Driving down Portland Place, 1835

September 29, 2014 at 10:25 am (books, carriages & transport, diaries, goslings and sharpe, history, london's landscape) (, , , )

This past week has been FILLED with letters (thank you Anna!), some of which have given the harrowing details of the last illness of William Gosling, senior partner in the banking firm Goslings and Sharpe – and my Mary’s father. Mary lost two family members in January 1834 – her brother William also died (of scarlet fever).

But it is from a diary, written by a young girl who, though ever so nominally ‘related’ to the Smiths and Goslings, probably never met any of them. The connection is Mrs Thomas Smith – sister-in-law of Joshua Smith, she was Great Aunt to Emma and Charles Smith; and through her own sister Juliana (née Mackworth Praed), aunt to the diarist Emily Shore and her sisters, as well as Winthrop Mackworth Praed.

But I digress…

Anna Leszkiewicz’s delightful review @ Rookie of “The Journal of Emily Shore”

It is May 20, 1835 – and Emily Shore and her mother have been invited to visit a London family. Oh, Emily has some very choice words to say about the fog, smog, smoke of London. The country-girl was unimpressed.

So how wonderful to then read what DID impress her: Portland Place!

But let’s first put Emily on the road :

We avoided the City altogether, going by the New Road, through Regent’s Park. I was altogether disappointed in the Park. I had expected at least to see fine timber. No such thing. The horrid atmosphere of London checks all vegetation. As far as I could see, there was not a tree in Regent’s Park to compare with the greater part of those in Whitewood. Besides, the sky is smoky and dingy, there is not freshness in the air, nor the bloom of spring everywhere, as in the country. It has also a formal look; it is intersected with wide public roads, which are inclosed by hedges or railings. These roads were full of carriages, cabs, horsemen, and pedestrians, which are supposed to give so much liveliness to the scene; so they do, but I like a retired, unfrequented park much better.

nos-5-6PPOn leaving Regent’s Park we entered Portland place. Here I was much struck with the grandeur of the buildings, surpassing anything I ever saw in the shape of private houses. If London had all been like this, it would have been a magnificent city. But I  believe not many parts are so noble as this.

To remind Two Teens in the Time of Austen readers, the Goslings lived at No. 5 Portland Place, and the Smiths were next door, at No. 6 — No. 5 is the address in the middle, with the “longest” yard and “shortest” house (click to enlarge map), and at the right (with the white pilasters) in the photo below, which looks UP the street from Langham Place; Regents Park is at the opposite end.

portland place

EXTRAS:

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Samuel Prout, Painter in Water-Colours

September 26, 2014 at 4:18 pm (history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , )

Seven years ago I spent two months transcribing a MASS of letters and diaries. Back then cameras weren’t allowed in archives – and what I could transcribe is all I came away with.

I’ve written about some of the divergent handwriting specimens I’ve had to decipher (mainly, the four Smith sisters of Erle Stoke Park); so it is NO surprise to see that I gave up on one letter (extracting from it about six sentences only) because the writing was “so tiny”.

That writer was Fanny Smith (later: Fanny Seymour, wife of the Rev. Richard Seymour of Kinwarton).

Having a photo of this cramped epistle, I *finally* transcribed it in total last night.

And from the pen strokes emerged this DELIGHTFUL tale of Fanny and her love of drawing and (by dint of this story) watercolor painting. Fanny’s letter is addressed to her sister, Emma Austen:

I have corresponded with Mr Prout from whom I had rather an ambiguous answer about teaching after the Water Color Exhibition opened …. {Spencer Smith, Fanny and Emma’s brother, then went to see Mr Prout} he said he was much engaged with the 2d vol. of the landscape annual & jumped at the idea of my having been in Italy, hoping I could furnish him with some sketches, Spencer said he had a sister who had a great many italian views, he [Prout] begged leave to call some morning & see them, & we thought we should like him to see your drawings…. Mr Prout spent the whole morning here looking at them, & expressed the most unbounded admiration for them…. I hope now you feel properly flattered, & conceive my being out with Augusta & Henry the whole time he was here, in furniture shops.

prout_1831Poor Fanny! there’s the revered teacher, in her own home — looking at her sister’s work (by her own invitation, granted), but made worse by the fact that she wasn’t even there — she’d been shopping with the newly-wedded Augusta and Henry Wilder!

So I simply HAD to find out more about “Mr Prout”. I believe he must have been Samuel Prout (1783-1852), described as one of the MASTERS among the British Watercolorists – and (by the date of this letter, March 1830) the Painter in Water-Colours-in-Ordinary to King George IV.

Initially, I had GREAT trouble with this person’s name – Pront? was one guess. So might I, in earlier days, have come across this name and guessed (incorrectly)? – I’ll have to look among the letters and diary entries. So many possibilities: Did Fanny finally get to have the lessons she so clearly yearned for? Did she get overshadowed by Emma’s (perhaps better?) Italian sketches? Did any of the Smith girls have their sketches exhibited or published??? Now there’s an enticing thought!

There are sketches belonging to Fanny in the Bodleian; but none are watercolors (pencil sketches only). A new source DOES indeed claim to have an album of watercolor works and  the current thought is that the items (lotta letters) may once have been in Fanny’s possession – certainly the letters I’ve so far seen are mostly addressed to Fanny. So maybe some of the visual material is actually by her. That would certainly be nice, and the many people who have become interested in Fanny’s unique life will be made happy.

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Jane Austen’s Matchmaker (game)

September 21, 2014 at 2:16 pm (entertainment, jane austen) (, , , , )

Every once in a while I visit Kickstarter – to see what “AUSTEN” projects are out there. (Never know… one day it may be a project of my own!)

Today I found Jane Austen’s Matchmaker — what looks to be a really fun game to play, and of course for the Austen fan a “gotta have that” item.

You’ve still a week (until 28 Sept 2014) to pledge – and there’s even time enough to receive your “gift” before Christmas!

ja matchmaker

A Ruthlessly Romantic Card Game!

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Monsieur d’Eon is a Woman

September 17, 2014 at 12:08 pm (books, portraits and paintings) (, , , )

Yesterday, searching for information on a ship of the line toured by the young ladies from Erle Stoke Park — HMS St. George (90 guns) and those who sailed on her in 1792, I came across the most arresting portrait, in oils, of a very mannish-looking woman.

Was the sitter who I thought?

Indeed!  a genuine portrait of le Chevalier d’Eon!

Chevalier d'Eon

The blog post I found is a couple years old, and tells the story of art dealer Philip Mould “uncovering and identifying” the sitter. Evidently the National Portrait Gallery snapped it up.

Frankly, how could anyone mistake the sitter – d’Eon was my first thought when the image popped up on my screen.

To understand the full d’Eon story, I refer Two Teens in the Time of Austen‘s readers to a biography by Gary Kates, Monseiur d’Eon is a Woman: A Tale of Political Intrigue and Sexual Masquerade.

kates_deon

I remember buying this book like it was yesterday (alas: more like 2001! assuming it was newly out in paperback).

I was visiting Dartmouth College, and going to Hanover ALWAYS meant a visit to the delightful Dartmouth Bookstore (now – alack!! – nothing more than another Barnes & Noble). I always searched a couple of sections: history (mainly Britain; France; Austria); biography; travel; and remaindered books in the back of the basement. I still remember where these departments used to be located!

D’Eon must have been in the history section (France), or maybe Gender Studies. I had gone down to New Hampshire by myself that day, and the sun was shining gloriously – I pulled into a park area near the river and hurriedly unwrapped the book from its bag, to look my treasure over more carefully. I had never heard of Charles d’Eon de Beaumont. I’ve pulled the book off the shelf again, and will have to give it a look-through, if not a re-read — now that I know what she looked like.

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Oxford, 1814

September 15, 2014 at 6:25 pm (entertainment, europe, history, travel) (, , , , , , , )

Although it’s no longer summer 2014, I can’t help but come across items relating to Oxford — which is what opens my book (in the year 1814). And this past weekend uncovered a few nice *finds*.

I invite readers to Take a Tour of Oxford via OXFORD HISTORY. It’s been years since I clicked photos of places I’ve visited — so I have nothing of my own to share.

Oxford had the dubious distinction of being a bit of a “lay-over” spot. I had taken the bus from Aylesbury into Oxford in order to take the train a few stops south – in order to meet a private collector with whom I’d been corresponding. She had family letters!

Long story short: I went for a walk; got lost. BUT: I stood on the very spotunder “the Great Bell called Tom — that little Mary Gosling, aged 14 stood upon 200 years before me. A proper tour through the city awaits another trip.

Looking for information on Oxford back in 1814, in particular on the old city walls, is how I came across this delightful website. There IS a “Oxford City Walls” tour – and it’s presented online, with some really nice photographs of the sites.

oxford city walls tour

I’m THRILLED to see CARFAX TOWER mentioned; Mary talks about this – and I know that when I first transcribed her travel journal I had NO idea of any of the layout (see CARFAX Views)

If you explore the Walls circuit, you will cover some of the same ground I did: How well I remember the Castle Mound and Castle Street — and (having gotten “lost”) it’s a pity I never ended up at the appropriately-named Turn Again Lane!

Mary and family had come to Oxford to visit William Ellis and Robert Gosling, her two eldest brothers. _I_ was in Oxford on the trail of Mary

The boys were at two different colleges. Robert at Christ Church (Mary seems very unimpressed with his rooms in the Peckwater Quad) and William at Brasenose.

OxfordHistory.org also dedicates a page to the old Star Inn, where the Goslings overnighted (alas, no longer in existence).

In searching, I also stumbled upon the Oxford University magazine Oxford Today, with an article on the very event the Goslings came in the wake of: the visit to Oxford by the Allied Sovereigns. Imagine my delight with this cartoon:

allies in oxford

Mary Gosling, aged 14:
“…they shewed us the chairs … [of] the emperor and king of Prussia
they were of velvet and handsomely mounted in gold,
and I had the honour to sit in both of them.”

The Emperor (tsar) of Russia – and his sister (shown in the full cartoon) – sits on the right hand side of the Prince of Wales; the King of Prussia on his left.

10p to the person who first spots a quite egregious error in the article… [What a difference one letter of the alphabet makes.]

 

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Sir Michael Seymour – father & son

September 10, 2014 at 11:52 pm (history, jane austen, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , )

In the “Smith & Gosling” family it is often DIFFICULT to differentiate the generations: so many similar (SAME) Names!

As is the case here, with Rear-Admiral Sir Michael Seymour (1st baronet):

and his third son, Admiral Sir Michael Seymour, GCB:

seymour_michael-son

Richard Seymour speaks of his father with such great affection and attention to detail in the Memoir of Rear Admiral Sir Michael Seymour, Bart, K.C.B. that I leave it to him to tell you about Sir Michael “the father”, as I call him.

It’s Richard’s brother, Sir Michael the son, that I want to say a few words about tonight.

Michael grabs my attention because he married Dora Knighton – daughter of Sir William Knighton, a confident of the Prince of Wales/George IV. Richard writes of this cousin, often distinguishing her from his sister Dora (yes, there were TWO Dora Seymours!) by referring to her as “Dora K.” She is a sweet-faced young lady in the portrait of her by Linnell. Dora (Knighton) Seymour interests me intensely! But it’s her husband that I find more information about.

An item readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen will be surprised to hear: Captain Michael Seymour served under Vice-Admiral Sir Francis Austen, Jane’s brother. See this inquiry into the service details of HMS Vindictive.

Michael was a delightful artist, and we find some of his work online:

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The Wynne Diaries

September 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm (books, diaries, entertainment, europe, history, jane austen) (, , , , , , , )

Years ago I visited Dartmouth College library several times a month – I had a quarter-year pass to borrow books. A hectic summer, but a productive one.

Surely it was during that summer that I spotted, on the shelf in the darkened bowels of the library where books of English history & biography are stored, the three-volumes that make up The Wynne Diaries. Although the published diaries include entries by three Wynne sisters, it is Betsey Wynne — the future Lady Fremantle, wife of Admiral Thomas Fremantle (one of Nelson’s “band of brothers”), who makes headlines.

  • 2010 story of the ‘rediscovery’ of the original diaries (The Independent)

Both the newspaper article and the talk cited below list the impetus for Elaine Chalus’ interest in her project: Her finding a worn, old Penguin paperback, a one-volume reprint of the original Oxford set. I never knew such existed, but even if I had – the lover of “complete” editions in me would had brought about the same search for the full three volumes (1935-1937-1940). I found them, online, pricey but far less so than the current offers. And my trio had their dust jackets!

  • Giustiniana Wynne (aunt) figures in the biography A Venetian Affair, by Andrea di Robilant

Needless to say, I’ve been eagerly awaiting Chalus’ biography, The Admiral’s Wife, so this recent 75-minute talk was a nice find, although I do wish Betsey were less “seen through the eyes of her husband”, but given its title, ” ‘My dearest Tussy': Family, Navy and Nation in the Fremantle Papers, 1801-1814″, the talk should be forgiven for being a bit Thomas-Fremantle-centric. Being women’s history, its firm association with Nelson will undoubtedly help sales once the biography finally hits the shelves.

chalus

While listening, I took down two short notes, relevant to my own project:

  • “this is a face-to-face world, where knowing people matters, using your networks matters”;
  • “building community networks… entertaining the community; paying the visits, and the reciprocal visiting, and offering dinners and going out to dinners, and having balls… This is very much the Jane Austen world, in that sense; people are forever popping in and visiting, and having a cup of tea, and then going out and inviting somebody else to dine.”
wynne diaries

colorful jackets of the original Wynne Diaries

 

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Elite Ladies of the North

September 2, 2014 at 9:07 pm (estates, history) (, , , , , , )

Was looking at the online “sample” copy of WOMEN’S HISTORY MAGAZINE; it’s from 2011 – but a wealth of information means it’s still worth a look, three years later.

My favorite story is by Julie Day, writing on “Household Management as a method of authority for three 18th Century Elite Yorkshire Women” – which focusses on three women: Sabine Winn, of Nostell Priory; Frances Ingram of Temple Newsam; and Elizabeth Worsley of Hovingham Hall. I cannot stress enough how fascinating an article was made by intertwining these lives; the focus is on finances and household management. HIGHLY recommended.

In looking for more on author Julie Day, I put my hands on the following that may also interest you, after reading the article:

Sabine Winn

Sabine Winn

Frances Ingram

Frances Ingram

 

 

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Greg Family Album @ Quarry Bank (NT)

August 31, 2014 at 12:22 pm (entertainment, estates, history) (, , , , )

Rachel in Lincolnshire, who’s just finished up a degree (BIG Congrats, Rachel!!) and done some interesting work at Belton House (once associated with Lady Marian Alford, daughter of the 2nd Marquess of Northampton), sent me a link to the National Trust’s “ABC Bulletin” -> which stands for Arts, Buildings, Collections Bulletin.

  • The Summer 2014 issue tells a fabulous Tale of Two Portraits: the ‘reunion’ of Emma Vernon with her former home, Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire.
  • The Spring 2014 issue has an article about THE VYNE which you won’t want to miss, all about a Veronese Altarpiece.

**NOTE: images contained in the online issues
seem far inferior to those issues received ‘in your inbox‘.

The ABC Bulletin, issued four times a year, has online links back to the 2010 editions. I myself must spend some time looking, reading, finding, enthralling. Maybe I should have contacted this periodical, rather than the editor of the larger National Trust Magazine -> they didn’t care at all to hear about my dear Eliza Chute! Their loss… Still an idea; although, after the rigmarole of trying to access their handful of Eliza letters, I’m not sure I care any more to share. Must think about that one.

But today I wanted to blog about something found while discussing the Bulletin with Rachel: another NT Property, Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire. They purchased a Visitors’ Album once belonging to the Greg Family from James Cummins Bookseller (a very familiar name in the antiquarian book realm). The “Family Album” dates from 1800 to 1815 – and I just LOVED the comment that once it was seen in the flesh “Within seconds of opening its gilded pages we knew we had to have it.” Nice to have kindly benefactors… for original manuscripts can sometimes be PRICEY!

An aside: When I was in Northampton early this summer I leafed through a FABULOUS album or scrapbook once belonging to Miss Rowell, who has ties to the Comptons of Castle Ashby. As the archivist laid it out on cushions for me, she confessed that she had looked through the book — and was just enchanted. Ditto for myself! But up to a year ago this was rather buried in the stacks – for when I first inquired about it (the notice in an old, old bulletin of acquisitions) I got rather a surprising note and very little information.

So ‘enchanting’ items so readily exist – they just have to see the light of day.

For fans of North and South – whether Elizabeth Gaskell’s book or the BBC series with the scrumptious Richard Armitage – Quarry Bank Mill might be of great interest: there’s a Love Story AND a TV series, which this past spring filmed its second season at Quarry Bank Mill (just finished its run in the UK). IMDB has some useful Message Boards about the series, including this short one about the Greg family.

the mill

I must claim for myself a hometown that once depended on “The Mill” for employment, though it had ceased to be a working mill by the time I was born. Aunts and a grandmother worked in it though. You can read about the Winooski Woollen Mills online.

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Night at the Museum

August 13, 2014 at 11:19 pm (a day in the life, diaries, entertainment, london's landscape, people) (, , , , )

A FABULOUS FIND! Always seems to happen when I stay up super late (two or three a.m.)… As usual, in looking for something completely different I found this VERY USEFUL Smith & Gosling tidbit.

Housed among the superb WALLACE COLLECTION (Manchester Square, London) is a Visitors’ Book for Meyrick’s Armory. When Charles noted the visit in his diary, I have to admit: I was baffled when transcribing it.

BUT: Charles SIGNED Meyrick’s book!! Alas, the online version is only a transcription (though page one, with visitors King George IV and Sir William Knighton exists in a small image).

The first inkling _I_ had was when transcribing this sentence by Charles in March 1829:

meyrick1

The text reads:

Went to see Dr Meyricks very curious
collection of armour dating back
to the earliest periods  no plate
armour before  Edward IV  all

meyrick2

[next page]

the armour previous was
chain  -

As you can see, his entry was curious, mainly because of his difficult handwriting — until I knew something about Meyrick.

meyrick3

The armoury collection was located then at 20 Upper Cadogan Place, London. Sir Richard Wallace acquired Meyrick’s collection in 1871. Charles seems to have visited all by himself. The visitors’ book tells a different story, with three successive signatures:

Sir Charles Smith  Suttons  Essex
Mr Spencer Smith  Portland Place.
Mr Bennett Gosling  6 Stone Buildings Lincolns Inn

So, Charles arrived with his brother Spencer and their friend / next-door neighbor / Charles’ brother-in-law, Benntt Gosling.

Who knew?!

The other surprise came with the listing of Benntt’s residence: I knew he had qualified for the bar before ultimately joining the family banking firm Goslings & Sharpe; but never realized he lived for a time at 6 Stone Buildings!

As the introduction to the visitors’ book indicates, Dr Meyrick dissuaded people from signing more than once – so when Charles returned on the 25th he is not listed, but his companions are:

Went to Dr Meyricks with L. Christie  Mother  Augusta   H Wilder

and there they are in Meyrick’s book; though the typescript has suffered a misread: Henry has changed sex and become his own wife! (they weren’t married even yet) Here’s the typescript (with corrections in brackets):

Mrs Smith & Daughter        [Mamma and Augusta]
Mrs. [sic] Henry Wilder  Purley Hall Reading     [H Wilder]
Miss Gosling                           [Elizabeth Gosling, future Mrs Christie]
Langham Christie  Preston Deanery Northampton     [L. Christie]

Mary’s diary for these dates are BLANK on the 6th of March; and only mentions “Baby free from sickness” on the 25th. GROAN!  There DOES EXIST a “mystery” (LADY) MARY SMITH on page 39 (as opposed to Charles’ entry on page 55). Could This Be HER?? Without seeing the signature, I just can’t know for sure.

meyrick

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