In 2004 three of Charlotte’s journals were bought at auction in England by Philip van Dael, a private collector of mostly Dutch manuscripts and books.
The Bridgeman diaries were submitted to auction by a private vendor whose father, a bookseller, probably acquired them in the late 1940s or early 1950s. It is likely that this booksellar acquired them from the Bridgemans themselves.
Charlotte’s journals for the first time left their home country and crossed the North Sea to end up in one of Philip’s bookcases. They gathered dust until 2008 when Philip and Marianne went to Shropshire and intended to visit Weston Park. Weston Park sounded familiar. But how? Eventually they remembered the diaries and started reading them. Intrigued by what they read they wanted to know more about Charlotte and her family. So before they sailed off to England, they contacted Gareth Williams, curator of Weston Park. Their visit to Weston Park and Gareth Williams, who knew so much about Charlotte and her family and the interesting time Charlotte lived in, made Philip and Marianne decide to transcribe Charlotte’s three journals. They both started with this huge task, but eventually it was Marianne who pulled it through, sometimes with Philip’s help and with great help of Gareth and Mrs. June Ellis, with whom Marianne and Philip got acquainted in 2011.
The journals bought in 2004 are numbered 5, 6 and 7 and cover the period from 1848 until the beginning of 1857. By pure luck journal number 4 was found at the University of Birmingham (Special Collections).
The University of Birmingham was prepared to send photocopies to Marianne and Philip, so that this journal also could be transcribed. The University of Birmingham also kindly permitted to include the text of ‘MS204/1 Diary of Charlotte Anne Bridgeman’ alongside the other diaries.
Please note that all diaries are copyright. Further information can be found on the page ‘Copyright Notice’.
There probably were eight journals all together. The lacking numbers 1 and 2 preceeding number 3, covered the period after 1843 upto February 1846. The lacking number 4 covers the periode March 3rd upto May 13th 1846 describing the ten weeks tour in France. The last journal that is missing will be number 8, covering the period February 1857 until just before Charlotte’s death in November 1858.
In October 2012 Marianne transcribed the last pages of Charlotte’s journals.
Although satisfied of completing the transcription the next question was what to do with the result. Putting the journals back into the bookcase would prevent a broader audience to be able to enjoy and learn from them.
Publishing in bookform in these difficult financial times was no option. But what then? Eventually the idea grew of launching an internetsite on which the diaries could be fully published and with the possibility of searching through all the entries.