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Algologies: Directions for Collecting and Preserving Algae by Mary Philadelphia Merrifield (Brighton 1864) (with suggestions from Anna Dumitriu 2021)

My attempt at pressing seaweed using a modern microwave flower press (May 2020) (Photo: Anna Dumitriu)

Mary Philadelphia Merrifield was an art and fashion historian who wrote A Sketch of the Natural History of Brighton and Its Vicinity in 1864 and whilst researching and writing the book she became obsessed with algology (sic). She wrote an in depth description of the algae of Brighton and published her methodology of seaweed collecting which I have been attempting to re-perform in my explorations. But I’m a modern woman and so I think it’s always important to use modern tools as well as learning as much as possible from the tools and methods of the past (some of which will have been overlooked or forgotten). To that end, I’ve been wearing trainers to scramble over the rocks (and they also dry quite well on the odd occasion I slip into a rock pool, collecting the seaweed in a plastic ‘bag for life’, and using a handy microwave flower press to press the seaweed which means I can achieve good results in a few minutes.

Some examples from my seaweed collection – in Mrs Merrifield’s footsteps

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