Monthly Archives: October 2016

All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints and All Souls

31 October marks the annual celebration of Hallowe’en – or All Hallows’ Eve– now pretty much obsolete: in the middle ages, a hallow (n) meant a holy person or saint.  In the Western Christian tradition, this time of year is dedicated to remembering the dead, and in particular saints and martyrs on All Saints’ Day (1 November) and deceased family members on All Souls’ Day (2 November).   Many Hallowe’en traditions, however, are likely to have had earlier pagan roots, originating, for example, from Celtic harvest festivals.  In modern times, activities like trick-or-treating, costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns and watching horror films seem to grow more popular year-on-year.

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King Charles’s window at Carisbrooke Castle from which he made his first attempt to escape, 1839 [cq 98 CAR 93]

Carisbrooke, is a historic castle overlooking the village of the same name, near Newport on the Isle of Wight.  Over 350 years ago, it hosted an important prisoner Charles I, defeated by Cromwell in the English Civil War, incarcerated prior to his execution. Charles, having escaped from Hampton Court sought refuge at Carisbrooke but was detained by Colonel Robert Hammond, governor of the island.  Later, Charles’s two youngest children were also confined in the castle – Princess Elizabeth died there – and it continued to be used as a prison throughout the seventeenth century.

The Castle is reputed to have a number of ghosts although we haven’t come across anything specifically relating to King Charles or his daughter. Elizabeth Ruffin tragically drowned in the deep well and reports claim her disembodied face can still be seen in the well water. A “Grey Lady” wearing a long cloak and accompanied by four dogs is claimed to haunt the castle and the ghost of a man in a brown jerkin and trousers has been seen near the moat.

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Captain John Burleigh, executed at Winchester in January 1648 for attempting the rescue of Charles I while prisoner at Carisbrooke [cq 98 CRA 92 pr 297]

The Special Collections hold several books relating to King Charles’s imprisonment in Carisbrooke castle including The pourtraicture of his sacred majesty Charles I : in his solitude in Carisbrook-Castle, A.D.1648 : containing his meditations on death, prayers.

The strongroom also houses a length manuscript poem, “Elizabeth the fair prisoner of Carisbrook”, dating from the mid-nineteenth century.  It’s preface recounts the affair:

After the murder of King Charles by Cromwell and his myrmidons, his second daughter was, by order of the regicides, incarcerated in the Castle of Carisbrook, and subjected to much harshness and indignity.  Pious, learned affectionate and accomplished in a high degree, her sensitive mind soon sunk under the accumulation of misery: she pined, sickened, died, was buried and forgotten… [MS 5/32 AO205]

Princess Elizabeth was buried at St. Thomas’s Church, Newport, on the Isle of Wight.  The preface goes on to recount how Queen Victoria later erected a “beautiful and lifelike” sculpture at the church which apparently “attracts thousands to see and admire it, and few leave the hallowed spot without shedding a tear in memory of The Fair Prisoner of Carisbrook”.

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The Suez Crisis of 1956

The Suez Crisis began on 29 October 1956 when Israel invaded the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. The invasion took place in response to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s announcement in July 1956 of the nationalization of the Suez Canal Company and the closure of the canal to all Israeli shipping.

The Suez Canal Company was a joint British-French enterprise which had owned and operated the canal since its construction in 1869. The canal, an important maritime route connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, represented the main source of supply of oil for Britain and France. During the post-war period there had been an upsurge of nationalism in Egypt and, in the lead up to the crisis, there was mounting opposition to the political influence of European powers in the region.

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On 30 October, the day after the initial invasion by Israeli forces, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum for an end to hostilities. The ultimatum was rejected by Nassar and a week later, on the night of 5-6 November, British and French troops joined the Israeli invasion and quickly succeeded in taking control of the area around the canal.

However, while the invasion was a military success, it was a political disaster. Not only was there widespread outrage in Britain, the invasion was condemned internationally. Opposition was particularly strong in the United States which saw the action as opening the possibility of Russian intervention in the Middle East. In response to mounting international pressure, British Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, was forced into calling a ceasefire on 7 November. A United Nations peacekeeping force was then sent in to supervise the ceasefire and to restore order following the withdrawal of British, French and Israeli troops.

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Special Collections holds material relating to both the canal and the crisis. Prior to 1869, the construction of the canal had been long under consideration. Proposals can be found discussed among the papers of Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston. In a letter from Lord Ponsonby, dated 26 March 1841, a scheme for cutting a canal across the Suez is outlined, as are the many serious political evils which may be a consequence of its execution. [MS 62 PP/ GC/PO/508] One of the key objections was the fear that the canal might interfere with Britain’s India trade. In the end, the British decided on an alternative railway connection linking Alexandria and Suez, via Cairo. The Suez Canal Company was later formed by French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps in 1858.

Memorandum from Sir G.C.Lewis, J.Campbell, Lord Argyll and Lord Granville, concerning the plans for a Suez canal, 23 January [1860] [MS 62 PP/GC/LE/124]

Memorandum from Sir G.C.Lewis, J.Campbell, Lord Argyll and Lord Granville, concerning the plans for a Suez canal, 23 January [1860] [MS 62 PP/GC/LE/124]

Lord Mountbatten was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet during the crisis. While he co-operated with preparations to send a naval force to the area, he protested against British military intervention, favouring psychological warfare and pressure from the United Nations. In a draft of a letter to Anthony Eden, dated 1 August 1956, Mountbatten strongly advises against the immediate use of force against Egypt, stressing that “the absolutely paramount consideration is the marshalling of world opinion on our side.” [MS 62 MB1/N106] The letter was vetoed by the First Lord and never sent.

The crisis had a fundamental impact on British politics: Britain’s prestige as a world power was dealt a severe blow, with Eden resigning from office on 9 January 1957.

In praise of apples

21 October has become celebrated as Apple Day. Launched in 1990 by Common Ground in Covent Garden, the aspiration for this was to celebrate and demonstrate the variety that is in danger of being lost, not simply in apples, but in the richness and diversity of landscape and ecology.

Golden Pippin and Scarlet Nonpareil from Rare Books Perkins SB 356 Charles McIntosh The orchard (London, 1839)

Golden Pippin and Scarlet Nonpareil from Rare Books Perkins SB 356 Charles McIntosh The orchard (London, 1839)

Apples have been cultivated for centuries: Pliny records details of sweet and culinary apples grown by the Romans in Italy. Whilst there is evidence that apples were grown in Great Britain in the Neolithic period, it was the Romans who introduced new sweeter tasting apples. After the withdrawal of the Romans from Britain, many orchards were abandoned as the countryside was beset by raiders. It was only in the wake of the Norman Conquest that apple growing was revitalised and new varieties of apples were introduced from France. During the thirteenth century, several kinds of apples became established in Britain, often grown in orchards attached to monasteries. In the sixteenth century Richard Harris, the chief fruitier to Henry VIII, introduced a number of new grafted varieties, including the famous Pippins and developed modern-style orchards in Kent. Herefordshire orchards were augmented by the best cider apples from France by Lord Scudamore, British ambassador to France during the reign of Charles II. The more scientific cultivation of apples, however, did not occur until the late eighteenth century. Seen as the most valuable and generally cultivated of European fruits, the apple was considered by Dr Thomas Andrew Knight “not the nature produce of any soil or climate, but owes its existence to human art”. The work on pollination undertaken by Knight, who was President of the Horticultural Society of London, led to improved varieties. It was to influence the work of others gardeners throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Until the eighteenth century fruit plants had been an essential part of the landscape in gardens on large estates. However with the swing from Renaissance formality to a more “natural” look, the cultivation of fruit and vegetables was moved to the, usually, walled kitchen garden. Owners were proud of their kitchen gardens both for their layout and display and considerable effort was taken with the cultivation and development of fruit varieties.

MS 62 BR103/6 Plan and notes by second Viscount Palmerston on fruit grown within the garden, 1769

MS 62 BR103/6 Plan and notes by second Viscount Palmerston on fruit grown within the garden, 1769

The kitchen garden at Broadlands House in Romsey was developed in the eighteenth century and the design of it showed an appreciation of the ascetics as well as the productivity and the variety of fruit to be grown. Fruit was an essential part of the diet in a household and would be used to impress guests with unusual varieties. The Italian practice of fresh fruit at the end of a meal became the height of fashion in the nineteenth century.

The Perkins Agricultural Library at the University contains a range of books that reflect this interest in both the planning and cultivation of kitchen gardens and the craft of growing fruit trees. Guides on the development and successful propagation of fruit plants include Dr Thomas Andrew Knight’s A treatise on the culture of the apple and pear and on the manufacture of cider and perry (London, 1818); William Forsyth A treatise on the culture and management of fruit trees ( London, 1803) and Charles McIntosh The orchard (London, 1839).

Court Pendu from Rare Books Perkins SB 356 Charles McIntosh The orchard (London, 1839)

Court Pendu from Rare Books Perkins SB 356 Charles McIntosh The orchard (London, 1839)

In addition to practical advice provided in such works, others such as The Complete family piece provided recipes for medicinal cures and for cooking.

“To make an apple tansy
Take 3 Pippins, slice them round in thin Slices, and fry them with Butter; then beat 4 Eggs with 6 Spoonfuls of Cream and a little Rose-water, Nutmeg and Sugar and stir them together, and pour it over the Apples. Let it fry a little and then turn it with a Pye Plate. Garnish with Lemon and Sugar stewed over it.”

[Rare Books Perkins TX 151 William Thomas Smyth The complete family-piece and, country gentleman, and farmer’s best guide (1739)]

Knight’s Treatise has a manuscript note added at the end of the volume by James Corbett suggesting the best fruit to make cider:

“The fruit I should recommend for cider is the Black Norman, the Green or Brown Thorn, the Red Stier and the Wilding. If you plant these sorts, they will be all ripe together and therefore fit to grind at the same time, which is of very great importance in making cider. If you grind one fruit quite mellow and another quite green, you will find the fermenting (which spoils all ciders) not easily prevented.”

Apple Day is now an integral part of the calendar of many villages, local authorities and city markets and a focus for activities organised by a range of organisations such as the National Trust properties, Wildlife Trusts, as well as museums and galleries and horticultural societies. For information on the day go to: http://www.national-awareness-days.com/apple-day.html

The 28th Wellington Lecture and Explore Your Archive events

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28th Wellington Lecture
This year’s Wellington Lecture, titled ‘Wellington, a Storied Life’, will be delivered by Bernard Cornwell, the most successful and prolific historical novelist writing today. He is the author of over 50 novels published in 30 countries and in 28 languages and has sold over 20 million books around the world. His non-fiction account of the battle of Waterloo was a number one bestseller and received rave reviews.

Date: Wednesday 19 October 2016 | 18:00, teas & coffees will be served from 17:30

Venue: Building 32/Room 1015 (Triple EEE Lecture Theatre)

For further information and to register for the lecture go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/28th-wellington-lecture-tickets-26900535225


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Explore Your Archive events
To mark this year’s Wellington Lecture, Special Collections will be hosting a free open afternoon allowing visitors to view material from the Wellington Archive and meet the curators.

While tickets have recently sold out for this event, we will be hosting two further Explore Your Archive events in November and December, focusing on medicine and the arts respectively.

Further details will be post the Special Collections blog, Facebook page and Events Calendar in the coming weeks.

The Battle of Cable Street – 4th October 1936

The Battle of Cable Street is a significant moment in the history of London Jewry and has often been represented as a turning point in the struggle against Fascism in Britain. This week, commemorations for the 80th anniversary will include a march and a rally in east London – both to remember the past – and to highlight the importance of combating racism and prejudice today.

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Anti-fascist protesters run as police approach a barricade near Aldgate during the clashes – crowds had overturned a lorry in Cable Street and used building materials from a local building yard to block the road.

There were at least 100,000 Anti-Fascist protesters on the streets that day (some sources suggest as many as 250,000 people). Jews, Irish dockers, trade unionists, Communists, Independent Labour Party members, women and children turned out to form a “Human barrier to Stop Fascists” [Sunday Referee, 4 October 1936]. “LIKE A SIEGE. 84 arrests, 200 hurt” ran the headlines of the Daily Express, following clashes with police – who made baton charges into the crowds in an attempt to clear the roads.  Just one week earlier, the British Union of Fascists (BUF) had announced its intention to parade in the vicinity of the Royal Mint, where it would be drawn up in military formation and inspected by Sir Oswald Mosley. From here they planned to march through Aldgate and Whitechapel – the heart of the Jewish East End of London – before holding Fascist meetings at multiple venues in the area. [q BZ8211.P73 Parkes Cable St. press cuttings]

'Stop Racial Incitement in East London!!' poster [MS 60/15/53] – thousands of leaflets were distributed prior to the march

‘Stop Racial Incitement in East London!!’ poster [MS 60/15/53] – thousands of leaflets were distributed prior to the march

The BUF had been running a campaign of provocation and violence aimed at stirring up anti-Semitism in the East End for some time. The newly formed Jewish People’s Council against Fascism and Anti-Semitism (JPC) drew attention to inflammatory speeches, indoor and outdoor meetings, processions into Jewish and anti-Fascist districts, and incidents of violence against Jews. Their statement of policy identified the BUF with a modern political anti-Semitism which threatened the democratic rights of the British people as a whole. [MS 60/15/53]

Strenuous efforts were made by local organisations to persuade the government to prohibit the march – the mayors of five East End boroughs asked the Home Office to ban it – but without success.

Petition to the Secretary for Home Affairs [MS 116/6]

Petition to the Secretary for Home Affairs [MS 116/6]

In just 48 hours, the JPC gathered almost a 100,000 signatures for a petition which was presented to the Home Secretary, Sir John Simon. This would not have been possible without the “magnificent assistance” of local Anti-Fascist groups, including the Jewish Councils of Action, the East London Association for combating Fascism; the Ex-Servicemen’s Movement against Fascism, and the members of the Workers’ Circle.

Although the parade went ahead, the scale of the counter-demonstration and the threat of blood shed were so great, that Sir Philip Game, the Chief Police Commissioner, called off the march through the East End to prevent further breaches of the peace. Running battles continued for hours in the streets.

'Fascist Hooliganism!' poster [MS 60/15/53]

‘Fascist Hooliganism!’ poster [MS 60/15/53]

The BUF may have suffered defeat on the day but the fight against Fascism was far from won. The passage of the Public Order Act, 1936, after the disturbances, banned marching in uniform and required police consent in order for marches to go ahead. In the short term, however, historians suggest that life became worse for Jews in the East End. The prominent Jewish involvement at Cable Street and the publicity that violent opposition had produced was exploited by the Fascists to gain sympathy and support.

The story and significance of Cable Street is vividly captured in the papers of the Reverend James William Parkes (1896-1981), held here in the Special Collections at Southampton. Parkes dedicated the greater part of his life to combating anti-Semitism. He had first-hand knowledge of the situation in the East End of London and in 1936 he was meeting local people, giving educational lectures, trying to understand the problem, in order to work out possible solutions. His papers shed a fascinating light on the different approaches and viewpoints within the Jewish community and of the efforts of Gentiles and Christians to join them in the fight against prejudice.

To read about the life of the Reverend James Parkes: MS 60

Cable Street 80: http://cablestreet80.org.uk/