Untold lives blog

24 August 2012

Reading Music Festival

What a difference 220 years make!

Here is a reveller at the Reading Festival in 2007 -

Young man painted purple at Reading FestivalReveller at Reading Festival - author's photograph Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

And here is the programme for the far more sedate Reading Music Festival of August 1787. Handel's oratorio Judas Maccabaeus was performed to an audience who no doubt remained fully clothed throughout and refrained from painting themselves purple.

Programme for Reading Music Festival 1787 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The programme is found in a scrapbook belonging to Sir Charles Marsh (1735-1805), one of the stewards at the event.  Marsh was an important figure in Reading society: JP; Commissioner of income tax; and Commissioner for the sale of land tax. He had been an officer in the British Army, serving with the 84th Foot in India during the Seven Years War.  Having returned to England with a considerable fortune, he invested as founding partner in the Berkshire and Reading Bank which opened in Friar Street Reading in 1788.

Sir Charles's scrapbook contains a variety of interesting and perhaps surprising papers.  We shall be sharing more of them in future posts on Untold Lives.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:

IOPP/MSS Eur C426 Sir Charles Marsh's papers
T. A. B. Corley, 'The earliest Reading Bank: March, Deane & Co, 1788-1815' in Berks Archaeological Journal, vol. 66



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