Manuscript diaries, 1852-1925 maintained in an unbroken sequence, with full daily entries. For the early years these entries are quite formulaic in character, beginning with a brief description of the weather, and then very brief accounts of daily activities. Prior to her marriage Charlotte's daily activities, as a middle class girl, included reading and studying, paying visits to family and friends, gardening, needlework and attending social engagements. Charlotte read daily, and enjoyed a range of material from The Times to religious works. The latter included sermons and service books, and studies in spiritual matters. However, she also read more generally - she reads An Englishwoman in Russia, 1854, and mentions beginning Adam Bede in 1859. She also read works not solely in English. As part of her daily study, she often read French, Italian and German. In addition she translated extracts from foreign works into English, and also made extracts from collections of sermons and pamphlets. Daily activities also included piano and singing practice, and there is even mention of her assisting her father with the [household] accounts, and sorting her mother's bills.
Family activities are also recorded. These include weekly attendance at Church and participation in the local hunts. At the front of several of the early volumes there are quite detailed descriptions of homilies, and at the rear of the diaries brief meditations upon Charlotte's spiritual development. Family celebrations such as birthdays and Christmas are also recorded, as are the deaths of friends and family members. The diaries for these early years also contain accounts of family vacations. These include holidays in Scotland and Wales, and also trips to Europe.
After her marriage and move to Henley-on-Thames, the diaries describe her life as a clergyman's wife and relations with the nearby Swinburne family. Whilst a young woman Charlotte also appears as an active participant in Harpsden community life, on occasion teaching, distributing food and clothing during winter months, visiting and reading to various individuals. Not surprisingly, through her frequent attendance at luncheons and dinners the diaries chart a network of upper middle class society in Oxfordshire in the middle of the nineteenth century. There is also detailed information about family health and medical ailments and domestic responsibilities.
Scattered throughout this detailed record of a long life are references to national events of the period. Those noted include the death of the Prince Consort in 1861, the deaths of Queen Victoria on 23rd January 1901 and Edward VII's in May 1910. 5th August 1914 records "Actual naval fighting began" and 1 June 1915 "Zeppelin raid over Romford". On 11 November 1918 she writes "The Kensington bells pealed about 11 in the morning. Many people about." More than 60 years after she noted the death of the Prince Consort she writes (26 April 1923 "prince Henry [sic] Duke of York was married at W. [Westminster] Abbey to Lady E. Bowes Lyon", and much of the next day seems to have been spent in reading "the act of the Royal Wedding." Allusive in style and brief in treatment, such details nevertheless attest to the impingement of world affairs upon provincial consciousness.
The collection also includes a small photograph of the writer, a list of her jewellery, and a disentailing deed dated 22nd May 1867, signed by Frederic and Charlotte Bagot and others.