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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 November, 2004, 08:32 GMT
New light shed on heroine's life
Carolyn Anand with one of the letters
The letters trace the family's changing fortunes
Letters have been uncovered that provide a new insight into the life of lifeboat heroine Grace Darling.

More than 20 letters were found in archives at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's (RNLI) Grace Darling Museum, in Bamburgh, Northumberland.

They have been untouched for decades and are in pristine condition.

Lighthouse keeper's daughter Grace Darling became a heroine in 1838 when she rescued survivors from the shipwreck of the SS Forfarshire.

RNLI heritage collections officer Carolyn Anand, who is based at the charity's headquarters, in Poole, transcribed the letters.

She said: "The letters are mostly between members of the Darling family and cover a period from the 1820s to the turn of the 20th century.

"They trace the story from hardship and obscurity to the steady improvement of the family fortunes as their fame spreads after the famous Forfarshire rescue."

Lottery funding

One of the letters to Grace's father William, from his friend Henry Hewitson and dated 2 February 1839, warned against allowing Grace to visit London, fearing she would be made a "public spectacle".

The letters will feature in the RNLI's new education and research facility planned as part of the museum's redevelopment, due to be completed in 2006.

Earlier this year, the plans were given a boost with the award of nearly 1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. About 400,000 still needs to be raised, including 150,000 for the education and research project.

The education centre will include an area for the study of artefacts and archives with space for talks and special events.





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SEE ALSO:
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14 Jun 04 |  Tyne/Wear
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