The Power of Anonymous

January 1, 2016 at 9:31 pm (books, carriages & transport, diaries) (, , , )

You may have gotten the idea, from the previous post, that I’ve been working on a diary – which (I believe) has no “beginning” and no “end”.  Written in 1819, the volume begins at Plymouth Dock on Saturday August 28th; it ends at Glastonbury on Wednesday September 29th. I would presume that Emma (Aunt Emma; I should be specific and differentiate between the two “Miss Emma Smiths”) left and returned to Erle Stoke Park, her deceased father’s Wiltshire estate. Emma could be found there into the spring of 1820, when letters discuss her packing up the house; in its bareness, it’s looking forlorn and melancholy.

Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith (above) had died earlier in 1819. At one point Aunt Emma makes an oblique reference to the lonely feelings his death produced in her, his youngest (now “orphaned”) daughter. Otherwise, the diary really doesn’t discuss must of a very personal nature. She tours, meets people, loves places, hates places, has a horse go lame, and sketches a few times. Although I don’t have an image of the fly leaf, I suspect it was blank – or at least not ID’ed by Emma herself (a later owner sometimes writes in them). Therefore, except for the fact that it was one of MANY items belonging to Emma Smith of Erle Stoke Park (not the designation the library gives her, by the way), how could ANYONE know who wrote such a diary?? – if the beginning of this trip, or its end turned up as a single volume, for instance – there probably is NOTHING within it that ID’s Emma in any way. She doesn’t mention her name; she has no parent, relation, or named-companion. All there is that ID’s her is her spiking handwriting:

aunt emma 1819

Very distinctive, isn’t it?

And I have access to OTHER travel diaries, one of which (from 1794) is referenced in this 1819 diary – for she heartily wishes to see once again the estate known as Fancey (or Fancy?) in Devonshire, where she stayed as a younger woman with all her family. That trip, too, “ends” because the booklet ends; but most travel diaries seem to depart from home and return there. These two volumes do not.

So, if out there with (really) no clues about the writer beyond “woman”, I started looking in some obvious places for a further continuation of this 1819 diary: in the Wiltshire Archives, in the Devon Archives, in the Plymouth Archives. Of course, not ALL items are listed online. And without SEEING the writing, I cannot guess ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when the online description gives ANONYMOUS DIARY as a sole indentification; not even a DATE!

A few interesting items did turn up. For instance, I found the website EARLY TOURISTS IN WALES, which I discuss at greater length on my Ladies of Llangollen blog. I took yet another look, this time concentrating on the “Anon.” entries, at William Matthews’ British Diaries: An Anotated Bibliography (there are others out there, including the Ponsonby series). Oh! there are so many anonymous diaries; any of them could be by ANY of the Smiths (given a certain time parameter, of course).

One he mentions – for 1819 – is most tantalizing: “Travel diary, July-August, 1819: pleasure and business trip to Dublin and back; acute observation and dry humor; one of the better travel diaries.” It is held at the Wigan Public Library, part of the EDWARD HALL COLLECTION (if Matthews’ information, from 1967, still holds).

The use of the term BUSINESS makes me presume a male writer; though: you never know; Emma DOES write that same word at last once in her diary. It would be most intriguing to think that she went further afield – to Dublin – and then to Devonshire. It IS possible.

MY Emma (young Emma, as she is sometimes called in the family in the 1810s) [though, PLEASE, do not think of Aunt Emma as “old Emma”!! she wouldn’t like that…] seems to have made very little mention of her aunt in her diary for 1819. Though strife in the family cannot be discounted as a reason for silence.

In short, I simply do not KNOW where Aunt Emma went or what she did, except for these few weeks.

But what a pipe-dream to take with me throughout 2016: the idea of putting a name to some ANONYMOUS diarist’s volume.

Best Wishes to you, for a happy & healthy 2016

 

Advertisements

Permalink Leave a Comment

Intrepid Aunt Emma

December 26, 2015 at 1:40 pm (carriages & transport, diaries, entertainment, europe, history, people) (, , , )

First, let me take the opportunity to wish readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen a (belated) “Happy Holidays!”

I’ve been at work transcribing a diary, written by Emma’s “Aunt Emma” (Mamma’s youngest sister, Emma Smith) in 1819. Maddeningly, this diary volume begins already in the midst of this “tour,” and seems to end on a point prior to her return home, too. I hate to say it, but: For every piece that falls my way, there often are indicators of even MORE that is (currently?) MISSING.

However: I have to take whatever I get.

stoke parkErle Stoke Park, Wiltshire

Aunt Emma and an unnamed companion have obviously left from Erle Stoke Park (the estate of the now-deceased [spring 1819] Joshua Smith, MP, Aunt Emma’s father) at some point in the recent past, and arrived at Plymouth Dock in the county of Devon. She opens with a complaint about the proceedings of the morning, but bypasses further elucidation with the comment that it would take “too long” to recount. A bitter loss of information!

Emma and her companion tour the “lions” of Dock (as she writes the place-name); they are shown over several ships – one which, because it is set to soon sail, has its full complement of men (which causes GREAT excitement!!), and also necessitates the ladies being hoisted aboard! They tour from stem to stern and from bowels to poop deck. Amazing that a pair of English citizens could simply ask, and, being treated with “great civility”, be shown around by some one or two of the naval men.

I could go further – but really want to talk today about on specific tiny side-tour taken after they’ve left Dock and come to Tavistock.

Emma, who would have liked to have descended in the Plymouth Diving Bell that EVERY tourist to the area in this era commented upon, desired to descend into one of the Copper Mines. She applied to a Mr. Paul, who was attached to Wheal Friendship. Permission was granted, and Emma writes of “descending” via the SLOPE.

I must admit that the “image” I had in mind when transcribing this section was not at ALL correct. Having read more about Salt Mines in Austria, my idea of a “slope” was more akin to a “slide”. Thank goodness I found a drawing of the tunnel opening at Wheal Friendship:

wheal friendship

Please visit the website (click picture) to learn more about the mine; they offer a fascinating historical overview, culled from such sources as newspapers. I have a feeling the 1816 “report from Mr. Burge signed by Captain’s Bassett, Paul, Sarah and Brenton” points to Aunt Emma’s escort “Mr. Paul”.

Just finding this photo crystallized WHAT Emma was trying to tell me about her experience in entering the tunnel; why the men had to stop working in order for them to descend into the mine; and why “ladies” did not go beyond a particular point (which was approximately beyond 600 yards “instead of nearly half a Mile to where the Miners were at work”). Emma described it as a “wet and rough” descent.

I’m still in the midst of my transcription – and Emma in the midst of her travels! – so will leave it here, but invite readers to take a look at the travels of Mrs. Trollope in Austria (and vol II), published in a memoir from the 1830s. It never ceases to amaze me how intrepid women travelers could be – going where few living today have gone: Climbing hills in long skirts in order to traipse over ancient ruins, descending into the sea in leaky diving bells, walking on to chaotic industrial production floors, peering into hissing steam engines. For them, it was all in a day’s work at pleasuring their inquisitive minds.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Make mine a LANDAU

September 1, 2015 at 10:24 pm (carriages & transport, entertainment, places) (, , , )

Susan Bennett, who’s researching the diaries of Georgiana Henderson (née Keate), has spotted my GOSLINGS once or twice. I suspect they are “Old Mrs. Gosling“, William Gosling’s mother (my Mary’s grandmother, who died in the summer of 1811), for she seems to have been the one to introduce Miss Norford to Eliza Gosling (William’s first wife; Mary’s mother). Susan IDs Miss Norford as “Annabella” – so terrific to have a FIRST NAME! Now she’s a bit less anonymous…

Two others of interest have turned up as well: Mr & Mrs Gregg — who (in company with Mrs Gosling) can only be William’s sister, Maria, and her husband Mr Henry Gregg of the Middle Temple. SUCH a thrill to catch these little glimpses of them in the early years of the 1800s.

cabriolet

Susan also sent me a newspaper “clipping” from 1805 – though the “Mrs Gosling” listed currently remains an unknown. Eliza Gosling had died in December 1803; and William doesn’t remarry until 1806 – so it’s not his wife. And there is always the possibility that any given Gosling is from the branch of the family attached to Francis Gosling (William’s cousin and partner in the banking firm Goslings and Sharpe).

But it’s less about the PEOPLE mentioned than the THINGS: carriages to be exact!

The news comes out of MARGATE (The Morning Post, dated 25 Sept 1805), and concerns the Dandelion Royal Fete. How enchanting to read of the “persons of exalted character” as well as the “sultry heat being tempered by the sea breezes”. Then arrive “the fashionables from Ramsgate”!! And the article’s writer is only too ready to tell you (the audience) which “fashionable” arrived in which equipage; it’s simply TOO DELICIOUS.

My currently-anonymous “Mrs. Gosling” appeared in her chariot

Mrs Gosling 1805

Others (as you can see) came in landaus and curricles (guess none in phaetons or barouches were “prominent” enough to be mentioned!), though some “in full regimentals” came on horseback.

Now, if anyone has a diary or some letters from 1805 which pinpoints which Mrs. Gosling was in Margate and Ramsgate in September… come find me!

Permalink 2 Comments

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:

Permalink 3 Comments

“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’.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Treatise on Carriages

September 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm (books, carriages & transport, jane austen, research) (, , , , , , , , , )

Am currently enjoying a long-overdue re-read of Mansfield Park – am actually getting to know Fanny better than any prior reading. And I wanted to fit inside my head the difference between a barouche and chaise (chapter VIII). Chapman had luckily made mention in the appendix of “CARRIAGES AND TRAVEL” – and turning to that for a brief peek I just had to look up the text cited: William Felton’s A Treatise on Carriages. Chapman cited the 1801 edition; books.google has an edition from 1794. There are a few other “treatises” which look to be of interest as well. Happy perusing!

cabriolet

cabriolet

Read about the servants servicing these carriages and their horses:

Past posts on the subject of horses and carriages:

More on:

UK Carriage Museums:

Permalink 2 Comments

Lady Charlotte, the Gunnings, and Aynho

August 18, 2013 at 10:57 pm (carriages & transport, diaries, history, london's landscape, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Oh my gosh…

Doing just a little digging through Lady Charlotte Bridgeman’s journals, I have come across even more family — and I’m quickly learning why she knew so many whom the Smiths & Goslings knew:

Lady Charlotte’s grandfather, Orlando 1st Earl of Bradford, had a sister named Elizabeth Diana Bridgeman (1764-1810). In 1794 she married Sir George Gunning, bart. Among their children is one in particular who shows up in the diaries of the Rev. Richard Seymour of Kinwarton: Orlando George Gunning, RN. In 1830 he married Richard’s sister, Mary.

Richard’s existing diaries begin in 1832 (designated as volume 4) — so too late to comment on his sister’s courtship and wedding. Reading about Orlando Gunning’s siblings, on the Bridgeman website, made sense of so much: the estate Aynho, in Northamptonshire, was staring me in the face! (I wrote about Aynho last year.)

Published in 1989, Lili at Aynhoe: Victorian Life in an English Country House features drawings of the house by Lili Cartwright (1830s & 1840s); some of her diary entries (how I wish there had been a companion volume with MORE!) are included so that family life is fleshed out. I’ve used this book when discussing naive women artists.

Aynho_colored

Looking it up tonight, I see Elizabeth Cartwright-Hignett included some GUNNING material — for one of Orlando’s brothers, the Rev. Sir Henry Gunning married (in 1827) Mary Catherine Cartwright, one of Lili’s sisters-in-law! So, by 1830, with Orlando Gunning’s marriage to Mary Seymour, the Cartwrights were “family”. In Richard’s earliest extant diary is notation of a visit from Orlando, Mary and baby (the future Di Gunning / Di Liddell).

A quick perusal and I see mention of Orlando’s youngest siblings, Octavius (born 1804) and Elizabeth (born 1803).

Richard mentions the death of “Miss Gunning” — which is one piece from Lili’s diary published in Lili at Aynhoe, from the 17th of March: “This morning’s post brought us sad news! Lizzy Gunning died in London yesterday during the aftermath of the operation which was performed on her eight days ago…”

Richard simply mentions hearing about the young woman’s death, so I have NO idea at all about “the operation”. There is much “trimming” of Richard’s diary, but what is left has this to say about Lizzy Gunning: “This morning {19th} we learnt from the Paper the death of Miss Gunning – an account which I fear will cause much deep affliction to poor Orlando and her other brothers–”

Lizzy Gunning had seven brothers!

She would have been close in age to Richard’s own wife, Fanny (who was born in October 1803).

The Gunnings had lost a young son at the Battle of Waterloo; now Miss Gunning. And in 1852, Lady Charlotte’s diary, as well as Richard’s, discusses the accident of Orlando Gunning, who was riding in company with his daughter Di.

Read Lady Charlotte’s journal, May 1852

Richard’s comments, which last for days, has much of the same information – but I have found out WHY Mrs Vyse (Richard’s sister, another “Lizzy”) is able to open the door to Lady Charlotte: it was the Vyse home (in Chesham Street) that Orlando Gunning was brought to: The Vyses were in Windsor at the time.

Lizzy returned first, then George — both to the news of the death of their brother-in-law.

Di Gunning’s marriage – on December 8, 1852, which took place at Coolhurst (the Dickins’ estate in Sussex) – is the event which opens Richard’s twelfth volume of journals.

I’m off to search for more “familiar” names in the Lady Charlotte Bridgeman journals.

Permalink Leave a Comment

“I am Governess to Mr Gosling’s daughters…”

August 11, 2013 at 10:35 am (carriages & transport, diaries, history, london's landscape, people, research, spotlight on) (, , , , , , )

Been a VERY busy, rewarding week. Have been living in many decades – the 1820s and back again to the 1760s. I never feel that I “get much done”, but little puzzle pieces fitting together to create a larger whole IS one goal of this research, isn’t it?

I’ve mentioned before the need to flesh out the Smith & Gosling households. If you think locating information (official accounts; the letters and diaries are a miracle of survival, and yet who but women carried on such connective interaction?) on women is an uphill battle, try locating those faithful (and also the troublesome…) men, women, children who worked so the town houses and estates ran smoothly.

I’ve long visited the wonder website The Proceedings of the Old Bailey; seen a few cases – but only now think about two things: culling them to fill-in those little moments when one brother or father or uncle appeared in court, the subject, perhaps, of a robbery! And, reading this particular account (see below), it dawned that I could do a little in adding NAMES to the people in the household!

And yet, reading the account with fresh eyes this morning, this poor woman had so much stolen: Perhaps all her personal effects! And with the thought of shedding a little light on a moment of life for MARY ANN HARDCASTLE, I post today.

Mary Ann Hardcastle describes herself in this court document: “I am governess to Mr Gosling’s daughters; the family live in Lincoln-Inns-Fields, and their country house is at Langley.*” These, then, also the addresses associated with this hardworking governess. And when the family packed up to move from town to country, or country to town as in this case, so did she.

[* Robert Gosling was my Mary’s paternal grandfather; the daughters here being Mary’s aunts: Harriet (later, Mrs Alexander Davison of Swarland) and Mary [Maria?] (later, Mrs Henry Gregg, of Lincoln’s Inn).]

At the heart of the case, her DEAL BOX (see a c1800 Welsh “deal box” settle). “I packed up my box on the 27th of November [1783], I never saw the box afterwards, till I saw it in Hall’s lodging…”

Two men were indicted: William Hall (“otherwise Halley”) and John Field; the first for stealing; the second for receiving stolen goods.

Mary Cartwright, the Goslings’ housekeeper, swore to seeing the box set upon the waggon of the Langley Carrier, Thomas Webb. Webb then told a tale of robbery: after delivering “an empty Hamper at Knights Bridge, and a woman at Hyde Park Corner,” he “came to the Running Horse, just below Park Lane….I missed two boxes, the tilt was tore, and the skewers taken out; I had a great many other persons goods; there were two trunks taken out; This is one of the boxes that was lost, the other was much larger and heavier.”

Some items were recovered from Field’s room and accommodations. Among the still-missing: “an apron and some sort of a locket or thing that ladies wear about their neck; he said he had sold them”.

Field claimed to have found the trunk.

While it’s heartbreaking to see the list of simple items stolen from her, to read Mrs Hardcastle’s next statement is a revelation! The statement says much about Field’s actions, but look at what Mrs Hardcastle valued:

“Field immediately took the poker and attempted to open the drawers; he seemed very concerned and very much surprized when my things were found in his possession: I had several letters in my box, some directed at me at Mr. Gosling’s, Lincoln’s-Inn Fields, and some in the country. I had a large parcel of manuscripts, poetry, and bills and receipts, and many things that I valued very much, and Hall had burnt them the night before: the gentleman went down into the kitchen and found several scraps of my papers half burnt; I had likewise a common leather memorandum book which Hall sold for two-pence with the papers that were in it which I valued exceedingly: I had likewise a very large parcel of poetry; Hall afterwards, when I asked him why he burnt them, said, for fear of leading to a discovery, because he meant to sell my clothes”.

I stop here to list the items which appear at the head of the report*:

one deal box, value 6 d.
three linen shirts, value 15 s.
six pair of white stockings, value 6 s.
one dimity gown, trimmed with muslin, value 10 s.
two womens linen riding shirts, value 10 s.
two womens riding waistcoats, value 10 s.
two linen handkerchiefs, value 2 s.
one deal box, value 12 d.
two worked muslin aprons, value 10 s.
one plain lawn apron, value 4 s.
one plain muslin short apron, value 3 s.
two tambour muslin gowns, value 20 s.
one printed muslin gown, value 10 s.
one sattin gown, value 10 s.
one white sarcenet cloak, value 10 s.
two yards of white striped gauze, value 10 s.
a pink silk petticoat, value 10 s.
two muslin neck handkerchiefs, value 4 s.
two muslin night caps, value 2 s.
one silver tissue pocketbook, value 12 d.
one leather pocket-book, value 2 d.
one base metal handkerchief slider, value 6 d.

the property of Mary Hardcastle, spinster.

[*NEARLY FORGOT to include this valuable website: check out the English Costume link, as well as the textiles, to get an impression of the items at the center of this case.]

Other than the boxes and the leather pocket book, there really is NO valuation given to the papers – the letters, poetry (did she write them? did the Gosling girls?) OH TO HAVE THESE ITEMS!!

From a 21st-century perspective, the report ends SO UBRUPTLY! Witnesses for the two prisoners were called; characters given; NOT GUILTY is the verdict passed!

And poor Mary Hardcastle? Some items recovered; others lost. And – seemingly, (given the “caught-red-handed” scenario) – no justice served.

Was the court unimpressed by the simple belongings of a mere governess to follow-through with prosecution? Was Mary Ann Hardcastle literally “robbed” a second time?

A fabulous document, attached to this case, appears online at LONDON LIVES.

hardcastle-cartwright

Beyond her name, I know nothing of Mary Ann Hardcastle; not how old she was in 1783, nor how long she was with the Goslings at this point, nor how long she stayed. The candle that illuminates her life at this moment of such stress, flickers out…

Permalink Leave a Comment

Robert Adam, Architect: Portland Place London

April 30, 2013 at 6:21 am (carriages & transport, diaries, entertainment, estates, history, london's landscape, news, places, research) (, , , , , , )

exterior Portland Place

This is No. 5 – renumbered No. 28 – Portland Place, London as it appears today. There is an extra “attic” story that the Goslings would not quite recognize; a traffic island filed with trees and statues parade the avenue; and there’s the Royal Society for Public Health occupying their premises!

I’ve written a couple of previous posts about Portland Place

But today am writing to say that I’ve posted interior pictures — but to keep these public venues a bit ‘private’, invite Two Teens in the Time of Austen readers to go to Memoirture, a new website specifically for memoirs, memories, connections and comments in order to view them. [UPDATE (April 2015): Memoirture has been taken down; I’ll see if I can refind all the interior shots – but I’m making no promises.]

{NOTE: visitors seem to be able to see the Memoirture write-up and the thumbnails for No. 5 Portland Place, but to view the full-sized photos – or any of the “public” memoirs on the site – you’ll have to log-in; creating an account is FREE and easy.}

A fascinating discussion (now that I know the current numbering!) can be found in David King’s Complete Works of Robert and James Adam: Built and Unbuilt. “Portland Place is a street which the Adams formed and lined with houses. They left the street closed at its northern end by Marylebone Fields — now Regent’s Park — and closed at its southern end, just south of Duchess Street, by the grounds of a large house, Foley House; so the only access to the Place was through side streets.” Langham Place has replaced Foley House, and it was in “New Church, Langham Place,” in 1826, that Mary Gosling married Emma’s brother, Sir Charles Joshua Smith.

all souls_langham place

King notes that “Unfortunately, the facades of the surviving houses have all been altered. For example, all have been extended upwards with an extra floor. … Another important change occurred in the last century, when all the houses were given a rusticated finish for their ground floors — except, of course, for 37 and 46-48 which had such treatment originally. Further, the original paned-glass windows in almost all the houses have ben replaced with something more modern, and most of the houses now have continuous iron balconies at first floor level whereas they originally had separate iron balconettes for each first floor window.” As my book opens in the mews of No. 5 (Mary Gosling’s earliest journal records a journey to Oxford in 1814), describing the surroundings from which Mary emerges, it’s great to see King touch on the mews: “Virtually all the houses were given stables behind. It is possible that many of these stables were given attractive facades to face the back windows of the houses to which they belonged. Unfortunately, while most of the stables survive, almost all have been altered so that atheir original house-facing facades have been lost.” Hmmm…, King uses phrases of unfortunately often, doesn’t he?

King mentions No. 28 (ie, No. 5 Portland Place, the Gosling’s London home), specifically: “There are rather less characteristic [Adam brothers] ceilings in the (larger) front and back rooms on the first floor of 28 and in the two drawing rooms of 42; and much less characteristic ones in the ground floor back room of 28, a small first floor room at the back of 36 and the ground floor front room of 58.” In short, you will see what No. 5 looks like today, but — use imagination! — think of Mary and her sisters, running down the stairs to meet that coach coming around the corner of Cavendish Street.

Permalink Leave a Comment

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.

Permalink 1 Comment

Next page »