William Launcelot Scott Fleming collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence to and by Fleming on polar matters.

Administrative / Biographical History

(William) Launcelot Scott Fleming was born on 7 August 1906 at Edinburgh. He was educated at Rugby School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, graduating with a degree in natural sciences before completing a master's degree in geology at Yale University. On his return to Britain, he entered Westcott House, a Cambridge theological college. In 1932 he participated in the Cambridge University expedition to Vatnajokull in Iceland (leader Brian Birley Roberts) and the following year served as chief scientist with the Oxford University expedition to West Spitsbergen (leader Alexander Richard Glen).

In 1933, Fleming was appointed to a chaplaincy and fellowship at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and the following year joined the British Graham Land Expedition, 1934-1937 (leader John Riddoch Rymill), as chaplain and geologist, also serving as photographer. Fleming was a member of a three-man sledging party that proceeded southwards along the newly discovered King George VI Sound, reaching 72L South in October 1936.

Fleming returned to Trinity Hall, advancing to the post of dean in 1937, and serving as examining chaplain to the bishops of Southwark, St. Albans and Hereford. During the Second World War, he served as chaplain in the Royal Navy and saw action in the North Atlantic aboard the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth. Returning to Cambridge after the war, he resumed his fellowship, and between 1946 and 1949 served as part-time director of the Scott Polar Research Institute. In 1949, he was appointed bishop of Portsmouth, later serving as bishop of Norwich from 1959 until 1971 when he was appointed dean of Windsor and domestic chaplain to the Queen. Fleming was knighted in 1976, the year of his retirement, and he died on 30 July 1990.


The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by recipient.

Access Information

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author has signed the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to 'The Rt Rev William Launcelot Scott Fleming, KCVO, DD,' by George Colin Lawder Bertram, Terence Edward Armstrong, Alfred Stephenson, (Sir) Alexander Richard Glen and Bernard Stonehouse in The Polar Record volume 26 number 159 October 1990 p341-342 and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7) and Launcelot Fleming, a portrait by Giles Hunt, Canterbury Press, Norwich (2002) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Fleming, L.] and Friends for life; a portrait of Launcelot Fleming by Donald Lindsay, Lindel Publishing Co. Seaford, Sussex (1981) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Fleming, L.]

Other Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying material by photography, electrostat, or scanning device by readers is prohibited. The Institute may be able to provide copies of some documents on request for lodgement in publicly available repositories. This is subject to conservation requirements, copyright law, and payment of fees.

Copyright restrictions apply to most material. The copyright may lie outside the Institute and, if so, it is necessary for the reader to seek appropriate permission to consult, copy, or publish any such material. (The Institute does not seek this permission on behalf of readers). Written permission to publish material subject to the Institute's copyright must be obtained from the Director. Details of conditions and fees may be had from the Archivist.


Further accessions possible.

Related Material

As a member of the British Graham Land Expedition, 1934-1937 (leader John Rymill) Fleming served as geologist, see SPRI collection GB 015 British Graham Land Expedition, 1934-1937 for more information.

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a number of photographs, film and other illustrative material in the Picture Library, some of which covers this expedition. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.