Tag Archives: Chapel

Celebrating Saltmarsh and the Chapel

John Saltmarsh (1908-1974) Photograph taken on the King’s College Bridge, by Robert Le Rougetel in 1965. (Archive Centre, King’s College, Cambridge. College Photo 9.)

John Saltmarsh (1908-1974)
on the King’s College Bridge, by Robert Le Rougetel in 1965.
(College Photo 9)

When John Saltmarsh (historian, archivist and Vice-Provost) died in 1974, he left behind unfinished but quite remarkable manuscripts for a book entitled ‘King’s College Chapel: A History and Commentary’. The book has been co-edited by Bert Vaux (Fellow and Graduate Tutor) and me (Peter Monteith, Assistant Archivist) and was launched on Friday (6 November).

Our launch was a fairly modest event with around thirty guests, including Saltmarsh’s relatives, Fellows and a few other individuals whom we wanted to thank for their part in the publication. This publication is part of the College’s celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the completion of the stonework of the Chapel; however, we felt it was important that this event was also a celebration of John Saltmarsh’s life and work.

A page from the manuscript of the commentary. (Archive Centre, King’s College, Cambridge. JS-1-70)

A page from the manuscript of the commentary.
(JS-1-70)

When our guests arrived, they came to the Archive Centre to see an exhibition on ‘John Saltmarsh and the Chapel’. This exhibition included records relating to his youth, the various roles he held at King’s, his work as a historian and his work on the Chapel. The guests had the opportunity to greet each other, as they admired the beautifully written medieval building accounts used to great effect by Saltmarsh while writing his Chapel book.

A few of John Saltmarsh's relatives at the exhibition. They had just been looking at the chapel building account for 1508-9.

A few of John Saltmarsh’s relatives at the exhibition. They had just been looking at the chapel building account for 1508-9.

After this, we all headed over to the Chapel, where we sat in the Fellows’ stalls. Andrew Hammond (King’s Chaplain) led a wonderful Evensong and our guests had the opportunity to hear the College’s famous choir.

Then we went to the Saltmarsh suite, where Rob Wallach formally welcomed our guests, and paid tribute to John Saltmarsh. Bert and I took the opportunity to thank our guests for all of the support they have shown us throughout this project.

The Saltmarsh family seem very close, with four generations being present at the launch. We heard wonderful stories about Saltmarsh. He has a reputation as a ‘notable Cambridge eccentric’. The stories supported that view but showed the warmth he had for others and how keen he was to share his knowledge of local history.

Back (l-r): Vicky and Henry Saltmarsh, their son Nick and daughter Anna, with her husband Richard Hartshorn. Front (l-r) Anna and Richard’s children Harry and Hebe, with Violet Saltmarsh, their great-grandmother and John Saltmarsh’s sister-in-law.

Back (l-r): Vicky and Henry Saltmarsh, their son Nick and daughter Anna, with Anna’s husband Richard Hartshorn. Front: Anna and Richard’s children Harry and Hebe, with Violet Saltmarsh, their great great aunt and John Saltmarsh’s sister-in-law.

We were also pleased to welcome Lilah Wayment, who had kindly allowed us to print her husband Hilary’s report on the manuscript. Shortly before he died, Saltmarsh had told Hilary Wayment (an expert on the Chapel windows) about the manuscript so the report, along with one written by Saltmarsh himself, sheds light on the story behind the book.

Lilah Wayment (left) with Henrietta Ryan.

Lilah Wayment (left) with Henrietta Ryan.

For further details on the book, please visit the ‘Saltmarsh’s Chapel Book’ webpage. The book can be purchased from the College’s Visitor Centre, on King’s Parade, or online.

saltmarsh_cover

Book cover

PGM

Michael Mills: ‘Keeper of the Publick Library’

King’s College Library, which has been in continuous existence since the College’s foundation in 1441, is housed in a purpose-built building designed by William Wilkins (1778–1839), and completed in 1828. Prior to this the Library was housed in various other buildings in College, and from 1570 until 1828 the Library occupied a number of side chapels in the College’s magnificent Chapel. This is where the library was housed when, in ca. 1685, one Michael Mills (KC 1683) was appointed ‘Keeper of the Publick Library’, and a copy of what might be considered his job description survives today in the College Archives (KCAC/6/1/1). The full title of that document is: ‘Articles, Conditions and Covenants upon which the Provost and other officers of King’s Coll: in Cambridge have admitted Michael Mills Schollar of the said College to be the Keeper of the Publick Library of the said College’. The second half of the same document sets out a copy of the rules for those who used the library, thought to date from ca. 1709–10.

Create text to go here

‘Articles, Conditions and Covenants’ (ca. 1685) and ‘Orders for Regulating the Publick Library’ (ca. 1709-10) (KCAC/6/1/1). (Photograph: Adrian Boutel and Elizabeth Upper)

Born in Windrush (Gloucestershire), Mills took up his role around 1685 whilst still a scholar (he became a fellow in 1687), and this document offers an interesting insight into the College’s Library in the late seventeenth century. Reporting directly to the Provost and Dean of Divinity, Mills had ‘dayly to be personally present in the Library, once in the forenoon, and once in the afternoon, besides when at the usual times He opens the Library door’. In addition to keeping the books in good order, he also had to ‘take care and oversee every thing that belongs to the said Library, that neither Globes, Maps, Tables, Pictures, or any other thing of that nature suffer by rude and ill usage.’

Lib I Cover_25

Index Bibliothecae Regalis Colegii (Donors’ Book). Original calf binding, with chain (KCAC/6/2/1/1)

Mills was allowed to ‘permit and suffer Strangers to see the Library, if they please, but not as Students to make Use of any Book or Books without the Leave of the Provost.’ Any member of College reading books in the library was ‘requir’d to sett ‘em up again decently without entangling the Chains: by which is signified to all concern’d, that no person whatsoever upon any pretence is permitted to carry any Book out of the Library to their Chambers’.

 

Hobart Bookcase_25

Bookcase (made in 1659) with money bequeathed by Nicholas Hobart (NH). It no longer has its chains or the chaining mechanisms attached (Photograph: Adrian Boutel and Elizabeth Upper)

As this shows, King’s Library at that time (like many libraries) was a chained library, that is, a chain was attached to the front board of each book which was attached in turn to the bookcase which housed it to prevent it from being removed. It was not until 1777 that the College finally paid someone for nine days’ work to remove the remaining chains from all the books. One book in King’s Library which still has its chain attached is a splendid calf-bound donors’ book in which donations of books were recorded along with the name of each donor from 1612 onwards (KCAC/6/2/1/1), and three of the magnificent bookcases which housed such books and which were constructed during the second half of the seventeenth century—and would therefore have been kept in order by Michael Mills—remain in the Chapel to this day.

Add text here

Extract from: Anthony Allen, Skeleton … or A Catalogue of all the Provosts, Fellows and Scholars, of the King’s College

Michael Mills died at a young age on 28th July 1696 and according to one eighteenth-century biographer of Kingsmen (Anthony Allen, 1685–1754), his passing was ‘much lamented by his Fellow Collegiates being a very Worthy and Learned Man and an excellent tutor to College youth’. Mills had succumbed to smallpox and was buried behind the altar in the Chapel: two fates unlikely to befall present-day College librarians.

JC

Lord Annan’s Remains

This is Provost Noël Annan’s parting shot, fired when he left to be Provost of University College London in 1966. Tim Munby, who annotated it, was Domus Bursar at the time. Anyone familiar with the College’s internal debate about the placement of the Rubens will recognise the edge of frustration that informed Annan’s witty verbal caricatures of the various King’s Fellows who were most vocal in that debate.

Misc-13-1-1Misc-13-1-2By kind permission of the estate of Noël Annan.

PKM

Clashing inscriptions

Front pastedown of J.75.17 from the Thackeray collection

Front pastedown of J.75.17. From the Thackeray collection

This amusing exchange appears on the front pastedown of a 1794 edition of “The conduct of understanding” by John Locke. The inscriptions read: “C. Sturges K.C.C.  Recommended by Dr Glynn 1794” and: “You lying scoundrell Sturges. Dr Glyn does not recommend any such book”

1794 was the year the book’s first owner, Charles Sturges (1776-1802) joined the college as an undergraduate, and, as a newly minted scholar, he appears to have been eager – perhaps too eager – to show that his book purchases were guided by the advice of his betters. Being labelled a “lying scoundrell” seems to have done him little harm, as he later became a fellow of the College and also a clergyman, acting between 1800 and  1802 as curate of St. Mary’s Church in Reading, where his father was the vicar.

The author of the second inscription is thought to have been Dr Glynn himself.  Robert Glynn (1719-1800) was a colourful character in every respect.

Dr Robert Glynn. An engraving of a drawing by the Rev. Thomas Kerrich

Dr Robert Glynn. An engraving of a drawing by the Rev. Thomas Kerrich

A prominent and well respected Cambridge physician and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, his  habit of wearing a scarlet cloak and a three-cornered hat and carrying a gold-topped cane must have made him an easily  recognisable figure around the town. A Kingsman, Glynn lived in College and ran his practice from his rooms there.

Described in the Rev. Augustus Austen Leigh’s history of the College as: “the most active, eccentric, and benevolent of doctors”, Glynn’s popularity stemmed in part from his generosity and kindness towards the people of the malaria-ridden fens, who were encouraged to come to him for free medical advice. Fees were also waived for Cornishmen (Glynn was Cornish by birth), clergymen and old Etonians. A man of firm opinions, Glynn always avoided prescribing opium, advocated fresh air as one of the best remedies, and never bled his patients, despite this being a common medical practice at the time. He avoided regular mealtimes, preferring to snack on cold mutton kept in his rooms.

Memorial tablet in the College chapel

Memorial tablet in the College chapel

Eccentric to the last, Glynn stipulated that he should be buried in the College chapel  late at night, by torchlight, and that only College members were to attend.  He is memorialised by a tablet on the wall of one of the side-chapels. The name Clobery was adopted by Glynn after he received a large inheritance from a maternal uncle.

The book made its way into the collection of George Thackeray (1777-1850), who was Provost of King’s between 1814 and 1850. Most of Thackeray’s books were passed to his daughter  Mary Ann (1818-1879), who in turn bequeathed them to the College.

Sources: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,  “King’s College” by Rev. A. Austen Leigh, and Venn’s “Alumni Cantabrigienses”

AC