Dinas Bran, by A. Rushout

Although it is NOT a drawing of dear Plas Newydd, it does prove that a visit occurred at some point between 1824 and 1832:

B1977.14.9576

by Anne Rushout. Yale Center for British Art has MANY images of Anne’s work, including other pictures from Wales. I think you will have FUN looking through them all, if you click on the ‘creator’ link near the top of the page.

Anne displays a somewhat ‘naive’ quality, but the scenes are vibrant when she includes what _we_ would rarely see, like this regatta of ships!

You can find further ‘RUSHOUT’ items, by clicking on the ‘search’ link and typing RUSHOUT in the box beside ‘creator’.

 

French Travellers @ Plas Newydd

French travellers visit the Ladies of Llangollen
at Plas Newydd
by HEATHER WILLIAMS

The Ladies of Llangollen, Eleanor Butler (1739-1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831), were famous for their Francophilia, among other things, and they were known to welcome French visitors to their home at Plas Newydd.

Louis Simond Poor Louis Simond, a Frenchman who had lived in America for twenty years before making his tour of Britain with his English wife, discovered this fact rather too late, as he recounts in his travelogue, Journal of a Tour and Residence in Great Britain, during the Years 1810 to 1811, by a French Traveller (Edinburgh, 1815), which he quickly translated into French as Voyage d’un Français en Angleterre pendant les années 1810 et 1811 (Paris, 1816).

On arrival in Llangollen they sent a note requesting permission to visit Plas Newydd, making the mistake of announcing themselves as American travellers. But the ladies were cruel: ‘Les belles dames se sont montrées cruelles’ and they refused. Later on back at the inn Simond’s landlady remarked that they would probably have been let in if only the ladies had known that they spoke French:

‘La maîtresse à l’auberge, qui probablement nous avait entendu parler français, a remarqué que ces dames aimaient la langue française, et que si elles eussent su que nous la parlions, nous aurions été admis. L’avis était venu trop tard.’ (pp. 320-321)

Basile-Joseph Ducos (1767-1836) had more luck when he visited in 1826, and describes his guided tour of their property in his travelogue Itinéraire et souvenirs d’Angleterre et d’Écosse 1814-1826, vol 4 (1834):

‘Nous avions fait demander la permission de visiter leur domaine où elles accueillent volontiers les Français. Une pente douce y conduit. Nous y sommes arrivés par un chemin ombragé, sinueux, charmant. La maison n’est qu’une chaumière ornée. Des sculptures gothiques tant soit peu prétensieuses, surchargent la porte et les fenêters qui sont cintrées en ogive. La bibliothèque est éclairée par des vitraux coloriés. Une rotonde sert de laiterie. L’ordre, l’arrangement, les soins les plus minutieux se montrent partout, dans ce modeste ménage dont lady Élénora nous a fait gracieusement les honneurs. Il nous restait à voir les jardins. Leur étendue est médiocre, mais il y a tant d’art dans le dessin des sentiers qui les parcourent, que nulle part on n’en aperçoit les limites. Un point de vue est-il ingrat? Des massifs le dérobent. Aux endroits d’où l’on domine la rivière, les ravins, hérissés de rochers menaçans, les aspects romantiques de la contrée, des percées s’ouvrent et permettent de porter au loin les regards. Quelquefois on rencontre un berceau de feuillage et de fleurs. Là se trouve un banc confident muet des plus tendres épanchemens. Peut-être attend-il les deux causeuses. Craignons de nous rendre importuns, malgré les aimables propos de notre vieille cicérone. Aussi bien sommes-nous loin de la couchée que nous nous sommes prescrite.’, pp. 190-191.

[We had asked permission to visit their property where they are keen to welcome the French. A slight slope leads to it. We arrived there by way of a shaded, winding, charming route. The house is just a decorated cottage. Some slightly pretentious Gothic sculptures weigh down the door and windows with their pointed arches. The library is lit by stained-glass windows. A rotunda serves as dairy. Order, tidiness and attention to detail are to be seen everywhere in this modest household that Lady Eleanor graciously showed us around. The next thing was for us to see the gardens. Though their surface area is not great, there is such art in the design of the paths that run through them that there is no position from which their limits can be seen. Any view that is found unattractive is screened by banks of planting. From the parts that overlook the river, the ravines, studded with threatening rocks, the romantic aspects of the land, vistas open up and guide the gaze into the distance. Here and there are bowers of foliage and flowers, a bench, discreet confidant of the most tender of effusions. Perhaps it awaits the two lady conversers. We’re afraid of getting in the way, despite the kind words of our aged guide. Also we’re a long way from the accommodation that we had arranged.]

Plas Newydd grounds with figures

One French visitor who would surely have received a warm welcome was Louis Antoine Philippe d’Orléans, duc de Montpensier (1775-1807), the son of Louis Philippe (known as Philippe Égalité) and younger brother of Louis Philippe who became King in 1830. Montpensier was living in exile in Twickenham on account of what the Ladies referred to in their letters and diaries as ‘the horrors in France’, and came to Wales in summer 1806 in order to sketch the landscape and to console himself that his family had forbidden him to travel to Scotland to visit Elizabeth Forbes, with whom he was in love. He chronicled his travels in Wales in a series of letters addressed to Elizabeth’s mother, but intended for her: Correspondence to Mrs Forbes, Seaton House, Aberdeen MS 2358 University of Aberdeen. Wearied by so many society functions in Twickenham and London, he writes on the 20th September that he had intended to make just one visit in Wales, but abandons even that plan in order to avoid the risk of further engagements:

‘The only [visit] I had an idea and intention to pay was to the female hermits of Langollen, but having heard of some races taking place under the management of Sir W.W. Wynne, just in their neighbourhood, and at the very time I meant to call upon them, I gave up even that, knowing that it would have been very difficult for me in that case to disentangle myself from Sir Watkin’s kind invitation.’

Their most famous French visitor was novelist and educationalist Madame de Genlis (1746-1830), who was also in exile because of the Revolution. She describes her visit in her Mémoires inédits de Madame la Comtesse de Genlis, published over a quarter of a century later in 1825 (with an English translation – Memoirs of the Countess of Genlis – appearing in the same year), complimenting the Plas Newydd library: ‘très-belle’( p. 349), and the ladies’ French: ‘elles parloient français avec autant de facilité que de pureté’ (p. 348).

Madame de Genlis

If you know of other French visits or near misses, I’d love to hear from you! [Heather can be contacted via her own website, or email her at:
h [dot] williams [at] cymru [dot] ac [dot] uk]

Heather’s research was undertaken as part of an AHRC-funded project http://etw.bangor.ac.uk.

New Year Greetings

Michael in Wales spurred on some long-put-off updates on this site. So a BIG thank you, to him, for continuing to add to The Ladies of Llangollen.

Most years of A Plas Newydd Timeline have experienced some addition(s). The link will bring you to the main page; use the navigation along the top, to access the “years” — which now has a new page added: 1830s & Beyond.

1899-18384Michael pulled information from a book I found long ago and never did much with: The Early Married Life of Maria Josepha Lady Stanley. Yet, again, I find that books which were once found on books.google now have “late” reprint dates and are often inaccessible. For me, this book was one of the first that, seen in person at a library, I was thrilled to find online! So, now things come around: 8 or 9 years ago (!!) you could find certain books online which are now vanishing.

A favorite site, if less easily searched, is Archive.org – which seems to KEEP books once they have them. It’s there that you will find the two books which cover Lady Stanley’s girlhood and marriage.

Enough comments were pulled that I’ve created a “visitors” page for the family, though comments are usually from Lady Stanley (with one exception).

Best Wishes to ALL READERS for 2015!

* * *

NB: _I_ still experience problems with the search – using Chrome (rather forced into it by WordPress NOT working properly in IE) the original “search,” part of the “theme” (ie, I cannot delete it), doesn’t work. Thus the TWO search windows. One or the other should work for you.

 

News of the Ladies, c1832

The great-aunt of Emma Austen (my diarist) visited Llangollen several times. In transcribing her diary for May 1832 I found the following:

19 Sa on this day Saturday we got to Langollen – where we dined and Slept the Kings Head is a most comfortable Inn – and as none of us like to travel on Sunday – we determined to remain here the whole of the next day. —

20 Su on hearing the Service was to be in the Welch language in the Morning we read our prayers at home – at one OC- we walked to Plasnewydd. Mr Hamilton who was left Executor to Miss Ponsonby having given us permission to see it – he shewed us the Cottage — and we afterwards walked over the grounds – we returned to the Hotel to rest ourselves – and at half past 3 OC– we all went to the parish Church – the prayers were mostly read in English – and the Clergyman gave us an excellent Sermon

It is very poignant, after reading earlier visits where the Ladies themselves entertained Mrs Smith, to read this last entry of a lone walk over the house and grounds of Plas Newydd, permission given by “Mr Hamilton… to see it”.

In the Grounds Plas NewyddVisit “Plas Newydd en peintre” by clicking the picture

Anonymous Gentleman, c1810

My! how time flies…

Just had to rectify the post that announced to the world: Happy September, while December is well underway!

And a delightful treat is in store: Michael in Wales, who has been steadily feeding news of visitors and their reactions, has uncovered a delightful little story. Alas, by an Anonymous Gentleman. Must admit to wanting to know more about the writer after reading this tidbit. There seems such a delightful sense of humor in his comments.

You will find him posted at the head of the page “1810-1819” in the PLAS NEWYDD TIMELINE.

For those of you new to our LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN website, I should explain. You have two ways of finding such “primary” material — comments about the Ladies, especially visitors to the Ladies — by the menus at

  • A Plas Newydd Timeline – see the menu at the right (or “hover” over that phrase on the menu above) and you’ll have a choice of dates; these are often unpublished works not found anywhere else!
  • Visitors – also on the menu at right (or “hover” over that phrase on the menu above), these visitors are mainly those whose published diaries, letters, or writings mentioned visits to Llangollen and the Ladies.

Both place an emphasis on finding what we hope are the “less-hackneyed” reactions, stories, and encounters. Michael made an interesting observation when, in sending this and an 1830 mention that I have yet to post, he wrote, “it seems the later they are in date, the more they build in their expectations and suppositions rather than actual observation”.

That is what makes such *finds* so fascinating to read!

llangollen

I simply could NOT resist this lovely photo of Winter River Dee, Llangollen.
Happy Holidays!

 

May I Celebrate the Ladies of Llangollen?

Portrait in Library

Come VISIT the Ladies of Llangollen with me:
1820-1824 A Plas Newydd Timeline is now posted!

Further thanks to Michael in Aberystwyth and Liz Pitman for providing the material.

Readers Share: Plas Newydd

Liz Cook’s comments about her memories of visiting Plas Newydd — and her desire to share those memories with readers, makes me think that there might be MORE people out there who would LOVE to share their interest in the Ladies of Llangollen with a wider readership.

Now’s your chance! Leave comments below.

By the Way — new for 2013: I’ve repaired the link to Facebook for Two Teens in the Time of Austen, and added my two other blogs as well; so you’ll now see Regency Reads posts and also, of course, Ladies of Llangollen posts in my Facebook feed.

(Hate to confess, other than these auto-posts, I rarely visit Facebook – to contact me, please do so via any of the blogs, or through my gmail account.)

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plas newydd booklet

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