Trove Tuesday – from Pettavel to Snitterfield

Until now when using Trove I have mostly searched for family names and places.  I hadn’t even considered the possibility that small English villages might be mentioned in an Australian newspaper.  That was until I read Jennifer Jones’s post on “Playing with Edged Tools

After that I was to find that Trove had many mentions of the village of Snitterfield where my grandfather Tom Tansey was born.    One small entry mentioned two places of interest to me – Pettavel, a vineyard to the south of Geelong,  and a cupboard, supposedly with a carved inscription done by Shakespeare, being auctioned in Snitterfield.

From the Geelong Advertiser, March 2nd 1903

Geel Addy 2-3-1903 Sale of Shakespeare chair at

These are two unrelated notices sitting together on the page.

The first concerns the Pettavel vineyard just south of Geelong where a sale of items was to be held.  David Pettavel from Switzerland established the vineyard in 1842.  It is now called the Mt Duneed Estate and has been  in the news this week because of the annual Falls Festival, a three day music festival ending on New Years Day   Normally it is held just outside Lorne on the Great Ocean Road but bushfires made it necessary to either cancel or re-locate the festival. There is an excellent article on the ABC about the mammoth task of shifting to a different venue.  What would David Pettavel think about the hordes of people and the noise on his estate ?

The second notice from the Auctioneers concerned both Snitterfield and Shakespeare.  Shakespeare’s family had connections with this village.  Did Will really make and inscribe this cupboard which was up for auction ?   By switching from the freely available Australian Trove newspapers to the British Newspaper Archive  I read that on Jan 9th 1903, two months before being mentioned in the Geelong Advertiser, the auction was also reported in the Leamington Spa Courier, a town near Snitterfield.

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But was it all one big con ?  Back in 1891 there  were many articles and letters about this same piece of furniture claiming that it could not have been inscribed by Shakespeare.  One such article was published in The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser on September 5th, 1891

Cupboard discredited

Shakespeare pops up everywhere in connection with Snitterfield, which is just to the north of Stratford on Avon, such as in my post on A Parting Gift.

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