Creevey & Croker

July 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm (books, british royalty, diaries, history, people) (, , , , , , , , )

After finishing the Helene Hanff books (see the post on 84, Charing Cross Road), I was letting my fingers do the walking through my downstairs bookcase – and plucked an old paperback “selection” of Thomas Creevey’s papers. Gosh! I remember when I first bought this: I hankered after the THREE books it was based on. Guess what? you can pretty much find them online now… Ah, it had taken at least some dusty stacks grabbing (if not storage…) to find the Maxwell edition. A lot of work to find them back then.

So here I’m posting links, including those of a “rival” John Wilson Croker.

Thomas Creevey (left) left letters – and if he DID leave diaries, they’ve not been traced and may have been “swallowed up” by those not wanting his thoughts and opinions to leak out. I hadn’t realized before: Born in 1768, Thomas Creevey was of an age with the likes of William Gosling and Eliza Chute!

My paperback is a reprint edition edited by John Gore, called Thomas Creevey’s Papers, 1793-1838.

I was reading Gore’s introduction last evening. Gore’s 1944 compilation had been preceded by Sir Herbert Maxwell’s 1904 2-volume set. Gore had worked not to duplicate items. Gore writes of Maxwell’s work “taking Edwardian London by storm”. We should all be so lucky…

Gore included an appendix about the possible parentage (father) of Thomas Creevey. This opening speaks VOLUMES to me: “Probably all who have to do with biography will acknowledge the fact that the truth too often comes to light after and not at the publication of a definitive biography, even of one which is the result of years of patient research.”

That, indeed, is a big fear of mine. Some BOMBSHELL will burst, exploding a supposition I’ve held and perhaps long cherished. I already have had a minor bombshell in a little mystery surrounding Lady Elizabeth Compton and her eventual husband Charles Scrase Dickins. One letter was all it took… And one letter disclosed that Maria Smith was sought in marriage by the young man, Mr Odell, who accompanied her brother Drummond on his trip to Italy — a trip that Drummond never returned from. And one letter in a published source led me to the diary of Lord Ossory that Ann in Ireland was kind enough to look through for me. All it takes is “one”. Gore finished his thought by saying “Truth will out . . . but reluctantly. One cannot obtain a warrant to search the attics of every country house…” (maybe not! but I’d LIKE TO do so) “…vital facts often come to light immediately after interest is aroused by the publication of a biography.”

  • The Creevey Papers, edited by Sir Herbert Maxwell: vol I, vol II – this is via Internet Archive, but is a Google book. It looks like both volumes are in one. Another link; here’s a two-volume set: vol I; vol II. I like the “set” because vol II has a portrait of MRS Creevey – and you know I’d rather read about the ladies.
  • Creevey’s Life and Times, edited by John Gore seems not online — yet?!

In reading the introduction, I was reminded of John Wilson Croker (below)- his works cover nearly the same period.

I can’t say much about either man – never read Croker and it’s been years since I’ve dipped into Creevey. I based a character in two short-stories on his sister. Should look into getting those stories published…

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London Literary Tour: 84, Charing Cross Road

July 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm (a day in the life, entertainment, jane austen, travel) (, , , , , , , , , )

In my email today, in honor of the London Olympics, ABE Books (used books site) sent a newsletter featuring “A Literary Tour of London“. It ended with “What books are missing from this list?” Carol S. from West Sussex responded, “84 Charing Cross Road” — that had me DASHING to my closet, where the bulk of my paperbacks are kept, in order to dig it out.

I devoured it.

Chuckled over parts.

Wished I, too, had book-people.

Want to see London (though NOT in Olympic Chaos).

Will probably continue on with its sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.

And now I want to share

Some bits I especially

thought

were wonderfully touching

and written for book-lovers and London-lovers:

  • “Will your please translate your prices hereafter? I don’t add too well in plain American, I haven’t a prayer of ever mastering bilingual arithmetic.”
  • “I have implicit faith in the U.S. Airmail and His Majesty’s Postal Service.”
  • “I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to ‘I hate to read new books,’ and I hollered ‘Comrade!’ to whoever owned it before me.”
  • “you leave me sitting here writing long margin notes in library books that don’t belong to me, some day they’ll find out i did it and take my library card away.”
  • “I just never saw a book so beautiful. I feel vaguely guilty about owning it.”
  • “P.S. Have you got Sam Pepys’ diary over there?”

and too many more… including that Helene went out of her mind over Pride and Prejudice.

From the 1950s austerity to the Beatles hysteria – this slim volume has it all. As Helene says, “Write me about London — the tube, the Inns of Court, Mayfair, the corner where the Globe Theatre stood, anything. I’m not fussy.”

We’ll leave 84, Charing Cross Road with this description by Maxine: “It’s dim inside, you smell the shop before you see it, it’s a lovely smell…” and these parting words from Frank: “it’s an old edition…, not very handsome but well bound and a good clean copy, and we are sending it off to you today with invoice enclosed.”

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Adele: Someone Like You

July 22, 2012 at 5:12 am (entertainment, people, places) (, , , , , , )

Listening to this, it caught my imagination that so many of the words could (perhaps?) describe the feelings that might have run through Mary Gosling’s mind when it was announced that Charles Smith was to marry Belinda Colebrooke.

Charles proposed, witnessed by Caroline Wiggett, in Paris, near the end of the family’s year abroad (1822-1823). Charles and Belinda married in October, 1823.

I heard … that you found a girl and you’re married now… Old friend, why are you so shy?

For me, it isn’t over.

Who would have known, how bittersweet…?

Mary’s “someone like you” turned out to be Charles himself…

They married in July, 1826.

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Wollstonecraft

July 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm (books, entertainment, history) (, , , , )

What a great series of books this should be. And a great Kickstarter project.

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Frost Tweets: Regency Clothes on Pinterest

July 18, 2012 at 9:35 pm (europe, fashion, history) (, , , , , , , )

click to tweet with Charlotte Frost

Charlotte Frost, whose “tweets” are consistently informative, notified readers of this Pinterest board on LOVELY GOWNS pinned by Lady TranbyCroft.

The photos of vintage clothing are truly lovely.

The bulk of the gowns range in date from late 18th century well into the late 19th century, but it’s the simpler gowns from the Rengecy – when my girls were young, unmarried teenagers, that really grab my attention.

Among my favorites: the amber-colored gown with the lower skirt embroidery (beadwork?), pinned from the Republic of Pemberley. Also, the white gown “close-up” from the V&A, which really shows off the gown’s workmanship. And who wouldn’t notice a Union Jack gown if that walked into the room?!?

Don’t miss Lady TranbyCroft’s other boards, including one for Regency Men’s Fashions.

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London Olympics 2012: Stratford, Newham and Emma’s “Aunt”

July 16, 2012 at 8:22 pm (carriages & transport, diaries, estates, history, london's landscape, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Few will guess how CLOSE the London Olympics are to elements of the Smith&Gosling story. Take a look at this map of the site:

click on image for Exploring East London’s website

The GREY area is the “Olympic Site” — or as Exploring has it, the “area taken over for the Olympic Games”. The “loop” of streets near the top, to the left of SEE INLAY, contains the street running north-south (to MARYLAND) which is called THE GROVE. The Olympics and The Grove are about a half-mile apart.

Transcribed letters to Aunt — as the Smith siblings called Judith Smith, their father’s only living sister — begin in 1816 and end, with her death, in early 1832. The letters are consistently addressed {later calling her Mrs Smith}:

Miss Smith / The Grove / Stratford / Essex

But WHERE on EARTH did Aunt live?? That has been the burning question for some time.

Now, I don’t suppose for a minute that Aunt’s place survived, but to be able to place it back in time would be a great help.

Thanks to Mike in Surrey, I may be able to do just that.

Richard, at the Archives and Local Studies Library, located at 3 The Grove, believes Aunt lived in GROVE HOUSE. He claims the “Smith family together with Judith Smith” appear in Katharine Fry’s History of the Parishes of East and West Ham. (Good luck, Kelly, in finding a copy of that book…)

No doubt you begin to see my geographical problem: London E15 <– Newham <– Stratford <– West Ham. So many names over the decades and centuries, and all seemingly covering the SAME ground. Plus, I’ve long thought Stratford-le-Bow was Stratford; this map shows them both.

Mike has put his hands on an 1860s Map. Only the most detailed would show a single house, but he was the one who unearthed the very-detailed map of Nos 5 & 6 Portland Place!

This nice map of Stratford et al in 1800 http://www.newhamstory.com/node/726?size=_original shows just how difficult placing one house in this dense area has been.

Mike says that the abode to the left of the T and H in THE Grove can be ID’ed as Grove House. I’ve circled it, if for no other reason than to make my own eyes see its faint outline:

So what do I think I see?? A large house, free-standing, set back from the road; land that seems to be populated with trees (belonging to Grove House, or were they public??). The place has a rural feel that no one has ever mentioned in the letters. Emma talks of “walking in the shrubbery,” but only at the various country homes: Suttons, Tring, Mapledurham.

Searching through newspapers of the period, I came across this ad:

“AN ELEGANT FREEHOLD VILLA, called Stratford House, situated opposite the Grove at Stratford, four miles from London, in the County of Essex, the property and residence of the Right Hon. Lord Henniker, consisting of a substantial Mansion, with an uniform front, containing numerous airy cheerful bedchambers and dressing rooms, spacious drawing room and eating room, breakfast parlour, library, and all requisite offices, pleasure ground and kitchen garden, surrounded by lofty walls, orchard, paddock, plantations, fishpond, and four inclosures of rich meadow land, containing altogether upwards of twenty-five acres, with sundry cottages, and the Cart and Horses Public-house.”

Did it not sell? Subsequent ads exist for the same establishment, as well as for the Cart & Horses alone. Did either Stratford House or Grove look anything like this building that was St. Angela’s Preparatory School in Forest Gate?

In the newspapers I also discovered this fine obituary: “at her house, Stratford Grove, in this county, in the 78th year of her age, Mrs. Judith Smith, sister of the late Charles Smith, Esq., of Suttons, most deservedly regretted by her family and friends, and by the poor, to whom she was through life a constant and generous benefactress.”

Indeed, The Morning Post in their 31 January 1829 list of benefactors to the Spitalfields Soup Society (serving 7,000 quarts of soup daily) has among the generous, Mrs Judith Smith of Stratford — giving the same amount as her nephew Sir Charles Smith: £5.0.0. Over £1800 pounds were raised in this campaign.

*

Should any reader be able to shed light on The Grove, Stratford, or Aunt Judith Smith, please leave a comment or send an email (see The Author at right for contact information).

Many thanks to Mike, Anne, Richard for their interest and assistance.

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Chatsworth: the Boardgame?

July 14, 2012 at 10:33 am (books, entertainment, history, news, travel) (, , , )

I’ve recently come across this wonderful blog – all about an Oxfam Volunteer’s “finds” amid the “incoming”. Great fun – only makes me wish I could drop by and buy!

http://oxfamwilmslow.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/the-chatsworth-game/

The link above is for the Chatsworth boardgame, but do check out some other blog posts: a Hansard volume (I hate politics, but LOVE this write-up); some journals going for a song, some sheet music ditto.

Must admit to a HAUL of great items from the Oxfam Bookstore in Winchester in 2007… Newly retooled and just reopened, they had some great offerings. The Wilmslow Volunteer’s picks give a great indication of just what passes through Oxfam doors all over the UK.

UPDATE: in revisiting the site, I’ve had a look at the “rules of the game” — It DOES sound great fun: There is the general rule of “Take any Path. Do not retrace your steps” and then a series of variants to the game: THE GRAND TOUR (“start from the Orangery”); RACE; AFTERNOON TOUR (in which you can visit the Maze!); HIDE AND SEEK (with its talk of “the hidden player”); CHASE; and DIVERSIONS.

The “rules” end with this invitation: “Derive lasting pleasure by creating your own games in the exciting gardens of Chatsworth House…”

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Mrs Thrale’s connection to Mr Scrase

July 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm (books, diaries, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Arrrggggghhhhh!

This certainly points up the need to check, double-check, and even triple-check information.

Yesterday, I devoured Hester: The Remarkable Life of Dr Johnson’s ‘Dear Mistress’, a new acquisition. Imagine my surprise to see Mrs Thrale in Brighton (not the surprising part), seeking help from her friend and attorney, Charles Scrase.

Now the Scrase Dickins have a long history, according to the Smith&Gosling letters and diaries I’ve seen, of residing in Brighton. Surely this Charles Scrase was a relation!

I’ve many volumes relating to the biography and papers of Hester Thrale / Hester Piozzi, as you may read in this post on my Ladies of Llangollen site. Her letter describing Lady Cunliffe’s anguish over the deaths of her two daughters (Eliza Gosling, my Mary’s mother, in December 1803; and Mary Smith, wife of Drummond Smith, in February 1804) is included in the Piozzi Letters. Thraliana mentions Mrs Drummond Smith, but so little else about the family. Yet it couldn’t simply be “gossip” that Hester passed on, she seemed to know Lady Cunliffe. Yet another straggling thread, to be taken up and sewn into the fabric of this family….

So when I read that Hester had sought out help — and achieved it — from Mr Charles Scrase, I was ballyhooing!

And yet…

Taking up Mary’s Hyde’s excellent book The Thrales of Streatham Park, which, in publishing Hester’s “Children’s Book,” touches on the era of Mr Thrale’s business problems and Hester’s seeking out Mr Scrase’s help and advice, I read the following:

“The transaction was handled by Charles Scrase, who had been Ralph Thrale’s lawyer, a family friend whom Thrale had known all his life, and whom Mrs. Thrale had come to like very much. He was a single man of sixty…”

A single man??! So not a forebear to Charles Scrase Dickins.

But the Brighton connection…; the very name ‘Scrase’…

I kept reading into the evening, but dug no more into the life of Mr Scrase — until this morning.

It IS the same man – maternal grandfather to Charles Dickins (my Charles Scrase Dickins’ father), who bequeathed his estate, and the name of Scrase.

You can read about the family in the Sussex Archeological Collections (1855).  Charles Scrase was an attorney at law, baptised in 1709 (Hyde confuses his brother’s baptism in 1707 for his own). He married Sarah Turner in 1742, and had two daughters: Sarah and Elizabeth. Elizabeth married William Smith, but died without issue. Sarah Scrase married Anthony Dickins. Among their children: Charles Dickins, husband to Elizabeth Devall (a name also spelled several ways) and father to Charles Scrase Dickins.

The Dickins married in 1792, the year grandfather Scrase died. But look what the editors of Fanny Burney’s Journals and Letters has to say in reference to Elizabeth Dickins: “daughter of Mrs. Thrale’s friend and adviser Charles Scrase (1709-92) of Brighton and wife of Anthony Dickins (c1729-94)”. Fanny Burney — close friend in the late 1770s and early 1780s to Mrs Thrale has made mention of Elizabeth Dickins! Alas, my only copy of Burney’s diaries and letters is a paperback selection, with no mention of Mr Scrase or Mrs Dickins.

Now I wonder a little less about how Hester Thrale / Hester Piozzi came to know the Cunliffe family. Yes, the Cunliffes knew Joshua Reynolds; yes, they’d met James Boswell; yes, Lady Cunliffe moved in the circle of the Bluestockings – but now the Scrase thread is weaving through their fabric slightly more boldly. More to come!

* * *

You can read about Fanny Burney’s comments regarding Mrs Dickens (sorry, Charlie!) at Project Gutenberg (1891 edition):

and the 1840s/1850s edition at Internet Archive:

all Internet Archives Burney listings

photo of Streatham Park, at Thrale.com

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Ring around Jane Austen

July 3, 2012 at 9:09 am (fashion, history, jane austen, news) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

No doubt this thrilled readers for its Jane Austen connection. My thrill? The Caroline Austen connection!

I was visiting Sabine’s Kleidung um 1800 (you must view her newest creation) –> which brought me to Biltmore via Living with Jane –> which induced me to click on A Fashionable Frolick and there was the news, gathered from Two Nerdy History Girls:

What GRABBED my attention was this history of the ring, dated November 1863:

 “autograph note signed by Eleanor Austen {Henry Austen’s second wife}, to her niece Caroline Austen, ‘My dear Caroline. The enclosed Ring once belonged to your Aunt Jane. It was given to me by your Aunt Cassandra as soon as she knew that I was engaged to your Uncle. I bequeath it to you. God bless you! ‘ 

The provenance claims it went from Caroline to the daughter of my dear Emma Austen Leigh! (Emma died in 1876, so it makes sense that Caroline would leave the ring directly to Mary Augusta).

Caroline Austen is such a faded, background memory. One of the delights of my research has been little snippets, written by Emma about her new sister or by one of the other Smith sisters noting down their thoughts on “sweet Caroline”.

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18, Folgate Street – Spitalfields

July 2, 2012 at 1:38 am (books, carriages & transport, history, london's landscape, research, travel) (, , , , , , , )

Daniel Cruickshank & the House that Wouldn’t Die
(BBC, 2003)

18 Folgate Street

Dennis Severs House

Intense, operatic.

The smells… the sounds….

Walk through the picture.

INVOKE the past.

Illusion.

Take the tour

 

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