Monday, May 11, 2015

1840s Scrapbook: Murder, Lightning Storms, Wills and Dr Dee

On the face of it these two buff coloured card books don't look very enticing with nothing but newprint inside, but I have spent a fascinating hour or so looking through these two scrapbooks that date from the 1840s and 1850s. It's always fascinating to get an insight into another person's mind, even if you don't know who they were and the selection and curation of these articles presents a picture of a man with a wide range of interests. I have learnt about a heavy snowstorm that went on for days and about one of the biggest electrical storms in living memory that dashed hail stones through the glass roofs of Buckingham Palace among other famous buildings. The compiler was obviously very taken with the story of a horrible murder perpetrated by a bookseller (or bookbinder, the report is unlear) on one of his customers, gory details of dismemberment and chunks of body stuffed up the chimney are presented with some glee in the two or three long articles that our compiler has clipped. Also here is the report of the proving of William Beckford's will, "whose singular history is well known" - let the reader understand.

And perhaps most interesting of all is the reporting of the sale of Strawberry Hill House, the gothic mansion of Horace Walpole, in the course of the coverage we are told about the polished kennel coal (actually obsidian) mirror that Dr Dee used for the summoning of spirits. And something like that, of course, leads to Google which then leads us to the website of the Lewis Walpole Library.

Fascinating stuff...

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