Tag Archives: Hampshire

Jane Austen’s Southampton

Jane Austen’s association with Southampton is often overlooked — it does not provide as picturesque a backdrop to her life as Bath or Winchester, nor is it a setting for any of her novels. Nevertheless, Southampton was briefly her home as a schoolgirl and again from October 1806 until early 1809. Although much of the town that she knew no longer exists, glimpses of it can be seen in many of the Cope Collection’s older prints and in contemporary publications such as The Southampton Guide (1806).

It was after the death of Rev. George Austen, that Jane, her mother, her sister Cassandra, and friend Martha Lloyd, moved to Southampton to set up home with her brother Frank and his wife. At first they lived in lodgings, but in March 1807 moved to 2 Castle Square, a house rented by Frank from the Marquis of Lansdowne, the owner of the mock gothic castle nearby.

Tobias Young A near view of Southampton in 1819; taken from the banks of the canal near the tunnel (1819) in Cope, Sir W.H. Views in Hampshire, v.4: illus. 116 [Rare Books Cope ff 91.5]. Castle Square is thought to be the large house with tall chimneys in front of the castle.

Tobias Young ‘A near view of Southampton in 1819; taken from the banks of the canal near the tunnel’ (1819) in Cope, Sir W.H. Views in Hampshire, v.4: illus. 116 [Rare Books Cope ff 91.5]. Castle Square is thought to be the large house with tall chimneys in front of the castle.

Jane described preparations for the move in letters written to Cassandra, who was visiting their brother in Kent. She appeared especially pleased with the garden, in which the town wall formed a terrace overlooking the river. Her remark that “We hear that we are envied our House by many people and that the Garden is the best in the town” is confirmed in the contemporary guidebook by Sir Henry Englefield, who described the view from the gardens in Castle Square as “commanding an enchanting view of the bay, from the town to the village of Millbrook, and the river beyond it quite to Redbridge”.

T.H. Skelton All Saints Church (Southampton, 1811) [Rare Books Cope c SOU 26 pr.832]

T.H. Skelton ‘All Saints Church’ (Southampton, 1811) [Rare Books Cope c SOU 26 pr.832]

Something of the life led by the Austen family in Southampton can be seen in later letters to Cassandra. They attended All Saints Church, the comparatively new church at the corner of the High Street and East Street, visited the market near the Audit House and no doubt the pastry-cook Mr Webb, whose house was badly damaged by a fire which Jane Austen witnessed. Dealings with silk dyers were mentioned, spruce beer was brewed and books read each evening, much time was also spent receiving and paying calls.

Southampton in 1806 in The Southampton Atlas (Southampton, 1907) [Cope ff SOU 90.5]

Southampton in 1806 in The Southampton Atlas (Southampton, 1907) [Cope ff SOU 90.5]

The streets of Southampton must have become very familiar to Jane Austen. A “regular walk” took in Bellevue, the large house towards the northern end of London Road and the Austens also enjoyed the pleasant walk through the suburb of Above Bar to the Polygon. A certain amount of stamina was needed to visit the Lances of Chessel House, Bitterne, which involved walking to the ferry to cross the Itchen, continuing to the house which was in the vicinity of Chessel Avenue and returning home via the new Northam Bridge. After such a walk in Dec 1808, Jane described herself and Martha Lloyd as “scarcely at all fatigued”.

T. Younge A view of the New Bridge at Northam (c.1797) [Rare Book Cope c SOU 43 pr.845]

T. Younge ‘A view of the New Bridge at Northam’ (c.1797) [Rare Book Cope c SOU 43 pr.845]

There were occasional visits to the theatre, apparently not well thought of – “Martha ought to see the inside of the Theatre once while she lives in Southampton & I think she will hardly wish to take a second view” and also to the Ball. Only attendances at those held at the Dolphin during the winter months are recorded, Jane attending one in December 1808 and also the Queen’s Birthday Assembly Ball in January 1809.

The Southampton Guide (Southampton, 1806) [Rare Books Cope SOU 03.5 1806]

The Southampton Guide (Southampton, 1806) [Rare Books Cope SOU 03.5 1806]

The Austens hosted a number of family visits during their years in Southampton. A visit in September 1807 by Edward Austen Knight, his wife Elizabeth and children William and Fanny was recorded by Fanny, then aged fourteen. On Sunday, after going to Church there was a walk to the Polygon, Monday included a visit to the theatre and Tuesday brought a boat trip to Hythe. On Wednesday everyone except Mrs Austen senior took a boat to Netley Abbey and according to Fanny, they ate some biscuits which they had taken, and returned quite delighted. Later the same day she and her Aunt Jane walked in the High Street till late. On the final day, all except Aunt Jane went on a drive through the New Forest to Lyndhurst and Lymington.

John Hassell Netley Abbey (London, 1807) [Rare Books Cope c NET 26 pr.669]

John Hassell ‘Netley Abbey’ (London, 1807) [Rare Books Cope c NET 26 pr.669]

Jane Austen’s letters record little of her views on Southampton itself, but some of the residents did not escape her judgement. Of Mrs Lance of Chessel House she wrote, “they live in a handsome style and are rich, and she seemed to like to be rich”, of a Mrs Bertie, “Mrs Bertie lives in the Polygon, & was out when we returned her visit – which are her two virtues” and of the Marchioness of Lansdowne and Mr Husket, the painter employed by the Marquis, “I suppose when the Walls want no touching up, he is employed about My Lady’s face”.

In recent years, Jane Austen has been reclaimed as a famous former resident of Southampton, there is now a Jane Austen Heritage Trail and her remark on the “stinking fish of Southampton” has not only been forgiven but also adopted as the name of the festival with which the City is marking the 200th anniversary of her death.

Bibliography

Austen, Jane Jane Austen’s Letters ed. Deidre Le Faye 4th ed. (Oxford, 2011)

Englefield, Henry A Walk through Southampton 2nd ed. (Southampton, 1805)

Le Faye, Deidre A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family (Cambridge, 2006)

‘Hampshire people and places’ event

On Monday 31 July 2017, the Special Collections, Hartley Library, University of Southampton, will host the latest in its “explore the collections” events.

Why not join us between 15:30 and 17:00 to discover more about the resources we hold for Hampshire ranging from topography to details of everyday life.

On show in the Archives and Manuscripts reading room will be an array of printed sources from the Cope Collection, as well as material from our manuscript collections. There will also be an opportunity to investigate the Cope Collection in Open Access Special Collections.

Space is limited. To reserve a place, please go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hampshire-people-and-places-tickets-35816201222


Visitors to the Special Collections, summer 2017

From June to late September the access route to Special Collections will be altered owing to the Hartley Library Refurbishment Project. Access will be up the main stairs to Level 3, following the signs across this floor to the fire stairs at the back of the building and then up to Level 4.

Please note that access to the lifts in the Hartley Library will be restricted for the period of the refurbishment project: please contact staff about access arrangements.

Anyone for Tennis?!

As the heat and the tension rises at Wimbledon this week we look at the history of tennis through the University Archives.

Photo of Hartley University College mixed tennis group, 1910, MS1/7/291/22/1/108]

Hartley University College mixed tennis group, 1910 [MS1/7/291/22/1/108]

This charming Edwardian photo of Hartley University College students in 1910 shows the truly elegant sportswear of the time. While the ladies graced the courts in long skirts and large hats, the must-have fashion accessory for gentlemen seems to have been – the pipe?!

Hartley University College students, 1910-1912

Hartley University College students, 1910-1912 [MS1/7/291/22/1/84]

The Wimbledon Championships – established in 1877 by the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club – is the oldest and arguably the most prestigious of our tennis tournaments. The popularization of lawn tennis (not to be confused with ‘real tennis’ – see below) is widely credited to Major Walter Clopton Wingfield who published, in 1873, the first official rules of a game he called “Sphairistike” (from the Greek: “the art of playing ball”). He patented the rules and equipment of the game the following year and quickly sold 1,000 tennis sets at 5 guineas a piece! His pamphlet “book of the game” is now very rare; it set out the history of the game, the erection of the court, and the rules. These, and the scoring system for ‘lawn tennis’, have hardly changed since the 1890s: so our modern game would have been familiar to the Hartley University College students of one hundred years ago.

The earliest origins of Tennis, however, fade into the mists of time and are disputed – some authorities mention the Egyptians; many refer to a game popular with European monks in the twelfth century. This was played around a closed courtyard and the ball was struck with the palm of the hand, hence the name jeu de paume (“game of the palm”). The name ‘tennis’ may derive from the French word ‘tenez’, from the verb tenir, ‘to hold’.

‘Real’ tennis – also called court tennis or royal tennis – grew in popularity with the French and English aristocracy through the Middle Ages and was played in London in purpose-built covered courts as early as the sixteenth century. Henry VIII was a keen player at Hampton Court Palace.  The fortunes of the game waxed and waned, and by the 1820s, the only London tennis court still in operation was the James Street court near the Haymarket. The members of this newly revived club invited the Duke of Wellington to join them in 1820:

Letter from Robert Ludkin to  Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, 24 June 1820,  with list of members of the tennis club [MS 61 WP1/647/12]

Letter from Robert Ludkin to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, 24 June 1820, with list of members of the Tennis Club [MS 61 WP1/647/12]

In his letter, Robert Ludkin, Acting Secretary of the Club, writes:

“A ‘Tennis Club’ having been recently established… I am desired to communicate to Your Grace this resolution of the Club and to assure you that its members will be most happy in the honor of your company whenever it may suit your Grace’s convenience to attend.”

You can see the Duke’s pencil draft for his reply, which was written across the front of the letter:

“Compliments the Duke is much flattered at being admitted a member of the James Club; & will be happy to attend whenever in his power.”

Ludkin enclosed a printed list of the present members, which included His Royal Highness the Duke of York –plus the Rules and Regulations of the Club. The latter relate solely to membership, rather than to the game, and record a hefty subscription of two guineas a year:

Rules and Regulations of the James Street Tennis Club, Haymarket, London, 1820

Rules and Regulations of the James Street Tennis Club, Haymarket, London, 1820 [MS 61 WP1/647/12 (enclosure)]

“The Tennis Club do hold their first Meeting and Dinner on the first Saturday after Easter in every Year; and do meet and dine together once a Fortnight to the 8th of July following.”

Did the Duke dine or did the Duke play tennis?  He certainly owned a private tennis court at his country house at Stratfield Saye, in Hampshire.  When in 1845, Prince Albert played here during the royal visit by Queen Victoria and her family, the event was chronicled in the Illustrated London News of 1st February that year:

Illustrated London News of 1st February 1845

Illustrated London News, 1st February 1845.

The ILN appended, for the fashionable Victorian reader, a brief history of the “olden game” of Tennis, concluding: “Thus it was in past ages, a royal and noble game.”

The Cope Handbills

The Cope Handbills are a wonderfully rich collection of over three hundred items, over two large volumes, of political flyers, public notices, newspaper reports and other printed ephemera produced predominantly in Southampton. They cover a sixty year period, from the last quarter of the eighteenth century into the early years of the nineteenth.

Beginning with a newspaper report of November 1776 from the Hampshire Chronicle, relating the victory of King George III’s troops at New York, the items continue through to the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars until the passage of the Great Reform Act of 1832, with a smaller number of items from the later years of the nineteenth century also.

The Handbills form part of the wider Cope Collection cared for by the Special Collections team at the Hartley Library. The Rev Sir William Cope (1811-92), twelfth Baronet, of Bramshill, Hampshire served in the Rifle Brigade before purchasing his discharge in 1839 to become ordained as a priest. He was a minor canon of Westminster Abbey from 1842 until 1852 and chaplain of Westminster Hospital from 1843 to 1851. In 1851 he succeeded to the baronetcy, and at Bramshill developed an interest in the local area, writing on matters of local interest, e.g. A Glossary of Hampshire Words and Phrases (1883) and establishing his ‘Hampshire Collection’. Cope died in 1892, having bequeathed the collection to the Hartley Institution, a forerunner of the University of Southampton. The handbills shine a light onto the momentous political and social developments of a world that was changing rapidly for Southampton’s inhabitants, bringing out the contrasting worldviews which informed the intellectual debates and shaped the larger developments that defined the era.

The increasing power of the state is evident in the notices on the new income tax, first introduced in 1799 (amidst ferocious opposition from some quarters), by Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger as a temporary measure to fund the war with France; the Income Tax was the first tax in British history to be levied directly on people’s earnings. The War with France itself features prominently in the hand bills, with impassioned polemics both in favor of (Item 66, Vol. 1) and in opposition to (Item 60, Vol. 1) the prosecution of the war:

Item 66 (Vol. 1) – A call to arms supporting the war with France

Item 66 (Vol. 1) – A call to arms supporting the war with France

Inside the volumes we find numerous campaign flyers which reveal the maneuverings and diatribes of local politicians on issues ranging from Catholic emancipation to slavery; these underscore how politics was becoming an increasingly visible concern for Sotonians. At the beginning of the era the political life of the town was largely dominated by the Corporation of Southampton, which vacillated between Tory and Whig influences and had the power to sway general elections and send MPs of its choosing to Westminster. MPs were usually country gentlemen from neighbouring counties and of recent commercial or professional success. It was also common, from the 1740s onwards, for MPs to hold West Indian connections or property; slavery becoming a burning issue for some Sotonians in the early 19th century. A petition favouring moderate reform of the slaves’ conditions to prepare them for ultimate emancipation was signed by 1,353 residents of Southampton and presented to Parliament in 1828. A few years earlier in January 1824 a petition to Parliament was requisitioned by William Chamberlayne MP, calling for the abolition of slavery altogether. It was widely supported in nonconformist circles but was strongly opposed by some Anglicans:

Item 77 (Vol. 2) – Anti-slavery polemic

Item 77 (Vol. 2) – Anti-slavery polemic

But the handbills also allow us a glimpse into the more mundane realities of the everyday cultural lives of Sotonians. Alongside the items covering the more serious political and social issues of the day we find flyers for a range of entertainments including fencing demonstrations, scientific and educational lectures, musical performances and exhibitions of a ‘celebrated Irish Giant’ and a lady only thirty inches in stature of ‘lively wit and agreeable conversation’. We also see commercial advertisements for all manner of goods and services from fashionable dresses and hats to book-sales, lotteries, coach travel services to London and Bristol as well as dubious medicinal cures and treatments, including some for electrical therapy and ‘earth-bathing’:

Item 172 (Vol. 1) – Advertisement for a public demonstration of ‘earth-bathing’ by Doctor Graham

Item 172 (Vol. 1) – Advertisement for a public demonstration of ‘earth-bathing’ by Doctor Graham

Intermixed with all these items we find: satirical cartoons; religious and moral tracts; notices of local voluntary militias and military procedures and rules; the bulletins of various reading, archery and dining clubs and public notices proscribing fireworks, rioting and the disruption of church services, as well as notices on everything from public improvements to bank robberies and poor relief.

Taken together, the handbills allow us to build a picture of how the lives of Sotonians changed between 1770 and 1830. By the time of the Great Reform Act of 1832, which was celebrated in Southampton by a festival (Item 141 – Vol. 1) and which had been championed by the Whig faction in Parliament, the era of social and political reform had truly come of age. In 1835 the Whigs also passed the Municipal Reform Act; this broke the power of many town corporations, including Southampton’s, which were deemed undemocratic, inept and unresponsive to the needs of the rapidly changing urban communities they served. Southampton’s corporation, whilst not as dire as those of other English towns, was nonetheless found by the government’s commission of enquiry to be inadequate: “…it is evident that the whole power of the Corporation is in the hands of a few persons…”[1] The Radical William Lankester, although admitting no malpractice on the part of the Southampton Corporation, did complain that the Corporation was apathetic towards improvement, citing a lack of the following: “a new jail should have been built, or a hospital endowed, or schools established, or an efficient police set up, or marshes and ditches drained.”[2]

The decline of the town corporation’s influence was concomitant with the rise of movements and new organisations in Southampton which sought to improve and reform almost everything before them. We see this very clearly in the items establishing new gas lighting for the town (Item 138, Vol. 1); new educational initiatives to improve the lot of the poor in the rapidly expanding suburb of St. Mary’s (Item 143, Vol. 1) and local petitions for the reform of capital punishment (Item 130, Vol. 1).

Simultaneous with this new drive for social and political reform, which transformed the intellectual and moral landscape of the country, we see the continuing rise of commerce, industry and the new forms of transportation which were rapidly altering the physical landscape of the town. This is reflected in handbills concerning everything from the trade in wine and ales (Item 2 Vol. 2), the malpractice of butchers at Lymington (Item 25, Vol. 1) to plans for a new canal linking Southampton to Salisbury (Item 22, Vol. 1) and the jubilant newspaper reports on the arrival in Southampton of Queen Victoria via the new railway in 1843 (Item 108, Vol. 2).

The individual handbills are listed in PDF files which can be downloaded from the Cope Collection LibGuide at:
http://library.soton.ac.uk/c.php?g=131329&p=3368707

Sources

[1] A History of Southampton 1700-1914, Vol. 1: An Oligarchy in Decline by A. Temple Patterson, Southampton University Press, 1966, pp. 176-77

[2] Ibid.

“Peregrinations at the most beautiful place on earth”: holidaying on the Isle of Wight

This week is the second of our two posts focusing on summertime and summer holidays in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The Isle of Wight, located in the English Channel off the coast of Hampshire, has been a popular holiday destinations since Victorian times. The earliest record of a ferry service, transporting people the four miles across the stretch of water known as the Solent, is from 1420 when the Lord of the Manor in Ashey [Ryde] was responsible for boats crossing between Portsmouth and Ryde. A rota of Ryde fishermen had been established by the 17th century and in 1796 a purpose built sailing boat began a regular service from Portsmouth.

Illustration of Culver Down Cliff, Isle of Wight

Illustration of Culver Down Cliff, Isle of Wight

The Special Collections holds a manuscript “journal of seven weeks’ peregrinations at the most beautiful place on earth, namely the Isle of Wight”. It was written by Sarah Jane Gilham and dates from 1850.

Prior to the completion of Ryde Pier in 1814, passengers were carried or transported by horse or cart across the wide shallow sands to the town. By 1850, Sarah Jane would have had the option of travelling to the island by paddle steamer on one of three routes: Portsmouth-Ryde; Southampton-Cowes or Lymington-Yarmouth.

Entry for 2nd September:

[f.64] After walking up a hill, at a short distance on stood the little church, the smallest in England. The outside is covered with ivy, in a small turret is the bell which summons the villagers to church. An aged man showed us the inside: it contains six pews, and an altar piece with a colored pane of glass representing Christ’s ascension. It has lately been enlarged as formerly it contained only three pews.

We remounted and as we advanced every thing seemed to grow lovelier. Steephill Castle rose to view and its white turrets contrasted very prettily with the dark and luxuriant foliage of the trees by which it was surrounded. At last we arrived at the head of the Chine; dismounting, we passed through the bazaar and two boys conducted us down the path to the foot of the Chine. [f.65] At the first sight I and most of us were disappointed. We had expected a rush of water, but it fell only in a trickling stream somewhat resembling a showerbath. Some stationed themselves on the beautiful shingle, and others endeavored to find a cool place beneath the shelter of the rocks. On nearer view the Chine is decidedly grand, the fall about one hundred feet, the rocks rise on each side in bold grandeur, and though somewhat barren are quite in character with the scene. It seems altogether a place for a storm and shipwreck, etc. It would then be seen in all its awful grandeur and the spectator would be unable to resist admiring, though his admiration would be mingled with feelings of a very opposite nature.

[MS 6/8 A179]

Illustration of Shanklin Chine, Isle of Wight

Illustration of Shanklin Chine, Isle of Wight

In its quiet passages this work takes on a contemplative quality, reflecting the journey of religious self-examination Miss Gilham was taking alongside the journey around the Isle of Wight. It was not, however, written as a private journal for the sole pleasure of its author. This is a fair copy to be circulated and shared with others, as it glories in the discoveries made, both in terms of religion and places visited. Indeed, in its wish to discover nature and the way in which it makes this an ‘ideal’ landscape, the journal bears the hallmarks of picturesque tourism. While the scale of the adventure and the daily events are perhaps small, this in no way impacts on the curiosity of spirit or keenness of eye cast upon thoughts, places and events.

Sarah Jane married a London solicitor John Matthews Chamberlain in Lewisham in 1857.  They had two daughters: Bertha in 1861 and Ada in 1863.  Sarah died a year after the birth of their second daughter.

Summertime in Southampton

This week we are publishing the first of two posts focusing on summertime in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

A century ago, a summer stroll along the waterfront provided a welcome relief from the crowded streets of the old town for Southampton’s residents and visitors. The attractions of the area were recorded by local photographers and many of the views are preserved in the Peter Cook Postcard Collection.

The Royal Pier, Southampton (pc2155)

The Royal Pier, Southampton (pc2155)

According to 19th century guidebooks, a promenade along the pier had long been a favourite pastime. Opened by the Duchess of Kent and Princess Victoria in July 1833, the original pier had a central carriage-way and footways on either side. Intended primarily as a landing stage for ferry and pleasure steamer passengers — the pier having been built largely as the result of pressure from the steamship proprietors — it went on to acquire some of the attractions associated with a traditional seaside pier. The rebuilding of the pier in the 1890s brought a new gatehouse, refreshment rooms and a bandstand which was soon altered to create a pavilion which could accommodate over 1,000 people. The pier extended to an area of four and a half acres and with its 10 berths for steamers providing ferry services or excursions to the Isle of Wight, along the coast and across the Channel, the Royal Pier was the largest steamer or pleasure pier on the south coast.

Southampton, Royal Pier (pc3210a)

Southampton, Royal Pier (pc3210a)

In the early years of the 20th century it was possible to walk from the pier along the new Western Esplanade which followed the shoreline to another of the town’s summer attractions, the open air pool. This had also been built during the 1890s as part of a new baths complex and the outdoor pool, which covered half an acre, had been built out from the shore as a seawater pool, the water changing at every high tide. Beside the baths there were pleasure grounds laid out for tennis or bowls. The pool underwent many refits, most notably in the 1930s when new terraces and dressing rooms were added and it remained popular even when it became landlocked, following the land reclamation work of the 1920s and 30s which left it sandwiched between the Pirelli cable works and the coal fired power station.

A view of the open air pool and the old shoreline (pc3339a)

A view of the open air pool and the old shoreline (pc3339a)

The Royal Pier and Lido both met their ends in the 1970s. The introduction of car ferries meant that ferry services moved away from the pier in the 1960s and although Mecca invested £100,000 in a ballroom at the pavilion in 1963, its popularity eventually declined and both pier and pavilion closed in 1979. Fires in 1987 and 1992 destroyed most of the remaining structure. The hot summer of 1976 had brought a record number of people to the Lido, but the high costs of maintenance led the City Council to close it in 1977. The buildings were demolished in 1981 and the pool, now the site of the National Express coach station, was filled in with local builders’ rubble.