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Janeite Deb:

This is a lovely [and long!] post from Nan Quick with fabulous pictures on the Chelsea Flower show. I arrived in London on the last day of the show but didn’t get there – so this feels like I did after all! Thank you Nan for such an in-depth view!

Originally posted on nanquick:

The Daily Telegraph Garden, at the 2014  Chelsea Flower Show. This is just a portion of the elegant space designed by Tommaso del Buono and Paul Gazerwitz. Tommaso grew up in Florence, and Paul in New York, and together they have an international practice, based in Shoreditch, East London. Here, a giant panel of Nocino Travertine Limestone punctuates a tall, green hedge. Low topiaries, pruned into pincushion shapes, flank a bench that floats in front of the limestone.

The Daily Telegraph Garden, at the 2014
Chelsea Flower Show. This is just a portion of the elegant space designed by Tommaso del Buono and Paul Gazerwitz. Tommaso grew up in Florence, and Paul in New York, and together they have an international practice, based in Shoreditch, East London. Here, a giant panel of Nocino Travertine Limestone punctuates a tall, green hedge. Low topiaries, pruned into pincushion shapes, flank a bench that floats in front of the limestone.

Late July 2014.

September of 2008: As I was displaying my garden furniture in a rather grotty convention hall in Birmingham, England, I was invited by a representative of the Royal Horticultural Society to exhibit my designs at their next Chelsea Flower Show. And so, in May of 2009, I found myself and my creations arranged in an elegant tent, on the grounds that surround Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital, in London. I’d…

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Dear Readers: I welcome today Ron Dunning, who wrote here last year about his Akin to Jane” website – today he shares with us an article he wrote for the Huguenots of Spitalfields newsletter “Strangers” – here expanded somewhat and with pictures – and see how Jane Austen connects to various families and traditions of Spitalfields life in London.

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Christ Church Spitalfields

[View looking down Brushfield Street toward Christ Church, Spitalfields – image from HofS facebook page, from Bishopsgate Institute]

Jane Austen’s Family and the Huguenots

To have lived in London for the past 40 years has been an immense pleasure. Now I’ve discovered a new one, and that is to be retired in London. I’ve always loved to explore, but was only able to appreciate the various parts of town for their ambience. Now there’s time to appreciate them more deeply, to learn about their associations with history, about interesting residents. Many have passed out of fashion and been built over – in which case there’s only the odd surviving building to stimulate the imagination – but in other areas, where the faded charm is obvious and where their economic value has not been great enough to attract the redevelopers, new residents have moved in to restore houses and revive the life of the community.

Spitalfields rooftops cRon Dunning

[Rooftops of Spitalfields, formerly the workrooms of the silk weavers and now gentrified - c Jeremy Freedman]

One such area that I’ve come to know much better is Spitalfields, just to the east of London’s old city walls. Its development by speculative builders was begun in the early 1700s, as a new suburb. Huguenot refugees from France and the Low Countries soon settled there, particularly those involved in the silk fabric trade. They brought their skills and their contacts from the continent and quickly restored their prosperity. Some 150 years later the mechanising of weaving, relaxation of tariffs on imports from France, and robust trade with China destroyed the Spitalfields silk trade.

silkweaving-spitalfields

 [Image from the Huguenots of Spitalfields Facebook page]

The houses had aged by the mid-19th century too, and to some extent Spitalfields became a slum, housing successive waves of immigrants – who each moved on once they became prosperous. By the 1970s, when the latest wave of new arrivals to the poorer streets was Bengali, city redevelopment was threatening to overtake it. Just in the nick of time young artists discovered the antique charm of the weavers’ houses, which could be bought for a pittance. They are now worth over £1,000,000.

jane-austen-frontispiece-1870I’ve been researching the Austen pedigree for long enough that it’s possible to link her family with almost anyone.  Though the worlds of the Huguenots and of Jane Austen would seem almost to inhabit separate universes, a surprising number of Huguenot families had close connections with hers. I’ve made a list of the most notable.

Anyone who has read Jon Spence’s book, Becoming Jane Austen (or seen the film Becoming Jane), will recognise the name of Lefroy. Antoine Loffroy, a native of Cambray, took refuge in England from religious persecution in the Low Countries in about 1587, and settled at Canterbury, where he and his family engaged in the business of silk dyeing. His descendant Tom Lefroy was the one young man with whom Jane was said to be truly in love. Tom at that point didn’t have an income with which to support a wife, and was quickly bundled off by his elders and betters. He rose eventually to become the Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Ireland and, at the end of his life, remembered Jane with great affection. Ben Lefroy, from a later generation, did marry an Austen – one of Jane’s favourite nieces, Jane Anna Elizabeth.

The Portals were an ancient and noble Protestant family of Toulouse who stood firmly by the faith of their fathers, and several of them suffered death rather than recant it. They were among the Huguenots who introduced the art of fine paper making to England – Henry Portal established a mill at Laverstoke, on the River Itchen in Hampshire. He achieved such a reputation that the Bank of England awarded him the contract to produce bank notes. Living in Hampshire, the Portals had extensive social contacts with the Austens. Adela Portal married Jane’s nephew Edward Knight, while her sister Caroline married Edward’s brother William.

The Chenevixes were another distinguished family of Protestants, this time from Lorraine, who fled after the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. One branch settled in Ireland, and were much attracted to the military and clerical professions. Melesina Chenevix, the poet and diarist, and granddaughter of Richard Chenevix, the Anglican Bishop of Waterford and of Lismore, was the ancestor of a number of people linked to the Austen pedigree. Melesina had married Richard Trench – the de la Tranches were yet another family who had taken refuge in England shortly after the massacre of St. Bartholomew – and their descendants assumed the double-barrelled surname of Chenevix-Trench. Their granddaughter Melesina Mary Chenevix-Trench married Chomley Austen-Leigh, Jane’s great nephew. Melesina Mary’s sister Helen Emily married Arthur Blundell George Sandys Hill, another great nephew. Their brother Charles married Emily Mary Lefroy, a cousin of Tom Lefroy. Their cousin Melesina Gladys, as well as being the mother of the famous editor of the Daily Telegraph, Bill Deedes, was the grandmother of FitzWalter Plumptre, the Baron FitzWalter – who can also trace his pedigree to the family of Eleanor Bridges, the wife of Jane’s brother Edward.  Lord FitzWalter still lives at Goodnestone, the seat of the Bridges family, where Edward and Eleanor lived before they could move into Godmersham.

David Papillon, the first of his family to settle in England, had been sent with his mother and siblings by his father, to escape persecution. They were shipwrecked while crossing the English Channel, and his mother drowned. The story of the mingling of genes between David’s descendants and the Austens, through the Brodnaxes, is a bit too obscure to tell here, but one of them featured in Jane’s life – the Rev John Rawstorne Papillon. The living of Chawton parish was offered to him; should he decline, it was then to pass to Jane’s brother Henry. John did take it and became the rector of the village in which Jane lived during her final years. There is a neat bracketing of Huguenot suitors for her hand, from the beginning and the end of her adult life – Mrs Knight, the widow of Thomas Brodnax and elderly benefactor of both the Austens and the Papillons, suggested that the Rev John, a life-long bachelor, would make a suitable husband. With characteristic irony Jane remarked in a note to her sister: ‘I am very much obliged to Mrs Knight for such a proof of the interest she takes in me – & she may depend upon it, that I will marry Mr Papillon, whatever may be his reluctance or my own – I owe her much more than such a trifling sacrifice.’

I could end this essay here, but want to mention another resonance between the Huguenots and the Austens, and to return Spitalfields to the fore. Jane’s paternal ancestors, going back three generations and further, were clothiers of Kent – staunchly Protestant, fiercely independent, wool and woollen fabric merchants. The organisation of their business was very similar to that of the silk merchants in London. I was struck, while gazing up to the roofs of Spitalfields, by a parallel.  In both industries labour was organised by narrowly demarcated skills, and in both the weavers’ workplace was accommodated on the top floor of merchant’s houses. I was seized by a vivid impression of crabbed men and no doubt women, in both London and Kent, toiling for 14 hours a day in those garrets for a pittance!

Grovehurst House c Ron Dunning

Grovehurst House c Ron Dunning

[Grovehurst House:  one of the Austen houses at Horsmonden in Kent, which dates in parts from the 14th century -  I was struck by the resonance between Spitalfields and the Kentish Austens - they were clothiers, and their industry in wool was structured much like silk weaving in London.  My understanding is that the weavers worked in the loft of this house.]

Grovehurst4-initials

[Initials of John (Iohannes, presumably) Austen, over the middle window upstairs, cRon Dunning]

 Horsmondenhouse

 [Another Austen house (Broadford) at Horsmonden, Kent where the weavers laboured on the top floor]

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A brief history of the Huguenots

The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, directed against the French Calvinist Protestants (known as Huguenots) during France’s Wars of Religion. The Edict of Nantes, issued on 13 April 1598 by King Henry IV of France, granted them substantial rights in the interest of civil unity. In October 1685 Louis XIV, Henry IV’s grandson, revoked the Edict of Nantes with the Edict of Fontainebleau, and declared Protestantism illegal. As many as 400,000 Protestants chose to leave France, moving to Great Britain, Prussia, the Dutch Republic, Switzerland, South Africa, and the new French colonies in North America. This exodus deprived France of many of its most skilled and industrious individuals.

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bigweaveposter

The Big Weave c Jeremy Freedman

The Big Weave c Jeremy Freedman

Spitalfieldsrowhouses

Spitalfields, c Jeremy Freedman

Links and attributions, with thanks to all!

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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From The Independent:

 

darcyserpentine

Colin Firth’s memorable wet shirt scene in Pride and Prejudice has been recreated thanks to a giant statue of Mr Darcy which has been built in The Serpentine.

Click here or on ‘view gallery’ for more photos of Colin Firth’s giant Mr Darcy

The fibreglass sculpture, which closely resembles Firth, stretches 12ft out of the water at London’s Hyde Park. The image of Firth emerging dripping wet from the lake at Lyme Park, Cheshire featured in the 1995 BBC adaption of the Jane Austen novel. The scene, which caused a stir at the time, recently topped a viewers’ poll of the most memorable TV moments ever.

The model of Darcy took a team of three sculptors in excess of two months to design, construct and paint. Lead sculptor Toby Crowther said: “The challenge for us was capturing the spirit of Darcy as handsome and noble but also aloof and proud. The Mr Darcy sculpture is a real mix of the many portrayals of Jane Austen’s most famous hero.” The sculpture will tour a number of locations before being installed in Lyme Park, where it will remain until February.

Adrian Wills, general manager of Drama, said: “Jane Austen spent a lot of time walking in Hyde Park and along the banks of the Serpentine, so we would like to think she would have approved of our new dashing Darcy.”

The statue has been built to celebrate today’s launch of new UKTV channel Drama, a free-to-air station on Sky and Freeview.

darcyserpentine2

[image from BBC News]

And the Real Thing:

darcyfirthwetshirt

though I always liked this one better:

darcysmile

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“La! You are so strange! But I must tell you how it went off. We were married, you know, at St. Clement’s, because Wickham’s lodgings were in that parish. And it was settled that we should all be there by eleven o’clock. My uncle and aunt and I were to go together; and the others were to meet us at the church. Well, Monday morning came, and I was in such a fuss! I was so afraid, you know, that something would happen to put it off, and then I should have gone quite distracted. And there was my aunt, all the time I was dressing, preaching and talking away just as if she was reading a sermon. However, I did not hear above one word in ten, for I was thinking, you may suppose, of my dear Wickham. I longed to know whether he would be married in his blue coat.

“Well, and so we breakfasted at ten as usual; I thought it would never be over; for, by the bye, you are to understand, that my uncle and aunt were horrid unpleasant all the time I was with them. If you’ll believe me, I did not once put my foot out of doors, though I was there a fortnight. Not one party, or scheme, or any thing. To be sure London was rather thin, but, however, the Little Theatre was open. Well, and so just as the carriage came to the door, my uncle was called away upon business to that horrid man Mr. Stone. And then, you know, when once they get together, there is no end of it. Well, I was so frightened I did not know what to do, for my uncle was to give me away; and if we were beyond the hour, we could not be married all day. But, luckily, he came back again in ten minutes time, and then we all set out. However, I recollected afterwards that if he had been prevented going, the wedding need not be put off, for Mr. Darcy might have done as well.”

“Mr. Darcy!” repeated Elizabeth, in utter amazement.

Pride and Prejudice, v. III, ch. IX

St Clement Danes -Strand 1 London Views

St Clement Danes – Strand (London Views)

Jane Austen often gives clues to the whereabouts of her locations, especially in her London passages – we know she knew London well and placed her characters in just the right spot to tell her readers who they were by where they lived.  We famously have a few “____shire”s scattered about regarding the militia, for an element of secrecy one might assume? But in Pride and Prejudice there are two locations that she specifies that bring only confusion, and both involve Wickham and Lydia: St. Clement, where they were married, and Edward Street, home to Mrs. Younge, Georgiana’s former governess and friend and devious helper to Wickham. Today I will deal with the former…

When Lydia remarks that “We were married, you know, at St. Clement’s, because Wickham’s lodgings were in that parish.” – she gives a clue that perhaps contemporary readers would not have found confusing, but we are left with not being completely sure which St. Clements she is referring to: St Clement Danes in the Strand, or St. Clement Eastcheap. Neither is mentioned in her extant letters.

Pat Rogers notes in her 2006 Cambridge edition of Pride and Prejudice that the fairly large parish of St. Clement Danes had a population of 12,000 in 1801 and “contained areas of cheap lodgings and some raffish districts, notably a part of Drury Lane” (531-32). Most who have written on this would agree (see Kaplan and Fullerton cites below), largely because the other St. Clement (Eastcheap), on St. Clement’s Lane between Lombard Street and Great Eastcheap, would have been too close to the Gardiner’s who lived on Gracechurch Street [see maps for location of both churches]. Wickham would not have placed himself in such a smaller parish, with a population of 350 in 1801 (Rogers, 531), and so close to those who might find him out. Another reason that Rogers selects this as the best option is that in order to marry in this parish, one of the parties had to have residence there for fifteen days (Rogers, 532). Laurie Kaplan adds that “the length of time required for residency functions perfectly for the elopement plot of the novel, for tension increases the longer Lydia and Wickham remain unmarried” (Kaplan, 7). But we know Wickham had no mind to marry Lydia … .another story entirely… (the text is very clear on this: Mrs. Gardiner relates to Elizabeth: “…it only remained, he [Darcy] thought, to secure and expedite a marriage, which in his very first conversation with Wickham, he easily learnt, had never been his design.” (357).

But perhaps in the end, we should just abide by Susannah Fullerton, where in her Celebrating Pride and Prejudice, she blames Lydia for the whole confusing mess: “How typical of Lydia to be inexact in her information!” (p. 94-95)

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London map - londonlives

Map of City boundaries: The City of London is indicated in dark blue, Westminster in purple, Middlesex in brown, and Southwark in green.  The base map is John Rocque’s, London, Westminster and Southwark, 1746. © Motco 2001 from LondonLives.org

Horwood panel 14

Horwood Map panel 14. [RICHARD HORWOOD - MAP OF LONDON, WESTMINSTER AND SOUTHWARK, 1813]
St Clement Danes is located at the heart of London, placed on an island in the middle of the Strand,
opposite the Royal Courts of Justice, the Temple and Fleet Street – on the map above circled in purple.
(Click on map and zoom in; map courtesy of Sue Forgue at Regency Encyclopedia, from the Guildhall Library, London)

St. Clement Danes: The first church on the site was founded by Danes in the 9th century, and named after St. Clement, patron saint of mariners. It has been rebuilt by William the Conqueror, later again in the Middle Ages, and rebuilt yet again in 1680-82 by Christopher Wren, a steeple added in 1719-20.  It was gutted during the blitz, only the walls and tower left standing, and since reconstruction has served as the central church for the Royal Air Force.

St Clement Danes - 1753

An early street view of the Strand and St Clement Danes Church, 1753. On the right is the original entrance to the building.
cTrustees of the British Museum; image from Christina Parolin, Radical Spaces (ANU, 2010).

St Clement Danes today: when in London in May 2011 I visited the Church for the first time, finding it a quite lovely and peacful setting on its little island in the midst of bustling London – here are a few shots, alas! not that well focused and no exterior shots of the facade, so I include one from Geograph.org.uk, with thanks.

St Clement Danes

St Clement Danes

St Clement Danes, interior

St Clement Danes, interior

St Clement Danes ceiling

St Clement Danes ceiling

St Clement Danes

flag in St Clement Danes

St Clement Danes - geographSt Clement Danes exterior – cPhilip Halling, Geograph.org.uk

[A movie aside: You will notice that there are no entrance steps, as there are no steps for St Clements Eastcheap – if you recall from the 1995 movie, Lydia is running up the steps to the church, so neither of these sites were used in the movie [and I find no picture of this scene - if anyone knows where that exterior shot was filmed, please let me know!]

St Clement Eastcheap - Harrison engraving 1777 - wikipedia

Facade St Clement Eastcheap

c.1760, from Walter Harrison’s History of London (1777) – wikipedia

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St. Clement Eastcheap:  located on St. Clement’s Lane between Lombard Street and Great Eastcheap [today on Clement's Lane, off King William Street] and close to London Bridge and the River Thames – see here on the Horwood panel 15:

Horwood panel 15

Horwood Map panel 15. [RICHARD HORWOOD - MAP OF LONDON, WESTMINSTER AND SOUTHWARK, 1813]
The purple marks Gracechurch Street, home ot the Gardiners, and ends at the botton at Great Eastcheap,
go one block to the left to find St. Clement’s Lane, the Church is on the right.
(Click on map and zoom in; map courtesy of Sue Forgue at Regency Encyclopedia, from the Guildhall Library, London)

Though we are quite sure that this is not where Austen had Lydia and Wickham marrying, it is still worth noting – perhaps we are wrong in our assumptions after all, and Wickham was just “hiding in plain sight”?  This St. Clement has possible Roman origins; it was destroyed in 1666 in the Great Fire of London, and rebuilt in the 1680s and also designed by Wren.  And one should note that “cheap” is an old Saxon word meaning “market” and does not mean “cheap” as we associate it today.  Here are a few images:

St Clement Eastcheap - London Views

St Clement Eastcheap – London Views

St Clement Eastcheap today - wikipedia

St Clement Eastcheap today – wikipedia

There are a number of fine images of St. Clement Eastcheap on flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/costi-londra/sets/72157621338588177/

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The St Clement argument does not just revolve around Jane Austen [and indeed may she just been throwing out a very sly reference to her sailor brothers? – just a thought, St. Clement being the patron saint of sailors] … The Churches apparently have a long-standing “quibble” over which is the St. Clement referred to in the nursery rhyme “Oranges and Lemons” – here is the full rhyme: [the long version from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oranges_and_Lemons ].  It is the bells of St. Clement Danes that ring out the tune of the rhyme three times a day.

Bouvier - oranges lemons - wp

 “Oranges And Lemons”, Nicholl Bouvier Games 1874, “The Pictorial World” by Agnes Rose Bouvier (1842 – 1892) – wikipedia

Gay go up and gay go down, To ring the bells of London town.

Oranges and lemons, Say the bells of St. Clements.

Bull’s eyes and targets, Say the bells of St. Margret’s.

Brickbats and tiles, Say the bells of St. Giles’.

Halfpence and farthings,  Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

Pancakes and fritters, Say the bells of St. Peter’s.

Two sticks and an apple, Say the bells of Whitechapel.

Pokers and tongs, Say the bells of St. John’s.

Kettles and pans, Say the bells of St. Ann’s.

Old Father Baldpate, Say the slow bells of Aldgate.

You owe me ten shillings, Say the bells of St. Helen’s.

When will you pay me? Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich, Say the bells of Shoreditch.

Pray when will that be? Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know, Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,

Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.

Chip chop chip chop, The last man’s dead!

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You can hear more of the history of the rhyme here on youtube; and you can listen to the rhyme here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9hzYkh-lp0

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And finally, to bring this back to Jane Austen, where all begins and ends after all, there is behind the St Clement Danes church a statue, by Percy Hetherington Fitzgerald and erected in 1910, of all people, Jane Austen’s very own Dear Dr. Johnson.  I think she would be pleased, don’t you?

Samuel Johnson - St Clement Danes

Samuel Johnson – St Clement Danes

Further reading:

1. Laurie Kaplan. “London as Text: Teaching Jane Austen’s “London” Novels In Situ.” Persuasions On-Line 32.1 (2011).

2. Pat Rogers, ed. Pride and Prejudice: The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Cambridge UP, 2006. Google link: http://books.google.com/books?id=yxIHAemJKM4C&lpg=PA531&ots=DK3PxqM79J&dq=st.%20clements%20pride%20and%20prejudice&pg=PA531#v=onepage&q=st.%20clements&f=false

3. Susannah Fullerton.  Celebrating Pride and Prejudice (Voyageur Press, 2013).

4. Pemberley.com has maps and commentary: http://www.pemberley.com/images/landt/maps/pp/StClements.html

5. Patrick Wilson in his Where’s Where in Jane Austen … and What Happens There, (JASA), says it is Danes church in Strand: see JASNA.org http://www.jasna.org/info/maps-london-key.html

6. At Austen.com: http://www.austen-beginners.com/index.shtml

7. Google Maps of Jane Austen places in the novels: this site notes that the St. Clements in is Eastcheap – you can zoom in here in the London area and choose locations.

8. St. Clement Danes website:  http://www.raf.mod.uk/stclementdanes/

9. English Heritage: http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1237099

10. London Lives: http://www.londonlives.org/static/StClementDane.jsp

11. Geograph interior image [better than mine!]: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1017806

12. St. Clement Danes at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Clement_Danes

13. St. Clement Eastcheap at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Clement_Eastcheap

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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Enquiring Readers: Last week I had posted a comment about Macbeth during the hoopla about Richard III; Ron Dunning [of the Jane Austen Family Tree fame] and I have been in communication since about how everything it seems comes back to Jane Austen, further evidenced by a recent tour he took of Canonbury Tower…. read on for yet another connection to Jane Austen!

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Canonbury on the map: Londontown.com

Canonbury on the map: Londontown.com

Our esteemed [blush...] blogiste and editrix remarked a few days ago, in reference to the fact that Macbeth’s victim Duncan I was an ancestor of Jane Austen, that “ALL in life that one thinks or does comes back to Jane Austen”.  It’s true – it does.  Earlier in the week, I went on a guided tour of Canonbury Tower, in the Islington area of London, with my accomplice in exploration, Catherine Delors. [Ed. note: Catherine is the much moreso esteemed historical novelist who blogs at Versailles and More].  For all we knew, it would be no more than a fascinating view of one of London’s few remaining precious Tudor residences, little suspecting that there would turn out to be an Austen connection.

Canonbury_Tower wp

Canonbury Tower – wikipedia

Canonbury was a Saxon manor, and after 1066 was awarded by William the Conqueror to the de Berners family.  It was only a brief horse ride from the centre of London, and even walkable, so it became the residence of various abbots and other dignitaries.  In the late 1500’s the manor was owned by Sir John Spencer (d. 1610), a very wealthy merchant and sometime Lord Mayor of London – who had a pretty young daughter, Elizabeth.More to the point, she was worth £40,000 on her marriage – some five million pounds today.  Her father had promised her to several men, in consideration of the usual dynastic criteria, but she met and fell in love with the spendthrift William Compton, Lord Compton (and later to become Earl of Northampton, d. 1630).  John Spencer was vehemently opposed to this match, not least because William owed him money.  She managed somehow to elope with William, one version of the story claiming that he disguised himself as a baker’s boy and smuggled Elizabeth out of the house in a blanket.

John Spencer refused to be reconciled to this marriage, until Queen Elizabeth intervened.  When he and his wife died intestate (not without suspicions of subterfuge on that score), William and Elizabeth inherited the entire estate, then valued at between £300,000 and £800,000.  William immediately spent over £70,000 on horses and gambling, and it appears that Elizabeth had no qualms about spending money, either.

spencer,elizabeth(effigy)

Elizabeth Spencer: effigy on her parents’ tomb in St. Helen’s Bishopsgate.
[Image: “A Who’s Who of Tudor Women” - a fabulous site!]

So far, I haven’t told you what the Austen connection was.  I knew that William and Elizabeth were in my Austen database but with 13,500 people in it, I couldn’t remember their connection.  Checking when I got home I realized that they were ancestors of Adela Portal, the wife of Edward Knight (the younger), Jane’s nephew.  Among others, the current doyenne of the Austen family, Diana Shervington, is a descendant of that line.

There is a further literary connection, in that William and Elizabeth were also the ancestors of Vita Sackville-West.  The time has long since passed when I was surprised that almost anyone that you could name was connected with the Austens, but the particular individuals and their stories continue to fascinate!

Ron Dunning outside Canonbury Tower

Ron Dunning outside Canonbury Tower

[image: c2013, Catherine Delors]

Catherine Delors

Catherine Delors

Wish I had been there with the two of you! Thank you Ron for your continued insights on all things in the Austen family!

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Further reading: the problem with these sort of postings is that one can spend an inordinate amount of time researching all these new connections! – here are a few places to start, Elizabeth Spencer having quite the interesting story!

Canonbury-tower - Hone

Interesting bits:

  • Thomas Cromwell, Lord Privy Seal, lived in Canonbury Tower from 1533. His residency ended abruptly in 1540 when he was beheaded by King Henry VIII. Cromwell has been the subject of Hilary Mantel’s critically-acclaimed Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies.
  •  Sir Francis Bacon, King James I’s Lord Chancellor, lived in Canonbury Tower, 1616-1626.
  • Charles Dickens set one of his Christmas stories in Canonbury Tower, titled The Lamplighter: you can read it here.

Compton room-canonbury

Chimney-piece and panelling in the Compton Oak Room, late 16th-century. Image: ‘Plate 102: Islington: Canonbury Tower’,
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London,
Volume 2: West London (1925), pp. 102. British History Online.

And finally, and again from the William Hone (1780-1842) archive:

Those who have been before and not lately, will view “improvement” rapidly devastating the forms of nature around this once delightful spot; others who have not visited it at all may be amazed at the extensive prospects; and none who see the “goings on” and “ponder well,” will be able to foretell whether Mr. Symes [the resident when Hone visited] or the tower will enjoy benefit of survivorship.

To Canonbury Tower

As some old, stout, and lonely holyhock,
Within a desolate neglected garden,
Doth long survive beneath the gradual choke
Of weeds, that come and work the general spoil;
So, Canonbury, thou dost stand awhile:
Yet fall at last thou must; for thy rich warden
Is fast “improving;” all thy pleasant fields
Have fled, and brick-kilns, bricks, and houses rise
At his command; the air no longer yields
A fragrance—scarcely health; the very skies
Grow dim and townlike; a cold, creeping gloom
Steals into thee, and saddens every room:
And so realities come unto me,
Clouding the chambers of my mind,
and making me—like thee.

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And so here we are almost 200 years later, still visiting Canonbury Tower!

Ron at window

[Image: c2013, Catherine Delors]

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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Enquiring Minds: Tony Grant of London Calling, and a regular contributor to Jane Austen’s World, had written a post for me on Marble Hill House in Twickenham - but alas! I have been so delayed in getting this on the blog that we agreed he should post it himself and I will link to it… so herewith the tale of Marble Hill House, home to Henrietta Howard, mistress of George II. This all started with a conversation over Joshua Reynolds’s house, which led to Richmond Hill, and then on to Henrietta Howard and Marble Hill House, and then Pope and Swift, Horace Walpole, John Gay and the Scriblerus Club, a bit on Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott and on to Dickens and Virginia and Leonard Woolf, and of course Jane Austen gets her required mention – you get the idea – this is cram-packed with literary tourism and as always, Tony’s fine photographs…

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The Thames from Richmond Hill

The Thames from Richmond Hill

The River Thames wends its tortuous way across England from Thames Head in Gloucestershire until it reaches the southernmost part of the North Sea. Its journey stretches for 215 miles. Finally the wide Thames Estuary which pours its contents into The North Sea is bordered on the north bank by the Essex coast and Southend on Sea and at its southern bank by the Kent coast, Sheerness and the entrance to the Medway.

Along its course The Thames passes though some beautiful English countryside before it enters the Greater London area passing by Sunbury and on to Hampton, then Hampton Court, Kingston upon Thames, Twickenham and Richmond. At last it reaches the centre of London with its iconic landmarks. The Thames, from London along its whole length, has a long history of Iron Age villages, Roman habitation, Saxon towns, and mediaeval settlements, Tudor Palaces and Georgian and Victorian Villas.  London itself began as a Roman settlement for trade, built at the nearest bridging point to the coast   where they had their port called Ritupiae (Richborough). They wanted to penetrate the hinterland north of the Thames. Indeed the names Thames which was Celtic in origin but had its Roman equivalent (Tamesas recorded in Latin as Tamesis)  and London (Londinium) come to us from Roman times.

Over the centuries the Thames outside of London has provided a beautiful Arcadian retreat for the wealthy, the famous, the aristocracy and the monarchy away from the stench and diseases prevalent in many periods of London’s history. They built palaces and grand houses and villas with adjoining estates and landscaped parks to relax and take their leisure in. Marble Hill House is a Palladian Villa built between 1724 and 1729, very close to Richmond upon Thames but on the northern bank of the Thames near Twickenham. It was built for George II’s mistress, Henrietta Howard….

Henrietta Howard

Henrietta Howard

 Continue reading…

Thank you Tony for this sun-drenched tour through London!

For more on Marble Hill House, etc,  you can look here:

Marble Hill House

Marble Hill House

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…and not to be confused with our very own MARBLE HOUSE, the William Vanderbilt’s summer “cottage” in Newport, Rhode Island:

Marble House, Newport, RI

Marble House, Newport, RI

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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A Little History of Bedford Square: Todd Longstaffe-Gowan on the ‘superior’ central London square.

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