Anniversary of The Drunken Defeat of the “Merrie City ” of Wakefield During the English Civil War

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This Saturday, 20 May 2017, marks the 374th anniversary of the 1643 Battle of Wakefield. This Battle should not be confused with the far more famous and historically significant battle that took place during the Wars of the Roses in 1460. Our battle took place during the first year of fighting in the near decade long struggle between Cavaliers and Roundheads that was the English Civil War.

This conflict between King and Parliament was important in the development of our modern institutions of parliamentary democracy and in many ways the system of government that emerged in the United States. It is gratifying that my home city of Wakefield was involved in these momentous and world changing events. It is also interesting that there was a unique Wakefield twist to what happened at the time battle was joined.

Since the Middle Ages Wakefield has been known as the “Merrie City” and has had a reputation as a place where people can have a good time. Westgate is still known as a place where people go out drinking on Friday and Saturday nights. It is ironic that ‘revelry’, although this time outside the environs of the centre itself, was the cause of the Royalist defeat.

An informative article (1) about the battle can be found at BritishBattles.com. I paraphrase the key information from the article as follows:

On the eve of battle, the officers were at nearby Heath Hall next to today’s Heath Common. The royalist officers were playing on the bowling green there and to put it in modern parlance ‘getting hammered’. By time of the Parliamentarian attack the royalist officers were seriously worse for ware leaving the rank and file effectively leaderless. It is quite possible that the party at Heath Hall may have been a deliberate ruse on the part of the Hall’s Dame Mary Bolles to allow Wakefield to be easily taken by the parliamentary forces.

The article notes that Parliamentary forces attacked from the north focussing their efforts on Northgate and Warrengate that those familiar with the modern city will know well.

(1) The surprise attack on the town of Wakefield in West Yorkshire by Sir Thomas Fairfax on 20th May 1643 http://www.britishbattles.com/battle-of-wakefield/

Other articles about the battle:

http://bcw-project.org/military/english-civil-war/northern-england/yorkshire-1643

http://www.information-britain.co.uk/famdates.php?id=260

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Grand Opening of Lock Eleven, New Inn Walton

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Also posted on my WakefieldVistas blog

It just so happened that my most recent meal at the New Inn fell on the night of the grand opening of the new restaurant – Lock Eleven.

The New Inn is my local pub and I have been there many times for both food and drink. It has a good range of beers, the food is excellent and the staff friendly. However, my main purpose here is not to give a pub or restaurant review but to discuss the newly refurbished pub itself and the history that it helps to evoke. To some extent I adopt the role of art an critic or local historian.

Throughout the New Inn there are framed photographs of a wide range of Walton views that, for me, were an inspired form of decoration in the first place.  They capture the essence of contemporary Walton. These have remained in the newly refurbished setting and continue to provide a necessary sense of place.

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In the main part of the pub, the ‘old part’, there is new carpeting, new wallpaper and new lighting. The use of new lanterns of various colours creates a warm atmosphere and the new wallpaper is of exquisite quality. The whole ensemble blends together well and continuity is created between the newly refurbished ‘old’ part and the previously non public component that has been newly incorporated.

Moving down the steps into the lower part of the restaurant, the part that opens onto the car park and has its own set of patio doors, is the entrance part for the restaurant. It has its own welcome desk for diners and the room is tastefully put together. Hopefully this arrangement will prevent diners monopolising the bar area and maintain the New Inn as a traditional pub as well as a restaurant.

The next part that I am going to discuss is where things get really interesting – the part of the building that was previously out of the public sphere. There is a passage way that links to some new dining areas. One of these areas is next to the kitchen and you can see the food being prepared via a large serving hatch. This linkage to the heart of the restaurant, the kitchen, works very well. It also gives you an opportunity to appreciate the work of the people who prepare the food.

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Then we have another new previously unseen area, the upstairs part. This is the exclusive part of the the new restaurant, Lock Eleven. To get a seat in this part you need to book in advance. This part is airy and opens out onto a balcony where people are able to enjoy al fresco dining on fine days. There are views of the village from here and I could even see the House in which I was born, back in the 1970s.

Lock Eleven was an inspired choice for a name. I love it when people think about local history in such decisions, it is an important consideration when creating an authentic sense of place. Walton was once on the route of the Barnsley Canal that was started in 1793. The canal was a key transport link during the Industrial Revolution. Lock Eleven was the lock that stood next to the New Inn Pub. Walton still has places where the canal infrastructure can still be seen and many of these are set in beautiful countryside. The fact that then North of England was at the epicentre of the industrial revolution is of global historical significance.

As for the atmosphere on opening night, you could sense the excitement and enthusiasm about the place when you walked through the door, the pride of the staff was palpable. The pub has already received a significant transformation when Ria and Iain took over from Tommy. However, the new look is on a completely different level – it is spectacular! The feel is luxurious and there is great attention to detail. The ornaments are amazing too, note the grizzly bear and the rhino in particular.

I am sure people will come to the restaurant from miles around – the surroundings are as excellent as the food and the atmosphere is great.

Perhaps the diners might also choose to explore the surrounding countryside and its history. There are other things to see in addition to the remains of the canal. Walton is also the site of the world’s first nature reserve (1) that was built on the estate of the local squire – Charles Waterton. His seat, Walton Hall, which is now a hotel is well worth seeing. Much of the wall that surrounded the nature reserve is still standing, though it could do with some repair given its historical importance.

Walton is well worth a visit for people who like natural history, conservation, environmentalism or wildlife – Charles Darwin himself once visited (2) (3) Squire Waterton at Walton Hall. Pollution from the Soap House in Walton inspired what must have been one of the earliest instances of environmentalist litigation when Charles Waterton took on soap manufacturer Edward Thornhill Simpson and won (4) (5). Soap House Yard is, incidentally,  located only a few meters away from the location of the New Inn.

After such a visit, environmental tourists to Walton could do a lot worse than checking out Lock Eleven and having a meal. Creating it was obviously a labour of love by people who are deeply attached to the Village of Walton and its heritage.

Lock Eleven, The New Inn, Walton.

(1) Waterton’s Park

(2) The Correspondence of Charles Darwin

(3) Charles Waterton: A Biography, by Brian W. Edington

(4) Charles Waterton 1782 – 1865: Traveller and Conservationist, by Julia Blackburn (Chapter XV page 144-155)

(5) Charles Waterton – Life & History – An Introduction 

Some other interesting articles about Charles Waterton:

The Gentle Art of Political Taxidermy: Charles Waterton, Squire of Walton Hall 

Mr Darwin Welcome

A Rare Species of Eccentric

Scientist of the Day – Charles Waterton

Interesting Facts: The Japanese Occupation of the United States During World War II

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Japanese troops raise the Imperial battle flag on Kiska after landing on 6 June 1942.

Today I discovered something about World War II that I previously did not know. I did not realise that portion of what is now one of America’s 50 states was actually occupied by the Japanese.

I am, of course, stretching things with the title since the state in question, Alaska, was a Territory at the time and only joined the Union in 1959.  Nevertheless, it was, like the British Channel Islands, occupied by one of the Axis powers.

The Japanese occupation of Kiska and Attu in the Aleutian Islands began on 6 June 1942 (1).  There was only a very minimal US presence at the time of this successful attack on US territory:

 “When the Japanese attacked Kiska, the only people on the island were members of the U.S. Aerological Detail who ran but were caught in just a matter of days.  Senior Petty Officer William C. House avoided the Japanese for 50 days, surviving on plants and worms alone but eventually, when he weighed just 80 pounds, he made a decision to either give up or die from lack of food; he chose to give up. ” (2)

The invasion to liberate Kiska from the Japanese yoke took place on 15 August 1943, but the Japanese had already left at the end of July. (2)

He following is an American documentary about the Aleution Campaign:

Notes:

(1) Japanese occupation of Kiska  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_occupation_of_Kiska

(2) Japanese Occupation Site at Kiska Island. https://www.theclio.com/web/entry?id=16114

Harriet Tubman – A Fine Choice For The $20 Bill

Harriet_Tubman_Civil_War_Woodcut-300px-wideI must admit, until this week I had never heard of Harriet Tubman. I am not an American so have a bit of an excuse about not previously knowing anything about the first African American women to appear on a US bank note.

She was born into slavery but after escaping, perhaps motivated by her strong Christian faith, devoted her life to helping others escape and build meaningful lives for themselves. She was later involved in the campaign for women’s sufferage.

I think she is a worthy choice for commemoration on the $20 bill. It is not because she is a woman or that she is an African American, it is because what she did was right. She stood up to tyranny, took personal risks for the sake of others and was unwavering in her cause. Her place on the banknote was earned on pure merit. She is an inspiration to all those who stand up to current vested interests who use their power oppress others.

As a campaigner for women’s suffrgage she is very relevant to the present day where democracy is gradually being subverted under the pressures of globalisation. In America and in countries around the world large corporations can buy politicians via the lobbying process and manipulate opinion via their control of the media. We live in a world of backroom deals and legislation by treaty, a world where the simple vote has become a debased currency. It is a world where currency itself is debased due to the hidden machinations of our system of central banks which often amount to organised officially sanctioned theft (her presence on the $20 bill in this sense is rather ironic).

We live in a world where cherished freedoms are being eroded, the kind of basic freedoms that were hard won by people like Harriet Tubman. Her presence on the $20 bill will be an ever present reminder of the idea that the only antidote to tyranny is eternal vigilance.

Harriet Tubman provides a lesson on how a person from humble origins and limited, or even non-existent means, can achieve great things. She also reminds us that freedom isn’t free and that to be free often requires real effort and sometimes even personal sacrifice.

Treasures of Tuscany – The Piccolomini Library

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Above: Close up of the vaulted ceiling of the Piccolomini Library

The Piccolomini Library is located within the magnificent Duomo di Siena in one of my favourite cities in all of Italy.

I used one of its illuminated manuscripts to give a bit of colour to the article I posted yesterday. Today I thought it would be good to show people more of the library’s cultural treasures. It also gives me the excuse to showcase some of my photos.

Wikipedia describes the library as follows:

“Adjoining the cathedral is the Piccolomini Library, housing precious illuminated choir books and frescoes painted by the Umbrian Bernardino di Betto, called Pinturicchio, probably based on designs by Raphael.” (1)

The library is named after Enea Silvio Piccolomini  who became Pope Pius II. The frescoes on the walls by Pinturicchio depict his life. According to an article at DiscoverTuscany.com:

“The Library itself was built by Pope Pius II’s nephew, also a cardinal who also later became Pope Pius III…, the library was in memory of his uncle and to conserve the rich collection of manuscripts he had lovingly collected.” (2)

The Illuminated manuscripts on display are impressive in and of themselves but the library’s delights don’t end with the books. The vibrancy of colour is a veritable feast for the eyes.

Untitled Above: Illuminated manuscripts (choir books) on display

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Above: Close up of an example of the illuminated manuscripts

Untitled Above: Vaulted ceiling and statue of the Three Graces with Pinturicchio’s frescoes in the alcoves. People looking at the choir books at the bottom of the shot.

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Above: Piccolomini receiving his cardinal’s hat from the Pope

Untitled Above: Part of the fresco where Piccolomini introduces Eleonora of Portugal to Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III

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Above: Part of the fresco depicting the Diet of Princes at Mantua where Pope Pius II (Piccolomini) proclaimed a new crusade in 1459

If you are wandering around Italy and find yourself in Siena be sure to check this place out, it is well worth a visit.


Notes:

(1) Sienna Cathedral: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siena_Cathedral

(2) The Piccolomini Library, a Treasure within a Treasure https://www.discovertuscany.com/siena/piccolomini-library.html

Anne Boleyn, The Most Influential Woman In English History?

A few years back there was a big debate about the under representation of women (other than the Queen) on Bank of England banknotes. It was just before they decided to put author Jane Austin on the next £10 note. This all got me thinking about who could be regarded as the most influential women in English history and be worthy of a similar memorial.

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If I were to name such a woman it would not be the first woman Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, it would not be that famous Briton of Roman times – Boudicca, and it would not be that glorious of Queens – Elizabeth I. In terms of having the most dramatic and far reaching impact it would have to be Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn.

More than anyone she was responsible for one of the most momentous events in English history – The Reformation.  After this key turning point England and indeed the world would never be the same again.

Henry VIII just wanted her for his ‘bit on the side’ after the shine went off his relationship with his wife, the formidable Catherine of Aragon. The intelligent and capable Anne thought otherwise.

She insisted on marrying Henry and used her feminine wiles to fill his head with some of the most cutting edge theological innovations of the day. Without her this would not have happened.

If Henry had succeeded with his ‘plan A’ of establishing her as his mistress the break with Rome would not have been considered let alone implemented. That would have been the customary solution for the age and history would have proceeded without upheaval.

Anne Boleyn is a case study in the application of feminine power to achieve political ends. She already had a Protestant  worldview before meeting Henry. She arguably used her ‘influence’ to push a Protestant agenda at the pinnacle of state power. During the Catherine of Aragon Divorce Crisis some of these Protestant ideas would be crucial in getting the upper hand with the Pope. She would undoubtedly have made a formidable politician in our own day.

They say behind every great man there is a great woman. The case of Henry VIII was no exception to this rule. Surely she deserves banknote status.

Piri Reis – A Name for a Ship

On the news this morning, there was a segment about a new Antarctic survey ship that is being built at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead. They mentioned that they wanted the public to suggest a name so I suggested the name Piri Reis.

This was in reference to the Piri Reis Map (below) copied by the Ottoman Admiral Piri Reis in 1513.

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What is remarkable about the map is that it shows an accurate representation of the Antarctic coastline, currently invisible beneath the ice sheet and only visible via remote sensing techniques. It is also remarkable because the copied map was produced before Antarctica was even discovered.

Of course this presents a problem for modern science and has let to speculation that there was a civilisation that predates our own that developed in the Fertile Crescent. It has caused some to suggest that the map may even have been produced by Extra Terrestrials. (see article HERE that covers both explanations)

Nevertheless, I still think Peri Reis would be a good name. I emailed them with the following (with a couple of typos corrected in the version below):

“I have a great name for your survey ship. I would call it the Piri Reis[.]

This would mean that the ship would be named after the famous ice free map of Antarctica[. T]he map dates from before the discovery of Antarctica and therefore creates a bit of mystery. The idea of an ice free Antarctica also raises the topical issue of the changing climate. It is inclusive in that it uses the name of a Turkish admiral. The map also demonstrates cartographic excellence, something on which good exploration relies[…]. In short it captures the imagination and potentially opens minds to new possibilities.”

If you want to suggest a name for the ship click HERE. For more about the Piri Reis map there is a article HERE and HERE.

Letters From America

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The following are letters sent to my ancestor from her aunt who migrated from Wakefield in England to St Louis in America. There is also a letter and some postcards from her American cousin. In the section below showing the postcards I have tried to link to modern pictures of them to create a sense of historical perspective (click the corresponding links to see). The descriptions that accompany the postcards were written by Elizabeth Kershaw in 1909 and were on the postcards that accompanied the letter dated 23rd July 1909 and were referred to in that letter.

Edward Kershaw

Edward KershawHerbert Richard KershawHerbert Richard Kershaw

LETTERS FROM ST LOUIS, MO, USA

1307 S Compton Avenue, St Louis, MO, USA.

23 November 1908

My dear niece

I received your welcome letter and was glad you are better; I have been very sick but I am glad to say I am well for an old woman, as I cannot expect to be very well at my age and in my seventy seventh year. I did write [to] you and got no reply to it and in 4 mo9nths time I got word that Mr Cole was dead but who got the letter I do not know and I am glad to hear from you. We will try to send you some pictures of the 3 girls next time we write to you. They go to high school and they have so many lessons to get a night and then they have to practice the piano lessons so that they do not have much time for anything else but they will have a week holiday at Christmas and then they will have their photos taken and I will send them to you.

How many sisters and brothers have you, give my love to them as I often think of all in Wakefield and wish I could see all of you but I do not expect to see you this [side] of the grave but hope to meet you all in the beyond and the meeting will be a grand reunion for all will be there to meet us.

I will close with love to all of you and God bless you all and hope to hear from you seen.

I remain your ever loving aunt.

Mrs R Kershaw

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29 January 1909

My dear niece

I hope you will excuse me for not writing sooner but I hope you are well as I am for my age. I do not expect to write many more letters but will as long as I can. I send you the 3 girls’ photos and the boy but Elizabeth’s is not good of her for it doesn’t do her half justice for she is much better looking but will send a better [one] when she gets some more taken and would very much like you to write to Elizabeth and she will write to you in return so then you can keep in the way of knowing about us all the time all joins me in love to you and all your brothers and sisters not forgetting yourself.

I remain your ever loving aunt and God bless you.

Mrs R Kershaw

April 20th 1909

My dear niece

I received yours sometime since but have neglected to write but please excuse me as I am old and it is a trouble to write so do not think hard of me if I do not answer you just at the time. I should but will as soon as I can. Elizabeth is the oldest and Ruth the second and Edna is the third and Elmer is the boy and youngest. Elizabeth got your letter but she is looking for some posties for you and she will write you soon and send you the posties at the same time. She cannot write as soon as she would for she has so many lessons to get and her practising on the piano for an hour so you will see she does not get much time but in June they get a vacation for 10 weeks and they you may get a long letter for she does write very long ones but the one she [writes to] you in a few days may be short but make it up later. All is well at present and hope you are well. I will close for time hoping to hear from you soon. Give my love to your brother that is 20 I wish I had his photo and yours. I should be very glad all here joins me in love to you and God bless you is my prayer.

I remain your ever loving aunt.

Mrs R Kershaw

I will be 77 on the 17th June so you see I am old.

1338 Maine Street, Racine, Wisconsin.

July 21st 1909

My dear niece

I received your welcome letter and I send you some photo[s] these are old but they’re what I have so I send you them. Fred is called after your mother McNeledge so I though you would like to have them. Edward is the one I make my home with in St Louis and I hope you will write to them in St Louis. My son here would very much like some postals on Wakefield. He was 8 years old when we left there. I am here on a visit for 3 or 4 months, but I will be in St Louis by Christmas all being well. I am between 300-400 miles from home. I am well and hope you are well. All joins me in love to you and if I can get any cards I will send them to you but being old I cannot get round as I would like. I am in my 78[th] year and not so sprite.

I remain your loving aunt.

Mrs R Kershaw

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1307 A S Compton Avenue, St Louis, MO.

23rd July 1909

Dear Cousin

I will now take time to answer your very welcome letter and thank you ever so much for the beautiful views from England. I guess it is never as warm in England as over in America. Sometimes the heat is so intense that we do not know where to put ourselves but at other times it is very cool and pleasant. Grandma is gone a week today. She has gone to Racine, Wisconsin to visit her son Fred [Fred McNeiledge Kershaw???]. I am going to a picnic Sunday, on the 31st and then again on 14th of August. I am getting so tiered of picnics, I have gone to 6 since the last week of school and then to so many other entertainments that I am tired of vacation besides picnics. This is my last year at high school. I hope to be a graduate in June if I pass in all my studies. I am sending some views of St Louis which I hope will please you as much as your English postals please us Americans. It seems so nice to be able to correspond with someone living across the ocean. I guess I will have to close now as I have to help cook supper because papa works nights.  Mamma and papa sisters and brothers send love and best wishes from your ever loving cousin.

Elizabeth Kershaw

Fred McNeledge Kershaw
Above: Fred McNeiledge Kershaw

31st October 1909

My dear niece

I received your ever welcome letter and was glad you are going to be married and I hope you will get a good husband for if he is good it will be a blessing but if on the other hand I will be very sorry.  I wish you all the happiness in the world can give you I only wish I could see you but I cannot so my love to you and your intended husband with best wishes and I hope God will bless you in the undertaking. All is well here for they are getting ready for a mascarade ball on the 24th of November. The 3 girls and the mother will go to watch over them. I hope they may have a good time.

I do not know what is the matter with Mrs Southwell as I have not had a word from her since last winter is she sick or what is it.  I am back home again and will stop home now. I will write more next time so I will close with love to you.

I remain your ever loving aunt.

Mrs R Kershaw

 

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John P Kershaw John P Kershaw (Son of Mrs R Kershaw)scan0005

POSTCARDS ‘SOME VIEWS OF ST LOUIS’ THAT WERE MENTIONED IN ONE OF THE LETTERS ABOVE:

Bridge & Drive, Forest Park, St. Louis, Mo.

The drive-ways in this part are very nice but this is extremely pretty [??] this park was where we had the World’s Fair and that time we certainly had enough people in St. Louis during the whole of the Fair. (These postcards are from Elizabeth Kershaw.  Although my name is Elizabeth I am called Libbie for short).

Bridge-and-Drive-Forest-Par

City Hall, St. Louis, Mo.

This is our City Hall, it is very handsome old building but could be in a better locality. Its grounds are beautiful always so pretty and green.

City-Hall

Compton Heights Water Tower, St. Louis, Mo.

We get our water from this tower, it is in a park which is about 8 blocks from our home. In this park we spend much time in summer and have often climbed to the top of the tower whre we could get a birds eye view of the city.

Compton-Heights-Water-Tower

Custom House and Post Office, St. Louis, Mo.

This building is one of our most useful buildings in the city. It is very large but it is not so extremely beautiful. But we are having a new post office built right across from Union Station.

Custom-House-and-Post-Offic

Eads Bridge & Wharf Boat, St. Louis, Mo.

This is a very interesting place as well as beautiful. Hundreds of people stand on this bridge to view our big floods. This bridge has very large traffic.

Eads-Bridge-and-Wharf-Boat

Grant’s Cabin, St. Louis, Mo.

This is an interesting cabin to the St. Louisiana. This used to be the home of one of our presidents in earlier days.

Grant's-Cabin

Lake at Hyde Park, St. Louis, Mo.

This is not a large park but for all is very beautiful. The lake is grand and a pleasure to sit by during summer and fine for skating in winter.

Lake-At-Hyde-Park

McKinley High School, St. Louis, Mo.

This high school is the one that Ruth and I attend. I have been going 3 years this June, only one year more and Ruth has been going 2½ years this June. We have lots of fun at school and cause the [?teachers?] lots of trouble.

McKinley-High-School

Elizabeth Kershaw graduated in the class of 1910:
scan0016 Elizabeth Kershaw’s visiting card: scan0018

Museum of Fine Arts, St. Louis, Mo.

This has the [?name?] of having a grand front. It contains many beautiful pieces of statuary besides the wonderful paintings and other art works.

Museum-of-Fine-Arts

New Coliseum Bldg, St. Louis, Mo.

This is our new Coliseum, a very pretty building. I was there to [?hear?] [?Gyspey?] Smith. He was fine. They had to hurry this building last fall to hold the [?different?] conventions here. In this building we are going to have a large May Festival in May for three days. I expect to take part in the High School [?chorus?].

New-Coliseum-Building

Pagoda, Forest Park, St. Louis, Mo.

This is one of the prettiest scenes in St. Louis, and is located in the park where the World’s Fair was held in 1904.

Pagoda-Forest-Park

4058 – Smith Academy and Manual Training School, St. Louis, Mo.

This is a school for boys and is situated in a beautiful part of our city. They have fine times at this place.

Smith-Academy-and-Manual-Tr

Soldan High School, St. Louis, Mo.

This one is the new school and was named after the late superintendent of the public schools Mr Soldan. This is not yet finished and will be a handsome school, being ready for work the beginning of September

Soldan-High-School

St. Lukes Hospital, St. Louis, Mo.

This is a very pretty place. Grandma Kershaw has visited there when my aunt [?Jennies?] mother was taken there when she was very ill.

St-Luke's-Hospital

Union Station, St. Louis, Mo.

This good old depot to proud of. It is the largest in the country. It interest many tourists besides its own people.

Union-Station

Vandeventer Place, St. Louis, Mo.

This is where many of St. Louis’ wealthy citizens reside. It certainly is pretty, especially so during the summer months.

Vandeventer-Place

Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.

After I am through High School and care to go to college this is the one that I will attend. It is a very large place and interesting. From Elizabeth Kershaw.

Washington-University

Yeatman High School, St. Louis, Mo.

This is one of the four High Schools in St. Louis. It is the second to being the newest. It is built on the same plan as McKinley but this school has more grounds than McKinley and the trees are older.

Yeatman-High-School

Family Meetup At Hardwick Hall

Today I met up with the Derbyshire wing of my extended family at Hardwick Hall.  It’s a grand Elizabethan house built by Bess of Hardwick in the 1590s who was famous, in a kind of feminist critique of Henry VIII way, for having four husbands and becoming incredibly wealthy as a result.

Bess-of-Hardwick

Above: Bess of Hardwick – portrait from 1550s.

Built in a renaissance style that originated in Florence, the hall is known as a Prodigy House, ostentatious in design and large enough to accommodate the Monarch and their army of attendants when they upped sticks from London and went on a Royal progress around their realm.

Wikipedia (1) describes the Hardwick Hall as follows:

“The house’s design also demonstrated new concepts not only in domestic architecture, but also a more modern way in which life was led within a great house. Hardwick was one of the first English houses where the great hall was built on an axis through the centre of the house rather than at right angles to the entrance.

Each of the three main storeys has a higher ceiling than the one below, the ceiling height being indicative of the importance of the rooms’ occupants: least noble at the bottom and grandest at the top.

A wide, winding, stone staircase leads up to the state rooms on the second floor; these rooms include one of the largest long galleries in any English house and also a little-altered, tapestry-hung great chamber with a spectacular plaster frieze illustrating hunting scenes.”

This description put me in mind of another house, far less grand though more local to me, in the town of Normanton, called Hanson House. I may appear to be digressing here, but bear with me, trust me – this does have relevance to my story.

The reason it put me in mind of Hanson House was that I recall reading something in Wakefield library that this house, the older part of it, was also of architectural significance.  Apparently it was a kind of transitionary piece of architecture that represented the move from houses based on the Medieval great hall to the multi-storey houses of the Tudor era. (2)

Now, back to the main story  – Bess of Hardwick was the daughter of Elizabeth Leake and that’s where a possible link appears in relation to Hanson House, and perhaps even my own family.  In my own family tree there is a link with a family called the “Leekes”, slightly different spelling, I know, but there it is! Following the death of my grandfather in 1988 I found an old book in a pile in my dads’ garage which I promptly rescued.  In it were some hand written copies of letters between a man called ‘Sir’ Levett Hanson (c.1748-1814) and his Yorkshire based cousin Thomas Leake (3).  Levett Hanson of course lived in Hanson House as did the person he was writing to – Thomas Leake. In some of the letters, Hanson alludes to Thomas’ family being a branch of one with a very ancient lineage, so that link with Bess of Hardwick could be a distinct possibility. Perhaps something that I may look into in the future?

That’s the end of my family links but another fact that I found interesting was that the descendants of Bess of Hardwick and her second husband Sir William Cavendish were the Dukes of Devonshire. People may remember the film, The Duchess, in which the glamorous Georgiana married into the influential Cavendish Family.  Georgiana herself was a member of the Spencer family – think the Duke of Marlbrough – John Churchill, Winston Spencer Churchill, and Lady Diana Spencer – Princess of Wales (4).

Duchess-of-Devonshire

Above: Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire – painting by Joshua Reynolds.

Bess’ descendants, the Earls and Dukes of Devonshire, were to have important and influential roles in future British politics, society, and history.

References and footnotes
(1) Hardwick Hall, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardwick_Hall
(2) There was a time when this house was derelict and the newer Georgian part can be seen HERE in a state of disrepair though thankfully it has since been renovated as can be seen HERE (the old building is behind the Georgian part of the house).
(3) I previously wrote about this subject here HERE.
(4) Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgiana_Cavendish,_Duchess_of_Devonshire

 

The weather today was pretty dreadful in typical English fashion, with constant rain which will probably mean more flooding.  A nearby stream at the bottom of the hill near the Hardwick Inn where we had lunch was getting pretty high. Still managed to take some photographs though not as many as I would have liked.

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Above: Hadwick Hall with carefully maintained garden.

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Above: Close up of Hardwick Hall.

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Above: Hardwick Hall from a distance.

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Above: Me in front of the Hall, clearly uncomfortable in the rain!

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Above: Hardwick Inn

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Above: Out of the rain in the pub!

Well worth a visit. I hope to make another visit to this wonderful house, when the house itself is open and with hopefully better weather.

555 Year Anniversary of the Battle of Wakefield Where Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain

I visited the monument that is believed to mark the spot where Richard of York fell in the Battle of Wakefield on 30 December 1460. Somebody had left a white rose on the spot presumably to mark this anniversary.

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The mnemonic Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain that is used by school children to remember the colours of the spectrum was based on events at Sandal Castle in Wakefield.

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Richard, a claimant to the throne of England during the Wars of the Roses died at the Battle of Wakefield that took place just outside the castle’s walls.

Back in October 2013 I visit Sandal Castle during some quite blustery weather and was rewarded by the opportunity to take photographs of the famous battlefield while appropriately a rainbow arched over it.

The Battle of Wakefield took place on 30 December 1460.  More details about the battle can be found inTHIS Wikipedia article.  That article makes the following interesting observation about Sandal Castle’s place in one of Shakespeare’s plays:

“Shakespeare’s play Henry VI, Part 3 (Act 1, Scene 2) is set in Sandal Castle. It describes Richard’s sons urging him to take the crown before news is brought of Margaret’s approach. Act 1, scene 4 then depicts the death of Richard at the Queen’s hands.”

The photograph below shows the battlefield of the Battle of Wakefield.  A map at warsoftheroses.co.uk depicts this view showing the position of opposing forces.

Sandal Castle View Wakefield

Above: Part of the Battlefield where the Battle of Wakefield was fought. The is a monument marking the position where Richard of York fell is somewhere under the rainbow in the area of buildings beyond the right hand side of the field.

Below: The view of the City of Wakefield from Sandal Castle.

Wakefield From Sandal Castle