Local History Spring Symposium

1 April 2019

Hampshire Field Club Spring Symposium: Saturday, 27 April 2019: 9.20 to 3.45
Childhood and Adolescence

Five speakers will consider different aspects of the experiences of children and young people at various stages in history, with a Hampshire slant:
* Dr Fiona McCall, Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History, University of Portsmouth. Children and Trauma in Loyalist Accounts of the English Civil War in Hampshire
* Dr Rosalind Johnson, Visiting Research Fellow, Department of History, University of Winchester. Children and Young People of Dissenting Families in Early Modern Hampshire
* Professor Nicholas Orme, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Exeter. Display, Ceremony, and Performance in Medieval English Schools
* Dr Mary South, Visiting Research Fellow, Department of History, University of Winchester. The Inoculation of Children in Eighteenth Century Southampton
* Barbara Large, local historian and Victoria County History researcher. The Children of Basingstoke Workhouse.

The Symposium will be held in the Cinema at the Hampshire Record Office, Sussex
Street, Winchester. Talks start at 9.50.

Booking Details

Poster

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Spider

23 December 2018

Crochet spider – a commission from a friend.

Spider

Spider

The domestic tiger

15 November 2018

Seen here in various shades of grumpiness. I was away at the time and these were pictures to reassure me that he was ok. He’s having dental surgery next week because he’s eating so little.

Seeing all the things

9 September 2018

I wanted a project involving getting out the house, and have now settled on a few, with some ideas from MetaFilter.

I’m trying to see all the County Champion oaks locally. (You have to join the Tree Register to see the full database.)

I’m also trying to visit all the local telephone box libraries locally.

Excursed yesterday with my father to start these projects. Did not manage to see the oak I was looking for, and will have to return with a better map. Did walk along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive or Tall Trees Trail, which was good. We found two of the telephone box libraries, Fritham and Bramshaw. Donated some books to both and picked up some: The Phantom Tollbooth, which I thought I’d like to re-read, a PD James for my sister, two Agatha Christies, a JG Farrell for my mother, a Crime for Christmas anthology and Goudge’s The Child From the Sea. The Bramshaw box was messy so we cleared it up a bit. There’s a rather eerie decaying garage, still inhabited, near the box.

Saw sheep in the road which my father drove through (slowly) in a slightly scary way. He explained that when he lived and worked at the gliding club it was his job to drive the sheep off the runway, so he knew what he was doing. At another place there was an appealing piglet in the road.

My father had a good day I think. I consider, off and on, writing something about his Alzheimer’s, but haven’t come to any conclusions. (I emailed him the link about trees above – he emailed back to say “Ta. I have noted two grammatical errors on the first page. Picky or what”.)

Advent of the K-cat

29 July 2018

The K-cat has been here about a month now. She has been very helpful with the data returns. Yesterday she sat on my keyboard and replaced “local authority” with “gbnh”.

Black cat sitting up

Black cat closeup

Mad Mary Lamb: Lunacy and Murder in Literary London (book #166)

26 February 2018

Picture of Mary Lamb

Susan Tyler Hitchcock, 2005.

Review by Nigel Leary.

I knew very little about Mary Lamb’s life, though whenever I am in the kitchen with my mother and a bread knife I am compelled to mutter “Mary Lamb”. I enjoyed Charles’s Essays as a child, and their joint poems in The Oxford Book of Children’s Verse.

This is a good biography, though there are a couple of imagining sections near the start which are a bit annoying.

I did not know that Mary’s murder of her mother was acknowledged at the time to be linked to Mary’s caring role – as the only surviving daughter, not only was she working as a mantua-maker, but also looking after her paralysed 60-year-old mother, her 70-year-old father, who had dementia or a stroke or both, her elderly though reasonably healthy aunt and her brother John, who did not normally live with them but had injured his leg and moved back home. In addition, her brother Charles, who did live at home, had had a mental breakdown the year before and spent some time in a private madhouse, and Mary had a new apprentice, aged 9.

The family were poor and had no servants. Charles describes their mother as responding to Mary’s love with “cold and repulse“. A newspaper wrote about the murder that “As her carriage towards her mother was ever affectionate in the extreme, it is believed, that to the incresed attentiveness which her parents’ infirmities called for by day and night, is to be attributed the present insanity of this ill fated young woman”.

The year after the murder, when Mary was still in another private madhouse, Hitchcock describes Charles’s difficulties in looking after his father. “What Charles really needed was some time to himself, but circumstances did not allow it.”

Hitchcock writes about the inter-dependency between Charles and Mary that Mary “cycled through the pattern over and over: caring, finding herself overwhelmed, retreating and detaching, recovering herself, and then returning to the situation in which she must start caring again”. Charles’s alcoholism and mental health issues, in his words, were “wasting and teazing her life”.

I was interested to know that the Lambs were friends with John Rickman, discussed in my last post. “Charles called [him] ‘the clearest headed fellow,’ ‘fullest of matter with least verbosity,’ ‘hugely literate, oppresively full of information,’ and in general ‘the finest fellow to drop in a nights about nine or ten oClock, cold bread and cheese time, just in the wishing time of the night, when you wish for somebody to come in, without a distinct idea of a probable anybody’.” Data people – there with the matter and up for bread and cheese of a night.

Much later, Mary became a children’s writer. Hitchcock quotes from Anna Laetitia Barbauld’s book for three- and four-year-olds:

The sky is very black: the rain pours down. Well, never mind it. We will sit by the fire, and read, and tell stories, and look at pictures. Where is Billy and Harry, and little Betsey? Now, tell me who can spell best. Good boy! There is a clever fellow! Now you shall have some cake.

The Lambs objected to this type of writiting as not fostering imagination.

There’s a comment about Charles not liking William Godwin’s life of Chaucer because of Godwin “‘filling out the picture by supposing what Chaucer did and how he felt, when the materials are scanty'”. Given Hitchcock’s passages of imagining, I found this amusing.

There is a good account of the Lambs’ living arrangements, as described by Mary:

We still live in Temple Lane, but I am now sitting in a room you never saw. Soon after you left us we were distressed by the cries of a cat which seemed to proceed from the garrets adjoining to ours, and only separated from ours by a locked door … We had the lock forced and let the poor puss out from behind a pannel (sic) of the wainscot, and she lived with us from that time, for we were in gratitute (sic) bound to keep her as she had introduced us to four untenanted, unowned rooms, and by degrees we have taken possession of these unclaimed apartments.

They set up one of the rooms as a workroom for Charles, but

he could do nothing he said with those bare white-washed walls before his eyes … [so we] almost covered the walls with prints, for which purpose he cut out every print from every book in his old library, coming in every now and then to ask my leave to strip a fresh poor author, which he might not do you know without my permission as I am older sister. There was such pasting – such pasting – such consultation where their portaits and where the series of pictures from Ovid, Milton & Shakespear would show to most advantage and in what obscure corner authors of humbler note might be allowed to tell their stories … – the poor despised garret is now called the print room and is become our most favourite sitting room.

And let’s end on a relatively cheery note – an account of the Lambs’ holiday in 1803. Mary was not long out of a stay in a madhouse. This is written by the Lambs’ friend Captain James Burney, brother of Fanny.

We do every thing that is idle, such as reading books from a circulating library, sauntering, hunting little crabs among the rocks, reading Church Yard poetry which is as bad at Cowes as any Church Yard in the Kingdom can produce. Miss Lamb is the only person among us who is not idle. All the cares she takes into her keeping. At night however we do a little business in the smoking line [Mary also smoked, unusually for a woman], and Martin [James’s son] endeavours to make Conundrums, but alas! he is not equal to the achievement. Such is the edifying life we lead at the Isle of Wight.

The Lambs’ Poetry for Children is online here. Their letters are also online, in a coupld of editions: here and here.

There is another biography of Mary Lamb, published the year before this one, which I would like to read: The Devil Kissed Her: the story of Mary Lamb, by Kathy Watson. Review here. There’s also a double biography from the year before that, A Double Life: a biography of Charles and Mary Lamb, by Sarah Burton. Review by Hermione Lee here.

The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker: The story of Britain through its Census, since 1801 (book #165)

14 January 2018

Cover of The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker

Roger Hutchinson, 2017.

Describes John Rickman, who in 1800 pushed through the legislation for the first census, and then carried out the first three censuses and planned the fourth. From 1802 he was Secretary to the Speaker of the House of Commons. The post came with a house in New Palace Yard in the precincts of the mediaeval Old Palace of Westminster. Hutchinson writes that it was “among wooden buildings which date from the time of Queen Elizabeth I, some of them so close to the River Thames that, as Rickman’s daughter Ann would recall, ‘at Spring tide there was great pleasure to us children in dipping our fingers down into the waters from the sitting room window … ‘”

Ann described the garden as “‘a bright, pleasant piece of ground with a terrace and rails to the river, and the roses and other flowers grew luxuriously’, while at the end of Keeper of the Exchequer Mr Wilde’s house on the terrance ‘there was a Hamboro’ grape; and we had gooseberries too and a Morella cherry beside a very pretty Bird cherry tree … and there was a corner and a mound to bury the kittens and canaries in … ‘”

“‘Papa very often in warm weather stretched himself down on the slope of turf that formed the terrace, in the centre of which were four stone steps: he generally went to sleep and we made daisy chains to dress him up, and looked at his pigtail, but we never quite made up our minds to pull it.’ The lighthearted polymath Papa Rickman in his turn insisted that at the family dinner table his children should order their desserts in Latin.”

Guardian review.

Review and information about the author from the Skye Reading Room.

Lab Girl: A story of trees, science and love (book #164)

6 October 2017

Hope Jahren (2016).

Book cover, showing trees

Read this for the book club.

Time has also changed me, my perception of my tree, and my perception of my tree’s perception of itself. Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life. It has also convinced me that carefully writing everything down is the only real defense we have against forgetting something important that once was and is no more, including the spruce tree that should have outlived me and didn’t.

Hope Jahren on Wikipedia.

Interview in Time.

Guardian review.

Censoring Queen Victoria (book #163)

11 September 2017

Book cover, showing Queen Victoria

Censoring Queen Victoria: How Two Gentleman Edited a Queen and Created an Icon. Yvonne M Ward, 2014.

I liked this passage from Arthur Benson‘s diary for 1904. He’s describing working in the Round Tower at Windsor Castle.

My own room is a big room, hung with Hogarth engravings and good furniture — a white chair with pink satin on wheels was used by the Queen. I did not use the room to-day as it was not ready, but worked in the strong-room, and went through an interesting lot of Melbourne’s letters — beginning with one on the morning of the accession. His writing is very hard to read. It was odd to sit in this big room, all surrounded with shelves, with the deep embrasure full of guns. The wind roared and the rain lashed the window. I was amused and happy.

(Diary is online at Archive.org.)

I also liked the fact that in an interview, Yvonne Ward describes a rather parallel experience of researching in the archives of the publishers John Murray:

The room I worked in had been a salon where previous John Murrays had held court with their various clients: Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Charles Darwin, Samuel Smiles. There were lithographs and paintings on the walls depicting soirées that had taken place in that room, and hundreds of books lining the walls. It was a wonderful atmosphere to work in.

There’s a review of the book here by Kathryn Hughes.

In other news, am finding things difficult at the moment, but have plans and tentative plan b et cetera.

Chalet School randomness

29 August 2017

This is at Calshot. Homage? His family home is in the New Forest.