Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859)

I was listening this morning to Today on Radio 4 and heard Andrea Wulf describing how little known Alexander von Humboldt is to the English-speaking world today - at least, before the publication of her prize-winning biography The Invention of Nature.

So it's nice to remember that the Revd Robert Barlow of Hutton Rudby was a reader, boasting in Chapter 1 of his fictionalised semi-autobiography Remarkable but Still True:
... I myself am a great reader of all sorts of books, from Baron Humboldt's 'Cosmos,' down to the veriest romance, at times, to relax the tension upon the mind and memory necessary for the profitable perusal of scientific reasoning.
This was no idle boast - he had indeed left notes from his reading of Cosmos in one of his notebooks.

We can all expect to hear more of von Humboldt now that Wulf's biography has been awarded the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2016.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

History of Hutton Rudby Choral & Dramatic Society

Malcolm McPhie been interested in the history of the Hutton Rudby Choral & Dramatic Society and been collecting material about it for years.  I've known he was planning to find a way to make this fascinating local history available to the general public, and have wondered how he would do it.

And here at last his long-awaited message!
I have finally reached the point where I can now share the information I have and tonight launched the Facebook page listed below:

Hutton Rudby Choral & Dramatic Society - History

Currently this covers the period 1920 to 1950, which I know won't be of interest to everybody. If your particular interest is in later productions I suggest you "like the page" to receive notifications of updates, or save the link so you can call back after I've added further material. 
If I see a reasonable amount of interest in these pages, I may add more material on, say, a weekly basis. 
A brief explanation of my reasons for creating this are in the "Welcome" album. I also recommend you take time to read the story of Walter Lyulph Johnson (Watty) the Founder and original President of the Society. I can guarantee you will learn more than you ever knew about the Johnson Room and its benefactor.

Please feel free to leave comments and reminisce with others who visit the site.

However, if you spot any mistakes (and there will be plenty) it will keep the pages tidier if you message me rather than clutter the pages with corrections. I'll add them all to a list for correction.

Malcolm McPhie

I've put a permanent link to it at the bottom of this webpage.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Comments - thank you!

I'd like to thank everyone who sends me such kind comments about this blog - they are much appreciated!  Today I publish one from Andrew, who is related to both the Fawcetts of Crathorne and the Honeymans of Hutton Rudby.

William Orton, forger of Hutton Rudby

On 27 January 2013 I told the story of William Orton of Hutton Rudby, who was found guilty at the York Assizes in March 1821 of forging and passing a counterfeit banknote and was sentenced to be transported to New South Wales.

Geoff Royle, his descendant, followed up the trail and within a very short time reported to this blog (see "William Orton of Hutton Rudby and New South Wales") that William had gained an excellent character in the first 24 years of his time in Australia but in 1845 at the age of 67 had been caught out once again in a matter of forgery and been sentenced to two years in Parramatta Gaol.

Geoff has now discovered that William's first years in New South Wales were not without incident.  He tells me (and you can find more details of the family on his website)
1829 Dec/1830 Jun   In more hot water!  In June 1830 he had a "ticket of leave" cancelled as he was found guilty at Paterson Plains, NSW, of receiving stolen property.  
For reference : A "ticket of leave" allowed convicts to work for themselves on condition that they remained in a specified area, reported regularly to local authorities,  and if at all possible, attend divine worship every Sunday.
William must have won his excellent reputation after 1830! 

Saturday, 12 December 2015

'Lines written on a visit to Leven-Grove in Cleveland, the seat of Lady Amherst' 1817

Leven Grove was the early 19th century name for Skutterskelfe Hall.  It's the subject of this poetic tribute, by an author writing under the pseudonym of LEO:-
When rosy Spring, with fingers bath'd in dew,
Unfolds the primrose pale and violet blue,
And many a blooming flowret that supplies
Joy to the smell and pleasure to the eyes,–
Soothes with her smiles the fury of the north,
And breathes and bids the tender buds burst forth –
When soaring high on never-wearied wings,
To charm his mate the lark enraptured sings;
Balmy the air; above, the sky serene;
The meads, below, soft, fragrant, fresh, and green;
O be it mine at peaceful evening time,
When the sun decks his western throne sublime,
O be it mine with tempted feet to rove
Along thy flowry paths, fair Leven Grove
There deep concealed amid thy shady bowers,
The Thrush and Blackbird charm the careless hours,
And every bird its melody essays
To pour to bounteous Heaven its humble praise.
Hail, lovely scenes, that ever can impart
A sense of genuine pleasure to my heart!
O sweet thy greensward bents and sunny glades,
Thy crystal streams and murmuring cascades!
Here, while I gaze, each earthly trouble flies,
My soul expands, my thoughts ascend the skies:
Soft, as I stray thy fragrant haunts among,
Comes the lone murmur of the ring-dove's song;
She, faithful bird, her lover's stay deplores,
His absence long from her whom he adores; 
Or, 'reft of him that never will return,
Pours to the echoing woods her agonizing mourn.–
Lo, as I gain sweet Foley-Hill, are seen
Fair Cleveland's plains with future harvests green;
And lengthening far, and towering to the skies,
Her mountains dark in solemn grandeur rise:
There, bleak and bare, which every blast assails;
Here, cloth'd with woods that scorn the blustering gales.
Now, while the western breezes curl the stream,
And clouds obscure the sun's unfavouring beam,
Across the brook, with keen and ready eye,
The patient angler throws his feather'd fly;
With restless arm attempts each prosperous guile,
And frequent deaths reward his pleasing toil.
Nov. 12, 1817.

Published in The Northern Star or Yorkshire Magazine: A Monthly and Permanent Register of the Statistics, Literature, Biography, Arts, Commerce, and Manufactures of Yorkshire, and the Adjoining Counties (Volume 2)

There's something rather unexpected in the way that the writer begins sentimentally with primroses, violets, greenswards and glades - and ends in a snap with agonising mourning, bleakness and "frequent deaths" ...

An account of Skutterskelfe Hall can be found earlier on the blog, here

Note: Foley-Hill is present-day Folly Hill.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

"On the wondrous trail of Alice"

Alice in Wonderland, that is.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chris Lloyd (deputy editor of the Northern Echo) wrote a beautifully concise and evocative account of Carroll's links to the North East and the ways in which his years spent here may have provided inspiration for Alice.

He mentions, too, Henry Savile Clarke whose story, and that of his wife and daughters, can be found earlier on this blog, and who created the first stage adaptation of the books.

You can find "On the wondrous trail of Alice" here on the Northern Echo website.

(I think you can get 10 free articles a month before a subscription is needed).

I don't know why we let Oxford take all the credit, when both Lewis Carroll and the Liddells (Alice Liddell being the main inspiration for the books) had such firm roots here!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Papers deposited at NYCRO

I have now deposited all the papers relating to John Richard Stubbs with the North Yorkshire County Record Office.

The deposit includes his diaries and also family letters mainly from the 1870s.  The letters from Ellis Macfarlane of Helensburgh written during their engagement and in the early years of their marriage are particularly lively and interesting, as are the letters from John's mother.

Anne Weatherill's diary from 1863 – which is such a tiny scrap of a document that over the years the family has had several moments of fearing we had lost it – is now also safely at NYCRO, I'm glad to say!