English Christmas: Aunt at Stratford Grove

December 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm (estates, history, london's landscape, people, smiths of stratford) (, , , , , , , )

Thanks to John, I’ve been given a glimpse of Aunt at home (Stratford Grove) – and have posted this delightful section of a letter at SoundCloud: new bride Augusta Wilder is sending Christmas greetings to “Aunt” (known to others as Mrs Judith Smith, sister of the late Charles Smith of Suttons).

soundcloud

Readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen know that one “great unknown” is the whereabouts of Aunt’s former home: Stratford (now known as Newham) is so close to London that the area Aunt knew has undergone tremendous changes. I’m always hoping to hear from readers that somehow Aunt’s “The Grove” still exists. This 1829 letter excerpt nicely describes The Grove’s exterior, with a “forecourt” and a path from door to the gate swept clean of snow.

english toffee

NB: if the recordings don’t work, try cleaning “cookies”; I don’t know why, but this seems a solution whenever I have a problem accessing them.

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New Letters, New Revelations

November 3, 2013 at 9:38 am (diaries, history, news, people, research, smiths of stratford) (, , , , , , , )

Special thanks to Mike who photographed some letters for me at the Hampshire Record Office. Being 3000 miles from this enormous source of Smith&Gosling info is one of the hardest situations to be in. I’m very grateful to Mike, and to anyone who is able to allow me to continue my research from afar (you all know who you are…).

I spent yesterday morning and evening (until 2 am! – though with the time change, I gained an hour) in the 1790s – with Emma Smith (my Emma’s “Aunt Emma”), youngest sister to Augusta (AKA Mamma); also with their Father Joshua Smith and Mother Sarah Smith. There’s even a letter from Judith Smith (née Lefevre), Emma’s great-grandmother, but I’ve not touched that one yet. The Smiths senior (Emma, Joshua, Sarah) write a LOT about aches, pains, accidents. A HARROWING letter from Sarah Smith to daughter Eliza Chute sets out the near-fatal accident of young Emma (“Aunt Emma”)! O-M-G-!

  • click link “near-fatal accident” to LISTEN to this segment of Sarah Smith’s September 1799 letter

The letters of my Emma Smith (AKA Emma Austen Leigh) come from the period 1811 / 1814. Emma was just nine-years-old in August 1811. HUGE handwriting — but cursive handwriting:

DSCF0160

This is page 3 — and LOOK at the treat that was in store for me: an early mention of my Mary Gosling, an 11-year-old! Only eleven and nine, and the girls were already corresponding…

The 1814 letters are poignant, dealing in the time period of Papa Charles Smith’s last illness. The bright spot in one letter? Mentions of “the little ones”. I swear Emma writes, “When we came to Stratford [the home of “Aunt”, Judith Smith – Charles’ only living sister; she was obviously keeping the children away from the scene of sickness] we found the little ones very well & hungry…” Emma goes on to mention little Drummond – a toddler at this point; and Charlotte, about five-years-old – who was outpacing her elder sister Eliza in learning her religion and also in reading.

Knowing what life had in store for all these people – (for example: marriage, children, early death) – it touches me to glimpse these moments of them as innocent, buoyant children. Thankfully, so much material has been preserved – in so many different places. Each letter shades their portraits in such subtle ways. A valuable gift, as we move into the festive season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and on to a New Year.

* * *

NB: IS Mrs Thrale in the recorded letter of Sarah Smith who I think she is?

Hester Thrale Piozzi did know the Cunliffes; letters mention the deaths of Lady Cunliffe’s daughters, Eliza Gosling (1803) and Mary Smith (1804). Trouble is: Dr Johnson’s Mrs Thrale had, by 1799, long ago become Mrs Piozzi. The name could be read as “Thrall”… But it’s possible Sarah Smith had a slip of the pen, or didn’t hear (or didn’t remember hearing) of Mrs Thrale’s remarriage. Must dig a bit further.

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London Olympics 2012: Stratford, Newham and Emma’s “Aunt”

July 16, 2012 at 8:22 pm (carriages & transport, diaries, estates, history, london's landscape, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Few will guess how CLOSE the London Olympics are to elements of the Smith&Gosling story. Take a look at this map of the site:

click on image for Exploring East London’s website

The GREY area is the “Olympic Site” — or as Exploring has it, the “area taken over for the Olympic Games”. The “loop” of streets near the top, to the left of SEE INLAY, contains the street running north-south (to MARYLAND) which is called THE GROVE. The Olympics and The Grove are about a half-mile apart.

Transcribed letters to Aunt — as the Smith siblings called Judith Smith, their father’s only living sister — begin in 1816 and end, with her death, in early 1832. The letters are consistently addressed {later calling her Mrs Smith}:

Miss Smith / The Grove / Stratford / Essex

But WHERE on EARTH did Aunt live?? That has been the burning question for some time.

Now, I don’t suppose for a minute that Aunt’s place survived, but to be able to place it back in time would be a great help.

Thanks to Mike in Surrey, I may be able to do just that.

Richard, at the Archives and Local Studies Library, located at 3 The Grove, believes Aunt lived in GROVE HOUSE. He claims the “Smith family together with Judith Smith” appear in Katharine Fry’s History of the Parishes of East and West Ham. (Good luck, Kelly, in finding a copy of that book…)

No doubt you begin to see my geographical problem: London E15 <– Newham <– Stratford <– West Ham. So many names over the decades and centuries, and all seemingly covering the SAME ground. Plus, I’ve long thought Stratford-le-Bow was Stratford; this map shows them both.

Mike has put his hands on an 1860s Map. Only the most detailed would show a single house, but he was the one who unearthed the very-detailed map of Nos 5 & 6 Portland Place!

This nice map of Stratford et al in 1800 http://www.newhamstory.com/node/726?size=_original shows just how difficult placing one house in this dense area has been.

Mike says that the abode to the left of the T and H in THE Grove can be ID’ed as Grove House. I’ve circled it, if for no other reason than to make my own eyes see its faint outline:

So what do I think I see?? A large house, free-standing, set back from the road; land that seems to be populated with trees (belonging to Grove House, or were they public??). The place has a rural feel that no one has ever mentioned in the letters. Emma talks of “walking in the shrubbery,” but only at the various country homes: Suttons, Tring, Mapledurham.

Searching through newspapers of the period, I came across this ad:

“AN ELEGANT FREEHOLD VILLA, called Stratford House, situated opposite the Grove at Stratford, four miles from London, in the County of Essex, the property and residence of the Right Hon. Lord Henniker, consisting of a substantial Mansion, with an uniform front, containing numerous airy cheerful bedchambers and dressing rooms, spacious drawing room and eating room, breakfast parlour, library, and all requisite offices, pleasure ground and kitchen garden, surrounded by lofty walls, orchard, paddock, plantations, fishpond, and four inclosures of rich meadow land, containing altogether upwards of twenty-five acres, with sundry cottages, and the Cart and Horses Public-house.”

Did it not sell? Subsequent ads exist for the same establishment, as well as for the Cart & Horses alone. Did either Stratford House or Grove look anything like this building that was St. Angela’s Preparatory School in Forest Gate?

In the newspapers I also discovered this fine obituary: “at her house, Stratford Grove, in this county, in the 78th year of her age, Mrs. Judith Smith, sister of the late Charles Smith, Esq., of Suttons, most deservedly regretted by her family and friends, and by the poor, to whom she was through life a constant and generous benefactress.”

Indeed, The Morning Post in their 31 January 1829 list of benefactors to the Spitalfields Soup Society (serving 7,000 quarts of soup daily) has among the generous, Mrs Judith Smith of Stratford — giving the same amount as her nephew Sir Charles Smith: £5.0.0. Over £1800 pounds were raised in this campaign.

*

Should any reader be able to shed light on The Grove, Stratford, or Aunt Judith Smith, please leave a comment or send an email (see The Author at right for contact information).

Many thanks to Mike, Anne, Richard for their interest and assistance.

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Emma’s “Aunt” is not “Aunt Emma”

January 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm (diaries, entertainment, history, london's landscape, smiths of stratford) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Reading through posts at AustenOnly (check out those concerning livery, and also Lord Nelson!), I spotted a tweet about the Document of the Month, featured on the Hampshire Record Office’s website: Augusta Smith’s poem, To My Aunt on New Year’s Day — written by young Augusta in 1825. It’s one of my favorite pieces! Why? Because it speaks about her having a red Pocketbook; ie, a journal! just like those my young Emma recorded her thoughts and life in. Oh, what has happened to Aunt’s diaries?!?!

I must confess, however, to some head-scratching over the accompanying informational text…

As noted in the text’s beginning, my Emma (Augusta’s sister) was born in 1801; she did marry James Edward Austen; and she did keep diaries, most of them extant at the Hampshire Record Office.

But the poem’s nothing to do with young Emma; it’s not her pockets that bulge, nor her red pocketbook that lays among all the Mary-Poppins-items of that vast pocket! Young Emma was no “aunt” in 1825!

{NB: the first nephew was little Charles, born in 1827; Mary and Charles Joshua’s son}

Yes, there was an “Aunt Emma” — this person was the youngest sister of the four Smith sisters of Erle Stoke Park, the daughters of Joshua and Sarah Smith; namely, Maria (the Marchioness of Northampton); Eliza (Mrs William Chute of The Vyne); Augusta (Mrs Charles Smith of Suttons); and … Emma.

But “Aunt Emma” and “Aunt” are not the same person!

So to whom belonged “these ponderous pockets” that “would jumble my hips almost out of their sockets”??

The “most perfect” Aunt, who resided at Stratford (note the place/date at the bottom of the page), was Miss Judith Smith — only surviving sister of the Smith siblings’ father, Charles Smith. Judith and Charles were children of Charles Smith and Judith Lefevre. Poor Aunt! Even in Scenes from Life at Suttons, 1825 & 1827 she is misidentified; there, as Lady Northampton.

Thanks to Charlotte Frost, I’ve seen a drawing, done by Fanny Smith, of Stratford (Stratford Le Bow) — a “suburb” of London, and soon to be the site of the hustle-bustle of the 2012 Summer Olympics. This was once home to Aunt, and a great stop-off whenever the Smiths of Suttons travelled to and from London.

Now that you know a little about “Aunt” – take a moment to read this delicious poem, by the sparkling eldest Smith sibling, Augusta. I’m going to check my transcription against HRO’s!

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Breaking News: Scenes from life at Suttons

June 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm (a day in the life, books, estates, news, people, places, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

**My “solution” to the Mr Darcy-Mystery Man will appear at the end of the week**

The breaking news concerns a slim little volume I’ve searched a couple YEARS for: Scenes from Life at Suttons, 1825 & 1827 — a Wiltshire seller had a copy on eBay, the auction ending about three weeks ago. Yet who but me would want this little book?! Evidently, no one: when I emailed about it the book was still available. This little prize arrived in my mailbox this past Monday — the 13th of June! YIPPEE.

So what does this little treasure offer?

There are 28 pages of text, which are short plays, in verse, written by DRUMMOND and ELIZA SMITH. The scenes take place in 1825 and 1827, as the title indicates. They are comical and charming little pieces, especially heartwarming to me because I can see and hear them, I know the “characters” so well! The first is entitled BREAKFAST AT SUTTONS, JULY 1825. The first pages includes this exchange:

Fanny: Whoever chuses coffee — speak.
Charlotte: I should like some — but very weak.
Augusta: Coffee too — if you please, for me;
                     But no — I think I’ll have some Tea.

Readers get a sense of the house, the manners and characters, as well as the staff members: we have “appearances” by Tanner (Mr Tanner he is later called); John who evidently answered the door to a ‘poor woman’ arriving to talk to Mamma; the ever-loyal Tidman, who shows up in letters. Interestingly, these people do not appear as “characters” listed at the beginning of each “play”!

The next scene, AN HOUR’S READING AT SUTTONS, 1825, features Aunt and Aunt Emma. Aunt Emma is, of course, Mamma Smith’s youngest sister (she never married); Aunt, on the other hand is erroneously ID’ed as Maria, the Marchioness of Northampton (ie, Mamma’s eldest sister).

‘Aunt’ was in fact Charles Smith’s only sister, Judith Smith of Stratford! I recall a charming little drawing of Aunt (by Augusta, the daughter) in the collection of the Hampshire Record Office (HRO). I have long meant to ask for a copy; this makes me want it even more, because, although there is no Aunt Emma, Scenes from Life at Suttons has portraits of Mamma and her sister Maria, Lady Northampton!

The last little play, EVENING AT SUTTONS, 1827, has a few lines spoken by my beloved MARY! This takes place in The Library.

The end of the book includes ELEVEN portraits, all (except her own) by Augusta Smith Wilder. So came my first look at Mary (Gosling) Smith, and even her sister Elizabeth. Most of the Smith siblings are present: Augusta, Charles, Emma, Spencer, Charlotte and Drummond. Alas! No Fanny, Eliza or Maria!! Which is QUITE the loss, though as far as Fanny goes I believe the portrait at HRO is of this set. This I have a copy of! (Sorry, you won’t find it online…). Mary’s portrait easily translates into a silhouette, so I’ll shortly post her picture, as companion to her “sister of the heart”, Emma Austen Leigh. Stay tuned for more about this unique booklet!

One thing I can NOW say: This title does indeed exist! I was beginning to think May Lamberton Becker’s imagination had conjured it up. The description, its only depiction, appeared in her book Presenting Miss Jane Austen (1952).

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Dearest Aunt…

January 11, 2011 at 11:26 am (people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Emma, writing to Aunt (Mrs Judith Smith, sister to Emma’s deceased father Charles), 10 Oct 1831:

“Our party here is very tiny only four; five I ought to say for Miss Corbaux is still with us – She has made a most charming water colored drawing of Mamma for me which is (Aunt Northampton says) amazingly like. She is seated on a Sofa in a black velvet gown with her hands crossed and her head rather on one side in a reflecting mood & so much like the attitude of the head in yr picture that it must be characteristic of her – The maids think it so much like [Missis?] sitting at Prayers. Then Miss Corbaux has taken a drawing of Miss Ashley for Charlotte which is very nearly as like as Mamma’s – I am going to indulge myself with having a likeness of Edward taken as the one by Mrs. Carpenter is not satisfactory – The children we do not mean to have taken considering it too great an extravagance…”

Can’t you just SEE Mamma: her dress, her demeanor, her attitude and look: oh, what’s happened to this drawing?!

I will post later some information on the artist.

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Happy Birthday, Charles!

May 31, 2010 at 10:24 am (a day in the life, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

by Frenchie (Photobucket)

Today, May 31 — Memorial Day in the US — marks the 210th birthday of Charles Joshua Smith, Emma’s brother and Mary’s husband. (Maybe I shall start calling them “birtharies” = birthdays/anniversaries.)

Charles was the second child, and first son, of Charles and Augusta Smith. His elder sister, Augusta, had been born the previous February (1799).

It might be interesting to note, in the Woodford diary (see previous post), that Augusta senior makes mention of the imminent birth of Little Augusta:

“[P]ossessed of each other’s love & confidence, founded on the most perfect esteem & a similarity of character & temper, our days glide on in uninterrupted harmony, & we have no anxiety for the future. Such a state of perfect happiness seems too much for my lot in this World; I cannot expect it to last: I pray God that I may not be spoiled by this prosperity, & that I may bear a reverse with resignation & patience. Now, love & fortune smile upon me, & I find myself near becoming a Mother, an event which will give pleasure to many of those nearly connected with me.”

Augusta had three sisters; only two of those three married; only one of would have children (Maria, the Marchioness of Northampton would produce two surviving children, son Spencer and daughter Elizabeth Compton). Augusta and Charles senior would produce nine children, all of whom lived to adulthood, if not exceptionally far into that adulthood. Charles Joshua, for instance, died a few months shy of his 31st birthday; Augusta died only aged 37.

But it is difficult not to be curious about Augusta, Mamma Smith’s, comment about “becoming a Mother, an event which will give pleasure to many of those nearly connected with me.” This could, of course, connect to grandparents — who always seem to relish the advent of grandchildren. At this point (1798) both Augusta’s mother, Sarah Smith (née Gilbert) and mother-in-law Judith Smith (née Lefevre) were alive. [In fact, Judith lived until 1808; Sarah two years longer, until 1810). Augusta’s father, Joshua Smith, lived a widower until 1819. From letters, the maternal Smiths took great delight in their toddling grandchildren Augusta and Charles. In 1804, Grandmamma Sarah writes that she has charge of “our little Squire“:

“he is so fond of going in the Cabriole, & indeed he is so good there is no denying him; Augusta has given him up to me & I have undertaken to cure him of Whining & fretting, & I can assure you we have not once in her absence had a Crying fit with us, some times a little naughty at Lessons: but do not suppose I flatter myself with the continuance of his good humour when they return; he has not had his Sisters to contend with. I expect them on Sunday or Monday.”

By then, Emma (1801) and Fanny (1803) had been born, so the “little Squire” already had half his quota of sisters!

And yet, the person most “nearly connected” with Augusta would of course be her own husband. Charles Smith had lost his first wife, Susanna Devall, at a very young age. Her monument inscription in the little church at Tawney tells that she “bore a long and painful illness, with the most Pious Submission to the will of God”. She died 26 October 1796, “in the 27th Year of her Age.” I have never found an indication that she and Charles, though married in 1791, had had any children.

The Devalls, however, remained a fixture in the lives of the Smiths of Suttons – Susanna’s sister Elizabeth married Charles Scrase Dickins (or Dickens); her son Charles would marry Lady Elizabeth Compton. A single remaining-single Miss Devall haunts the diaries of Emma, though there is only one mention of her brother (John).

Charles senior was an old father – 42 years old when his first child (little Augusta) was born, compared to his wife being just past her 27th birthday. Papa Charles, living only until 1814, is a somewhat shadowy figure, especially since Emma’s diaries do not begin until the year following, 1815. There exists, however, this delightful though short missive to little Augusta, dated c1807:

“My dear Augusta

      As you wrote me so pretty a French letter [note! Augusta was only about 7 or 8 years old!] I will not wait until I see you to let you know how much I was pleased with it… my little Maid is good and I shall find your Mamma and all of you quite well tomorrow afternoon — I am

                                                                    Y:r affectionate Father
Charles Smith

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Dobro Prozhalovat!

May 12, 2010 at 8:06 pm (a day in the life, people, places) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Were those the words that Emma read when she first received a letter from brother Charles postmarked: ST PETERSBURG??

The year is 1820. Emma designates this letter No. 19 and notes its receipt on 21 November.

Charles’ last (No. 18), received on the 1st, had been headed “Stockholm” — what could have induced him to spend the winter months in such cold countries?!?

Unless the letters are found, we may never know…

It is interesting, after Drummond’s death (1832) the sisters collected together his letters. I have a copy of just one such collection. Instead of actual letters, however, someone collected all his correspondence to his sisters and rewrote everything. I suspect the pen to have been wielded by Fanny (see the post below), yet without more handwriting samples I cannot be sure. It is possible that several of these “letterbooks” existed.

Why do I wonder about that? There are several letters missing — inevitably those written by Drummond to Fanny (his “little Mother”) [for an article devoted to Fanny Smith Seymour, see the author, on the menu at right]. — as well, his travel diary from 1830 remains unfinished. YET: in both cases the requisite number of blank pages remain. That could mean several things: Fanny wasn’t coming across quickly with her letters and the room needed was guessed at; the writer got tired of the trip entries (oh! such a loss!!) and moved on — or, there was a “master copy” from which this letterbook was being written and the writer felt at ease to skip around, skipping the required number of pages.

My point is: These people kept letters — we know that;. And after the death of a relative these letters (and diaries) became precious relics to be read and reread.

I was thinking about all this today because of one of my favorite phrases in all the letters I’ve transcribed. The year is 1822. It is September, and Emma is writing to Aunt (Mrs Judith Smith, of Stratford; only sister to Charles Smith, Sr.). Mamma has taken her eldest five children abroad. They had departed from England in June. Emma’s letter originates in Geneva and she amusingly lays out what must come to Aunt herself as a bit of a surprise: they now plan to cross into Italy:

“…you can hardly imagine my dear Aunty that we could be so near to Rome without visiting it, which Charles wishes, to the full as much as we do & Mamma for our sakes has kindly consented to so do, & in order to accomplish it we must spend the winter months there”

I just LOVE the idea that they MUST spend the winter months there; no short visit of a few days! Plus there is just something endearing about the phrase that Mamma “has kindly consented”.

Emma continues:

“now do not my dear Aunt fancy that we are determined gadabouts… I really think you would be almost tempted to go there; you know Mamma is not a very uncertain person & she wishes me to tell you she intends being at home during next June… Mamma wishes you not to tell this to the poor children unless you think that by very gentle degrees & hints, it would be adviseable to let them know we might spend the winter abroad…”

Note the use of the “might” here, as contrasted to the word “must” only a few sentences before!

There are a couple letters extant, from young Charlotte — one of the “children” left at home: Spencer, Charlotte, Drummond, and Maria — in which she tears your heart out as she writes of missing her mother, missing her eldest brother, her four eldest sisters. When the party returns the following June, Emma hardly recognizes young Spencer — he had grown so tall!

So, while it is thrilling to think of those gababouts, and the places they visited, thought must also be spared to those left behind…

But, to turn back to Charles. Imagine going abroad — and very lengthy trips! — twice in as many years. The amazing thing is how far north and east he got during this first trip, 1820-21. I’ve made a list of letters, and either Emma got tired of noting them — or I did! I see notations about the receipt of 43 letters, the last (in August 1821) from Paris. Obviously, therefore, there should have followed a few more, even if he travelled quickly towards the Channel.

Emma begins well: letters reach her from Brussels and The Hague. Then, without spending any evident time in that bastion of European travel (France), Charles is next in Frankfurt. He works his way — quickly — through Saxe-Gotha, Leipzig, Dresden, Berlin and Hamburg. At some point, while in Hamburg, he dispatches gifts — for Emma notes their receipt on 26 November.

Charles then moves through Copenhagen and is next in Gothenburg and Stockholm — his first letter received on 25 September, but his last on 1 November. By that time he is reaching St. Petersburgh, as Emma calls it. She is still receiving post from there in mid-January 1821! By February he has travelled on to Warsaw. At the end of  February, Emma and the family receive more gifts: these posted from Vienna. Oh! how I envy Charles visiting pre-Ringstrasse Vienna! He is still there (letter received) at the end of May; but he has moved into Italy — lovely Venice — come June. By August Emma is receiving mail from Paris.

Charles had left the family on 3 June, 1820 and returned to them on 15 August 1821 — when he hands out more gifts. Imagine the things he might have bought… and then imagine me wondering where those items might be today.

To finish my thought about the next trip: the family left 24 June 1822 – Emma keeps up her diary only until the 28th: the family are just arrived at Ghent. And then the rest of her diary for the year is BLANK! 1823’s diary begins upon their return: 21 July 1823.

So lucky Charles sees the north for more than a year, then travels south – for this time they work through Switzerland and into Italy — staying the winter with the Comptons (Spencer and his wife Margaret), as we’ve seen from Emma’s letter to Aunt.

“You know  Mamma is not a very uncertain person…” –No, indeed! No wonder her children loved her so.

What made me post on such a subject? Firstly, the generous offer of Mark in Illinois, who is the owner of young Augusta’s diary for the year 1798, the year she married Charles, Sr. This one sentence is more telling of the kind of person Mamma became than any I have ever run across.

The second is the hope that if a single diary can turn up why not a group of letters?? The Smiths, collectively — for it’s possible that Emma noted only those letters addressed specifically to her — would surely have held on to such a precious bundle as Charles’ letters from Abroad. Emma herself intimates that her diary, so tiresome to keep while away from home, was superseded by letters, sent to her siblings, to her aunts — especially “Aunt”. So this may be seen as a plea: Anyone owning even ONE letter with a bunch of fancy postmarks, addressed to No. 6 Portland Place or Suttons in Essex, drop me a line!

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Happy Birthday, Emma!

September 27, 2009 at 9:33 am (a day in the life) (, , , , , )

by Frenchie (Photobucket)

by Frenchie (Photobucket)

On this date – 27 September – in 1801, Emma Smith was born.

Unlike Mary Gosling (who mentions only the birthdays of her children; never Charles’ or her own), Emma’s diaries make running comments on the birthdays of her mother and all her siblings. She also comments upon her own ‘natal day’, in both her diaries and her letters. I especially like these, written in 1821:

from the diary, 27 Sept – “God grant I may grow in virtue as in years”

and from a letter to Aunt Judith Smith, dated 28 Sept“It is quite alarming to think I have completed a score of years & left my teens entirely, I shall fancy I begin to feel old”.

She continues, by listing a series of gifts given her: “–Augusta made me present of an ivory opera glass  Fanny a pretty blue bead necklace she has strung. Eliza a most excellent pen knife, Charlotte a little satin pincushion, & Maria a silk mark for a book made on the bobbin machine.”

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Recent Net Finds

July 30, 2008 at 2:24 pm (estates, smiths of stratford) (, , , , , , , , , )

Seeing photographs – of people, of places – merely makes you yearn for more of the same. Depressing when you find nothing; elating when you unearth something. I was up til five a.m. last night with what got uncovered…

More real estate.  Hassobury has two ‘units’ up for sale. This poor building has not been all that long converted into housing units, yet parts are up for sale again (with ever-increasing price tags, of course!). There is one interesting article on the former owner (or has it been on the market all these years?) of the unit known as The Gosling. The really interesting thing to read is the size of the house: 30 rooms on the ground floor alone! I wish there were photos of the “heads of otters, squirrels, foxes, birds and lizards carved in stone over the doors and windows”. I will ‘steal’ a picture off the website to give an inkling of the interior of this mansion, as it appears today, with its 16-foot ceilings (ground-floor rooms) and ‘fine plastering and panelling’:

hassobury living room

The Seymour and The Gosling are the units up for sale, with asking prices in excess of one million pounds.

* * *

Also found last night was the eternal resting place of some of Emma’s relations. I had searched high and low for information on her paternal grandmother, Judith Lefevre; she was the only one of the four grandparents for whom I had absolutely no idea of birth or death dates. As it turns out, Judith’s father Isaac purchased a vault in Christ Church Spitalfields. Many of the family are buried there – including Aunt Judith Smith. That came as a great surprise. Emma had noted a monument inscription for her taken from the church in West Ham (formerly Stratford, now called Newham) and I assumed she had been buried there. Not so, according to the plaque at Christ Church…

A descendant, Peter Currie has a short article about Isaac Lefevre (scroll to the end of the page; under ‘Personal Column’), which makes for informative reading.

* * *

I will take this opportunity to post a little something about last Saturday’s Vermont Mozart Festival concert at Shelburne Farms (Shelburne, VT). My cousin, who had been gifted with two tickets, had never been out to Shelburne Farms. She was mightily impressed. A gorgeous place, overlooking Lake Champlain, it was built in the 1880s by Lila and William Seward Webb. (Lila, btw, was the daughter of William H. Vanderbilt, son of Cornelius Vanderbuilt; her brother George created the Biltmore estate; her son James Watson Webb married Electra Havemeyer, Shelburne Museum’s founder.) Oh! it was difficult not to think of Botleys (renovated a little before that time by ‘Robin’ Gosling, Robert Gosling’s eldest son), with its sprawling edifice and multitude of chimneys — Or, indeed, Hassobury. Some people have all the luck, huh??

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