Faint Faces Found

June 13, 2021 at 8:36 am (diaries, estates, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , )

I’ve been searching for several things lately, and usually come across something completely different in that kind of situation. Friday night proved to be no different.

I’ve been reading through old letters, first from 1840 (to go with a diary I’ve transcribed); then those from 1836 – a momentous, tragic year for the Smiths & Goslings, because of the deaths (by drowning) of Augusta and Henry Wilder, in a boat accident. I have recently come across two *new* letters, written in the aftermath of this family tragedy.

1840 was another year of loss – with the death of sister Charlotte Currie. And it was in the hope of (always a hope!)  finding more letters from Charlotte that I began reading letters to Charlotte, written predominantly by eldest sister Augusta Wilder.

It was while looking for any “hit” with Charlotte and Arthur Currie, that I searched for one of several addresses at which Arthur lived – and found that his old home, High Elms (Watford), is currently up for sale! It’s a MASSIVE 14-bedroom (7 bath) Grade II listed house:

Arthur settled here long after Charlotte’s death, bringing their children and his second wife, Dora (née Seymour; the widowed Mrs. Chester). The interiors are stunning (if “empty” looking in these photos). Take a peek now (before the listing disappears) – although the price is liable to keep it on the market for a bit of time – asking £7.5 million (it does come with 10 acres of land).

[Be advised: Arthur Currie of High Elms is far different from General Sir Arthur Currie.]

When High Elms was still called “Garston Manor” (from the 1890s until 2010), it was featured in a 2011 episode of Country House Rescue, the series hosted by Ruth Watson. I must see if I can find that particular episode…

Friday, I had also been trying to locate the diary (sounds like there is only one, but one never knows!) of Jane Eliza Currie – the wife of Captain Mark John Currie, Royal Navy, Arthur’s cousin. The one diary – though (great pity!) I’ve not been able to locate images of its written contents – covers the couple’s voyage in 1829 and stay (through 1832) in Australia — in quite a new settlement at the time, which is why she as well as he comes up in searches. I’ve had a brief look through Smith & Gosling letters and early diaries for Miss Wood (I don’t know if she went by ‘Jane’ or ‘Eliza’ – I find people referring to her by each of those; but what did she call herself??) and/or the Mark Curries Junior. Not successful there. Being out of England until their return in the 1830s, means there’s no hope (or very little) that Arthur and Charlotte would be mentioned by Jane Eliza – but one never knows. It is a new avenue to take a look down. What I have found is located at the Mitchell Library, NSW. And Currie just is not an easy name to search for — so much overtaken by a certain “General Sir”.

I have also been trying to remember who I had found – among the grandchildren? (not sure now) – whose death had been looked into via a coroner’s inquest. An accidental overdose. I remember a woman… Laudanum or Morphine… but the WHO escapes me, as does the date (19th century still? Early 20th century?). I thought maybe one in the Capel Cure family – and that was how I located my *FIND*!

Of Mary Gosling’s three children – Sir Charles Cunliffe Smith; Mary Charlotte Smith; Augusta Elizabeth Smith – two married children of Capel Cure and Frederica Cheney. The Cure siblings make for heartbreaking reading in retrospect – five of the eleven children died before the age of 21. The main seat of the Cures, Blake Hall, is very familiar from the letters and diaries of the Smiths and Goslings. Of course Mary (Lady Smith) never lived to see these marriages of her children – she died in 1842 and the first marriage, Sir Charles Smith to Agnes Cure, occurred in February 1855. The next to marry, in 1857, were younger sister Augusta Smith and the Rev. Lawrence George Capel Cure.

[Elder sister Mary married in 1861, Major Gaspard Le Marchant Tupper, Royal Artillery.]

Since much literature that mentions the Capel Cure children does not mention all of them, I will list them here. You can find them in the 2nd volume of The Visitation of England and Wales (same place the Smiths of Suttons turns up):

  • Robert
  • Henry (died aged 7)
  • Frederica (died aged 10)
  • Alfred [the photographer]
  • (Rev.) Edward
  • Rosamund
  • (Rev.) Lawrence [married Augusta Smith]
  • Emmeline (died aged 19)
  • Agnes [married Sir Charles Smith]
  • Charles (died aged 8)
  • Frederick (died aged 14)

I have known of the photography work done – early in the “life” of photography – by Alfred Capel Cure. I have come across images of trees or estates – but Friday I spotted a LOT of PEOPLE. And when one album, digitized by UCLA, popped up a photograph of a portrait of “Sir C. Smith” by Ercole (whom I knew to have drawn Lawrence Cure), I slowed to savor each of the gentry portraits in Alfred’s album.

WITH SUCCESS!

A couple of photographs of Charles — whom I often still refer to, as his mother Mary did, as “Little Charles”. Mary, of course, was differentiating husband from son; I, on the other hand, know the son through the mother – and he was a child and teen in Mary’s lifetime. (Charles was born in 1827.) At least one album photograph ID’s him. Also ID’ed in a photograph is “Lady Smith and Miss Cure” – Alfred’s sisters, Agnes and Rosamund. Agnes and/or Rosumond (the only surviving girls) feature in a couple of group portraits, one of which surely includes Lawrence – it so resembles his Ercole portrait.

There are pictures of the exteriors of Suttons, Blake Hall, Badgers (a Cheney estate, which came into Alfred Capel Cure’s possession). So many familiar names. So many unknown faces.

Among the familiar names a faint and faded face identified as Lady Marian Alford. Lady Marianne Compton, as she originally was, was the eldest daughter of Spencer 2nd Marquess of Northampton (Emma’s cousin) and Margaret Clephane. There are a LOT of images – painted and photographed – of Lady Marian (Viscountess Alford) out there.

Alas, no one identified as Mr. and Mrs. Leigh or their children … – which might have unearthed some new images of Emma and James Edward Austen.

But, among the faint and faded, came a duo identified as “the Misses Smith” and dated “Badger, 9 Nov:r 1854“. And I knew I had found something “Completely New”.

I usually have a “feeling” about a *FIND* – including excitement and sureness of the “who” or “what”. I don’t know WHY, but I have almost no feelings on this portrait. Except of loving the sweet faces I see.

Maybe it’s because, named “the Misses Smith” – I’m not sure who is who.

think the elder sister is standing; the younger sister is seated. The standing sister is smiling, broadly. A ring and what looks to be a charm bracelet dangle are on her visible right hand. Her left hand rests on the chair in which her sister is seated. This seated sister has a quieter look, as if not quite “ready” for the camera. And yet, there is an attractive wistfulness that becomes haunting the more one looks.

When they posed at Badger, Mary Charlotte Smith was soon, at the end of November 1854, to celebrate her 26th birthday. Augusta Elizabeth Smith was a few months past her summer celebration of turning 24-years-old. That it IS them is not in doubt – the diary of their uncle, the Rev. Richard Seymour, notes welcoming them to Kinwarton just after their stay at Badger.

The sepia coloring of the album’s print continues strong, fading only along the lines of the gowns and around their hands. It is a remarkable souvenir of their day, (or stay), at Badger during the time of their brother’s engagement.

 

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Aunt Emma’s Sidney House, Southampton

June 6, 2021 at 11:57 am (diaries, estates, history, places) (, , )

Found, yesterday, a few indicators hitherto unseen, concerning SIDNEY HOUSE (also spelled Sydney House), with the address of Peartree Green, Southampton. The first comes in an article by Jessica Vale (1983; Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club & Archaeology Society). Vale’s “Country Houses of Southampton” looks at aspects of several properties with familiar-to-me names – given that the Smiths of Suttons and 6 Portland Place had many ties to this general area of Hampshire. But for my purposes today it was the MAP that called upon my deepest attention:

There, indicated by a numbered “square” dot was Aunt Emma’s SIDNEY!

I can see the network of neighbors all around her, and will be better placed for putting names or “estates” into LOCATION, whenever I get back to work on Aunt Emma Smith’s diaries. (I find her looping handwriting a challenge at present.)

I had been hoping (once again…) to find drawings or photos of Sidney. Still hunting, I’m afraid. BUT: I did find the next best thing: a newspaper ad, which describes the house and its grounds.

Advertised as “TO BE LET” in the Hampshire Telegraph and Naval Chronicle on 28 April 1823, the area around the house is tantalizingly portrayed as,

“near Peartree Green, Southampton, — SYDNEY HOUSE, with Lawns, Shrubberies, capital Gardens, Hot and Green-houses, and a few Acres of Land, &c”

The dwelling consists of….

  • an entrance hall;
  • small library;
  • dining room;
  • anti, and large drawing-rooms;
  • three best bed-rooms and dressing rooms;
  • and six servants’ rooms

Detached, one finds…

  • the kitchen;
  • offices;
  • laundry;
  • brew-house;
  • and four-stall stable, coach-house, harness room, &c &c.

I am uncertain as to weather Aunt Emma answered this ad – or leased it later. Mentions of Sidney crop up in her 1826 diary – but, with the exception of a travel diary (trips in 1823 and 1825) no earlier domestic diary has yet been located for Miss Smith of Sidney. Family letters dating to her tenure at Sidney go back only to 1828.

Emma Smith’s father, Joshua Smith of Erlestoke Park (Wiltshire), once the MP for Devizes, had died in 1819. Emma, as the remaining unmarried sister among Joshua’s four “equal” heiresses, was quick to remove herself from Erlestoke. Family letters comment on the bare walls – devoid of Emma’s artwork, as she packed up. The tense situation was not helped by Miss Smith’s relationship with Amelia Macklin.

____________________________________________________

Further Reading:

____________________________________________________

If Aunt Emma DID respond to this ad, it was a Mr. Mecey (“All letters to be post-paid”!), Estate Agent and Auctioneer, Southampton that one applied “For particulars, and Tickets to view.”

Vale’s article includes, at the end, an appendix of the houses in the article. Sidney House is listed as “built c1790, demolished after war damage” in World War II. It does not give a year of demolition. I had once hoped that I had perhaps spotted SIDNEY when in the area some years ago. Guess not. . . A legacy report cites evidence on the 1949 Ordinance Survey Map of its demolishment by 1949, and confirms that two WWII bombs hit the general site.

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Eastwick Park, Surrey

June 5, 2018 at 11:36 am (chutes of the vyne, estates, places, research) (, , )

This is in answer to the comments of “Chaz” on the post “Putting a Face to a Name“; the tidbits seemed just too long for inclusion in a “comment.”

Eastwick Park cropped up a several times in the family letters. What caught Chaz’s eye was their comment about the estate when owned by “Mr. Basilgate” (sic) (whom Chaz writes about, see Prinny’s Taylor).

It wasn’t until I translated a French letter that I realized the part Eastwick played in the young lives of the four Sisters of Erle Stoke Park (which I really need to begin spelling Earl Stoke Park – for that was Joshua Smith’s consistent spelling of his estate). Since that time, I’ve found further letters, all of which wax nostalgic. I have not pinned down when the Smiths lived there, but it would have pre-dated the re-development of Earl Stoke, which began in the later 1780s. The girls were born between the years 1767 to 1774, yet even Emma (the youngest) wrote fond memories about Eastwick.

To see photos of Eastwick, c1904, see the Francis Firth website: Photo 1; Photo 2.
No 2 rather reminds me of Tring Park, Uncle Drummond’s place, before the Rothschilds enlarged it.

new matrimonial ladder_possession

And now for the whisperings of the Earl Stoke sisters and their mother:

1 Nov 1796 (Lady Northampton)
“I am obliged to Miss Black [an artist] for her remembrance . . . ; should you write to her remember me to her. I cannot forget the many pleasant days I have spent with her at Eastwick, & the many chearful mornings in George St [their London home]  She certainly endeavoured to please her pupils.”

18 June 1801 (Mrs Sarah Smith)
“we spent most part of the Mornings in visiting all the neighbourhood & Eastwick rides”

3 July 1801 (Emma Smith)
“As for seeing Eastwick, my Father went & walked all over it, but we did not; having been over it two or three y:rs ago . . . ; I think I told you Mr. Lawrell has bought it — –. The Country is so pretty on every side of it, that I even now almost regret Surrey.”

29 Sept 1802 (Eliza Chute) [translated from French]
“I made an attempt to see Eastwick again, the scene of my childhood, which seemed to me to be the happiest time of my life, but which I did not consider so then, as the view was spread far and wide over the future, which the imagination was pleased to embellish, and to adorn with its most amusing colors: I would have found much pleasure in traversing the rooms which I remember so well, and which at every step I would have recalled different circumstances, but Mrs. Lawrell was not at home, and I was afraid to ask to see the house, fearing that it might seem impertinent: the outside, however, very much interested me, and it was with regret that I went away; Augusta, who was bolder, entered the house. I met Mrs. Lawrel [sic] at Mr. Sumner’s, she told me that she was very angry that I had not done the same; that there were not many changes, but that they had a good deal of reason, and were quite important, and very judicious, as it seems to me. The park must also be enlarged & the manner of entry totally different; on the other hand, it was quite ugly, nothing but a short avenue leading to the house.”

 

 

 

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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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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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I’m Curious: The Connoisseur

April 24, 2016 at 8:36 pm (books, entertainment, history, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , )

I’m curious to find out if any Two Teens readers know of ANY publication comparable to an old journal called The Connoisseur. This magazine ceased publication in 1992, but throughout much of the twentieth century it catered to an audience interested in art, portraiture, heraldry, genealogy, antiques, furniture, lace, books – and Notes & Queries from readers!

I have a copy (online) from 1915. It is absolutely FASCINATING!

  • February 1915 features “Some Unpublished Lawrence Portraits”
  • two unidentified portraits in a private collection, wanting to be ID’ed
  • “Notes on Wincanton Delft”
  • answers to earlier unidentified paintings
  • and “notes” on Rowlandson drawings

connoisseur

I’d be interested to learn if ANYTHING even remotely similar is out there, in print or online. It must indeed have offered a unique “given-and-take” for collectors, as well as those (like me) who just have an interest — or a burning desire to uncover things currently shrouded in mystery. Like more letters, diaries, or portraits of my dear Smiths & Goslings!

Between it’s articles and its queries, The Connoisseur: a magazine for Collectors must indeed have been a “crowd-sourced” pleasure to see on the newsstand or in your mailbox.

Here’s what I’ve quickly found, and hope you derive as much pleasure perusing their pages as I have:

* **

Things of beauty“: a 2014 blogger discusses the lure of the Connoisseur.

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1903 Glimpse: Castle Ashby

October 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm (books, estates, history, news, places) (, , , , , , )

Found this issue of Country Life on Books.Google – you are welcome to read the article there as well. Certainly the photos show a Castle Ashby that only the likes of Emma would have had intimate knowledge about.

Castle Ashby (Northamptonshire) was and is the home of the Marquess of Northampton. In Emma’s youth, it was home to her uncle and aunt (mother’s sister), Lord and Lady Northampton, and their two children Spencer (Lord Compton) and Lady Elizabeth Compton (later: Lady Elizabeth Dickins).

 

* * *

Read about the “other” Compton estate, Compton Wynyates (Pall Mall Magazine, 1898), or in Architectural Forum (1911).

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