Garden Rescue: Westbury Court

July 28, 2017 at 12:57 pm (estates, history, places) (, , )

This morning I was “waxing nostalgic”: I had pulled out some original Smith & Gosling documents. One *find* was “the last letter” Mrs. Eliza Colchester wrote to Aunt (Judith Smith of The Grove, Stratford, Essex). It is a precious letter, written in 1826, filled with Mrs. Colchester’s delight at hearing the marriage of Charles Joshua Smith and Mary Gosling had taken place. Eliza Colchester died, and both Aunt and one of her nieces wrote on the cover of the letter “why” it had to be saved: it was the last letter received from Aunt’s very dear friend.

How I’d LOVE to unearth more letters between the ladies (even though Aunt has execrable handwriting!)

Mrs. Colchester wrote from The Wilderness, an estate near Mitcheldean. It was while looking (once again) for information on the family and/or the estate that I came across this delightful blog post about the rescue and resuscitation of the garden at another Colchester (also called Colchester-Wemyss) estate, Westbury Court (Gloucestershire).

“Typically rectangular in shape, classical Dutch style gardens relied on a strong use of symmetry and geometrical form…. But the Dutch style had a short life in Britain. The gardens were incredibly expensive and labour intensive to maintain.”

Gardening specialist James Todman‘s post then goes on to describe the “history” of Westbury Court garden – and the several times it was almost lost. The lack of finances for the Colchesters may indeed have been, in the long run, its saving grace.

After a sale to developers in the 1960s, in 1967 the National Trust purchased “the ruined garden”. Thanks to some historical records, a “restoration” was not only possible, it took place! And you can see the results, to this day. (Visit the National Trust webpage for Westbury Court.) The National Trust claims Westbury Court gardens the FIRST “garden renovation project of its kind”. The garden now displays “how it would have appeared … in 1720”. Although well before the time of “my” Eliza Colchester, I think she’d be pleased! They all so loved a good garden.

You must read James’ original blog post to appreciate the yews, canals, topiary, flowers (click on the 2nd photo, below).

Westbury garden canalWestbury Court gardens: canal

Westbury garden parterreWestbury Court gardens: parterre

 

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James Crump, Butler to Mr. Gosling

July 11, 2017 at 5:22 pm (estates, people, places) (, , )

Yesterday I found a small “treasure” – a letter, written by James Crump, in which he claims the position of BUTLER in the Roehampton Grove household of Mr. William Gosling! The letter is dated August 1820.

roehamptongrove

Roehampton Grove

Thanks to the greater volume of Smith family letters, I have some names of servants within their household. Thanks to Mary’s later diaries, especially those written after the death of her husband Charles, I have some names of servants in the household of Suttons (1830s).

This *find* was truly EXCITING! though I was disappointed in not finding MORE information about the man.

From the small cache of letters (four) found, a little of Mr. Crump’s history can be surmised:

  • he has a daughter-in-law

Therefore, he is older; is married or has been married; has had children – and those children are of an age to have gotten married already.

  • his correspondent is the Earl of Sheffield

In discussing a loan of £20, obtained from the earl in 1814, he must have been part of the earl’s household at the time of the loan. Without a census, which would have answered questions of Crump’s age and position within the household, this question cannot be easily answered. He enclosed two pounds, interest on the loan.

  • one letter was sent from abroad – Brussels

A LONG list of places seen, and one can guess why (in a later letter) he is hankering to get abroad again. As the old song says, “How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm (after they’ve seen Paree)”.

  • same 1819 letter places him in service to the Marchioness of Downshire

It was the Marchioness’ two sons – Lord George Hill and Lord Augustus Hill – with whom Mr. Crump travelled. He describes himself as being employed a year by the Marchioness; he act as courier or travelling servant for her sons. The Marchioness had been widowed in 1801; her sons were a little younger than the Gosling boys. So, at the time of their lengthy trip abroad, they were in their late teens – George, born in December 1801, was the younger of the two (Augustus being born in August 1800). They were children of the late Arthur Hill, the 2nd Marquess of Downshire, and his wife Mary Sandys.

  • by August 1820, Crump was Butler at Roehampton, but looking to go abroad

Two letters written in the summer of 1820 bring us up to date with Mr. Crump. In the earlier letter, he has repaid the £20 loan; in this letter of August, he thanks the earl for the return of his promissory note, and actually refers to having “lived so long in your Lordship’s service”.

It was therefore, between the Brussels letter of September 1819 and the first letter written from Roehampton Grove (July 1820) that Crump was hired as Butler.

One would think, by hinting to the earl that he would LIKE to be a travelling servant again, that Crump didn’t stay LONG in the Gosling household.

But I wonder…

Granted, an unknown name could be misread OR clumsy fingers create a typo, but I searched through letters and found young Maria Smith ending one letter with some curious news.

Maria Smith

Maria mentions the recent move of Charlotte Gosling, the youngest Gosling sister. The very next sentence,  I think, continues Gosling household news. Surely the Mr. Crump or Crumpe (difficult to tell) that Maria then mentions is tied in some manner to the Goslings. The man was soon off, to become steward to Lord Glenlyon, with a battalion of foresters and grooms to supervise. Maria added that the position would be a great change for him! Indeed, _IF_ he had been “butlering” for the past twenty years. The letter is dated 1840.

Like the surmising of James Crump’s early life with the Earl of Sheffield, we can only surmise his years (perhaps) with Lord Glenlyon. AND his years (perhaps) with the Goslings. If anyone knows further information of James Crump, please do get in touch.

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Mrs. Leigh Perrot’s Scarlets for Sale

June 18, 2017 at 9:59 pm (history, jane austen, places) (, , )

You, too, could inhabit the world of Jane Austen: her aunt’s house is For Sale:

Scarlets for sale

This is how the house looks on SAVILLS’ website.  Note that the property includes:

  • 4 reception rooms
  • master bedroom suite
  • 5 further bedrooms
  • 2 family bathrooms
  • 2 reception rooms to second floor
  • kitchen/breakfast room
  • cellar with bar/games room & wine store
  • detached double garage and office
  • gardens of about 1.25 acres

Oddly, the property seems to have acquired an extra ‘t’ – Scarletts – over the years. From the website’s “history”:

Scarletts is the major portion of a magnificent Grade II listed Georgian property built, in the 1760s for Mr & Mrs James Leigh Perrot, the maternal uncle and aunt of Jane Austen. They are reported to have formed part of an inner circle of relatives with whom the Austens regularly exchanged letters and visits. …. The house has a wealth of period features including high ceilings, original fireplaces, deep skirtings and ornate cornicing. It is elegant and beautifully presented throughout.

The front door, with fanlight over, opens to a handsome panelled entrance hall, which has a limestone floor and underfloor heating. The oak panelling is dated 1610 and is decorated with coats of arms of cathedral cities. This opens to a magnificent reception hall with an original oak parquet floor and sweeping staircase with oak balustrade, ornate spindles and risers. The main reception rooms are a delight and are light and airy with large sash windows and working shutters, original fireplaces with gas log effect fires, built-in shelves and cupboards, wood flooring, ornate plaster cornices, wall panels and ceiling roses. Double doors from the drawing room open to an orangery which was added in 2007 and has underfloor heating and doors opening to a wide stone terrace and ornamental pond.

The so-called guide price is £3.5 million, for over 7,000 square feet of space.

Scarlets_Austen Leigh

My interest, though, comes in the 1830s, when Edward and Emma Austen, newly named “Austen Leigh” moved in after Edward’s inheritance from his great-aunt Leigh Perrot. “Talk” of Edward’s inheritance became serious once Mrs. Leigh Perrot met his intended bride, falling in love with dear Emma and the Smiths – perhaps especially her Aunt Northampton (the Marchioness of Northampton).

Emma Austen, nee Smith

 

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1853: Enclosures & Chobham Park

May 26, 2017 at 7:02 pm (estates, places, research) (, )

“Enclosures” – a word embedded with thoughts of public access vs private ownership; “the people” vs “the wealthy”; court cases and even Jane Austen novels come into play.

But to see a recent blog post about Chobham Park and a case that Denis Le Marchant was embroiled in was QUITE the thrill!

I’ve a few letters commenting on Denis and Eliza (Emma Austen’s younger sister) searching for a country estate. I’ve never put my finger on Chobham, as it exists today. Alas, it exists, but in a much transformed house from what Denis & Eliza knew. It also has a NEW name: Wentworth Place! (Who knew?)

Chobham Place 1824

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Fire at Royal Clarence Hotel

October 29, 2016 at 12:06 pm (news, places, travel) ()

Breaking news, just told to me by a friend in the area of Exeter (England):

fire-royal-clarence

The Royal Clarence Hotel, in the center of Exeter, Devon had been burning all day since early yesterday morning (28 Oct 2016) – and news stories now say the edifice is collapsing. A ruptered gas line helped fuel the fire. A drone will help assess damage, but from pictures I look at as I type, so much of it has been destroyed (and that’s not even looking at the interior).

Described as England’s oldest hotel, the building actually has a Smith & Gosling connection: adjoining it was Praeds Bank (1769). The hotel was originally “Assembly Rooms” brought into being by William Mackworth Praed (Emma Austen’s great aunt was born Susannah Mackworth Praed, before she married – in 1800 – Thomas Smith).

Because of the “family” connection, my friend brought me here in 2014; and we had lunch at the cafe next door.

This is very close to Exeter Cathedral; services and a concert have been cancelled.

REALLY hard to hear that the fire broke out in a gallery that was undergoing RENOVATION – that was the tale for the theater fire that destroyed La Fenice (Venice’s renowned opera house) back in 1996.

Of course, as a hotel, paying guests were in their rooms when the fire broke out. No one seems to have gotten hurt.

royal-clarence-hotel_2015<=The Royal Clarence, Exeter, a year ago (2015)                   And “today” (29 Oct 2016) =>

royal-clarence-hotel_nov2016

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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!

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Regency Diaries of Fanny Chapman (online)

July 30, 2015 at 7:03 am (a day in the life, diaries, history, news, people, places, research, travel) (, , , , )

Charlotte Frost (author of Sir William Knighton, The Strange Career of a Regency Physician) – always with her eyes and ears open for tidbits of interest to me, emailed me about this site which is SO terrific that I simply must share it.

fanny chapman

Fanny Chapman (pictured; click pic to go to site) is the author of a set of diaries spanning the years 1807 thru 1812 and 1837 through 1840 (as of July 2015, not yet online). I’m THRILLED because I’ve found brief mentions of Lady Colebrooke, wife of Sir George Colebrooke; grandmother of Belinda Colebrooke (Charles Joshua Smith’s first wife).

The fine “introduction”, which tells about the people and the diaries, can be augmented by another at All Things Georgian.

The Chapman diaries are well illustrated, and have been lovingly transcribed by George and Amanda Rosenberg — who would LOVE to hear from anyone with further glimpses of their own Fanny Chapman and her relations & friends. _I_ only wish my own stash of letters and diaries were as forthcoming on their behalf as their research as been for me (I do live in hope of uncovering more). But, while the Colebrookes were visited in Bath by the Smiths of Erle Stoke Park, the Smiths stayed home or were found in London; they never seem to have lived a time in Bath. Still, I do have NAMES now to be on the look-out for in the future.

prince of wales

From what I’ve read, you will not per se learn about the likes of the Prince of Wales, but the daily life of a sociable woman has its own rewards. The Diaries of Fanny Chapman is HIGHLY recommended – and the Rosenbergs are commended for offering these transcriptions and elucidations to the public.

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Fanny’s Lament

July 28, 2015 at 11:52 am (diaries, estates, history, people, places) (, , )

Poor Fanny Smith — or, I should really say: Poor Fanny Seymour. For her “trouble with servants” comes AFTER her marriage, AFTER her removal to Kinwarton (Warwickshire), AFTER she has begun to set up her own household.

Fanny, of all the Smith of Suttons siblings, settled the furthest away from everyone else. And, as a girl and then woman, used to the quiet of the country at certain seasons but the BUSTLE of LONDON during “the season”, she is finding Kinwarton a little too-quiet. And, therefore, she knows what other will think

And so she informs her sister Charlotte, to whom she turns after a letter arrived asking Fanny to consider hiring a protegée of someone known to Charlotte (who, by the way, is living in London [Cavendish Square] – with husband Arthur Currie).

NB: a protegée is meant to convey the idea of recommendation: A servant (new to the market or simply seeking a different position) whom the friend or relation can recommend to the attention of someone seeking a servant.

My! what an absorbing letter to read! The gist of Fanny’s lament is not that she doesn’t think the woman will suit => Fanny believes the position would NOT at all suit the woman! The woman is too used to fine households (“white gloves” were mentioned…); and her brother is in the household of a titled family. What has the Kinwarton Vicarage to offer other than a stone-floored kitchen – no “housekeeper’s room” at all, as in all the fine house’s the woman may indeed associate with the Smiths: Suttons (in Essex), Stoke (in Wiltshire), Tring (in Hertfordshire). Fanny asks her sister to be candid, to tell the ex-Lady’s Maid — though one of Charlotte’s servants — all the letter contains about the position and the household. Tell this also to the lady who wrote to Fanny, so that she too will be under no misapprehensions.

Alas! Poor Fanny then leaves the door open, for she writes towards the end: IF the woman cares to pursue the position still, let her contact Fanny.

fanny signature

Foolish Fanny!

Now, Fanny had written Charlotte that the WORST scenario she could EVER envision was one where an unhappy servant moans and complains… Fanny may be a new-ish bride (it’s been well over a year since the wedding), but she is no “young” lady: she is in her 30s and well used to the large establishment of her mother’s household (yet, of course, always had her mother on the other side of a letter if advice was required about the said household).

Indeed, it seems, from one short sentence, that James Edward Austen (Emma’s husband) sat Fanny down and told her a few facts about life in the country’s more impecunious rectories. She knew, going into the marriage, she writes Charlotte, that she’d been heading a household where hundreds and not thousands (of pounds) would be spent in a year.

So why on earth does she simply NOT even consider taking “White Gloves” on?

For the next letter finds the woman IN KINWARTON!

Oh Fanny….

The situation is not the happiest, on both sides (as Fanny predicted!), and Fanny, pregnant and planning to move south to be with her mother for her confinement, is already planning to give the woman her dismissal: the plan is NOT to engage her further once they arrive in London. The plan, then, calls for the woman – whom we now know to be nearer 50 than 40 in age (another Lament!) to be unemployed come Christmas, for Fanny was confined in mid-January.

Ah, for MORE in order to know IF this plan was followed!  DID she arrive back in London with a handshake and a pay-off?

Richard’s diary mentions the woman just once: the fact of her travelling separately to Oxford as they break their journey south. Nothing more, as if the household does not affect him at ALL. And perhaps it didn’t! Fanny could write reams to her sisters, laments and pleadings for advice, but Richard can’t even be bothered to note the woman’s arrival or dismissal, or his wife’s unease.

MEN!

So, until more letters come to light – or, more mentions of a woman named Heck or Hook – this story too is a “torso” waiting for a conclusion.

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A Little History: Tring Park

July 6, 2015 at 11:15 pm (diaries, estates, history, jane austen, jasna, places, research, travel) (, , )

We shall see, in the next month or two, if an article I wrote for JASNA-News, the bulletin of the Jane Austen Society of North America, gets published. Otherwise, you may hear about my visit, last May, here on Two Teens. Meanwhile, I invite readers to VERSAILLES TO VICTORIA, a fabulous website talking about architecture & history of “Beautiful places”. Like: Tring Park!

tring-church-and-town

Readers hopefully remember that one of the estates Emma Austen knew as a girl, and lived in as a new wife and mother was Tring – the former home of her great uncle Drummond Smith. Tring has a special “Austen” connection, in that it was in the little parish church that Emma married James Edward Austen. And their first children took their first steps in the rooms of the mansion. A recent “find” among letters is one that pointed out the return of Mamma and Maria (Emma’s mother and youngest sister), in a trip of Mary 1835. The family had moved to Mapledurham in October of 1834! Yet here was a couple of people – and a couple of letters – talking about missing their former home.

And now you can see more the place they so reluctantly left.

Austen_Edward-Carpenter

By 1835, Edward (pictured above) and Emma had moved into their own home. It is from this point that Emma – MY main source for information on her siblings – begins to have her own topics of conversation. Edward’s ill health, the illnesses of her children, the pregnancies of herself and four of her sisters. Edward felt the “Tring Years” to have been special; and _I_ firmly agree! With Charles and Mary off on their own at Suttons, it was everyone else hanging out together at Tring.

mary_emma_entry

TRING was also the beginning of this research project! The above diary entry (belonging to Mary Smith, Emma’s sister-in-law) was the first inkling I had that Mary’s family included Austen family members. Click on the entry to enter the World of Tring Park.

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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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