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Celebrating Hampshire's Historians

Sandell, Elsie Mary

5th February 1891 - 10th July 1974

The daughter of George Washington Sandell, head of a local shipping firm of Sandell & Son, Elsie was born in Southampton and spent much of her life in the town. At the time of the compilation of the 1939 Register, however, she was residing at a guest house in Axminster, Devon, with her father and her occupation is described as that of ‘unpaid domestic’. During the Second World War she began writing articles for the Southampton Daily Echo and in this respect was a successor to Edgar Mitchell. Much of this material subsequently formed the basis of her post-War publications, most of which were targeted at children. As she wrote in the acknowledgements for one of her publications: ‘This book has been written over a period of years and it has been compiled in the hope that it may arouse, especially in our schoolchildren a greater interest in the story of Southampton’ (Southampton through the ages). Apart from her writing she contributed to radio and TV programmes. In 1953 she was the first person to receive the Southampton Publicity Club’s award for Outstanding Service to the Town and even has a block of flats named in her honour.


  • Sotonopedia


  • Familiar and Forgotten, illustrated Local Lives from Southampton’s Collections, Southampton City Art Gallery, 15 September 2006 – 7 January 2007.


Elsie Sandell

Contribution to county’s history

In her own words, her historical sketches ‘were … [written] in the hope that they might conjure up and portray something of the past, linking it with the present and the future …’ (Southampton sketches)  

Relevant published works

  • Sandell, E. M., (1948) Southampton sketches, Southampton, Wilson

  • Sandell, E. M., (1953) Southampton cavalcade (Southampton: G.F Wilson, 1953)

  • Sandell, E. M., (1955) The story of old Southampton: a walk within the walls, Southampton, G.F Wilson

  • Sandell, E. M., (1958) Southampton panorama, Southampton,  G.F Wilson & Co

  • Sandell, E. M., (1960) Southampton contrasts, Southampton, G.F Wilson

  • Sandell, E. M., (1976) Southampton through the ages : a short history, Southampton: G.F Wilson & Co

Critical Comments

F.L. Freeman, Southampton’s Chief Education Officer, observed that Sandell’s short history of Southampton was a worthy successor to that written by Hearnshaw for schools 50 years earlier. He described it as ‘an extremely readable and authoritative History which will be welcomed by the citizens of Southampton in general and by the schools in particular.’ (Southampton Through the Ages, Foreword)

Other Comments

A fluent French speaker, she was a founding member of the Alliance Franšaise. She was also involved with the YWCA and raised money for the Poor Ladies Fund. Following her death, a Elsie Sandell Memorial Walk which attracted more than 50 participants, including the mayor, took place on Southampton Common (Southern Evening Echo, 20/08/74).


Roger Ottewill, 17 October 2021

Key Words

Southampton, YWCA

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