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
While looking for something completely different I unearthed a startling revelation about “Aunt Emma”: When still a very young girl, she won a GOLD MEDAL for DRAWING:
Joshua Smith’s household, when in London, lived at 29 Great George Street, Westminster – this simply has to be the same person, his youngest daughter.
From the few pieces I have seen, Emma did indeed have a great talent for drawing – and a great enjoyment of it, for she filled many albums. Is this copy of Veronese’s “Woman taken in Adultery” somewhere among them?
In 1790, she would have been just Sweet Sixteen.
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