The Oliver Collection is housed in the University of London Library Depository at Royal Holloway. It was given this name because it originally belonged to the late Sydney Oliver who bequeathed it in trust to the S.A Oliver Charitable Settlement.
Sydney Oliver was born in Shakespeare Cottage, Queens Road, Egham in 1905. When he left school he assisted his father in auction portering and from this beginning developed a life-long interest in the field of antique dealing, auctioneering, and collecting. As a result of his own personal studies and the experience he gained working with local auctioneers he acquired the knowledge and expertise which enabled him in due course to become a well known antique dealer, valuer, and organiser of auctions. In the process he developed a passion for private collecting, much of which was related to his strong interest in local history, particularly of Egham and neighbouring areas. Over the years his private collections of books, documents, pictures, costume, and various types of artefact reached huge proportions and most of them were eventually deposited in various institutions. Before his death in 1986 he arranged for these collections to be taken into trust (officially registered as the S.A. Oliver Charitable Settlement). One of these collections came to Royal Holloway where it was originally housed in the College Library prior to its eventual transfer to the University of London Library Depository. Additional items of local importance are from time to time purchased for inclusion in the Collection out of money left in the Oliver Trust by Sydney Oliver for this purpose. One of the most important and valuable additions, for example, was a 130 x 173cm manuscript plan in ink and colours drawn by Abraham and William Driver in 1805, entitled 'Plan of the Manor of Egham, with demesnes, commons and waste lands appertaining thereto in the county of Egham, belonging to the Crown'. This was purchased by the Oliver Trust in 1988 at a Sotheby's sale. Another example of an important recent adddition is the handwritten diary and letter book of the Countess of Morella covering the years 1820-1914. The Countess and her husband, Field-Marshall Ramon Cabrera, owned the Wentworth Estate.
The Collection is in two sections, one a sequence of nearly 5000 books classified by the Dewey Decimal Classification scheme, and the other consisting of 88 boxes containing nearly 11,000 archival records arranged in numerical order. The books (mostly published in the 20th century but including some published in the 17th and 18th centuries and a considerable number in the 19th century) cover a wide variety of subjects but with a substantial emphasis on topography, history, biography, literary works, and the fine arts. The archival section contains miscellaneous material to a large extent related to the local area (Egham, Staines, Chertsey, Windsor, etc) and neighbouring towns and counties, and includes legal documents, house auction records, sale catalogues, manuscript letters, photographs, engravings, newspaper cuttings, maps, and a large collection of postcards (covering the late 19th century to recent times). The entire Collection was catalogued by Joan Wintour under the auspices of the S.A. Oliver Charitable Settlement.
The Oliver Trust has purchased a display cabinet which has been installed in Egham Museum where it is used to exhibit material from the Collection. This display is changed at regular intervals.
Members of the public who wish to submit a research enquiry related to the Collection, should contact Barry Wintour, an Oliver Trustee (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org).
dated - 12 July 2007
Barry Wintour email@example.com