National Sporting Heritage Day: The 1829 Boat Race Letter

“The Oxford & Cambridge Rowing Match at Henley on Thames” by landscape painter William Havell. The painting is from the Thomas E. Weil Collection, River & Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames.

24 August 2019

By Göran R Buckhorn

On 30 September, it’s the National Sporting Heritage Day, an event established by Sporting Heritage CIC, which is a not-for-profit community interest company working specifically to support the collection, preservation, access, and research of sporting heritage in the UK and wider, as the company writes on its website.

The River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames is celebrating this day with a ‘Spotlight Collection Talk’ about the ‘1829 Boat Race Letter’.

It was HTBS which presented this little – or actually, big – scoop in the history of rowing when in March, I wrote about the ‘Boat Race Letter’ that Charles Wordsworth, of Oxford University, wrote to his friend Charles Merivale, of Cambridge University, about the upcoming Boat Race between the universities in June 1829. The content of this letter has been known for a long time, but now the actual letter was up for auction. However, in April, the news came that the letter had been sold to a museum. At that time, it was not revealed which museum had purchased it, but it’s now clear that the letter went to the River and Rowing Museum, which should make many rowing historians happy. Instead of ending up in a private collector’s vault, the letter will now be accessible to scholars and researchers and be on permanent display in the Rowing Gallery at the museum.

The Spotlight Collection Talk about the letter by a museum curator starts at 12:30 p.m. and ends at 1 p.m. on 30 September.

The talk is free with museum admission, but please book a space by calling 01491 415600 or filling in the form here.

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