On 4 July, a group of 24 Friends of the IHR and interested members of the public gathered for a guided tour of the Tower of London. Every summer the Friends organise a visit to some place of historical interest and this year proved an exceptional outing. Once assembled at the Middle Drawbridge, the party split into two groups, for simultaneous tours, and off we went.
Starting with Dr Alden Gregory at the helm, my group went first to the Queen’s House, nestled in the southwest corner of the Tower grounds. Dr Gregory, a Buildings Curator with Historic Royal Palaces, began by dispelling the myth, perpetuated by the Beefeaters, that the house was a wedding present built for Anne Boleyn. Dendrochronology suggests the house was built around 1539-40, after her death, and we know instead that it served as the lodging for the Lieutenant of the Tower. Today, it is the private residence of the Constable of the Tower of London. After noting the restoration work to the timber framing and casement windows to revive the original, pre-Great Fire Tudor appearance, we ventured inside and into the Bell Tower. This empty stone chamber was once adjacent to the Thames, and the cell of Sir Thomas More.
We then made our way upstairs to the Great Hall. The room was originally twice as high until a mid-level floor was installed in 1607, and the excessively timbered ceiling was only rediscovered and revealed in the 1960s during repairs to a water leak. The most impressive features, however, are a large wall monument and a portrait bust of King James VI. Not just a hall for eating and entertaining, the space also served as an interrogation room for notable prisoners (though the torture took place elsewhere).
The Great Hall and wall monument in the Queen’s House
Most famously, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were questioned here; the red, white, and black marble and alabaster wall memorial is fixed as a testament to the triumph of the inquisitors and condemnation of the accused. It dates to 9 October 1608, making it perhaps the oldest commemorative interior plaque of its kind. To its right, the bust of the king served to intimidate prisoners as they entered the hall and to represent the royal presence during interrogations.
Heading outside, the groups re-assembled, swapped tour guides, and Dr Jane Spooner, also a Buildings Curator, led our half of the party to the Byward Tower. Situated on the interior side of the main visitor entrance bridge, this thirteenth century fortification was a principal point for defence of the Tower. As with the Queen’s House, this area is normally closed to the public, and there was something very exclusive and satisfying about shutting the door behind us as we ascended the spiral stairs. At the top, Dr Spooner explained that in the mid-fourteenth century the space would have housed the King’s Exchange, part of the Royal Mint. The fine appointments that decorate the room—red striping on the stone walls, a large fireplace, and a tiled pavement—were befitting of this distinguished occupant.
Wall painting in the Byward Tower
Crossing the hall, past the wooden mechanism of the inner portcullis, we entered a slightly larger, timber-framed room, resplendent with a fourteenth century wall painting. The scene is brought to life with an array of expensive green, red, and blue pigments and gold leaf. It depicts on one side St John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary, and on the other St John the Evangelist and the archangel Michael, holding the scales weighing Christ’s soul in judgement. The figure of Christ on the cross, originally over the mantelpiece, was replaced with a Tudor rose in the sixteenth century when a new fireplace was installed. An imposing beam running the length of the room bears more green and gold painting, of birds, lions, and fleurs-de-lis. There is evidence that paintings of angels once existed on the north wall, as late as the 1950s, but almost no trace now survives.
The groups came back together a final time for some refreshments in the Great Hall of the Queen’s House. What a marvellous treat to sit where Guy Fawkes may have sat, though thankfully with some lovely tea and scones instead of an inquisitorial squad. There was just enough time left in the day to make a quick visit of the armouries or the crown jewels. The outing was a great success for all, and a particularly splendid introduction for those who had never been to the Tower, like yours truly.
The Research Excellence Framework Review, an independent review of university research funding undertaken by Lord Nicholas Stern, was published by the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation on 28 July 2016. It will now move to a further stage of consultation in late 2016, with the results published in 2017.
The entire Higher Education sector is under review, not just academic historians, but as part of our work supporting the profession, the IHR Library has started to collect relevant material and websites relating to the Review for those interested in understanding some of the implications of the proposals.
The text of the Review is available via Gov.uk. The call for evidence drew over 300 responses from across the sector; these are summarised here.
The Times Higher Education Supplement provides an overview noting that ‘all research-active academics should be entered for the next research excellence framework, and the work of academics who have moved should be claimed by the institution where it was carried out’, but that the number of submissions would vary as a ‘function of staff numbers’. It suggests non-portability of outputs would take ‘the heat out of the traditional pre-REF “transfer market”. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/stern-review-submit-all-researchers-next-ref (limited paywall). There is also a live blog.
An initial analysis of ‘portability’ from the view of a ‘Fantasy REF manager’ by Adam Goldberg, ‘The Stern Review – Publications, Portability, and Panic’, Cash for Questions: social science research funding, policy, and development blog http://socialscienceresearchfunding.co.uk/?p=936 [28 July 2016].
Two members of staff from the IHR Library recently attended a workshop examining techniques in basic book repair hosted by Senate House Library’s Conservation department. SHL’s conservator, Alexandra Bruce, delivered a short presentation explaining the importance of investing in small book repairs and the practical benefits this can bring to institutions. It was noted that, ‘basic repairs carried out as soon as a book shows signs of damage can extend the life of the book at very low cost and prevent the need for more complex repairs or costly re-binding.’ In addition, undertaking basic repairs in-house allows for volumes to be returned to the shelves more quickly.
Practising hinge-tightening using EVA glue
The Conservation team then demonstrated a range of basic repair techniques, including hinge tightening, spine re-attachment, re-sewing pages, tipping in loose sections and consolidating corners. It was exceptionally useful to see the level of detail and range of different implements used according to which repair was being undertaken (including using a knitting needle to apply glue to the spine of a book!) After watching the demonstrations, we were afforded the opportunity to put these techniques into practice ourselves in a hands-on practical session.
Following the workshop, the IHR library is initiating the setting up of a ‘bindery’ where such basic repairs can be carried out. The Institute previously had a dedicated bindery located in the basement of the building before constraints on space necessitated that the bindery be closed. It is envisaged that repair work will commence in September in order to begin clearing a proportion of the backlog of books that are in need of repair and return them to the shelves as quickly as possible.
The ‘Old Bindery’ 1986
Materials and pressing boards in the new ‘bindery’
However, it should be noted that many of the volumes currently in repair require much more extensive work, with many in need of complete re-binding or specialist conservation. The expertise and time taken for such work means that this can be extremely expensive.
A selection of works in need of repair
Consequently, the Institute would greatly welcome support for it’s Library Conservation Fund to help preserve the library’s invaluable collections. Donations of any size would be greatly appreciated, with roughly £50-£70 funding a basic rebinding and £160-£200 facilitating restoration of a historic binding. For more information see:
The work comprises two volumes bound together, with Volume I published in Calcutta by A.G. Balfour in 1824 and Volume II published from the Government Gazette Press by G.H. Huttmann in Calcutta in 1826. However, it is noted that both works were ‘originally compiled by W. Blunt Esq. (formerly superintendent of police) to the year 1818; and continued by H. Shakespear, Esq (superintendent of police in the lower provinces).’
The Library’s accession registers record that the volume arrived into the Library’s collections in March 1925 after being transferred from the India Office in the House of Lords Library. The work is relatively rare with only three other copies in the UK, held at the British Library and SOAS respectively.
The volumes document regulations and administration in British colonial India. As the abstract notes, the work comprises ‘the Regulations enacted for the Administration of the Police and Criminal Justice, in the Provinces of Bengal, Behar and Orissa, from the Year 1793 to the end of 1823’. Consequently, the work serves as an invaluable resource in documenting not only colonial administration and the implementation of vehicles of power, but also the social history of life in these provinces. For example, the work records the names of witnesses at trials and a regulation of 1823 to prevent the ‘Establishment of Printing Presses without License; and for restraining under certain circumstances the circulation of Printed Books and Papers.’ Similarly, the work illuminates the economic history of the regions during this period, with many regulations concerning revenue collection, trade provisions and ‘what gold coin is to be considered a legal tender of payment.’
The IHR’s copy holds additional interest however, due to the signature in the top right-hand corner on the frontispieces of both volumes I and II. The signature appears to be that of Thomas Fisher, an artist and antiquary who worked in India House. As the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography records, ‘at the age of fourteen Fisher was given employment by the East India Company at East India House, Leadenhall Street, in the City of London. In 1789 he was appointed as an extra clerk, and in 1816 he was placed on the establishment in the newly created post of searcher of the records in the examiner’s department.’
In the 1820s and 30s, Fisher wrote extensively for the Gentleman’s Magazine, penning several memoirs of Anglo-Indians and missionaries. In addition, Fisher was a supporter of the campaign to abolish slavery in the British colonies and in 1825 he published ‘The Negro’s Memorial‘, or, ‘Abolitionist’s Catechism‘ a copy of which is held in Senate House Library’s Special Collections. It is likely therefore that the IHR’s copy of ‘An Abstract of Regulations…’ was of interest to Fisher for the regulations on slavery in colonial India documented within the two volumes. The work contains a regulation from 1811 entitled ‘Preventing the Importation and Sale of Slaves from Foreign parts’ which records that ‘the importation of slaves by land or by sea prohibited. Offenders liable to be criminally prosecuted.’ It is further documented that ‘Captains of Ships or Vessels (except the Company’s) importing at Calcutta, shall previously to landing their Cargo, execute a penalty Bond for Rs. 5000, not to sell slaves.’ (Vol. I, p 127, 1811 Regulation X)
Fisher died in London in April 1836 with his collection of drawings, prints, and books sold at auction at Southgates in 1836 and by Evans in May 1837 and dispersed.
This post has kindly been written for us by Dr Alice Dolan, Economic History Society Anniversary Fellow.
My postdoctoral project comes directly out of my PhD thesis which was a social history of linen during the long 18th century. Linen was used by rich and poor for underwear and on beds and tables. Its ubiquity across all ranks of society makes it ideally suited to an analysis of how relationships with textiles varied over the life cycle. ‘The Fabric of Life: Linen and Life Cycle in England 1678-1810’ therefore considered experiences across the life cycle, exploring infant clothing, child labour and the temporality of domestic work within a Lancashire household. Adult daily life was uncovered through the themes of respectability, the commercial significance of linen and the relationship between bodily intimacy and the creation of emotional meaning. Finally the thesis finished by exploring burial practice with burial in wool rather than linen, which was forced by the 1678 Act for Burying in Woollen for economic reasons.
The thesis showed that linen was only dominated by cotton for plain textiles in the 19th century. Linen’s superior durability and cheaper price, alongside its essential roles in everyday life, meant that it continued to be used during the long 18th century. It took decades for cotton prices to fall far enough to change established material culture traditions. However by the 1830s, the British and Irish linen industries were in rapid decline. They were victims of low cotton prices, lengthier fibre preparation processes and a slower rate of technological innovation.
My postdoctoral project follows up where my thesis left off by investigating how mechanisation and falling cotton prices transformed working-class dress in the first half of the 19th century. Engels recorded a dramatic change in what people wore.
Wool and linen have almost vanished from the wardrobe of both sexes, and cotton has taken their place … [The working class] is scarcely ever in a condition to use a thread of woollen clothing; and the heavy cotton goods, though thicker, stiffer, and heavier than woollen clothes, afford much less protection against cold and wet, [and] remain damp much longer because of their thickness and the nature of the stuff.
Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England, (1844)
This bleak summary of the clothing privations of the working class centres on material changes. Engels bemoans the disappearance of wool from labouring wardrobes, replaced by stiff, absorbent cotton, an inferior insulator. Centuries of reliance on linens and woollens were over.
I will explore these dramatic and rapid material changes over this academic year. In 1800 working-class people wore linen underwear, men wore woollen outer clothing, and women wore cotton, linen and woollen dresses. By 1850 the cotton, linen and woollen trades were fully mechanised in England. Hand-spinning had largely died out which prevented industrious families from producing their own textiles to reduce costs. By 1844, according to Engels, their choices were basically limited to one textile – cotton.
The effect of manufacturing changes on working-class clothing has been little studied, yet it is another facet of the Industrial Revolution’s effect on daily life and the global rise of cotton. This project directly traces the impact of these changes on what people wore. It focuses primarily on members of the working class able to choose their clothing, rather than the poor forced to wear uniforms by institutions.
I will complete two garment studies this year: underwear and trousers. My research into underwear asks when did the majority of working-class people begin to wear cotton not linen underwear (shirts and shifts/chemises)? Was the price of cotton fibre grown in America more important, or the full mechanisation of production in the 1830s?
I will also examine the rise of trousers. Before 1800 only sailors wore trousers, while everyone else wore breeches. In the early 19th century trousers spread across the working class and they were then adopted by the middle and upper classes. Old Bailey crime records testify to a growth in their popularity: trousers appeared in 161 cases in the 1800s and 2018 in the 1840s. This case study will look at the materials used for trousers by the working class and whether they changed over the period. Was cotton exclusively used as Engels suggests? I will also examine how quickly the trouser fashion spread, whether men in some areas were more resistant than others.
My sources will include Quarter Sessions records from Yorkshire and a (still to be chosen) southern English county, surviving objects, images, autobiographies, adverts, shopkeepers’ inventories, merchants’ records and novels.
The evidence given at the Quarter Sessions provides insight into working-class clothing choices, textiles and colours as the following example from the West Riding Quarter Sessions shows. In early September 1826, Enoch Ant and John Wilson allegedly stole unfinished wool cloth from a manufacturer. Both were chimney sweeps. Wilson’s wife stated that John and Enoch made a pair of trousers out of the contentious cloth, an unusual example of domestic male production. However their endeavour was not successful, the trousers did not ‘fit him well between the Legs’ so Charlotte Wilson altered them to fit ‘better’.
The case was taken to Court because John unlike Enoch took his stolen kersey to a tailor who was suspicious because it was ‘unfinished’ or ‘raw’ and got a hawker to ask around for missing cloth. This means the final finish had not been applied to the textile. Kerseys were cheap woollen cloths. They were woven and then the surface was felted. The unfinished kersey lacked its fuzzy surface. Kersey protected its wearers against the elements and it was cheap, therefore it was popular with the lower classes. The stolen kersey was drab, meaning that it was undyed and was a grey-beige colour.
Clearly all chimney sweeps were not clad in stolen textiles. However, this case gives an example of what was considered appropriate and even desirable cloth for these two chimney sweeps. And it was even worn by one, if only for a few days before discovery. Examples like this will help to build up a picture of the clothing and colours worn by working-class people in 19th-century England. Furthermore, because a specific textile name is given, we are able to get an idea of what the outfit might have looked like, even if we don’t know the exact cut of Enoch’s trousers. The case also inspires questions – did John and Enoch have trousers because they were more practical garments for chimney sweeps? – Did certain professions adopt trousers earlier than others for practical reasons?
In summary, my postdoc examines the first half of the 19th century, a period with an unprecedented rate of change in working-class clothing. To uncover the role of mechanisation and declining fibre prices I will look at changes in fibres used for underwear. Research into trousers will also consider issues of materiality, as well as uncovering how quickly this new fashion spread amongst the working class.
Florence Montgomery, Textiles in America 1650-1870 (London, 2007)
Vivian Richmond, Clothing the Poor in Nineteenth-Century England (New York, 2013)
John Styles, The Dress of the People (London, 2007)
 Advanced search ‘trowser* trouser*’ on 03/03/2015.
We start today with Alastair Bellany and Thomas Cogswell’s The Murder of King James I. David Coast and the authors discuss a book which adds much to our understanding of early Stuart politics (no. 1963, with response here).
Next up is a review article by Helen Roche of Mussolini’s Greek Island: Fascism and the Italian Occupation of Syros in World War II by Sheila Lecoeur and History, Time, and Economic Crisis in Central Greece by Daniel M. Knight, two books which leave our understanding of current Greek attitudes to the past inestimably the richer (no. 1962).
Then we turn to Routiers et mercenaires pendant la guerre de Cent ans, edited by Guilhem Pépin, Françoise Lainé and Frédéric Boutoulle. Christopher Allmand recommends a valuable contribution to our understanding of the weaknesses of the French crown in this period (no. 1961).
Finally we have Andrew May’s Welsh Missionaries and British Imperialism: The Empire of Clouds in North-east India, and Andrew Avery believes this work deepens our understanding of British colonial experience in 19th-century northeast India (no. 1960).
We start this week with Julie Gottlieb’s ‘Guilty Women’, Foreign Policy, and Appeasement in Inter-War Britain, as Daniel Hucker and the author broadly agree over the first gendered history of British foreign policy in the age of appeasement (no. 1959, with response here).
Next up is Arabic-Islamic Views of the Latin West: Tracing the Emergence of Medieval Europe by Daniel G. König. Harry Munt and the author debate a key resource for future scholars interested in medieval Muslims’ views of their non-Muslim neighbours (no. 1958, with response here).
Then we turn to Shirleene Robinson and Simon Sleight’s edited collection Children, Childhood and Youth in the British World. Rosie Kennedy and the editors discuss a collection which enhances our knowledge and understanding of the histories of childhood and youth (no. 1957, with response here).
Finally we have Exploring Russia in the Elizabethan commonwealth: The Muscovy Company and Giles Fletcher, the elder by Felicity Stout. Tatyana Zhukova recommends a book which will appeal to students and researchers of Elizabethan political culture (no. 1956).
This post originally appeared on the School of Advanced Study website.
Historian and digital publishing specialist Dr Philip Carter is set to join the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) as its new head of digital publications. He will take up his post at the institute, a member of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study (SAS), in mid-October.
Dr Carter, who replaces Professor Jane Winters, now the School’s chair in digital humanities, is currently senior research and publication editor at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB), and a member of the history faculty at Oxford University. At 70 million words, the ODNB is the world’s largest collaborative research project in the humanities, and records the lives of 60,000 notable figures in British history.
Since 2004 he has been responsible for the Dictionary’s pre-1800 content and for developing and extending its online edition in a changing digital environment. More recently, he has promoted the ODNB online as a resource for first-time research in the humanities, and has managed a series of digital partnerships with external academic programmes and heritage organisations. His recent publications consider the opportunities for, and future of, large-scale online reference works.
Professor Lawrence Goldman, director of the IHR, is delighted to welcome Dr Carter as a colleague at the IHR. ‘I know him to be a brilliant historian of modern and early modern Britain, with extensive experience of historical research at the highest level,’ said Professor Goldman. ‘His wide academic range and interests, the network of professional contacts he has amassed, and his long experience of both print and online publication, make him the ideal person to lead the IHR Digital Publications Department.’
Dr Carter will be responsible for the existing IHR Digital resources such as British History Online and the Bibliography of British and Irish History, both of which are used extensively by historians and members of the public. He will also develop new digital historical projects, some of them located in the Institute of Historical Research, others in collaboration with other SAS institutes, and some with external partners in the university and heritage sectors.
Educated at Magdalen College, Oxford – where he gained a first class degree in history and studied for his doctorate – Dr Carter specialises in 18th-century British social history. His book, Men and the Emergence of Polite Society, Britain 1660-1800, was an innovative study of social relations in this period, and he has since published on aspects of 18th-century Britain and historical biography. His contributions to the Oxford DNB include more than 150 biographies of people active between the 17th and 20th century. As publication editor he also has considerable experience of organising academic events, the use of scholarly information in social media, and promoting of historical content to non-specialist audiences.
‘I’m very pleased to be joining the Institute of Historical Research and the excellent team at IHR Digital. The IHR enjoys a national and international reputation for quality and innovation, and IHR Digital has been central to this for more than 20 years’, said Dr Carter.
‘I look forward to continuing to provide, and extend, the key IHR resources on which historians and students depend, and to working with staff at the Institute to develop new ways of exploring the past. I’m particularly keen to widen participation in, and discussion of, digital history as an exciting discipline. I also look forward to working with Jane Winters, who’s done so much to make IHR Digital a success, and with other researchers across the School of Advanced Study.