily, to Mitau where they dug a deep hole in the woodhouse and buried the 24 piece dinner service which had been packed in boxes, they then covered it with earth and trampled it down. The also crammed the chandeliers, carpets, best tables, chairs and tables under the roof of the unfurnished wing of the house.

    They returned to Riga but found life was becoming too dangerous there too, and once again they took flight.

    We don’t know who Elizabeth Milbank was or what happened to her, but it seems that she was a friend or relative of the countess rather than a servant.

    The journal is held in our archives ref 899:1358 BA 12996

    Comments are closed.

    Related news


    • 18th August 2017
    Archaeology Trainees – WAAS Receives Another Accolade

    We recently received another accolade as were awarded a ‘highly commended’ in the recent Archaeology Training Forum Awards for our archaeology traineeships. To encourage the development of new archaeologists and organisations to provide opportunities for new recruits to develop their skills and careers, the Chartered Institute of Field Archaeologists are looking to help bridge the...

    • 11th August 2017
    Stanley Baldwin Exhibition

    Get up close to one of the famous Despatch Boxes held aloft by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a one day exhibition about Stanley Baldwin 2017 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Stanley Baldwin, the three time Prime Minister from Worcestershire. To coincide with this we will be display documents from his...