You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2012.

Hall's Circulating Library at Margate, circa 1805

Hall’s Circulating Library at Margate, circa 1805

I will be away for a couple of weeks on holiday from today, so no more posts from me for a while.  Do enjoy the archives while I’m away. I’m not sure that anything I’m going to be doing or seeing will be Jane Austen related, but  if I can winkle any Janeite items out I will ;)  I doubt I will be Tweeting, but I can envisage me adding pins on Pinterest in the (hopefully) cool evenings, so if you would care to, look out for me there.

If you are holidaying, then I hope you have a lovely time and, if you are in the UK, I hope summer will finally arrives for you …it has to arrive at some point this year, surely?

I’ll be back soon, and so….Adieu!

I’ve known about this for some time, but  I can now tell you that the fantastic Threads of Feeling exhibit, which I saw  in 2010 at the Foundling Hospital Museum in London and reported on here, is going to be on show at the De Witt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Colonial Williamsburg, throughout  2013.

Threads of Feeling 2010 Catalogue

This was, as you will no doubt remember, a fantastic exhibit, detailing the range of 18th century fabric samples given as tokens by mothers and sometimes fathers of foundling children when they were accepted into the Foundling Hospital’s care. These tokens were kept and preserved  in the Hospital’s “Billet Books”. By examining them carefully it can be deduced what type of clothing would be worn by ordinary people in 18th century England. The archive of these tokens is a veritable treasure trove, as few clothes worn by ordinary people from this era survive, as, naturally, they would have been reused  in various ways until they disintegrated.

The fabric token left by the parent of “Florella Burney Born June 19th 1758. In the Parish of St Anns SoHo.Not Baptiz’d, pray Let particulare Care be taken’en off this Child As it will be called for again…”

The exhibit was curated by Professor John Styles, who will also curate the Colonial Williamsburg exhibition.  I understand there will also be a symposium.

Costume made for the 2010 exhibit using a recreated “Florella” fabric

Professor Styles has, of course,  made a special study of these fabrics in his fantastic book, The Dress of the People, which I reviewed here. He writes:

Threads of Feeling  is an exhibition of the mid-eighteenth century textiles preserved in the records of London’s Foundling Hospital. The exhibition was first displayed at the Foundling Museum in London in 2010-11. It will open for a year at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, USA in 2013. Meanwhile, it continues as an online exhibition at:http://www.threadsoffeeling.com/

The Dress of the People:Everyday Fashion in Eighteenth Century England by John Styles

So..if you live in North America and were frustrated by the exhibit being only in London you will now have your chance to see this thought-provoking exhibit. When I have more details of dates etc I will, of course, let you know.

You may recall that Janet Clarke of the Jane Austen Society asked for our help in voicing our objections to the closure of a twitten, a few months ago. The twitten in question- which is ancient Sussex dialect for a small passageway between buildings – was in Worthing, and was almost certainly was used by Jane Austen when she stayed in the seaside town in Sussex during the autumn of 1805.

The current owners of the passageway, Stagecoach, wanted to close it on health and safety grounds as it was part of their bus depot. But as Janet explained, the twitten had strong links with Jane Austen and she (and others) considered that as part of our and Worthing’s Austen heritage it should remain open to he pubic. The twitten, Janet wrote…

would have been a delightful short cut from her (Jane Austen’s-jfw) residence, in the autumn of 1805, through open land to the seafront and circulating library. It is wonderful for visitors today, to walk in Jane’s footsteps , especially as Stanford Cottage and part of the circulating library are still standing ( the pathway directly links the two as it has done for over 200 years ). Permanently stopping up the pathway would be very detrimental to the Jane Austen trail in Worthing, damaging our heritage and tourism, and diminishing the overall appreciation of Jane Austen’s Worthing for present and future generations.

Janet has very kindly contacted me yesterday to let me know the results of the hearing into the proposed closure. She writes:

Although the inspector acknowledged the Jane Austen connection, the safety concerns won the day & the twitten, sadly, will be stopped up. However, all is not lost as Stagecoach will allow Austen fans, with prior consent, to walk the pathway.

So at least access to the passageway is not entirely lost.I am very glad that Stagecoach have agreed to allow pre-arranged access, at least.

I thought you might like to see a picture of the plaque that the Worthing Society placed on the building, Stanford Cottage,- now a branch of Pizza Express- where Jane Austen stayed during the autumn of 1805:

Plaque erected in Worthing to commemorate Jane Austen's stay there in 1805 ©The Worthing Society

Plaque erected in Worthing to commemorate Jane Austen’s stay there in 1805 ©The Worthing Society

If you go here you can read more about it.

Today is the anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. She died on the 18th July 1817 in a rented house, Number 8 College Street, Winchester, where she had gone from Chawton in order to seek better medical attention.

The house in which Jane Austen died on the 18th July, 1817

Mr Curtis, the apothecary in Alton, the small town near to Chawton, who had treated Jane Austen, had admitted he no longer knew how to deal with her illness. She therefore moved to Winchester on 24th May, and there she was attended by Mr Giles King Lyford. He was the Surgeon-in-Ordinary at the Country Hospital in the city. At first his ministrations seemed to be effecting a little improvement in her condition. She wrote to her nephew, James Edward Austen on the  27th May,1817:

Mr Lydford says he will cure me & if he fails I shall draw up a Memorial & lay it before the Dean and Chapter & have no doubt of redress from that Pious, Learned & Disinterested Body.

Sadly, Mr Lydford did not cure her, and this plaque marks the spot where she died:

The Plaque which denotes the house in which Jane Austen died in College Street, Winchester

She was -as she almost foresaw in her ironic remark to James Edward- buried in Winchester Cathedral: College Street was(and still is) just outside the  walls of the Cathedral close.

Winchester Cathedral from the South West.

She was buried in the North Aisle. But there are not one, but three memorials to her in this part of the cathedral, an extraordinary situation, and it is interesting to discover how and why these memorials proliferated.

The North Aisle in Winchester Cathedral

For years this sombre gravestone, below, was the only memorial to her, and it failed, quite spectacularly, to mention her genius or her works:

Jane Austen’s Grave in Winchester Cathedral

The words on the gravestone were composed by Jane Austen’s brother, Henry Austen.  No one knows why he failed to mention her genius here, for he certainly mentioned it in the obituary  notice of her which he is thought to have written and which appeared in the Salisbury and Winchester Journal of the 28th July 1817:

On Friday the 18th inst., died in this city, Miss Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Rev.George Austen, Rector of Steventon, in this county, and the Authoress of Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice and Sensibility. Her manners were most gentle, her affections ardent, her candour was not to be suppressed, and she lived and died as became a humble Christian.

Eventually a second memorial was erected in the cathedral to her memory. The profits from James Edward Austen-Leigh’s memoir of his aunt, published in 1870,  paid for a brass memorial tablet to be created and installed near to Jane Austen’s Grave in the north aisle:

The Memorial Brass dedicated to Jane Austen’s memory

The brass plate was designed by James Wyatt,and finally made a small mention of her writings.  But this was still not enough, it seems, to fittingly commemorate her. In 1898 a request for donations by way of public subscription, with an individual limit of 5 guineas, was made in a letter to The Times, and it was signed  by the Earl of Selborne, Lord Northbrook, W.W B Beach and Montague G. Knight of Chawton, in order that a memorial window could be erected in Jane Austen’s memory in addition to the two existing memorials.  This window  was designed by Charles Eager Kempe,  and was installed in the north wall directly above Jane Austen’s memorial tablet:

The Memorial Window Dedicated to Jane Austen in Winchester Cathedral

The imagery in the window is astounding, and I should imagine, for many visitors to the Cathedral, difficult to interpret today.  At the head of the window is a figure of St. Augustine, whose name in its abbreviated form is St Austin. It is therefore a visual pun on Jane Austen’s surname. The central figure in  the top row of the window is King David playing his harp. Directly under him is St John, who displays his Gospel, opened at the first words: “In the beginning was the Word…”  A latin inscription to Jane Austen is also included, and this can be  translated as follows:

Remember in the Lord Jane Austen who died July 18th A.D. 1817.

The figures in the four remaining  lights are the sons of Korah who each carry a scroll upon which are inscribed sentences in Latin which allude to the religious nature of Jane Austen’s character. How interesting that even in this window the references to her genius are oblique by today’s standards. And I do often wonder how many visitors to her grave notice the window, for there is only a small notice to the side of the brass tablet which explains it significance. How fascinating to see how, as her fame rose, the memorials to her got greater in size, but were not necessarily plain acknowledgments of her genius.

I suppose, however, that her true memorials are her works, and her words, for which I give daily thanks.

Kew Palace

Kew Palace-once known as the Dutch House because of its building style-  you can see the Dutch Gables in the roof, above-  is a fascinating place to visit. It has had associations with the royal family since the early 18th century, and is now well known as the home of George III and Queen Charlotte who lived there occasionally (and at nearby White Lodge, Richmond) while a new palace at Kew, designed by Wyatt was being built. Sadly, this fantastical building was never completed, but the Dutch House- now known as Kew Palace- survives. Here is a rather famous portrait of George III’s father, Frederick Prince of Wales, and his sisters with Kew Palace in the distance:

Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his sisters in the garden at Kew Palace by Philip Mercier

Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his sisters in the garden at Kew Palace by Philip Mercier

George III’s last visit to what is now called Kew Palace was in 1806 when he stopped there to dine on the way to Windsor. Queen Charlotte actually died there in November 1818 :  she had to take refuge there when becoming ill on the way to Windsor. This was the last time the palace was fully occupied, and as a result it became a sort of time capsule of life in a small but royal country home at the beginning of the 19th century.

The Main Kitchen at Kew Palace

The Main Kitchen at Kew Palace

The Palace was restored and opened to the public in 2006, and I’ve since been lucky enough to visit it.  But this year the kitchens at the Dutch House have been opened to the public for the first time and I am hoping to visit them in the next few months. They have been renovated to recreate a specific day: the 6th February 1789, which was the day that George III was allowed to regain the use of knives and forks when eating, after his first acute episode of madness, for as he was no longer considered a danger to himself and to others.

I thought you might like to see some of the interesting videos the Royal Historic Palaces team  have produced to explain the kitchens. Here is their introductory video:

This is a fascinating video about the 18th century kitchen, and the scullery and how they  were restored, and the decisions the curator, Lee Prosser, and to make along the way:

This video explains the type of cookery that took place in the kitchen especially on the great roasting range (which is a rare survivor) and in the bread ovens:

Two of the Georgian dishes served to George III on 6th February 1789 have been adapted for modern kitchens and ingredients and you can see how to make therm here:  first, a Rich Chocolate Tart:

You can download the recipe as a PDF file, here.  A second video is also available to watch, how to make Soupe Barley:

You can download a PDF file of the recipe, here

A video and recipe sheet for a third dish, Mutton Smoured in a Frying Panne,  will be published soon, but some other dishes served at the King’s table are available to read, here.

You can learn about the Staff employed in the kitchen, here, and about the layout of the Domestic Offices, here.


Teh kitchen garden has also been restored,and here is a picture of it courtesy of the RHP Twitter feed:

This is, I am sure you will agree, a fascinating project. The great Tudor Kitchens  at Hampton Court have long been on the tourist trail and Victorian kitchens are a staple of many country houses open to the public. But Georgian examples are rare, as they were so often modernised when new innovations took place. I can’t wait to be able  to report to you about this place in person but in the meantime I hope you enjoy these videos and  recipes ;)

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed a new “button”  which has appeared on the side bar to the left of this page: The Pinterest Button.

The Pinterest Button

I confess…I have finally caught the Pinterest bug. For those of you who are unaware of this phenomenon ( and do beware,  it is a procrastination tool par excellence) you may not be aware of its purpose, which is to allow you to create a series of virtual pin-boards,  in order to showcase  images of things that interest you. This is a screen cap of my boards as they currently stand: mostly 18th century and Jane Austen-related, but others are bound to appear…I know I just won’t be able to help myself…almost of its own volition a “Country House Christmas” board has appeared this week….

My Pinterest Boards

I have been delighted to find some like-minded souls on there already; notably Vic of Jane Austen’s Regency World also  Two Nerdy History Girls, who have already pinned thousands of images. Emile de Bruijn of the fabulous National Trust Treasure Hunt blog  has appeared and is indulging himself in a riot of Chinoiserie pinboards, which I am delighted to follow.

You can learn so much every day, simply by checking in and seeing a riot of images presented  to you: it is totally  fascinating to see what others have “pinned” to their boards, and, even if your interests tally somewhat, something new invariably offers itself. Many museums and arts organisations are joining, and it is marvellous to be able to discover items from their collections which would normally remain unknown and unseen.  Just this week I have discovered some marvellous historic fashion blogs and Tumblrs as a result of following the origin of the pins. As someone who responds rather better to images than to the written word, this “place” is simply heaven.

But I’m rather hopeless at finding others (as usual!) so if you are already on Pinterest and I’m not already following you, please let me know and I will gladly join you. And I do hope you will join me, and my other followers, on this free and rather intriguing website  :)

I know…an embarrassment of riches this week from good old Auntie Beeb.

Episode One of Jane Austen’s novel, Emma, my favourite of all her works, was broadcast today, and Episode Two will be broadcast tomorrow. They will both be available to listen again to, to you all, wherever you are in the world, so do check the programme’s main page, here, for all the details.

This is an interesting adaptation starring Eve Best,

Eve Best ©BBC

Robert Bathurst and David Bamber, and it was first broadcast in 2001 IIRC.

You may recall how enthralled I was by this wonderful book some time ago.

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain by John Bonehill and Stephen Daniels

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain by John Bonehill and Stephen Daniels

Full of images of the England that Jane Austen saw and sometimes wrote about- with images of Hackwood Park and Boxhill amongst them-  it is a wonderfully informative book, detailing the life and works of Paul Sandby. Ruined Abbeys…

Roche Abbey, Yorkshire

Roche Abbey, Yorkshire

Views from famous castles…

The Lower Ward of Windsor Castle seen from the Base of the Round Tower

The Lower Ward of Windsor Castle seen from the Base of the Round Tower

and manor houses abound…

Tea at Englefield Green near Egham in Surrey, c.1800

Tea at Englefield Green near Egham in Surrey, c.1800

And the good news is that it is currently on sale at a substantially reduced price- £9.99 for the soft back and £15.99 for the hardback- via the Royal Academy online shop. Click here for all the details.

at Sotheby’s this afternoon for £ 126,000  (plus buyers premium of 20%, making a total purchase piece of £152,450) to a bidder, identity currently unknown, who was bidding by telephone.

Jane Austen’s Ring, and Note from Eleanor Austen neé Jackson to Caroline Austen ©Sotheby’s

An announcement was made prior to the sale to the effect that tests have revealed that the stone in the ring is in fact a natural turquoise, and not odontolite as previously thought.

The first edition of Pride and Prejudice sold for £ 18,000:

Pride and Prejudice, First Edition, ©Sotheby’s

The first edition of Mansfield Park sold for £4,200

Mansfield Park First Edition ©Sotheby’s

The first edition of Emma was unsold, and bids up to  £7,500 were received for it.

Emma, First Edition, ©Sotheby’s

The first edition of  Northanger Abbey and Persuasion sold for £3,200

Northanger Abbey and Persuasion First Edition ©Sotheby’s

The Trafalgar Sea Chest  sold for £15,000.

Battle of Trafalgar Sea Chest ©Sotheby’s

Some other lots were unsold, notably a collection of letters written by William IV.Hmm…..

Post Script: Some of you have wondered if I was there, and the answer is no, I simply watched the auction online. Some of the comments made by the auctioneer were priceless. He seemed to be fascinated by internet bids, informing internet bidders that it  is “against you, Mightly Internet” or “Internet , it is between you and your mouse”. One of the Jane Austen first editions had “some gatherings proud”, and he thought this was an entirely poetic way to describe a Jane Austen novel. Priceless. I can highly recommend watching these auctions online via Sotheby’s website.

Last week, Persuasion…this week, Mansfield Park.

Mansfield Park on BBC Radio 4 Extra

BBC Radio 4 Extra are broadcasting a really lovely adaptation of Jane Austen’s most  controversial novel, Mansfield Park this week.

Episode One has already been broadcast and is available to Listen Again to ,here, for the next seven days: Episode 2 is just finishing as I write and is available here, again for seven days. The third episode will be accessible via the adaptations main page, tomorrow.

As in last weeks case, this can be listened to wherever you are in the world and access is not limited to those of us who live in the UK. If you want to keep it, it can be downloaded for £7.49 here. It was first broadcast on Radio 4 in 2007.

It has a fabulous cast: Hannah Gordon is Jane Austen, the late and very lamented Michael Williams is Sir Thomas and Robert Glennister ( sigh) is Edmund. Fanny is played by Amanda Root ( who was the best Anne Elliot ever!)

A very dear Austrian friend bought this to my attention today, and I found it so fascinating, I thought you’d like to see it.

Literary Map of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

This literary map was designed and made by Geoff Sawyers and is for sale via  The Literary Gift Company. It is really charming: intricate and beautifully penned. I loved searching for my favourites, and checking that my local notables-John Clare and Fanny Burney- are included.(They are.)

I have to confess it took me an age to find Jane Austen as I had expected her to be in Hampshire, not far from the Isle of Wight. She is in fact to be found  near Bath, which I suppose she might have objected to, and the inhabitants of Hampshire will probably be most aggrieved at this placing:

Section from the Map showing “Jane Austen”

But at least she is “there”. There are other maps available: Wales

The Literary Map of Wales

and the United States of America

The Literary Map of the United States of America

Needless to say….one has now been ordered, and I do look forward to others. Perhaps Eire might be next?

All three episodes of BBC Radio’s adaptation of Persuasion have been broadcast this week on Radio 4 Extra.  It was originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2009.

Juliet Stevenson, who is Anne Elliot in BBC Radio 4’s adaptation of “Persuasion”

It has been a treat to listen to them.  Juliet Stevenson is a fabulous Anne, and Soracha Cusack -who plays the narrator, Jane Austen- has always been a favourite of mine since I saw her play Jane Eyre in 1974. this adaptation was written by Micheline Wandor and directed by Vanessa Whitburn.

If you have missed the broadcasts of any of the three episodes, you can Listen Again: Episode One is available for another 5 days, here; Episode 2 is available for 6 days, here, and finally, Episode 3 is available for another week, here.

A real treat, it even includes one of my favourite incidents, which is normally excluded from adaptations of this beautiful novel; Anne worrying Lady Russell has spotted Captain Wentworth walking in Bath when in reality she is only studying the designs of window treatments.  I often think radio adaptations are my favourites: they can convey the internal workings of characters’ minds much better than films in many instances. And, while I might want to alter the editing a little, at least there are no visual anachronisms to make me grind my poor teeth (Oh, think of my poor teeth and their suffering over the years!) Do enjoy it!-and I understand this is currently available to all be you in the UK or not ;)

In Chapter 42 of Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet finds that she is not to go north to The Lakes with her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners, but is to travel only as far  as Derbyshire and the Peak. She ruefully justifies her visiting Darcy’s home country thus:

With the mention of Derbyshire there were many ideas connected. It was impossible for her to see the word without thinking of Pemberley and its owner. “But surely,” said she, “I may enter his county with impunity, and rob it of a few petrified spars without his perceiving me.”

She was referring -by mixing two terms, petrified and spars– to the tourist trade in minerals and in petrified objects that  abounded in the area. Petrified objects- that is objects that have been “turned to stone”  by being hung in the path of the local water, and calcified as a result of calcium deposits collecting on the surface-were on sale in this part of Derbyshire during the 18th and 19th centuries for tourists to buy, together with  objects made from Derbyshire’s most famous and unique mineral, Blue John. Blue John  is a rare, semiprecious mineral found at only one location in the world, a hillside near Mam Tor, just outside Castleton, in the Derbyshire Peak District National Park. Here is a section of a map of Matlock and Buxton, taken from my copy of John Feltham’s Guide to All the Watering and Sea-Bathing Places etc (1805), which I have annotated for you.

Detail from the Map showing the area around Buxton and Matlock from John Feltham’s “Guide to all the Watering and Sea-Bathing Places etc (1805)

Number 1 shows the position of Castleton, Number 2 shows Chatsworth, which Elizabeth and the Gardiners visited while they were staying at Number 3, Bakewell.

The name Blue John derives from the French, Bleu Jaune which literally means, Blue Yellow and refers to the beautiful colours in the mineral. Blue John is a form of fluorite and was discovered when miners were exploring the cave systems around Castleton for lead, and objects have been made from it since that discovery in the mid 18th century.

I will be writing much more, much more,  on this topic next year-The Year of Pride and Prejudice– when I will be concentrating on writing solely about the novel in a sort of very long group read;) -but for now you might be interested in seeing some very grand ornaments made of Tennant’s next Two Day Sale, to be held next week, in Leyburn in Yorkshire, which is  one of the handsomest sale rooms of my acquaintances. You might like to speculate if Elizabeth Bennet might have bought something like them, though she is unlikely perhaps to have bought items made by a French artist. There are two lots of ornaments made of Blue John to interest us. The first is Lot 986, a pair of Ormolu Mounted Blue John Obelisk Candelabra:

A Pair of Ormolu Mounted Blue John Obelisk Candelabra, 19th century, the mounts in the manner of Pierre-Philippe Thomire ©Tennants

Also for sale are two neo-classical urns made of Blue John, in Lot 987:

A Pair of Ormolu Mounted Blue John Campana Shaped Pedestal Urns, 19th century, the mounts in the manner of Pierre-Philippe Thomire ©Tennants

You can clearly see why the mineral merits the name: note the bands of purplish-blue interspersed with some of yellow/gold.  And I have no doubt Elizabeth Bennet and Mrs Gardiner would have bought some to take home :)
The sale has some other lots of interest to us and I will point out only two: the first, Lot 58, a Pearlware Jug which was produced to commemorate  the marriage of Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold, circa 1816:

A Pearlware Jug Commemorating the Marriage of Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold, circa 1816, of panelled oval form with scroll handle, moulded with titled bust portraits within leaf borders picked out in pink lustre and enamels, 11cm high ©Tennants

And there is this intriguing silhouette glass,circa 1790, Lot 35:

A Silesian Zwischengoldglas Silhouette Portrait Glass, circa 1790, by Johann Sigismund Menzell, ©Tenannts

Enjoy!
P and G Wells, Booksellers, in College Street, Winchester ©Austenonly

P and G Wells, Booksellers, in College Street, Winchester ©Austenonly

Keeping to the theme of Jane Austen’s Bookshop…if you click here you will be taken to a page on the Winchester Bindery site to some photographs of the shops in College Street, Winchester which is now P. and G. Wells booksellers. During Jane Austen’s life time it was owned by John Burdon, and was the bookshop where Jane and her family had an account.

There is one photograph, taken circa 1860, which shows the shopfront as I imagine it must have appeared at the time when Jane Austen and her family knew it, in the late 18th early 19th century. Fascinating  to see,  and also to compare and contrast it with the modern shop front. The black and white photographs showing the interiors are astounding.

I was lucky enough to visit this very fascinating exhibition at Chawton House Library on Friday.

Chawton House Library

It is based around a the discovery of a fascinating document, the sale catalogue of the bookseller, John Burdon who had premises in College Street, Winchester. When he died in 1803 , his sons failed to carry on his business and thus his entire stock was sold at auction in 1807.  By studying the catalogue- which lists over 5,000 individual titles- we can deduce what reading material was available to his customers in Winchester and the surrounding area.

We can also deduce what Jane Austen might then have read and had access to, in addition to the books we know she referenced in her novels and letters.Burdon was entitled to be called the Austen family’s bookseller, because it would appear they had an account at the shop. In her letter to Cassandra Austen, her sister, of the 25th November 1798 she makes the following comment, referring to her father’s account at Burdon’s bookshop:

We have got “Fitz Albini”; my father has bought it against my private wishes, for it does not quite satisfy my feelings that we should purchase the only one of Egerton’s works of which his family are ashamed. That these scruples, however, do not at all interfere with my reading it, you will easily believe. We have neither of us yet finished the first volume. My father is disappointed — I am not, for I expected nothing better. Never did any book carry more internal evidence of its author. Every sentiment is completely Egerton’s. There is very little story, and what there is is told in a strange, unconnected way. There are many characters introduced, apparently merely to be delineated. We have not been able to recognise any of them hitherto, except Dr. and Mrs. Hey and Mr. Oxenden, who is not very tenderly treated…We have got Boswell’s “Tour to the Hebrides” and are to have his “Life of Johnson”; and, as some money will yet remain in Burdon’s hands, it is to be laid out in the purchase of Cowper’s works. 

The exhibit very carefully leads the visitor around the story of what could be available to purchase in a provincial booksellers like Burdons. And the choice was surprisingly vast and varied:  local authors, international big hitters, travel journals, political treaties, theological works, poetry, fiction, plays. And not all of this material was produced in London and distributed locally by the bookshop, after ordering them from catalogues. Burdon was a producer as well as a supplier. He supplied newspapers, pamphlets, single volumes, and lavishly produced multi volume sets. Neither was he alone: Winchester had several booksellers, stationers, bookbinders, private libraries and circulating libraries. The press that printed the weekly-produced Hampshire Chronicle from 1778 was on show in the Oak Room,which you can just make out in the photograph below, to the right.

The Display in The Oak Room at Chawton House Library

The exhibit was set out in two rooms at Chawton House: the Oak Room, where part of the room was set up as a Gentleman’s Library of the period…

The Table Display in the Oak Room

…his desk chair  left momentarily empty as he is seemingly suddenly called away from his books…

The Table Display in the Oak Room

And then the Map Room….

The Displays in the Map Room

The “hands-on” Table Display in the Map Room

where, in addition to the intriguing displays set around the walls, the central table was invitingly set with some 18th and early 19th century  examples of the books that the Austens might have read. Such as the  works of the poet, William Cowper, the purchase of which was anticipated by Jane Austen in her letter to Cassandra, above.

Poems by William Cowper in Two Volumes

And the table was also set with the wonderfully refreshing invitation to Touch the Books

An Encouraging Notice in the Map Room

Each book was accompanied by a laminated card printed with thought-provoking statements and  questions relating to each book.

The Young Misses Magazine

One of my favourite books on show was the Winchester College Borrowers Book, below

The Winchester College Borrowers Book

The Librarian at the College would carefully record each book borrowed by each Fellow, making it possible for the researchers to attempt to discern the individual reader’s taste and habits. The page was open at the page recoding the borrowings of George Isaac Huntingford,who seems mostly to have preferred theological works. The catalogue of Mr Burdon’s stock was on display via a slideshow on a monitor in the Oak Room: I was glad to see  John Baskerville well represented ( and do note you can enlarge any of these photographs, in order to read the details, simply by clicking on them):

The Digital Slide Show of a “Catalogue of the Stock in Trade of the Late Mr Burdon, Bookseller (1807)”

I do hope this is available either to purchase or view online soon, as it would be wonderful to speculate about the type of books Jane Austen might have purchased and not mentioned in her letters….

And in the famous alcove in the Oak Room,  The Winchester Bindery, which operates from the current P. and G. Wells bookshop in Winchester, where Mr Burdon had his premises in the late 18th century…

The famous alcove in the Oak Room where Jane Austen is reputed to have enjoyed sitting

produced an explanatory display about the bookbinders art, which included some 18th century tools – see the mind-blowingly large set of card cutters, below:

Display of Bookbinding Tools and Materials, including the enormous Card Cutters

How many children were employed in the use of these, I wonder ?…The exhibition,which runs until Friday afternoon does have a simply produced but very informative catalogue, which is  reasonably available at the cost of £1.

The Exhibition Catalogue

I do hope some of you will manage to get to this exhibition. It is very illuminating, and shows that though a family like the Austens might live in a remote and tiny village like Steventon, provided they had some spare money for books, they could keep up to date with the latest fashions in literature and be kept well supplied with news items. They would not want for variety, and would not have to rely upon London booksellers to supply their wants.
I really enjoyed the exhibit, and would like to thank Eleanor Marsden for her hospitality and Christopher Knight who was a very sensitive, patient and kind steward of the rooms as I wondered around the displays, squeaking
( very quietly, mind)  in delighted surprise at the depth and inviting nature of the exhibits.

I recently purchased the 1818 edition of this book, The Life of Princess Charlotte, and I thought you might be interested to see some scans form it.

Frontispiece of “The Life of Princess Charlotte” 1818

Princes Charlotte was, of course, the ill-fated only legitimate child of the Prince Regent, below,

The Prince Regent from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

and his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, below.

The Princess of Wales from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

A fan of Jane Austen’s works, she loved Sense and Sensibility. In 1812, when she read the novel, she would have been 16 years old. According to the evidence in her letters by 1st January 1812, she had” heard much” of the novel. By the  22nd January she had got a copy of the novel and had devoured it:

‘“Sence and Sencibility” (sic-jfw) I have just fin- ished reading; it certainly is interesting, & you feel quite one of the company. I think Maryanne (sic-jfw) & me are very like in disposition, that certainly I am not so good, the same imprudence, &c, however remain very like. I must say it interested me much.’

Princess Charlotte and the first page of “The Life of the Princess Charlotte”

(See page 26, and note 6 thereto of The Letters of Princess Charlotte, 1811–1817, (1949) edited by A.Aspinall )

In 1816 she married Prince Leopold , shown below,

Prince Leopold from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

Their first meeting is shown in this imagined plate from the book:

The First Interview from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

They married on the 2nd May 1816, and the scene is also captured in the book, again an imaginary scene as the engraver would not have been present:

The Solemnization of the Marriage from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

Their future seemed assured, with the couple settling into a quiet life away from the court at Claremont in Surrey.

Claremont from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

Unhappily Princess Charlotte  died, in childbirth, in 1817. Her baby son was still-born. This plate from the book shows her funeral procession at Windsor:

The Funeral Procession from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

Her death saw an outpouring of grief that was probably unprecedented in English history-and was unrepeated untill the somewhat hysterical scenes that followed the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. Commemorative items -jugs,plates,figurines etc showing images of  Princess Charlotte were sold in their thoudsands.This book was published as a result of the communal grief…and probably a desire to cash in on the situation. The reason for all this upset? With her death and that of her son, the succession to the English throne was no longer secure. As her parents were violently estranged there was no hope that they would produce another child, a direct heir. The King,  poor George III, shown below, had such poor health that he lived in seclusion at Windsor, blind, deaf and mentally disturbed.

George III from “The Life of Princess Charlotte”

Charlotte’s death saw the beginning of a rather unseemly scramble amongst The Prince Regent’s brothers to marry and provide a legitimate replacement for poor Charlotte and her son. Princess Victoria, the daughter of the Duke of Duchess of Kent  was the first child to be produced and survive in this unseemly contest. She was born on the 24th May 1819, and became the heiress presumptive to the throne. She, of course, became Queen after the death of her uncle, King William IV in 1837.

The book is really a very poorly written article, proving that habits regarding commemorative books have  changed very little over the years( You will understand what I mean if you have tried to read any of the commemorative books produced for the Diamond Jubilee, or last year’s Royal Wedding) However, it’s an interesting piece of social history and I’ve always want to have a copy; this was the first I’ve found I could afford. If you would like to read the whole of the book, it is available as an e-book on Google BooksGo here to read it. The description of Princess Charlotte’s wedding  and funeral are fascinating, and are probably based on newspaper reports of the time.A lot of the descriptions of the Princess are sugared to the max. The speculations as to who might inherit the throne on the death of the Prince Regent.,especially the calculations on page 565-6 regarding life spans of the candidates, are fascinating. The Odes and Laments published in her honour are, to be truthful, overblown and laughable. You have been warned.

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