Miss Clara Knight is a Victorian girl possessed of a particularly independent nature, who has spent many years travelling the country with her father, an eminent Professor of Archaeology. As they search for wonders of antiquity, Clara compiles treasured collections of her own………


Miss Clara Knight's Curious Collections:




 Part 1

Our stay at the coast is proving to be utterly delightful. Father and I are presently the guests of one of our favourite cousins, Mr Idris Knight, and his wife, Cordelia and their small son, William.

Father’s cousin: Mr Idris Knight, Mrs Cordelia Knight and their son, Master William Knight


Part  2

Father has been very preoccupied with the excavation of a nearby site of archaeological interest so, when my assistance there is not required, I have been exploring the seashore and the surrounding area. The sea here is a vast and breath-taking sight to behold as it is buffeted by the bracing sea breeze.

Seashore Specimens. (i). A most interesting find from our recent stay at the coast.

A very curious stone.



There are so many places to explore around the seashore: great stretches of pebble-strewn beaches, soaring cliffs to walk along with far-reaching views of the sea and areas with little rock pools just waiting to be investigated. I have already discovered many curious specimens of natural history to add to my collections.

Seashore Specimens: (ii). ‘I was especially pleased to discover this specimen during our stay at the coast.’

A fine specimen of the skeleton of a fish.



Seashore Specimens (vii). ‘We have had such a splendid

sojourn at the coast and I have discovered

some fine samples for my collection.

We are greatly enjoying this pleasant sojourn at the coast, visiting our relatives. Initially, the weather was extremely inclement and  blustery, but this did not deter me from my resolve to explore the seashore as soon as I was able.

A most unusual stone

A circle of lovely veined pebbles.



From time to time, Cordelia accompanies me on my walks. She is always keen to discuss the latest fashions in dresses and other attire.  I will admit, I do find it very pleasant to talk of such frivolities. My apparel, though by no means passé, is by necessity usually rather more practical than fashionable. 















Cordelia is always very fashionably attired



Cordelia and I went on a shopping trip to Town on Tuesday and had a thoroughly enjoyable day. The carriage was overflowing on our return with boxes and packages all full to the brim containing gloves, fans, hats, lace, ribbons and all kinds of delightful fripperies. Most of our purchases were Cordelia's, but for myself, I did choose a pair of soft kid gloves and a very pretty necklace made of Mother of Pearl carved into the shapes of little leaves. I shall pack the gloves away in my trunk and save them for our visit to Great Aunt Sophronia

Cordelia bade me promise to wear my new necklace at dinner this evening. It will look

very pretty indeed with my green silk gown.



My purchases from Town: a necklace of

Mother of  Pearl and a fine pair of long kid gloves

        Cordelia bought  a great quantity of lace as well as

     ribbons, hat pins and gloves  on our shopping

expedition to Town



Cordelia is a naturally inquisitive person and is always aware of the latest news and gossip from all around the county. Yesterday she merrily regaled me with the tale of a recent occurrence: a shire horse belonging to a local farmer had broken free from its stable and gone for a mad gallop through the village market! Being an extremely large and rumbustious animal, it evaded all attempts at its capture for absolutely ages and caused a considerable amount of chaos. 

Eventually the horse paused to partake of luncheon in an apple orchard and was seized by a motley assortment of village lads and farm hands. Having eaten its fill, the animal was apparently quite content to return to the peace and quiet of its stable, quite unconcerned about the uproar it had caused.

Seashore Specimens (iii). ‘I found so many fascinating

specimens as I walked along the beach in the sunshine.’

A fine blue and pearly-white oyster shell



Father has many ancient Roman artefacts

amongst his collections


I believe I have had a compulsion to collect ever since I was very young. Father has always encouraged me to do so as he always perfectly understood my interest. As my mother died when I was quite small, Father felt it his duty to take me with him on his travels, along with my nurse, Hester, and a variety of colleagues, students and staff, who assisted him at his excavation sites. Hester became my governess as I grew older and is now my companion and chaperone. It was definitely a most unusual upbringing for a child, but one that has always stood me in good stead.





























At present Hester is taking the opportunity to visit her mother while we stay with our cousins and will be joining us again when we leave here to journey north. I look forward seeing her again: I would like very much to hear about her trip and tell her all about our stay here.

Seashore Specimens (iv). ‘Our stay at the coast has been

utterly delightful. I do wish it were possible for Father and I

to stay here a while longer.’

The claw of a crab with stones found in the

rock pool area of the shore



I am particularly looking forward to cleaning and inspecting the treasures that I found today along the seashore. This usually takes quite some time, but it is such a worthwhile occupation. As I work, I become completely absorbed in the meticulous task of revealing the mysteries of these little fragments of existence


Cordelia’s housekeeper, Mrs Butterfield, made it known quite early in our visit that she would much prefer me to perform this task outside, so consequently I have been granted the use of the Gardener’s Bothy.

Cordelia’s Housekeeper, the indomitable Mrs Butterfield

Old Tom, the Gardener, has kindly supplied me with water and a quantity of brushes and cloths. I am quite used to spending many hours cleaning the finds in the open air when Father and I are at a dig, so I am perfectly content with this arrangement.

Old Tom, the Gardener with his wife, Rose

Once I have cleaned and polished these precious specimens to my satisfaction, I will list them all and examine them properly, making the appropriate notations and sketches of my observations. As soon as my initial research is completed I shall carefully pack them into tins and boxes so that they can come to no harm. I shall be able to study the whole of the collection in much greater detail when we are returned to our own home.

New-found treasures in sturdy tins and boxes

Seashore Specimens (v). ‘We have found our stay at the coast to be most productive. Father has promised that we will return here to continue our search for more interesting finds after our trip to visit Great Aunt Sophronia.’




Earlier this week I spent some time helping Father at his archaeological dig. The site lies some two miles from where we are staying with Idris and Cordelia, and it is a very pleasant walk through the lush green countryside. 

I understand my father’s methods of working better than any of his colleagues or his students so he has no qualms about trusting me to carry out even the most

arduous of tasks.

Seashore Specimens (vi). Today was a blustery day indeed,

yet I have still managed to find many fascinating examples of natural history


Father is such a brilliant scholar, and spends so much time deep in thought, that he often finds he has managed to completely lose all track of time and place. Indeed, on occasion he can be extremely absent-minded. Only yesterday, the house was in complete disarray when he discovered he had mislaid some of his lecture notes









The whole household searched high and low in every nook and cranny. Mrs Butterfield even looked in the scullery. Eventually, the papers were found under a plump velvet cushion on the wing chair on which Cordelia’s pet cat was sleeping! The cat had been most reluctant to move and was particularly vociferous in her protests when she was compelled to do so

Particularly interesting stones from the seashore

One of my favourite stone samples:

it has such unusual markings.




Seashore Specimens (viii). Our stay at the coast has been most agreeable and our hosts have made us very welcome. Their young son, William, takes great delight in assisting me in my quest to discover little treasures along the seashore


Idris and Cordelia have a small son called William, (though he is generally known as Will). He has been very keen to assist me in my searches, and has even started his own little collection of special finds. He especially enjoys investigating the little pools that gleam amongst the rocks when the sun is shining. He loves to watch sea-creatures in their own habitat and greets every new discovery with whoops of delight

Will, looking very solemn in his Sunday best, 

with some of his precious finds.


This morning, I showed Will how to make paper boats to sail along the shallow pools of seawater that are formed in the sand when the tide goes out. We had a race with our boats, but mine sailed along so swiftly, it floated all the way along a narrow channel into the open sea and was lost. 

Will was very concerned that his vessel should not suffer the same fate, so I managed to retrieve it before it sailed too far. His paper boat was still partially dry, so I turned it upside-down so he could use it as a little basket for collecting seashells and interesting pebbles.

Will was very pleased with his piece of seaweed

Will has announced to his mother that he intends to be an explorer when he grows up. Cordelia is very amused and has promised him she would buy him a special box for the safekeeping of his treasures.



Seashore Specimens (ix). ‘Father and I recently visited distant relatives: the Knights and their young son, William. Will is a sweet child who took great delight in searching for treasures as we walked along the seashore’.

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