Category Archives: Leisure

London – Manufactures

We discovered this interesting article on the history of London manufacturing – the article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery.

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London Manufactures

The manufactures of London are in proportion to its commerce; and notwithstanding the advanced rate of living, and the high price of house-rent, coals, and every thing that can affect the artisan and mechanic, the manufactures of London are great and flourishing, surpassing in quality those of any other part of the country, so much, that any article warranted “town-made” is certain of obtaining an advanced price. In the silk trade alone 50,000 persons, or one-sixtieth of the whole population, are employed in London, and in most of the light manufactures the number is proportionably great. It is no disparagement to the rest of the country, that London excels in its manufactures, since where the best price is paid the best workmen will be attracted; and it is due to the country to say, that to it is London constantly indebted for a succession of artists and mechanics, by whose ingenuity she is not only rendered celebrated but enriched.

Many years ago Sheffield, justly celebrated for its cutlery, challenged London to a trial of skill, by sending a knife of a very curious construction to the Cutlers’ company, with an insertion on one of the blades, defying competition. The London cutlers, ambitious for the honour of their trade, made a penknife, containing one well-tempered blade, in which was introduced a piece of straw. On the blade were some lines, stating the fact; and the Sheffield cutlers, who might well feel incredulous, broke the blade, and found the straw entire and unsinged; a piece of ingenious art for which they acknowledged themselves unable to account; and yet Sheffield was celebrated for its cutlery so far back as the time of Chaucer, whose monk “a Sheffield whittle bore he in his hose.”

In the more scientific manufactures, such as machinery, optical and mathematical instruments, London has always been celebrated. It was in the metropolis that Mr. Penn made his celebrated burning glass, of such power, that iron, steel, flint, stone, and even the diamond itself yielded to its almost magic power; and here Dollond carried into effect, if he did not originate, that most important scientific discovery the achromatic glasses; and a Mudge, an Arnold, and a Brock bank, made chronometers, which seem to have approached perfection as far as it can possibly be attained.

It is highly honorable to the operative mechanics and artists of the metropolis, that amidst all the fluctuation of trade “such a thing as a journeyman, tradesman, or any of his family begging is almost unknown, and may with certainty be pronounced as one of the rarest of contingent events.”

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

Sholto and Reuben Percy

London Breweries – 1787 – Royal Visit

This is the second part in our two part series on the breweries of London – it covers a time when King George III visited Samuel Whitbreads brewery.  The article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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London Breweries – 1787 – Royal Visit

Some of the principal breweries are among the curiosities of London which every stranger is anxious to see. That known by the name of Whitbread’s brewery, in Chiswell Street, the plant of which was, a few years ago, sold for nearly a million of money, was deemed worthy of a royal visit at a time that its business was not so extensive, nor its arrangements so complete, as at present.

It was on the 28th of May, 1787, that his late majesty, George III., accompanied by his illustrious consort and the three princesses, and attended by several lords and ladies in waiting, visited the brewery. They arrived at ten o’clock in the morning, and were received by Mr. Whitbread and his daughter, who conducted them over the brewery. In the stone cistern there were 3007 barrels of beer, but the vat excited the most surprise, and the queen and princesses determined to enter it, though the aperture was so small that it was with difficulty they could accomplish it. This cistern, which is of stone, will hold upwards of 4000 barrels of beer. After their Majesties had passed nearly four hours in investigating the brewery, they were conducted to the house, where a cold collation with every delicacy had been provided. There were wines of every sort, and a quantity of Whithread’s Entire, of which the royal visitors partook, and then retired highly gratified. The brewery of Messrs. Barclay is on an equally magnificent scale.

A singular and melancholy accident happened to one of the London porter breweries, that of Messrs. Henry Meux and Co., in Tottenham Court Road, on the 17th of October 1814, when one of the largest of their vats, filled with beer, burst, and the liquor, like a mighty torrent, swept away every thing before it. One side of the house, in which the vat was placed, was entirely thrown down, though twenty-five feet high, and part of the roof fell in. The back part of several houses in Great Russell Street and New Street were thrown down, and the whole neighbourhood was inundated. The height of the vat which burst was twenty-two feet, and contained 3555 barrels of porter. On this vat there were twenty-two hoops, the least of which weighed seven cwt, and the largest a ton. The  explosion was supposed to be owing to one of the hoops having burst. Several other vats were injured, and nearly 9000 barrels of beer wasted: the loss amounted to £25,000, and eight persons were killed by this fatal accident.

It has already been stated that great quantities of London porter are exported. It was, however, long before malt liquor could be kept in a tropical climate; and the inhabitants of the East and West Indies are indebted to the late Mr. Kenton, for being enabled to regale themselves with London porter. This gentleman, who died worth £300,000, fifty thousand of which he saved at the Crown and Magpie public house, Whitechapel, discovered, that by leaving the bottles uncorked for a few weeks, and shipping the beer as flat as possible, it might be conveyed to the East Indies, and that during the voyage it had so completely recovered its briskness as to possess all the virtues of London genuine porter. The ale and small beer breweries, and the distilleries in London, are on a great scale, though inferior to the potter breweries.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

The Whitbread Brewery on Wikipedia

Samuel Whitbread on Wikipedia

London Breweries – 1761 – Brewing of Porter






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We had a ‘dig’ around in our library on the history of the breweries of London and their origins and discovered this interesting article which we will publish in two parts – the second part is on the Royal visit which we will publish tomorrow – the article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

Read other posts in this series

Read other posts in the London series

 

London Breweries – 1761 – Brewing of Porter

In no article of general consumption does London maintain so great a monopoly and supremacy as in the brewing of porter, which is not only forwarded to the most remote parts of the kingdom, but exported to our colonies – to the United States of America, and to many of the Continental States. Without inquiring whether the cervisia of the Romans, or the ale of the Egyptians, was a fermented liquor made from malt and hops, of which we have much doubt, it is sufficient to know, that malt liquor has, from time immemorial, been a favourite beverage with the inhabitants of London.

So early as the reign of Elizabeth the consumption of beer must have been very considerable, for in 1580 Sir Thomas Gorges, in applying for the office of gauger, stated to Lord Treasurer Burleigh that “there was a deceit to the buyer of beer and ale, both in the assize of the vessels, and in the not filling them up; and that the buyers taken altogether were deceived hereby £30,000 a year.”

There is also other evidence of the quantity of beer brewed in London, in a calculation made in the year 1585, by order of Lord Burleigh. It appears from this account, that there were at that time twenty-six brewers in the metropolis, of whom one half were stated to be foreigners. They generally brewed six times a week, and the whole quantity brewed in London, in one year, in small and strong beer, was 648,960 barrels. This is certainly a large quantity for so thin a population as London then contained, but it is to be considered that ale and beer were at this time, and long afterwards, the common beverage for breakfast, and that it was frequently exported in such quantities as to induce the queen to prohibit the exportation, lest it should enhance the price of corn.

It appears, from a writer of that period, that the brown jug with silver cover, so common in respectable houses in the country, was then a favourite in town. Speaking of the Londoners he says, they drink their ale “not out of glasses, but from earthen pots, with silver bandies and covers; and this even in houses of middling fortune, for as to the poor, the covers of their pots are only pewter.”

Before we quit the “olden time,” we may observe that the charge of adulteration, now so frequently made, was urged against the brewers of the sixteenth century, who are said to have put “darnel, rosin, lime, and chalk, into the ale or beer, which making the drinkers thirsty, they might drink the more;” and that when hops were dear, “they put into their drink broom, bay-berries, ivy-berries, and such-like things.” It is due, however, to the brewers to say, that these charges were never verified by the, surveyors.

Although the excise duties, and the general introduction of tea and coffee, as a substitute for malt liquor at breakfast, must have operated for some time as a draw-back on the consumption, yet it seems lately to have received a new impulse. In 1761 the quantity of porter made in London, by 52 brewers, was only 975,217 barrels, of 36 gallons each; now a single firm, that of Barclay and Co., brews upwards of 330,000 barrels in a year; and the quantity made by the twelve principal breweries has amounted, in one year, to the astonishing number of 1,500,000 barrels. What proportion of this quantity is consumed in London it would be difficult to ascertain.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

The Whitbread Brewery on Wikipedia 

Samuel Whitbread on Wikipedia

The Curtain Theatre – London – 1577

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Following a BBC news article on the discovery of the remains of the Curtain Theatre we had a ‘dig’ around in our library and unearthed the excerpt below; from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery.

The Curtain Theatre London – 1577

If the Globe was rendered memorable by Shakespeare’s connection with it, the Curtain Theatre near Shoreditch, the name of which is preserved in the Curtain-road, had a similar distinction, by its being the place where “rare Ben Jonson” acted, before he obtained celebrity as an author; yet the Curtain Theatre never appears to have flourished, although it had, as an actor, Dick Tarlton, one of the best comedians of the time of Elizabeth. Aubrey, who wrote in [1678], nearly a century after the theatre was probably erected, notices it as “a kind of nursery or obscure playhouse, called the ‘Green Curtain’ situate in the suburbs towards Shoreditch.” Although there is no positive evidence of the fact, it is by no means improbable conjecture, that the Curtain Theatre took its name from its being the first to adopt that necessary appendage of the stage.

The Red Bull, St. John’s Street, Clerkenwell, was another of our early theatres, where the poor players, when suppressed by the puritans, sometimes assembled, during Christmas and Bartholomew fair, on the summons of Alexander Goffe, the woman actor (for ladies had not been yet introduced on the stage), at Blackfriars. They were, however, frequently disturbed and imprisoned. The Red Bull appears to have been of an inferior rank to the Globe and Blackfriars theatres; for, in a poem addressed to Sir William D’Avenant, in 1633, it is described as that

“degenerate stage

Where none of the untun’d kennel can rehearse

A line of serious sense.”

In the reign of Charles I. there were six playhouses allowed in town, says old Downes, the prompter to Sir W. D’Avenant’s company, which he enumerates as “the Blackfriars company, his majesty’s servants; the Bull; one in Salisbury-court; another, called the Fortune; another, at the Globe; and a sixth, at the Cock-pit, Drury-lane; all of which continued acting till the beginning of the civil wars.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

BBC News article on the discovery of the remains of the Curtain Theatre

Thomas Cook – 1841 – The First Rail Excursion

 

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Here is an excerpt from Glimpses of Ancient Leicester by Agnes Johnson – 1906, it covers the dawn of the first rail excusion as a means of leisure travel in 1841.

Thomas Cook – 1841 – The First Rail Excursion

The project of running excursion trains at cheap fares was even in these early days dawning in the mind of our celebrated fellow-townsman Mr. Thomas Cook; for he arranged and personally conducted his first excursion (to Loughborough) on the 5th July [1841]. 

It was not until many years later that his system was developed to any great extent; but he gradually became known to all the world as the successful organiser of popular home and foreign travel; an undertaking which has conferred health and pleasure upon multitudes of his countrymen and women, and which has probably made his name and that of his son the late Mr. John M. Cook more familiar both on the Continent and in remote corners of the earth than that of any other Englishmen below the rank of royalty. 

Mr. Thomas Cook died in [1892], deservedly respected both for his enterprise in travel and for his untiring labours in the cause of Temperance.  

Excerpt from Glimpses of Ancient Leicester by Agnes Johnson – 1906

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Further Reading and External Links

Thomas Cook and the First Rail Excursion

Thomas Cook on Wikipedia

Thomas Cook Timeline

London Club-houses – 1800s

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This is the first in a series of postings about 19th century London Club-houses, popularly known today as a Gentleman’s Club.  John Weale (this posting is an excerpt from his book) describes how the ‘clubs’ have changed over the last 30 years (between about 1820 and 1850).

London Club-houses of the 1800s

“The feast of reason and the flow of soul”

A Popular London Club-HouseAs at present constituted, the London clubs and club life have produced a new phase in English society, at least in the metropolis one that will claim the notice of some future Macaulay, as showing the very “form and pressure of the time;” while to the more patient chronicler of anecdotes, club-house traditions and reminiscences will afford materials all the more interesting, perhaps, for not being encumbered with the dignity of formal history.  Our task is merely to touch upon and attempt a slight characteristic outline of them; not to trace the history of clubs to their origin in the heroic ages of Greece.  We shall not go back even to the clubs of the last century, except just to indicate cursorily some of the special differences between them and those of the present day.

Until about thirty years ago a club was seldom more than a mere knot of acquaintances who met together of an evening, at stated times, in a room engaged for that purpose at some tavern, and some of them held their meetings at considerable intervals apart.  Most of them were anything but fashionable some of them upon a footing not at all higher than that of a club of mechanics.  Among the regulations of the Essex Street Club, for instance (instituted by Dr. Johnson shortly before his death, and which was limited to twenty-four members), one was, that each person should spend not less than sixpence; another, that each absentee should forfeit threepence, and each of the company was to contribute a penny as a douceur to the waiter!

At that period the chief object of such associations was relaxation after the business of the day, and the enjoyment of a social evening in a homely way in what would now be called a snug party.  The celebrated “Literary Club,” which was founded by Reynolds in [1763], and whose meetings were held once a week at the Turk’s Head, in Gerrard Street, Soho, now a very unfashionable locality, consisted at first of only nine members, which number was, however, gradually increased to the large number of thirty-five; yet, limited as it was, it would not be easy even now to bring together as large a number of equally distinguished characters.  That club dined together once a fortnight, on which occasions “the feast of reason and the flow of soul” were, no doubt, enjoyed in perfection.

In most clubs of that period, on the contrary, the flow of wine, or other liquor, was far more abundant than that of mind, and the conversation was generally more easy and hilarious than intellectual or refined.  The bottle, or else the punch-bowl, played too prominent a part; and sociality too frequently partook of bacchanalian festivity, if not revelry, at least, of what would now be considered such according to our more temperate habits; and it deserves to be remarked that, though in general the elder clubs encouraged compotation and habits of free indulgence as indispensable to goodfellowship and sociality, the modern clubs, on the contrary, have done much to discourage them as low and ungentlemanly.  “Reeling home from a club” used to be formerly a common expression; whereas now inebriety, or the symptom of it, in a club-house, would bring down disgrace upon him who should be guilty of such an indiscretion.

The old clubs have passed away, for though some of them, or similar societies, may still exist, it is behind the scenes, instead of figuring conspicuously upon the stage.  Quite a new order of things has come up, the clubs of the present time being upon quite a different footing, and also, comparatively, gigantic in scale.  From small social meetings held periodically, they have become permanent establishments, luxurious in all their appointments; and of some of them the locales are quite palatial.  No longer limited to a few acquaintances familiarly known to each other, they count their members by hundreds, and, sleeping accommodation excepted, provide for them abundantly all the agrimens of an aristocratic home and admirably-regulated menage, without any of the trouble inseparable from a private household, unless it be one whose management is, as in a club-house, confided to responsible superintendents.

 Excerpt from London Exhibited in 1852 – by John Weale – published in 1852

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Further Reading and External Links

19th Century Gentlemans Clubs

London Regency Clubs

 

Farnworth Park – Mr Gladstone’s Oration – 1864

 

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Farnworth is a township in the Bolton Union, and forms part of the ancient parish of Deane. It lies on the highroad from Bolton to Manchester, and overlooks the winding and picturesque valley of the river Irwell.

In 1860 the Barnes family donated part of their Birch Hall estate, as a park for the local population to enjoy in perpetuaity.  The park was officially opened in 1864 by the Right Honorable W E Gladstone – Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time – this is his opening speech; complimented with a very warm reception from the 100,000 strong crowd:

Farnworth Park – Mr Gladstone’s Oration – 12th Oct 1864

W E GladstoneThe Right Hon. W.E. GLADSTONE then came forward to formally inaugurate the Park, and was received with most enthusiastic demonstrations of applause.  He spoke as follows:

Mr. Alfred Barnes, ladies and gentlemen, I believe that my first and formal duty imposed upon me by the appointed order of proceeding is to declare in your presence that this Park is now once and for ever opened and dedicated to the public good (cheers).  As respects the gift of the Park, it has been made in the hearing of witnesses sufficiently numerous by our friend Mr. Barnes (cheers); and as regards the acceptance of the Park, I ask any of those who have witnessed the spectacle of to-day, who have seen the whole population, young and old, rich and poor, and not only the whole population of this place, but a goodly auxiliary force from all the country round (hear, hear), and I can only say that if that does not constitute an acceptance of the Park, I don’t know what does (cheers and laughter).  Now, Mr. Barnes, in compliance with the religious and wise custom which prevails, it has been usual that solemn prayer should be offered to Almighty God on occasions like this.  We have learned why, through the absence mainly of the Bishop, it has been impossible that we should externally comply with that honoured practice; but as respects the sentiment within the breast of every one of us, I am sure that none who have listened to the heart-stirring accounts of the Psalm just sung, can doubt that it is the belief and conviction of this vast assemblage that all our works, in order to bring a blessing with them, must be begun, continued, and ended in the fear and in the love of God (hear, hear).

I pass on, therefore, ladies and gentlemen, to speak to you as the time and circumstances will permit, upon the character of the occasion that is now before us.  The presentation of this Park by Mr. Barnes is happily not an isolated act (hear, hear); it is part of a great system, part of a great movement.  He is, indeed, the representative, and the honoured representative of a principle, and a tendency which is among the very best characteristics of the age (hear, hear).  In this busy, stirring, critical, industrious, enterprising, money-making, money accumulating age, it is well that while these pursuits have full scope given them, it should not be forgotten that there are other wants and other interests –  and, in particular, I call Mr. Barnes on this occasion the representative of the deep and growing conviction with respect to the relations that ought to prevail, and that happily now do to a very great extent prevail, between the employers of labour and the labouring population of the land (cheers).  I think, ladies and gentlemen, it was about 30 years ago that a gentleman of high character and of great ability, employed in the public service in Ireland, created very considerable alarm and apprehension by putting forth in a concise and telling form what was thought the somewhat revolutionary doctrine that property had its duties as well as its rights (hear, hear).  That doctrine was received by many, perhaps more from want of use and reflection, than from any ill intention, as if it had been some monstrous conception aiming at the breaking up of the very foundation of society (laughter).  But that dreaded monster, for such it was, has now become a domesticated idea – it has entered, we may say, into our very house; and it lies by our firesides as if it were a favourite dog or cat of the family (hear, and laughter)

Property has its duties as well as its rights (hear); and the relation of the man who employs labour to the man who gives labour never can be permanently satisfactory or secure if the exercise and practical form of that relation is confined to the mere settling of the cash account of the wages of the man (applause).  It is doing violence to the principles of human nature; it is running up a score against ourselves; it is offending against the will and the designs of Divine Providence, if we refuse to recognise the fact that moral associations and social and endearing ties of affection belong to, and ought never to be severed from, the relation between the master and the workman (hear).  Now, ladies and gentlemen, circumstances brought about a result which at first did not appear to be satisfactory to the manufacturing districts of this country, but which I believe was a matter calling for your deepest thankfulness; I mean tills; the relation of employer and labourer never had been in this country thoroughly and carefully examined until it came to be examined in the case of the factory system.

Excerpt from Proceedings at the Opening of Farnworth Park – 1864

Document containing the full speech – on page 24

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Further Reading and External Links

Farnworth Park Archive Pictures 

Richard Bancroft – Archbishop of Canterbury

Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – 1856

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 Below is the nineth installment in our series of a selection of his memoirs, others will follow over the coming weeks.

Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – 1856

CHAPTER IX

IN July [1856] Harry was offered the broad pennant in India.  Just before the sailing of the ‘Raleigh’ to the command of which he had been appointed, the officers were invited to dinner with Admiral Sir George Seymour.

Among the wardroom officers on board the ‘Raleigh’ was his old friend, the Rev. Josias Thompson.  Keppel had been with him many years, and, as is usual among old shipmates, had given him a nickname of ‘Thomas’; many knew him by no other.

The morning of their departure the regular Admiralty pilot, whose name was Thomas, was on board.  Two steamtugs, ordered from the Dockyard, were in attendance; but, the wind being fair, Keppel had no idea, in a sailing frigate, of being towed.  He himself took charge, and was in the act of making sail, when the dear old Sir George, who had been to Haslar to attend the funeral of an old shipmate, suddenly appeared on board, and turning to him, said, ‘Don’t let me interfere, but is Mr. Thomas on board?’  ‘Yes, sir.’  ‘Where is he?’  ‘Forward on the starboard side, sir, standing on a gun carriage.’  Harry was too busy making sail to go with the Commander-in-Chief, for the tide was rising.  On inquiring who had attended the Admiral, he found that he had gone forward and, making a bow to the pilot, stated that, as the Commodore was going to take a parting dinner, he hoped to have the pleasure of Mr. Thomas’s company.

The ship ran out like the beauty she was, saluting the Admiral’s flag before coming to anchor.  Near dinner-time Harry and his wife were among the early arrivals. They noticed a gentleman standing on the rug by the fire with a white choker and new suit of clothes; no one seemed to know him.  On dinner being announced the Admiral took in Keppel’s wife; he, Lady Seymour.  The turtle soup had been served, when the Admiral addressed our strange friend with, ‘Mr. Thomas, will you have the goodness to say Grace?’  The poor pilot’s neighbour whispered to him, ‘Say, “Thank God.”‘

Dinner over, the Admiral nudged Keppel’s wife, saying, That’s a queer parson of yours.’  And then, in a louder voice, called out, ‘Mr. Thomas, have the goodness to return thanks,’ he (Keppel) at the same time asking Lady Seymour who Mr. Thomas was.   Lady Seymour turned to the butler, and sent him to tell the Admiral that Captain Keppel had never seen that man before.  At this moment some of the senior captains spotted our friend the pilot.  He never afterwards met his friends in Portsmouth that they did not ask him to say Grace.

Excerpt from Sir Henry Keppel – Admiral of the Fleet – by Sir Algernon Edward West – 1905

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Keppel, GCB, OM (14 June 1809 – 17 January 1904) was a British admiral and son of the 4th Earl of Albemarle. “A man might achieve great legislative results, do great deeds, and be a most useful member of society, but unless he possessed the gift of personality he would be to the general public as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”  Henry Keppel undoubtedly possessed that gift.

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Further Reading and External Links

Henry Keppel on Wikipedia

Farnworth Park – Opening – 1864

 

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Farnworth Park – Official Opening – Route Procession – 1864

Commemorative Memorial in Farnworth ParkAll along the route of the procession the cheering of the spectators was of the most enthusiastic character, and it must have been deeply gratifying to one accustomed to far other scenes to receive such an ovation from the industrial classes of Lancashire.  To a foreigner or a stranger to the district the good temper and order of the masses congregating together must have been very surprising. There were no soldiers to keep the people in due subjection.

The bands of volunteers and the yeomanry took their places in the procession, as did other citizens. Some fifty policemen were all that were necessary to prevent any overcrowding upon the line of march. One hundred thousand people were out for a holiday; but there was no drunkenness, and there were no breaches of the peace. The people preserved the peace for themselves, and demonstrated how free institutions and industrial occupations; the absence of the baton and the bayonet foster individual self government, and repress the tendency to lawlessness and disorder.

The scene in the Park during Mr. Gladstone’s address was one never to be forgotten by those who witnessed it. The autumn sun was shining in a cloudless sky; the trees around were clothed in leaves of russet and gold and crimson; “flushing into decay;” the lake lay still and calm, and bright; dazzling as molten silver. The terrace platform, capable of accommodating upwards of 600 persons, was crowded with “Lancashire witches” in their gayest attire; a perfect galaxy of beauty. In front stood the donor of the Park, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Chairman of the Local Board; on either side the representative men of the county; the High Sheriff, the Mayors of the neighbouring towns, eminent political leaders, members of Parliament, magistrates, ministers of religion, and below the platform, and as far as the eye could reach, a dense mass of human beings, numbering from 85 to 40,000; silent every one, as if spell-bound, with upturned face gazing upon the speaker, straining to catch every syllable he uttered, and only now and then giving expression to their feelings in loud and ringing cheers. The grandeur of the spectacle; its moral sublimity; cannot be expressed, and its memory will never be effaced. It is not necessary to dwell upon other aspects of the day’s proceedings…

Excerpt from Proceedings at the Opening of Farnworth Park – 1864

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Further Reading and External Links

Farnworth Park Archive Pictures 

Richard Bancroft – Archbishop of Canterbury

Santa Claus and St Nicholas

 

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Old years have been – new years have been – and fleeted away, since the first brave Father Christmas came and caroll’d at the door.  He always found a cheerful cup and a jesting word to say, and a thousand fervent wishes – he deserves a thousand more.

The excerpt below is from the book – The Life Story of Father Christmas by Sarah A Tooley in the English Illustrated Magazine December 1905

The Good Bishop St Nicholas

Santa Claus began his career as the good Bishop St. Nicholas, and doubtless considers that he scores heavily over Father Christmas by having a recorded history.  St. Nicholas was born of wealthy parents, in the City of Patara, in Asia Minor, and gave evidence that he was not an ordinary child by standing upright in his bath, immediately after his birth. He appears to have known nothing of original sin, for such was his infantile piety, that on fast days he declined the natural nourishment offered by his mother.  Of course he entered the Church, and became a bishop.

For many years he ruled over the See of Myra, and by several miraculous deeds on behalf of young people, became known as the special benefactor of children. There are several versions of the famous miracle he performed in raising three boys to life.  One relates that a wealthy gentleman sent his two sons to Myra to pay their respects to the good Bishop Nicholas.  As the youths arrived late in the city they went to an inn for the night, intending to call on the bishop next morning.  During the night they were murdered by the landlord, in order to secure their belongings, and he concealed their bodies in a pickling tub.

St. Nicholas saw in a vision what had taken place, and, crozier in hand, went to the inn.  The landlord confessed his crime, and the bishop, on being shown the pickling tub, waved his hand over it, and the boys hopped out alive, none the worse for their adventure.

Although two boys are mentioned in this story, the representations of St. Nicholas performing the miracle invariably show three.  There is a picture over the altar of the Church of St. Nicholas, in Ghent, in which the bishop, in full robes, stands with uplifted forefinger beside a tub, in which the three boys, restored to life, are praising him with uplifted hands.  There is a similar representation in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

One of a more gruesome character appears in the Salisbury Missal of 1534, in which a butcher man is shown in the act of chopping the limb of one of the unfortunate boys, while under the table is seen the pickle tub, in which the three boys have been brought to life by St. Nicholas, who stands over them.  This latter picture illustrates another version of the legend which has been described in doggerel verse, and is the favourite with children.

Excerpt from the English Illustrated Magazine – 1905

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Further Reading and External Links

The History of Santa Claus and Father Christmas