– notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Opinions expressed are the author's own.

exhibition archive – Chalet Centenary

This article was originally posted on the Balliol Archives & Manuscripts website. It documents an exhibition mounted at University College and Balliol College for former Chaletites in September and November 2009 by Univ Chalet Trustees Dr Keith Dorrington and Dr Stephen Golding, with assistance from Anna Sander. The catalogue was written by Dr Golding.

An Exhibition Celebrating 100 years
of the new Chalet des Mélèzes

University College, 12-13 September and Balliol College, 14-15 November 2009

There is no prescribed order to the exhibition; we hope you will enjoy browsing between past and present.

Facsimile photographs

The black and white photos are taken from the 1890s to pre-WW2 era. About half are taken from the Chalet Books, the originals of which are on display; the other half come from Francis Urquhart’s contemporaneous series of personal photo albums.

Administrative documents

On display are some of the few surviving written records of Chalet history apart from the diaries: title deeds conveying the old Chalet and the Honeymoon Chalet, receipts for work and materials during the building of the new Chalet, and the fateful letter written by Humphrey Paul (New College 1903) the morning after the fire in September 1906.

Printed books

The Chalet has a good collection of antiquarian mountaineering books. Several volumes on display (de Saussure, Whymper) have been brought back to Oxford for repairs and conservation, and will be returned to the Chalet for future generations. Also represented are biographies of FF Urquhart and Chaletites both well-known and obscure.

Relief map

Univ reading parties follow Sligger’s tradition of serious walking – early parties went to Buet, les Contamines, Varens, Nant Borant, Lac Blanc, Lac Vert, Lac de Joux, Servoz, Tete Rousse, Notre-Dame-de-la-Gorge and many other places familiar from the early diaries, often staying in mountain refuges overnight along the way.


These Roman Catholic Mass vestments (prob. ca. 1920) would have been worn by the Abbé Klein and other visiting priests to celebrate Mass in the chapel. The stole from the red/white set is just visible in this photo. They were brought back to Oxford in 2006 due to concerns about their preservation. The set is comprised of reversible fiddleback chasubles, maniples, stoles, veils and burses in the colours of the whole liturgical year. The portable altar stone is still in the Chalet. Thanks to the Rev Dr HD Dupree and Fr Stephen Platt for loans of girdle and alb.


University College is working to build up its own Chalet collection; please contact the Trustees or the Archivist regarding any possible deposits of material. Archivist: Dr Robin Darwall-Smith (Mon-Tues)

New College holds the papers of Sir Christopher Cox, which include a large amount of information about the Chalet and the Chalet Trust; they are currently closed for cataloguing. Archivist: Mrs Jennifer Thorp (Mon-Tues)

Balliol College holds the personal and political papers of David Urquhart, some early administrative Chalet documents and Francis Urquhart’s photo albums. For historical reasons, the Chalet Books are deposited at Balliol; they are open to Chaletites from any college. Archivist: Anna Sander (Mon-Fri)

Further Reading

Bailey, C. Francis Fortescue Urquhart: a memoir. London: Macmillan, 1936.

Bishop, MC. Memoir of Mrs Urquhart. London: Kegan Paul, 1897.

Hewett, SH. A scholar’s letters from the front. Ed. & Intro F. F. Urquhart. Oxford 1918.

Klein, Abbé Félix. Diary of a French Army Chaplain. Translated from La Guerre vue d’une Ambulance by M. Capes. 1915.

Robinson, G. David Urquhart: some chapters in the life of a Victorian knight-errant of Justice and Liberty. Intro. FF Urquhart. Oxford: Blackwell, 1920.

Urquhart, D. The Pillars of Hercules, or a narrative of travels in Spain and Morocco in 1848. 2 vols. London: Richard Bentley, 1850.

Urquhart, D. The Spirit of the East, illustrated in a journal of travels through Roumeli during an eventful period. 2 vols. London: Henry Colburn, 1838.

Urquhart, FF. The Eastern Question. 1914.

Urquhart, FF. David Urquhart, the law of nations & the Vatican council. Oxford, 1918. (First published in The Dublin Review.)

Urquhart, FF. A plea for international law. Oxford, 1915. (First published in The Dublin Review.)

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