The History and Antiquities of Haddon Hall by Samuel Rayner

Derby Museums has purchased the book ‘The History and Antiquities of Haddon Hall’, by Samuel Rayner.  The book contains ‘thirty two highly finished drawings with an account of the hall in its present state’ and was published in 1836 by Robert Moseley, Derby.

We bought this book last year but it was in a pretty poor state.  Since then Matt Edwards has been busy conserving the book and has rebound it.  The book  suffers from a bit of of foxing and has been damp at sometime in its history, but atleast now it is stable and looking much better.














This book was the first book to be published solely on the subject of  Haddon Hall and it contains details about the history of the building, the families that owned it and descriptions of the rooms and gardens.  It also brought the legend of Dorothy Vernon’s elopement with John Manners further into the mainstream.

Dorothy was born around 1545 and was the daughter of George Vernon, the ‘king of the peak’.  She married John Manners, inherited Haddon Hall and the estate passed out of the Vernon family’s hands.  This sounds straight forward but there has been much debate about their marriage, mainly centered on whether they eloped or not.  For more info see David Trutt’s Haddon Hall website.

What does seem to be true is that this story was embellished by the 18th and early 19th century caretakers and guides of the then uninhabited Haddon Hall.  Samuel Rayner talks about the guide William Hage ‘who long had the care of the house and gardens here, and the office of guide to the visitors’.

The door that Dorothy eloped through and the ‘Love steps’ were pointed out and feature in quiet a few of the travel writings of the time, including as illustrations in Rayner’s book.   The legend would later be told in various novels, and on stage and screen.

You can download PDFS of the text and illustrations from Samuel Rayner’s book from David Trutt’s Haddon Hall website.

Samuel Rayner was the head of a very artistic family. His wife Ann produced Ashford Black Marble diamond engravings– like the one we were outbid on – and their children included Louisa and Margaret Rayner who were also both talented artists.  The whole family painted at Haddon and you can see some of their work here.

White Watson – unsuccesful bidding

In June we put a bid on a copy of White Watson’s 1811 book ‘A Delineation of the Strata of Derbyshire’ which was going under the hammer at Bonhams.  Sadly we were outbid and the book went for £720 including the buyer’s premium.

 White Watson (1760 – 1835) was a scientist, geologist, stone mason and mineralogist who lived and worked for most of his life in Bakewell.  If you want to find out more about Watson then have a look at Derbyshire Record Office’s fantastic information sheet about ‘Derbyshire’s Men of Science’.  You can access it through the DRO blog.  We are still interested in acquiring an 1811 edition so we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled – let us know if you come across one.

Atlas Coelestis’ by John Flamsteed

In June 2010 we purchased a copy of Atlas Coelestis’ by John Flamsteed at auction in Gloucestershire.  The book was first published in 1723 and we have bought the second edition published in 1753. 

The purchasing of the atlas has created a lot of interest and the BBC came to have a look at the book and speak to Matt Edwards, Derby Museums Collections Access Assistant.  Click here to watch the BBC slideshow.

‘O render the idefatigable Labours of Mr. Flamsteed as useful and beneficial to mankind as may be , as well as to compleat the work already publish’d, it has been judg’d very necessary by his Executors to carry on, and perfect the following Sheets, which contain all the Constellations visible in our Hemisphere, wherein the ancient Figures themselves are restor’d, and the stars laid down in thier proper Places, with the greatest Exactness from his last corrected Catalogue.’

This atlas of the stars is based on telescopic observations and is considered 15 times more accurate than the best previous atlases. The coordinates of nearly 3,000 stars, charts and maps are beautifully illustrated by the artist Sir James Thornhill (1675 -1734). It was published and edited posthumously by Flamsteed’s widow, Margret and her assistants, first in 1729 then 1753 and finally in 1781. John Flamsteed (1646-1719) was the son of a prosperous merchant and maltster in Denby near Derby. He began to study astronomy between 1662 and 1669 on his own and opposed by his father. He was employed by King Charles II as Britain’s first Royal Astronomer on the 4th March, 1675, on the recommendation of Jonas Moore, a mathematician and patron of astronomy. The Royal Observatory at Greenwich was built for Flamsteed and he began observing in 1676, but he had to fund and bring his own instruments. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1677, where he was a Member of council from 1681-4 and 1698-1700. His earlier work Historia Coelestis Britannica was also not published complete until after his death, though a partial edition had been issued in 1712. The book is ‘Folio’ size (553x394mm) bound Cambridge style panelled calf, gilt spine with raised bands and a morocco title label.