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Cope Collection, Special Collections, Hartley Library: Home

The Cope Collection includes books, pamphlets, journals, prints, photographs and postcards on all aspects of life in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Location and Access

The Cope Collection is part of Special Collections on level 4 of the Hartley Library.

Older (pre-1850) publications and all illustrations are fetched for use in the Archives, Manuscripts and Rare Books Search Room which is open Tuesday to Thursday 10.00-16.00.

Publications of a later date are usually shelved in the Special Collections Open Access Area and can be used whenever the Hartley Library is open.


Library Search includes records for all Cope books and journals. 

An Illustrations Index is available in the Special Collections Open Access Area and on the Illustrations Page


For general enquiries contact:

Jenny Ruthven

email: or tel. 023 80593335

Search Room Bookings:

email or tel. 023 80592721

Address: Special Collections, Hartley Library, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ

Cope Collection

Welcome to the guide to the Cope Collection and the Local History subject guide.

Containing a wide range of materials dating from the seventeenth century to the present day, the Cope Collection is a major resource for the study of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. It is especially rich in material on Southampton but includes publications on most local places. Within the Cope Collection you can discover the diet offered to patients at the County Hospital in 1737, read an account of the trial of the agricultural labourers involved in the ‘Captain Swing’ riots of 1830 and see the reactions of local people to fears of a French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars as revealed in the handbill collection.

The illustrations Collection provides an important visual record of the county, including many eighteenth and nineteenth-century prints from the original Cope Collection and postcards and photographs which have been added subsequently. A notable addition is the Peter Cook Postcard Collection of over 3,000 postcards of Southampton.

Material of all kinds continues to be added to Cope, ranging from ephemera to academic publications, making Cope a source of not only the earliest publications on the county but also the latest.


13,000 books and pamphlets, 800 periodicals, 9,000 prints, maps, posters, photographs and drawings.

Images from the Cope Collection

Pier Pavilion, Southampton, coloured postcard

Pier Pavilion, Southampton

The Polygon, Southampton, as it was intended to be built, engraving

The Polygon, Southampton - as it was intended to be built

Detail of West Gate, Southampton

Bird's Eye View of Southampton, 1844, engraving

Bird's Eye View of Southampton, 1844

High Street, Southampton

Floating Dock, Southampton, photograph

Floating Dock, Southampton

Broadlands House, coloured engraving

Broadlands House, Hampshire

Netley Abbey exterior

Netley Abbey

Sinking of the Royal George

Clarence Pier, Southsea, coloured postcard

Clarence Pier, Southsea

Ventnor, Isle of Wight, engraving

Ventnor, Isle of Wight

Cowes Harbour

Collection History

Revd. Sir William Cope (1811-92), twelfth Baronet, of Bramshill, Hampshire served in the Rifle Brigade before purchasing his discharge in 1839 to become ordained as a priest.

He was a minor canon of Westminster Abbey from 1842 until 1852 and chaplain of Westminster Hospital from 1843 to 1851. 

In 1851 he succeeded to the baronetcy, and at Bramshill developed an interest in the local area, writing on matters of local interest, e.g. A Glossary of Hampshire Words and Phrases (1883) and establishing his 'Hampshire Collection'.

Cope died in 1892, having bequeathed the collection to the Hartley Institution, a forerunner of the University of Southampton.

Related Collections

Archive Collections

  • MS 5 Manuscripts from the Cope Collection
  • MS 6 Hampshire and Isle of Wight Manuscripts
  • MS 29 Editorial Notes for the Victoria History of the County of Hampshire
  • MS 61 Wellington Papers (Hampshire Lieutenancy papers)
  • MS 62 Broadlands Papers (Broadlands Estate papers)
  • MS 70 Papers of Frank O'Brien Adams
  • MS 79 Collections Relating to Industrial Archaeology