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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William Heathcote of Hursley Park

July 19, 2014 at 12:54 pm (history, jane austen, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , )

Always searching for more, I’ve come across this ENCHANTING portrait at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – which features a cherubic William Heathcote (later the 5th baronet), with his cousins, painted by William Owen c1803.

wm heathcoteThe museum’s write-up about the painting is fascinating: for it proves how wrong a catalogue attribution sometimes can be! The baby in the quartet was, in 1938, thought to be William (born in 1801). This then meant that the children surrounding the baby were all little girls… When you click on the picture to see the ENTIRE portrait (it will take you to the Met, and open in another window) you will see why this is so important a mistake.

  • when at the Met’s website, click under “catalogue entry” for the painting’s full history

William, who was a GREAT CHUM of Edward Austen, was the son of the Rev William Heathcote, vicar of Worting. Jane Austen knew the Heathcotes well; little William’s mother was the former Elizabeth Bigg, daughter of Lovelace Bigg-Wither. Elizabeth returned to her parental home following the early death of her husband. Jane Austen was friendly with all the Bigg sisters of Manydown.

The painter, William Owen, exhibited the work in 1806.

The fascinating part of the history is what happened in 2012 – just two years ago – when a descendent gave the museum access to family history and, based on birth dates, the Met re-evaluated the sitters.

The Heathcote pictures (yes, in the PLURAL) were sold off in the 1930s, by a distant relation who had inherited the baronetcy (as mentioned, Edward Austen’s friend was the 5th baronet). As the website says, the extensive collection “constituted a rather comprehensive record of the appearance of succeeding generations from the late seventeenth century until shortly after 1800“. Breaks my heart to read of families divesting themselves of The Old Family Portraits – but without such divestment these would not be found online now…

Owen’s work has great charm, in the rusticity of the scene presented.

I forgot to mention: William Heathcote’s first wife was Caroline Perceval, daughter of the 2nd Baron Arden — who was related to the Comptons of Castle Ashby (ie, Emma Austen’s Aunt and Uncle Northampton). So, in a way, William “married into the family” even before Edward Austen did! (He and Emma Smith married on 16 December 1828.)

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Anything Exciting? Reading Other People’s Letters

July 14, 2014 at 7:37 pm (history, people, research) (, , , , , , )

A friend recently asked:

How about your letters, anything exciting?

As I typed my reply, the thought came: this would interest readers of Two Teens, too — or so I hope.

I’m just scaling the heights, after an influx of new-to-me information; mainly letters, but also a few early diaries. Here are some early thoughts on the *new* material:

pen and letters
“Can’t say I’ve come across anything that would be termed exciting in and of itself; just a build-up of family history. Seems quite a few letters were saved from a period in Emma’s life when she was “sought after” by Arthur Perceval. She certainly didn’t find him ‘attractive'; but gosh she experienced such ANGST over her negative thoughts!

“HARD not to wonder if she didn’t already think about Edward Austen – though this was a good 3 years before they married…

“I knew a few letters along this line existed, but there turned out to be more! And those letters from 1825 that I thought would be primarily about Charles and his recent bereavement, turned out to be MORE letters about Mr Perceval! The Oxford collection, though, had an interesting twist on the tale: Mr P visited Suttons! A bit of an uncomfortable encounter for them both.

“And in the end? he married someone else, seemingly rather quickly. Almost an “any girl will do”, rather like Mr Collins. (from your favorite: Pride and Prejudice.)

“The letters of Lady Northampton to her husband are – of themselves – not much. Short, written (and sent) nearly every day. Such longing for his return! and it seems they were SHORT (and frequent) because HE disliked long letters! So as a group, they are quite of use. She wrote her daughter in the same way. Never having much to say, but always keeping the conversation going.

“The question, now, is: If HER letters exist, what happened to those sent TO her?! Weren’t those saved??”

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First Lady of Letters

July 13, 2014 at 11:37 am (books, history, research) (, , , )

As mentioned in my blog Regency Reads, I’ve been on a bit of a book buying spree. I’ve gotten Deirdre Le Faye’s newest, Jane Austen’s Country Life (am enjoying it, but WISH there were source citations….), and in that same shipment came this book from 2009:

first lady_sargentFirst Lady of Letters: Judith Sargent Murray and the Struggle for Female Independence, by Sheila L. Skemp, really has had my brain working, digesting Skemp’s thoughts on the young Judith Sargent, while at the same time equating some of Sargent’s “colonial-era” youth with the families of Mary & Emma.

Born in Gloucester, Mass, in 1751 – Judith Sargent is older than Mamma (Augusta Smith) and her sisters, though in an “older sister” way, rather than a “generational” way. Sargent certainly gave a lot of thought to education, especially how her own differed from that of her slightly younger brother Winthrop. And “governess” versus “Oxford” is one thing I touch upon in my first chapter, as Mary visits her brothers William and Robert in college in 1814.

Sometimes reading about an era just slightly ahead of the one being researched is a great influence – and Skemp presents her material well.

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“Imperial Guide, Great Post Roads”

July 12, 2014 at 1:08 pm (books, carriages & transport, history, research, travel) (, , , , )

Friends and I are always on the lookout for books which give a feel for the countryside and travel in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century England.

HIGHLY recommended is the Imperial Guide with picturesque plans, of the Great Post Roads. This link is specifically for the 1802 edition.

renishaw1

Elizabeth Bennet might have travelled with a copy of the book…

renishaw4

…and slipped it into her reticule while at Pemberley.

 

I came across this while looking for further information on an area Emma Smith called Velvet Bottom – a name I was simply enchanted with. It turns out to have been a particularly verdant area near Aylesbury (you’ll find it mentioned on page 42). Evidently, though, its name was thought rather “rude”! And it does becomes known as Velvet Lawn, not half so fun a name. But guess what: Emma uses BOTH names in her diaries!

But back to the book: I am really delighted with the illustrations. Truly ‘picturesque’.

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Hot on the Trail: 1820s letters of life in ROME

June 28, 2014 at 9:30 pm (entertainment, history, news, people, research, travel) (, , , , , , )

I have been burning the candle – quite literally: Up late most nights these last weeks. It paid off immensely last Thursday, with the discovery of a small batch of letters IN ROME!

Mamma Mia!

The BIGGER surprised came when I realized the KEY to knowing these letters were in fact having anything to do with my batch of Smiths was the name involved: LANTE turns up in a letter I actually bought (thanks, Craig!) a couple of years ago.

And Villa Lante (in Gianicolo) still exists, as this GORGEOUSLY illustrated blog post on Rosa Arcium attests. I can’t help but believe that Charles, Augusta, Emma, and Fanny visited here – perhaps quite often, during their winter in Rome (1822-1823).

lauro

In addition to Rosa Arcium, gain views of the house from:

 

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