19th Century photographs, Alice in wonderland, architecture, art, books, Brown University John Carter Brown Library, C.S.Lewis, Charles Dodgson Photographer, Christ Church College, Christopher Wren, culture, Del' Arcano del Mare, education, England, Florence, Italy, Lewis Carroll, Magdalen College, oxford, Robert Dudley, The broad walk, Thomas Hobbes, University of Oxford, Warwick Castle
This post connects a lot of historical figures and facts. Connecting in unexpected ways is one of the wonderful things about writing and research for me. When finally everything you research falls into place nicely, all of a sudden you learn an unexpected new thing about your topic and you absolutely positively want to include that little previously unknown fact in your post.
In an earlier post (Architectural Photography – Nineteenth Century England and Scotland (Part 6) we touched upon Warwick Castle and Queen Elizabeth. Warwick Castle belonged to the first Earl of Leicester who was known as the Queen’s lover. His son Robert was born out of wedlock and below is an interesting short biography of him taken from a 1980 John Carter Brown Library Catalog (Brown University, Providence Rhode Island) of a very interesting book exhibition which we will cover in the future in another more appropriate post. Here is the catalog entry in that exhibition.
Looking at the map illustrated in the exhibition catalog (posted below) we learn the names of some of New England’s Indian Tribes. The Massachusetts coast pictured here is well delineated.
The book in three folio volumes written by Dudley were written in the Italian language and first printed in 1645 or1646, the English translation “the secrets of the seas”. The book is a comprehensive treatise on navigation and shipbuilding and it is now known as the first Atlas of Sea Charts of the World. Dell’Arcano del Mare consists of six known parts that illustrate Dudley’s extensive maritime knowledge.
His 130 original maps were not copied from existing maps, usually the case during that period. Original as they are though, successive cartographers chose not to copy these maps. This makes the Atlas a great rarity. The Atlas also includes a proposal for the construction of ships in different sizes by his own design. Italy was at that time in history the place where the foremost cartographers in the world were making maps, before they would lose that place to the Dutch map makers. Interesting, is the fact that Robert Dudley was a college student in England in 1587 at Christ Church College at the University of Oxford. Dudley tried for many years to obtain the title and the privileges as heir to his fathers estate but did not succeed in this. Most likely this is the reason for his leaving England.
It is at this point that we are starting the balance of our Architectural Photography Series where we left off in Part 6. (The above illustration is from the official College website. It gives us a good understanding of the entire layout of the grounds.
In the albumen print above from our archive we have a prominent view of the Tom Tower opening up to the Quad. The square tower has a faceted ogee dome and was designed and built by England’s most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren in 1681-1682. Even today the bell, also called the Great Tom is rung precisely at nine p.m. for one hundred plus one (101) times in remembrance of the original 100 professors plus one time for a professor added later.
The following part in italics is from the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.
Christ Church was founded by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525, as Cardinal College, the buildings straddling the site of the south City Wall, partly on the site of St Frideswide’s Priory which Wolsey had suppressed in 1524. Various college buildings, including the Hall and the south side of Tom Quadrangle, together with parts of the west and east ranges, were completed by the time of Wolsey’s fall in 1529, the buildings bounded to the south by open water meadows. Henry VIII refounded the college in 1546 as a unique joint foundation of cathedral and college, renaming it Christ Church and incorporating various priory buildings, including the church, as Christ Church Cathedral. By the 1570s a perimeter walk had been established, running around much of the meadow as far south as the River Thames, marked on Agas’ map of 1578 by a double row of trees and named as ‘Christ Church Medows and Walkes’. By 1675 (map, Loggan) what later became known as the Broad Walk was established, and Tom Quad had been completed except for the tower, which was completed by Sir Christopher Wren in the early 1680s. Loggan shows the terrace around the inner edge of the Quad, together with a central pool and fountain, and the Broad Walk in its current position in the Meadow, named as ‘new walks’.
It is precisely this new walk or Broad Walk featured in our anonymous albumen print above with a view towards the River Thames. The lane with the wonderful elm trees must have been a very popular view to photograph. We know the Dean of the College Mr. Liddell (Dean from 1855-91) laid out the straight New Walk running south through the Meadow to the river, in line with the center of the south front of the Meadow Buildings, and it was opened in 1872 by Princess Louise. Most likely our albumen print dates from shortly after this date. The author and photographer Charles Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis Caroll lived for four decades near here, lectured at the College and was a mathematician as well. The Dean’s daughter Alice is the central figure and inspiration for his book Alice’s Advertures in Wonderland . It is known that Dodgson also photographed the Broad Walk. A great photographer he does remain a controversial figure to some.
That Christ Church College buildings were featured in the recent Harry Potter movies is well known! More importantly and less well known is the fact that thirteen British Prime Ministers were graduates of Christ College. This is more in numbers than Prime Ministers who graduated from other colleges in the United Kingdom. The College buildings were also used as architectural examples for other university buildings throughout the world. The University of Chicago and Cornell University both have reproductions of the magnificent Christ Church’s dining hall (in the form of Hutchinson Hall and the dining hall of Risley Residential College, respectively).
Another very interesting place is the Magdalen College (one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford) founded in the Fifteenth Century with a superb Gothic tower built by William Orchard between 1492 and 1509 before Columbus’s first ocean voyage!
We have an interesting albumen print (shown above) showing the tower with pinnacles and carvings, although comparing this print to the ones I have seen on the internet dating back to the 1890’s. I found that our view shows a large amount of English Ivy on the exterior of this tower. Since English Ivy takes time to grow, it implies that the date of our print is a probably a little earlier. The Ivy is nowhere to be seen in contemporary photographs of the tower. Two towering figures in English life and culture that went to school here were the philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588- 1679) and author C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), the latter a fellow and teacher there from 1925-1954. Below is a very nice picture of the College Library dealing more extensively on this site with Thomas Hobbes. More on life and writing of C.S. Lewis can be found here.