Julius Brenchley, seen by history as a “Gentleman Explorer” was born at Kingsley House in Maidstone. Educated at Maidstone Grammar School, Brenchley then went on to study at Cambridge. Brenchley’s travels began in 1845 when he accompanied his father on a European Tour. Between 1845 and 1867 he travelled the world c0llecting, recording and sending material home. Julius Brenchley died February 24th 1873 at the age of 56.
Julius Brenchley and his travel partner Jules Remy published volumes recording their journeys and research expeditions around the world. These can be accessed online through Google Books and the Internet Archive. Click on the underlined titles to view the publications online.
J. L. Brenchley, Jottings during the cruise of H.M.S. Curaçoa among the South Sea Islands in 1865 (London, Longmans & Co., 1873).
Julius Brenchley donated the majority of artefacts collected during his European travels to Maidstone Museum and the British Museum. Brenchley also provided for a new wing in the museum to house his collection and purchased Brenchley Gardens for the town. As well as ethnological objects, Brenchley collected a wide variety of fine and decorative art, and natural history specimens. He chose traditional designs from whatever culture he was exploring. The majority of pieces in the collection were obtained by direct exchange or gift; but for high prestige items, Brenchley must have used his connections, with missionaries, governors and other Europeans in the area.
British Museum – Julius Brenchley Collection (click on link to go to the BM’s website)
The Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone has a number of Brenchley Papers in it’s archives. You can book a session in the search-room to look through original papers handwritten by Julius Brenchley during his various travels.
The journals featured in the image to the right come under the category of Miscellaneous Papers – reference number CKS/U1823/8/Z1-7. Writings range from travels around the UK; from Kent, Sussex and Hampshire to the West Country and Wales. There are also notes on travels to Italy and Greece.