Tag Archives: Shakespeare

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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A Parting Gift

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What is precious, tattered, torn and handed down?

When my grandfather, Tom Tansey, landed in Geelong in 1888 as a sixteen year old he brought with him this copy of  WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AS HE LIVED   by Captain Curling.

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Shakespeare’s grandfather  had a farm at Tom’s home town of Snitterfield, just to the north of  Stratford on  Avon in Warwickshire.  So why had Grandpa brought this particular book with him?

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It was a farewell gift from Ben  Currier and his wife Ellen.  Ben was a farmer and much older than Tom but   Ben  and Tom were both members of the Snitterfield Town Band and this had been a parting gift and was one that Grandpa kept all his life.

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In the band photo Tom is the short chap fifth from the left in the back row while Ben is standing at the right hand end of the row, This photo was taken the previous year (1887) in front of the Red Lion in Stratford on Avon when the band led  the procession celebrating Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Tom was 15 and Ben 32.

I was amazed to find that the book has been re-printed as a paperback but is also downloadable fron the Gutenberg Project, Monash Uni library, etc, etc.  This book was first published in 1853 but Curling was a prolific writer and the book had been published before under different titles.  It is described as a Romance and is based on fact with a lot of imagination thrown in !

It starts  –   “It was one morning, during the reign of Elizabeth, that a youth, clad in a grey cloth doublet and hose (the usual costume of the respectable country tradesman or apprentice in England), took his early morning stroll in the vicinity of a small town in Warwickshire…..”