Marylebone: the Art of Painting

September 4, 2017 at 8:08 pm (books, entertainment, london's landscape) (, , )

Watching a recent episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?,” featuring Charles Dance, there came an intriguing moment for _me_ when he chased after an ancestor who had a shop at No. 83 High Street, Marylebone.

It began when Charles Dance encountered a husband/wife pair of portraits. Knowing the husband was officially “an artist,” he simply had to track down some of his work (which he secretly hoped would lead back to the portraits, i.e., a portrait of his wife by the artist and a self-portrait).

His ancestor, Charles François FUTVOYE caused a LOT of comment. “Unusual name” was the gist of the consternation. When the following turned up in one of the London papers which _I_ have often consulted, MY ears perked up!

futvoye_ad

Charles Dance was related to a man who taught “Japanning” to the “Nobility and Gentry”. The above ad ran in 1829. Could any of my Smiths & Goslings visited his shop at No. 83 High-street??

For the older girls, married or marrying by 1829, some of them with young children, their desire for Japanning may have been lessening. And, like Charles Dance, I could well imagine that SUCH an unusual name (the man had emigrated from Spa, Belgium) would have caused me no end of consternation during transcription. So, even if he’s there, his name could be misspelled!

I did search, with no luck, Emma’s diaries from the 1820s; I’ll go back further – and also take a look through all the letters, to see if anything turns up. No. 83 High-street would have been a ten- to fifteen-minute walk from Portland Place. Mr. Futvoye also sold art materials. Anything is possible, therefore.

Today the premises is a lovely bookshop: Daunt Books for Travellers.

futvoye_shop

Recent fans will join Charles Dance’s newly-found kin in wanting to hear about Game of Thrones (his role: Tywin Lannister); I remember him most fondly for The Jewel in the Crown (his role: Guy Perron).

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Capability Brown @ the Royal Horticultural Society, London

October 17, 2016 at 12:59 pm (estates, history, london's landscape, people) (, , )

If you missed the installation “A CAPABLE BUSINESSMAN” at London’s Lindley LibraryRoyal Horticultural Society, you’re in luck: the internet is able to help.

Back in August 2016, the RHS posted this press release, alerting fans of Capability Brown that the Society’s copy of Brown’s Account Book was going on public display.

account-book

Calling Brown “one of the 18th century’s most successful and pioneering businessmen,” the research into this account book has revealed the “astonishing amounts” paid to Brown – and I can say, for Castle Ashby, by one of the Earls of Northampton! (the 9th Earl being uncle to my diarist, Emma Austen)

“Mostly written in his own hand,” Brown’s clientele numbered 125 individuals in this book alone (dating from 1759 until his death in 1783).

The book descended through family, and – though loaned to the Society in the 1950s – has now been donated to the Society.

The display coincided with the (ongoing) 300th Anniversary of the birth of Lancelot “Capability” Brown.

Clicking on the photo above will bring you to the online “copy” of Brown’s Account Book.

The London Parks & Gardens Trust also featured Capability Brown in its newsletter; some articles are found online.

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Hamilton at Work in London

October 8, 2016 at 4:31 pm (books, entertainment, london's landscape, news, travel) (, , , )

This was the scene Last Sunday, at the Victoria Palace Theatre, London:

vic-hamilton1

As you can see, the refurbishment – HAMILTON is to open in October of 2017 – is underway, yet also under-wraps. This (below) was the street scene in the past:

victoria_palace-2011

This past summer, stories ran about the refurbishment, including this article in The Guardian, which claims a £30 million price tag.

vic-hamilton2

I must admit, having been in New Jersey (near the site of the Hamilton/Burr duel), and taking in the lyrics so in praise of New York City (“in the greatest city in the world”), it feels as if a little will be lost in translation. NOT that I think fans won’t be queuing for MILES to get tickets.

For once, the BRITISH look forward to something AMERICAN coming to them after being a ‘hit’ in the States (the shoe is usually on the other foot).

vic-hamilton3

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Founding Father in London

July 4, 2016 at 1:35 pm (books, history, london's landscape, travel) (, , )

Franklin in LondonA perfect “4th of July” read for anyone interested in the “founding fathers” and the ties that continue to bind the U.S. to the U.K. : George Goodwin’s Benjamin Franklin in London.

I have acquired and enjoyed books on Franklin’s sister – Jill Lepore’s 2014 Book of Ages and Carl Van Doren’s 1950 Jane Mecom – so Franklin in London seemed a good off-shoot (as Jane’s life is typically told through the remnants that exist, and they pretty much deal with her famous brother).

Also, not too long ago, I saw a FASCINATING PBS show, part of the series SECRETS OF THE DEAD, entitled Ben Franklin’s Bones – which uncovered the ‘secret’ behind skeletal remains unearthed in Franklin’s Craven Street House (now a Franklin Museum, which offers architectural tours and also “historical experience” tours).

There is a ‘bridge’ section in Goodwin’s book between the voyage to England Franklin took as a young man and the long stay later in life. So readers do get a rounded idea of Franklin throughout life, not just the years lived abroad.

One source for Goodwin is the 3-volumes of biography by J.A. Leo Lemay; the full “life of Franklin,” in twice as many volumes, was cut short by Lemay’s death in 2008.

Franklin’s stay in Craven Street gives a slice of life in London not often gleaned – he was an important personage who was sought after by many. For those of us with an affinity to the European years (ie, Abigail Adams in France & England), Goodwin’s Benjamin Franklin in London is an excellent addition to any bibliophile’s library.

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The Pad Fad

February 10, 2016 at 6:18 pm (entertainment, fashion, history, london's landscape) (, , )

Kleidung um 1800 has a FASCINATING discussion, centering on a Fashion Fad circa 1793.

mode_1785-1793

Sabine has found evidence of a CRAZE (which she believes helped “raise” the waistlines of ladies’ dresses thereafter), whereby young girls and women used padding to look pregnant. My favorite thing about the cartoon (above): the “‘Virgin’ Shape” in the middle. Having lived thru the crazes of Pet Rocks and Mood Rings, anything is a possible fad. But I do find myself shaking my head and chuckling over the Pad Fad. Click on picture to find out MORE!

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Roehampton Grove – a brief video

July 29, 2015 at 10:35 am (estates, history, london's landscape, research) (, , )

Always on the lookout for something different, I was DE-LIGHT-ED to find a brief (1.40) video, mainly outside, but a few glimpses at the interior, of ROEHAMPTON GROVE. The Gosling estate from mid-1790s to the 1850s (it sold out of the family following Bennett Gosling’s death), Roehampton lies at the very CENTER of my research. One day I’ll visit it…

Although not quite two minutes’ long, the history of the house is nice — so if you watch, do turn on the sound!

roehampton stairs

Of course, interiorly, the house the Goslings knew – especially NOW that the building belongs to Roehampton University and is used as an “academic building” – is maybe present, maybe gone in any given room. Still, this once was Mary’s HOME!

roehampton fireplace

 

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FABULOUS Thames Trip (online)

April 24, 2015 at 9:57 am (london's landscape, places, portraits and paintings, research, travel) (, , , , )

Last night, searching for biographical information about the Sharpe family, as well as trying to RE-find a book on London Bankers (which I had had to interlibrary loan, once upon a time… Thanks, Internet!!), I came across this WONDERFULLY evocative Trip down (or up) the Thames.

This is what I first stumbled upon, notice of Rothbury House “now” [in 1829] occupied by “Benjamin Sharpe, a wealthy banker, and his family.” There were at least TWO Benjamin Sharpe partners at Goslings & Sharpe (not sure how much they overlapped) – father and son.

thames2

I hadn’t noticed last night that the image darkens everything EXCEPT the dwelling being considered. (VERY useful.) What _I_ noticed was the FABULOUS “painting” of the villas and woods and scenes that I could “sail” past. Like this Chiswick vista,

thames

I strongly recommend the website and project, Panorama of the Thames. A digitized 1829 panorama from London to Richmond, you can catch a whole ride on the river (press the “restart” button on the screen), or dip in at any point you wish to see (press the “Back to River Map” button). Historians will appreciate the Georgian London tour. ALL travellers and London-fans will thoroughly enjoy the 2014 panorama in photos! Although it’s hard not to lament when one sees side-by-side Battersea Church surrounded by trees and Battersea Church overtaken by tower blocks!

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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:

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Night at the Museum

August 13, 2014 at 11:19 pm (a day in the life, diaries, entertainment, london's landscape, people) (, , , , )

A FABULOUS FIND! Always seems to happen when I stay up super late (two or three a.m.)… As usual, in looking for something completely different I found this VERY USEFUL Smith & Gosling tidbit.

Housed among the superb WALLACE COLLECTION (Manchester Square, London) is a Visitors’ Book for Meyrick’s Armory. When Charles noted the visit in his diary, I have to admit: I was baffled when transcribing it.

BUT: Charles SIGNED Meyrick’s book!! Alas, the online version is only a transcription (though page one, with visitors King George IV and Sir William Knighton exists in a small image).

The first inkling _I_ had was when transcribing this sentence by Charles in March 1829:

meyrick1

The text reads:

Went to see Dr Meyricks very curious
collection of armour dating back
to the earliest periods  no plate
armour before  Edward IV  all

meyrick2

[next page]

the armour previous was
chain  –

As you can see, his entry was curious, mainly because of his difficult handwriting — until I knew something about Meyrick.

meyrick3

The armoury collection was located then at 20 Upper Cadogan Place, London. Sir Richard Wallace acquired Meyrick’s collection in 1871. Charles seems to have visited all by himself. The visitors’ book tells a different story, with three successive signatures:

Sir Charles Smith  Suttons  Essex
Mr Spencer Smith  Portland Place.
Mr Bennett Gosling  6 Stone Buildings Lincolns Inn

So, Charles arrived with his brother Spencer and their friend / next-door neighbor / Charles’ brother-in-law, Benntt Gosling.

Who knew?!

The other surprise came with the listing of Benntt’s residence: I knew he had qualified for the bar before ultimately joining the family banking firm Goslings & Sharpe; but never realized he lived for a time at 6 Stone Buildings!

As the introduction to the visitors’ book indicates, Dr Meyrick dissuaded people from signing more than once – so when Charles returned on the 25th he is not listed, but his companions are:

Went to Dr Meyricks with L. Christie  Mother  Augusta   H Wilder

and there they are in Meyrick’s book; though the typescript has suffered a misread: Henry has changed sex and become his own wife! (they weren’t married even yet) Here’s the typescript (with corrections in brackets):

Mrs Smith & Daughter        [Mamma and Augusta]
Mrs. [sic] Henry Wilder  Purley Hall Reading     [H Wilder]
Miss Gosling                           [Elizabeth Gosling, future Mrs Christie]
Langham Christie  Preston Deanery Northampton     [L. Christie]

Mary’s diary for these dates are BLANK on the 6th of March; and only mentions “Baby free from sickness” on the 25th. GROAN!  There DOES EXIST a “mystery” (LADY) MARY SMITH on page 39 (as opposed to Charles’ entry on page 55). Could This Be HER?? Without seeing the signature, I just can’t know for sure.

meyrick

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Great George Street, Westminster

July 16, 2014 at 11:56 pm (books, chutes of the vyne, estates, london's landscape, research) (, , , , )

I have been living in the 18th century lately, and in looking for the Smiths at No. 29 Great George Street, Westminster, came across this Newspaper advertisement in 1802, when No. 15 (across and a bit up the street from the Smiths) was for sale:

“No. 15, SOUTH SIDE of GREAT GEORGE-STREET,
WESTMINSTER

To be Sold by Private Contract, by Mr. CHRISTIE,

A Singularly elegant LEASEHOLD HOUSE, with two coach houses, roomy four-stall stable, &c. … with views from the balcony into St. James’s Park and Westminster-bridge, from which a most perfect free circulation of air rendering the premises chearful, airy, healthy, &c.  The premises have, on the parlour floor, a library, dressing room, and elegant dining parlour, spacious entrance hall, with folding doors, paved with marble; first floor, a suit [sic] of three spacious apartments, the two principal ones laid together occasionally by folding doors, the windows of the front room opening down to the floor into balconies; four spacious bedchambers and patent water closet on the second floor; five excellent bedchambers on the attics, principal staircase of easy ascent, and back staircase; basement story, butler’s pantry, housekeeper’s room, store room, and excellent wine cellars, servant’s hall, detached kitchen, wash house, and laundry, capital arched vault for pipes of wine. the premises have been recently put into the most elegant and complete repair, fit for the immediate reception of a large family. The locality of the premises to both Houses of Parliament, St. James’s Park, Westminster Bridge, and within one shilling fare of Court, Places of Amusement, &c renders the premises particularly eligible. — To be viewed with tickets, and further particulars known in Pall Mall.”

george street

No. 29 is prominently marked “XIX”; No. 15 is the first on the right, right below the letter “T” in Street. Reading letters from the 1790s, when three men were living at No. 29 — Joshua Smith and his sons-in-law Charles, Lord Compton (of Castle Ashby in Northamptonshire) and William Chute (of The Vyne in Hampshire) — were ‘bunking together’ you get the impression of it being a NO PLACE FOR LADIES! Too little room? too many additional servants? Hard to tell the exact reason why. All three men were in Parliament; and a ‘bachelor establishment’ was probably just not the most conducive place to be!

In the mid-1790s, “the Ladies” would have included:

  • Sarah Smith – Joshua’s wife
  • Lady Compton – Charles’ wife (Joshua’s eldest daughter)
  • Spencer and Elizabeth – the two Compton children
  • Eliza Chute – William’s wife (Joshua’s second eldest daughter)
  • Augusta Smith (Joshua’s third daughter)
  • Emma Smith (Joshua’s fourth and youngest daughter)

That’s SEVEN more people, never mind maids and nursery staff.

From such a list, how could one possibly pick and choose?

I’ve long looked at the excellent series of BRITISH HISTORY ONLINE, but have also looked at the book SURVEY OF LONDON (from 1926) online at the University of Toronto (Great George Street is in vol. 10), which has many in the series. Must confess, it gives the entry an entirely different “feel” to see the BOOK!

“DEMOLISHED” is such a horrific word to see…

I sure hope the bits & pieces said to be “preserved” in the Victoria and Albert Museum still exist!

* * *

EXTRAS:

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