Scope and Content

These diaries form part of what was once

a much longer sequence. As well as the

diaries surviving among the Swalcliffe

parish records, Annie Norris herself

refers to earlier diaries going back to

1852 (P403/J/2, fol. 27r). Both diaries

are small (17.5cms X 11.5cms), hard

bound volumes of 144 leaves each. There

is an entry for almost every day and the

length of each entry varies from one or

two lines to three or four pages. Annie

Norris is not an introspective writer

and rarely mentions her feelings, even

during times of stress, such as her

father's final illness in 1889. However,

she describes people, places and events

in detail, and the diaries present a

full picture of the outward

circumstances of her life and her


Annie Norris was unmarried, and her

closest relationships seem to have been

with members of her immediate family,

particularly her father. Many entries

relate to visits by or to her relatives,

or outings that she made with them. Her

brother George's activities, notably

hunting, shooting and attending musters

of the Oxfordshire Hussars are also

mentioned frequently. Outside her

family, her closest relationship appears

to have been with Revd Edward Payne

(Vicar of Swalcliffe 1837-1886) and his

wife, who seem to have regarded her as a

daughter. She often comments on her own

health and that of her family and


Annie Norris was interested in the

weather, which she comments on almost

every day (perhaps partly a scientific

interest - she owned a microscope

(P403/J/2, fol. 96r), and was interested

in the weather station built by Dr

Wilkinson (ibid. fols 86v-87r)). She

also makes notes on flowers, plants and

birds. The diary sometimes comments on

national and international political

events, but there is little about local

politics. She sometimes refers to books

books she read: often these were sermons

or theological works, but they also

included novels, such as "King Solomon's

Mines". Her greatest interest was in the

church and village life of Swalcliffe.

She frequently mentions Revd Payne and

his successor, Dr John Turner Wilkinson

(Vicar 1886-1894, "Dr W" in the diaries)

and often went to the Vicarage to speak

to them. She also records the services

she attended, sermons she heard and

numbers of communicants. She often

refers to decorating Swalcliffe church

or preparing it for services and

discusses alterations to the church

fabric. She also describes churches and

services she attended while on holidays.

Annie Norris often visited the

Swalcliffe Sunday School and the

National School, even attending when the

School Inspector visited. She seems to

have run a clothing club ("Cl. Club")

and helped to organise social events for

children and old people in the village.

She took an interest in the welfare of

the villagers, visiting the sick and

elderly and helping a young unmarried

mother, Eliza Simmonds (P403/J/1,

various references).