Jane Loudon: The Ladies’ Gardener

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Horticulturalist, novelist and journalist Jane Loudon Webb (1807-1858) faced financial difficulty for much of her life and turned to writing to make a living.  Her father died when she was seventeen, leaving her without financial security but a few years later she enjoyed literary success with her novel “The Mummy! Or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century”, published anonymously in 1827.  The tale explored ideas of future technological and scientific developments and among the many who admired the book was writer and horticultural expert John Claudius Loudon.  They met following his review of her book and were married within the year.

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Once she had entered her husband’s horticultural world she wanted to immerse herself in the subject and learn more, so she attended lectures by John Lindley and reviewed books for “Gardener’s Magazine”, a publication edited by her husband. She wanted to assist him in his work but recognized she had a great deal to learn about gardening in order to do so. This experience of being a complete beginner was invaluable in her later writings on horticulture. She went on to write nineteen books on natural history and botany, many of them instructional and aimed at the female amateur. The volumes also demonstrate that she was a talented botanical artist. Her work was of a serious nature, offering sound and practical advice to the aspiring Victorian lady who may not have been used to wielding a spade!

Guildhall Library holds two of her works; both are in the collection of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners. The first is a small volume entitled “Mrs Loudon’s Instructions in Gardening for Ladies” (reference GC 3.3) published in 1840 and partly written because the family were in financial difficulty and extra income was needed. The book was popular, with over 1300 copies sold on the day it was published. In her introduction she explained why she felt she was particularly qualified to publish this kind of instruction manual:

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“I think books intended for professional gardeners, are seldom suitable to the wants of amateurs. It is so very difficult for a person who has been acquainted with a subject all his life, to imagine the state of ignorance in which a person is who knows nothing of it…Thus, though it might at first sight appear presumptuous in me to attempt to teach an art of which for three fourths of my life I was perfectly ignorant, it is in fact that very circumstance which is one of my chief qualifications for the task.” (vi)
The second book by Mrs [Jane] Loudon at Guildhall Library is a lavishly illustrated volume called “The Ladies’ Flower Garden of Ornamental Annuals” (1842) (reference GC 1.6).

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In her Preface she explains that this volume is to be the first in a series…

“which, when completed, should contain coloured groups of all the most ornamental flowers in British gardens, as well as those grown under glass, as in the open air. The present work, which is the first of this series, comprises the hardy and half-hardy annuals…”

Each of the series was designed to be complete in itself but the whole series was to form the most “comprehensive illustration of the kind of plants belonging to the different orders, than any other work which has yet been published”.

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Although some of the phrases she uses would not be welcomed by present day male or female gardeners, she was countering contemporary arguments that the Victorian woman lacked the strength for gardening, or that it might be improper for her to engage in the pastime:-

“…a lady, with the assistance of a common labourer to level and prepare the ground, may turn a barren waste into a flower garden with her own hands.” (i)

Seed sowing, transplanting, training and tying in plants, deadheading and gathering seed for next year’s crop are “all suitable for feminine occupations; and they have the additional advantage on inducing gentle exercise in the open air.” (i)

From the introduction to “The Ladies’ Flower Garden”

In the introduction she makes the case for planting annuals; it is a worthwhile activity, it is cheaper and can be enjoyed over several months. Planning your garden in this way also suits people who rent their property for just a year as they see and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

She goes on to explain the arrangement of the work…

“I shall first give the botanic and English names, next the synonymes [sic], if any, and then the names of the modern English books in which the flower has been figured. To this, I shall subjoin a short botanical character, which will be followed by a popular description, with the geography, history, properties and uses, culture, and in short, everything worth knowing of the plant.” (iii)

She may have celebrated the sowing of annuals but she had strong words for those tempted to overdo things…

“An important feature of this work will be the directions for the culture of each flower…It is a common error, to suppose that all that is necessary to make a showy flower-garden is to sow the ground with a great many different kinds of flower-seeds…. “(iii)


“On looking into most flower-gardens, it will be found that most of the annuals are crowded together, each tuft having been left unthinned; and that the plants having been neither trained nor pruned, present, as they grow up, the most tawdry appearance, without either the grace and elegance of wild nature, or the trimness and neatness of art.” (iii)

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Her achievements were celebrated in a very practical way during the 2015 Hampton Court Flower Show with a garden designed by Jean Wardrop and Alexandra Stevenson called “A Growing Obsession – the Yardley London Perennial Garden” which was inspired by Loudon’s work.

Most of the images in “The Ladies Flower Garden” are annotated “Day & Haghe, Lithographers to the Queen”. Jane Loudon was the artist but her name does not appear on the illustrations. After her husband’s death she was again left in debt but continued to write and edited the weekly magazine “The Ladies’ Companion at Home and Abroad”. She was saddened when she was replaced as editor in 1851 following a slump in sales of the periodical. She died in 1858.

Jeanie Smith
Assistant Librarian

All images from “The Ladies’ Flower Garden of Ornamental Annuals” of 1842.
Guildhall Library reference GC 1.6 (Please bring proof of your name and address with you).

A Gem from Guildhall Library’s Shelves: George Cruikshank’s Fairy Library by George Cruikshank published by Routledge in London (c1870)


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Presented to Guildhall Library by George Cruikshank’s widow Eliza Cruikshank on the 6th of July 1889, George Cruikshank’s Fairy Library is a treasury for fairy tale lovers.

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Cruikshank (1792–1878) is probably best known for being an illustrator for Charles Dickens’ novels yet Cruikshank was a celebrated illustrator and social commentator before he met Dickens. In fact, it was Dickens who was initially described as ‘the Cruikshank of writers’ by the Spectator (26 Dec 1836, 1234). Cruikshank is not only the illustrator of this volume of fairy tales, but also the author. Included within the volume are: Hop-O’ My-Thumb and the Seven League Boots, Jack and the Bean Stalk, Cinderella and the Glass Slipper and Puss in Boots.

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From 1847 to the end of his life, Cruikshank attended multiple temperance meetings across the country even serving on the board of the London Temperance League. He preached sermons on the benefits of temperance as well as promoting the cause through his illustrations in books such as The Bottle (1847) and The Drunkard’s Children (1848) (please see catalogue links below). Temperance was a cause dear to Cruikshank’s heart, possibly because his own father died after a drinking competition in 1811, leaving him, at the age of nineteen, the principal breadwinner for the family. Cruikshank was upset by Dickens’ public opposition to what he saw as the extremes of the temperance movement. When Cruikshank first published these beautifully illustrated fairy tale books to which he added texts attributing all the violence and misery in the stories to drink, Dickens protested in his weekly magazine Household Words (1 October 1853). In Dickens’ leader entitled ‘Frauds on the Fairies’ he decries Cruikshank’s attempts to ‘propagate the doctrines of Total Abstinence, Prohibition of the sale of spirituous liquors, Free Trade and Popular Education. For the introduction of these topics, he [Cruikshank] has altered the text of a fairy story and against his right to do any such thing we protest with all our might and main… He has no greater moral justice in altering the harmless little books than we should have altering his best etchings…’
Dickens’ view prevailed. This led Cruikshank to profess on Dickens’ death that ‘One of our greatest enemies gone.’ Furthermore, he went on to later claim, in a letter to the Times published Dec 30, 1871 that it had been he, and not Dickens, who had come up with the characters and plot for Oliver Twist.

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Please find to the item on the City of London Libraries catalogue below:


Please note you do not need to make an advance booking to consult this item. However, you will need to bring one form of ID, such as a passport or driving licence or any library or archive membership card, with you when you visit in order to consult this book as it is designated a rare item.

The Bottle (1847):

The Drunkard’s Children (1848):
For those of you who are interested in learning more about George Cruikshank’s life and work we can recommend Robert Patten’s two volume biography, George Cruikshank’s life, times and art Vol.1, 1792-1835, and Vol.2, 1835-1878 which is available to consult at Guildhall Library:


Isabelle Chevallot
Assistant Librarian Guildhall Library

Lloyd’s List Intelligence for Maritime and Family History

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Guildhall Library’s historic ‘Lloyd’s Marine Collection’ offers information about vessels, shipping movements and casualties for your maritime research dating back to 1740.

If you are looking for more recent sources for your family or maritime history the Library subscribes to the Lloyd’s List Intelligence (LLI) ‘Seasearcher’ service, a website which includes an invaluable archive of shipping movements from 1997 to the present.

This impressive addition to our maritime resources offers searches by shipping company which can supply maritime enthusiasts with fleet details, history of ownership, brief details of incidents and vessel reports. LLI describe Seasearcher as ‘your digital engine room’ and you are welcome to visit to explore.

A highlight of the service is the ability to search by place and discover which ships were in port on a given day; so on the 21st June 1998 we can see that there were ten arrivals at Southampton. These included four vehicle carriers (‘Setubal’, ‘Golden Ray’, ‘Elduga’, ‘Jingu’), the refrigerated cargo ship ‘Dunedin Star’ and the ‘V.Express’ (roll on –roll off)

An example of the depth of information you can find on a vessel would be the ‘Queen Mary 2’. Apart from giving the detail you would expect to find in our ‘Lloyd’s Register of Ships’ like official number, flag, tonnage, dimensions, year of build, ownership etc. you can also see photographs of the vessel and the specifics of when she was ordered, when construction began, launch date, date of her first movement…etc. In short you have a potted history of the vessel.

The site also offers detail of a vessel’s sailings and arrivals which can be filtered by date or by port so for example you can search for QM2’s ports of call in 2006 which included several in South America including Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo and Valparaiso.

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Along with ‘Lloyd’s List Intelligence’ Guildhall Library also subscribes to ‘Lloyd’s List’ which we hold from the earliest surviving issue (1740). This historic newspaper ceased to be published in hard copy in 2013 but our online subscription means you can access their shipping news back to 1997 as well as look at recent editions of the e-newspaper.
Access is available in Guildhall Library only and you will need to provide proof of your name and address. You may also wish to bring along a notebook to record the gems you discover as printing and downloading of content is not permitted.

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Jeanie Smith
Assistant Librarian and Keeper of the Lloyd’s Marine Collection
(All images are from the Lloyd’s Marine Collection)


“Madonna or Whore: A Woman’s lot in Victorian England” – A Talk Review by Morgan Clark (GHL Placement Student)

This talk, by Jennifer Toynbee-Holmes, took place on the 28th of June 2016.

As a woman I found this talk highly interesting; Jennifer’s depth of knowledge was incredible. The talk made clear that there were two different representations of women in Victorian society: one the virtuous mother; submissive and powerless, also known as the Angel in the House, and the other the fallen woman; a woman of temptation and prostitution.

Queen Victoria was an influential role model in the Victorian period, as shown by Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s painting ‘The Royal Family” (1846). This presented the family as obedient and well dressed. Jennifer also spoke of the Queen as the mother of the nation, whose devotion to her husband Prince Albert was clear. However, despite this representation of Queen Victoria, we were also told that she was characterised as a woman who hated infants and being pregnant. This enriching talk also spoke about the huge impact the Pre-Raphaelites had on the representation of the ideal woman.

To illustrate her talk, Jennifer showed examples of famous Victorian paintings in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Guildhall Art Gallery, some of which depicted ideal women who were dressed modestly, thus maintaining ideologies of purity and virtue. Juxtaposed with these were paintings of “fallen” women, portrayed as those whose sexual innocence had been lost, and who were depicted in a highly sexualised way for the period, for example, wearing low-cut dresses coupled with short hemlines. This was my favourite section of the talk as it showed how women who were deemed “fallen” were given more of an identity and power by comparison to modest wives. Jennifer spoke proudly of women who were able to redeem their situation, making it clear that not all “fallen” women ended up dying on the streets. Neither was it inevitable that they would commit suicide, despite the prevalence of the Thames in Victorian paintings with its overtones of death by drowning as the outcast woman’s last resort.

This talk was also appealing because it defended women and spoke about the unfair society they lived in. Before the Married Women’s Property Acts of 1870 and 1882, a woman’s money and property automatically became her husband’s when she married. Even the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857, which widened the availability of divorce, showed that the Victorian double standard still operated in favour of men. A husband could divorce his wife solely on the grounds of her adultery, whereas a woman could only obtain a divorce if there was proof of her husband’s incest, cruelty, bigamy or desertion, in addition to adultery. The result was that many women remained trapped in unhappy marriages. An adulteress woman was still a sinner, whereas men were allowed mistresses without recrimination. To me, this was a very powerful section of the talk.

This talk links nicely with others that have taken place at Guildhall Library, including one in March by Bridget O’Donnell http://bridget-odonnell.com/minahan/

Some Pre-Raphaelite paintings which relate to this talk can be seen in Guildhall Art Gallery. Here are some examples:

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Furthermore, a collection from George Cruikshank’s The drunkard’s children: A sequel to the bottle. In eight plates, also has a bearing on the topic of “fallen” women.

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By: Morgan Clark (Lord Mayor’s Cultural Scheme Placement Student)

Images: Guildhall Library Collections

A Regency Dance Experience

Are you partial to Empire Line? Ever wondered about what it might be like to have attended a Regency Dance back in the days of Jane Austen?

Guildhall Library hosted a Regency Dance Experience on the 14th June 2016 in the Livery Hall, Guildhall.

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More than 90 dancers, many clad in intricate period costume, moved gracefully to the strains of the live Regency band, the Fortuna Trio, under the expert direction of Mrs Bennet from Mrs Bennet’s Ballroom.

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Guests thoroughly enjoyed the event and said how wonderful it was to have the opportunity to dance in such a splendid venue. We hope to hold another such event in the near future.
Isabelle Chevallot
Assistant Librarian Guildhall Library

The Wonders of George Loddiges’ Botanical Cabinet

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Botanical Cabinet Title Page (Reference Volume 2, GC 1.4)

George Loddiges (1786–1846) was a nurseryman who publicised his collections of plants and ferns in a publication called The Botanical Cabinet. The serial which ran from 1817-1833 was essentially a business sale catalogue, but one of great beauty, which eventually included around 2000 coloured plates of rare plants from around the world.

The Loddiges’ Hackney business was founded by George’s father, Conrad, a native of Hanover, and their nursery was on the site of the current Hackney Town Hall (Mare Street). The family firm was already thriving but George was to be an innovative businessman in his use of this publication and in the development of an unusual and very special collection of plants.

The arboretum at the Hackney site was begun in 1816 and a decade later Loddiges were offering 2600 hardy trees and shrubs in their catalogue but there were more innovations to come.

By the 1820s The Conrad Loddiges & Sons Nursery had also established an international reputation for the growing of tropical orchids and they were probably the first British firm to cultivate them commercially. Many of these orchids were to appear in ‘The Botanical Cabinet’ and by 1839 George Loddiges was able to produce the firm’s first catalogue devoted to their sale. In honour of his achievements, two orchids were named after him, Acropera Loddigesii which he introduced from Mexico and Cattleya Loddigesii from Brazil.

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Botanical Cabinet No.78 ‘Orchis Spectabilis’. George Loddiges designed this illustration and George Cooke engraved it. (Reference Volume 1, GC 1.4).

The collection of palms established by the nursery was extraordinary, mostly owing to George’s innovative use and development of hot houses. By the early 1830s his Grand Palm House was bursting to the frame with palms, ferns and orchids. The structure was 80 feet long, 60 feet wide and 40 feet high, the air was warmed by steam and the building had a platform from which one could view the tropical plant collection. Loddiges were already at the centre of the fern craze, offering around eighty exotic specimens by the late 1820s.

Loddiges Nursery was a popular attraction and the collection received numerous visitors from across Europe. John Loudon called the Palm House the largest hot-house in the world and it was said to display the best collection of palms and orchids in Europe. Loddiges also offered a large collection of camellias. The scale of the Palm House was unrivalled at the time predating the stove conservatory at Chatsworth (1836-40) and Decimus Burton’s Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (1848) demonstrating the innovative nature of Loddiges’ business.

In 1836 George Loddiges produced a catalogue which included 1549 roses alone and there were always potted plants for visitors to buy. ‘The Botanical Cabinet’ ran alongside the firm’s catalogues producing a colour guide to what could be seen and purchased at their Hackney botanic nursery garden. Many of the drawings were made by George himself and some by his daughter Jane and the young Edward Cooke (Jane’s husband) who became a leading Victorian artist. The publication is valued for its engravings, most of which are by Edward’s father, George Cooke. The engravings could not be reprinted because all 2000 of the copper plates were stolen.

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Botanical Cabinet No33 ‘Liparia Hirsuta’, a native of the Cape which was introduced in 1792. George Loddiges designed this particular illustration and George Cooke engraved it (Reference Volume 1, GC 1.4).

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Botanical Cabinet No.31 Crinum Erubescens. The artist was George Cooke (Reference Volume 1, GC 1.4).

George Loddiges died in Hackney on 5th June 1846 and was buried at St John-at-Hackney. His son Conrad continued to run the nurseries with his Uncle William Loddiges but rising land prices and increased pollution were factors in the final end of the nursery in 1852.

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Post Office London Directory for 1827

Jeanie Smith
Assistant Librarian

Find out more…

Guildhall Library holds a full run of The Botanical Cabinet 1817-1833 (Reference GC 1.4) which forms part of the Library of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners. If you would like to visit to look at these volumes do bring along proof of your name and address.

A.R.P. Hayden, ‘Loddiges, George (1786–1846)’, rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37683, accessed 9 May 2016]
Access in the library or online with a City of London library card.

David Solman
Loddiges of Hackney: The Largest Hothouse in the World
The Hackney Society, 1995.
Reference SL 45.5

Feeding London: The Forgotten Market Gardens exhibition is at Guildhall Library until the 24th June.

Feeding London & Horticultural History At Guildhall Library

FLH1As temperatures rise and the growing season is upon us we are celebrating the history of gardening and food production in and for London at Guildhall Library.

‘Feeding London: the Forgotten Market Gardens’ is our current exhibition which runs from 4th April – 24th June. It highlights the long history of market gardening in South West London, telling the story of commercial food growing in the area and includes sound-recorded memories of workers and families. It is accompanied by a selection of material from Guildhall Library’s fascinating gardening collections.

The exhibition is curated by Jam Yesterday, Jam Tomorrow; a Heritage Lottery funded project run by the Environment Trust for Richmond upon Thames.


On the 5th April we held an evening event to launch the exhibition in which we learned more about the Jam Yesterday project.   Juliana Vandegrift, Heritage Project Manager & Oral Historian for the project spoke about the setting up of the project and some of its outcomes.  The research for the project has led to the creation of a Model Market Garden in Marble Hill Park, a collection of oral histories (some of which you can hear as part of the exhibition), a schools education programme and nationally recognised horticultural courses for young people. It has also produced the audio visual exhibition ‘Feeding London’ which visitors to Guildhall Library can currently enjoy.

You can find out more about the Jam Yesterday, Jam Tomorrow project on the Environment Trust website http://www.environmenttrust.co.uk/jam-yesterday-jam-tomorrow

Our second speaker was David Lawrie, oral historian & research volunteer for Jam Yesterday, Jam Tomorrow, who told us about the history of market gardening in the Twickenham, Hampton and Hounslow areas. David told the story through a document awarded in c1900 which forms part of the exhibition; the “Certificate of Achievement” issued to William Poupart for 35 years’ service to the Home Counties Market Growers Association.

William Poupart (b.1847) was brought up on a Bermondsey farm and his family name is associated with a variety of agricultural produce. He moved to Kew and by the late 1870s had expanded his business into the Twickenham area and to Marsh Farm in particular. His family business was later well known for the production of jam.

David’s talk also covered ‘Universal Provider’ William Whiteley who had a farm on which he grew the produce sold in his Bayswater store. As with his shop assistants he housed his workers on site. We know more about Whiteley because he commissioned a book in 1895 which included photographs of his farm – Alfred Barnard’s ‘Orchards and Gardens; Ancient and Modern’. The strawberries on Whiteley’s farm were picked by mostly female labour and he also had his own jam factory employing male chefs and female workers.

David also told us about local nurseryman and businessman A W Smith who was known as the ‘Cabbage King’, taking a million cabbages a year into Covent Garden. By around 1890 Smith owned 1000 acres at Feltham and was so influential he was able to have his own siding made to his farm off the London and South Western Railway line!

We were delighted that our audience were joined by descendants of the market gardeners who met and talked with people about their family history after the talks.

There are still a few places on our “Shirley Hibberd: The Father of Amateur Gardening” talk given by Anne Wilkinson on the 12th May and on an opportunity to see several volumes from the collection of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners held at Guildhall Library on 26th May. Both are free but you will need to book https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/guildhall-library/events-exhibitions/Pages/events.aspx


You can also see a write up and photographs of the exhibition launch on the Environment Trust’s blog http://www.environmenttrust.co.uk/blog/feeding-london-guildhall-library#.VxI8o9TR_ct

Jeanie Smith
Assistant Librarian