‘But since they are called Wonders, let it be so….’
November 13, 2014 2 Comments
This summer I was awarded a Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Grant to research 18th and early 19th century tourism to Derbyshire. I am particularly interested in the artists who visited the County; whether they were professionals like Joseph Farrington or the army of amateurs who filled their sketchbooks with views of the picturesque and the sublime.
I have also been looking at travel journals from the period which are full of descriptions of the Peak; its towns, villages, natural wonders and inhabitants. Some of these journals show travellers with an antiquarian interest while other are ticking of the county’s country houses or subterranean delights.
The research follows on from the project I did at the Yale Center for British Art and will help us interpret Buxton Museum’s own collections and the period in general. The research is ongoing but I thought I would kick it off with a quote from a rather unimpressed gentleman who wasn’t too enamoured with the Wonders of the Peak*
“There are severall things which I find termed Wonders, tho I do not think any of them in particular deserve the name, since this whole Country to me found nothing [of interest?] and all the Wonder I could find out was to see a church, an hedge or an Handsome House – But since they are called Wonders, let it be so.”
Letter from John Egerton to Reverend John Pointer, dated 1715. Bodleian Library Ms Eng. Letters d.77 (fols 37-40).
*The Wonders of the Peak refers to the seven wonders of Derbyshire popularised by Charles Cotton and Thomas Hobbes and not Buxton Museum’s own gallery of the same name.