Jane Lane and Charles II

Jane Lane and Charles II

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Meanwhile, back in London...

I WILL get caught up on the "Thelma and Louise Tour England" portion of my trip, but meanwhile, I'll chronicle my last couple of days. Yesterday I went to the British Library and secured a reader card, which allows me into the various specialized reading rooms (there is no general library). They don't give them out just for the asking, apparently - you have to convince them you have a reason to be there! So I was glad to get that settled and begin my digging.

I'd done a little looking through the catalogue in advance and found a few things I knew I wanted to see, but also had general areas of inquiry for which I didn't quite know how to begin or what I'd find. Among these - I had learned that the library had Charles II's copy of the Second Folio of Shakespeare's plays. Access to it is restricted, so I filled out the paperwork to ask to see it. Meanwhile, what I could get access to was an archival facsimile of Charles I's copy of the Second Folio, which is held in the Windsor Castle Library. I got that today -- he made a few notes but nothing astonishing. Still, interesting to see the version of the plays that the young Charles II would have seen -- and which Jane Lane's father might well have owned.

Had a look at a 1912 book called "The Royal Miracle" (the contemporary description of Charles's complete adventure) which included various contemporary accounts and other useful miscellany, including an almanac of the phases of the moon in September and October, 1651!

Also found the book that the Salt Library had recommended to me - Lane of Bently Hall by Henry Murray Lane, published in 1898. Quite interesting information about the history of Jane's family, who had been in Staffordshire for more than 700 years as of 1898, and had apparently come to England with William the Conqueror. They were quite well-connected -- had had a coat of arms since Lancastrian times, and I was suprised to learn that one of Jane's maternal great-great-grandmothers was the aunt of the Countess of Oxford (her brother's daughter married the Earl, that is) and one of Jane's paternal great-grandmothers was the sister of William, Lord Burleigh!

Another area of my research was to find out where and when Jane might have had the opportunity to see a Shakespeare play before the theatres were closed, so I followed some trails involving the King's Men, The Prince's Men, their repertories and provincial touring, closures of the London theatres due to plague, and itineraries of various royal progresses, working my way through G.E. Bentley's The Jacobite and Caroline Stage (in five volumes), Edmund Chambers's The Elizabethan Stage (two volumes), and the Calendar of State Papers for various years in the reign of Charles I.

Reading through the minutiae of petitions, grievances, naval promotions, political skirmishes, complaints by the Bristol soapmakers that the London soapmakers are stepping on their territory, etc., certainly brings home what a lot of people there have been doing quite a lot of things that were important to them since the world began, even if we've never heard of them. It's like someone ploughing through the White House emails of 2009 a few hundred years from now.

Meanwhile, today, Alice gave me a huge amount of help in my research by making some calls and emails looking into the issue of riding pillion -- the sidesaddle behind a rider astride fashion in which Jane travelled with Charles. During our jaunt she referred to herself as the Watson to my Holmes, and like Holmes, I've been lucky to have an intelligent and dogged sidekick for the past week or so!

Last night I had an enjoyable break from all hard work! - met up with some of my old gang -- Alice, Alison, Tim, Clare, Alex -- for the pub quiz at the Lord Nelson Pub on the Isle of Dogs, across the street from where I lived while here in 2005-2006. Actually, this circle of friends (including others who were absent last night) developed around our participation in the Nelson's pub quiz, in the golden days of yore, when Spencer and John ran the quiz, then weekly, and we won quite frequently, using our prize (the 1 pound collected from each player) to pay for our food and drinks the next week. Unfortunately, last night Donna, our ace in the hole of obscure knowledge, was at her Gunmaker's Dinner, and without her we were not at our best.

And finally - the burning question I'm sure you all want to know - what are the girls in London wearing now? Black opaque tights, mostly. With long skirts, short skirts, shorts (!), boots of many lengths and heel heights. Add a jacket, a big scarf, a really big bag, and a cell phone, and you're there!

No comments:

Post a Comment