Tag Archives: Capability Brown

Food and reflection

As we settle into 2016 we reflect on recent activities from the past year…

Over the holiday season many of us have indulged in a range of winter comfort foods and festive treats, from turkey and sprouts to mince pies and puddings. In the lead up to the Christmas break visitors were invited to Special Collections for our third and final Explore Your Archives event of the year, with the focus of the afternoon being (somewhat appropriately) food! The material on display covered areas such as the cultivation of food, food preparation, household management, food supplies, consumption of food (including some fine dining), and food relief.

Lankester & Crook price lists for the Christmas Season on display for the 'Food, Glorious Food' open afternoon

Lankester & Crook price lists for the Christmas Season on display for the ‘Food, Glorious Food’ open afternoon

Beginning with a section on cultivation, one of the first items was a plan and catalogue for trees in the kitchen gardens at Broadlands from 1769 which, incidentally, coincided with work done on the estate by ‘Capability’ Brown whose 300th anniversary will be celebrated later in the year. This was followed by a selection of material relating to the management of crops and livestock.

The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses, with the aim being to “promote broad discussion and cooperation at the national, regional and global levels to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by pulse farmers, be they large scale farms or small land holders.” As the planet’s population continues to increase, pulses such as beans, lentils and peas, are recognised as a sustainable crop which provide a low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

The Perkins Agricultural Library, which primarily supports research on the general practice and improvement of agriculture in the 18th and 19th centuries, also holds a range of material focusing on areas such as household management. On display was William Ellis’ The country housewife’s family companion (London, 1750) which contains the following useful tips for preserving broad beans and peas: “To preserve broad beans and pease dry: take them out of their pods before they are ripe and while their skin is green strip them of their skin and dry them thoroughly in the sun; rub them all over with winter-savory, and barrel them up in straw or chaff, or without either, provided you keep the air from them. In winter or spring, or when they are wanted, soak them six hours in warm water, and then boil them for eating…” [Perkins TX 151]

A highlight from the selection of cook books and recipes was Florence Greenberg’s classic Jewish Cookery Book. First published in 1947, the book proved hugely popular with post war Anglo-Jewish households, bringing a mix of British and continental cooking. She described the Jewish influences as being seen clearly in the fish dishes, sauces and puddings.

There were also many examples of fine dining drawn from the papers of third Viscount Palmerston, Lady Swaythling, Lord Mountbatten, and W.W.Ashley and Cunard cruise ships, including menus, dinner books, and letters reporting on dinner parties and social gatherings. In contrast, somewhat less savoury culinary descriptions were to be found among the journals of William Mogg. Written during his time on Captain Edward Parry’s expeditions to the Arctic in the 1820s, Mogg describes methods used to thaw the crew’s frozen supplies — leaving them in a fire hole for three days — as well as the Christmas festivities enjoyed by the crew.

Chris Woolgar giving his talk on food related resources

Chris Woolgar giving his talk on food related resources

The visit to Special Collections was followed by a talk by Chris Woolgar who provided a highly engaging and comprehensive analysis of a number of the items on display. The evening was then rounded off with some tea and seasonal treats!

As we plan events for the year ahead we would like to thank everyone who attended our open afternoons over the past few months. Details of forthcoming events will be announced on our blog and website in the near future.

We hope to see you in Archives soon!

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User perspectives: Examining arts patronage at Broadlands

This week Ruby Shaw discusses her exploration of the Broadlands archives as part of research undertaken for her MA in Historic Interiors and Decorative Arts at the University of Buckingham.

“When contemplating the daunting question of deciding upon a topic for my dissertation, it was almost by chance that I came across the Broadlands archives at the University of Southampton!  Although I knew that I wanted to base my research around a historic house within my local area (I am studying for an MA in Historic Interiors and Decorative Arts with the University of Buckingham but live in Southampton) I was surprised by how few local archives there are with collections relevant to art history students.  Then I stumbled across the Broadlands archives and what a wealth of material it has to offer!

‘Broadlands in Hampshire, the seat of Lord Palmerston' drawn by Lord Duncannon

‘Broadlands in Hampshire, the seat of Lord Palmerston’ drawn by Lord Duncannon

The archives are probably better known for material relating to the career of Lord Palmerston, the 3rd Viscount, who became prime minister to Queen Victoria.  Yet Lord Palmerston’s father, Henry Temple the 2nd Viscount, was an influential eighteenth-century figure, particularly as a patron of the arts.  This interest in art and antiquities was ultimately reflected in the collections and interior decoration of his country house at Broadlands.

Although I have often stolen a glimpse of Broadlands house through the gates, I was unaware until now of how much of its eighteenth-century interiors and furnishings survive.  This includes paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds with whom Lord Palmerston enjoyed a close friendship.  Many famous names have also been associated with the construction of Broadlands.   The first phase of Lord Palmerston’s building campaign in the 1760s, for example, was carried out by the famous landscape gardener Lancelot “Capability” Brown.  A further phase in the 1780s was meanwhile executed by the architect Henry Holland, most famous for his construction of the splendid Carlton House in London for the future George IV.

From an initial consultation of the archives, I could see that there was an extensive range of material to conduct a stimulating research project.  This material has been drawn upon to explore the role of Henry Temple, the 2nd Viscount (1739-1802) as a collector and architectural patron at Broadlands.   Numerous visits to the archives have given me the pleasure of delving into Lord Palmerston’s Grand Tour travel journals, as well as art sale catalogues, architectural drawings and correspondence with various dealers.  Viewing an original letter by “Capability” Brown was a particular treat!  Some of the correspondence between Lord and Lady Palmerston also makes for amusing reading.  The unfavourable temperament of the plasterer at Broadlands, Joseph Rose, for example is highlighted by the repeated reference to him as “Mr Melancholy.”  Humorous appeal aside, these personal insights have been extremely valuable in helping to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between architects, craftsmen and clients during this period.

BR101/34 List of pictures and marbles purchased by Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, in Italy, 1764

BR101/34 List of pictures and marbles purchased by Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, in Italy, 1764

In general, the wide range of material in the Broadlands archives has allowed for an enjoyable exploration of a much overlooked patron of the arts in the eighteenth-century, from Lord Palmerston’s acquisition of antique sculpture on the Grand Tour to his purchases of contemporary Wedgwood pottery.   This exploration has only of course have been made possible with the help and patience the archives team, for which I am very grateful.”