Garrow in Essex (1829)

September 18, 2011 at 9:09 am (diaries, history, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This past weekend I’ve given myself a “filler” job – to read through the diaries of Charles and Mary Smith which overlap each other, namely, the years 1829 and 1830.

Charles Joshua Smith began his (extant) diaries July 1826 — on his wedding day to Mary Gosling, although you’d NEVER know it from his matter-of-fact comment about driving Mary to Suttons.

Mary’s (extant) diaries begin January 1829, following the birth of her second child, Mary Charlotte (called Mimi). That other diaries exist — or at least existed — I have no doubt. Charles may have destroyed his former diaries; a loss if the case – as they would have contained comments of his Continental and Russian travels (if going back to the early 1820s), his marriage to Belinda Colebrooke, her death, his engagement (about which I’d KILL to know more) to Mary Gosling in the spring of 1826. Mary’s diaries surely began far earlier than 1829, and given the “holes” in the series, her diaries must have been dispursed between her children – maybe even were resident at Suttons (sold mid-20th century) until the estate was sold out of the family. A couple mysteries still awaiting solution.

So only two years exist in which husband AND wife comment on their daily lives. A lot of illness — and more to come with the decline of Charles’ health (he died in January 1831); some visits to Suttons by Emma and Edward Austen. The marriage of Margaret Elizabeth Gosling, Mary’s elder sister, with Langham Christie, and visits to Suttons by the Smiths and Goslings; and visits to ‘Town’ by Mary, Charles and the children. Charles attends some agricultural courses; obtains new livestock and looks after farm matters; and does his duty at the Law Sessions.

It is March 1829, and Charles writes of travelling to CHELMSFORD (Essex):

“Judges, Chief Baron Alexander & Sir William Garrow; a heavy calendar  about 150 Prisoners, not many very heavy offences”

Sir William Garrow (died 1840), now judge at Assizes, would not retire until 1832.

Charles arrived at Chelmsford on 9 March (a Monday); the following day he writes of the Grand Jury being charged and that he “Dined with the Judges who seemed anxious to have another {unreadable} Sessions established”.

Wednesday, the 11th, was “all the morning” on the Grand Jury; he noted “A very full attendance”. Court was “dismissed” the next day (Thursday, the 12th) at noon.

Garrow first appears in Charles’s 1828 diary, when he is one of the Judges at the Chelmsford Assizes in July. Again the session ran Monday through Thursday. One prisoner (whose case Garrow did not preside over), John Williams, was sent for execution.

Garrow appears by name for the last time in December 1829, when Charles notes his Grand Jury work on Wednesday the 10th. By this time, Garrow, born in 1760, would have been 69-years-old.

Can’t wait for the third season of Garrow’s Law — in December 2011, I heard; will now relish it for yet another different reason: Sir William Garrow and Sir Charles Joshua Smith of Suttons actually met!

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The Austens, Nattes & Suttons

September 16, 2011 at 12:07 pm (entertainment, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Was looking through the wonderful source Jane Austen: A Family Record, by Deirdre Le Faye; wanted to see what she had to say about Jane the artist (ie, drawing or music, but especially music).

Page 50 had this tidbit, regarding the year 1784:

“This year he {papa, George Austen} also paid  £11.9s.0d to Claude Nattes – presumably the artist better known as John Claude Nattes (c.1765-1822) and later to become famous as a watercolourist — who had possibly been staying at the Rectory to give drawing lessons to the children. In later years Henry was reputed to be the artist of the family, and some of Cassandra’s sketches still survive, while of Jane it was said: ‘She had not only an excellent taste for drawing, but in her earlier days, evinced great power of hand in management of the pencil.’ ”

There are a couple Nattes-stories relating to the Smiths! Online you can find two drawings of his inscribed ‘Suttons’ — one called “The Pigeon House &c, at Suttons  Essex/Augst 1st 1811” (pen and brown and black ink over pencil; 12 1/2 inches x 9 inches); the other “Farm yard &c, from the interior of a Barn. Suttons” (also pen and brown and black ink over pencil; 9 inches x 12 3/4 inches).

Peppiatt Fine Art has two articles with the two Nattes works on view, and support text: PDF & website. The PDF provides a nice LARGE image of both works.

For Nattes other Smith connection — the delightful governess Miss Ramsay, I point blog readers to my earlier post on Elizabeth (Grant) Smith, the Highland Lady — who mentions Nattes and Miss Ramsay in her own memoirs!

The picture is from the early edition of The Memoirs of a Highland Lady, found online. The only *kvetch* I have against the Tod edition: No family tree (boy! is it “needed” to keep track of who’s who) and NO PICTURES!

Just spotted this blog post on the Memoir at I prefer reading: enjoy!

I must do a little digging into Nattes’ death date; Le Faye gives 1822; Peppiatt gives 1839.

Wiki Gallery has a fair number of his images online. 42 works at last count! Even one, I see, from Sydney Gardens in Bath — a scene that Jane Austen must have been QUITE familiar with.

Small world, huh?

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Born on this day

January 4, 2011 at 9:55 am (a day in the life, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

by Frenchie (Photobucket)

January 4, 1772 – Miss Augusta Smith, third daughter of Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park (Wiltshire) and his wife Sarah Gilbert, daughter of Nathaniel Gilbert of Antigua.

Miss Smith married, in 1798, Mr Charles Smith (no relation) of Suttons in Essex.

The couple had nine children – including (2nd daughter, 3rd child) Emma — who, in 1828, married the only son of the Rev. James Austen of Deane and Steventon and his wife Martha Lloyd.

Thanks to Mark Woodford, of Networked Robotics, Miss Smith’s 1798 diary has surfaced! In this blog, she is often referred to as Mamma Smith — there are just so many ‘Augustas’, and it’s confusing that she was a Smith before marriage and remained a Smith after marriage… 

So, Happy Birthday Mamma Smith!

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How does YOUR Garden grow?

November 27, 2010 at 11:56 am (books, estates, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

For quite some time now I’ve known of the existence of a letter from Humphry Repton to Charles Smith (the father) of Suttons. Yes, the “great” Repton had been consulted about the Smith Estate! The date of the letter is January 1808.

What was the Smith family like in 1808? Emma was just six years old, and would turn seven in September. Eliza (later Lady Le Marchant) was a mere babe in arms — born just 2 and 1/2 months ago. Augusta (Mamma) Smith’s letters written around this time are just a delight to read because, when written to the older children — Augusta, Emma — she talks so charmingly of the other children, her own parents, their Papa.

Anyway, yesterday I was looking up the online Austen ‘exhibit’ at the Morgan Library in NYC; and took a look at their online ‘exhibit’ for Humphry Repton. Now, Repton is a name known to me, but beyond the faint knowledge that he was hired at Suttons, I’ve not really (yet) delved into his side of the ‘business’. The Morgan changed all that!

Earlier this year they had two of Repton’s “Red Books” on display. These books are what cyber-viewers can now take a look at. I simply cannot imagine being wealthy enough to hire a man who produces such items in the hopes of gaining my business! But then I’m not from a “landed” family in 19th-century England. The above is taken from Repton’s Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, published in 1803 — you find Sutton’s mentioned on page 16. (The University of Florida has an online copy of this invaluable document.)

Hmmm…, Jane Austen has her Mr Rushworth, in vol. 1 of Mansfield Park discuss the improvements made to a “Mr Smith’s” property:

“‘I wish you could see Compton,’ said he, ‘it is the most complete thing! I never saw a place so altered in my life. I told Smith I did not know where I was. The approach now is one of the finest things in the country. You see the house in the most surprising manner. I declare when I got back to Sotherton yesterday, it looked like a prison — quite a dismal old prison.’

…’Your best friend upon such an occasion,’ said Miss Bertram, calmly, ‘would be Mr. Repton, I imagine.’

‘That is what I was thinking of. As he has done so well by Smith, I think I had better have him at once. His terms are five guineas a day…. Smith’s place is the admiration of all the country; and it was a mere nothing before Repton took it in hand.'”

[read Austen’s Repton mentions: Mansfield Park, 1814 edition; a ‘by the way’: Compton, the name Austen gives Smith’s estate is a familial name belonging to the Smiths of Suttons… Coincidence?? or had she been remembering conversations with Mrs Chute of The Vyne?]

These “Red Books” are amazing! The drawings, the overlays that foretold what the proposed ‘improvements’ would look like. The prose, which lay out his thoughts and evaluations of your property.

Well, take a look for yourself: Repton at the Morgan.

Oh! I want just such a book about SUTTONS!!!!

Searching for more of these little red books, I find that the “Red Book” made in 1791 for Claybury (then owned by the Hatch family) still exists. The Smiths often visited the Abdys, who inherited, at Claybury. What a treasure Repton has left behind, never mind what pride he must have taken in presenting his work in this manner.

Needless to say, if anyone’s attic or closet turns up a little “Red Book” about Suttons, Essex, Seat of Charles Smith, esq — come find me!!

further readings:
See Repton at Dagnam (another estate the Smiths often visited).
Read about Repton and these “Red Books”; listed are several well-known properties, including Stoneleigh Abbey.
Sheringham Park has its “Red Book” on display (National Trust). It was published in facsimile in 1976 by Basilisk Press.
Oulton Hall’s Red Book is mentioned here as being in the West Yorkshire Archive, as well as some published in Country Life (1987).
A 24-page PDF of Hampshire’s Historic Parks & Gardens.

In the end I could not help but include this tidbit from the Hatchlands’ Red Book, for it so makes me think of Pride & Prejudice:

“In the situation of a house, its aspect ought to be the first consideration, and not the views it may command: a good aspect is a perpetual source of comfort to the inhabitant; while a fine view is rather a transitory subject of admiration to the stranger.”

Though I will say, even an ‘inhabitant’ enjoys the transitory admiration of a view every once in a while, I just think of Darcy and Elizabeth: a stranger perhaps when she views the park from the windows, but soon to become mistress of all she surveys! Little things sometimes explain volumes about a small, short passage in Austen’s novels.

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A Plea

July 19, 2010 at 7:55 pm (estates) (, , , , )

Got a comment in which a former student studying at Hassobury (Farnham, Essex) in the 1960s looks for stories, pictures, etc. from anyone at the boarding school at the same time. Feel free to email me in order to make contact! (I’d love to hear stories too…)

According to SEAX, the catalogue of the Essex Record Office, the school was for girls; they have a log book from 1972-75.

If anyone could let me know the name the school functioned under, it might help!

some “memories” found online (Pat Kings née Redman):

http://www.francisfrith.com/farnham,hertfordshire/memories/hassobury_84411/

http://www.francisfrith.com/farnham,essex/memories/hassobury-school-farnham_80501/

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Buying a Slice of Suttons

July 9, 2008 at 11:07 am (estates) (, , , )

Even spending time behind the wheel (how I hate those roundabouts!), I could not locate Suttons, the Smith estate which papa Charles Smith purchased (reportedly, for £15,725) in 1787. It was sold out of the family in the 1950s.

A healthcare facility at the time of its closure in early 2002, the building and its seven acres was put up for auction. The auction guide estimated a selling price in excess of £1.6 million and described the property as:

‘a substantial detached Grade II listed former care home… Second floor: 8 rooms (all with bathroom/shower facilities), Mezzanine floor: 3 rooms… First floor: 11 rooms… Ground floor: 14 rooms, kitchen…, Basement: Boiler room, games room, sauna, kitchen, lockers, shower/WC. … for refurbishment and conversion back to residential use – 10 flats’.

Five of those ten flats are now [July 2008] up for sale, through Savills in Chelmsford (Essex); asking prices begin at £375,000. If only the exchange rate was two pounds to one dollar (instead of the other way ’round)…

For those of you with a heavy purse, here’s an exterior shot (which can be found at www.savills.co.uk).

As a side note of interest, in the 1851 census, Mary’s brother Robert Gosling has listed the following household staff at his country estate Botleys (near Chertsey, Surrey):

coachman
underbutler
two footmen
two grooms
one ‘helper’
a Swiss governess
housekeeper
two lady’s maids
two nurses [they did have many, many children]
two laundrymaids
three housemaids
a dairymaid
three kitchenmaids
a nursemaid

Twenty-four staff; and some must have lived out or not been home that night (for instance: there’s an underbutler, but no butler? kitchen maids but no scullery maid, and – especially – no cook? no gardener and his staff?). Ten years later and the family are resident at No. 5 Portland Place; the head count that night: “only” 17. Hmmm… gotta watch some old episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs, I think.

 

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