Plas Newydd and Mary Gosling

February 5, 2012 at 8:57 am (diaries, history, research) (, , , , , , )

On Mary Gosling’s birthday (February 2nd), I posted a “brief history” of this Smith & Gosling project on my Ladies of Llangollen web. Why? it was while searching for contemporary reports on Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler that I found Mary Gosling’s diaries!

So, a belated “hey, check it out!” –> for those inquiring minds who would like to know how this project began…

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Just Launched: Ladies of Llangollen

August 5, 2011 at 9:06 pm (research) (, , , , , )

A quick post to alert readers that I’ve begun to ‘repost’ some fascinating research that actually introduced me to Mary Gosling. It was a visit to Llangollen, and a purchase of a small ‘history’ about the lives of its Ladies, Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler, that caused me to find my first diary: Mary’s travel diary, now owned by Duke University. There’s not much there at present, but please visit: I’ve a ton of information to share.

Check it out at ladiesofllangollen.wordpress.com

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St David’s Day – Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant

March 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm (entertainment, travel) (, , , , , , , )

Today, March 1st, celebrates Saint David’s Day, the feast day of the patron saint of Wales.

The first time I met Mary Gosling was on a family tour through North Wales: her comments on the Ladies of Llangollen (Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby) are what introduced me to this fascinating research project! Not that Mary had a LOT to say about the Ladies that everyone else didn’t say…

And the Smiths of Suttons seem staunch fans of travelling in Wales. Time and again they journey from home to spend some time in one of my favorite countries to visit: I also know how special the atmosphere is around the hills, mountains, streams, castles of Wales.

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An Adventure Begins

May 13, 2010 at 9:48 pm (research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

As a change of pace, keeping in mind that it soon will be three years since I began to research this project in earnest (and this blog chalks up its second anniversary), I feel like reminiscing about my two-month research stay in Hampshire — for guess who kept diaries!

So, whenever you see my avatar (at right), the accompanying post will tell some tale of those heady days when I was living abroad, jobless but far from aimless. (My mother sees this period as one l-o-n-g vacation which drained my bank account, but that is an untruth: being a year-plus out of work did all the draining; but that is a tale best left UNtold. Who knew economic catastrophe was lurking around the next corner.)

When you work nineteen years at the same place, with little to show for your years there beyond having grown older, you come to a point when things just have to change. Never mind that two years before (in Dec 2004/Jan 2005) I had been ill with two bouts of stomach flu. You don’t eat when you have the stomach flu; you grow weak, lose weight. At one point I thought of myself as Hansel (brother to Gretel): my arm like a thin twig he might allow the old Witch to fondle in order for her to judge whether he had fattened up enough (No–).

Not feeling well for MONTHS just brought about an epiphany (call it a mid-life crisis if you like): What was I doing with my life!?

But all this was a good year in the future. In 2005 the concern was getting back my health, and enjoying three weeks in the UK with my father. We rented a narrowboat! For two of those weeks we were a household afloat. Our trip began in Shropshire, ventured across North Wales to end at wonderful little Llangollen; back to Whitchurch (Salops) and north towards Chester — where we stayed a couple days rather than continue on to Ellesmere Port. That trip alone could be the subject of a most interesting blog!

But one thing that I came away with was a devotion to the so-called LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN: Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby. I began a website about them a year after our return — but never really finished building it. Still, there are some interesting tidbits there for those interested in learning more about these women whom I believe were the greatest of friends (nothing more), and who spent their lives living as they pleased: reading, teaching themselves languages, visiting and being visited by friends. They took pleasure in their home, and in each other’s company. Pleasing oneself is how one’s life should be spent…, don’t you think?

It was while searching for first-hand information on the Ladies, that I stumbled upon MARY GOSLING. She had visited Llangollen, visited the Ladies, in 1821. Her diary entry on her meeting with Sarah and Eleanor did not contain much new information, and was initially a great disappointment. However, as time went by, I began to wonder: WHO was Mary Gosling?? — this “anonymous” person whose diary had started as an aide memoir of her travels, but which had ended up collecting dust on a shelf at Duke University.

That wondering changed my life. Stay tuned to find out how and why.

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