William Borrer was once described as the 'Nestor of British Botanists' by the Director of Kew Gardens, with a second stating that 'No one...has a critical knowledge of British plants superior, and scarcely any equal, to your own.'
Read our article introducing William Borrer Esq.
In February 2020, as part of our focus on Henfield's green history, a research trip was made to the Department of Manuscripts and University Archives at Cambridge University Library to digitise 104 of Borrer's letters and notes, dating from 1815 - 1860. The bonus of the long unseen Regency era silhouette portrait displayed at right also came to light - perhaps it belonged to his wife Elizabeth.
The first and largest part of these were written from 1842 to 1860 by Borrer to fellow botanist Charles Cardale Babington. The second part are a mixture of notes and letters to and from Borrer dating from 1815 - 1853.
The Ongoing Project
Having been categorised, the transcription of these letters is now being divided out amongst volunteers. Once this process is complete (on course for 2020-21), we intend to make the transcripts available for botanical research, while identifying and publicising selected extracts which provide a more general insight into Borrer's life and times.