Celebrity Cooks

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To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of Mrs Beeton, Guildhall Library is currently staging the exhibition Celebrity Cooks: Mrs Beeton and her Contemporaries. As the owners of the largest collection of cookery books in a public library in the UK, we were delighted to be able to tell the story of this extraordinary woman with some of the fascinating items from our collection.

Mrs Beeton was born in 1836 in Milk Street, a couple of minutes from Guildhall Library. At the age of 20 she married Samuel Beeton and immediately became involved in his publishing business, spending four years compiling the information that would make up the Book of Household Management, published in 1861. She died soon after its publication, in 1865 at the age of 28.

In the time since her death her remarkable book has never been out of print, and the name ‘Mrs Beeton’ has become a household name. Many people are unaware that she died at such a young age: her book continued to be re-edited and published with no reference to her death, giving the impression she was still alive and working on various revisions.

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This exhibition traces her lasting impact on the world of cooking, including her influence on today’s ‘celebrity cooks.’ We also look at her place in the world of nineteenth-century cooking and two of her contemporaries, Eliza Acton and Alexis Soyer (who were, arguably, better cooks than Mrs Beeton herself, who was really a journalist!).

We also have an exciting accompanying events programme, which will cover different aspects of food history, including the lost world of the Georgian Chocolate House and the history of the English Cookbook, as well as an ‘edible exhibition’, where visitors will have the opportunity to taste sweet dishes through the ages (14 April, 6 – 8pm, £5 per person). While you’re visiting look out for our range of Mrs Beeton merchandise (including a chef duck!).

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Want to find out more? Our exhibition is free and open until 17 April. Don’t forget, you can learn more about our food and wine collections any time, without appointment or membership!

 

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Remembering the First World War

To commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War, Guildhall Library currently has three free exhibitions: From Beef Tea to Battleships: Personal Stories from the First World War; The Remembrance Image Project and Poppy.013We knew we wanted to focus on the individual for our exhibition to mark the centenary of the war and were lucky enough to have some fascinating objects loaned to us, including a memoir, a torch which saved a soldier’s life and an autograph book. Looking through these items, and through books from our own collection, was a very humbling experience. From Beef Tea to Battleships is a result of this research and features the objects that best reflect the experiences of the people who lived through the war.

One person who features in this exhibition is William Greenall Coe, known to his family as ‘Boy’. He began his training as a naval rating at the Naval Barracks in Chatham on 3 May, 1912 and qualified as an Engine Room Artificer 25 days later. He served on the first submarines in the Navy during the First World War and wrote to his mother almost every week. On display are letters from Boy and documents relating to his experience of the war, as well as letters from those he knew, in particular relating to his death in 1917 from double pneumonia and consumption.

While we can trace the life story of some of the people featured in the exhibition, we also have objects on display from people we don’t know much about. Some only bear the initials of those they belonged to, but each item reveals something that may otherwise have been lost forever.

022The exhibition also features a military bugle on loan from the Horniman Museum and Gardens as part of their Object in Focus project. The bugle is best known as the instrument which sounds ‘The Last Post’ to honour those who have died – we thought this seemed particularly fitting with the theme of the exhibition.

The Remembrance Image Project is a contemporary photography exhibition by Simon Gregor. Simon has been taking pictures of sites associated with the conflict on the anniversary of when they saw action. From poppies to battlefields, he has aimed to capture the spirit and emotion of each location. The photographs displayed are from the research phase of the project.

028Poppy is an installation by floral artist Rebecca Louise Law and her team. Rebecca has worked with us before to create a beautiful display for the Worshipful Company of Gardeners exhibition, and we were delighted when she agreed to create something to commemorate the war. We had the idea to use paper poppies from The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal to create a curtain through which people could walk, seeing the poignant poem In Flanders Fields at one end of the tunnel, and the bugle at the other. Visitors are encouraged to use this space for remembrance and contemplation, and to pick a flower from the curtain – please leave a donation to The Royal British Legion in return.

Accompanying the exhibitions is a series of events on different aspects of the war, from memorials and women’s poetry to the effect on letter writing. We hope you get to visit the exhibition or attend one of the events and learn more about the extraordinary sacrifices made by men and women in the First World War. The exhibitions are available to view until 12 November.

036Amy Randall,
Events and Exhibitions Officer

 

 

Happy 120th Tower Bridge!

084We’re wishing a hearty Happy 120th Birthday to our friends at Tower Bridge this month – on the 30th of June to be precise. To celebrate, we have digitised a copy of a lovely little book from our collections, published exactly 120 years ago to mark the opening: ‘Photographs of the Opening of the Tower Bridge, London, June 30th, 1894: by Their Royal Highnesses the Prince & Princess of Wales(London: Talbot, 1984).

078This little tome contains 24 black and white images from the big day itself, creating a real overview of the day. The photographs commence with one of the bridge at 9.30am on the day, then go on to document ensuing events, showing the opening of the bascules and various vessels passing through the bridge, with the final image taken one hour after the ceremony.

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We have created a Pinterest board showing each page from the book – which you can view at: http://www.pinterest.com/guildhalllib/photographs-of-the-opening-of-the-tower-bridge/

But you can of course view the item in real life here at Guildhall Library!

092Don’t forget to visit Guildhall Art Gallery’s striking exhibition of images depicting Tower Bridge throughout the years: 120 Years of Tower Bridge (1894-2014). Paintings, illustrations and photographs show how artists have perceived London’s iconic bridge over the last 120 years, and some engineering plans and ephemera are also on display. You can read London Historians’ excellent review of the exhibition here

Charles Pears (1873-1958), Blitz. Our London Docks, 1940, oil on canvas. Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London.

Charles Pears (1873-1958), ‘Blitz. Our London Docks’, 1940, oil on canvas. Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London. © The Artist’s Estate.

The exhibition is free and runs from 31 May to 30 June. And if you can’t make it in June the good news is that it is returning again during the Totally Thames festival, and will be on show from 12 September to early January 2015.

And if that’s not enough London bridges for you, the Museum of London Docklands’ Bridge exhibition will run from 27 June to 2nd November. Bridge promises to be the museum’s largest ever art exhibition, and will feature art, photography and film from their own collections. This exhibition will cover all of London’s major bridges and is also free to attend.

Anne-Marie Nankivell
Library Assistant

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Clockmakers’ Library exhibition

An exhibition has opened at Guildhall Library to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Clockmakers’ Company Library, by showing you some of the treasures from the collection.  

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The Clockmakers’ Company was established by royal charter in 1631 to include all those following the trade of clockmaking in the City of London or within ten miles of the City.  Their Library formally began in 1814 when the watchmaker and Freeman, F J Barraud, suggested that the Company should assemble a library of books on horology. 

“That it is expedient that this Company should possess, and from time to time procure such Books, Pamphlets and Tracts as have been written and published respecting or appertaining to the subject of the Art placed under the government of this Corporation.”

Court of Assistants 2nd November, 1813

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By the 1850s the collection had grown considerably and Samuel Atkins, Clerk of the Company, suggested public access could be improved if the collection moved to the new Guildhall Library.

“The Corporation of London are building a magnificent Library and Museum which is fast approaching completion, and which I believe will be second to none in the kingdom, and my proposition is, if it meet with the concurrence of the Court, to open negotiations for their reception by the Corporation…whereby they would be at all times open to the Public, and those interested in horological matters”

Extract from Atkins’ letter December 5th 1871

The Court agreed and the Company deposited its Library in 1873.  Interest in the collection has remained high ever since.

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The exhibition to celebrate 200 years of the Clockmakers’ Library is open until the 17th January 2014 and visitors are recommended to combine it with a visit to the Clockmakers’ Museum, which is also in the building.

Guildhall Library is a public reference library and visitors are very welcome to consult books from the Clockmakers’ or Antiquarian Horological Society’s libraries on production of proof of name and address.  Items from these libraries can be found on our catalogue www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/librarycatalogue

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