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.
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.
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.
The 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.
- read online Materials for a History of The Wither Family
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.
- compare the heir to Hursley with the Gosling family heir, in Beechey’s portrait of William Ellis Gosling
- read online the history of Sir William Heathcote, 5th baronet
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.)
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:
“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??”
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 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.
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!
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).
In addition to Rosa Arcium, gain views of the house from:
- l’Orecchio di Giano (I wanna go to a concert …) [the picture (above) cheats: see info on the opera]
- Villa Lante al Gianicolo (history in English)
- Villa Lante al Gianicolo (youtube) [29:34]
Just thrilled to bits to see the release of the July/August issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine: my article on Margaret Meen is included:
Margaret Meen – believed by some to have been governess to the four Smith sisters of Erle Stoke Park – AKA, Lady Northampton, Mrs Chute, Mrs Smith and Miss Smith – was definitely a painter (on vellum and paper) of botanicals, and a teacher. Including, as the JARW line suggests: to the Royal family of Queen Charlotte and her girls. I truly hope that I’ve uncovered a bit of “life” for this somewhat undiscovered artist — and invite you to seek out a copy of the full-color publication that promises to deliver “EVERYTHING that is happening in the world of Jane Austen“, including this tidbit of Smith & Gosling history.
- Annual Subscription JARW information
- Single Issues via the Jane Austen Gift Shop
- JARW on Facebook
- JARW on Twitter
- Digital issues via Magzter
After much searching – for any information about the Hampshire estate called BROOKLANDS, I finally FOUND information, and a photo!
So, here, is a c1915 photo of Brooklands – which is located very near the River Hamble in Sarisbury, Hampshire. Try searching merely for “brooklands” and you find a totally different place in a totally different county of England! The secret is to attach it to “hamble” or “sarisbury” or even “bursledon”.
buoyed by the photos I then uncovered, I began to look in the newspapers. I was never certain if Spencer Smith purchased the estate, or rented; never certain either quite when he and Frances relocated to Brooklands – even though he is known as “Spencer Smith of Brooklands“.
What turned up was this advertisement in the Hampshire Advertiser, November 1838:
House and Gardens, with or without the Farm.
TO BE LET, by the year, or for a term of years, this handsome and elegantly furnished RESIDENCE, situate[d] at Sarisbury, midway between Southampton and Fareham, and bounded on one side by the Hamble River.
A Neat Chapel has been recently erected near the entrance to the park.
For terms apply (if by letter, free of postage) to Messrs. Barney and Moberly, Solicitors, or Mr. Perkins, Auctioneer, Southampton.
The house was up for sale a bit ago (asking price: £5.3 million), and the advertisement gave it a JANE AUSTEN connection. Though: Be skeptical; her letters mention the man and the place – but don’t really serve to indicate that a “JANE AUSTEN SLEPT HERE” plaque is deserving.
Although Jane Cooper’s husband was building Brooklands, Jane Cooper – who was Jane Austen’s close friend, as well as relation – died young. [see Austen's letters] I’ll let you look up references to Sir Thomas Williams, RN on your own, and decide for yourself whether Jane was a frequent visitor to Brooklands.
Still, no denying that the estate has a connection. And more, once Spencer settled in, in the 1830s, a connection to his Aunt Emma Smith – who lived at Sydney (another place I’m trying to track down! I must ask Charlotte Frost, who tipped me off about righting my lack of luck in locating Brooklands), and has left sketches of Bitterne and the surrounding area. [See the Macklin Album at the Wiltshire Museum.]
A family by the name of SHEDDEN are found at Brooklands after Sir Thomas Williams – I turn up both a Robert Shedden and a George Shedden. Messrs. Gils & Son advertised, three years before the TO LET notice, an auction of furnishings — though the sale ultimately did not take place. There’s a story – the Sheddens of Brooklands – waiting to be told.
As to Spencer Smith — at some point he took as a complete surname his entire name “Spencer Smith” – so that his children came to be differentiated from those offspring of Charles Joshua Smith of Suttons. The Spencer Smiths are still around today, if no longer at Brooklands.
To follow-up on an earlier post about Spencer, Lord Northampton – and his interest in fossils, first visited via an article published by Philip Compton in The Geoscientist.
A “Letter to the Editor” provides some further evidence, from the man Spencer met: Gideon Mantell.
Writing of a meeting with him at his museum in Lewes in 1831, Mantell describes Spencer in a journal as “a very agreeable and intelligent man”. Further evidence then tells us that when he returned he brought his sister, Lady Elizabeth Dickins!
I invite you to read more about Spencer, Lord Northampton, and his long-sustained friendship with Mantell and, especially, his long-sustained interest in fossils – Letters to the Editor, The Geoscientist, posted 8 May 2014
Spencer Compton — often described here as “Lord Compton”, for in his youth he was his father’s heir and only in 1828 did he become “Lord Northampton”. Emma’s “Uncle Northampton” (the first Marquess) is whom I typically refer to here as Lord Northampton.
Spencer Compton, only brother of Lady Elizabeth Compton (the future Lady Elizabeth Dickins, wife of Charles Scrase Dickins), married in 1815 Margaret Maclean Clephane – one of three sisters who were wards of Walter Scott.
- At the Jane Austen Society of North America: “Pemberley’s Welcome: Or, An Historical Conjecture upon Elizabeth Darcy’s Wedding Journey, ” (Persuasions On-Line, Winter 2009), by Kelly M. McDonald
- “The Accomplished Ladies of Torloisk,” by Karen E. McAulay
Philip Compton, archive researcher to the current Marquess, has written an informative article, published in The Geoscientist, the Fellowship Magazine of the Geological Society of London, on Spencer Compton’s interest in collecting fossils and his correspondence with imminent scientists. To read a side of Spencer, Lord Compton which you will rarely see discussed here, click on the picture below.
The article, entitled “Through the Looking Glass,” is nicely illustrated – including of Lord Northampton (first cousin of Emma Austen Leigh) and his home, Castle Ashby (which Emma knew well).