Easter – as reported in the Illustrated London News

In a previous blog post, one of our Triborough Reference Librarians, Debby Wale,  looked at how Valentine’s Day had been reported in The Illustrated London News. This time Debby looks at how Easter was reported in the same publication.

From 1842, The Illustrated London News became the world’s first fully illustrated weekly newspaper. It is a fascinating social record, providing a vivid picture of British and world events. We take it for granted now seeing news as it happens, with images beamed across the globe to our living rooms.

Below is the “Festival of Corpus Christi in Madrid.” Illustrated London News 3 April 1847

Festival of Corpus Christi in Madrid, 3 April 1847
Festival of Corpus Christi in Madrid, 3 April 1847

The Paso strictly speaking means the figure of the Saviour during his passion.

“These Pasos” says Mr Ford “are only brought out on grand occasions, principally during the Holy Week. The rest of the year they are stowed away in regular store-houses. The expense is very great, both in the construction and costume of the machinert, and in the number of persons employed in managing and attending the ceremonial. The French invasion. The progress of poverty, and the advance of intellect, have tended to reduce the number of Pasos, which amounted to more than fifty in Seville alone. Every parish has it’s own figure or group, which were paraded in the Holy Week; particular incidents of Our Saviour’s passion were represented by Companies, Brotherhoods, or guilds, and these took their name from the image or mystery which they upheld.”

However great the distress, Mr ford tells us that money is seldom wanting, for these ceremonies gratify many national peculiarities. First the show delights old and young, then it is an excuse for an holiday, for making most days in the week a Sunday, and for an exhibition of dress hallowed with a character of doing a religious duty. The members thus gratifying their personal vanity and love of parade, costume, and titles; and their tinsel, moreover, passes for a meritoroius act.

The name Corpus Christi is Latin for ‘the body of Christ’ and this festival is still enacted to the current time.

The language in The Illustrated London News is very much of it’s time – demonstrated perfectly in the piece below from the issue dated 19 April 1851:

Easter and the Great Exhibition

The Easter holidays will be this year supplied with an additional lion, in the mighty building in Hyde-Park; not, indeed, that the mass of holiday-makers can hope to penetrate the portals, to all but a favoured few as impregnable as the guarded gates of the citadel of Badajoz, or that they will have the wildest chance of even passing a glance into that interior in which the ingenuity and the skill of the world is now rearing the great industrial trophy of the age.

Sounds rather like trying to get a ticket for London 2012.…

The Great Exhibition Building, known as Crystal Palace.

The Great Exhibition Building in Hyde Park, sketched from Kensington Gardens Bridge
The Great Exhibition Building in Hyde Park, sketched from Kensington Gardens Bridge
The Great Exhibition - the last day of receiving goods
The Great Exhibition – the last day of receiving goods
The Great Exhibition Building - cutting down trees in the north transept
The Great Exhibition Building – cutting down trees in the north transept

If you want to find out more about The Great Exhibition and have a Kensington and Chelsea library card, log in to Britannica online and search for Crystal Palace.

The Crystal Palace, designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, was a remarkable construction of prefabricated parts. It consisted of an intricate network of slender iron rods sustaining walls of clear glass. The main body of the building was 1,848 feet (563 metres) long and 408 feet (124 metres) wide; the height of the central transept was 108 feet (33 metres). The construction occupied some 18 acres (7 hectares) on the ground, while its total floor area was about 990,000 square feet (92,000 square metres, or about 23 acres [9 hectares]). On the ground floor and galleries there were more than 8 miles (13 km) of display tables.

‘Crystal Palace’ Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2013

The Great Exhibition Building no longer exists but you can visit another of their Easter suggestions. As described in the April 22 1848 issue:

 There is not a more rational mode of passing an Easter holiday in the metropolis than a visit to this famous prison-palace.

They were referring to the Tower of London….

The Tower of London, 22 April 1848
The Tower of London, 22 April 1848
Debby Wale
Debby Wale

Debby Wale, Triborough Reference Librarian

Chelsea Reference Library

Further information

  • Kensington Central Reference Library has almost the complete holdings of The Illustrated London News in their store.
  • The Encyclopedia Britannica can be accessed via our reference and information web page. You’ll need a Kensington and Chelsea library card to access this.
  • Westminster City Libraries has electronic access to The Illustrated London News via Westminster City Libraries website. You’ll need at Westminster Libraries card to access this.

Leisure and fashion in the Regency period

 

Regency Dress from ‘Jane Austen In Style’ by Susan Watkins

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Triborough Reference Librarian, Debby Wale has found some Austen connections with Chelsea as well as some amazing Regency fashion images.

Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775 at Steventon, Hampshire. Her father was the Rector of Steventon and Deane. At the age of thirty-six she emerged from relatively sequestered existence to becoming a published novelist. In 1801 the family moved to Bath. In 1809 the Austen sisters and their mother settled in Chawton and Jane Austen’s career as a published author began.

In Chelsea Past, Barbara Denny describes Jane Austen’s association with Chelsea as transitory, but letters to her sister Cassandra describes a musical evening. She lived with her brother Henry and his wife at 654 Sloane Street from Spring 1811 for two years. Between 1813 – 1815 she visited him when he moved to 23 Hans Place.

Chelsea by Thea Holme describes from Jane’s letters a party at Sloane Street with 66 guests and musicians arriving in two Hackney coaches.

Regency fashion was governed by a strict social etiquette. For women, there were outfits for every activity. Ladies might change several times a day to suit the hour or the occasion. Magazines such as Belle Assemble (La Belle Assemblée or, Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine Addressed Particularly to the Ladies) had fashion plates which were a guide to suitable attire for every circumstance.

Jane Austen was a prolific letter-writer and these letters give an interesting insight into her life. One activity suitable for a lady was walking. More promenade than serious hiking, there is a reference in one of her letters.

Your lilacs are in leaf, ours are in bloom. The horse-chestnuts are quite out, and the elms almost. I had a pleasant walk in Kensington Gardens on Sunday with Henry, Mr. Smith, and Mr.Tilson; everything was fresh and beautiful.

Jane Austen to Cassandra 25 April, 1811

These pictures from Chelsea Library’s costume collection give an idea of the style Jane or her characters, might have worn, or aspired to wear. They are from the magazine La Belle Assembléwhich Chelsea Library has more or less a complete archive.

Kensington Gardens Fashionable Promenade Dress, July 1811
Kensington Gardens Fashionable Promenade Dress, July 1811

Kensington Garden Fashionable Promenade Dress, July 1811
A round robe of jacconot muslin, with a bodice of violet sarsnet, trimmed with rich silk Brandeburgs of Austrian green, a half pelisse of fine transparent muslin, with Bishop’s sleeves, fancifully tied with green riband. A Hyman hat of purple brocaded ribband and lace, ornamented with a green military plume; a Chinese parasol of purple sarsnet, shot with green; gloves and shoes of York tan.

Walking Dress, 1811
Walking Dress, 1811

Walking Dress,  June 1811
A pelisse of pink sarsnet, lined with white, and ornamented with rich silk Brandenburg trimmings of correspondent pink, or pale brown; a high standing ruff round the throat,; a Persian mantle of pale blue, or white, thrown over the dress. A basket hat of straw, ornamented with a demi-wreath of half blown roses. Shoes of blue kid; gloves of York tan.

Promenade or Carriage Walking Costume, November 1811
Promenade or Carriage Walking Costume, November 1811

Promenade, or Carriage Walking Costume, November 1811
A fawn colour of amber velvet three quarters pelisse; faced and ornamented around the bottom and sleeves with Regency purple velvet and faced down the waist, shoulders and half way down the side of the skirt, with rich cordons of purple, terminating with a tassel; a purple velvet collar stands up, is rounded behind, and comes down to a point below the throat; the cuffs are of purple velvet, trimmed with fine blue lace. Over the sleeve is a demi-sleeve divided; between which division small purple ornaments, in the form of  aiguillettes, but without tags, are sometimes introduce when this dress is made of twilled sarsnet instead of velvet.

Promenade Dress, August 1811
Promenade Dress, August 1811

Promenade Dress, August 1811
A round robe of India jaconot, trimmed around the bottom with ribband; a mantle of fine India muslin, or white crape, with ficher front, ornamented with drawn ribband and tassel, and confined to the waist on the same side. A village hat of white chip, with a crown of blended crape and sarsnet, bound and tied under the chin with ribband, over a lace cawl, and raised form the face by a short wreath of French roses. Parasol and ridicule of purple and green shot silk; gloves of York tan; Roman boots of white morocco.

Regency Walking Dress, February 1811
Regency Walking Dress, February 1811

Regency Walking Dress, February 1811
A pelisse of scarlet Merino cloth, buttoned down the front and up the arm with small gold buttons; the collar and cuffs of purple velvet; but during the mourning, of black, striped with scarlet; an ermine tippet pointed in the back, and muffet of the same. A bonnet of scarlet cloth, turned up with velvet, and formed to come over the face; the veil passed through the front and brought round the neck. Boots of scarlet cloth trimmed with velvet.

Debby Wale
Debby Wale

Debby Wale, Triborough Reference Librarian

Chelsea Reference Library

 

Additional information

Resources held in Chelsea Reference library:

  • Jane Austen In Style by Susan Watkins
  • Chelsea by Thea Holme
  • Chelsea Past by Barbara Denny
  • La Belle Assemblee magazine archive

Online resources:
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – for more information about Jane Austen (you’ll need a library membership to access this database outside of the library) 

Glossary – fabrics

  • Jaconot: light weight cotton fabric
  • Sarsnet: noun a soft thin silk used for dresses, veilings, or trimmings.