Treasures Unveiled (4): ‘The Guardian’, Thursday 6th August 1914

Here is another, rather more modern, treasure to feast your eyes on, as we continue to explore Durham Cathedral’s Collections in words and images.  The origins of artefacts in Durham Cathedral’s historic collections range from Anglo-Saxon times to the twentieth century, from silken relics to early printed books annotated by hand… from the bronze sanctuary knocker to unique music manuscripts – find out more at  Indeed, new exhibition spaces are currently being created in the Cathedral’s major development project, Open Treasure – see for further details.

The fourth feature in our Treasures Unveiled series is a periodical: an issue of The Guardian, an Anglican newspaper formed and first issued in 1846 by Richard William Church (appropriately) and Thomas Henry Haddan (1814-1873).  Running for over a century, its final edition was issued in 1951.  It is not to be confused with the current daily newspaper The Guardian, which started operating under this title in 1959 (previously being known as The Manchester Guardian).

Durham Cathedral Library holds copies of The Guardian stretching over an eighty year period – weekly, from 1849 to 1929.  They provide a valuable insight into some of the issues facing both the Church of England, and the country as a whole, during this period…

An advertisement for Bird’s Custard, that delicious innovation of Birmingham chemist Alfred Bird (1811-1878), takes centre stage. I happen to find advertisements from this era quite as compelling, and revealing, as the news features they dovetail with… (© Durham Cathedral Library)

Undeniably, 6th August 1914 was a momentous day: Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia; and Field Marshal Lord Kitchener (1850-1916), that iconic spearhead of the war recruitment campaign, had just accepted the role of Secretary of State for War.

Issues from the month of August 1914, as expected, have a lot of articles on the beginning of the war in Europe: sermons preached on the War by the Archbishop of Canterbury; special prayers to be said during the campaign; concerns for the spiritual welfare of British soldiers; and a discourse for the day on ‘the War and man’s redemption’.  Amongst this, however, are also studies on the Australian Aborigines by Bishop Frodsham, accounts of missionary festivals, advertisements for public school scholarships, and advertisements for products such as Vaseline, Bird’s Custard, ‘Red White and Blue’ coffee, Grape-Nuts and Hall’s Wine (“the supreme restorative”).

We hope you have found this insight into a century-old periodical, with its domestic delights and its unforgettable mustering of War, as fascinating as we have; do keep eating Bird’s Custard, and call back for our next vignette…

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One Response to Treasures Unveiled (4): ‘The Guardian’, Thursday 6th August 1914

  1. A wonderful blog entry Durham Cathedral Library. I do so love the advertisements from that era. As a graphic designer, it’s amazing to see the difference in advertisements today.


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