Category Archives: Printed Collections

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.

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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

National Sporting Heritage Day: Sport Sources in Printed Special Collections

To mark National Sporting Heritage Day, we take a look at the sources we hold on Sport in Hampshire in our Printed Collections.

The Old Bowling Green, Southampton (Peter Cook Postcard Collection Vol 10)

The Old Bowling Green, Southampton (Peter Cook Postcard Collection Vol 10)

The sources can be found in our Cope Collection, which is a major resource for the study of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

For studying the history of sport in Hampshire, A History of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Volume V, Victoria County History, (1912) is a useful text. In its chapter titled “Sport Ancient and Modern”, the volume tells the reader about the introduction of foxhunting, and the ancient origin of flat racing in Hampshire, as well as shooting, and angling. There is also a section on sport in the New Forest, written by the Hon. Gerald Lascelles:

“Fishing is not one of the special features of New Forest sport, although in the streams of the forest itself are to be found plenty of small brown trout, diminutive in size but excellent in flavour, and very good baskets have sometimes been realised, chiefly with the worm.” [Page 568]

The chapter finishes on cricket, where it explains how first-class cricket was born in the small village of Hambledon, which is located approximately 15 miles north of Portsmouth:

“The great players of the club in the latter half of the eighteenth century besides Richard Nyren, were John Small, sen., a shoe maker and musician, who is said to have pacified an angry bull in the middle of a paddock by playing on his violin. His cricket balls were celebrated for their excellence, and Mr. Budd bought the last half-dozen he ever made at a guinea a piece; he was the best batsman of his time.” [Page 574]

pc4337

A Hampshire cricket team (pc4337)

Other useful historical resources relating to sport include the Hampshire Papers publication series, which cover cricket and football. In his work Association Football in Hampshire until 1914, Norman Gannaway explains how the first reference to football being played in Hampshire is in Vulgaria, a publication published in 1515 by Headmaster of Winchester College, William Horman.

After explaining the important contribution that public schools made to nineteenth-century football, Gannaway goes on to discuss Hampshire club football, where he confirms Fordingbridge Turks as being the oldest Hampshire football club in existence.

Hampshire Papers Publications

Hampshire Papers Publications

The Cope Collection also features the Sport in the South official directories, which date from the twentieth century. The publications feature strategic plans of the Sports Council, ‘Sport in the South’ award winners, lists of national sports centres in the southern region, and adult education sports opportunities.

Sport in the South

Sport in the South official directories

As well as holding Hampshire sport histories and publications, we also hold an important visual record of sports teams and sports facilities. This can be found in the Peter Cook Postcard Collection, which contains over 3000 postcards of Southampton. These include images of cricket teams and bowling teams, and others showing the old Bowling Green. Examples can be seen at the beginning of this blog post, and below.

Sports facilities displayed include the Central Baths in Southampton, which were located in Harbour Road. Containing the Southampton Olympic Pool, competitors travelled from afar to use the 100 feet bath and diving tower with its various heights. Due to new regulatory standards, such as the need of a separate diving pool, the Central Baths were knocked down in 1964. The facility was replaced by what is now the Quays Swimming and Diving Complex.

Central Baths, Southampton (pc4345)

Central Baths, Southampton (pc4345)

The postcard collection also features images of Southampton Football Club’s previous football ground, The Dell; and the Municipal Sports Centre in Bassett. The postcards provide a useful resource for studying the development of the city over time, and the leisure facilities provided.

Sports Centre, Southampton (pc4363)

Sports Centre, Southampton (pc4363)

The dangerous act of reading

6 September is Read a Book day.

The image of women as readers became common in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as literacy rates improved and women began to take part in the literary market. With this, however, came the idea of the danger of reading both in terms of appropriate reading matter and reading as an activity.

Illustration from The Lady's Monthly Museum vol. 8 (1802)

Women reading together from The Lady’s Monthly Museum vol. 8 (1802)

What was permissible for women to read was a matter of intense debate. Indeed, anything might be considered inappropriate since all books could be read subversively. Why books might be inappropriate was based on a range of arguments: that they might corrupt women’s minds and diminish them as women or that women might be unable to cope with emotionally provocative material. The case was also made that reading distracted women from their domestic duties as they learned about the world outside the home: a good and ideal woman should resist the pleasures of reading and take care of her husband and home.

Philosophy and metaphysics were subjects that women were most actively told to avoid, although it was the novel, which was written and read by women in increasing numbers in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, that caused the most cultural anxiety. As soon as novels came to represent a significant share of the literary market, they became the subject of opposition. One accusation was that they created expectations which could not be fulfilled in life.

How women read books also became a matter of concern. Silent reading was considered dangerous and solitary reading self-indulgent and potentially rebellious. Reading aloud to others was encouraged as a defence against the “seductive” dangers of sentimental novels.

Solitary reading [MS 242 A800]

Solitary reading [MS 242 A800]

Mary Mee was the second wife of the second Viscount Palmerston and mother of the future British Prime Minister, Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston. Described as a lively and charming women and elegant society hostess, she shared with her husband an interest in literary enquiry. The catalogue of books in the Book-room at Broadlands during Lady Palmerston’s time shows the range of material available for her to read, included were not just the works from the Classics, but relating to history and travel, poetry, literature and a range of novels, together with many works in French arrayed along the South End.

Catalogue of the Book-room at Broadlands, 1791 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR101/26]

Catalogue of the books in the Book-room at Broadlands [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR101/26]

What Lady Palmerston read, which included of history, travel writing and poetry — types of works considered acceptable reading for women — can be seen from her own poetry (“To a lady with Plutach’s works” being one example) and by references in her correspondence.

“I am now going to read Memoires du Comte Joseph Puisaye and when finished attack Barrow’s second volume [relating to his travels in Africa]. Fine time to improve one’s mind.  You will have at last one of the deepest read mother’s that son ever could boast of,” she noted in a letter to her son Henry, 28 May 1804 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR21/10/28]

And in another letter to Henry, 9 July 1804, she discussed  the multi-volume set of the correspondence of Samuel Richardson published that year: “They are sad .. But interesting to me having … heard so much of most of the characters who are friends and correspondents … and much [is] said of my poor aunt and uncle Godeshall. I wish they had been published in their live, it would have amazed and gratified them.” [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR21/10/42]

Aside from Richardson, the success of whose novel Pamela might be said to mark the start in the growth of novels within the literary market, Broadlands held novels by a number of women authors, including Charlotte Lennox’s The Female Quixote (1752), Frances Sheridan’s Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph (1761), Frances Burney’s Evelina (1778) and Cecilia (1782), Charlotte Turner Smith’s Emmeline (1788), Ethelinde (1789) and Montalbert (1795) and Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1796). In Frances Burney was a writer who could produce the comic and satirical energies of Smollett or Henry Fielding. Charlotte Turner Smith has been credited with influencing Jane Austen and particularly Charles Dickens. Sheridan’s novel was one of the most popular of the period and focused on the story of a female rake. Yet while it challenged female characterisation and explored the possibility of free choice, the heroine was ultimately to have her freedom quashed.

If Lady Palmerston was to see the idea of free choice for women thwarted in novels, she maintained her own choices in her own life. Writing to her husband on 13 May 1792, after reading a copy of Mary Wollstonecroft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) she noted “I have been reading the Rights of Women so you must in future expect me to be very tenacious of my rights and priviledges.” [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR11/18/5]

Listing of novels, including Joseph Andrews at north end of Book-room [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR101/26]

Listing of novels, including Joseph Andrews at north end of Book-room [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR101/26]

Amongst the array of the works of male novelists available at Broadlands were those of Tobias Smollett, Daniel Defoe, Laurence Sterne and Henry Fielding. Writing to her friend Emma Godfrey, 14 February 1803, Lady Palmerston extolled the merits of Fielding’s Joseph Andrews:

“I believe you have read a new work called Joseph Andrews. It certainly has not many equals. Surely no writer possessed a clearer knowledge at the human heart, of characters or their various casts, and so uncommon a share of wit and humour so ingeniously brought forward as Fielding, that the reader thinks [he] has some penetration in discerning it, for the author appears to assume no merit for the possession of his talents. His introductory chapters, his reflections are perfect of their kind and I hope if any time has passed since you made Mr Joseph Andrews’s acquaintance that you will immediately renew it.”

[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR18/5/5/115-18]

And on this Read a Book day we hope that you will be similarly inspired to renew the acquaintance with a book that you have enjoyed reading.

The abolition of the slave trade remembered

Thursday 23rd August is the UN’s International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

The University of Southampton’s Special Collections is home to many printed sources on slavery and the battle for its abolition. The Oates Collection contains over 220 books and pamphlets on the West Indies and the abolition of slavery, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. While the Wellington Pamphlets cover a broader range of topics, the pamphlets on the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies complement those held in the Oates Collection.

The slave trade was formally outlawed within the British Empire by the Slave Trade Act 1807; meaning the buying or selling of slaves was no longer legally permissible, but the continued ownership of slaves, sometimes called ‘the institution of slavery’ remained legal in the British Empire for some years afterwards. The prospect of its total abolition energized debate across the country in the early nineteenth century including here in Southampton, as shown below by this handbill dated 1824 taken from our Cope Collection. The author complains that a meeting held in Southampton to discuss prospects for improving the conditions of slaves in the West Indies was disrupted by a group hostile to any notion of abolition:

…a gentleman present declared to the meeting… that the wretched “Slaves in the West Indies are in a far better condition than many of the lower orders of people in this country!” … such a declaration – so degrading to humanity – so humiliating to Englishmen – was hailed by a number of persons with loud acclamation… I will not condescend to argue the question as I might on the ground of comparative feeding, and clothing, and lodging, and medical attendance. Are these the only claims – are these the chief privileges of a rational and immortal being? Is the consciousness of personal independence nothing?

Handbill to the inhabitants of Southampton, 1824 [ff Cope handbills vol. 2 item 77]

Handbill to the inhabitants of Southampton, 1824 [ff Cope handbills vol. 2 item 77]

The argument that slaves in the West Indies enjoyed better standards of living than some of the poorer peasantry of Britain was attacked by the author of this locally produced handbill as well as the influential abolitionist Thomas Clarkson in his pamphlet on The argument that the colonial slaves are better off than the British peasantry: answered from the Royal Jamaica Gazette of June 21, 1823 (R. Kirby, Whitby, 1824) a copy of which is held in the Oates Collection and has been made available digitally on the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/oates71082042. Clarkson’s pamphlet examines the contents of an edition of the Royal Jamaica Gazette with details of escaped West Indian slaves.

Thomas Clarkson

Thomas Clarkson The argument that the colonial slaves are better off than the British peasantry: answered from the Royal Jamaica Gazette of June 21, 1823 (R. Kirby, Whitby, printed for the Whitby Anti-Slavery Society, 1824) [Rare Books HR 1091]

Clarkson demolishes the argument on the comparative condition of slaves and the British labouring poor, noting that the British peasantry are not treated like cattle and branded multiple times with the initials of their masters; they are not made to wear chains or routinely flogged and separated from their loved ones with ‘the tenderest ties of nature forcefully broken asunder’; nor are they routinely locked up in jail for fleeing from their masters. Clarkson asks his readers to contemplate why, if the living-conditions of West Indian slaves were so comfortable, would so many attempt escape in the first instance? Clarkson argues that, even if we accept the spurious arguments of comparative material well-being, liberty ‘constitutes the best part of a man’s happiness’ and he asks us to consider the following scenario:

Tell a man, that he shall be richly clothed, delightfully lodged, and luxuriously fed; but that, in exchange for all this, he must be the absolute property of another; that he must no longer have a will of his own; that to identify him as property, he may have to undergo the painful and degrading operation of being branded on the flesh with a hot iron… and do you think that he would hesitate one moment as to the choice to make? [p. 16]

When the argument defending slavery on the basis of comparative material well-being began to falter, subsequent to scrutiny from Clarkson and others, those who stood to lose out financially were it to be abolished often fell back upon outright racism to justify the practice, as evidenced by the following letter discussing the preservation of slavery in Jamaica, written on 5 March 1830 to the first Duke of Wellington: details of which also can be found on-line through the Wellington Papers database: http://www.archives.soton.ac.uk/wellington/

WP1/1100/2

Letter from J.Neilson to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, discussing the preservation of slavery in Jamaica, 5 March 1830 [MS 61 Wellington Papers 1/1100/2]

Dire economic consequences were also threatened should slavery be abolished, but the moral outrage of the practice could not be endured by the British public indefinitely and in 1833 the Slavery Abolition Act was passed, which came into force the following year. This law prohibited slavery in the British Empire but exemptions were made for certain territories, including those administered by the East India Company where slavery continued for a further ten years until 1843. Furthermore, slaves who were ‘freed’ from 1834 were not immediately emancipated but were made to continue working as unpaid ‘apprentices’ until 1838. The British government took out a loan in order to compensate slave owners; the terms of which were finalised in 1835 and were equivalent to 5% of the nation’s GDP. The last instalment of this loan was paid in 2015.

Accessions Registers reveal library wartime cooperation

The news that the University Library is contributing to the programme to help restock the ransacked Library of the University of Mosul confirms the longstanding tradition of cooperation amongst libraries in times of crisis. By coincidence, an earlier example of this recently came to light in the Library’s accessions registers, where amongst the usual entries of ‘lost’ and ‘withdrawn’ some notes were found which recorded the transfer of books to other libraries. In this case the libraries were Plymouth Public Library and Birkbeck College Library and the dates were 1941 and 1942.

Extract from Library Accession Register

It is clear from this, that in addition to the many other ways in which University College, Southampton supported the war effort, it also played its part in helping to restock libraries devastated by enemy action during the Second World War. Plymouth Public Library had been destroyed in March 1941 with the loss of over 72,000 books and Birkbeck Library had suffered a direct hit. With many other libraries suffering the same fate, appeals were made for books to restock those most severely damaged.

The notes in the accessions registers suggest that transferring the books was also advantageous to the Library, enabling it to remove duplicates and free up space – sufficient space being the often unachievable ambition of most librarians. Library Annual Reports confirm that an overhaul of stock had begun in 1940/41 and in response to an appeal from the Universities Bureau of the British Empire, a list of 400 duplicates had already been offered to University College, London, which had lost 100,000 books as a result of fire and water damage following air raids.

The Annual Reports also record the involvement of Library staff in another wartime initiative, the National Book Recovery Appeal which began in 1943. The Appeal had developed from concerns that important books and documents might be destroyed as a result of the Ministry of Supply’s paper salvage campaign which was designed to alleviate the paper shortage caused by the cessation of imports. A Central Committee of Scrutiny was set up to oversee the process and local committees were established to run the ‘Book Drives’. Miss M.I. Henderson, the Librarian of University College, Southampton was appointed as one of the members of Southampton’s Scrutiny Committee and also assisted the New Forest’s Salvage Committee.

National Book Salvage Campaign. Books being examined by Miss H.M. Swift, Mr H.W. Belmore and Miss M. I. Henderson, February 1943.

Southampton’s first Book Drive ran from 6th-20th February 1943, with others being held in Winchester, Basingstoke, Portsmouth and Fareham. Book collection points were established in schools and shops with a central depot at Albion Hall, St Mary’s Street. Books brought in were to be sorted into those suitable for restocking devastated libraries, books for H.M. Forces and those which could be pulped without any loss to scholarship and society. Southampton’s Book Drive yielded over 160,000 books, which took about three weeks to sort. Of these, 3,188 were sent to the Inter-Allied Book Centre for restocking libraries, 16,581 were sent to H.M. Forces, for both recreation and instruction and 141,731 were pulped.

Detail of engraved title page of: John Britton The History and Antiquities of the See and Cathedral Church of Winchester (1817) Rare Books Cope q WIN 26

As an incentive to libraries to get involved in Book Drives, up to 5% of the total number of books collected could be retained locally and the accessions registers reveal that a number of books did make their way into the University Library’s collections. Amongst these was an 1817 edition of John Britton’s The History and Antiquities of the See and Cathedral Church of Winchester, which was added to the Cope Collection, as was C.R. Acton’s Sport and Sportsmen of the New Forest, which still bears a bookplate recording its presentation by Lyndhurst Salvage Committee in August 1943.

From: C.R. Acton Sport and Sportsmen of the New Forest (1936) Cope 97.794

 

 

The 1918 Education Act and Herbert A.L. Fisher

This week we mark the 100th anniversary of the Education Act (1918) by looking at material we hold relating to education in our Cope Collection. Often known as the Fisher Act, because it was drawn up by Herbert Fisher, it raised the school leaving age to fourteen and included the provision of additional services such as medical inspection, nursery schools and centres for pupils with special needs. It applied to England and Wales (there was a separate act for Scotland).

Photograph from the George Grantham Bain collection at the Library of Congress.

Herbert A.L.Fisher (1865-1940) was an English historian, educator, and Liberal politician. He was educated at Winchester College and became a tutor in modern history at the University of Oxford.  In his autobiography, he recalls his own school days with great fondness:

I enjoyed every moment of my life at Winchester; the work, the games, the society of my fellows and of the masters, and the compelling beauty of the old buildings, of the College Meads, and of the sweet water-meadows…

[H.A.L.Fisher, An Unfinished Autobiography, Oxford: 1940]

In 1916, Fisher was asked by David Lloyd George to join the coalition government as President of the Board of Education because “the country would take more educational reform from an educationalist than from a politician.”  Lloyd George assured Fisher that money would be available for reform and that he would have his full support.   Fisher describes how despite a largely conservative cabinet, the Prime Minister’s support ensured the acceptance of every plan.

In 1917 he submitted a memorandum to the Cabinet, detailing the deficiencies in public education and the appropriate remedies.  His maiden speech in the House of Commons introduced a new scheme of educational finance.  That same year he also obtained a second reading for an Education Bill that would curtail industrial labour and give local authorities the ability to promote education from nursery schools upwards.  It became apparent that his proposals were too drastic: there was concern on the part of local authorities who would have to administer the act plus from employers would be losing adolescent labourers.  However, in 1918 the Education Act was passed.  That same year, it was supplemented by the Teachers’ Superannuation Act which provided a pension for all teachers.

The University’s Cope Collection contains Proceedings of Education Committee from 1918 onwards for the administrative county of Southampton.  The minutes record how. in November 1918, several farmers in Overton and Micheldever Districts appealed for the release of children from school for potato digging.

One aspect of the Education Act was the provision of medical inspection and the Library also holds contemporaneous medical reports of the School Medical Officer.  One dating from 1922 states that medical inspection of school children had been in existence in Hampshire for 14 years: the County must have been ahead of the times in this regard.  What was not so advanced is the language used to describe those children we would today consider to have special needs.

The report describes how two groups of children were assessed: “entrants” aged 5 and “leavers” aged around 12 or 13.  There used to be a third assessment of an intermediate group, ages 8 or 9, but this had to be stopped due to lack of staff time: some things never change. During the year, 3,456 children were discovered to have “verminous heads”: any carer of a school-age child will tell you that head lice are still a big problem today.  It should be remembered that this report pre-dates the founding of the National Health Service.

Fisher’s Act had a significant impact on a whole general of children: education provision in the country was not significantly changed for another 26 years until the Butler Act of 1944.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) Son of Southampton, Father of English Hymnology

On the 17th July, 1861 – the anniversary of his birth – a crowd gathered in a Southampton park to witness the inauguration of the statue of Isaac Watts, one of the town’s most famous sons. Financed by public subscription, the statue was the work of Richard Cockle Lucas, the eccentric sculptor of Chilworth and depicted Watts facing towards the town in the attitude of a preacher, with basso- relievos on the sides of the pedestal recording his activities as teacher, philosopher and poet.

The statue of Isaac Watts in Richard Cockle Lucas’ studio (Rare Books Cope 73 LUC)

The events of the day are recorded in the Cope Collection’s copy of Memorials, Historical, Descriptive, Poetical & Pictorial, Commemorative of the Inauguration of the Statue to Dr Isaac Watts in the Western Park, Southampton (1861), which also noted that the area around the statue would in future be known as Watts’ Park. A procession which began at 2 o’clock was followed by poetry readings, hymn singing and an inaugural address given by the Earl of Shaftesbury, the proceedings being concluded by a soirée at the Royal Victoria Rooms at which ‘a large assemblage of persons of all ranks, parties and denominations’ enjoyed refreshments at moderate charges.

Memorials … Commemorative of the Inauguration of the Statue to Dr Isaac Watts (1861) [Rare Books Cope SOU 96 WAT]

Born into a nonconformist family in 1674, Isaac Watts was educated at the free grammar school until the age of sixteen when he left Southampton to attend the dissenting academy at Stoke Newington. His life as an Independent minister was greatly influenced by these early years during which his father, also named Isaac, was imprisoned for his beliefs and was, for two years, forced to live away from the family. Two Bibles which belonged to the Watts family at this time are now in the University Archives, the family Bible which belonged to Isaac Watts senior which records his marriage to Sarah Taunton and the birth of their children, and a smaller pocket Bible, passed from father to son, in which the younger Isaac added his own contemplations and acrostic petitions.

An acrostic by Isaac Watts in his copy of the Bible [MS 52]

Southampton also played a part in Isaac Watts’ career as a hymn-writer. It was on a lengthy visit after he had finished his education, that he began composing many of the hymns for which he became famous. The story was told that after accompanying his father to a service at the Above Bar Independent Church, he complained about the quality of the hymns (the texts, not necessarily the singing) and was told to mend the matter himself. This he did and in 1707 published his Hymns and Spiritual Songs. In 1719 The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament followed, in which Watts interpreted the Psalms in a way which reflected Christian worship. The town has also been suggested as the inspiration for some of the lines in Watts’ hymns, particularly those in ‘There is a land of pure delight’.

Memorials … Commemorative of the Inauguration of the Statue to Dr Isaac Watts (1861) [Rare Books Cope SOU 96 WAT]

Today the links between Isaac Watts and Southampton are clear to both see and hear as the tune ‘St Anne’, commonly used for one of his best known hymns, ‘Oh God our help in ages past’ (a paraphrase of Psalm 90), rings out from the Civic Centre clock tower overlooking Watts’ Statue in the centre of Watts’ Park.

The Coronation of Queen Victoria, 28 June 1838

Today marks 180 years since Queen Victoria’s coronation. Aged 19, and a female, Queen Victoria’s coronation was an event that created an excited amount of interest among all classes. Crowds totalled up to 400,000 persons and £200,000 was expended.

Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes (1897) [Rare Book DA 55A]

Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes (1897) Rare Books DA 55A

The coronation was almost the same as that of William IV. One of the exceptions was the route from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey was lengthened. This was in order to provide more people with the opportunity of seeing their Queen.

Queen Victoria at her coronation, Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes (1897) [Rare Book DA 55A]

Queen Victoria at her coronation

At 10am, Queen Victoria stepped into her carriage, which was a new Royal Standard, (30 by 18 feet), while the bands played the National Anthem and the salute of 21 guns fired in Hyde Park.

Arriving at Westminster Abbey at 11.30am, the Sovereign was received by the Great Offices of the State, with the noblemen bearing the Regalia; and the Bishops carrying the Patina, the Chalice, and the Bible.

The coronation service lasted five hours and involved two changes of dress for the Queen.

After the ceremony, the Ministers gave official State dinners and the Duke of Wellington a grand ball, in which 2000 guests were invited. A fair was also held in Hyde Park, which lasted for 4 days; and theatres in London were thrown open.

Queen Victoria, 1838 Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes (1897) [Rare Book DA 55A]

Queen Victoria, 1838

The Handel Commemoration 1784

The Handel Commemoration held during the last week of May and the first week of June 1784 was the musical and social event of the year. Marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the composer’s death, the series of three concerts – two of sacred music at Westminster Abbey and one of secular music at the Pantheon – proved so popular that the Westminster Abbey concerts had to be repeated. Those who paid the one guinea entrance fee were treated to one of the “grandest and most magnificent spectacles which imagination can delineate”.

An Account of the Musical Performances in Westminster-Abbey and the Pantheon by Charles Burney (1785) Rare Books q ML 410.H2

The event was recorded in great detail in An Account of the Musical Performances in Westminster-Abbey and the Pantheon… by Charles Burney (1785), a copy of which has been presented to the Library by a former student. The book contains illustrations of the ticket designs and the assembled performers, a plan of the orchestra and lists of those who took part as well as reviews of the concerts. Dedicated to King George III, the book’s erratic page numbering  (vii, [1], xvi, 8, *8, 9-20, *19-*24, 21-56, 21, [6], 26-41, [6], 46-90, [5], 94-139, [3] p.) was in part the result of additions and revisions suggested by the King, who showed a keen interest in all matters relating to the Commemoration. With the concerts taking place in the aftermath of the constitutional crisis in which William Pitt took office in place of the Fox-North coalition, the high profile event presented George III with an opportunity to promote a sense of national unity and a healing of the political divide.

View of the Orchestra and Performers in Westminster Abbey

According to Burney, Westminster Abbey was transformed for the event. The  staging built for the performers at the west end, rose from seven feet above floor level to an impressive forty feet, where the organ, constructed for Canterbury Cathedral, but being given a trial run, was placed in a gothic frame. Large instruments were assembled to produce enough sound to fill the space and the orchestra had 250 members, with the choir bringing the total number of performers to 522. A Royal Box was built at the east end of the aisle, where there was also seating for the “first personages of the kingdom”, including the organisers, the Directors of the Concerts of Ancient Music, identified by their white wands tipped with gold. Over the course of the concerts, £6,000 was raised for the Fund for the Support of Decay’d Musicians, a charity supported by Handel himself, and £1,000 for Westminster Hospital, whose own charity concert had been displaced by the Commemoration.

List of vocal performers

Coverage in the newspaper and periodical press both in the days leading up to the concerts and in those that followed was unprecedented. There was correspondence concerning retention of the tickets, which included designs by well-known artists and engravers, it was announced that ladies with hats would not be admitted and they were requested to come “without feathers and wearing small hoops, if any”. Reviewing the first concert, the Gentleman’s Magazine could not “in any adequate terms describe the grandeur of the spectacle” the King appearing to be in an “extasy of astonishment” on seeing the sight before him. The Commemoration was widely reported in provincial newspapers, the Hampshire Chronicle also having difficulty in finding the words to describe the sight.

Hampshire Chronicle 7 June 1784 Rare Books Cope per ff 05

Not all of the coverage was so positive. The Universal Magazine suggested that the grandeur of the undertaking was out of proportion to the object, whilst the radical newspaper, Parker’s General Advertiser, dwelt on the vapour which overcame delicate constitutions and the heat which caused many people to faint, something which Charles Burney preferred to put down to the effect of the “choral power of harmonical combinations”.

The success of the Commemoration was such that it was repeated in the following three years and in the early 1790s, by which time there were smaller audiences and, in the era of the French Revolution, more opposition to displays of aristocratic patronage.  Nevertheless, it established a tradition of large-scale performances of Handel’s choral works, with Burney’s book providing a record of the first such event.