I’m going to need a vacation to recover from my “vacation”! Although it’s good to be to be back home in “the colonies”, I am deeply grateful for every moment of the last week in the UK. I do have to admit, I could have done without that moment in Jersey my attention slipped and I started down the wrong side of a divided roadway… But I have pretty good reflexes, and managed to get make the correction before I went beyond the start of the median. And Mom? She’s all better now – no defibrillator, no foul, right? In the end, we’ve decided we each were at the helm for our share of near misses on those narrow roads!
Was it a successful trip? Yes. Wildly so. Did I make progress with the Lane Project I couldn’t have made otherwise? Absolutely. Was I able to develop contacts I can work with to help carry the project forward? Yes, but more than that – I feel I’ve met friends and colleagues. On a personal level, what a gift it was to have met (and felt hosted by) so many members of the London and Jersey historical communities during my visit. They have much in common with the historical and scientific community of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where I volunteer: well informed, dedicated and passionate about the mission to develop and share a well informed understanding of our historical heritage. Merci beaucoup. Meilleurs voeux!
The London portion of the trip was focused on understanding the history of the Law Inns of London where Richard Lane spent the majority of his career, and the publishing houses of 1600’s Fleet Street where his book was published after his death. We were able to accomplish:
- Photographed and dimensioned the buildings of 1600’s Temple which still exist: Middle Temple Hall and Temple Church. I also learned that both of these building suffered significant bomb damage during WWII, and were painstakingly restored. The glass in the windows of Middle Temple Hall was removed and put in safe storage in anticipation of the bombings.
- Saw and photographed Fleet Street and the original Temple Bar (the ceremonial western gate of London that stood across Fleet Street at the western end of London and the Temple area).
- Private tour of Middle Temple, including Middle Temple Hall, various chambers and historical points of Middle Temple, the Middle Temple Library and Archives, as well as the archive offices and analysis area. We also got to have lunch in Middle Temple Hall, which is in active use by the modern Law Inns.
- Saw and photographed the “arms” of Richard Lane on the walls and windows of Middle Temple Hall (which until a few weeks ago, I only hoped might be there).
- Learned more about where members of the Inn may have lived. Not surprisingly, the 1600’s chambers / living buildings are gone, but subsequent (still historic) buildings of the same purpose stand in their place.
- Learned more about the significance of the roles of Reader and Treasurer at Middle Temple.
- Visited the library and archives of Middle Temple, and met with several of the friendly and expert staff there to discuss my project. This was the treasure of my time in London!
- (unexpected) We were able to examine two copies of “Lane’s Reports” which are part of the Middle Temple collection (I had no idea they were there). This was my first opportunity to examine other “first editions” of this book beyond my own.
- (unexpected) We got an impromptu lesson on the early paper making industry and the faint watermarks paper makers included in the paper they produced. The archivists had prepared some analytical prints of the watermarks from their copy of “Lane’s Reports” to compare to my own book. This was fascinating. It is also of great forensic value in identifying restoration work and may allow analysis regarding whether more than one printing run was made…
- (unexpected) We also got an impromptu lesson on book construction and restoration techniques, including how to identify restoration work in old books. It turns out that one of Middle Temple’s “Lane’s Reports” had undergone a significant restoration (estimated to have been done in 1800s). The other copy is an original like mine, but is extremely fragile. Even careful handling left significant residue on the examination pillow.
- (unexpected) We were able to examine and photograph several documents from King Charles I to Richard Lane (et al) while he was the Treasurer of Middle Temple (which I didn’t know were there), and one letter patent with King Charles I’s seal (which Richard Lane would later carry). This is the wax seal created by the “stamp” in the possession of the Lord Keeper.
- (unexpected) I was given a (now signed) copy of a book of the armorial panels on the walls of Middle Temple Hall published recently by one of their staff. Thanks so much!
Key objectives that I wasn’t able to achieve while in London include:
- I was unable to find a historical display of the printing and publishing houses that used to populate Fleet Street. I did find an artful display of a 1600’s printing press in the London Museum, but there was little real treatment of the early book industry.
- We just didn’t have time to pursue the large portrait of Richard Lane while he was Lord Keeper. This was painted by Daniel Mytens in the 1640’s and was last known to be in the collections at Corpus Christi in Cambridge. I have never found an image of it. This will have to be a project for another day.
- (new) I would like to see if a record exists of the license that had to be granted to publish any book in 1650’s London. It was a discovery to me that this was even required. But, if this can be found, it may reveal who was behind the publication of “Lane’s Reports” – one of the related mysteries I am trying to resolve. I’ve been wondering whether it could have been Lane’s younger contemporary, Bulstrode Whitelocke (who was given possession of Lane’s belongings in London and reportedly later “denied all knowledge of the man” when Lane’s son asked for them)…
My deepest thanks to everyone we met in London for your excellent insights, advice and hospitality. If you are ever in Denver, I hope you will give me the opportunity to repay the favor!
The next article will be a summary of the visit to Jersey, which was equally fascinating and productive. Somewhere in the Town Church of St Helier, I believe I have already stood within feet of the forgotten tomb of Sir Richard Lane…
Your comments and corrections are gladly welcomed. I admire great writing, but have little choice but to approach this task as one of slowly grinding a workable edge onto a very rough blade – with my thanks for your generosity of spirit and firm critique in the meantime! – Greg Sherwood