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

 

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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.

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Erle Stoke Park: The Well-to-do Party!

July 17, 2011 at 11:38 am (entertainment, estates, news, people, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

So much news, so much news — but I simply MUST post and share the following “find”!

Thanks to an Ancestry user, the following was posted — the Miss Smith cited can only be AUNT EMMA! (All her other sisters were married.) Emma would have been about 53-years-old. Joshua Smith had died in 1819 and the estate sold to the Watson Taylors, with the four Erle Stoke park daughters dividing the proceeds, by 1822 (if I recollect correctly).

August 20, 1827
Some Selected Reports from The Salisbury and Winchester Journal

Fete Champetre at Erle-Stoke Park.

On Tuesday last Mr.and Mrs.Watson Taylor gave one of the most splendid fetes ever witnessed in this county. The invitations were principally confined to Devizes and its neighbourhood, but many respectable families from different parts of the county attended; and the number of persons present could not altogether be less than seven hundred. The gates of the park were opened at two o’clock and the company began to arrive. The carriages drew up at the front door, and after passing through a spacious entrance-hall (the butler announcing the names as they entered) the company was received in the library in the most polite and affable manner by both Mrs.and Mr.Watson Taylor. They then passed into a beautiful flower-garden, where, after promenading for some time, they proceeded to the pleasure grounds. The excellent arrangement of the walks in these grounds (extending over 600 acres) and the order and care in which they are kept, excited the highest admiration. In different parts were stationed bands of music.

About three quarters of a mile from the house, and on an ample lawn, gently rising above the water which winds its course through the pleasure grounds into the park, was a temporary erection, 70 feet square, and of proportionate altitude. This erection was neatly thatched, and the pillars supporting it tastefully decorated with laurels and evergreens; within, and on the turf, four long tables, at which 500 persons could sit, were laid; and from the variety and fanciful arrangement of the viands, they had a most pleasing appearance. At a short distance, a room between 60 and 70 feet in length, with an excellent flooring , was erected for dancing, supported by columns decorated with wreaths of flowers and evergreens, forming a beautiful arcade, with a piazza on either side. In front of these rooms, on the lawn, was the principal promenade before dinner, and it is impossible to imagine a more imposing and fascinating scene. No one could view, without delight and rapture, the numerous groups of lovely females gracefully parading to and fro upon the lawn; whilst a few parties perambulated the various walks. Soon after 4 o’clock, the company repaired to the dinner-room, where there was an ample supply of the best viands, the choicest wines, and all the delicacies of the season. Confectionery, in great variety, was provided under the direction of Mr. Kemp, of South Audley-street, whose arrangements evinced great taste and judgement. The room for dancing was, in the mean time, lighted with variegated lamps, formed in festoons; and at half-past five o’clock quadrille parties were arranged, and quadrilles danced with grace and softened animation, to the music of an excellent quadrille band from Bath. Other parties separated to a distant part of the lawn, where the more rural country dance was kept up with great spirit; but the greater part of the company indulged in the pleasures of the promenade.

Throughout the evening, ices and refreshments of every description were distributed in abundance. Variegated lamps forming two large stars, and various festoons in different parts, illuminated the walk leading from the ball-room to the gate at the entrance of the village of Stoke, at which place the carriages were brought up : and it was between nine and ten o’clock before the great bulk of the company thought of separating.

The day will never be forgotten by those who were present; the extreme affability and politeness of Mr.and Mrs.Watson Taylor excited an impression that can never be effaced.

Silk hats, ornamented with flowers or feathers, were generally worn by the ladies; amongst the company were observed, the Hon. Captain, Mrs., and Miss Bouverie; the Hon. and Rev. Canon, and Mrs. Bouverie; the Hon. Mrs. Harris; Sir J.D. Astley, bart. M.P. and Miss Astley; Sir Edward and Lady Poore, and 2 Mr. Poores; Mr. and Mrs. Estcourt and family; Mrs. and the 2 Misses Pearse; Mr. and Mrs.Clutterbuck; Mr., Mrs. and the Misses Locke; Mr. Phipps, Mr. E. and Miss Phipps; Mr. and Mrs. L. Phipps, Mr. and Mrs. Scott, with Miss Jephson; Mr. and Mrs. Salmon, Col. Wroughton, Capts. Montague, Capt. and Mrs. Macdonald, Capt. Tayler, Miss Smith (the daughter of the former proprietor of Erle Stoke Park), Mr. and Mrs. T. Moore, the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Bowles, the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher; Mrs. Archdeacon Fisher; Mr. and Mrs. Ernle Warriner, of Conock; Mrs. and Miss Puget (the widow and daughter of the Admiral of that name); the two Misses Penruddocke; Mrs. and Miss Biggs of Stockton; Misses Salisbury, Col. and Mrs. A’Court, Mr. and Miss Ludlow of Heywood-house; Rev. Dr. and two Mr. and Miss Starkeys; two Mr. Awdrys, and Miss Awdry, of Notton; Rev. Jeremiah; Rev. A. and Mrs. Smith, of Old Park; Mr. and Mrs. Collings, of Sandridge; Dr. Headley, the Mayor of Devizes, and his family; and almost every respectable inhabitant of the town, with several families from Warminster, Melksham, Lavington, &c. Mr. Watson Taylor, with his accustomed attention, sent into Devizes on the following morning, to ascertain the safe return of his friends.

Between 40 and 50 pair of horses were ordered from the Bear Inn alone, upon the above occasion; and the excellent arrangement of the carriages, and the personal attention of Mr.E.Parsons, reflects great credit on him.

***

How must Aunt Emma have felt, revisiting her old home? Or, had she returned time and again in the past decade? Time may tell, as more primary material surfaces – especially about the movements of Aunt Emma.

And what about our Host, Mr Watson Taylor? Ah… That I can more easily answer.

The following comes from Art of England (1930) and has a section on the “Sale at Erlestoke” in 1832:

This [sale], however, was forced upon Watson Taylor, who, after long enjoying a princely income, had failed with liabilities of £450,000 owing to the depreciation of his property in the West Indies. The pictures and furniture of his town-house in Grafton Street came under the hammer in June, and on July 9th Robins commenced a twenty-days’ sale at Erlestoke Park, which is about six miles from Devizes. For the preceding fortnight everything had been on view to the buyers of the ten-shilling catalogues of the four thousand lots. These catalogues were compiled by W.H. Pyne, the artist, and were said to be the bulkiest publications of their kind ever issued. During the days when the house was open to the public special coaches were run by the hotel-keepers from Devizes and Salisbury to Erlestoke and the sale caused as much sensation in Wiltshire as that at Fonthill nine years earlier. Beckford, who came from Bath to see the house and its contents, declared that they exceeded Fonthill in magnificence, and expressed a wish to buy a Paul Potter — one of the finest pictures in the Erlestoke collection…. At Erlestoke, Robins gave his word that everything offered belonged to Mr Watson Taylor and that no reserve price was placed on any of the lost in the sale.

Sir Robert Peel, who was very much interested in Watson Taylor’s pictures, came down with Lady Peel from London to Devizes and stayed a night at the Black Bear (the inn once kept by Sir Thomas Lawrence’s father) in order that they might go over the house early on the following morning, before the admission of the public. A similar privilege was granted to Wilkie…”

Without a reserve, some of the items went for much less than hoped, for instance: “Two thousand guineas were expected for a pair of console tables, inlaid with precious stone and mounted in ormolu, but they were knocked down for five hundred and eighty guineas to Hume, the dealer, who had sold them to Watson Taylor…”

(Some things still change hands: Bonhams has had some Watson Taylor’s furnishing for sale recently.)

***

Read The Bear Hotel‘s history (“Wiltshire’s historic gem”):

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I drove the cabriolet from Wellington

May 15, 2011 at 8:21 am (carriages & transport) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The title comes from the diary of Emma SmithAunt Emma to my Emma (her mother’s sister). The year is 1792 and Emma and her two sisters, Augusta and Elizabeth (not yet Mrs Charles Smith [1798] or Mrs William Chute [1793]), are on holiday:

“We left Stoke at a quarter before eight on Saturday the 28th of July. Mama & Eliza in the cabriolet; Papa, Augusta and myself in the Phaeton; and Richard and Spencer on horseback”.

At the end of her entry for July 30th, as she describes the joyous sights (and sites) of Somersetshire, she appends the words “I drove the cabriolet from Wellington.” When encountered by such a phrase, it rather takes one by surprise: how many women could “drive”? It’s possible that all Sarah Smith’s daughters did; and it was merely Emma’s turn in the cabriolet with Mama. Later in the trip, eldest sister Maria (Lady Compton at this present moment) sits with Mama.

Anyway, reading these early diaries once again this week (a second is from 1794), I thought to begin a series about CARRIAGES. This stems from two things: a tiny book I happened across a couple years ago (at my favorite New Hampshire used bookstore, Old Depot No. 6) – Victorian Horses and Carriages: A Personal Sketch Book by William Francis Freelove and an AGM talk by James Nagle entitled in part “Coaches, Barouches and Gigs, Oh My!”

The book is a later edition, reworked, of An Assemblage of 19th Century Horses & Carriages by Jennifer Lang; both feature the wonderful drawings of William Francis Freelove. (see my prior post about Freelove; and view the drawings at Bridgeman Art.) I now own both, but somehow, the smaller book is more precious to me.

So: What was a CABRIOLET?

In pictures, both that I thought most illustrative date from c1830. I just love this piece, by William Joseph Shayer – The Cabriolet in Hyde Park:

A cabriolet is pretty unanimous described as:

A two-wheeled, doorless, hooded, one-horse carriage; may come from the French cabriole, an indication of its light, bounding motion. A cabriolet can be driven by someone seated in the carriage. The design is intended to accommodate two comfortably. The collapsible leather hood allows passengers to enjoy sunny weather or shelter from rain.

London’s Science Museum has this specimen (photo from Encyclopedia Britannica):

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