Garden Sunshine

February 2, 2021 at 11:59 am (entertainment, places) (, , )

A Hampshire friend sent me a photo of her garden (mid-morning, today, 2/2/21), which I share with readers. Such a spring ray of sunshine to those in areas (New England and beyond) attacked by ferocious snowstorms.

Crocus tommasinianus – called ‘Tommies,’ colloquially. Thanks for sharing, Charlotte!!

Permalink Leave a Comment

1814 London mobs: “Your Windows were Toast”

July 27, 2020 at 5:37 pm (british royalty, entertainment, history, london's landscape, news, places) (, , , , , )

One of the *first* events I ever read about was of the visit of the Allied Sovereigns to Oxford in June 1814. Mary Gosling, the first diarist I uncovered, had visited her brothers in college soon after the festivities, and Mary writes about being on the thrones latterly occupied by Emperor Alexander and King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia.

The allies were partying because of the cessation of the Napoleonic Wars. Of course _we_ (in the future) know that the war did NOT end in 1814…

Elaine Chalus, in 2017, gave a “London Historians Lecture, the subject: the June 1814 visit of the Allied Sovereigns. Although no mention is made of the ball, supper, spectacle of OXFORD, the lecture gives a wonderful feeling of “being there” for the crowds, inconvenience, delight taking place. From the newspapers – publishing every movement; from the “cartoonists” – plotting every moment; from the citizenry – hoping for a glimpse or maybe even a glance or a grip.

Elaine Chalus_2017

Just under 55 minutes. GREAT sound, fun images, and full of information. Stay tuned at the VERY end to glimpse those fashion rages created by the visit: the Blucher Bonnet & Spencer and the Oldenburg Poke Bonnet.

You’ll hear glimpses, too, of the Duchess of Oldenburg (Emperor Alexander’s sister); Betsey Fremantle (whose diaries as Betsey Wynne have been published); and even my “Dear Miss Heber” (a LOVELY group of letters in the book of that title).

  • a tidbit of what Mary Gosling had to say about her visit to Oxford, 1814.

***

I totally forgot to mention the “title” of my blog post: One of the moments at which I chuckled — because of the truth to moment. Prof. Chalus mentioned that a mob broke windows to get a “better look”. When she went on to explain that “mobs” tended to smash windows at the drop of a hat, or, as Chalus said, “Your windows were TOAST” (a phrase _I_ would use myself. My diarist Emma Smith could assent as she lived through just such a ‘crowd reaction’, when Queen Caroline was a polemical figure).

Permalink Leave a Comment

Sydney Smith’s Blue Plaque at York

June 21, 2020 at 10:35 pm (books, people, places) (, , )

sydney smith blue plaque

The Blue Plaque scheme of the United Kingdom brings the homes and haunts of the “famous” to the present-day masses. This April 2019 ceremony unveiled the Blue Plaque for the Rev. Sydney Smith at More House, Heslington, York. Known for his wicked wit, Sydney Smith supplies incisive reading to those lucky enough to grab any of the books based on his letters and published writing.

While awaiting the launch of the *new* website for the Sydney Smith Association, I was pleased to find this lengthy write-up for this dedication.

More House now houses the Catholic Chaplaincy to the University of York. It was Sydney Smith’s vicarage from 1809 to 1814. Smith is connected to the Beach family, neighbors to Jane Austen’s family; the writer may have met Smith in Bath – but more on that story later!

Permalink Leave a Comment

Putting a Face to a Name: Mr. Dixon

February 10, 2020 at 2:57 pm (people, places, portraits and paintings) (, , , )

About a month ago I bought a letter online. Written from the estate Chicksands Priory, in December 1825, it happened to have been sent days after Mrs. Smith and her daughters Augusta and Emma left! Alas, no mention of the Smiths…. But I hadn’t expected to be THAT lucky, to be truthful.

Still, it made me do a little digging about Chicksands Priory itself, and that was when I turned up this portrait of Charles Dixon of Stansted (the estate he later purchased).

Charles Dixon of Stansted

Read about the portrait’s “recent” history (from 2016): “Rediscovered” this lost portrait returned to Stansted.

In the 1820s, however, he and his first wife, Harriet (née Wilder), were tenanting Chicksands Priory. Harriet Dixon was paternal aunt to Henry Wilder, who would marry Augusta Smith at the end of the decade.

Dixon 22Aug1801 marriageThe Dixons’ marriage announcement;
they married on 22 August 1801
(Gentleman’s Magazine)

Once the face of someone who had been only a name is seen, they take on new life in the mind of the researcher. Prior to this I had only seen a silhouette, which possible was produced by Augusta, who was adept at “taking shades.” But more amazing than seeing Dixon’s face, was reading about his philanthropy. Here are a few online articles that I found of interest:

Charles Dixon married, as his second wife, the widow of his former brother-in-law, George-Lodowick Wilder. You will find all the Wilder generations here, in Burke’s Landed Gentry.

 

 

 

 

 

Permalink Leave a Comment

Downshire House, Roehampton

July 10, 2019 at 1:10 pm (estates, history, jane austen, places, travel) (, , , )

Downshire House 2017

Interesting, if brief, post by Roehampton University on the history of one of their buildings, Downshire House. This was once owned by Arthur Hill, 2nd Marquess of Downshire. It was the widowed Marchioness who engaged James Crump – a man who later went to work as her neighbor’s butler – to accompany two sons on a Continental tour. The Hill family have a Jane Austen connection, one that at the beginning of this year (2019) had news of a surprising eBay find: a photo album now owned by Karen Ievers.

I have so far found no references (prior to the Knight-Hill marriages) to indicate any relationship between the Hills and the Goslings, despite being near neighbors. Perhaps the Marchioness did not “associate” with the family of well-off bankers… Perhaps her residency in Ireland and at Ombersley Court meant she was so rarely in town that the Goslings had few opportunities to entertain her. I am *hopeful* (and yet doubtful) of finding reference to them in the diaries of the Hill daughters – but their tale is kept for a later blog post.

Permalink Leave a Comment

George Scharf’s National Portrait Gallery (1859)

February 10, 2019 at 8:33 am (history, london's landscape, places, research) (, , )

The drawings of No. 29 Great George Street, Westminster that I remembered seeing when writing about “Jane Austen’s London, 1815” illustrated this article by Catherine Karusseit, “Victorian Respectability and Gendered Domestic Space.”

In looking for them again, I find the originals at the British Museum. Karusseit clearly denotes two drawings as being interiors of No. 29. What caught my eye was this inviting window seat:

No 29 window seat

“29 Great George Street,” December 1869

You will be able to enlarge the BM drawings just enough to decipher the descriptions (one CLEARLY reads  “the meeting room of the Society of Antiquaries at Somerset House”). I am especially loving the staircase view, which is clearly identified ID’ed as original National Portrait Gallery, at 29 Great George Street. These are drawings by George Scharf. On the staircase drawing, he has noted WHEN (day and what hours) he sketched.

These Scharf images are an *absolute THRILL* to see, especially the staircase view, which I hadn’t seen before.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Life Afloat: Jane Austen & the Royal Navy

February 4, 2019 at 9:55 am (history, people, places, travel) (, , , )

Just reviewed (by Laurie Kaplan) in JASNA News – the newsletter of the Jane Austen Society of North America: Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister: The Life and Letters of Fanny Palmer Austen.

Fanny Palmer Austen

This biography of Bermuda-born Francis FitzWilliams Palmer, Mrs. Charles Austen, relates her short, but adventurous, life (she died at the age of only 24); as well, it discusses Jane Austen’s “naval” novels (ie, Mansfield Park and Persuasion) and the second marriage of Charles Austen.

Six years after Fanny’s death, Charles married Fanny’s sister.

Author Sheila Johnson Kindred has uncovered letters and diaries that supplement the tale. It is harrowing to read Charles’ journal comments, as he continued to pine for his deceased first wife.

Now, Sheila has launched a new book website. Read about Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister on the site that will explore more about “Jane Austen’s Naval World”. Retailers for purchasing also listed.

A highly recommended biography.

I had a novel naval experience little more than a month ago: I visited the Victory, Admiral Nelson’s ship, at the Portsmouth Royal Navy Historic Dockyard. Reading Sheila’s book after that experience, has actually enhanced her discussions of life aboard ship for Fanny Palmer Austen.

HMS Victory

A tour – the next time you just happen to be in Portsmouth, England! – is highly recommended for anyone interested in the Royal Navy in the period of Jane Austen. For a taste, right now, see the “Things to See” section on the HMS Victory website. You can walk the Gun Deck, see “stunning views” from the Poop Deck, and (of course) see the Great Cabin and read the plaque pointing to the spot where Nelson fell in the Battle of Trafalgar. Two extra’s that enhanced the experience of “being there” are the Figureheads Exhibit (keep an eye open for Calliope, my favorite!), as well as related “Victory” exhibits downstairs. And climb the many stairs to see the fascinating history and presentation of the ripped and torn Victory Sail.

EXTRA:

Permalink Leave a Comment

Fanny Price and Portsmouth

November 13, 2018 at 2:28 pm (history, jane austen, places, travel) (, , , )

Author Charlotte Frost recently sent a link (which I’d like to share) to the HISTORY IN PORTSMOUTH website.

What I find most fascinating is the “Digital 3D Re-Creation of Old Portsmouth in 1860” project.

Working with a map, you can click on various buildings or streets, thereby obtaining details, drawings, photographs even of Old Portsmouth. Especially useful for readers of Mansfield Park are the discussions of what was razed (already or soon-to-be), which informs us about the Old Portsmouth as Jane Austen would have known it – as well, the Old Porstmouth Fanny Priced (re-)visits when visiting her “birth family”.

How about a “for instance” with the Fortifications to the South-West:

The text starts off with THE SQUARE TOWER – dating from 1494, but with “stonework” replaced in 1827 (ie, a decade after Austen’s death) and by 1860 in the “state that we recognize today.”

Discussion then turns to THE SALLY PORT BUILDINGS, “in an area that is today devoid of structures.” Some changes to the area took place as late as the 1970s. In this section, there’s some “Sherlock Holmes” extrapolations of evidence to figure out what had been in the area.

A FABULOUS picture of the KING JAMES GATE c1860 shows a HUGE structure dominated by nothing else. The fortifications were defensive in nature, and the King James Gate, of course, provided access. “The moat remained in existence well into the 19th century and appears more or less complete on the 1861 map. The photo [below] confirms the existence of the moat as it shows on the lower left the top of a set of stairs leading downwards from the northern side of the bridge. This could only lead down to the water.”

king-james-gate6

You can see what remains of this gate in a photo from 2009, where the central arch exists in a truncated form. (click the photo, then scroll down)

When on that page, scroll further and you’ll come to the 3D images. The smaller images above the photo is how you change between the (in this case) seven different views of the south-west Fortifications. A short capture beneath each will explain what you’re looking at.

“Navigation” at the bottom of the page will get you back to the main map, and another section of Old Portsmouth to discover! A highly recommend “tour” and website.

Permalink 2 Comments

Grinling Gibbons at Trinity College Chapel, Oxford

November 3, 2018 at 8:42 am (history, places, portraits and paintings, travel) (, , , )

In the summer of 1814, Mary Gosling (one of my Two Teens) visited her two eldest brothers at Oxford University. On her last full day of touring the various buildings and quads, Mary and family visited Trinity College Chapel.

A fabulous online article from 2016, in the periodical OXFORD TODAY, covers the recent restoration of the chapel. Entitled, “Simply Divine: Trinity College Chapel is Restored to its Former Glory,” it showcases the Chapel’s artwork – including the very carvings by Grinling Gibbons which Mary wrote about seeing in her journal!

For me (and you, dear Reader) the thrill of SEEING and hearing about the Chapel is the next best thing to being there. According to the story by Olivia Gordon, the Chapel’s “dynamic integration of architecture, sculpture and painting is unrivalled among England’s surviving ecclesiastical interiors.” Studying the nineteenth century, with its sometimes harsh “upgrades,” it is heartwarming to read that the interior of the Chapel is now  “brought back to glory with a sympathetic restoration“. The “glory” originated in 1694.

Trinity College Oxford Chapel

I also found, in reading this article, that perhaps Mary got it RIGHT when she wrote about the Chapel being “finely finished in CEDAR by Mr Gibbons.” I have long presumed this to have been a misidentification on her part, knowing that Gibbons (and the craftsmen, like Tilman Riemenschneider, whose work is seen on the Continent) worked with LIMEWOOD. However, four pieces, by Gibbons, of the Evangelists, ARE indeed in “Bermudan Cedar, a wood which is no longer available.” Restoration of the Evangelists actually came via old furniture made of the same antique wood!

Another interesting point made refers to the “hands-on” approach taken by the Chapel’s Chaplain, the Rev. Canon Dr. Emma Percy. She even scaled scaffolding, obtaining an up-close view of a ceiling piece, undergoing restoration.

I must admit, reading about the wife/widow of the founder (Sir Thomas Pope) and how she attended service brings to mind how the Salzburg Prince-Archbishops got from the Residenz to the Cathedral (it’s a “secret” you learn about when on a guided tour of the Residenz).

Re-dedication occurred at Easter-time, 23 April 2016; the embedded video (less than 4 minutes) will give you a taste of the gigantic task behind the year-long (April to April 2015-2016) project. It also pinpoints several of the different types of artwork that required refurbishment. More videos and further information about the renovation process and practices are found on the Chapel website. This page, commemorating the Conservation Awards, includes a link to a fabulous 20-page booklet (PDF) on the fully-restored Chapel. (Also accessed via their Renovation page).

Permalink Leave a Comment

Regency Town House

July 18, 2018 at 2:02 pm (entertainment, history, places, travel) (, , , )

I first mentioned The Regency Town House in 2017, when telling readers about a free PDF download of Profiles of the Past. The link still works! So visit the University of Brighton if “silhouettes, fashion, and image” from 1760 to 1960 interests you.

profiles-of-the-past

I first found The Regency Town House website when I stumbled up the Bevan and Dewar Family letters. These were provided to The Regency Town House by a descendant, Patrick Baty – an historical paint consultant.

Two groups of letters are presented – one dating from the 1820s to 1840s; a later group, which covers the Crimean War, date from 1856 to 1870. Interestingly, The mother of Silvanus Bevan III was Elizabeth Barclay; yes, the Barclays Bank family. It was with Barclays that the banking firm of Goslings and Sharpe (the family firm of my diarist, Mary Gosling (sister-in-law to my second diarist, Emma Austen) amalgamated. Small world at times.

The website features short family biographies and also family trees.

You can click on individual letters to read the transcription – as well as explore the images of each original handwritten letter!

bright star_letter5

But back to The Regency Town House itself.

“The Regency Town House is a grade I listed terraced house in the heart of Brunswick Town, a Georgian estate in the City of Brighton & Hove on the Sussex coast. It was built in the mid-1820s.”

The volunteers working – in the restoration of this period property, as well as(obviously) the running of the museum, are to be applauded! Dedicated. Enthusiastic. These are only a few of the words one takes away from a visit to The Regency Town House website – so imagine an actual visit to No. 13 Brunswick Square!

NB: My Smiths & Goslings have connections to Brunswick Terrace, which fronts the sea and runs across the “end” of Brunswick “Square”.

An interesting, and useful, part of the website is called The Regency Town House Characters. This includes links to (more) letters and diaries.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Next page »