nWe’ve been on the ground in England for a few days now. Although I wanted to spend a few minutes writing a quick report before now, this is the first chance we’ve had. I’m exhausted, but it’s been a great trip so far. To be sure, I’ve had a couple of disappointments, but also some major wins!
The biggest disappointment was the review of the papers of Corpus Christi Oxford professor and president, Gordon Hall. Professor Hall wrote a significant paper on Lane’s Reports in 1953, and I’d hoped to be able to see the notes behind that paper. Despite a warm welcome from the staff at Corpus Christi Archives, when we went through his papers (which was interesting anyway), we didn’t find anything related to Richard Lane’s book in those notes. Apparently, someone went through those papers and if that material had been in his files, it’s not there now. Ah, well….
On the positive side, we’ve already had some fabulous wins! We’ve been able to review 2 more copies of Lane’s Reports, have found a number of mentions of Richard Lane in several sources, found a period book that details the customs at Middle Temple, and were able to inspect the Ashmolean Museum’s 1800s watercolor copy of an earlier portrait of Sir Richard Lane – and although I had started to doubt it, now believe it may well be of my Lost Lord Keeper.
Probably the most exciting discovery happened today! At the Northampton Archives, we found not one, but two documents that were signed by Sir Richard Lane! And for a bonus, we also found a signature of his wife Margaret Lane.
We got a wonderful tour of the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Courteenhall from Chris and his wife Patsy first thing this morning. This is the church where Richard Lane’s parents are buried under the north aisle. They were fabulous hosts, and had us in for tea before we went over to the church. That historic church is only in limited use, but it was fun to really look the place over and spend so much time talking with our fabulous hosts. I even got to ring the bells!
Later in the day, we visited the St. John the Baptist Church in Kingsthorpe, and had a chance to meet with the Reverend Canon of that church, Jane, as well as my original contact there, Jenny. We had a wonderful chat, and although they are not the decision makers for the church, they had an idea for how to place a memorial stone that would work quite well. We will be working together to see if we can get permission to place a memorial to Lady Margaret Lane there!
Our first day on the ground was also a great day, as we visited the Crown and Treaty Pub in Uxbridge. Although the pub is closed for refurbishment, we just happened to run into the new owner, who is going to send us pictures of the “treaty room” upstairs. Then, we went to our first appointment at Windsor Castle. Unfortunately, Mary’s security check hadn’t been completed, so she couldn’t go into the Circular Tower with me (where the Queen’s Collection Trust is held).
But that particular ‘long shot’ paid off! In a one-of-a-kind photo album book of the 1866 portrait exposition I’d hoped to find a photo of Sir Richard’s “lost portrait” as it hung in that exposition. At first, I didn’t find it where I expected it, but I decided to examine every photo to see if it might have beeen pictured in the background of one of those photographs. And, I found it! It is one of many, but it is clearly of the “lost portrait” of Lord Keeper Richard Lane. So, now I know how it was presented, and with which other pictures. I also learned a great deal about the exposition itself in the bargain. My host, Alessandro, told me they didn’t realize the book was so singular (it appears to be a commemorative album that was likely a gift to the bereaved Queen Victoria). Apparently due to my interest, it has been scheduled to be photographed in about 3 weeks, and placed online! This was a great relief because they have a strict prohibition against photography within the non-public areas of Windsor Castle, so I couldn’t take any of my own. My model of how the exhibit was laid out wasn’t far off, but I now have a much better feel for the venue and the arrangement of the photos. There will be a followup article on that one!
My apologies my writing seems a little strained, but I am struggling to stay awake long enough to get it sent out. I will try to send another update on Sunday from Jersey.