Tag Archives: PKM

Cheyne Links with King’s

Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942) came up to King’s College in 1883 and read History. The friends he made in Cambridge and the books he read contributed to his development into what biographer Alan Crawford described as an ‘Architect, Designer & Romantic Socialist’. Ashbee’s memoirs came to King’s a few years after he died, with his ‘journals’ (correspondence and scrapbooks bound together) and some genealogical papers given by his widow ten years later. With the death of their daughter Felicity in 2008, the last large tranche of Ashbee papers came to King’s, including his Jerusalem papers (for more on which see this online exhibition).

But in May we were given two more drawings by C. R. Ashbee and they’re rapidly becoming some of my favourite things. The first drawing is a design for a crucifix medallion. It’s stamped ‘This design is the property of The Guild of Handicraft Ltd … Chipping Campden, Glos. and is to be returned to them’ with the design number and date added by hand. It’s labelled ‘Silver Cross, enamelled & chased’. At 7 mm diameter, it’s probably drawn life-size.

CRA/100. Guild of Handicraft design for a crucifix medallion

CRA/100 (detail). Silver Cross, enamelled & chased

The other drawing, which is too big for us to reproduce for the blog, is floorplans for a house that Ashbee designed for 37 Cheyne Walk in Chelsea, called ‘Magpie & Stump’ after an ancient pub once run on the site (see the ‘Places’ section of the ‘Summary’ tab here). The Victoria and Albert Museum holds in its collection the elevation of that building.

Ashbee’s parents separated in 1893, his mother bought the freehold of 37 Cheyne Walk and he designed the house for her and her unmarried daughters. Ashbee lived there as well, doing a fair business as an architect (he built 6 more houses on Cheyne Walk over the next 20 years, but only 2 survive) while also managing the Guild he had begun in 1888.

CRA/23, f4. 37-39 Cheyne Walk (The Ancient Magpie and Stump is the nearest) as published in Neubauten in London (Berlin, 1900)

If you’re in Cambridge you can see the drawings themselves during the Long Vacation 2017, displayed in the exhibition cases in the Archives Centre Reading Room. See Getting to the Archive Centre. There is no need to book an appointment just to look at the exhibition. More permanently, and to learn more about C. R. Ashbee and see more of his papers, visit our on-line exhibitions page about him. And when the Chapel is open to visitors you can see the frame Ashbee designed for a painting he gave to the College in the 1930s, Madonna in the Rosary which can also be seen in the Chapel virtual tour (Click ‘Navigate the Chapel’ and then click on the link to ‘Visit St Edward’s Chapel’ in the top right/northeast corner).

To satisfy patient readers who have come this far, there is another Cheyne link with King’s which was brought to my attention by a colleague. T. S. Eliot lived with John Davy Hayward (1905-65, King’s College 1923) in 19 Carlyle Mansions at 122 Cheyne Walk, for ten years after WW2. Because of this friendship and co-habitation, Hayward collected many Eliot drafts, some letters, ephemeral publications, first editions and proof copies of Eliot’s works, which form the Hayward Bequest of T. S. Eliot material.




The Potticarie’s Bill

Following a previous post about the College site in the accounts books, this post highlights another series of accounts books: the Commons Books which record food bought for consumption in Hall and the names of those consuming it. Sometimes these are the only record of the names of our choristers. (An article has been written from the Commons Books for earlier years and two of the books are partially transcribed, see the catalogue descriptions of the commons books, and the article and transcriptions, for more information.) The pages for the week beginning October 18, 1578 are reproduced here (click on the image if you want to zoom in):

KCAR/4/1/6/20 1578-10-18 1

Oct 18, 1578: diners and first part of the week’s expenses


At the top of the page is listed the week (in this case, the third) of the financial year, then the name of the Fellow assigned to be Steward that week (in this case, Mag[iste]ro [John] Cowell). Then are listed the members of the ‘College society’ (the Provost is not included, his commons was usually accounted elsewhere): i.e. the Vice-Provost followed by the rest of the Fellows in their order of seniority, each of whom was allowed 20 pence weekly commons allowance in what amounted to an internal recharging system. An annotation next to someone’s name indicates if he was away from Co[llege] for the whole or just half the week. The Fellows are followed by the ‘Scholaribus’ = Scholars of the College, also in seniority order and allotted 20 pence per week, then ‘alii’ (others, also allotted 20 pence per week commons) which turns out to be the Bursar’s Clerk, the lay clerks and the chaplains. Then the Choristers are listed (10 pence each for their commons), then the ‘Servientes’ (servants, 12 pence per week each) that had been specified by Henry VI as being supported on the Foundation. Following the total commons allowance are, for each day of the week, the value of the food consumed at dinner and supper.

KCAR/4/1/6/20 1578-10-18 2

Oct 18, 1578: expenses for the second part of the week

You can see that an awful lot of beef (carne bovine) and mutton (carne ovine) was being consumed, plus milk, butter, eggs (ovis – we had no College chickens or cows), various types of fish (ling, plaice, roach, pickerel), pepper, sugar, currants, dates, cinnamon, cloves, mace, suet, rabbit (‘cuniculis’), tripe, neat’s foot (the heel of a cow or ox), ‘salsamente’ which is some unspecified sauce, oatmeal, mustard and possibly other herbs (‘sinapis’), and black or white salt (‘sale nigra’ or ‘albo’). ‘Cena’ means supper, apparently the last meal of the day.

Sedge, wood and candles were part of commons expenses, I suspect the sedge was in the form of rushes strewn on the floor. Not much flour is accounted for but there was wheat (‘frumenti’) charged during this week – we had our own millstone. There are no expenses for honey that week. I have never seen expenses for beekeeping supplies in other years’ accounts books, so possibly honey was not used regularly in Hall.

Following all of the expenditures is an account of what was still in the storerooms (in stauro), and internal accounting of various College members’ cizations, i.e. personal domus accounts.

Audit Feasts

Dining expenses in the two weeks or so preceding the annual Audit at the end of October, were accounted separately. The year after the above, in the 18 days before October 30th, 1579, in addition to the usual mutton, beef etc., the College members were indulged with ‘a pigge’ one day (other pork cuts were served on other days), pigeons, capons, oysters, cream, marrowbone, veal (loin, breast, leg, shoulder and rack), ‘boylde chikins’, larks, a goose, mallard, teal and snipe. An entry for ‘sake’ doesn’t constitute previously unknown evidence of intimate links with Japan, it’s from the French ‘sec’ for dry wine. There was wine, white as well as claret, at almost every meal during the audit time. Sometimes the wine was used ‘for broth’. The College brewed its own beer at this time but beer is not mentioned in the Commons Books, suggesting that these accounts only list the actual expenditure on food. Fruit is often mentioned in general, with apples sometimes specified for the table, sometimes for tarts, and peaches are mentioned specifically once.

KCAR/4/1/6/19 audit 1579 02

The ‘potticaries bill’ (halfway down in the image above) for the first week includes expenses for currants (5 pence per pound, that’s half a Chorister’s weekly commons allowance), prunes, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, mace, dates, pepper, capers, vinegar, verjuice, oatmeal, ‘unnions’, rose water and saffron. That’s a reminder of the days when medicines were plant-based and exotic plants were most readily available from the druggist.


Riveting Accounts

After someone asked me about a young King’s fellow in about 1579 (whom the enquirer thought might be the minister who married Will Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway – we were not surprised when I couldn’t find any supporting evidence at King’s), I searched through that entire year’s accounts. Some surprising, or at least interesting, things came up.

The two great maps of the College site pre-Gibbs’ building are Hamond’s map of 1592 and Loggan’s map of 1688. Hamond’s map is faint, and is reproduced here as a re-drawing from Willis and Clark’s Architectural History of the University of Cambridge and of the Colleges of Cambridge and Eton. The Loggan excerpt reproduced here is taken from a 1921 reprint by Clark and Gray.

W&C-553 fig 57 b

Hamond’s map

1688 Loggan_crop

Loggan’s map

Queens’ Road (west) is at the top – the fields beyond, now the Fellows’ Garden, were common land at the time.

What’s that moated site in the middle of Scholars’ Piece? On the Hamond map it’s occupied by a dovecote. And what about all those buildings around the wall surrounding the College site, particularly visible in Hamond’s map? What are they? The draft accounts (a page of which is shown below) offer some partial explanations.

1578-9 rep cantab 4

KCAR-4-1-4-11 Bursar’s particulars book, reparationes cantab. for Annunt and Bapt term (Easter and long vacation/summer) 1579

These particular pages from the accounts record repairs on the College site. (Other pages record repairs at our Grantchester and Barton estates, for example.) The first three items on this page record payments of

Junii 23 le pavier for paving 32 yerdes in the lane by the stables 2 d ob the yerde…vi s iiii d

for a load of ragge to the same…iiii s vi d

Cochei July 8° pro 10 bigatis argille…vi s viii d

The abbreviation ob is for oblus, technically a halfpenny but the term often appears in the accounts to stand generally for ‘a portion’ – in this case the paving cost works out at 2 3/8 shillings per yard. This suggests it is internal to the College site, for the 1543 Cambridge paving bill (in force until 1788) decreed that all the public streets be maintained by the frontage-holders and that ‘no persone or persones exercysyng the handecrafte or ocupacion of pavyng wythin the sayd towne, shall take above a jd. q. for every yarde square pavyng’ (Cooper’s Annals of Cambridge, vol. 1, p. 411).

Thus we paid someone to pave a lane, at two and a bit pence per yard, and he supplied the (rag-)stones at 4 shillings sixpence. We also paid Cochei for 10 cartloads of clay. It’s not clear whether this is a man called Cochei, or just ‘a coach driver’ – the designation appears in the accounts books frequently during these years, when labourers’ names are usually specified. From the marginal ‘g.w.’ next to this entry and others I surmise the clay (‘argille’), as well as the next items (sand and straw, also delivered by Cochei), were used to build the garden wall in that year. 10,800 tiles were purchased at one point to cope the garden wall ‘about the Fellows garden’ which had a locked gate.

In various places the late 1570s College accounts mention a thatched swan house and a dove house which probably housed the ‘salt stone for the pigeons’ who were fattened, like the swans, with malt – the swans were later ‘upped’ (gathered and marked) and one presumes the pigeons were consumed in Hall. Other buildings mentioned in these years are:

• the stables and stable yard
• wheat house
• wood house and wood yard
• storehouse which might be the same as the larder mentioned
• salt house
• lead house (it housed the leads used in windows and the Chapel roof I suppose)
• ‘house over the water in the Scholars’ garden’
• coal house
• mill house with mill stone and mill horse
• brew house
• bake house
• sedge house with a wall around it which might be the same as the new straw house – a boat was required to remove the scaffolding after the sedge yard wall had been repaired, so if they are the same it must be one of the riverside buildings.

Gates mentioned:

• field gate
• bridge gate
• water gate
• College gate
• alms gate
• friars’ gate

The friars’ gate was approximately where Webb’s Court gate now is. There was a tennis court outside the friars’ gate and an orchard in what is now the Provost’s garden. There were lofts somewhere for malt and fish. Willis and Clark examined the accounts and offered some explanations, but it’s likely that in many cases we will never know which buildings were used for which purposes. So there are more questions than answers at this point, and plenty more research to do in those ‘boring, dry old accounts’.


Brooke Acquisitions

As many of you know, King’s has recently been awarded £430,000 (for which we are most grateful) from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) towards the £500,000 purchase price of the largest collection of Rupert Brooke material that was held outside King’s. We took possession of the collection on April 17th. Peter Jones (Librarian) and Peter Monteith (Assistant Archivist) are shown here, unpacking the acquisition in our reading room.


The University Press Office published a news story Madonna and Childabout the accession. As you can see from the photo, most of the manuscripts were bound by Marsh and Schroder into guard books, which kept them in good condition and makes them easy to catalogue. The letters and papers in guard books are now on open access, and the cataloguing will proceed apace so that everyone will soon know exactly what is in the new accession. My favourite finds so far relate to Eric Gill. There are three letters from Brooke to Gill. In the first he says he’s seen Gill’s Madonna and Child sculptures that belong to Frances Cornford and to Maynard Keynes (which was left unfinished, as Keynes preferred it) and would like Madonna and Child (right) to buy one for himself. Keynes left his art collection to King’s, and we have his, which in fact presides over the top of the last staircase you have to climb to get up to the archives. It was seen by Keynes before Gill had finished it, and Keynes so liked it in that state that he purchased it as it was.

The second letter says Brooke has received his Madonna, and loves it, and will send a cheque. The third and final letter, written from San Francisco, says he may have forgotten to pay Gill and so he asked Eddie Marsh to send a cheque. At the bottom of the page you’ll find ‘If you’ve a cheque from him, too, you’d better tear up one, + I advise this: for he is of the Great + his cheque is sure to be honoured, but I’m a poet, + with me it’s always doubtful.’


The Schroder collection also includes the torn-up cheque.


Poignantly, there is also a letter from Eric Gill to Eddie Marsh offering to carve the lettering on the memorial plaque that was erected in the Rugby chapel. These are my favourites because they illustrate the research value of the new papers (I’ve never seen anything before about Brooke’s artistic tastes), they create even more links between our collections (we have Keynes’s correspondence with Gill and invoice forRCB-Ph-333 his Madonna, as well as having the statue itself), and they exemplify the relationship between old and new collections (the photo of the Rugby plaque is from the old collection). There’s the allure of ‘big names’ like Eric Gill. Finally, there are questions raised – why a torn-up cheque? – that can only be answered by recourse to the papers themselves.

It is particularly gratifying that the majority of funding to acquire this important collection comes from the NHMF. The Fund has its roots in the National Land Fund, established by the then Chancellor, Hugh Dalton, himself a Kingsman and friend of Rupert Brooke, who established the fund as ‘a thank-offering for victory and a war-memorial’. The letters Hugh Dalton himself had received from Rupert Brooke, were bequeathed to King’s and form part of the College’s existing Brooke papers.


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.