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46 posts categorized "Rare books"

06 November 2018

Hogarth’s London in the 18th century Latin poetry of Benjamin Loveling

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In 1738 an anonymous book of Latin and English poetry was published ‘by a Gentleman of Trinity College, Oxford’. Its author was Benjamin Loveling (1711-1750?), a clergyman, satirist and one-time rake, who documented his liaisons in the inns and brothels of 1720s and 30s Covent Garden and Drury Lane in Latin poems inspired by the Roman poets Horace and Ovid. Loveling’s poems primarily take the form of verse epistles addressed to a circle of male friends. They are often funny – and sexually explicit.

  IMG_9302British Library, General Reference Collection 641.i.14. The title page motto is taken from Horace’s Epistles 1.14.36: nec Lusisse pudet, sed non incidere Ludum (‘there’s no shame in playing, but in not bringing an end to play’).

However, Loveling’s bawdy humour was not only at the expense of the sex workers of 18th century London. He also composed realistic and sympathetic depictions of prostitutes living in poverty, and Hogarthian social satire of the over-zealous moral reformers of the age. One such target was John Gonson, a notorious magistrate whose enthusiastic raids on brothels and harsh sentencing was satirised in William Hogarth’s A Harlot’s Progress (1731-2). Loveling addresses Gonson in his ode Ad Joannem G[on]s[o]num, Equitem (pp. 21-2):

  IMG_9303 2

Pellicum, G---s—ne, animosus hostis,
Per minus castas Druriae tabernas
Lenis incedens abeas Diones
                                                                     Aequus Alumnis.
Nuper (ah dictum miserum!) Olivera
Flevit ereptas viduata maechas,
Quas tuum vidit genibus minores
                                                                     Ante tribunal.
Dure, cur tanta in Veneris ministras
Aestuas ira?

(‘Gonson, fearless enemy of prostitutes, advancing on bawds throughout the less virtuous taverns of Drury, may you look kindly on the pupils of Dione [i.e. the mother of Venus] and be gone. Recently (ah it is wretched to say!) Oliver wept, bereft of her stolen whores, whom she saw on bended knees before your tribunal. Harsh man, why do you rage with such anger against the attendants of Venus?’)

He sympathetically represents the plight of the women affected by Gonson’s harsh punishments:

Nympha quae nuper nituit theatre
Nunc stat obscuro misera angiportu,
Supplici vellens tunicam rogatque
                                                                   Voce Lyaeum.

(‘The girl who recently shone in the theatre now stands wretched in a dark alley, and tearing at her dress she begs for wine [i.e. ‘the loosener’] with humble prayer.’)

With typically irreverent humour, Loveling ends the ode by suggesting that Gonson might change his mind if he were to experience the delights of brothel for himself, to be entertained by wine, or a ‘skilful prostitute’ (pellex … callida).

  Harlots-progress-f60135-32Plate 3 of Hogarth’s A Harlot’s Progress, a series of 6 paintings depicting the decline of Moll Hackabout, an innocent country girl who is drawn into a life of prostitution in London. This image shows Gonson entering with bailiffs to arrest Moll. 

Why write in Latin in 18th century England? Loveling was certainly not unusual; most educated men of this period still wrote and read Latin. Given his subject matter the desire to restrict his readership to a select male audience – and obscure the identity of himself and his addresses – is obvious. He perhaps also intended to create an amusing contrast between his ‘low’ subject matter and carefully crafted Latin verse. But most of all Latin was a medium that implicitly excluded most women, and within a closed circle of male readers gave him relative freedom and privacy to give voice to the underworld of 18th century London.

How do we respond to the undoubtedly masculine – and potentially misogynistic – associations of these Latin poems today?

Sara Hale
AHRC Innovation Placement Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Manchester
British Library, Heritage Made Digital

Further reading:
Latin and English poems. By a Gentleman of Trinity College, Oxford, London, 1738 (British Library, General Reference Collection 641.i.14) [2nd ed. 1741]
See quotations from Loveling’s poems used to ‘illustrate’ Hogarth’s works in: Edmund Ferrers, Clavis Hogarthiana: or, Illustrations of Hogarth, London, 1817
And in: John Nichols, Biographical Anecdotes of William Hogarth, 3rd ed., London, 1785

British Library website on Georgian Britain 

 

31 October 2018

Three women accused of witchcraft: a unique pamphlet from the height of the witch craze

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We associate witches with broomsticks, evil potions and fairy tales but we should remember that in early modern Britain witchcraft really was something to fear, especially for those women accused of it.  The British Library holds the sole surviving copy of a pamphlet called A Detection of Damnable Driftes, Practized by Three Witches Arrainged at Chelmifforde [Chelmsford] in Essex, at the Late Assizes There Holden, Which Were Executed in Aprill, 1579.  It describes the cases against women accused of witchcraft, three of whom were found guilty and hanged in 1579.

Photo 1

Elizabeth Fraunces, of Hatfield Peverel, was by all accounts a fairly notorious witch, having been to court twice before this trial.  In her previous confessions, she admitted to possessing a familiar that took the shape of a white cat unhelpfully called Satan.  She also confessed to stealing sleep and killing one Andrew Byles, who would not marry her after getting her pregnant.  The cat told her what herbs to drink to abort the pregnancy.  Elizabeth also confessed to killing her six-month-old daughter and making her second husband lame.  She was imprisoned and pilloried.  During her third and final trial, Elizabeth confessed to bewitching her neighbour Alice Poole because she refused her some yeast.  Elizabeth employed a spirit to bewitch her that took the shape of a “little rugged dogge”.  She was a spinster by this time.  Before being put to death, Elizabeth named other local witches; it was common for women to incriminate others; it took suspicion away from themselves.

Photo 2
Elleine Smith, of Maldon, was a young women who refused to give her father-in-law a portion of the money she’d received from her mother, who had been executed for witchcraft years before.  They argued and Elleine purportedly told him that he’d regret crossing her.  He wasted away soon afterwards.  She was also accused of inflicting great pains on her neighbour because, during these pains, the neighbour noticed a rat run up his chimney and change into a toad.  He apparently thrust it into the fire and it turned blue.  Lastly, and most horrifically, Elleine was accused of killing a four-year-old girl by breathing on her. She was found guilty and hanged.

The last execution described in the pamphlet is that of Mother Nokes, who was accused of making a young man lame after he stole her daughter’s gloves.  Mother Nokes then discovered that her husband was having an affair and that they were expecting an illegitimate child.  She told them that they wouldn’t keep the baby for long and, shortly afterwards, it died.

The causes of the witch craze are still hotly debated but it was undoubtedly a febrile social phenomenon that spread like wildfire through communities.  Early modern people were superstitious and the witch craze was a period of widespread moral panic; they certainly believed in witchcraft.  The vast majority of those accused were women cast out of their communities and victims in their own right.  In this pamphlet alone, we have a woman who was abandoned and left to abort her pregnancy, a young woman whose father-in-law was trying to take her money and a wife whose husband had an affair.  Whether they were falsely accused or took revenge by witchcraft or more natural means, this pamphlet is testament to the plight of three women in desperate situations.

Maddy Smith
Curator, Printed Heritage Collections

Further reading:
More about Elizabeth Fraunces

 

09 October 2018

Hungary Water for Missionaries?

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In November 1764 the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge wrote to the Court of Directors of the East India Company for permission to send a number of ‘sundry items’ out to their missionaries in India on the ships sailing that season.  The Society sent out various supplies to their missionaries each year and their lists often included unexpected items such as the Four Cheeses in Lead and a Harpsichord sent out in 1762 and featured previously on Untold Lives.

The 1764 list of sundry items included the surprising entry of two bottles of Hungary Water.  Hungary Water, also often known as “The Queen of Hungary’s Water” was one of the first alcohol based perfumes to be produced in Europe and was primarily made with rosemary.   It was the most popular fragrance and remedy in Europe until the development of Eau de Cologne in the late 18th Century.  The water has many myths associated with it, the most common one being that it was named after the Queen of Hungary who used it and at age 70 was believed to have looked so youthful a 25 year old Duke asked for her hand in marriage believing her to be of a similar age.

Hungary waterAdvertisement for Hungary Water in Homeward Mail from India, China and the East 9 June 1857

Hungary Water was most commonly used as a cure-all beauty tonic and was believed to help maintain a youthful appearance and beauty.  It was also considered to have health benefits when digested including to improve strength and eyesight and to dispel gloominess.  The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge presumably sent it to their missionaries for the health benefits, rather than to maintain their youthfulness and beauty.

The Toilet of Flora Title PageThe Toilet of Flora (1775)   Noc


The 1775 publication The Toilet of Flora features a recipe to make what is refers to as ‘Genuine Hungary Water’:

'Put into an alembic a pound and a half of fresh pickt Rosemary Flowers; Penny royal and Marjoram Flowers, of each half a pound; three quarts of good Coniac Brandy; having close stopped the mouth of the alembic to prevent the spirit from evaporating, bury it twenty-eight hours in horse-dung to digest, and distill off the Spirit in a water-bath.

A drachm of Hungary Water diluted with Spring Water, may be taken once or twice a week in the morning fasting.  It is also used by way of embrocation to bathe the face and limbs, or any part affected with pains, or debility.  This remedy recruits the strengths, dispels gloominess, and strengthens the sight.  It must always be used cold, whether taken inwardly as a medicine, or applied externally.'

More recipes from the publication The Toilet of Flora featured in the 2013 Untold Lives blog post Lip Salve and Worms in the Face.

Karen Stapley
Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
J Broughton, Secretary to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge to Robert James, Secretary to the Court of Directors of the East India Company, Nov 1764. IOR/E/1/46, ff 737-739

 

01 October 2018

Strange fish: A distant cousin of the Beluga whale in the River Thames

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We have always been both fascinated and saddened by whales finding their way into rivers or being stranded on strange beaches. The beluga whale in the Thames near Gravesend last week is the latest in a long line of chronicled incidents. They have been recorded in print since the sixteenth century, and in manuscript from even earlier. I am researching early modern printed ballads and pamphlets about these ‘strange fish’ that were paraded as exotic marvels, heralded as signs from God or feared as omens. It was only late in the seventeenth century that whales became natural rather than divine wonders. This is a timely moment to share one of my favourite pamphlets.

Photo 1

Strange News from the Deep, BL N.788 Public Domain

In 1677, a whale became stranded in a river near Colchester in Essex and tragically died. We know this because a pamphlet was printed, probably within days of the whale’s death, which exists today in only three copies. Strange News from the Deep: Being a Full Account of a Large Prodigious Whale, Lately Taken in the River Wivner, within Six Miles of Colchester was printed by one still unidentified “W.H.”. Of the two copies at the British Library, one has a fantastically large woodcut of Jonah being swallowed whole by a whale. This copy once belonged to Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), a physician, naturalist and collector whose collection became the foundation of the British Museum, the British Library and the Natural History Museum. The other British Library copy is part of another important collection, albeit one formed a generation later – that of Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), the botanist who sailed with Sir James Cook.

Photo 2

Strange News from the Deep, BL N.788

Public Domain

This rare pamphlet describes how a “strange whale” was seen swimming up “the Wivner-River”. Villagers watched as it floundered on the shallow sand banks; its tail “shovelled the sands so high” that they showered over the spectators’ heads and the thrashing of its body caused waves to swell out over the banks. She continued to struggle until the tide went out and left her stranded in the shallow water. In her desperation, the whale broke her tail and her blood dyed the river red. Eventually she died in the water, “being of so large a bulk that the river could not cover her”.

The anonymous author tries to explain why the whale became stranded. He refers to Pliny’s theory that their “unnatural wandrings” are caused by sickness. He then suggests the sheer strength of the tide could’ve hurled the young whale into the river mouth. He then resorts to the traditional beliefs that whales are brought to land as a sign of “insuing judgment” or are a “favourable warning given us by the Almighty”. This opinion is “perhaps the least authentick”.

P84Image taken from page 84 of Narrative of the Wreck of the “Favourite” on the Island of Desolation: detailing the adventures, sufferings and privations of J. Nunn, an historical account of the Island, and its whale and seal fisheries. Edited by W. B. Clarke, British Library Flickr Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/11012011156/ 

Stranded whales are almost as mysterious today as they were in the early modern period. A recent theory is that the phenomenon may be caused by the same solar surges that affect the northern lights. Others suggest the melting of the Arctic sea ice, the beluga whale being an arctic animal. These whales have become ominous portents once more, only now they warn of climate change rather than divine wrath. Whether they are reported in seventeenth century pamphlets or on Twitter, their plight evokes the same dread, fascination and pity as it has for centuries.

Maddy Smith,

Curator, Printed Heritage Collections

Further reading and references:

Strange news from the deep: being a full account of a large prodigious whale, lately taken in the river Wivner, within six miles of Colchester. Declaring the strange manner of its coming up, and by what unusuall means it was seized upon by the neighbouring inhabitants. Also an account of the like prodigious accidents in general. Printed for W.H. in the year 1677. British Library N.788 and 1257.d.29.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/26/thames-beluga-whale-omen-changing-climate-gravesend

http://estc.bl.uk/R236823

http://estc.bl.uk/R42904 

25 September 2018

William Blake’s Grave

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The Bunhill Fields Burial Grounds are the final resting place for around 120,000 people including Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan, Susanna Wesley, and William Blake. Previously, Blake’s precise location in the cemetery was unknown but thanks to Carol and Luis Garrido’s investigation, the exact location has been determined. In celebration of the discovery, the Blake Society commissioned a new gravestone, and arranged for an unveiling ceremony 191 years after Blake’s death, on August 12, 2018. Philip Pullman, novelist of His Dark Materials trilogy, and heavy metal frontman of Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson, came together, alongside other Blake devotees to celebrate the occasion.
 

Blake graveWilliam Blake’s grave. Taken by Elizabeth Potter. September 2018. Noc

Another grave to visit for all things Blake, is Robert Blair’s The Grave, a Poem (1808). Blair belonged to what is often called the Graveyard School, a pre-Romantic group of poets in the eighteenth century that wrote about mortality, loss, and the afterworld.  Blake was commissioned to create designs to illustrate Blair’s popular poem for a new edition. Eventually, Blake was ousted from the position as engraver to be replaced by Louis Schivaonetti but twelve of his designs would populate the pages, and later would be Blake’s claim-to-fame in the nineteenth century.

An interesting plate by Blake is The Soul exploring the recesses of the Grave. The design is described in the book as: “The Soul, prior to the dissolution of the Body, exploring through and beyond the tomb, and there discovering the emblems of mortality and of immortality”.  The Soul, embodied as a curious woman holding a candle, ventures into the rocky, cavernous tomb that houses a corpse surrounded by flames. Atop the cave is a young man, with a crescent moon appearing behind and between his legs, bending towards the tomb with a confused, saddened expression.

  Grave Poem 1The Grave, A Poem by Robert Blair. C.39.k.11. Noc

Scholars Robert N. Essick and Morton D. Paley suggest comparing this design to another contained in The Grave, called Death’s Door. These two images function as opposites – The Soul Exploring conveys restriction and obfuscation, and the Death’s Door revealing the possibilities of regeneration after death. Blake’s departure from gloom and towards the opportunity of immortality and spiritual regeneration is epitomized in the pairing of engravings. As the description of the imagery asserts in The Grave (1808), “these designs, detached from the work they embellish, form of themselves a most interesting poem.”
 

Grave Poem 2The Grave, A Poem by Robert Blair. C.39.k.11. Noc

 

Elizabeth Potter
PhD Research Placement Student from the University of York

Further reading:
Robert Blair's The Grave illustrated by William Blake: a study with facsimile by Robert N. Essick and Morton D. Paley (1982).

The Notebook of William Blake, page 70.

Carol and Luis Garrido’s efforts to find the exact location of Blake.

 

10 July 2018

Spence Broughton: A Ghostly Highwayman

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Spence Broughton was a highwayman executed for robbing the Sheffield and Rotherham mail in 1792.  His body was gibbeted on Attercliffe Common and, notoriously, it hung there for 36 years.  Thousands flocked to see this gory spectacle and it has remained somewhat of a local legend.  Only four contemporary publications about Broughton are recorded, all provincially printed (probably in York) and extremely rare.  We are delighted to add to this with the discovery of a hitherto unknown broadside: 'Full and complete particulars of the dreadful, surprizing, and alarming apparition of Spence Broughton, which appeared to Miss S---- H----, on Sunday morning, April 15, 1792'. 

Highwayman1'Full and complete particulars of the dreadful, surprizing, and alarming apparition of Spence Broughton...'

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Broughton’s fate was of his own making; he deserted his family, gambled and committed many highway robberies after all.  However, in this broadside, the highwayman is instead a victim of a seductress, absolving him of responsibility for his crimes and condemning his unfortunate mistress to a life of' 'never-ending tortures'.

The night before his execution, the highwayman appeared as an apparition in his mistress’s bedroom.  Upon waking she saw Broughton’s coffin, flanked by his widow and three orphans.  The widow reportedly cried:
'Most worthless of thy sex, behold the misery thou hast occasioned!  Behold the widow and the orphans thy infamy has plunged into woe! … The blood of a whole family calls aloud for vengeance upon thee!'

The widow then disappeared, leaving Broughton in spirit-form to condemn his mistress:
'If the sufferings of an innocent and virtuous woman cannot avail, I charge thee to mark my words, for surely they must strike thee with unspeakable remorse.  Have thy not delusive tongue occasioned me to relinquish the chastest love for the lewdest dalliance? Canst thou exist on earth without a foretaste of never-ending tortures? … Surely thou canst not behold my mangled limbs without shedding the most heart-rending tears!'

Broughton then disappeared in a ball of fire, leaving poor Miss S---- H---- terrified and the curtains mysteriously soaked in blood.  The landlady admonished and urged her to 'forsake the highway of destruction, and seek the happy path of reformation and amendment'.  The other surviving printed sources about Spence Broughton strike a similarly sympathetic note about his fate; he apparently repented for his crimes prior to execution and that earned him a measure of public compassion.

Highwayman2'Full and complete particulars of the dreadful, surprizing, and alarming apparition of Spence Broughton...'


This grubby but unique survival adds to the small corpus of provincial printing about Spence Broughton, and to the corpus of highwaymen broadsides more generally.  Popular print in the eighteenth century was saturated by sensationalist tales, infamous criminals and the odd, squeezed-in, moral lesson.  This was perhaps printed just hours before the execution and its extraordinary but decidedly misogynist tale would’ve been avidly consumed by locals.  It was printed cheaply on waste paper – on the back of a Register of Freeholders form - and it cost only a penny.  It could also provide a valuable clue about the identity of Broughton’s much-maligned mistress, whose name has long since been lost.  The initials “S H” may be the printer’s invention but, then again, they may not.  Either way, this is an intriguing piece of printing.
 
Maddy Smith
Curator, Printed Heritage Collections

 

14 May 2018

#Happy Birthday, Robert Proctor :)

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Anyone with an interest in early printed books should certainly celebrate the 150th anniversary of Robert Proctor’s birth. A debt of gratitude is owed to the librarian and bibliographer, who had a special talent for identifying early printing types and on that basis consolidated a method for arranging incunabula, books printed in the 15th century.

Proctor disappeared in September 1903 whilst hiking in the Tyrol, but his work during his short energetic life did much to make a science of bibliography. The impact of the publication of his Index to the Early Printed Books in the British Museum was figuratively likened to "the launching of HMS Dreadnought". The 'Proctor Order' is still used, giving numbers to printed items arranged geographically and chronologically: first by country, in printing order; then within each country by town, chronologically; then within each town by printer.

 When we are struck by the accomplishments of remarkable people, it’s natural to look for the things that made them click. Proctor’s Diaries written from 1899-1903, provide insights into his day-to-day work, his interests, joys, frustrations, thoughts and opinions. Today Twitter serves this function for many librarians, and so to celebrate Proctor’s birthday we thought we might gift him a Twitter account! What might he have tweeted?

ProctorTwitter1If Proctor had a Twitter account it might have looked like this...

Proctor’s energy and industry is immediately apparent when reading his diaries. We might wonder if he had some kind of thaasophobia – he was never idle. He could have been a prolific Tweeter.

As a librarian he documented his work at the British Museum: cataloguing, acquisitions, visitor interviews, and work on the printed subject index. He also recorded the weather, often with a touch of poetry, aware of its natural magic and dynamism. He could be expected to have tweeted images from the books he worked with, but it’s often illuminating to look at the other interests of people normally associated with a particular area.

For instance, Proctor lived in a house with his mother, and loved gardening. We picture him setting wire fences, chopping logs, picking flowers and making jam.

ProctorTwitter2

He recorded the books he read on train journeys and those he read to his mother; he could have tweeted, “#amreading Zola (to mother)”. Proctor kept up his diary during his holidays, and these contain succinct (tweetable) reviews: “not to be commended, but certainly cheap”, “landlord excellent” etc.

Some diaries and much of social media can be mundane and turgid. The interesting stuff comes with those things that reflect the deeper and more meaningful sides of a character. Proctor’s diaries offer an interesting record of his views and opinions. It is well known that Proctor was greatly influenced by the aesthetics and politics of his idol William Morris and we see plenty of examples of Proctor’s ‘radicalism’.

ProctorDiary1"The bottom of the sea seems the best place for France - but I doubt whether her injustice towards Dreyfus is a greater crime than the behaviour of our Government & Press to the Boers", diary entry for 9 Sep 1899. Add MS 50190-50196.

Many people with social media accounts which identify an employer state in their profiles, ‘opinions my own’ or ‘not tweeting in an official capacity’. Had Proctor taken to Twitter, the British Museum’s Department of Printed Books may just have insisted on this for @IncunabulaBob: on March 7th 1900 Proctor wrote “London much excited because the loathsome Fatguts is defiling it. She is going to Ireland – may she leave her damned bones there.”

ProctorDiary2Fatguts, and 'the Old Washerwoman of Windsor', were Proctor's insulting names for Queen Victoria.

 

Other pages in Proctor's diaries display quite touching gestures of his sincere beliefs.

ProctorDiary3Liberty, Equality, Fraternity written in red pen at the top of the first page of the second volume of Proctor's diaries.

 Further reading

J H Bowman, ed., A critical edition of the private diaries of Robert Proctor (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, c2010). Open Access Rare Books and Music Reading Room, RAR 027.541

The Private Diary of Robert Proctor. Reprinted from the Transactions of the Bibliographical Society 1951.010856.k.6

Christian Algar,

Curator, Printed Heritage Collections

24 March 2018

Humphry Repton, Landscape Gardener

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Humphry Repton is acknowledged as the last great landscape designer of the 18th century. He died 200 years ago, on 24 March 1818, aged 65. Repton claimed that during his career he worked for over 400 clients. Not all the sites where he worked have been identified so far. His report, often called the ‘Red Book’, has survived for 110 sites, 84 are supported by documentary evidence and 48 are mentioned in Repton’s published works. Many others are illustrated in Peacock’s Polite Repository, a little pocket diary for which Repton provided illustrations. It is generally accepted that this indicates he had been invited to advise on the property. The British Library holds a number of these little books as well as copies of his published works.

Repton 1Peacock’s Polite Repository, August 1803 Woodford Hall, Essex – Seat of J. Maitland Esq c.58.aa.12 Noc

 In 1806 the East India Company decided to establish its own college to train the clerical staff who would serve them overseas, and a new building was designed by William Wilkins at Haileybury. 

Repton 2View of Haileybury College in Hertfordshire, 1810, by T Medland BL, K Top Vol 15 no 74 Online Gallery Noc

Humphry Repton was invited to advise on landscaping the grounds. The report which he presented to the East India Company appears not to have survived, but many of the letters from Repton to the Company have survived in the archives of the Committee of College, one of the standing committees of the Court of Directors.

Repton 3Report from the Committee of College in the Minutes of the East India Company Court of Directors 23 May 1809  IOR/B/149 p.246 Noc

Repton first visited the site in November 1808 when he was shown around and various ideas were explained to him. His first accounts show he visited the site again before presenting his ‘Book of Plans, Sketches and Report’ for which he charged £52 10s. Several more site visits were made to take measurements and meet with the contractor, and for each of these he charged £21 when accompanied by an assistant or £15 15s when alone.

The letters give us several clues about the proposals in Repton’s Report which included planting 420 horse chestnut, elm or plane trees to make an avenue. He mentioned digging up the old road and levelling the site, and gravelling the ‘public road’. However later, when the contract was nearing completion, the roads were being ‘torn up’ by coal carts before they had become established. Repton suggested moving the coal yard to a site more easily accessible from the main road.

Repton also mentions problems arising from the building work, adding an additional £152 to the original estimate for moving 2620 cubic yards of earth. Later he addressed the problem of old clay pits by proposing two pits be made into one pool by raising the lower one and partly destroying the upper one.

Repton 4British Library IOR/J/1/25/333-34 : 1810  Progress report from Humphry Repton, 22 January 1810 Noc

Repton’s letters about Haileybury give us a glimpse of the missing report, but are also interesting because the East India Company did not just commission the proposals from Repton but, unusually, he had a supervisory role in their implementation. Among other indications for this are his letter dated 2 July 1809 when he says ‘I should be glad to leave full direction for the contractor how he is to proceed during my absence & to do as much as possible before the harvest takes off his men’.

Georgina Green
Independent scholar