Burkat Shudi

I had been vaguely aware for some time that there existed in London in the eighteenth century a harpsichord-maker called Burkat Shudi. On 12 March I noticed that his date of birth was 13 March 1702. On 13 March I learned that our own dear Fitzwilliam Museum is in the process of acquiring a Burkat Shudi harpsichord through the enlightened H.M. Government Acceptance-in-Lieu scheme. Since there is no such thing as coincidence, I have deduced that Providence is guiding me towards finding out more … Continue reading

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Looking the other day at the brief record of the bankruptcy of Christian Schindler, who may have been the ‘Honest Man’ commemorated by his friends at St Martin within Ludgate in 1830, I was struck by how many of the unfortunate businessmen from all over the country in the same straits (and in the same announcement in the London Gazette) were described as ‘X, Y and chapman’. I had believed that ‘chapman’ was a synonym for ‘pedlar’, an itinerant seller of goods, usually at a fairly low level in society – that is, not having the wherewithal to set up a shop. Continue reading

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Some of you may know that as well this blog, I also have a Twitter account (@Prof_hedgehog), via which I occasionally share thoughts with the universe, but more regularly tweet about things that happened #OTD, including a Saint of the Day, and a Word of the Day. I get the words from Thomas Wright’s 1857 Dictionary of Obsolete and Provincial English: Containing Words from the English Writers Previous to the Nineteenth Century Which Are No Longer in Use, or Are Not Used in the Same Sense; and Words Which Are Now Used Only in Provincial Dialects – and I need to point out immediately that Thomas Wright is not Joseph Wright. Continue reading

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St Martin within Ludgate

I occasionally potter up and down Ludgate Hill, usually in the context of an event at the St Bride’s Foundation, and never without thinking of that wonderful stanza, ‘The timid, inoffensive tapir / Is never in the morning paper. / He might be there, if he would dare / On Ludgate Hill to cut a caper.’ But I had never noticed the church of St Martin within Ludgate until a few days ago, when I was actually going there, for a really interesting day on ‘The “know” in knowledge’. Continue reading

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Plant of the Month: February 2018

‘In regard to plants, no one has treated this subject [natural selection] with more spirit and ability than W. Herbert, Dean of Manchester, evidently the result of his great horticultural knowledge.’

Charles Darwin, in On the Origin of Species

I blinked slightly, when looking up the noble antecedents of the Hon.  and Very Rev. William Herbert (1778–1847), at the statement (in Venn) that he had an uncle called Caroline. Caroline Robert Herbert was born 1751. From Eton, he went to the University of Glasgow in 1770, and became an ensign in the 32nd Regiment of Foot in 1773 (up till that point he had been merely a ‘gentleman’), and ‘retired’ in 1775. He was admitted Fellow-Commoner of Clare College in 1780, and must have been ordained at some point, because, again according to Venn, he was Chaplain to the 1st Dragoon Guards between 1780 and 1782, while simultaneously holding the rectory of Saxmundham, Suffolk, 1780–3. Continue reading

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Mr and Miss Morris

I did something the other week which I’d never achieved before: I went to the end of a London Underground line! I have to say that I was a bit disappointed that the Victoria Line remained resolutely Underground until Walthamstow Central – I had assumed that, like the District and the Central lines, it would pop up into the fresh air (like the Mole after spring-cleaning) once it was clear of the chartered streets close to the chartered Thames, but no such luck. Continue reading

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The Legacy of Sir J.E. Smith

A terrific bargain available once a month in London is a ‘Treasures Tour’ and visit to the Library of the Linnean Society, in Burlington House, Piccadilly. (I have now managed one way and another to get inside the Royal Astronomical Society and the Society of Antiquaries – as well, of course, as the Royal Academy – so I have only to tick off the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Geological Society (home of the William Smith map, which apparently you can just drop in and see during office hours. I wish I’d realised that yesterday, but never mind, I will be back soon to see Charles I at the RA …). Continue reading

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