LondonLiveStreet: Portland Place

December 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm (history, london's landscape, people, places, travel) (, , , , , )

A couple of nights ago I was trolling YouTube for anything interesting. Putting in “Portland Place” london, I happened upon this video of a drive up the street, from Langham Place — and the lovely All Souls Church — to the Park Crescent area near Regents Park. Frankly, how dare they call Portland Place – that dignified boulevard – the A4201!!

Alas for progress…

Mike at Tring had already snapped a few pics for me of Nos 28 and 30 Portland Place, London – so I knew what I was looking for. A set of townhouses, on the right. I watched and watched this short video, despairing that the camera’s focus on the left side of the street would swing towards the right too late. When: THERE THEY WERE!

portland place

No. 28 – the old “No 5 Portland Place”, home of William Gosling and family – is more readily seen: the portico juts out towards the sidewalk, and is beneath that pediment and those pilasters. No. 30 – the old “No 6 Portland Place”, home of Augusta Smith and her children – is the next doorway. At present, painted blue, the doorway of No 5 / 28, with the entrance blocked in, has surely been changed – the walls can’t be original, even if the columns are. I can see Mary and Elizabeth sheltering by the door, waiting for their carriage to pull up – can’t you? And is that Emma and Augusta at the first-floor window of No 6 / 30, waving??

I invite you to take the ride: we board at Langham Place and get off near Regents Park (click here or on the photo)

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A Plea to Postal History Collectors

October 21, 2012 at 7:48 pm (diaries, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

In conversation with Dave from Ottawa, I had the idea to post something that more plainly laid out what places the letters I seek came from / were sent to and also the people – writers or recipient; and the dates.

The letter that caught Dave’s eye was sent in 1798. It was sent to Charles Smith at his estate ‘Suttons’.

SUTTONS remains an address of great interest from beginning to end: it was the childhood home to Emma Smith and the marital home to Mary Gosling.

Another long-standing address for the Smiths & Goslings would be their residences in Portland Place, London (No. 5 = Goslings; No. 6 = Smiths).

The Goslings also had their country estate, Roehampton Grove.

Of course there are family members a bit further removed: aunts, uncles, cousins. I’ve begun a list, which you can find under the tab “Autograph Letter Signed”.

I honestly don’t know what to search for – ALS will get something far different than an autographed letter. On the likes of eBay, there’s very little about the contents of letters or the addressee in most cases, and I simply tire of sitting at a computer, looking at post marks for hours. Way too many bookseller orders and attorney or banker letters of inquiry are on the market.

I want a juicy letter filled with family gossip!

*

Something which might be of use in helping ID some of the writers are the signatures I’ve posted here, as well as the pedigrees. Even the smallest, shortest sentence about any of these people would interest me!

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Mrs William Gosling’s Concert

October 9, 2012 at 9:29 pm (a day in the life, british royalty, entertainment, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Anyone reading Two Teens in the Time of Austen will know that I LOVE classical music. Mrs William Gosling, Mary’s stepmother was an inveterate “party, ball, concert” giver during the London season.

Thanks to Craig in Australia, I found the following newspaper announcement of a tremendous party given in 1821. It was reported in The Morning Post, Wednesday 6 June 1821:

“In Portland-place, on Monday evening, was attended by 300 fashionables. The music commenced at half-past ten, with an instrumental Septetto, the composition of HAYDN. An Aria, by Madame CAMPORESE, from Don Giovanni, accompanied by Mr. LINLEY, on the violoncello [sic], was a delightful treat. A duetto, by Madam CAMPORESE and Signor AMBROGETTI, from Il Turco in Italia, was followed by an air by Miss STEPHENS. ‘Hush, ye pretty warbling choir.’ Selections from HANDEL, ROSSINI, ROMBERG, MAYER, BISHOP, and BEETHOVEN. Leader of the Band, Mr KIESEWETTER; at the pianoforte, Sir George SMART.

Among the audience were —-
His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess de Frias and suite, Bavarian Envoy, Marchioness of Salisbury and Lady Georgiana Wellesley, Sir William Abdy, Mr. and Lady Drummond, Miss Nugent, Lady Elizabeth Talbot, Mrs. Malcolm and Miss Macleod, Lady Robert and Miss Fitzgerald, Marchioness of Winchester and Lady Mary Paulet, Sir Eyre Coote, Mrs. and Misses Blackshaw, Earl and Countess Verulam, Countess of Westmeath, Mrs. Hope.”

What fun! though could _I_ ever envision a party for three hundred people?! Yow! Love the term “fashionables”! In a letter I have, from the Two Augustas (Mamma and her eldest daughter), they speak of Rossini being in London: did Mrs Gosling open her purse (as Augusta intimated would NOT be the case with another grand lady) and invite him to her home?

Do you think they served any Syllabub??

Because this 1824 article describes the layout of the house, I include this brief notice about Mrs Gosling’s “excellent quadrille Party” :

“The three drawing rooms were appropriated to dancing.

The supper was set out in the large bow banquetting-room, on the ground floor. There was an abundance of sparkling champaigne [sic], and fruits peculiar to the season…”

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Murray’s Handbooks: Victorian Travel

August 11, 2012 at 11:01 pm (books, europe, history, london's landscape, places, travel) (, , , , , , , , , )

In “email-conversation” with Calista a few weeks ago, we got to discussing travel guides and I mentioned those published by Murray – because I remembered it being used in The Ruskins in Normandy: Tour in 1848 with Murray’s Handbook.

So tonight, when looking around Internet Archive, I thought to see what they had for these travel guides.

They were published too late for the travels undertaken by Mary, Charles, Drummond Smith – but I’m sure other members of the family knew of them, perhaps even used them.

I had to post this title page illustration for Murray’s 1851 handbook to “Modern” London – and I invite you to read about the city by following this link: Modern London, Or London as it is.

Had some laughs over these “Hints to Strangers”:

  • “London should be seen between May and July.”
  • “Saturday is the aristocratic day for sight seeing.”
  • “Monday is generally a workman’s holiday.”
  • “Never listen to those who offer ‘smuggled’ cigars in the street.”
  • “Avoid gambling houses or ‘hells’.”
  • “Beware of drinking the unwholesome water furnished to the tanks of houses from the Thames…”

Akkk! Murray’s writes of Portland Place as “a wide monotonous street” – Mrs Smith and Mr Gosling would not be pleased….

Page 32 describes Regent’s Park, a destination Mary mentions often. They loved the Zoological Gardens, visiting often each season.

Page 264 discusses “Langham-place Church” – which was New Church when Mary and Charles married in 1826.

A listing of Murray’s English and Continental Handbooks are found at the end of the book.

Murray’s Handbooks Series @ Internet Archive

 other titles have been digitized by Google

 

 

 

 

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No 5 & No 6 Portland Place Alive and Well

April 26, 2012 at 12:34 pm (carriages & transport, estates, goslings and sharpe, history, london's landscape, news, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

MUCH has been happening in the past week, some diaries, some letters, some images have been turning up. Many, MANY thanks to those collectors for contacting me!

But the news I really want to share is the fantastic news that the Smith & Gosling homes in “Town” (ie, London) still exist!

Toby in Essex confirmed that indeed a renumbering had occurred and he had proof that No. 28 was once designated No. 5 Portland Place. The rather chuckle-worthy remainder of the story? Today No. 28 is the Royal Institute for Public Health and Hygiene!

On the “well-what-do-ya-know” front is, the Royal Institute has rooms for hire — and pictures are online! It’stheAgency offers some photos and hiring info. Square Meal has further photos and 360-degree virtual tours of the rooms. Another site had floor plans (showing the size of each room – a bit of a challenge for me: all in meters rather than feet and inches), but I can’t put my finger on the URL at the moment. UPDATE: Here’s the link at Chester Boyd.

THEN came the map, dated 1790, sent by Mike in Surrey. It clearly shows that No. 5 was next door (as I always hoped) to No. 6 — so Mary Gosling (at No. 5) truly did marry the “boy next door” — Charles Joshua Smith at No. 6!

Am I surprised to see numbers in the 60s across the street… Not really. I encountered as much in Paris years ago, when searching for an address so I could pick up the key to the flat I had rented. And yet, the numbering is NOW what I would recognize as typical (ie, like the street I live on): all the odd-numbers are on one side and all the even-numbers are across the street. Therefore, if No 5 is now No 28, then No 6 is now No 30 Portland Place.

If you’re in the area, stop and gaze at the windows that used to find the Smiths and Goslings as inhabitants. Close your eyes, and hear the clomp of the horses’ hooves as the carriage pulls around the corner, from the mews. Maybe when you again open them, you will see Papa — Mr. William Gosling, come out in order to be driven to his banking firm, Goslings & Sharpe, on Fleet Street, at the Sign of the Three Squirrels!

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Happy Birthday, Fanny

October 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm (diaries, history, news, research) (, , , , , , )

Today – October 28 – is the 208th birthday of Fanny Smith / Fanny Seymour of Kinwarton.

Fanny first took on a life of her own when I was invited to give a talk in the Kinwarton-area on her. At the time, I was in Hampshire, researching the diaries and letters at the Record Office in Winchester; it was amazing how suddenly Fanny stood out from the crowd. Indeed: Seek and ye shall find.

READ the Kinwarton letter for yourself.

Her letter — found online — was one of the first I ever tracked down. Thanks to also tracking down its owner, Alan in Alcester, I was given access to other letters he had collected over the years from the family; this included one from Mary Lady Smith!

Fanny has a tight and tidy hand, with a slightly lesser tendancy to “cross” her writing than some of her sisters… She certainly seemed to have felt the plight of being much farther north (Warwickshire) than her siblings. There’s so much known about Fanny — yet so much more to uncover.

The thrill, today, however, was to hear about Mike H’s trip to Oxford — and his look at Fanny’s sketches of Tring Park!

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T-Day

November 25, 2010 at 11:23 am (people, places) (, , , , , , )

Ah, Thanksgiving has rolled around once again. How time flies…

Just a short post today, putting in a couple links that I found in the past week that I thought would be of interest to readers.

The first is another first-rate find of Vic’s at Jane Austen’s World: She ‘tours’ the fabulous miniature rooms of Mrs James Ward Thorne. Reviewing the “Adam” rooms is like looking through the windows at the two Portland Place residences of the Smiths and Goslings.

And speaking of the Portland Place residences, the wonderful blog Ornamental Passions, which discusses architectural details most people miss when walking around London, has some interesting information on Portland Place buildings — including an important post on No. 5 PP: that the current building at the “address” was built in 1911.

I admit to still not finding out the layout of the street in the early 19th century — although many sources have surfaced telling who lived where on the street!

Anyway, check out both these blogs; you will give thanks!

By the way, if you have a kazillion dollars, you can purchase a flat in No. 5 Portland Place, Marylebone, London.

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