Authenticity Hoo-Ha pt. 3: Is this Mr Glover’s sketch book?

Authenticity is what archives are all about.  Here is the last in my series of three blog posts on this subject.

Some months ago, I had a message from a researcher who had recently been looking at copies of an original document we hold, described in our catalogue as the sketch book of the antiquarian Stephen Glover (1794-1869). Stephen Glover is well known in this county as a pioneering antiquarian and compiler of trade directories, and naturally enough the researcher wanted to know how we had arrived at this attribution. It certainly was not from a signature, as none of the sketches is signed.

The answer was helpfully supplied by our colleagues at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. A note in their files, stamped by the Derbyshire Museum Service, suggests that the book was purchased after having been identified as Glover’s work by an expert in English watercolourists.

So far, so good.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that the note made it pretty clear we had got the wrong Glover!  The note referred not to Stephen, but to John Glover (1767-1849), known as “the father of Australian landscape painting”.

When the Derbyshire Museum Service closed in 1992, the sketch book was among a large number of historic documents transferred to the custody of Derbyshire Record Office. I can only suppose that one of our archivists must have mis-read their own notes, and mentioned Stephen Glover in the catalogue entry by mistake. And we all know how long a mistake can endure once it has been put in writing, don’t we?

I certainly didn’t want to replace the mistake in the catalogue with another mistake, so needed an expert on John Glover’s work to verify all this. Step forward David Hansen, Associate Professor at the Centre for Art History and Art Theory, part of the Australian National University in Canberra. Prof Hansen took a look at some sample images from the book and quickly got back in touch to say this discovery had made his day: he was confident that they are the work of John Glover, and even suggested that the suggested date of c1810 might be a few years late.

John Glover was born at Houghton-on-Hill in Leicestershire, the son of William Glover and his wife Ann. He earned a strong reputation as an artist and drawing master and became president of the Old Water Colour Society in 1807. At the age of 64, in 1831, he moved to Tasmania. He was very active as a painter in his new surroundings and by the time of his death in 1849, Glover had made what would prove to be a lasting contribution to Australian art.

He may have been a Leicestershire man by birth, but there is a strong Derbyshire flavour to the work preserved in the pages of the book, including scenes of Haddon Hall, Ault Hucknall parish church, Kedleston Hall, Chatsworth House, Bolsover Castle and South Wingfield Manor.

A digital copy of the whole book can be viewed in our search room using CD/406 – or if you need to see the original itself, please order using the reference D3653/30.  To whet your appetite, here are some samples:

D3653 30 1_00082 Repton

Repton

D3653 30 1_00080 cattle

Some cattle and some people, drawn by John Glover.

D3653 30 1_00069 Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle

D3653 30 1_00026 Kedleston Hall

Kedleston Hall

D3653 30 1_00004 Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall

Authenticity Hoo-Ha pt. 2: Did Lord Byron and Princess Victoria etch their names on the windows?

Sir Hilary Jenkinson held that authenticity is one of the defining characteristics of the archive. Here is the second of three blog posts about some recent authenticity issues.

On being asked to visit a former hotel to pick up a donation of records, any archivist would expect there to be guest books. Less expected is a pane of window glass. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the “Byron Window” is the most unusual item I have accessioned in twelve years as an archivist. Why is it called the Byron Window? Because it is said that Lord Byron (i.e. George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, 1788-1824) scratched a poem onto it. The lines read:

Where so ever is folly court
Mortal unthinking will resort
For want of reason, still,
Shame on our sex! As for the fair
They all want something everywhere
And something want they will

These etched lines have not gone unnoticed. The Byron Window is mentioned in a variety of magazine articles, including a feature in Derbyshire Life in 2010, and the sale catalogue from when the Temple Hotel was auctioned in 1975.

But how do we know this to be the work of Byron? We don’t, really – in fact, I am not even sure that the squiggle nearest the poem says Byron!

D8116/3/1: The Byron Window

D8116/3/1: The Byron Window

An article on the Andrews Pages cites William Adam’s 1840 guide book “The Gem of the Peak” as evidence that the poet visited the Old Bath in Matlock Bath, and at first glance, I thought the Adam reference extended to the etched window itself – however, it certainly isn’t mentioned in any of the editions we hold here.

William Adam describes The Temple as “originally built as a lodging house or appendage to the Old Bath for the comfort and convenience of those visitors, who wished to be out of the noise and bustle of a crowded Inn”, and observes that the house had been “much improved and enlarged” by its owner, Mrs Evans. He also remarks that the name of Walter Scott is inscribed on a window in room 5 (without making any claim as to who made the inscription).

So, hang on… William Adam was interested enough in Byron to mention his visit to Matlock Bath and interested enough in inscriptions on windows to mention Scott – but did not think to tell us about Byron inscribing a window?

What puts the kybosh on the thing is the date right next to those lines. “6 Oct 1784” is the easiest bit of the whole thing to read, and dates it to before Byron’s time.  (Unless the date and the poem are unrelated?  I would be delighted to be proved wrong!)

The window pane is, transparently, something that a large number of people have inscribed over the course of centuries – so whether or not their number includes Lord Byron, this is an amazing addition to our collections.  I don’t think I have the heart to investigate the other claim, which is that a young Princess Victoria put her name on the same bit of glass!

Authenticity Hoo-Ha pt. 1: Did the Rolling Stones sign the guest register at The Temple Hotel?

Sir Hilary Jenkinson’s “Manual of Archive Administration” (1922) maintains that authenticity is one of the defining characteristics of the archive.  A trio of authentication problems have imposed on my time recently, so I thought I would share them with you in three blog posts.  Here is the first.

Derbyshire Record Office recently accepted the donation of some records from The Temple Hotel in Matlock Bath (D8116). The hotel is no longer open for business, but has a long history of hospitality behind it.  Among the signatures in one of the guest registers, you can find the names of Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts, giving their address as The Rolling Stones, and the date as 16 January 1965. I hope it was really them! The names are in the same hand (fishy, do you think, or easily explained?) and they do not bear much similarity to autographs that can be found online.

D8116 1 2

D8116/1/2: Temple Hotel visitors book, Nov 1963 to July 1971

This is the only bit of the register you will get to see without an applicable exemption under data protection legislation! But these registers will be freely available to all researchers in generations to come.

Several fan websites go into minute detail about where the band were at any given moment, and from these it seems that the Rolling Stones were making a live appearance on Ready, Steady, Go! on the 15th and were then in a recording session in Los Angeles on the 17th. They must have spent the 16th on a transatlantic flight. Mustn’t they? Does anyone remember seeing 2/5 of The Rolling Stones around Matlock Bath that winter?

Let us suppose the signatures above are not genuinely those of Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts. What then of archival authenticity?  Good news: Sir Hilary would still regard the register as an authentic record of the hotel’s activities, deriving as it does from the business function of recording guests’ details. Since the Immigration (Hotel Records) Order 1972, hotels have actually been under a legal obligation to maintain such a record – but of course there was already a long-established practice of registering hotel guests. And there was an equally long-established practice of hotel guests signing in a false name for nefarious purposes, or just for a giggle.  It’s an authentic record of a transaction – it’s the transaction itself that was lacking in authenticity.

Fun fact about hotel guest registers: one of America’s greatest writers signed himself “Samuel Clemens” and gave his profession as “Mark Twain”.

Stitching the Wars

Stitching the Wars was a two-year collaboration between older people in Derbyshire and arts organisation arthur+martha. It is the story of a community that survived two world wars and harsh poverty. It is a kind of documentary, constructed with recollection, poetry and the art of stitching. The project was led by artist Lois Blackburn, who met with local people to devise and stitch two quilts and gather reminiscence. Poet Phillip Davenport then worked with the groups to write poems from these reminiscences. Within the quilts many people speak, in voices rich with experience and feeling. In a sense their work is a history, and these quilts are the page on which it is written.

Stiching the wars

The quilt ‘A Bomber’s Moon’ describes the transforming effect of the First and Second World Wars on rural life. An ancient world of horses and humans is invaded by machines. The quilt is an aerial view of fields and hillsides, perhaps the view from the bomber of the title. Into this ‘landscape’ are sewn words and phrases which link to reminiscences and poems. Most participants were British, but a few were German and they contributed their own war memories. In this way the quilt speaks from both sides of the conflict, reaching towards a common human experience. Maybe this stitching helped to mend a few wounds.

The quilt ‘Fresh Air and Poverty’, describes a quieter war, the struggle everyday people made to keep their families fed and clothed in the years before, during and after the two World Wars. Here we find tramps on the march, children sleeping top to toe in crowded beds, and scrimping and saving is everywhere. But we also find delight in one another’s company; human warmth despite the cold.

Some of the quilt-makers were people with dementia, and it was noticed that stitching in a group, alongside reminiscence conversations, had a rewarding and beneficial effect. Using creativity, colour, touch and companionship to work to an ambitious goal, participants discovered the joy in remembering their early lives. These quilts are a communal act of remembering, a history made by community.

And it tells us: we are all made of this.

An exhibition of the quilts, poetry and reminiscences created throughout the project will be on show at the record office from Wednesday 4th October 2017 to Friday 4th January 2018 (normal opening hours apply).

(Image: Garry Lomas)