Monthly Archives: October 2018

The Bridal Chest of Bramshill, or, A Ghost Tale from the Cope Collection

To mark Halloween we need look no further than the former home of the Cope Collection, Bramshill House in Hampshire. Boasting fourteen ghosts and described as ‘one of the most haunted houses in England’, many of its apparitions feature in a memoir by Sir William Cope’s great-grandaughter, Joan Penelope Cope. They include a lady in grey usually seen at 3 a.m., a woman in white, leaping from the balustrade and a green man seen by the Pale Pond, possibly one Sir Henry Cope, who favoured green for his clothing, decor and more unusually, his food. As well as these visual manifestations, heavily spurred boots had been heard on the stairs and visitors in the Chapel Drawing Room reported the sensation of having their hand taken by a child.

View of Bramshill from George Prosser Select Illustrations of Hampshire (1834-39) Rare Books Cope quarto 91.5

Of these tales, one became particularly well-known, that of a young woman dressed in white seen in the Long Gallery and the Fleur-de-Lys Room. The story went that many years ago at a Christmas wedding, the young bride had insisted on playing a game of hide and seek, only to find herself locked in the chest in which she had hidden. Despite the desperate searches of the wedding party, she could not be found. Some years later the chest was opened, revealing her remains, a sprig of mistletoe still clutched in her skeletal hand.

The association of the story with Bramshill was such that in 1890, perhaps after one too many of his visitors had asked to see the chest, Sir William Cope printed a short pamphlet on the subject, The Bridal Chest of Bramshill. Sadly for devotees of the supernatural, Cope reported that the chest concerned was no longer at Bramshill, having been removed earlier in the 19th century by the widow of the tenth baronet, and more importantly, there was no record of any bride in the family having died shortly after her wedding, neither had the ghost been seen by any living witness.

The Bridal Chest of Bramshill (1890) Rare Books Cope BRAMI 39

Cope’s explanation was that the original bridal chest, of Italian origin, had become associated with a story set in Italy of an entombed bride, told in Samuel Rogers’ 1822 poem ‘Ginevra’. Rogers wrote that he believed the story ‘founded on fact’, though at a time and place uncertain, whilst Cope had been informed that ‘a Lady of a distinguished Italian house’ had claimed the story for her family describing the chest as having been sold to an Englishman. The fifth baronet, Sir John Cope, was known to have lived in Italy during the 17th century and to have returned with various items acquired at this time.

Following the publication of the poem, the story was popularised in a ballad of the 1830s, ‘The Mistletoe Bough’ by T.H. Bayly and Sir Henry Bishop and it became associated with a number of country houses. It was retold in a play by C.A. Somerset in 1835, provided the inspiration for Henry James’ The Romance of Certain Old Clothes (1868), appeared as a short story by Susan E. Wallace in 1887 and was the subject of three silent films, including The Mistletoe Bough by Percy Shaw (1904). More recently ‘The Mistletoe Bride’ has again been retold as a short story by both Jeanette Winterson (2002) and Kate Mosse (2013).

For those who might have hoped that both the chest and its ghostly contents had been transported from Italy to Bramshill, it now appears that the story has an origin earlier than the 1822 poem cited by Cope. It is recounted under the title ‘A Melancholy Occurrence’ in the 1809 issue of The Monthly and Boston Review, but in this case the tale is set in Germany and was described as a ‘singular and calamitous event’ brought to light a few years since.

It seems that Bramshill House, currently the subject of development proposals, might be lacking one of its fourteen ghosts, but who can know what the remaining thirteen will make of any proposed changes.

Bramshill House, showing the oriel window of the haunted Chapel Drawing Room Rare Books Cope c BRAMS 72

For descriptions of more recent sightings of the Bramshill ghosts, including the Mistletoe Bride, see: Ian Fox The Haunted Places of Hampshire (1997) Cope 39.

Florence Nightingale, nursing and the Crimean War

In 1825 Henry Holmes, agent for the third Viscount Palmerston reported to his master:

Embley has been sold to a Mr. Nightingale from Derbyshire. He is related by marriage to Mr. Carter the MP for Portsmouth and married to a daughter of William Smith, MP for Norwich.

Embley Park in East Wellow, near Romsey, was a stone’s throw from Palmerston’s Broadlands estate. William and Frances Nightingale moved in with their two young daughters, Parthenope, and Florence who would have been 5 at the time of the purchase.

Watercolour of the entrance into the Walis Orchard from the gate of the Forest Lodge, Embley [Cope Collection cq 91.5 EMB]

William was an enlightened man.  He stood as a Whig candidate for Andover, supported the Reform Bill and moved in the same circles as his neighbour, Palmerston.  In 1830 he wrote asking to see his speech on the “Catholic question” [i.e. Emancipation]. [BR113/12/5].  William seconded Palmerston’s candidacy for his Romsey seat in 1830 and they hunt and shot together. 

William chose to tutor his daughter Florence at home, something which was unusual for the period.  Florence felt her vocation in life to be nursing but her family, particularly her mother, were unsupportive.  However, in 1853 she became superintendent to the Institution for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Distressed Circumstances in London.  Her father had granted her a generous allowance of £500 a year to enable her to take up this position and she impressed everyone with her skills as a nurse and organiser.

Sketch of “Miss Florence Nightingale, the Soldier’s Friend” drawn by Elston, and published by Ellis,1856 [Cope Collection cq 95 NIG]

The Crimean War broke out in March 1854.  The public were appalled by the reports of inadequate nursing of wounded soldiers and the secretary of state at war, Sidney Herbert, was held accountable.  Florence Nightingale was close friends with Sidney and his wife, (Mary) Elizabeth since a meeting a few years previously and thus, on 21 October 1854, she was sent out to the Crimea, with a staff of 38 nurses.  It was during this period that Florence Nightingale began her pioneering work in modern nursing.

After her return from the Crimea, Florence focused on her sanitary and statistical work.  We have three letters she sent to her Hampshire neighbour Palmerston while he was Prime Minister. In May 1862 she writes concerning a reorganisation of the War Office a started by her late friend Sidney Herbert:

This plan ensured direct responsibility in the hands of all departments instead of shifting unstable responsibility hitherto the curse of W.O. administration.

[MS 62 Broadlands Archives GC/NI/5]

The following year she contacts Palmerston again, having been “thinking all night on this matter” [Herbert’s sanitary reforms] in which she is “deeply interested.” [MS 62 Broadlands Archives GC/NI/7]. 

The Crimean War had highlighted the need for an additional hospital.  A site at Netley, on the Southampton Water, was chosen for ease of landing invalids direct from the transport ships.  The plans for the hospital had been made and building started before Nightingale returned from the Crimea.  She wrote a report regarding what she considered to be fundamental flaws in its construction, lighting and ventilation, suggesting alternatives, but Lord Panmure, the [Secretary of state for War / Secretary at War], was unresponsive.  She therefore went over his head to the Prime Minister, her Lord Palmerston but the hospital was built following the original plans.

The Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley. Taken from The Leisure Hour, April 1833 [Cope Collection c NET 45]

Another influential friend of Nightingale’s was Inspector-General Maclean, a Professor of Military Medicine at the Netley Military Hospital.  Here we find a link with the University as Maclean gave the Hartley Institution – a forerunner to the University –  help and counsel in the later nineteenth century.

The University has a long affinity with the health sciences.  In 1894, the Institution was recognised by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons as a place of instruction for students preparing for their first medical examination.  It was not until 1982 that some 20 students joined the University as the first cohort for a nursing degree.  A new school of Nursing and Midwifery was formed in 1995 by the amalgamation of the NHS College of Nursing and Midwifery with the exiting nursing group in the Faculty of Medicine.  Nursing at the University is now ranked 9th in the world and third in the UK according to the QS World Rankings by Subject 2018.

The Nightingale Building on the Highfield Campus which houses the School of Nursing and Midwifery [MS 1 University Collection Phot/19/352]

Florence’s Nightingale’s achievements in the field of nursing are commemorated on campus by the Nightingale Building which opened in September 2000 to house School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Sir Denis Pack: a Wellington ally

As we enjoy this year’s annual Wellington Lecture today, it is fitting that we announce the acquisition of a new collection of material relating to the career of Sir Denis Pack, one of Wellington’s generals. The collection, which includes maps relating to military actions in which Pack fought, complements both the current collection of his papers held by the Division (MS296) and material within the Wellington Archive (MS61).

Sir Denis Pack [MS296 A4298]

Sir Denis Pack [MS296 A4298]

Major General Sir Denis Pack, K.C.B (d.1823) entered the army in 1791. He served in Flanders, 1794-5, Cape of Good Hope, 1806, and subsequently in South America. He fought at Roliça and Vimeiro, 1808 and Corunna, 1809. Having served on the Walcheren expedition and at the siege of Flushing in 1809, he returned to the Iberian Peninsula to serve with the Duke of Wellington. He commanded a Portuguese brigade, part of Marshal Beresford’s Portuguese forces, at Busaco in 1810 and Almeida in 1811.

Detail from map of Battle of Busaco [MS296 A4298]

Detail from map of the battle of Busaco [MS296 A4298]

Pack took part at the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo and the battles of Salamanca, Vitoria and Orthes. In 1815, he commanded a brigade of Sir Thomas Picton’s Fifth Division at the battles of Quatre Bras and of Waterloo. Pack was Lieutenant Governor of Plymouth, serving alongside Wellington as Governor, from 1819 until his death in 1823.

Pack served with distinction at the Battle of Salamanca, 22 July 1812, and was mentioned in the official despatch of the battle written by Wellington to Lord Bathurst of 24 July. He also honourably mentioned for his part in the operations against Burgos later in 1812.

Amongst the maps in the new acquisition is a hand drawn one of the battle of Salamanca, with handwritten notes, providing us with a valuable new resource to supplement and illustrate the written descriptions of this battle.

Manuscript map of the battle of Salamanca, 1812 [MS296 A4298]

Manuscript map of the battle of Salamanca, 1812 [MS296 A4298]

Palmerston and the slave trade

This week we hand the reigns over to PhD student Rob McGregor who has been conducting research on Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston and his relationship with British anti-slavery.  We could have titled this blog post “A beginner’s guide to historical research” as Rob provides very clear and sound advice for masters and  PhD students who wish to use original archival material in their essays.

The Right Honorable Henry John Temple, Lord Viscount Palmerston, G.B.C. Painted by J.Lucas; engraved by H.Cook. [Cope Collection cq 95 PAL pr 102]

Since the nineteenth-century, Britain has been depicted as an ‘anti-slavery nation,’ guiding the rest of the world to follow its lead in abolishing the Atlantic slave trade as well as the institution of slavery. At the helm of the Foreign Office and later as Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, one of Britain’s least known but arguably most important statesmen, led the nation’s crusade against the slave trade. By the time of his death in office in 1865, he had virtually achieved this mission. However, although he has been remembered as many things, neither scholars nor the public have ever regarded Palmerston as a warm and sincere abolitionist. My PhD therefore looks into Palmerston’s relationship with British anti-slavery, considering his unique position, policy and conviction, as well as his motivations for wanting to end the slave trade.

A Bill respecting the Brazilian slave trade, known as the “Aberdeen Act”. It has been annotated by Palmerston; his note on the front reads “This Bill is amended as original prepared and submitted to the Queens Advocate 30 June 1845”. [MS 62 Palmerston Papers SLT/25]

Over the last three years, I have had the opportunity to read a wide range of sources related to the slave trade, but without doubt the most exciting and useful sources underpinning my work have been Palmerston’s private letters and semi-official correspondence, held in the Broadlands archive of Southampton University’s Special Collections.

This body of documents provides a unique glimpse of Palmerston’s own inner thoughts and views. What did he really think about anti-slavery? Were his public statements a true reflection of his private thoughts? Only by analysing his private letters, it seems to me, can these vital questions be answered.

“An estimate of the number of slaves introduced into Brazil during each year from 1826 to 1863 as far as can be ascertained from the records of the F[oreign] O[ffice].” 4 Aug 1864 [MS 62 Palmerston Papers SLT/36]

It can be daunting when first faced with a lengthy catalogue of primary material to explore. When I began my PhD in 2015, I was lucky enough to be conversant with the practice of searching for materials already, since I had used the archive to research my undergraduate dissertation, also on ‘Palmerston and the slave trade.’ Back then, I had been drawn to a sub-division of the archive entitled ‘Papers on the slave trade.’ It looked perfect, containing 37 items all relating to Palmerston’s anti-slavery endeavours. I looked through these papers closely and, once I had got used to reading Palmerston’s hand-writing – which I gratefully learned was excellent compared to some of his colleagues – I found lots of interesting things, like how the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society had presented an address to him in 1842 thanking him for his ‘generous zeal,’ or a note he wrote to himself about how his ‘blood boiled with indignation’ and his heart ‘burned with shame’ at the ‘miseries of the African.’ But when I started my PhD, I realised I was only scratching the surface.

As a Postgraduate, I learned from my supervisor, Professor David Brown, that the largest sub-division of the archive was his General Correspondence, containing around three-quarters of his letters. In total there are around 40,000 items in the Palmerston Papers, so finding things related to anti-slavery felt like looking for a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, navigating this abundance of materials was not as challenging or impossible as I’d feared.

Memorandum, in the hand of Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, of vessels reported as engaged in the slave trade at and near Rio de Janeiro, 1836-7 [MS 62 Palmerston Papers SLT/11]

I soon learnt that since this particular collection is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, the best way to find sources relating to my subject was to think creatively about who Palmerston would be writing to about it, and crucially, when. To begin with then, I searched the archive’s online catalogue for letters Palmerston had written to known abolitionists, members of anti-slavery societies, and above all his Whig colleagues.

To read through Palmerston’s letters to all of these people, however, would have taken years. There are over 1000 letters between Palmerston and Russell alone! I therefore had to limit my searches to key dates when I suspected anti-slavery would be on the political agenda; when important anti-slavery conferences were taking place or anti-slavery treaties signed, when Palmerston was threatening a pro-slavery country or when naval captains were causing furore at home and abroad by their violent actions on the West African coast.

Memorandum, by Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, showing “what has been done about Slave Trade since last year”, 30 May 1837 [MS 62 Palmerston Papers SLT/9/1]

This process served me well. Although I never found one particular letter which answered all of my questions, over time, after reading hundreds of letters in which Palmerston touched on British anti-slavery, a picture was built up which informed the direction and argument of my resulting thesis. Palmerston, it now seems to me, felt a sincere revulsion against the slave trade and wanted to end it not just because it was a long-running British aim or because it was in the nation’s imperial and economic interests, but because he felt genuine humanitarian impulses to end what he considered humanity’s greatest crime.

Thus, for me, using the Broadlands Archive was a creative process, one that required me to think imaginatively and intelligently about how to locate the best sources to help answer my particular research questions. And, due to the unique nature of the sources, it has been both an incredibly exciting and essential part of my PhD research.

Cooking for court and countryside

Held in the autumn, at the same time as harvest festival, British Food Fortnight (22 September to 7 October this year) is the biggest annual, national celebration of British food and drink.

A selection of confections from The Court and Country Cook (1702)

A display of confections from The Court and Country Cook (1702)

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, France set the style of upper-class dining and employing a French cook was the height of fashion amongst aristocratic families (including by Lord and Lady Palmerston at Broadlands). François Massialot was one of the most influential French chefs of the time. His combined works were translated into English as The Court and Country Cook (Westminster Hall, 1702), a copy of which is part of the Rare Books held in Special Collections, and was an influence on subsequent cookery books published in Britain.

Recipe for "burnt cream" in The Court and Country Cook (1702)

Recipe for “burnt cream” in The Court and Country Cook (1702) Rare Books TX 707

Massialot, born in Limoges in 1660, served as chef de cuisine to the French court and aristocracy, including to Philippe I, Duc d’Orléans, the brother of Louis XIV. He described himself as “a cook who dares to qualify himself royal”, since the meals he included in his book “have all been served at court or in the houses of princes, and of people of the first rank.” Massialot’s book contained the first alphabetical listing of recipes. He also is credited for crême brulée, or “burnt cream” as it is referred in the English translation of his book.

William Ellis A Country Housewife's Family Companion (London 1750)

William Ellis A Country Housewife’s Family Companion (London 1750) Rare Books Perkins TX 151

As the eighteenth century progressed,  the growth of the middle classes led to a proliferation of manuals written in plain and accessible English on the art of plain cooking aimed at newly literature social groups, in particular servants and women. William Ellis’s A Country Housewife’s Family Companion (London, 1750) is one such example of this move from courtly to country cooking.  While it might be described as more a manual of country living than a cookery book, it provides much information on the product of English country kitchens. The British love of pudding is well provided for in the book with recipes for both sweet and savoury varieties, including such things as apple or rice as well as black and white “hogs” puddings.

We wish you an enjoyable British Food Fortnight, whatever you might be inspired to make or bake.

In the kitchen: illustration from The Girl's Own Indoor Book

Illustration from The Girl’s Own Indoor Book