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Orlebar, Mary, 1730–1821
An excursion to Cheltenham, Birmingham, & Oxford, &c. &c. &c. : August the 26th, 1782.
England, 1782.
Physical Description:
1 v. ; 21 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
In Process DA522.O75 E93 1782
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
The Orlebar sisters, Mary, Elisabeth (affectionately known within the family as Eliza) and Constantia, lived for more than 40 years at the Cot, having moved to Ecton in Northamptonshire after their father's death in 1765. The family was originally from Bedfordshire, and lived in Hinwick House, which was built between 1709 and 1714 for Richard Orlebar, their great cousin, on his marriage to Diana Astry. The Isted family purchased the Manor of Ecton in 1712, and developed the house and grounds throughout the 18th century. Rose was born in 1762, Charlotte in 1767, and Mary Orlebar in 1730, no doubt acting as traveling companion and chaperone for the two young Isted daughters.
Bound in original dark blue glazed paper wrappers, with a small paper label (numbered "LVIII" in pen and black ink).
A second travel diary by Mary Orlebar is in the collections of the Yale Center for British Art, cataloged separately (DA522.O75 J68 1785).
Manuscript diary of Mary Orlebar, documenting her travels in England, accompanied by her friends Rose and Charlotte Isted. The diary includes both her original private first draft, and her neatly written public version. The latter is written on 54 pages, signed at the end, and has a table of distances covered between each town (250 miles in total) and the inns where they lodged. The draft version covers 48 pages, with corrections and deletions, and ends abruptly as the party near Ecton, the home of the Isted family; it appears the final section has at some time become detached.
There is a marked contrast in style between the two versions. The earlier is full of informal, indiscrete, and spirited personal observations which Orlebar chose to edit out from the finished copy. The late Sir Thomas Samuel's Upton house is no longer described as "in ruinous state ... a family seat in decay," but becomes a picturesque view, "a melancholy picture of decay." There is an incident where Mary tears her "poor paltry apron on getting out of the chaise to take a walk at Weedon, the consequence of which only serv'd to convince me that it is better travelling without an apron." This is struck through with a note "anecdote be thou erased, as unfit to be in the company of Blenheim & Oxford." A long anecdote relating to meeting a lady "neither young nor handsome ... in frantic fit of despair" whose dog had jumped down out of the gallery into the chapel, is left rather vague in the later version, but is identified as "Her Ladyship herself ... [Lady Ray of Burford]" in the earlier draft. There are numerous such examples of careful editing, adjectives removed (wanton, dull, damp, &c &c), and a distancing of herself from events, becoming more of a recorder than participant in the excursions.
The diary notes visits to various country houses, picture galleries, and libraries. There are garden walks, including a lengthy description of the beauties of the Leasowes, Hagley and Winterdine: "the meandering streams rolling over rough stones into various water-falls, that appear quite natural, though art led them into their present course; and some beautiful cascades seen to the greatest adventage through trees that grow in a grotesque manner are beauties of such a tranquil kind as suited the genius of Shenstone ... " There is also a good description of Blenheim.
Orlebar and her companions also visit "the manufactures carried out under the directions of Mr. Bolton (sic) at a place called Soho, [i.e. Matthew Boulton's Soho Manufactory" with descriptions of the engines: "the silver plating & filigree work is very pretty and curious." At Kidderminster a trip is taken to the carpet manufacture: "Mr. Penn (who is one of the principal people concernd in it) shew'd us his Manufactory: the weavers emplyd in the work copied the patterns from a very small bit of painted paper ..." They also visit a button manufactory: "the women employed in putting the catgut through the four holes that are first made with an instrument, in the button mold ..."
Subject Terms:
Boulton, Matthew, 1728-1809
Button industry -- Great Britain -- 18th century.
England -- Description and travel.
Factories -- Great Britain -- 18th century.
Isted, Charlotte.
Isted, Rose.
James Watt and Company (Birmingham, England)
Orlebar, Mary, 1730-1821 -- Diaries.
Rug and carpet industry -- England -- Kidderminster -- 18th century.
Women travelers -- Great Britain.

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