Wednesday 28 July 2010

A flying visit

The RAF dropped in on us at lunchtime today, but not to return their library books - Chetham's Library is reference only. They landed their beautiful and very noisy helicopter on the school tennis court for no apparent reason other than to see if it could be done - and threw up enough grit and dust to treat the little crowd of onlookers to a free facial dermo-abrasion into the bargain. After having a chat with the crew and even being allowed to climb up and sit in the front seat, we were pleased to show the pilot and his friends round the Library and the ancient school buildings before we waved them goodbye again.

You can see a short film of the helicopter taking off again on YouTube

Friday 9 July 2010

Health beckons from every pie

Being, as it is, very much the home of the pie, Chetham's Library seems the perfect resting place for this delightful little pamphlet from the 1920s advertising the benefits and delights of Wilks Pies from Bolton.

A recent acquisition, the sixteen delicately illustrated pages make a strong case for pie-eating at virtually every meal of the day, due to their fine flavour, purity and health-giving qualities.

A light supper after the theatre? Wilks Pies provide the perfect solution:

Or perhaps guests have popped round unexpectedly? No problem if your larder is well stocked with pies:

Eating between meals is sometimes frowned upon nowadays, but when the nutritious snack in question is a Wilks Pie, surely an exception can be made?

But perhaps our favourite are these 'one dish' pies. The only question being, of course, whether to go to all the bother of adding a salad...

Monday 5 July 2010

Rude Britannia

The Tate Gallery's current exhibition on British comic art, Rude Britannia, has prompted Library staff to look out some of their own favourite rude images. Chetham's Library holds works by many of the artists featured in the Tate exhibition, several of them quite possibly even ruder than those on show in London.

The exhibition looks at British comic art from the seventeenth century to the present day in the forms of allegory, caricature, social satire, political lampoon and the grotesque, and we present here a selection of examples of the genre from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries from the Chetham's collection.

Intemperance and Ridicule from Human Passions Delineated (1773) by the Lancashire dialect poet John Collier under the pseudonym of Tim Bobbin.

William Hogarth (1697-1764): The Punishment Inflicted on Lemuel Gulliver, etching and engraving on paper, 1726

George Cruikshank (1792-1878): Caricature of George IV, handcoloured print.

Friday 2 July 2010

Strawberry Hill forever...

Click on the image for an enlarged view

The recent exhibition at the V&A, Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill, reminds us that one of the Library's most important manuscripts is concerned with the building of Walpole's magnificent house in Twickenham, Surrey. The modest 17th-century house was transformed by Horace Walpole (1717–97), youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain's first Prime Minister, into what he called 'a little Gothic Castle'. The house provided an atmospheric setting for Walpole's unique collections and quickly became a popular tourist attraction. It remains Britain's finest example of Georgian Gothic Revival architecture.

The manuscript is a set of accounts, written on twenty pages, contained in a vellum-bound pocket book, measuring 15 x 10 cm. Written in Walpole's hand, the book consists of a continuous record of expenditure on the building and furnishing of the house, and on the layout of the grounds, for nearly fifty years from 1747 to the end of 1795. It covers payments for tradesmen: plasterers, glaziers, bricklayers, joiners and gardeners, as well as expenditure on fittings and furniture. Some items are recorded in detail, such as the Welsh chairs bought at Mr Bateman's, a yellow bed for the beauty room, and a Blue Indian damask for the Beauclerk closet, whilst others are imprecise - pedestals, new walls, painted glass.

The accounts also record expenditure on Walpole's printing house which he built in the grounds in 1757. Over £180 was spent on this, the country's first private press, known as the Officina Arbuteana or Strawberry Hill Press. His first book, an edition of the Odes of Thomas Gray, was brought out in 1757 and a copy of this is also in Chetham's.

Walpole described himself as a woeful mathematician, and his accounts are full of faults and miscalculations. Even simple sums such as the addition of 75 and 50 or the subtraction of 125 from 750 had to be written down. The grand total spent on Strawberry Hill was £21,410, a figure which differs by over a thousand pounds from that recorded in Walpole's accounts.

After Walpole's death, the house passed to his cousin's daughter Anne Daumier, and in 1842 the contents were dispersed in a famous auction that was held over twenty-four days. Now the house is being restored and is expected to open later this year.

The Strawberry Hill accounts were given to Chetham's in 1924 and were published three years later by the Clarendon Press.