This picture shows a page from the Deanery visitors’ book (M.884/6), which records all the overnight visitors to the Deanery while Philip Eliot was Dean, from 1891 to 1917. With four sons and four daughters, many of the entries are from his family coming back to visit. His children and their spouses frequently return for the weekend or occasional overnight trips. Most of the entries simply record the dates stayed and the names of the guests, with some guests also writing down their home town, but a few of the pages record special occasions, including the weddings of Eliot’s children. His daughters Margaret and Emily were married in St George’s in 1892 and 1894 and for those celebrations the Deanery must have been full of happy guests. Here, the marriage register adds to our understanding because it includes the names of witnesses as well, often family members. Dean Eliot’s children also brought their own children back to be baptised at St George’s and as late as 1928 a great grandson of Dean Eliot, named George Michael, appears in the College baptismal registers.
The visitors’ book shows how the Deanery functions as both a family residence and an official home. Mixed with the Eliots and their family occasions are a multitude of clergy staying for varying lengths of time. Eliot’s hospitality was wide-ranging. Clergy and non-clergy from around the world appear in the pages of the visitors’ book, with a large number coming from west Africa. A number of entries are made in Arabic. However, this page shows writing in Geʽez script by a guest from Gondar, Ethiopia.
Anne Courtney, Assistant Archivist