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All content © The Sedgwick Club 1880 – 2023.

Club History

The Club was founded in memory of Adam Sedgwick in 1880 and since then has grown and developed to what we see today.

Almost every year after its foundation, the Sedgwick Club ran yearly field excursions and from these trips sets of notes, photos, sketches, maps, and diagrams have been found and are now in the Conservation Laboratories of the Museum. This annual field trip has been replaced by the "Magical Mystery Tour" in modern times, which involves a weekend excursion at the beginning of Lent term to an unknown location. Careful minutes and accounts were taken throughout the the whole history of the Club, which have also survived.

The Sedgwick Club material currently archived on the Archives Hub can be found here. The current Archivist of the Sedgwick Museum is Sandra J. Freshney.

The First Years of the Sedgwick Club

"At a meeting held on Sat March 13th 1880 in W. Diddlemiss's Rooms at St John's College, Messrs Curtis, Diddlemiss, Evans, Rotoff & Watts being present. W Curtis was in the chair. It was resolved that a club should be formed having the following rules and Objects:

The rules of the Sedgwick Club at the time of its inception in 1880. (Sedgwick Museum: SGWC_01_01_01)

From its creation, the Club ran field excursions to various places across the United Kingdom. Below are a series of photographs and sketches made by members of the Sedgwick Club during these Club-run field excursions in this period. As expected, students have always been students!

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Field sketch from a 1883 notebook of the St. David's Pembrokeshire field trip. (Sedgwick Museum: SGWC_02_02_03)
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Field sketch from the 1883 St. David's field trip notebook. (Sedgwick Museum: SGWC_02_02_03)
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Photograph of the participants of the 1885 field trip to Portmadoc. (Sedgwick Museum: SGWC_02_02_05)
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Field sketch from the Portmadoc field trip notebook. (Sedgwick Museum: SGWC_02_02_05)
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Field sketch from the Portmadoc field trip notebook. (Sedgwick Museum: SGWC_02_02_05)
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Field sketch from a notebook from the 1886 field trip to Ilfracombe, Devon (Sedgwick Museum: SGWC_02_02_06)
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Photograph of the participants of the 1888 field trip to Torquay, pictured by Towyn Quarry. (Sedgwick Museum: SGWC_02_02_07)
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Photograph of the participants of the 1890 field trip to Keswick and the Lake District. (Sedgwick Museum: SGWC_02_02_08)
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Photograph from the 1892 field trip to Malvern. Pictured in the centre is Professor Thomas McKenny Hughes. (Sedgwick Museum: SGWC_02_02_10)
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Photograph from the 1893 field trip to the Isle of Man. Pictured fourth from the left is Gertrude Elles. (Sedgwick Museum: SGWC_02_02_11)
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Field itinerary from a notebook detailing the 1901 field trip to Portmadoc. Note the emphasis on drinks and tea. (Sedgwick Museum: SGWC_02_02_13)

Field notes from these trips are archived by the Sedgwick Museum, and provide some amusing anecdotes, such as this one from the 1893 trip to the Isle of Man.

On catching the 10.40 to Castletown:

Pleasurable excitement was afforded to the journey by some of the party being late, and the driver stopped the engine and they were taken safely on board. An interesting dialogue was heard between a calm old gentleman and the guard, the former remarking in loving tones that he would report the latter for having "stopped the express for a party of stonebreakers".

Many famous people have passed through the Club, Miss Gertrude "Gertie" Elles being one of the most famous and one who played a vital part in the Club's running. Miss Elles is famous for her study of graptolites and how they could be used to demonstrate how detailed morphology, on well controlled palaeontological sequences, could be made to reveal refined stratigraphic results. Miss Elles took part in many of the Club's annual field trips and appears throughout her life in many of the journals and photo albums in the archives.

Gertrude Elles at Church Stretton, Shropshire, in 1921. (Sedgwick Museum: SGWC_02_02_17)

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