Technical problems have prevented postings on this site and on Tory Historian's blog. These have now been solved or so we have been led to assume. Postings will resume in a very short time.

The book on Knole and the Sackvilles (mentioned here and here) has now been read. There are many interesting moments in it but one particularly tantalizing question arose on page 134: could John Frederick Sackville, the third Duke of Dorset have prevented the French Revolution.

The Sackville family became great supporters of cricket on their estate and, indeed, played it themselves, putting together teams at various times to play others.

In 1783 the third Duke of Dorset was appointed ambassador to the court of Louis XVI. By all accounts, he was a lazy and not very intelligent though amiable sort of chap, who was fond of cricket, tennis and billiards as well as society gossip. He did manage to be on very good terms with Marie Antoinette but had little appreciation of the storm that was brewing in France during his term as ambassador.

One thing he did try to achieve, with indifferent success, was to introduce cricket to the French society. As Robert Sackville-West says, the historian G. M. Trevelyan claimed that
If the French noblesse had been capable of playing cricket with their peasants [as the English aristocracy and their tenants and labourers did] their chateaux would never have been burnt. 
Which suggests that if the British ambassador had been successful in getting the French aristocracy to play cricket, preferably with their peasants, which begs the odd question, the French Revolution might never have happened. A sobering thought.

October 16, 1834 was the day Parliament burned down to be rebuilt eventually into the grand edifice we know today with Westminster Hall the only remaining mediaeval part. Caroline Shenton, a Parliamentary Archivist and author of  The Day Parliament Burned Downdescribes the events of that traumatic day.

J. M. W. Turner played the role of a disaster photographer by setting up his easel on the other side of the Thames and getting down as many sketches as he could.





And here are a few excerpts from the newspapers of the day.

And talking of Georgians, the British Library's next big exhibition is going to be about them. The full title will be Georgians Revealed: Life, Style and the Making of Modern Britain and it promises to be fascinating. One hopes there will not be too much harping on the various clashes between politesse and riotous behaviour, riches and poverty and more emphasis on this:

From beautifully furnished homes to raucous gambling dens, Georgians Revealed explores the revolution in everyday life that took place between 1714 and 1830. Cities and towns were transformed. Taking tea, reading magazines, gardening and shopping for leisure were commonplace, and conspicuous consumption became the pastime of the emerging middle classes.

Popular culture as we know it began, and with it the unstoppable rise of fashion and celebrity. Art galleries, museums and charities were founded. In this time of incredible innovation, ideas were endlessly debated in the new coffee houses and spread via the information highway that was mass print.
It will open on November 8 and this blog will report on it.

In the meantime, there is a smaller and wholly delightful exhibition of illustrations to children's books, tucked away in that odd bit of space to the coffee bar.

The Georgian Gentleman blog came my way because of its highly entertaining posting on coalitions then and now, complete with a Gillray cartoon of Charles James Fox and the 2nd Earl of Guilford, that can be described as "robust" and an updated version that used some version of photoshop. There seems to have been a good deal less snivelling among politicians at the time and they often gave as good as they received.


The blog, by Mike Rendell is based on diaries, letters and miscellaneous papers he inherited from his ancestor, Richard Hall, "a hosier who lived at One London Bridge, who saw and felt the changes with his own eyes, who shared the general thirst for knowledge, and who made and lost a fortune".


Tory Historian continues to find Robert Sackville-West's book on Knole and the Sackvilles fascinating. Edward Sackville, the 4th Earl of Dorset, was described by his highly romantic descendant Vita Sackville-West as "the embodiment of Cavalier romance". As the author points out, he was a far more complicated character with interesting ideas though he did find himself on the Royalist side, despite his exasperation with King Charles I.
Edward believed passionately in monarchy, but in a monarchy limited by the rule of law and by the obligation to work with the Church and with Parliament. So finely tuned was the constitution which he and his allies upheld that any monarch would necessarily, and instinctively, seek to maintain a sense of harmony, generally by asking consent for his actions. Edward's attitude to the Petition of Right hardened to one of outright opposition because he believed there was no need for Parliament to prescribe, and legislate for, this delicate balance; and that any attempt to do so was as an unacceptable limitation on the King's prerogative and instinctive good sense.
As he and his allies found, that delicate balance was very hard to hold. National tragedy resulted in the short term but a stronger constitutional structure in the long.


The Museum of London has brought together for the first time since its discovery the entire Cheapside Hoard for an exhibition this winter. The collection of jewellery from the 16th and early 17th century was discovered more than a century ago (in 1912, to be precise) by by workmen using a pickaxe to excavate in a cellar near Cheapside in the City of London.

The Jewellery Editor writes:
The collection of 500 gems, including loose stones, ancient objects and even tools suggest this was the stock in-trade of a jeweller, one of the many that lined the thoroughfare of Cheapside. Buried, probably for safety, it's owner never reclaimed the hidden treasure. It's diversity of rare stones, from around the world and the opulence of some of its pieces speaks of London's key role in the international gem trade in an age of global conquest and exploration.
Most probably the jewels were buried during the Civil War but, one assumes the exhibition will have notes about the latest research on the subject. Some discussion of this was published in the Independent earlier this year.

Yesterday's anniversary of Neville Chamberlain returning from Munich with that famous piece of paper in his hands requires a longish blog, on which I am working. In the meantime, let me remind readers of another anniversary, one that shows the triumph of humanity over barbarity.

October 1, 1943 was going to be the date on which the SS would round up the 7,800 Jews of Denmark, arguing that as the evening was that of Rosh Hashanah, they would all be at home. Instead, almost all of them had been warned, gone into hiding and were taken out of the country to Sweden, many to continue their journey onwards. Notable among those was the great physicist, Niels Bohr who was taken to the United States immediately.

This short summary on the Yad Vashem website mentions that the Danes were awarded the Righteous Among Nations title and also that large sums of money were paid to the sailors who agreed to take the refugees to Sweden.

For once, I suggest going to Wikipedia, which gives a much more detailed analysis, naming some of the rescuers, explaining the role of the German diplomat, Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz and adding

At first, a few "bad apples" among the fishermen assisting in the rescue charged an excessive sum of money to transport Jews to Sweden, but most took just a modest payments from those who could pay for the passage or were helped by funds supplied by the organizers. The Danish underground took an active role in organizing the rescue and providing financing, mostly from wealthy Danes who donated large sums of money to the endeavor.
Not all were rescued. About 450 were arrested by the Gestapo and some perished during the journey. It was, nevertheless a stupendous effort in which large sections of the Danish population were involved directly with the support of others. It is a little sad to hear that the story of King Christian X wearing the yellow star because the Jews were his subjects, too, is a myth but the truth is quite honourable enough.

Denmark marked the anniversary a couple of days ago, on the anniversary of when the Jews were actually warned.

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