One year ago, it seemed high time to get serious about this quest. And I did.
Publishing my research seemed the best way to provide the accountability to ensure I got the history right. And, since some things can only be done (or understood) in person, I decided I had to make a trip to London and Jersey a priority. That trip (last May) was not only fascinating and rewarding, it threw gasoline on the fire of this project. And in the year since? Somehow it seems in the nature of research that answering one question raises several new ones, so a year later my list of “in person” tasks is now even longer and more pressing than last year’s.
My bucket list of other travel destinations will have to wait for some other year. The UK is calling, and I must go!
This is going to be a very exciting trip – and one I hope will yield most of what I need to finish the primary research of this project. When that thought first occurred to me, it was a bit of a shock. I just hadn’t thought about it that way before! What a strange realization that I just might have the core of a book I had never thought of writing completed by the end of this year…
A Swing Through the Cities Around London
This trip will start by visiting a halo of cities and towns around London, doing what I can to fill in missing gaps. I had originally written off the first day for sleeping off jet lag, but then I realized where the Windsor Palace (home of the Royal Collection Trust) is located. If we don’t stop there on our way to Oxford the first day, we won’t be able to go there at all. That will not do!
The Royal Collection at Windsor contains an “only one in existence” book of photographs of the 1866 Special Exhibition of National Portraits. This lead is a genuine “long shot” I stumbled onto while digging into several levels of bibliography for my article about the 1866 portrait exhibition. Within the forgotten pages of that 150 year old, narrowly published “coffee table” book, I hope may be a minor treasure: a photograph of the exhibition bay where portrait #724 was hung in 1866–the now lost portrait of Sir Richard Lane.
Although seeing the book will be interesting in any case (rounding out my research into the exhibition itself), finding that it does contain a photograph of Richard Lane’s “Lord Keeper” portrait would be a major coup! With such a photograph, we would know what the original portrait looked like, and may be able to use it to help validate the likeness of Richard Lane in Parliament’s historic “Trial of Strafford” painting. One way or another, the question will soon be settled. We have an appointment the afternoon we land for the privilege of visiting the remarkable Royal Collection Trust, in the majestic “Round Tower” at the center of Windsor Castle.
The next day will be spent in Oxford, where Sir Richard Lane served King Charles I in a series of escalating roles during the Civil War. At the climax of the war at Oxford, the King escaped, leaving the fate of the forces there in Sir Richard’s hands. Ultimately, Richard Lane was able to negotiate an honorable surrender of those forces with General Fairfax of Parliament’s “New Model” army, sparing the town and castle from the destruction of a siege.
Oxford may be worth the trip all by itself. It goes without saying that Oxford is a first rate university–among the best in the world. One of their leading professors of Law in the middle 1900’s was Gordon Hall (a Fellow of Law, and an expert in historic law). Professor Hall wrote a 1953 analysis of “Lane’s Reports” that I am stilly trying to fully understand. He seems to have personally tracked down and analyzed manuscripts of early exchequer court cases seeking to identify the contents of Richard Lane’s lost notebooks among them.
Reading about him, I learned that when Professor Hall died in the 1970’s, he left his papers to the university. So, I’ve made arrangements to inspect his notes to learn what else he may have discovered regarding Sir Richard Lane and “Lane’s Reports”. If you picture a long table stacked with boxes of files, you have some idea what I consider an excellent way to spend my 2018 vacation! When did I become so weird?
While at the University, I hope to be able to arrange a meeting with faculty of the School of Archaeology to discuss my proposal for a unique graduate project involving a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey of the floor of a certain ancient church in Jersey. Their objectives would be to study GPR performance in those conditions and middle ages burial practices. The bonus for Oxford would be that the survey may also help identify the lost tomb of a distinguished Oxford Alum!
At the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford I hope to inspect a possible second portrait of Sir Richard Lane (apparently, an 1800s watercolor copy of an earlier portrait). Then, perhaps we will take a tour of the Oxford Castle and University to see if we can identify the “Publik Library” (the quotes are there for a reason-leave the spelling alone) where the Great Seal, Sword of State and other symbols of the authority of King Charles I were left for the victorious parliamentary army. Finally, if I have time, I may even see if I can locate documentation of the doctorate awarded to Sir Richard Lane while he served the King there. This will be a very busy day indeed!
So far, I really can’t say how my visit to Northampton will pan out. I’m sure it will be worth it, visiting the churches where all three generations of Sir Richard Lane’s family lie at rest. But I am especially keen to make contact with the appropriate folks at St John the Baptist to discuss the “linked memorials” for Sir and Lady Richard Lane. So far, making such contacts has been a struggle, but I haven’t given up!
I will also be spending time in the local archives, retrieving various historic documents (wills, etc) that are not available online. If I am able to find any papers of Richard Lane’s when he was the Recorder of Northampton, I would love to have samples of his handwriting!
For fun, I am planning to host a happy hour at the “Cock Inn”, behind which I believe the Lane family mansion stood. How strange it will be to be in the place Richard Lane raised his family 400 years ago. And strange also to realize that in the middle 1800s, while the English were acknowledging the 200th anniversary of their own civil war, the American Civil War was still several generations in the future. At that same time, my own home (Colorado) was still an unsettled frontier territory belonging to Mexico…
At Cambridge, there is an extremely rare book which is apparently the source document of the account in which Bulstrode Whitelocke denied he knew Richard Lane (apparently, so he could keep the library Sir Richard had entrusted him with). You can’t view this book online, and it seems to be one of only two copies I have been able to find anywhere.
I would also like to see what I can of the Cambridge records regarding Richard Lane’s time there (as a student, and later as general counsel to the university). Cambridge is also where the lost portrait of Sir Richard Lane had been kept before it disappeared sometime in the 1800’s. I wonder if anything else might be discerned by inspecting the records of this painting in their collection?
And finally, just as at Oxford, I hope to arrange a meeting with faculty of the Cambridge School of Archaeology to discuss my GPR survey graduate project proposal. Although he never received a diploma from Cambridge, Richard Lane first studied here before being accepted at Middle Temple Inn, London.
Uxbridge will be a Saturday morning “drive by”, but one we just have to include. The current “Crown & Treaty” building is the place the treaty negotiations at Uxbridge were held during the 1640’s English Civil War. In this building Richard Lane and the other commissioners met to negotiate with Parliament’s representatives in an unsuccessful attempt to reach a truce. The building, also known as the “Place-House” was built in 1576. Its hard to believe it is still standing, but it is! Looking forward to sharing a pint here, but we won’t be able to stay for the live music the current pub there is known for!
Next, we’re going to spend a few days in Jersey, and enjoy a bit of “down time” in the middle of the trip. We plan to see the Gorey Castle and also hope to get together with some friends from last year’s visit.
While in St Helier this year, I will be giving a couple of talks about my research, and through them hope to engage with the folks planning the update of the museum in the Elizabeth Castle. I plan to do what I can to support their planned re-design of the exhibits there with an emphasis on Jersey’s role in the English Civil War. I would love to see Richard Lane included in that update – after all, he was the most senior of the Privy Council advising King Charles II and is buried in the nearby church!
While I’ve been moving ahead with my research over the last year, members of the Societe Jersiase and I have also been discussing a memorial for Richard Lane in the Town Church of St Helier. We need to engage with the leadership of the church for their thoughts as well. I hope to work up a suggestion for that memorial we can use to spark the discussion of the potential the placement, materials and content of that memorial. With any luck, I will come to Jersey with some word of interest on the part of Saint John the Baptist church in Kingsthorpe for placing linked memorials for Richard Lane and his wife in these two churches (I will have visited that church in Kingsthorpe a few days before coming to Jersey).
Other objectives for the visit will include touring the hospital at the Elizabeth Castle, which (although it has been rebuilt, was most likely where Richard Lane spent his last days.
Somehow, the thought that the grievously ill Richard Lane would have been brought to a place known as confusingly as “the hospital” simply didn’t occur to me last year, so I didn’t ask to see it. If only I had been born a smart man, life would be so much easier! : )
The day I spent roaming the grounds of the Elizabeth Castle with Jean and Sue (new friends from the Societe Jersiase, and both top-notch “Blue Badge” tour guides) is one of my favorite memories of last years trip! We may spend a bit of time working on a question they have been pursuing about the location of the “Hyde House” at the Elizabeth Castle before it was destroyed by parliamentary bombardment during the subjugation of Jersey in 1651.
Other objectives while in Jersey would be to meet with the Archaeologist of the Societe Jersiase to learn what I can of the archaeology work that has already been done at the Town Church of St Helier, and to understand his level of interest in the possible GPR survey of the floor of the church. Finally, I would enjoy spending an hour browsing the translated Diary of Jean Chevalier, just to learn more about life in Jersey 400 years ago.
The last leg of the trip will be spent back in London. I would like to see Westminster Hall, where the Trial of Strafford and the later trial of King Charles I himself took place. This is the oldest building in Westminster Palace, and has been the cradle of the parliamentary government. Three of the four ancient courts were held here, with the Exchequer Court held in an adjacent building.
One of my more interesting visits during this trip will be to meet with the Assistant Curator of the Parliamentary Art Collection at Westminster Palace. We have been in a conversation about the painting “The Trial of Strafford” which hangs (among many other important historical / political works of England’s history) on the walls of the palace. One of my most important preparatory tasks will be to finish my analysis of the principal actors of that dramatic trial, investigating which might be painted in the 1844 painting by Thomas Woolnoth. We are considering whether Sir Richard Lane (who was the lead counsel for the defendant) is among the (yet) unidentified persons in that painting.
At the National Archives in London, I will have a list of documents to inspect, including the will of Richard Lane the younger (Groom to King Charles II). Perhaps by the time I make the trip, I will have found some documentation of the family of origin of Margaret (Walker) Lane. There is also a marriage certificate that I need to investigate – it seems a fit to Sir Richard Lane in many ways, but does not include the name of Margaret Walker. Perhaps the original will tell me something new?
At Middle Temple, I am looking forward to getting re-acquainted with the generous and kind staff of the Middle Temple Library and Archives office. When I was there last year, I was introduced to the ancient art of paper-making, and how to analyze the pages in a book to find subtle maker’s signature watermarks embedded in the paper itself. I have nearly completed a forensic analysis of my own book, which they had already performed on their two copies of Lane’s Reports for my visit there last year. The results of this analysis will be the subject of my next article, so stay tuned!
A key objectives at Middle Temple this year is to view a document I identified which may have been signed by Richard Lane. I will also spend some time looking through any records for the year Richard Lane was Treasurer there (their executive leadership role) to see if I can find examples of his handwriting. My hope is that we may be able to match that handwriting to manuscripts (or not), potentially authenticating or eliminating them as source documents of “Lane’s Reports” (another long shot, but sometimes they do pay off)! Finally, there are a couple of personal prizes I hope to bring home this year from Middle Temple: 1) a picture with the staff of the archive office there (I forgot to take one last year, to my regret) and 2) a couple of bottles of wine bearing the label of Middle Temple.
If we have time, I would like to visit Kensington to walk the area where the 1866 exhibition took place. I know a guide who offers walking tours of this area that would also be fun to meet with while there!
In the end, I am hopeful I will be able to achieve most of what I have planned for this trip. You can’t control outcomes, so I’m sure there will be some disappointments. But I’m equally sure there will be unplanned opportunities as well. Whatever happens, I’m sure I will return from my “vacation” in deep gratitude…and most likely in serious need of a vacation!
Your comments and corrections are gladly welcomed. I admire great writing, but have little choice but to approach this task as one of grinding a workable edge onto a rough blade – with my thanks for your generosity of spirit and firm critique in the meantime!