A MAN who chronicled the history of the county in his quirky and vast collections has been honoured with a blue plaque on the Oxford house where he lived.
Born in 1870, Percy Manning has been heralded as an important figure for collecting fascinating artefacts that show the rich cultural history of Oxfordshire.
With a keen eye for objects relating to folklore, Manning revived the Headington Quarry Morris Dancers in 1899 and their performance inspired Cecil Sharp to launch the English folk revival.
In the centenary year of his death, the Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board unveiled the plaque at Manning's final home, 300 Banbury Road, on Saturday.
Manning lived at the address from 1912 to 1917.
He joined the Oxford & Bucks national reserve in 1914 and was assigned to guard duty at Southampton docks where he died of pneumonia on February 27, 1917.
Michael Heaney, who retired from the Bodleian Library after more than 40 years and organised the blue plaque ceremony, said he became fascinated with the collector after he was asked to write an entry on Manning for the Dictionary of National Biography.
He said: "It was about 20 years ago when I wrote the entry and I found out so much more that he had done than I was initially aware of.
"He is important because he gave us so much information about life and the history of Oxfordshire.
"His collections were bequeathed to the Pitt Rivers, Ashmolean and the Bodleian but because his collections have been split amongst the various museums they have not had their true value appreciated.
"It is wonderful to be able to recognise him this way."
Manning was interested in all periods of history and prehistory, collecting Stone Age tools, Roman coins, medieval tiles, and relics of ways of life that were disappearing in his own day, such as decorated police truncheons and local pottery.
He had a collection of 5,000 prints and pictures depicting Oxford and places throughout Oxfordshire as records of changes in the built environment, and moved beyond material objects to uncover and document superstitions, folklore and customs, especially where he thought they were disappearing.
Mr Heaney, curator of the recent Manning exhibition at the Weston Library, said Manning his favourite piece in the collections was the bays and rosemary used in a Christmas ceremony in 1844.
He said: "There is a carol called the Boar's Head which is still sung every Christmas at Queen's College in Oxford as the head of a boar is carried in on a serving plate.
"In the carol it says the boar's head is 'Bedeck'd with bays and rosemary'.
"And Manning had collected the bays and rosemary used in the 1844 ceremony, which I find is just fascinating."
This month there are several events celebrating Manning including the Weston Library's exhibition which runs until Sunday, April 23, the Museum of Oxford's 'Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids' exhibition which runs until Saturday, April 22 and the Pitt Rivers Museum's trail 'Percy Manning in Oxfordshire Folklore' which finishes on Monday, May 15.