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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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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Viaggio in Sicilia: Meet Lord Compton

July 26, 2014 at 1:59 pm (books, europe, places, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , )

What a FABULOUS *FIND*!!

The ‘miracle’ took place in the middle of the night, a couple of nights ago when I unearthed a RECENT exhibition of sketches done by Spencer, Lord Compton c1823. His sketchbook, in the hands of the Fondazione Sicilia, has been “conserved” and “preserved” and the drawings exhibited in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014:

viaggio4 The exhibition spawned a book and two informative (especially if you speak Italian) YouTube videos – including one showing the sketch book in its entirety (which has no soundtrack at all). viaggio3

The second video (en Italiano) gives glimpses of the condition of the original sketch book, sketches, and their subsequent exhibition.

viaggio2 viaggio1

Spencer Compton, cousin to Emma and brother to Lady Elizabeth Compton (later Lady Elizabeth Dickins) spent many years in Italy with his wife, the former Margaret Douglas Maclean Clephane. Spencer became the second Marquess of Northampton, following his father’s death in 1828.

heyer_cover

A “romantic figure” in this Raeburn portrait (painted in the era of his sketch book), Spencer Lord Compton graced the cover of this Georgette Heyer reprint recently.

viaggio5partial legend from one sketch, in Spencer’s hand-writing

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Leave YOUR Mark: at Memoirture

March 16, 2014 at 1:08 pm (europe, history, news) (, , , , , )

The site where I have been s-l-o-w-l-y posting about my Jane Austen Summer (2007) (further posts can be accessed here), Memoirture, is hosting a Kickstarter campaign for a TIME CAPSULE, to be opened at the next millennium. Yep: a 1,000 years from now.

As readers of TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN know, my research is predicated upon finding primary materials: letters, diaries, portraits, biographies &c. I’ve been lucky, in that the Smith & Gosling families not only retained items, they wrote them in the first place!

Will your blogs and tweets last 1,000 years? I’m not even sure my paper diaries will withstand that test of time. Memoirture’s ambitious project will preserve both written words as well as sound. Join me in supporting this unique project by checking out the Unified Time Capsule Kickstarter Project Page.

Prof Harris

Professor Ruth Harris, University of Oxford

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You’re Invited: Fashion in 1811 Project

January 25, 2014 at 1:02 pm (europe, fashion, history, news) (, , , , , , , , )

Serendipitous Stitchery recently announced a year-long project:

journaljourney

Four costume historians will update monthly the news of fashions in 1811 from:

  • Journal des Luxus und der Moden
  • Journal des Dames et des Modes
  • La Belle Assemblee
  • Ackermanns Repository

JANUARY 1811 is up! Click on the picture for more information on the project, as well as to see and read about London / Paris / Weimar Fashions from January 1811.

Fabulous Project!

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Free Book Download

January 15, 2014 at 9:14 pm (books, estates, europe, history, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Charlotte Frost, author of Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician (who was an uncle of Fanny’s husband, Richard Seymour), has mentioned a book that caught her eye:

Slavery-British-Country-House

Slavery and the British Country House is offered on the English Heritage website. Anyone with interest in “the English Country House” (Downton Abbey anyone?) will find something worth reading here. A lavishly-illustrated hardcover has been produced, but dip in to the *free* PDF of the text.

NB: I had to copy the full PDF address, go away from the site, and pop it in the address line. Try it, if you have problems downloading.

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Sarah Beeny’s “Great British Christmas”

December 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm (entertainment, europe, history, jane austen) (, , , , , )

It was with great anticipation, after hearing this show was to be broadcast this past Monday, that I searched online for “A Great British Christmas, with Sarah Beeny” (originally broadcast on UK’s Channel 4). I don’t know why, but I really believed this was a multi-part series, with the first “hour” dedicated to a Georgian Christmas. I so hankered for knowledge of what exactly “Georgian” Christmas rites and festivities were!

(I kept seeing “Series 1 – Episode 1,” which does make it sound like a lengthy “series”….)

My mistake; the 46-minute, single episode rushes through the Georgians to firmly trot onto the Victorian’s well-trod ground of family, children, toys, and trees. I’m afraid I stopped there, and by the time I got back to watching this particular link had disappeared…. So I missed out on the rest of the Victorian era (if much more remained), as well as all the “war-time” era and whatever of “today” was shown.

[NB: If you see any “video” at the end of my posts, those are WordPress Ads… I’ll try to make a concerted effort to have text and not a photo at the end]

great british xmas1

The show starts off with a lengthy introduction: the rehab project by Beeny and her husband at their Yorkshire property, Rise Hall. Channel 4 “advertises” that a show exists on this rehab project, so, given the length (and the focus) of this Christmas special, less would have been more (dare I use the word “padding”?): however, I’d LOVE to find Rise Hall’s “Restoration Nightmare” online… Will have to look.

great british xmas2

A useful segment on the Kissing Ball — still not sure if this was called a Kissing Bowl or Kissing Bough instead (rather like “Rise” Hall, I would have turned on closed-captioning if I’d been watching this on TV). Was it really only hung “downstairs”? LOVED that when you kissed you plucked off a Mistletoe Berry. And who knew that in churches (only in Britain?) Mistletoe is verboten – except at York Minster!

This is a pretty display; it rather looks, with its candles, very Advent Wreath-like to me (ah, those Germans… already!?)

great british xmas3

This makes me think of my childhood; not because _we_ had a fireplace, but because WPIX in New York City went off-air (can you imagine such a thing nowadays!) and the only picture on the TV was a burning Yule Log.

There was something about your Yule log lasting till Twelfth Night – but as my link isn’t working, I can’t go back and listen to this section of the show. HUGE log hauled in here; LOVE the fruit and cinnamon sticks!! What a scent they must have sent into the air.

It was here however that I rather wondered: who wrote Beeny’s script? Was there a researcher who plucked out of letters, diaries, whathaveyou the very “rites” of the Festive Season I was craving to learn about? Or, was there some secondary book on, say, Regency Christmases, that — right or wrong — was followed.

There is a book out there (which I confess I’ve never seen in the flesh) that may serve as the basis for an online LIST of GIFTS received by my Emma, used to conclude that large gift-exchanges occurred at this date. Trouble is, I’ve seen mention of items from this list: I suspect it’s Emma’s list of BIRTHDAY gifts (HRO did call them both; but I’m not sure); and one year it’s gifts bought by Charles Joshua Smith (her eldest brother) while on his Grand Tour.

I made one brief note at this point, and can’t relisten: there was talk of attending Church twice. This given as “proof” of the Georgian era’s “piety.” Trouble is, they ALWAYS (horrid weather permitting) went to Church twice on Sundays!

great british xmas4

On to food then – with this woman, whose name I did not note at the time. Now, _I_ (fussy eater that I am, and not a great lover of meat either) wouldn’t want to eat much of what was on offer either, but “been there before” with the turned-up noses and snide comments. Amanda Vickery’s Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice  “Netherfield” Ball special also had a culinary historian chief; that was, as I recall, quite informative. Pity that route wasn’t taken here.

But then, we were pressed for time, weren’t we…

great british xmas5

One “game” was discussed: that of plucking out raisins (were they?) from a flaming bowl. But my attention was caught instead by the Christmas Cake, and the short discussion of King / Queen for the Day. There is a delightful segment in the Letters of Abigail Adams (yes, Mrs John Adams, later President of the United States), when the couple was resident in Paris. Talk of “No Bean – No Queen,” which I remember to this day. John, alas, does not come off well in his wife’s tale!

I’ll see if I can hunt up an online version of this letter (one of my favorites!); written to her sister, it is not at the major site of Adams correspondence.

great british xmas6

Must confess to being rather disappointed. Of course the link I used to watch half thursday night was down by yesterday. A few comments of the “rude” Georgians and their kissing ball (bowl? bough? not sure what she said!), few more about their “crude” food and “rude” adult games (those flaming bowls). Then it was on to toys and kiddies, trees and “traditional” Xmas.

I will try to post about the “Christmas” I have found via the Smith-Gosling family – but, like many things, what they took for granted they did not always expressly comment about.

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Three Births: December 1791

September 28, 2013 at 11:24 pm (europe, history, people, research)

3births

The Scots Magazine for December 1791 had three birth notices that caught my eye. I found it through a search for Maclean Clephane.

Look! Margaret Douglas Maclean Clephane was born a week before her future sister-in-law Lady Elizabeth Compton.

Lady Compton (née Maria Smith of Stoke Park; the future Lady Northampton) had lain in at the home of her parents, Sarah and Joshua Smith. Frances Elizabeth was her fourth child. Poor Maria! only her second and fourth children survived. Spencer Joshua Alwyne Compton was born in January 1790.

Mrs Douglas Maclean Clephane would have a total of three girls. Anna Jane was born in 1793 – but Mrs Maclean Clephane lost her husband while expecting her last daughter, Wilmina, in 1803.

What is the third birth, you ask?

Empress Maria Teresa of Austria…

Ah, when I first read this, I thought notice of Maria Luisa‘s birth called Maria Teresa the “comfort” of her husband! Tonight I see my mistake: that ‘s’. It of course reads that she is the ‘consort’ of her husband. This babe, too, in the end will concern us: she married, as his second wife, Emperor Napoleon.

Compton_Margaret and Marianne_Harriet Cheney

check out other
marriage-birth-death notices

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Mona Lisa Mystery

August 9, 2013 at 10:46 pm (europe, history, portraits and paintings) (, , , )

Imagine… delving into portraits this week, and Today’s news surfaces about “THE” quintissential portrait: Mona Lisa. The hunt is on to solve of the mystery of her real-life identity. Watch and Read:

mona lisa

 

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Edward Odell’s Writing Box

July 21, 2013 at 12:20 pm (books, diaries, europe, history, people, research, travel) (, , , , , , )

As I neared the end of Lord Ossory’s diary — he has reached home (Kilkenny, Ireland) and returned to the bosom of his family, but now writes some thoughts about his impressions of the trip, especially the well-explored Island of Sicily (which he will later publish about) — I came across this rather shocking passage:

We left London at night on Tuesday

for Wednesdays packet. At Maidenhead we

had the pleasure of finding that some [brute?]

youth had put his hand into the hind

seat of the carriage, & bagged our two writing boxes.

We had unfortunately left Benelli {Odell’s servant} behind,

instead of taking him down to Bristol.

Odell lost a good many things of value in his.

I luckily had not left any thing very precious

in mine, but it was provoking

losing it after it had travelled so far

without damage. It was full of letters.

I have a great recollection of Odell meeting with Mamma Smith (more than once?), after his return to England in January 1833, and went to re-look up those winter events. In Emma’s journal, there is this entry for 8 February 1833:

Read Mr Odell’s journal of Drummond’s illness

Of course even at the time of transcribing that particular passage my heart skipped a beat: Odell had kept a journal!

That makes sense, though: Drummond had kept a journal; Ossory had kept a journal; Odell had hoped to publish about the trip – so why wouldn’t he have kept a journal.

Having now TWO of the three journals at my disposal, thoughts turned to, ‘Wonder where Odell’s journal might be? with family? in an Irish archive? lost to posterity?’

So last night I turned to the letters, so see what else was written around this time period — and began my reading with Drummond’s own letters written in the spring of 1832. Mamma, displeased that he had said nothing about wanting to go abroad with Odell, had quite evidently shown her displeasure. What exists (in copy) are two letters Drummond wrote, in response, confessing to a long-standing (since their Harrow days!) desire to travel together; that he would never think to ask anyone for money for such a trip but Mamma; that he never concealed a trip from her, only never had anything concrete to ask her consent about.

Poor Mamma! how she must have been beating herself over ever giving this permission.

And yet, Drummond was such a favorite – and he made a good case, by saying that he had been at Cambridge for three years (his eldest brother Charles had only done two years, and then took a lengthy trip abroad — though Drummond recognized that as eldest son, Charles had more money!) and was about to take his examinations. How could Mamma have ever hardened her heart and made him stay home.

Only 20 years old, Drummond was the youngest of the three travellers. Mamma – from what you read in Ossory’s diary of Drummond’s illness – would not have left him to fend so much for himself, and probably would have had him treated quite differently, and by different medical men. I think she would have removed him from Sicily far in advance of his lowest days, and I do wonder how much had the (in)actions of Ossory and Odell contributed to Drummond’s death.

Ossory’s diary rather exposes an indifference; what would Odell — a close friend to Drummond — have written in his journal at the time everything was unfolding?

Now, a “brute hand” may indeed have removed the evidence! If Odell’s journal was in his writing box.

At the same time, would the Smiths have been satisfied with merely reading Odell’s journal; or would one of the industrious sisters have copied it out?! Time will tell if more (letters and/or diaries) turn up regarding Sicily – November 1832 – Drummond Smith – Edward Odell of Carriglea – Lord Ossory of Kilkenny.

regency writing box

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