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Correspondence between Charles William Phillips, archaeologist and topographer, and Margaret Mann Phillips, Renaissance scholar, 1941-1945

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9673

Scope and Contents

While Charles was away from Cambridge the couple wrote to one another frequently, and their letters are catalogued below. A sizeable majority is from Charles to Grig (680, against 300 from her to him), a discrepancy in numbers attributable to her keeping most (if not all) of his, whereas he (at least until the arrival of John) kept relatively few of hers.

His letters discuss his views on the progress of the war and his hopes and fears for the future of British archaeology; and describe life at Medmenham and Eastcote (and his lodgings in Marlow and Ruislip respectively), his horticultural activities in his mother’s garden at Reading, his keen interest in the flora and fauna of the neighbourhoods in which he found himself, and his experiences of flying bomb raids. Grig’s letters principally tell of life in wartime Cambridge, send news of relations and friends, and report in detail on John’s progress.


  • Creation: 1941-1945

Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Charles Phillips and Margaret Mann were married at Stainton-in-Cleveland on 3 July 1940. Charles was librarian and research fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge, a keen amateur archaeologist who in the previous summer had directed the excavations at Sutton Hoo .Margaret (nicknamed ‘Grig’) was an Oxford graduate, with research and teaching experience at the universities of Oxford, Manchester and London as well as in France, who since 1936 had been lecturer in French and director of studies in modern languages at Newnham College, Cambridge.

In the spring of 1941, at the age of 40, Charles Phillips joined the RAF and was posted to the Photographic Interpretation Unit at Medmenham, Buckinghamshire, to which he was attached until his transfer in January 1944 to the Directorate of Military Survey at Eastcote, Middlesex. He remained at Eastcote until his demobilisation in September 1945. During these years Grig continued to live in Cambridge and teach at Newnham (with periodic visits to her parents at Stainton), and in October 1943 gave birth to her first child, John. A daughter, Penelope, was born in 1947.


4 archive box(es) (981 letters, and 2 volumes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This correspondence was presented to the University Library in 2004 by Miss Penelope Phillips, daughter of Charles and Margaret Phillips.

Language of description
Uncoded languages
Script of description
Code for uncoded script

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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