Early Atlases of Britain: 1742-1818

A recent display outside the Information and Research department on the 2nd Floor of Central Library showcased some of the most interesting maps and atlases from our collections. Most dated from 1742 to 1818; these books are a valuable and fascinating part of our stock, which can be viewed on a reference basis. To consult the books please contact the department on 0113 37 87018 or via informationandresearch@leeds.gov.uk.

  • Chorographia Britannia; or a Set of Maps of all the Counties in  England and Wales [….] by Thomas Badeslade, surveyor. Printed in 1742 it was dedicated to his Royal Highness Frederick, the (then) Prince of Wales. Shelf mark: SR 912.42 BAD

  • Britannia Depicta; or Ogilby Improve’d [….]. This is a survey of all the direct and principal crossroads in England & Wales at that time. It was engraved by Eman Bowen in 1753. Shelf mark: SR 912.42 OGI

  • A Collection of Plans of the Principal Cities of the Great Britain and Ireland; [….]. The maps were drawn from ‘the most accurate surveys in particular, those taken by the late Mr Rocque, topographer to His Majesty. The monarch at the time would have been King George III. The maps were printed and sold by A Drury in 1764. Shelf mark: SR 912.42 DUR

  • Kitchen’s Post-chaise Companion through England and Wales; […..]. This Atlas claimed tocontain all the ancient and new additional roads, with every topographical detail relating thereto’. It was printed by Thomas Kitchin in 1767. A ‘post-chaise’ was a horse–drawn carriage used for transporting passengers or mail.
    Shelf mark: SR 912 ENG

  • Ellis’s English Atlas; or a Complete Chorography of England and Wales in Fifty Maps; […..]. Engraved by and under the direction of J. Ellis, it was printed for Robert Sayer in 1768.
    Shelf mark: SR 912.42 ELL

  • The British Atlas; Comprising a Complete set of County Maps of England and Wales […..]. All but two of the maps and plans were drawn by G. Cole and engraved by J. Roper under the directions of E. W. Brayley. The atlas was printed in 1810.
    Shelf mark: SR 912.42 B777

The atlases for this display revealed only a very small section of the huge collection of maps and atlases held at the Central Library. Previous articles are available, along with a research guide detailing the maps held at the Local and Family History department.

Dances, Death Rites and Dedications: The Art of Dying

  • by Adam Barham, Art Library, Leeds Central Library

Throughout history, death has inspired artists to create stirring and thought-provoking work. As death affects us all and invokes a whole range of emotions, there are myriad examples of death-inspired art. These include explorations of the nature of death, depictions of deaths and funerals, as well as dedications and monuments for the dead. Artwork of this kind provides an illuminating insight into different attitudes towards our mortality. It also provides a useful starting point for conversations about dying, death and bereavement. To mark the upcoming Dying Matters Awareness Week (8-14 May 2017) we have delved into our Art Library archives in order to showcase some death-related art books.

Plate XLII from ‘The Dances of Death…’ – The Old Man

Plate XLII from ‘The Dances of Death…’ – The Old Man

Our first item is the wonderfully titled ‘The Dances of death, through the various stages of human life: wherein the capriciousness of that tyrant is exhibited: in forty-six copper-plates’. A Dance of Death, also known as a Danse Macabre, is a representation of a dance in which people are summoned to die by spectral personifications of Death. In each scene, Death enters to claim his victim and we see the nature of their death. Some deaths seem calm and dignified, others less so. Several versions of the Dance of Death have been produced. This particular version, published in 1803, includes etchings produced by an eighteenth-century printmaker called David Deuchar. The etchings are based on woodcuts produced by the sixteenth-century German artist Hans Holbein, although Deuchar made some alterations to Holbein’s work.

Plate XXIX from ‘The Dances of Death…’ – The Judge

Plate XXIX from ‘The Dances of Death…’ – The Judge

Most versions of the Dance of Death show the dying moments of people from all walks of life, ranging from the most powerful to the most unfortunate. The intention is to remind us that death is the great leveller: everyone will die, regardless of their station in life. Our 1803 version follows this tradition, showing the deaths of kings, emperors, clergyman, farmers and beggars. This version also incorporates criticisms of those at the top of the social scale. In the depiction of a judge’s death, for instance, the judge appears to spend his final moments taking a bribe (see above). Criticisms are also levelled at those with dubious morals. The illustration of a gambler’s death, for instance, suggests that the gambler’s lifestyle has caused him to be claimed by the Devil as well as Death (see below).

Plate XL from ‘The Dances of Death…’ – The Gamesters

Plate XL from ‘The Dances of Death…’ – The Gamesters

Our second item comes from the world of painting. ‘A Young Person’s Guide to the Gallery’ explores a variety of paintings held by our close neighbours, Leeds Art Gallery. One particularly relevant painting is Frank Knoll’s ‘The Village Funeral’ (below). Knoll’s painting shows a grieving Victorian family about to bury their mother in a country graveyard. The family includes young children, who have obviously lost their mother far too early. According to the guide, Knoll chose this subject to highlight the hardships of country life to his rich city-dwelling patrons.

Frank Knoll’s ‘The Village Funeral’, pictured in ‘A Young Person’s Guide to the Gallery’

Frank Knoll’s ‘The Village Funeral’, pictured in ‘A Young Person’s Guide to the Gallery’

Our next item represents funerary art. Practised in most cultures of the world, funerary art includes any creative work produced in connection to repositories for the dead, such as graves or sepulchres. It can also include memorials and dedications to the dead. Some striking examples of funerary art can be found in ‘The Oxford Portfolio of Monumental Brasses’, published 1898-1901. Monumental brasses are brass sheets engraved with depictions or dedications to the dead; they are often found covering tombs in churches. ‘The Oxford Portfolio…’ contains rubbings of these brass engravings, all beautifully presented on large folio-size sheets.

Brass rubbing from ‘The Oxford Portfolio of Monumental Brasses’

Brass rubbing from ‘The Oxford Portfolio of Monumental Brasses’

Brass rubbing from ‘The Oxford Portfolio of Monumental Brasses’

Brass rubbing from ‘The Oxford Portfolio of Monumental Brasses’

We stay with funerary art for our last item. ‘Ancient Sepulchral Monuments’ contains over 600 illustrations of stone tomb monuments from various centuries, including obelisks, headstones and incised slabs (stone slabs with designs engraved into their surface). The illustrations are rendered in a delightfully painstaking fashion; besides their value as an archaeological record, they are quite stunning to look at in their own right.

Illustration from ‘Ancient Sepulchral Monuments’

Illustration from ‘Ancient Sepulchral Monuments’

Illustration from ‘Ancient Sepulchral Monuments’

Illustration from ‘Ancient Sepulchral Monuments’

Further examples of death-inspired artwork will be on display in the Art Library throughout May 2017. The display will feature books and images relating to artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Egon Schiele, Frida Kahlo, Lady Butler and John Everett Millais.

Celebrating England’s World Cup Win: Leeds Style

by Antony Ramm, Local and Family History, Central Library

As almost everyone surely knows by now, fifty years ago this week – on the 30th of July, 1966, to be exact – the England team beat West Germany 4-2 to win the football World Cup for the first time. And, while most are familiar with the famous image of Bobby Moore – the victorious team captain – being held aloft by his team-mates, here at the Secret Library we wondered how the event was marked by the people of Leeds.

To do so, we delved into our extensive newspaper archive and searched the Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP) for the days immediately after Saturday’s victory. This is what we found:

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Interestingly, then, it seems that England’s victorious performance did not make as large an impression – in Leeds, at least – at the time as it seems to do in retrospect. Most Leeds people seem to have spent the weekend of the Final holidaying rather than watching football! Elsewhere in the YEP that day, however, we find an article ‘summing-up’ the tournament from the point-of-view of ordinary people, including some from the wider West Riding area:

that was the cup that was

And that was it, for Leeds, for celebrations over the Final weekend. But a search of our photograph archive – www.leodis.net – helped us to find mention of a commemorative event on the 3rd of August for the three England team members – players Jack Charlton and Norman Hunter; and trainer Les Cocker – connected to the city’s own successful football team – Leeds United:

3rd August 1966. Leeds United's participants in England's triumphant World Cup winning squad are welcomed at a reception at the Civic Hall by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Alderman Joshua S. Walsh. From the left is Norman Hunter, then the Lady Mayoress, Jack Charlton in the centre, the Lord Mayor and finally trainer Les Cocker. See the image on Leodis here

3rd August 1966. Leeds United’s participants in England’s triumphant World Cup winning squad are welcomed at a reception at the Civic Hall by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Alderman Joshua S. Walsh. From the left is Norman Hunter, then the Lady Mayoress, Jack Charlton in the centre, the Lord Mayor and finally trainer Les Cocker. See, or make a purchase of this image, on Leodis here

An article from the YEP on that same date revealed the surprising truth behind this joyous image: the World Cup Final was the very first football match Lord Mayor Walsh had ever seen!

my first match

In fact, it seems the Lord Mayor was rather busy that day – he also found time to entertain a group of visiting Danish Scouts:

scouts

And then, Lord Mayor Walsh also found time to grant a reception to a visiting group of Dortmund school children; several of whom were delighted to hear that they would be seeing England and Leeds United’s very own Jack Charlton when they visited Elland Road that coming weekend:

jackie german fans

 

Jack Charlton shared his own memories of the 1966 World Cup in his autobiography, which formed part of a recent set of new Leeds United-related stock arrivals in our Local and Family History library. We shall be displaying a selection from this collection in that department – which includes books, donations, ephemera, autograph books, photographs, fanzines and match programmes – to coincide with the start of the 2016/2017 season. Check this blog in the week commencing August 8th to find out more.

Panic on the Streets of Birmingham: July, 1791

by Antony Ramm, Local and Family History, Central Library

On the 14th of July, 1791, a group of eminent Birmingham men – including philosophers, scientists, and newly-rich industrialists – met for dinner at the Hotel on Temple Row. This in itself would not normally be cause for comment; but what sets this meal aside from similar gatherings of urban elites was that the end of the meeting would be the beginning of three days of violent rioting.

Ticket for the dinner at the Hotel celebrating the second anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1791 that led to the Priestley Riots. From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Hotel,_Birmingham (Public Domain)

Ticket for the dinner at the Hotel celebrating the second anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1791. From: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Hotel,_Birmingham (Public Domain)

The causes of this outbreak were many, but the primary focus for the crowd gathered outside the Hotel that night was the singular fact that the dinner in question was an open celebration of the French Revolution, which had broken out exactly two years previous, by a group of men – many members of the ‘Lunar Society‘ – known for their liberal views on matters political, social, scientific and theological. To compound what could have already been interpreted as an implicit act of treason, was the fact that a handbill had been privately circulating in the city for days prior to the 14th; and that the contents of that bill made clear that the attendees at the Hotel dinner were in the active cause of bringing to an end the “Tyrants” and “legal oppressors” of a “venal” Parliament, Clergy and “reigning Family”.

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It was no matter that the bill’s authors were never traced and that it was almost certainly the act of an agent provocateur; the very fact of its existence served to rally a crowd against those present that night. Around 8pm, the crowd became increasingly restless, unaware the diners had in fact departed two hours earlier. Spurred on by another group of eminent local dignitaries – including a criminal magistrate, two attorneys, a vicar, a manufacturer and two justices – the crowd began to turn their attention to the Meeting Houses of the town’s religious Dissenters, that group of English Christians that had broken away from the Church of England – and who were consequently seen as something of a stalking horse for more insidious forms of revolution.

Priestley_Riots_painting

Johann Eckstein, Rioters at Birmingham, 14th July 1791

What followed was one of the most shocking episodes in late 18th-century Britain, during which “the rioters attacked or burned four Dissenting chapels, twenty-seven houses, and several businesses” over a period of three nights and four days. It was only the arrival of the military that saw the violence reach its final shattering conclusion; a “sustained assault” by around 30 hard-core rioters on the home of William Withering, a sometime associate of the Lunar Society.

1778 map of Birmingham, showing Temple Row, site of the Royal Hotel (roughly central, just below St. Phillip's Church). This map is copyright-free, but was found on the wonderful Eighteenth-Century Birmingham website: http://mappingbirmingham.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/leverton-halls.html

1778 map of Birmingham, showing Temple Row, site of the Royal Hotel (roughly central, just below St. Phillip’s Church). This map is copyright-free, but was found on the wonderful Eighteenth-Century Birmingham website:

All of which is to be regretted. But readers of this blog would be forgiven for asking why any of this matters to Leeds. The answer lay in the identity of a figure central to the aforementioned Lunar Society, a man whose house was one of those destroyed in the rioting, and a man who was not-coincidentally Minister at one of those four wrecked Dissenting chapels: Joseph Priestley.

1972. Statue of Joseph Priestley in City Square. Dr Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) was born in Birstall, attended Batley Grammar School and was minister of Mill Hill Chapel from 1763 to 1773. He discovered several gases including oxygen. Statue by Albert Drury. Taken from Leodis, our photographic archive.

1972. Statue of Joseph Priestley in City Square. Dr Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) was born in Birstall, attended Batley Grammar School and was minister of Mill Hill Chapel from 1763 to 1773. He discovered several gases including oxygen. Statue by Albert Drury. Taken from Leodis, our photographic archive.

Priestley – born in Birstall and formerly Minister at Mill Hill Chapel in Leeds – is a difficult figure to sum-up in a few sentences. By turns a theologian, natural philosopher, chemist, educator and theorist of political liberalism, Priestley was very much a man of his late eighteenth-century times; and yet also, in his scientific work – particularly his isolation of oxygen, his development of soda water and his writings on electricity – a man for all time.

It was that mixture of dissenting theology, rational scientific enquiry and liberal politics that made Priestley the focus of the volatile crowd being directed by the reactionary hands of Birmingham elites on the evening of the 14th. No matter that Priestley was not even present at the Hotel dinner: his (in)famous celebration of progressive principles in 1785, just a few years prior to the outbreak of the French Revolution itself, made him the central target of those intent on defending “Church-and-King”:

We are, as it were, laying gunpowder, grain by grain, under the old building of error and superstition, which a single spark may hereafter inflame, so as to produce an instantaneous explosion; in consequence of which that edifice, the erection of which has been the work of ages, may be overturned in a moment, and so effectually as that the same foundation can never be built upon again…” – Joseph Priestley, The Importance and Extent of Free Enquiry (1785)

So it was that his home and his Chapel were both burnt to the ground, the former resulting in the loss of Priestley’s priceless library and scientific manuscripts. You can read how the Leeds press reported these events through these extracts from the Leeds Intelligencer, part of our extensive newspaper archive:

Priestley newspaper 1

Priestley newspaper 2

Note in particular how this Intelligencer editorial turns the blame onto Priestley himself, using his ‘gunpowder’ metaphor from 1785 against him and acquitting the mob of responsibility on the grounds that Priestley has antagonised those who were otherwise “contented and happy”

Priestley was forced into hiding until he could leave Birmingham for Middlesex, but three further years of abuse forced him to move his family to Pennsylvania. He never returned to Britain, this “patron, and saint, and sage,” driven from his homeland “By dark lies maddening the blind multitude/Drove with vain hate” (Samuel Coleridge, “Religious Musings,” 1796. Click here for a full list of our Coleridge holdings).

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It was during his time in Middlesex that Priestley wrote his response to the riots: An Appeal to the Public on the Subject of the Riots in Birmingham (1791). In this work, a first edition of which is held at the Central Library, Priestley asserts that it “not the commemoration of the French Revolution” which caused the “late riots” and that it was, in actual fact, “religious bigotry, and the animosity of the high church party against the Dissenters, and especially against the Presbyterians and Unitarians” which was to blame. The Appeal is also significant for containing a letter Priestley received from his former Mill Hill Chapel congregation, expressing their concern for his well-being and asserting their continued respect for his beliefs:

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Priestley received other letters from others concerned as to his welfare. One such letter was from the New College in Hackney, where Priestley was to later lecture and preach. We are pleased to report that a manuscript copy of this letter, along with Priestley’s reply, can be found in our Collections, pasted into a further volume – also in manuscript form – a Priestley sermon from 1771, entitled “Ye Are The Light of the World“.

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We believe the sermon was written by Priestley himself, though have less certainty with the letters, in that the end of the New College part and the start of Priestley’s reply are written on opposing pages of one single piece of paper, implying that they were written at the same time:

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Similarities in handwriting style across the two letters can also be discerned. It may be that Priestley himself, or some other person unknown, copied our version of the letters from a now-lost original, before inserting them into the sermon manuscript. We would be interested to hear from any Priestley experts who might be able to tell us more about these fascinating materials.

Regardless of those questions, these are valuable primary source documents that bring the observer close to History – and specifically a tumultuous History not entirely dissimilar to our own times. To get that sense of communing with the ghosts of the past, or to see additional materials by or about Joseph Priestley, please visit our Information and Research or Local and Family History departments.

The Chimney Corner: Secret Books From The Secret Library #1

  • by Antony Ramm, Local and Family History, Central Library

In a new series, we’ll be taking an occasional look at individual items from our Collections. The title, if not the exact intention, of this series – The Chimney Cornerhas been taken from a charming volume published by this Library Service in the 1920s and 30s: “a little publication to tell you and your parents and teachers something of the books and activities conducted by the Public Libraries of the City for the benefit of boys and girls.” You can find copies in our Local and Family History department. 

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The Book of Sports for Boys and Girls; Containing Games, Recreations and Amusements, for the Play Room and Play Ground at Home or At School was written by William Martin – author of “Fireside Philosophy” and “The Parlour Book”, among other titles. Our copy was published in 1853 and is presumably a first-edition, as no information about reprints can be found. In fact, little information about the book or the author can be found – all that we have are the book’s contents.

Those contents are by turns charming, amusing and intriguing in equal measure. Split into a variety of sections – including “Games with Marbles”, “Games for Cold Weather”, “Dangerous Games”, “Gymnastics”, “Gardening”, “Carpentering”, “Short Plays, Games and Recreations” – the book is notable for its, on the whole, gendered separation of outdoor “sports” for boys and indoor “amusements” for girls. The book is clearly a product of its times in that sense, feeding into Victorian notions of masculinity and femininity, as well as a Whiggish insistence on the value of “liberty” to British identity:

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Martin is also keen to position his interest in “Curious Tricks” as distinct from “conjuring”; which presumably has connotations incompatible with a Victorian belief in rationality as the grounding for a “healthy” society.

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Bee-keeping, on the other hand, is an activity fit for training young minds:

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It’s hard not to read any of this without concluding that Martin’s insistence on liberty, virile health and rational industry is in some way related to the British imperial project of the 19th-century. That may well be the case, and we may now look at a text like this from a position of implicit superiority. But does any of that get us any closer to successfully answering the 100 Conundrums at the book’s end? I suspect not!

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Why not give them a try for yourself? (sadly the pages containing Conundrums 53 through 81 are now lost). To find the answers…visit our Information and Research department and ask to see William Martin’s Book of Sports for Boys and Girls.