Natural History collection

There are between 116,000 and 119,000 specimens in the natural history collections. Most were collected by HLF Guermonprez and were transferred to Portsmouth from Bognor Regis Museum in the 1970s.

The entomology collection contains over 45,000 insects, mainly butterflies and moths from West Sussex, collected by HLF Guermonprez, WG Waller and Stanley Morris. There are also local collections amassed by AW Westrup, DJ Clark, Heppell and Downer.

There are over 2,000 specimens in the taxidermy collection, many preserved by HLF Guermonprez and other West Sussex taxidermists.

Work by nationally known taxidermists Rowland Ward, James Gardner and Peter Spicer, as well as local taxidermists, William Chalkley (Winchester), Richardson (Southsea) and Francis Artlett (Portsmouth), are featured in the collection.

The taxidermy collection also contains extinct Huia birds from New Zealand and over 50 bird skins from the Malay Peninsula.

The herbarium contains over 20,000 plants, over half collected by Guermonprez and botanists from West Sussex.

Local collections in the herbarium include AW Westrup (1,150 British plants), Charlotte Palmer and Bolton King (Hampshire plants from the late 19th century) and an album of plants collected on Portsea Island in 1832 by Mrs Tate.

Over 10,000 local fossils and rocks from southern Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and West Sussex are held in our geology collections. These include fossils from Portsdown Hill and borehole samples collected by Portsmouth Water Company. It also contains a recently discovered collection of fossils from the Isle of Wight collected by James Jackson in the 1930s.

Donating to the natural history collection

We hold an astonishing and varied range of natural history objects in our collection, from beetles and woolly mammoth remains to large taxidermy cases.

We are particularly interested in filling gaps in our collections which helps to increase our knowledge of Portsmouth’s natural history; past and present.

If you have an object that you think may be of interest to us, please get in touch. It will help us if you can tell us as much as you can about the object, including how you acquired it, its story, and an indication of its present condition. Please include photographs if you can.

Items that we collect:

  • Taxidermy prepared by late 19th century / early 20th century Portsmouth taxidermists
  • Herbarium (plant) specimens with a Portsmouth bias that were collected legally – i.e. with the land owner’s permission and without contravening any wildlife acts
  • Insect specimens with a Portsmouth bias that were collected legally
  • Local fossils with good provenance data collected from the Portsmouth area
  • Marine specimens with good provenance data collected from the Solent
  • Natural history specimens with a strong link to Portsmouth or one of its residents

Items that we do not collect:

  • Birds’ eggs and their nests with no provenance or collected after 1981
  • Bird or mammal carcasses (unless there is an exceptional circumstance)
  • Any specimens that contravene national and international wildlife acts
  • Specimens with little or no data

We collect only from within 15 miles of Portsmouth Guildhall. Material from outside this area should be deposited with Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Our donations procedure page has all the information on next steps if you have an item you think we would want.