Tag Archives: Southampton

75th anniversary of D-Day: 6 June

Today, we commemorate the 75th anniversary of ‘D-Day’, the largest seaborne invasion in history. Codenamed Operation Neptune, this Allied invasion of Normandy commenced on 6 June 1944 as part of Operation Overlord, during World War II. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later Europe) from Nazi control, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Days and Polhill

Colonel James O’Donald Mays pictured with fellow Georgian Lt. James Polhill, part of the American Navy’s logistical operations which provided landing craft and other vessels for the war effort [MS 379/3 A4024/10]

We will take a look at Southampton’s role in the operations through the papers and photographs collected by American Colonel James O’Donald Mays [MS 379/3 A4024], whose Army Port unit was assigned to Southampton to direct American military activities for the preparation for D-Day and its follow-up.  He later worked as a diplomat, journalist and author.

During the ensuing summer days and nights, Southampton witnessed a sight unparalleled in all its long momentous history. The military traffic, chiefly U.S.A., roared on in an unending torrent.

Almost every road and street carried its weight of vehicles, two and sometimes three a breast; trucks swept by loaded with soldiers, huge petrol tanks, jeeps, searchlights, DUKWs, great guns, tank-transporters and tanks without number, the giant Shermans roaring and grinding past, shaking the houses as they went.

Local historian Elsie M.Sandell writing for a 40th anniversary commemorative magazine produced by the Evening Echo, June 1984

Southampton was all but taken over by the military in the lead up to D-Day. Southampton Common accommodated large numbers of Allied troops and the foundations of their huts are still visible after long spells of dry weather. The Bargate in the shopping centre was a Military Police post.

Southampton was chosen as the chief supply and troop movement centre for the American army, known as the 14th Major Port of the US Army Transportation Corps. It was the centre of marine operations as the first shipment point for American men and supplies from the UK to the Continent. Southampton was essential in discharging of cargo before D-Day, loading of landing craft and other assault vessels for the European invasion and build up, and shipping of United states-bound troops under the re-deployment programme.

Entrance to the Administration offices of the 14th port

The administrative offices of the 14th Port [MS 379/3 A4024/10]

The 14th Port staff arrived in the United Kingdom on 16 July 1943 and three days later began operations at London, Southampton and Plymouth. Up to 1 February 1944, Port Headquarters were in London. When Allied strategists selected Southampton as the chief loading point for troops and war materials for the invasion, headquarters were moved to Southampton Civic Centre; offices were later relocated to Houndwell Park.

The port of Southampton was selected because of its strategic location. The “double tide” effected by the position of the Isle of Wight at the bottom of The Solent meant the port was perfectly suited for mass loading and sailing of vessels. It also benefited from a huge anchorage space off Cowes as well as deep water docking facilities and spacious loading sheds.

IMG_0237

Members of a U.S. Navy beach Battalion medical unit stow their gear on the deck of an Landing Craft, Infantry (Large). They took park in an invasion rehearsal. [MS379/3 A4024/1]

Some impressive statistics for the period include that 8,300 ships passed through the harbour. Approximately 2,500,000 men were transported to and from the Continent and the United States and 3,000,000 tons of goods were carried to European ports and beaches.

The operation naturally had a huge impact on the city and its civilian population. Three Southampton schools were used as billets for United States Army troops. Swaythling Infant (Mayfield), Taunton’s and Ascupart Road. 

Downthe Hatch)

American soldiers boarding a Landing Craft, Infantry (Large) as part of an invasion rehearsal  [MS 379/3 A4024/10] Credit: U.S. Navy Photograph Public Relations Section, London

This huge flow of men and vehicles required co-ordination. Military police escorts were required and checkpoints established and a checking system was instigated to help prevent congestion in Southampton’s streets. Routes were planned to interfere as little as possible with civilian transport.

The Army Transportation Corps Harbour Craft Companies were attached to the 14th Port and it was their job to operate the hundreds of small tug-boats, floating cranes and other harbour craft assigned to the Port. One of the key vessels was the LST – Landing Ship Tank – a “lifeline” to supply Europe. It was capable of carrying 50 to 75 vehicles; 2,539 LSTs were loaded at Southampton.

Presentation

D-Day marked a key victory in the Second World War: it prevented Hitler launching his new V-weapons against British cities in a last-minute effort to save Germany. For more on Southampton’s role in this momentous event, see the Library’s Cope Collection for additional resources.

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Queen Victoria’s 200th Anniversary: Our Items on the Queen and Empress

To mark the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth on 24 May, we look at some of the Special Collections that we hold relating to the monarch known as the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India.

Princess Victoria and her favourite dog [Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes, F.S.A, Rare Books Quarto DA 554 1897]

Princess Victoria and her favourite dog, Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes (1897) Rare Books Quarto DA 554

The most notable material is a cache of several hundred letters between Queen Victoria and Lord Palmerston, 1837-65, which is part of the Broadlands Archive. This provides an insight into the duties of being queen. Early letters seek Palmerston’s advice on matters such as diplomatic protocol, but from the 1840s it focuses more fully with foreign affairs, especially with regard to Europe. The letters discuss matters such as unrest in France, developments in Spain and Italy and diplomatic appointments.

Letter from Queen Victoria to third Viscount Palmerston, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 26 Feb 1848 [MS 62 PP/RC/F/350]

Letter from Queen Victoria to third Viscount Palmerston, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 26 Feb 1848 [MS 62 PP/RC/F/350]

Speeches of Queen Victoria can also be found amongst this correspondence, such as one written in the hand of Lord Melbourne on the Treaty of London and relations between Britain and France.

Other informative items in the Palmerston Papers include a letter from Sir G.C. Lewis to Lord Palmerston, regarding allocation of an allowance to the Princess Royal, dating 25 May 1857, and a letter discussing arrangements for security for the Queen’s home in the Isle of Wight, Osborne House. In Lord Palmerston’s miscellaneous and patronage correspondence, we are applications for appointments to the Queen, such as to be performer to her at Brighton, or to be her perfumer or hairdresser.

Application to Lord Palmerston for appointment of perfumer or hairdresser to Queen Victoria, 2 September 1837 [MS PP/MPC/574]

Application to Lord Palmerston for appointment of perfumer or hairdresser to Queen Victoria, 2 September 1837 [MS 62 PP/MPC/574]

The First Duke of Wellington Papers include bundles of papers from the Duchess of Kent discussing Queen Victoria’s education, correspondence discussing the preparations for the Queen’s confinement with her second child, her speeches and addresses, and her visits to European countries such as France and Belgium.

The Special Collections contains material on various events relating to Victoria’s reign from her accession to a golden jubilee visit in 1887.

Title page of The Progress of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman [Rare Books Quarto DA 555]

Title page of The Progress of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman [Rare Books Quarto DA 555]

In Lord Palmerston‘s papers as Foreign Secretary, for instance, are copies of letters from foreign diplomats in London to their respective courts announcing the occasion of Victoria’s accession.

Letter from foreign diplomat Chevalier de Moiran to his respective court, Counte de la Marguérite, announcing Queen Victoria’s accession, 1837 [MS 62 BR FO/I/1]

Letter from foreign diplomat Chevalier de Moiran to his respective court, Counte de la Marguérite, announcing Queen Victoria’s accession, 1837 [MS 62 BR FO/I/1]

Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes, F.S.A., who was Librarian to the Queen, contains illustrations of the Queen’s First Council, and provides interesting information about her accession, such as quotes from letters of congratulations from correspondents such as Queen Victoria’s cousin, and future husband, Prince Albert:

“My dearest cousin – I must write you a few lines to present you my sincerest felicitations on that great change which has taken place in your life. Now you are the Queen of the mightiest land of Europe, in your hand lies the happiness of millions.” [Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes, F.S.A., p.48]

The Queen’s First Council [Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes, F.S.A, , Rare Books Quarto DA 554 1897]

The Queen’s First Council, Queen Victoria by Richard R. Holmes

While The Progresses of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman (1844) provides illustrations and descriptions of the visits by the Queen and her husband made in the 1840s.

Queen Victoria passing through Ostend, Belgium [The Progress of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman, Rare Books Quarto DA 555]

Queen Victoria passing through Ostend, Belgium [The Progress of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman, Rare Books Quarto DA 555]

For her coronation, there is  correspondence between Lord Palmerston relative to the coronation and we hold rare books in our printed collections which describe the event. In the 1838 issue of The Gentleman’s Magazine, the crown is given particular attention:

“The new State Crown, made for her Majesty by Messrs. Rundell and Bridge, is exceedingly costly and elegant. The old crown, made for George IV. weighed upwards of seven pounds, and was much too large for the head of her present Majesty. The new crown weights little more than three pounds. It is composed of hoops of silver, enclosing a cap of deep purple, or rather blue velvet; the hoops are completely covered with precious stones, surmounted with a ball, covered with small diamonds, and having a Maltese cross of brilliants on the top of it.” [The Gentleman’s Magazine, 1838, p.200]

We also hold the publication released by Queen Victoria’s printers that details the form and order of the coronation. The volume goes into great detail, with chapters on the ‘investing with the Royal Robe’ and the ‘putting on of the Crown’.

The form and order of the service that is to be performed, and of the ceremonies that are to be observed, in the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, in the abbey church of St. Peter, Westminster, on Thursday, the 28th of June, 1838, p.B [Rare Books DA 112]

The form and order of the service that is to be performed, and of the ceremonies that are to be observed, in the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, in the abbey church of St. Peter, Westminster, on Thursday, the 28th of June, 1838, p.B Rare Books DA 112

Material relating to Queen Victoria can also be found in the Wellington Pamphlets, such as “a letter to the people of Great Britain” relating to the Queen’s marriage to Prince Albert. The letter concludes with urging the reader to welcome Prince Albert, and to treat him “with that consideration… the Queen’s Consort is entitled to expect from her people.” [The marriage of the Queen to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg: considered, in a letter to the people of Great Britain by Fair play (1840) Rare Books Well. Pamph. 1201/7, p.23.]

We also hold items referring to Queen Victoria’s visit to Southampton and celebrations that took place in the city to mark the Queen’s Jubilee in 1887. Here is a quote describing the Queen’s visit to Southampton:

“The Queen and Prince Albert, in a carriage-and-four, and escorted by a detachment of the 7th Hussars, proceeded to the town. An immense assemblage had congregated outside the railway station, and when her Majesty and the Prince issued from it, they were received with a loud burst of cheers from the persons assembled. Throughout the whole line of route the streets were decked with flags and banners, and upon entering High Street from Above-Bar the sight was very splendid.” [The Progresses of her Majesty Queen Victoria and his Royal Highness Prince Albert in France, Belgium, and England with One Hundred Engravings by William Frederick Wakeman, p. 3]

Form of special service held in St. Mary's church, Southampton, in commemoration of the Jubilee of her Majesty Queen Victoria: June 19th 1887 by St Mary’s Church (Southampton) [Cope cabinet SOU 22]

Form of special service held in St. Mary’s church, Southampton, in commemoration of the Jubilee of her Majesty Queen Victoria: June 19th 1887 by St Mary’s Church (Southampton) [Cope cabinet SOU 22]

As we now celebrate another anniversary – this time the bicentenary since the birth of Queen Victoria – there are many events being planned, including at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. We wish you a very happy birthday Queen Victoria!

Robert Morrison, his Chinese Dictionary and Hampshire Connections

Members of a group of Chinese teachers visiting Special Collections recently were very taken with the Library’s copies of Robert Morrison’s Dictionary of the Chinese Language (1815-1823) and Grammar of the Chinese Language (1815). Both books, the first publications of their kind, were given to the Library by John Bullar, a friend of Henry Robinson Hartley, the founder of the Hartley Institution. Intriguingly, the Grammar contains a note from the author to Bullar describing where the language was used, raising the question of how they knew each other – Morrison having spent most of his adult life in China and Bullar being a lifelong resident of Southampton.

The Chinese Language is read in Cochin china, Corea, the Loochoo Islands & in Japan; as well as in China proper, Chinese Tartary and the colonies of Chinese in the Archipelago South of China, note from Robert Morrison in his Grammar of the Chinese Language (1815) Rare Books quarto PL 1107

The fact that Morrison was a missionary and his interest in the Chinese language arose from his undertaking to translate the Bible, suggests that the link between the two men was the British and Foreign Bible Society. As the Secretary of the Southampton Branch, Bullar, a Deacon of Southampton’s Above Bar Chapel, would have known of Morrison’s work and of the grants the Society made towards his publication of the Chinese New Testament in 1814 and the Bible in 1823.

Prior to leaving for China, Morrison had attended David Bogue’s Missionary Academy at Gosport and their paths may well have crossed at this time.  A speech Bullar made in Southampton in October 1827 was reported in the Evangelical Magazine and confirms that he and Morrison were acquainted, ‘I can add, from my personal knowledge of the great, the good, the devoted Dr Morrison, that he told me incidentally that such had been his application to the Chinese language … he had scarcely the pen out of his hand from six in the morning till ten at night.’

Robert Morrison, from Eliza Morrison Memoirs of the Life and Labours of Robert Morrison (1839) Rare Books BV 3427.M

Another Hampshire resident, Sir George Staunton of Leigh Park, provided crucial support for Morrison after he arrived in Canton in 1807. Staunton had had a lifelong interest in China, accompanying his father, also Sir George, on the first British Embassy to China in 1793 and later becoming chief of the East India Company’s factory at Canton. In his memoirs, Staunton wrote that from the time of Morrison’s arrival they were in constant communication, either personally or by letter.

Sir George Staunton, from his Memoirs of the Chief Incidents of the Public Life of Sir George Thomas Staunton (1856) Cope 95 STA

Staunton helped Morrison to find language tutors, it being illegal for the Chinese to teach their language to a foreigner, and later gave him employment as a translator for the Company. When it became know that Morrison had published the translation of the New Testament, it was Staunton’s intervention which enabled him to keep his job – both the East India Company and the Chinese Government prohibiting the work of foreign missionaries. The Company did, however, recognise the value of Morrison’s Dictionary, not least to its own employees, shipping a printing press to Macau so that it could be published.

Robert Morrison Dictionary of the Chinese Language v.1 pt.1 (1815) Rare Books quarto PL 1071

Leaving Morrison to his translating and missionary work, Staunton returned to Britain in 1817, settling at Leigh Park in 1819 and pursuing a political career. His love of China was reflected in his house and the development of the estate, though much had still to be done when Morrison, back in Britain for two years, paid a visit in September 1825. According to his wife this was the ‘longest interval of rest that Dr Morrison allowed himself to indulge in during the two years of his sojurn in England’. Morrison was able to admire the Temple which commemorated several friends from China whom he and Staunton had in common, but the Chinese bridge, Chinese boathouse and Chinese summerhouse described in Edward Lloyd’s Notices of Leigh Park Estate (1836), had yet to be built.

The Chinese Boathouse from Edward Lloyd Notices of the Leigh Park Estate near Havant (1836) Rare Books Cope HAV 72

After this visit, Morrison never returned to Britain, dying in Canton in August 1834, and leaving as his legacy the contribution he made to the opening up of cultural relations between Britain and China, through his pioneering publications on the Chinese language.

Robert Morrison A Grammar of the Chinese Language (1815) Rare Books quarto PL 1107

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)

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

 

 

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.

Public health and sanitation in the 19th century

7 April 2018 marks World Health Day promoting the concept of “Health for all”. The World Health Organisation has found that countries that invest in healthcare make a “sound investment in their human capital”.

Public health act

Outbreaks of cholera in the UK from 1831 into the 1860s were to test the ability of the country to deal with a major health threat and led to the development of public health initiatives and the creation of Boards of Health in 1848 to tackle the disease.

Asiatic cholera had spread to Europe from India, eventually making its way to Britain. Despite attempts to quarantine incoming ships into British ports, the first reported case was that of keelman William Sproat in Sunderland in October 1831. From there the disease spread northward into Scotland and southward toward London: over 14,000 people were to die in London alone.

One of the reasons for the progression of the disease was that the nature of cholera was not fully understood at the time.  A common theory was that it was a air-borne disease carried in poisonous vapours, rather than a water-borne disease transmitted by contaminated water sources. The rapid developments in population in urban environments had not been matched by developments in sanitation and, where sewage came into contact with drinking water, the disease spread with ease.

microbiological examination of well water

microbiological examination of contaminated water

By the 1830s, with the first outbreak of cholera, links were made between the spread of disease and conditions in the towns and cities and Special Collections holds a number of reports sent to the first Duke of Wellington on the subject. These publications form part of the Wellington Pamphlet collection.

Wellington Pamphlet 732

Wellington Pamphlet 732

While the Cholera Morbus Prevention Act of February 1832 gave certain powers to local boards of health, and the 1848 Public Health Act empowered a central authority to set up local boards, whose duty was to see that new homes had proper drainage and that local water supplies were dependable, neither were to have the impact that had been intended.

It was the poor who suffered the most. In his Report to the General Board of Health, undertaken following an outbreak of cholera in 1849, which killed 240 people in Southampton, William Ranger described the insanitary conditions in which people lived in the poorer parts of the town. Of his many recommendations, the most important was that a supply of pure water should be laid on to every house.

Daily deaths from cholera in Southampton, June-September 1849

Daily deaths from cholera in Southampton, June-September 1849

Commenting on deaths in Romsey, it was noted that “the chief mortality has been with children and … it has been confined to the children of the poor”.[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/11 Letter from Josiah George to Lord Palmerston]

The Broadlands Archives MS 62 contains a small series of papers relating to the outbreak of cholera in Romsey and the improvement of sanitation in the town. Lord Palmerston took a keen interest in the situation and in the work of the Board of Guardians to implement recommendations of the Board of Health. The report of Dr John Sutherland, conducted on behalf of the Board, concluded that provision of sanitation in Romsey was “deficient in amount and defective in construction”.[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/12]

Report by Dr John Sutherland on sanitation in Romsey, 1849 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/12]

Report by Dr John Sutherland on sanitation in Romsey, 1849 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/12]

In his letter of 3 September 1849 to J.Lordan of the Board of Guardians,  forwarding Sutherland’s report, Palmerston commented “that there exist in Romsey much more active, efficacious and certain causes of fatal disease than field beans, pea pods and cold water….”  And, dissatisfied with the speed of a response by the Board of Guardians, he noted “I conclude that the anxiety of the Board of Guardians to prove by their acts that they are not careless of the health of the town and of the lives of the poorer inhabitants, will have led them to take active measures for rescuing the poorer portion of the people of the town from those sources of disease and from those causes of death to which by want of proper arrangements have been so long, and of late so fatally exposed.”[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/14]

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/16

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/16

Improvements in provision of sanitation in the urban centres was to take some time. By 1853 over 160 towns and cities had Boards of Health, some of which had introduced important improvements, while in other towns there was resistance to such costly undertakings. However, it was only after the 1865-6 cholera outbreak, which resulted in 20,000 deaths, that the government set up another enquiry into public health, leading to further reforms. A new government department was set up in 1871 to oversee public health and in 1872 sanitary authorities were established.

Nearly 170 years on from the 1849 cholera epidemic that saw loss of life in both Southampton and Romsey public health and healthcare provision remain an issue of importance. Further information on World Health Day and its themes can be found at the WHO site.

Netley and the Gothic

With this year marking the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen and Halloween being almost upon us, we explore the gothic ruins of Netley Abbey – the inspiration for many a literary endeavour…

Lying on the eastern bank of Southampton Water, Netley Abbey is one of the best surviving Cistercian abbeys in England. The abbey was founded in 1238 by Peter des Roches, the Bishop of Winchester, shortly before his death. The following year a colony of monks arrived from nearby Beaulieu Abbey (founded by King John in 1203). Netley was dedicated in 1246 and, following its completion, was home to about 15 monks and 30 lay brothers, officials, and servants. Henry III became a patron in 1251, bringing great wealth to the abbey.

Netley Abbey Overgrown

Netley Abbey Overgrown

The dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII brought monastic life at Netley to an end. Following its seizure in 1536 the buildings were granted to Sir William Paulet, a loyal Tudor politician, who converted them into a mansion. The abbey was used as a country house until the early 18th century, after which it was abandoned. At this time much of the brickwork added by Paulet was removed to be used for building materials. The site then fell into neglect, becoming overgrown with trees and ivy.

In time, the site came to be celebrated as a romantic ruin, eventually becoming a tourist attraction and providing inspiration to writers and artists of the Romantic Movement, including John Constable, Thomas Gray, and Horace Walpole. The latter wrote that “they are not the ruins of Netley, but of Paradise”. It is also believed that Jane Austen drew inspiration from the abbey for her Gothic parody Northanger Abbey.

Visitors at Netley Abbey

Visitors at Netley Abbey

Among the numerous other visitors was Mary, Viscountess Palmerston, who recorded her visit in a letter to her husband, the second Viscount, on 6 August 1788:

On Monday we set off from Southampton at ten in an open boat as there was not wind enough to allow of our making use of the cutter. Our party, the Hatsells, Sloane, Stephen, Maria, Captain Southerby, Mr Ballaird and a Mr and Mrs Barton great friends of the D’Oyleys, and in truth in that consists all their merit, for I have not often seen more disagreeable people. We had a most delightful row to Governor Hornby. I think you have been there and I dare say admire the situation which is in my opinion in point of view superior to anything in this country. We went on board the yatch which lies at anchor in the Hamble River which is certainly a most complete vessel. We then row’d up to Netley where we had a most elegant dinner, Sloane having sent his cook to prepare our repast, and in the cool of the evening we repair’d to the Abby which considering every circumstance of the trees, the emannance of the ivy, the beautiful state and the situation of the ruins please me more than any I ever saw. We drank tea in the abby and came home by land. I return’d to Broadlands that night.
[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR 11/13/1]

The Cope collection contains a range of material relating to Netley Abbey, including early guidebooks, poems, a novel, and even an opera. Evidence of its popularity can also be found in the wealth of visual material among the collection.

Two of earliest items are poems. The Ruins of Netley Abby: a Poem, in Blank Verse: to which is Prefixed A Short Account of that Monastery, from its First Foundation, Collected from the Best Authority was printed in 1765. This anonymous history and poem was published during the early years of Netley’s fame and creates a vivid image of a haunted Gothic ruin:

Though claps of thunder rock and tottering pile,
And the swift lightning’s oft repeated flash
Glance through the window with its fading fire—
Or if some meteor in the great expanse,
With streaming flame o’erhand the shaggy top,
Casting a glare amid the foliage wild,
That spreads romantic o’er the abby walls—
Though from some dark recess with ghastly stare,
An airy troop of pale cold shiv’ring ghosts
Should lightly skim along the lonesome void,
By the blue vaporing lamp here let him sit,
Or by the twinkling glow-worm’s yellow light,
Behold the hour-glass ebb, and grain by brain
The trickling sand descend; whilst o’er his head
Along the broken structure hoar and rough
The moping scriech-owl, fatal bird of night,
Claps ominous her wings, foreboding death.
[The ruins of Netley Abby : a poem, in blank verse (Rare Books Cope NET 26)]

Netley Abbey, an Elegy by George Keate (1729–97) was first published in 1764, with a second expanded edition appearing in 1769. Keate was a poet, naturalist, antiquary, and artist, best known for his poem The Alps, a Poem which was praised for its “truth of description and vigour of imagination.” In his Netley poem he sets a melancholy mood as he provides topographic descriptions of the abbey alongside moral reflections:

I hail at last these shades, this well-known wood,
That skirts with verdant slope the barren strand,
Where Netley’s ruins, bordering on the flood,
Forlorn in melancholy greatness stand.

How changed, alas! From the revered abode,
Graced by proud majesty in ancient days,
When monks recluse these sacred pavements trod,
And taught the unlettered world its maker’s praise!

Now sunk, deserted, and with weeds o’ergrown,
Yon prostrate walls their harder fate bewail;
Low on the ground their topmost spires are thrown,
Once friendly marks to guide the wandering sail.

[…]

Oh! Trust not, then, the force of radiant eyes,
Those short-lived glories of your sportive band;
Pleased with its stars, through laughing morn arise,
A steadier beam meridian skies demand!

Reflect, ere, victor of each lovely frame,
Time bids the external fleeting grace fade,
’Tis Reason’s base supports the noblest claim,
’Tis sense preserves the conquests Beauty made.
[Netley Abbey, an Elegy (Rare Books Cope NET 26)]

The second edition of the poem increased the number of stanzas from 26 to 50 and can be found reprinted with John Bullar’s Visit to Netley Abbey (discussed further below).

Netley Abbey: a Gothic Story, Richard Warner (Rare Books Cope NET 81 WAR)

Netley Abbey: a Gothic Story, Richard Warner (Rare Books Cope NET 81 WAR)

Richard Warner’s novel Netley Abbey: a Gothic Story was published in two volumes in 1795. Warner (1763–1857) was a clergyman and writer, particularly of books on topographical and antiquarian topics. Netley Abbey, his first publication, recounts the adventures of Edward de Villars, the son of Baron de Villars, a loyal servant of Edward I. The Baron is banished from the court of Edward II after which he and his family relocate to the estate of Sir Hildebrand Warren near Netley Abbey. Edward receives a supernatural warning about sinister events taking place in the area and proceeds to encounter a host of gothic characters, including plotting villains, rescued captives, ghostly apparitions, and a mysterious black knight. The novel is formulaic and contains many of the gothic tropes and plot devices established in The Castle of Otranto. However, it does differ in the fact that, unlike Walpole and Matthew Lewis, Warner employs a real place. Matthew Woodworth notes that “it is the abbey’s architecture – the style of ruined Gothic itself – that is the most threatening character of all, constantly drenched in the menace of full moonlight.” It was the likes of Warner’s work that helped turn Netley into “a pivotal monument of the Georgian Zeitgeist.”

Given the popularity of the site as a tourist destination, guidebooks inevitable followed. A prominent example is John Bullar’s A companion in a visit to Netley Abbey, first published in 1800. Keate’s elegy can be found annexed to the early editions of the guidebook, with an advertisement in the volume noting that: “When first Mr Keate published his elegy entitled Netley Abbey, he prefixed to it a short sketch of the history of the foundation. In the present publication, that account has been considerably enlarged; and such other additions have been made, as to render it a Guide to those who may visit these beautifully situated ruins.” [A companion in a visit to Netley Abbey, John Bullar (Rare Books Cope NET 26)]. Running into nine editions, the guidebook provides topographical details, along with a history of the abbey, a number of vignettes, and a ground plan of the site.

Inside view of Netley Abbey

Inside view of Netley Abbey

The extremes and common tropes of the Gothic tradition made it rich territory for satire. William Pearce’s Netley Abbey: an operatic farce in two acts pokes fun at the fashion for visiting Gothics ruins, as well as the recreation of ruins (in the form of follys) on the lands of the aristocracy. The plot follows the exploits of Oakland, his daughter, Lucy, and his son, Captain Oakland, the latter of who wishes to marry the impoverished Ellen Woodbine. It transpires that Oakland is being defrauded by his agent, Rapine, who is also responsible for the fire that destroyed the Woodbine estate. The tale culminates in the Rapine being exposed and the lovers being united against the backdrop of Netley Abbey. First performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, in 1794, Paul Rice notes that the portrayal of the ruins of the abbey on stage in the final scene was “highly evocative and gained much audience approval.”

Netley Abbey, Thomas Ingoldsby (Rare Books Cope quarto NET 26)]

Netley Abbey, Thomas Ingoldsby (Rare Books Cope quarto NET 26)]

Netley Abbey by Thomas Ingoldsby was first published as part of The Ingoldsby legends, or, Mirth and marvels in the 1840s. The name Thomas Ingoldsby was the pseudonym for the Reverend Richard Harris Barham (1788-1845). A writer, as well as a clergyman, he was best known for his series of myths, legends, ghost stories and poems. While his writings were based on traditional legends, Ingoldsby’s versions contain strong elements of satire and parody – with Netley Abbey being no exception:

And yet, fair Netley, as I gaze
Upon that grey and mouldering wall,
The glories of thy palmy days
Its very stones recall!–
They ‘come like shadows, so depart’–
I see thee as thou wert — and art –

Sublime in ruin!– grand in woe!
Lone refuge of the owl and bat;
No voice awakes thine echoes now!
No sound — Good Gracious!– what was that?
Was it the moan,
The parting groan
Of her who died forlorn and alone,
Embedded in mortar, and bricks, and stone?–
Full and clear On my listening ear
It comes–again–near, and more near–
Why ‘zooks! it’s the popping of Ginger Beer!
[Netley Abbey, Thomas Ingoldsby (Rare Books Cope quarto NET 26)]

The 1889 edition in the Cope collection was published posthumously with the poem accompanied by lithographic illustrations by Enest M. Jessop.

During the 20th century, changing attitudes led to the clearing of the vegetation and debris from the abbey ruins. All traces of the later alterations were removed, and the ruins were returned to their pristine state. The abbey is now an English Heritage site and continues to draw a large number of visitors every year. As part of the events for Jane Austen 200 there will be a series of lantern Halloween ghost walks at the abbey from 30 October to 1 November. Further details can be found at: https://www.sarahsiddonsfanclub.org/events/a-mystery-of-a-horrible-nature-lantern-halloween-ghost-walk/

Richard Cockle Lucas 1800-1883: talented artist and engaging eccentric

Photograph of Richard Cockle Lucas taken by himself [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13789]

Photograph of Richard Cockle Lucas taken by himself [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13789]

R.C.Lucas was a local artist and sculptor of some renown, who spent the latter part of his life at Chilworth, a village just north of Southampton. He was born in Salisbury, where his father was a cloth manufacturer. Being an impressionable child, he was much affected by tales of the supernatural, and believed he had been visited by fairies, a belief which lasted for the rest of his life. This resulted in his publishing in 1875 Hetty Lottie and the proceedings of Little Dick showing how he woo’d and won a Fairy, two copies of which can be found on the open access shelves of the Cope Collection in the Special Collections area of the Hartley Library [73 LUC Cope], bound together with Palmerstonia, Lucas’s tribute to his friend, Lord Palmerston.

Title page of Hetty Lottie [Cope 73 LUC]

Title page of Hetty Lottie [Cope 73 LUC]

Lucas was apprenticed to a cutler in Winchester, where his aptitude at carving knife handles led him to take up sculpture. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools, later regularly exhibiting there. After some years, he moved with his wife, Eliza and son to Otterbourne, Hampshire and eventually to Chilworth. One of his sculptures, a wax bust of the goddess Flora, achieved notoriety when it was purchased after his death by a German gallery who believed it to be by Leonardo da Vinci. After some controversy, its true origin was revealed by the discovery of 19th-century fabric inside its structure. He created many other sculptures including a statue of Dr Johnson for Lichfield, and a model of the Parthenon acquired by the British Museum. Another of his statues was of Isaac Watts, the theologian and hymn writer, now in Watts Park, Southampton. It was unveiled with much ceremony in the presence of the Mayor and the Earl of Shaftesbury, followed by the singing of Handel’s Halleluja Chorus. It is described as “realistic and convincing” by David Lloyd in the Hampshire volume of The Buildings of England.

Statue of Isaac Watts photographed by Lucas [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]

Statue of Isaac Watts photographed by Lucas [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]

The monument to John Fleming in North Stoneham Church, near Southampton, was created in 1854, showing a relief portrait of Fleming. The Southampton Times of 24 September 1864 describes in great detail a monument to Robert Pearce, a banker, still standing in Southampton Old Cemetery. It consists of three life-sized winged figures representing Faith, Hope and Charity supporting an urn from which a butterfly emerges. “We congratulate the people of Southampton on having such a beautiful art work in their midst” [BR115/10/20/3]. Lucas considered this to have been his master work.

Lucas made over 300 etchings, including a volume now in the British Museum. He also pioneered a technique of making prints from natural objects such as ferns, which he called nature prints. The Hartley Library holds two albums of his photographs, which include images of his own works, and photographs of himself as characters from Shakespeare, also dressed as a necromancer and in other guises [rare books Cope 73 LUC].

In later life, he became increasingly eccentric and built a house for himself at Chilworth in 1854, which he called the Tower of the Winds, apparently on the site of or near the modern house called Chilworth Tower on Chilworth Drove. Later accounts of this building are confused by the fact that in 1862 or 1863 he sold this house and began building another about half a mile away, on the other side of the main road to Romsey from the Clump Inn. This was possibly due to problems with damp in the first house as mentioned in his letter to Palmerston (see below). This appears to be the house of which a photograph exists in one of the albums held in the Hartley Library, which is dated 1864.

Tower of the Winds photographed by Lucas in 1864 [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]

Tower of the Winds photographed by Lucas in 1864 [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]

It was apparently 60 feet high with a studio and study on the top floor, which Lucas called his Sky Parlour. He was very fond of heights, and it is alleged that he once climbed the spire of Salisbury Cathedral with his baby son tied on his back, though this may well be literally a tall story! His tower included stained glass which Lucas thought may have come from the Tudor palace of Nonsuch, though some did come from Salisbury Cathedral. The first tower is said to have burnt down in 1893. John Arlott states in an article in Hampshire Magazine for March 1963 that the second tower was demolished in 1955 to make way for a modern house called Chilworth Court. But an article published in 1934 in the Hampshire Advertiser states that the building had already disappeared. Arlott describes a slab inscribed R. C. Lucas 1863, presumably the foundation stone, which is set in the garden path of Chilworth Court. One account in Hampshire Magazine for December 1992 describes how the wooden structure on top eventually fell down some time after Lucas’s death, and afterwards the name was changed to Chilworth Court, the name being perpetuated by the modern house.

Lucas was well-known locally in his lifetime for his eccentric behaviour, which included riding down Southampton High Street in a horse-drawn chariot dressed in a toga as a Roman emperor. He entered into a dispute with Joseph Toomer, a Southampton man who described him as “a crazy old infidel” [BR115/9/8], but was defended by Lord Palmerston. His friendship with Palmerston lasted for many years, who apparently esteemed him highly as an artist and conversationalist. Palmerston obtained a civil list pension for him in 1865, and planted various specimen trees on his property including Wellingtonias and cedars.

Medallion of Palmerston “in speech, peace and war”. Photograph taken by the artist [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]

Medallion of Palmerston “in speech, peace and war”. Photograph taken by the artist [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]
This ivory carving is described in a letter to Lord Palmerston in 1863 [BR115/9/62]. It is accompanied by a slip of paper containing the amusing idea that “it was discovered in the ruins of Windsor Castle which Theodosis the seventh Australian Emperor destroyed in 2899″.

Letter to Palmerston, Oct 1864, offering to sell his works of art and his tower in exchange for an annuity. [BR115/10/20/2]

Letter to Palmerston, Oct 1864, offering to sell his works of art and his tower in exchange for an annuity. [BR115/10/20/2]
“My old Tower I could not keep dry- therefore I sold it and have now built one handsome and substantial….. I sent my son as a mediator to Mr Fleming [local estate owner]- instead of which he got a lease for himself elsewhere and I had to go to the dogs. So unhandsome did my son sever his fortunes from mine that I would rather march to the Union than have support from him.” Palmerston replied that he has no room to display the art works at Broadlands, and that “your new tower, though a a handsome and substantial Building is too far from Broadlands to be a desirable acquisition.” [BR115/10/20/4]

In the Archives here, there are also letters from Lucas to the Duke of Wellington. He wrote to Wellington in 1851 asking him to sit for a medallion, but by this time the Duke was an old man and rather tired of sitting for portraits (he died the following year). [WP2/168/23-24]

Lucas is buried in the churchyard of Chilworth parish church. There is a memorial inside the church, made by Lucas himself, in the form of a marble medallion bearing his profile. He was survived by his son, Albert Durer Lucas, 1828-1918, who was also an artist. Lucas wrote his own epitaph as early as 1850 (33 years before his death), part of which reads “his habits were simple, he was honest, conscientious, of industry untiring …his intellect was enquiring, acute and penetrating.”

In recent years Harry Willis Fleming has done a considerable amount of work on Lucas’s life and work, including the creation of the R. C. Lucas Archive, containing photographs, scrapbooks, etchings and other artefacts. His website can be accessed at http://www.richardcocklelucas.org.uk/

“He was always a minor figure and never had the skill or enjoyed the popularity of a major talent like Chantrey. But as a human being he was not negligible and should be remembered not only for his best small-scale works but also for his perseverance, industry and enquiring mind” Trevor Fawcett, art historian, quoted in Chilworth Tower and R C Lucas, a bound collection of unpublished typescripts, MSS and photocopied articles made by M C Durrant and held on the open shelves of the Cope Collection [Cope q CHL 72 TOW].

“…my great delight is to comprehend truth and to reproduce it” Richard Cockle Lucas On the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (bound in Chilworth Tower and R. C. Lucas, as above)

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)