This is going to be a very big year for “the Quest”! There has been a breakthrough – a dramatic one – which I will be writing about once I am back from my trip to the UK. I always knew there would be a “right time” to start taking this story public, and I’ve decided that time is now. While I am in the UK, I will be giving two talks in Jersey, and will also be presenting my research into the historic “Trial of Strafford” painting at Westminster in London. Finally, a week after I return home, I will present the U.S. debut of the “Quest for the Lost Lord Keeper” at the beautiful Cherokee Castle in Sedalia.
When I discovered the 1953 paper analyzing the authenticity of “Lane’s Reports” by a Fellow of Law at Oxford, I realized I’d found a genuine treasure for my Quest. That paper was written by a senior academic in English history and law who had gone back to the original manuscripts in an attempt to prove which might have been the lost manuscripts from which “Lane’s Reports” was published.
Although the paper itself was a fabulous academic accomplishment, the potential treasure for me lay in the possibility of looking through the research that went into the writing of that paper. So, when I discovered that his personal papers (his files) had been donated to the University of Oxford, I wrote to inquire about whether it would be possible for a visitor from “the colonies” to see them. I was elated to hear they would be happy to accommodate me! Since I thought it might be pushing it to ask them to ship those boxes of files to me, I decided it was time to plan another trip to the UK! That was four short, hectic months ago…
I leave for that trip in 4 days, and I could not be more excited!
At around the same time I’d begun planning this trip, I was involved in an analysis task working with the Assistant Curator of the Parliamentary Art Collection at Westminster Palace in London (discussed in two earlier articles about the historic “Trial of Strafford” painting on display there). This work has not only been fascinating, but has yielded some important new discoveries about this dramatic painting (which I now consider to be a masterpiece). In another remarkable occurrence of fortuitous timing, this work has an important relationship to the breakthrough I will be announcing! Stay tuned for a coming update on that one. In the meantime, I recommend looking at the online exhibition of this amazing 1844 painting at Westminster.
Public Debut of the Quest in Jersey
There is something appropriate about the first public talk of the Quest for the Lost Lord Keeper taking place in Jersey. That’s where a curious inquiry first became a quest, after all. When I contacted my friends there at the Societe Jersiaise to let them know I was returning to the UK, we chose dates that would allow me to participate in the monthly meeting of the History Chapter of the Societe Jersiaise (I am a member after all).
Shortly after, I was asked if I would be willing to present a talk on my quest as part of the spring talk series during my visit. Of course I would! I think this was the universe ringing me to say, “it’s time”!
So, I am honored to be giving the kick-off lecture for the annual spring talk series. And it’s going to be a fun talk, too! I’ve told them I am bringing some big news, but have not told them what it is. Apparently the venue normally hosts around 70 people, and I am going to make sure they come away smiling! Looking at the other topics, I only wish I could attend them as well…
It also seems I will be giving another short talk at the History Chapter meeting the night before, which should be a lot of fun. It will be a great chance to meet the larger historical community of St. Helier! Perhaps the next time I return, it will be for the emplacement of a memorial stone finally marking the burial site of Sir Richard Lane in the Town Church of St. Helier!
The debut in the United States
I’ve heard rumors there are people out there for whom history is not an exciting topic. I am hopeful that someday the medical community may find a resolution for the sad malady which affects them so. I don’t understand it, of course, but I do feel for them. To those treasure hunters who love an authentic, non-fiction “whodunit” of history, I’d suggest it’s time to “buckle up, Buttercup”, because this is about to get exciting!
If you live in the area (or don’t mind a short drive), I recommend you go to the Events page of the Cherokee Castle and Ranch Foundation, and look for a “Special Event” happening there in the early afternoon of Sunday, April 29. And I recommend buying a ticket, as I’m told they are expected to sell out. They are hosting my first public talk about the “Quest for the Lost Lord Keeper” in America, and it’s a wonderful venue for it! They will have a cash bar and snacks available, and a tour of the beautiful castle is included.
If you’ve never been there, the Cherokee Castle is a dramatic, nearly 100-year-old estate home fashioned after a 1400s Scottish castle, complete with a tower, parapet, gargoyles and a Great Hall. It sits atop a rocky bluff near Sedalia and is the crown jewel of the 3,500 acre preserve in the care of that foundation. Within the castle itself is a wonderful collection of art and historical pieces. This collection exhibits a particular interest in middle English history (my favorite these days) and includes an authentic patent from King Charles II, complete with a wonderfully preserved wax “Great Seal” of the King.
And that’s the special connection – the silver mould (also called a “matrix”) which creates these seals is a primary symbol of the authority of the King. It is placed in the care of the First Lord of the Privy Council who is given the special title of “Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England”. Sir Richard Lane was the first Lord Keeper for King Charles II, and also for his father, King Charles I.
With the permission of Westminster, I am having the largest scale replica of the “Trial of Strafford” painting I can handle created for the occasion. Since the real painting is in an area of Parliament not accessible to the public (and because it is 9 feet wide), this dramatic replica may be as close as most will ever get to seeing it.
I will also be displaying my copy of the 1657 book, “Lane’s Reports”, so those who attend will be able to see (and discuss) that historic book as well. And finally, to commemorate the occasion, I will be giving out a small commemorative token of the quest to those who come to share in this exciting homecoming event!
I hope to send out another article before I leave (this weekend), sharing a bit more about the trip I have been working these many months for. I have a handful of “possibilities” (theories) I would like to get on the record about, as I may be able to prove them while on this trip. Sure, I could be proven wrong (it’s happened) but where’s the fun in a prediction if you don’t put it out there in advance? So, I will do my best to post updates “from the road”.
Thanks to all for your good wishes, and for sharing in this exciting time!
~ Gregory Sherwood