Elizabeth and Langham Christie: a relic of Preston Deanery

August 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm (history, news, people, research) (, , , , , )

A stroll through google brought this unusual “find”:

I must admit that – lookswise – this is not my favorite piece at this 2007 Christie’s auction, but if it once held the clothing of Elizabeth (née Gosling) or Langham Christie, then it holds special place in my heart.

The lot description gives why its provenance dates back to Langham Christie: “the back of the base section with fabric label inscribed ‘Christie Esq.‘ and depository label for (T)ilbury’s, Marylebone, inscribed ‘Langham Christie, Esq. Preston Deanery No 3 Northampton Per Worcester & Stubb Boat‘(?).”

It’s a large piece: 93 1/2 high x 55 1/2 wide x 22 3/4 deep.

* * *

Mary’s elder sister, Elizabeth Gosling was born in 1798. In Mary’s diaries Elizabeth is NEVER named; she is only ever “My Sister“. Mrs Smith confesses in a letter that she had seen the romance blossoming, and she for one wasn’t surprised when Langham  Christie proposed! The couple married in the summer of 1829.

Although Langham eventually inherited Glyndebourne, the couple made their home at Preston Deanery. Their son, William Langham Christie, began the Christie inhabitation of the future “opera-loving” estate.

Advertisements

Permalink Leave a Comment

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!

Permalink Leave a Comment

Diaries and Letters

September 25, 2010 at 8:02 pm (books, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Starting my book in the Year of 1814, I wanted to remind myself what life was like in the age of the horse. I pulled off my shelves the first volume of the Torrington Diaries (1934), and began at the beginning: how the 24 diaries were re-assembled. A fabulous story, and once which spoke immediately to me.

“A year or to ago Mr. Douglas Clayton of Croydon, showed me [editor C. Bruyn Andrews] one of the volumes, which he had bought at a second-hand bookseller’s”. Immediately, my mind flew to thoughts of Mark and his father, who had purchased, perhaps at just such a “second-hand bookseller’s” the 1798 diary of young Augusta Smith (Mamma to Emma; mother-in-law to Mary).

Andrews continued, telling of the diaries just lying around, “apparently unnoticed”, until they were sold “quite recently by auction for a few pounds”. The manuscripts were then resold almost immediately (sounds rather like some recent sales of Jane Austen first editions….). The auction catalogue listed 31 volumes; the bookseller’s only 24, which leads the editor to surmise that the seven remaining were “odd volumes of something quite different”. At the time the introduction was written 22 volumes had been located; by the time subsequent volumes were published the two missing volumes had been located and included (see 1938’s vol. 4 online at Internet Archive).

But what a true “variety of places” the manuscripts of the Torrington Tours were found in! Andrews lists them: “At the Bodleian Library at Oxford; at Mr. Sadler’s mansion at Ashburne in Derbyshire; with Mr. Dunn, general draper of Blackburn; at the Cardiff Public Library; at the delightful secluded Berkshire vicarage of Mr. de Vitré at West Hendred; at the Public Library at the busy town of Luton; at Mr. Suckling’s old bookshop next to the Garrick Club in London.” Such “luck” in the early 1930s; can that be reenacted in the 2010s?

Every time Alan in Warwickshire emails me a scan of a newly-purchased letter, I thank my lucky stars; when someone like Mark or Angela comes with some unexpected — and exciting — piece of the puzzle, the “luck” turns incredible.

Angela’s letter — written by Augusta (the daughter; later Mrs. Henry Watson Wilder) in 1824 — is a perfect case: Augusta reminisces about their 1822-23 tour to the Continent. She tells her cousin (and us!) her longing for the bustle of Rome at Easter. Until Angela’s letter surfaced there was little about the Smiths during their stay in Rome that had come down to me.

And there lies the *magic* of letters: In an  instant they can tell something that was never before dreamed; they can hint at little trials and wishes; they can answer questions; or provide an instantaneous outlook on someone’s life.

Readers of this blog already know some of the far-flung places bits and pieces of this research reside in: Public Libraries in the U.K.; county archives from places as diverse as Essex, Hampshire and Warwickshire; large academic institutions like Duke University and Oxford University. Then there are the individuals – Alan, Mark, Angela, Dr. Catto. And the family members and descendents. What wonders research unearths — an even if I am the only one, in the end, who cares, some days that’s just okay too. These people fascinate me. And untangling their lives comes like a detective story that has come unravelled and just needs some knitting together; but first the strands must be located – the beginnings and the ends.

Oh! there are so many pieces that once existed! Do they still? Emma’s travel journals or letters from the Continental Tour of 1822-23; the “Foreign Journal” of her sister Augusta (which presumably covers the same tour); William Ellis Gosling’s “MS Volume of his reflections and notes”; Elizabeth Gosling’s honeymoon journal; letters and journals of Lady Elizabeth Compton; Charles Smith’s letters from abroad (the subject of its own post); the Diaries of the Rev. Richard Seymour, which currently only exist in microfilm at Warwickshire Record Office; this too has its own post).

For more details on these items — and the page which will be updated when appropriate, please see the page “Where Are These Items?”

It is a momentous decision, to begin writing while still gathering — for one tiny letter, or stout diary discovered can totally change direction. Yet, when Angela’s letter appeared, with that testimony of Augusta’s about Easter, 1823 – it gave the perfectly fitting piece for my little booklet on sister Fanny. And for little things one must be grateful.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Light Housekeeping

September 12, 2010 at 11:17 am (research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Do take a moment to check out a few new *pages*. I’ve created one page about various “missing” parts of this research, as well as acknowledged those that have come to light in private hands (special thank you to people who have contacted me; and to Alan, who continues to send scans as he finds new letters).

Readers will find all the page links under CAN YOU HELP (see PAGES, to the right), but the most important is the one entitled Where are these items?

*

NB: I worked on these pages while listening to the LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS, on Vermont Public Radio. Oh, to be in London again…

The Smiths & Goslings would have been EXACTLY the type to subscribe to such concerts year after year after year (lucky people, no?). One thought: the London Season in their day would NOT have been the hot summer months, but the winter months of January/February through spring (depending on when Easter fell); the plays, parties and operas continued for the Smiths & Goslings into the month of June.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Another ‘must have’!?

May 28, 2009 at 12:45 am (books) (, , , , , , )

nine maidsAfter receiving Eliza’s comment about her work on the Tupper brothers (see ‘comments’ on the right), I was looking up TUPPER and LE MARCHANT – and surprise! found this book.

Lucky Michael Boyes sounds like a man right up my alley: according to this Cotswold Journal article the seed for his book came ‘after he retrieved diary extracts written by the late Rev. Robert Le Marchant in 1997.’ [Robert was born in 1819 and died in 1915.] How familiar such thoughts as ‘”Although the diary in itself was not enough to make up a book, the entries provided a prompt to find out more about the social life of that particular period.”‘ And what ‘fortune’ Mr Boyes has had: ‘…the discovery of some missing diaries and a collection of journals and letters from the Le Marchant sons serving in the military forces provided a turning point for the author.’ And I’m so jealous when reading such as: ‘”The project took a further twist when I learned that family letters and journals had been auctioned in London [!]. I was able to contact the buyer [!!] and bought them off him [!!!].”‘ (Contrast this to my lack of luck in obtaining Richard Seymour’s diaries; see Where Art Thou?)

More later as I learn more (especially how the Rev. Robert fits into my Le Marchant family tree = whose son was he?). This article makes for interesting reading on the immediate family; and this article mentions the Christies! Though how funny to read ‘…he married Mary Christie, the daughter of a prosperous man from Glyndebourne‘. Indeed! (as an opera fan, I was thrilled to think of Elizabeth Gosling’s relationship to Glyndebourne!!) [Though a £20,000 dowry? Mary Gosling evidently had that amount decades before, in 1826!]

And Boyes is back with a book on five of the six Le Marchant sons (though I must say I have more interest in those Old Maid daughters…). There are also portraits at NGP (see, especially Adm. Evelyn Robert Le Marchant).

GOSH: Michael’s Boyes has an ‘illustrated’ talk on the Ladies of Little Rissington on May 31st!

Oh…. so little money… so little TIME! (and time to go to bed: it’s nearing 1:30 a.m. as I type this.)

Permalink Leave a Comment