Maids of Misfortune

Every year on the 14th February we celebrate St. Valentine’s day with the exchanging of small tokens of our love and affection with our significant others. As so often is the case, the exact origins of this holiday are clouded in mystery. It is commonly believed to have begun as the pagan festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated by young Roman bachelors and maidens by drawing out ballets from an urn revealing the name of their ‘valentine’ for the ensuing year, and was followed by raucous feasting and festivities.

During the third century, the Fathers of the Christian Church substituted the pagan festival for a more subdued festival in memory of St. Valentine, who was martyred on the 14th of February. While the exact hagiography of the saint is debated, one popular account suggests Valentine was martyred for secretly marrying Christian couples against the will of Rome, and while imprisoned is said to have written a note to the daughter of his jailor which he signed “from your Valentine”. This Christian St. Valentine’s festival also involved a feast at which rejoicings and amusements were indulged in (though of a more subdued kind than the pagan festival it had replaced), as well as the simple and innocent exchange of tender amenities between the sexes.

It was during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that St. Valentine’s Day became a very popular festival with the aristocracy, and expensive presents began to be exchanged between Valentines. The Duke of York, for example, is recorded to have sent his Valentine (Miss Stuart, later the Duchess of York) a jewel worth £8OO! Presents were not always confined to jewels. Perfumes and articles of attire were  common gifts — mantles, girdles, gloves, and even shoes adorned with diamond buckles were bestowed (Globe 14/2/1881: 3).

By the eighteenth century the festival had been more significantly embraced by the lower classes. Couples eagerly anticipated a token of affection from their significant others on St. Valentine’s morning, while young singletons would anxiously await secret communications from the object of their adoration. During the first decades of Christchurch’s settlement the popularity of these billets d’amour (love letters) is evident in the increased number of letters being sent through the postal service. In 1878, it was reported that 13,430 letters were received and dispatched through the Christchurch post office on St. Valentine’s day alone (Lyttelton Times 16/2/1878: 2). The commercialisation of the holiday is also evident in the local newspapers, as advertisements by booksellers and stationers for valentines pop up in the count down to the big day (Lyttelton Times 27/2/1891: 1; Star 4/2/1871: 2). The holiday was celebrated not only with the exchanging of letters but also by public fetes and moonlight excursions where music and dancing abounded (Auckland Star 12/2/1881: 1; Lyttelton Times 11/2/1865: 6). By the 1880s however, the popularity of St. Valentines day seems to have dropped from its once esteemed position, which is particularly evident in the declining number of letters being sent through the post (Ashburton Guardian 19/2/1887: 2; Lyttelton Times 15/2/1888: 4; Star 15/2/1881: 2; 14/2/1882: 3; 15/2/1883: 2; 15/2/1889: 3).

Despite the decline in its popularity, the celebration of St. Valentine’s day provides an insight into an area of Victorian daily life that is not always clearly evident in the archaeological record – love, romance, and relationships. So, in honour of this historic day of love and romance, our historians have selected to share two tales which provide insight into nineteenth century relationships, and which cover everything from love, marriage, defiance, illusion, and manipulation. Enjoy!

Blind Love

Today, many of us may not think twice about asserting our right to follow our hearts and make our own decisions about who we date and choose to spend our lives with. But for many in the nineteenth century (particularly women) this freedom was not always a given. Our first tale is about a woman whose life was not always her own to direct, but who, despite a strict and controlling upbringing, managed to follow her heart and become one of the most loved women in Christchurch. This is the tale of Annie Quayle Moore.

Annie Moore was the only daughter of George Henry Moore and Anne Kermode. George Moore emigrated to Tasmania from the Isle of Man in 1830 with his friend, Robert Quayle Kermode, to work on the Kermode family sheep run, which was called Mona Vale. Almost a decade after his arrival, on 9 July 1839, Moore married his friend’s eldest sister, Anne Kermode (The Hobart Town Courier and Van Diemen’s Land Gazette, 12/7/1839: 2). Was this a love match? A way for Moore to solidify his position within the Kermode family and their sheep run? Or simply a marriage of convenient proximity – a match made in the Tasmanian countryside where men were abundant and women were few? The answer to these questions is not known. However, despite the relationship producing four children (only two of which survived to adulthood), the marriage appears to have been a loveless and unhappy one, and after a few years the pair were separated (Gardner, 1990; MacDonald 1952-1964: M544).

While young Annie was sent to be raised at her father’s birth place on the Isle of Man, the man himself travelled to New Zealand in 1853 to investigate prospects of runholding in Canterbury. Despite his separation from Anne, Moore was bankrolled by his estranged wife’s family, and he was able to select the large Glenmark sheep station, which contained one hundred and fifty acres of freehold and leasehold land. Moore proved to be an able run manager, and at one point he had extended the estate to a remarkable 81,000 acres of freehold land, upon which he managed 90,000 sheep (Acland, 1946: 271-275).

It is at this point in the tale that our heroine re-enters the scene. At 19 years of age Annie left the Isle of Man to travel to Canterbury to keep house for her father (Christchurch City Libraries, 2019). This appears to have been no easy task as, by all accounts, Mr. Moore was a difficult man to deal and live with. Moore was known as the “king of scab” and nicknamed “Scabby Moore”, because he refused to clean his sheep of the pestilence. Keeping his country scabby was believed to be a tactic which allowed him to buy up the neighbouring land cheaply (Acland, 1946: 271-275). When questioned about his obligation to his neighbours, he retaliated by asking: “What are my neighbours to me? What do I care for my neighbours?” (Lyttelton Times 15/5/1879: 7). Another account of Moore’s harsh nature is the story of a begging swagman, who Moore not only turned away from his own door on a wet bitter night, but also commanded his servants to refuse the man entry to their own homes. Being thus turned away, and with no anticipation of shelter, the man committed suicide. With no remorse for his actions, it is said that Moore even refused to let his carpenters build a coffin for the poor dead man. When news of the incident spread, the local newspapers chastised Moore as a “mean, hard-hearted, barbarous, blasphemous man” and implored their readers that “no hand of a Christian should clasp that of Mr. Moore till he has done penance for his deep crime against the laws of God and man” (Lyttelton Times 21/3/1860: 4).

For young Annie, living with this severe and harsh man dictated the way she was to live much of her life. It is believed that Moore insisted that any would-be suitors seeking Annie’s hand in marriage could only be after her money, and thus Annie spent her youth as an isolated spinster (was Moore’s assumption regarding the suitors’ intentions based on his own experience of marrying Miss Kermode for her money?). Despite the strict conditions, Annie appears to have at least lived in comfort, especially after 1888 when the construction of Moore’s grand castle-like mansion was finally completed on the Glenmark run, and allowed the father and daughter to live in secluded splendour (Figure 1). Unfortunately this was short lived as the uninsured structure was gutted by fire a few years later (Christchurch City Libraries, 2019).

Photograph of the Glenmark Station house prior to its destruction in the 1890s. Image: Glenmark Station, Waipara. Ref: 1/2-127240-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23134000

In his later years Moore began to go blind. It is at this time that Annie finally appears to have seized her chance to take control of her own life. In 1900, Annie entered into a secret union with Dr. Joseph Henry Townend. Dr. Townend was born in Wolverhampton and studied medicine at Guys Hospital, London. He arrived in Canterbury on board the Rakaia in 1875 as a medical officer in charge of 500 emigrants. He was married shortly after his arrival to Miss Harriet Cox, with whom he had five children. Dr. Townend appears to have enjoyed a successful career, as well as a happy marriage until Harriet died in 1893 (MacDonald 1952-1964: T345). By all accounts Dr. Townend was a well-liked man, being described at one time as Christchurch’s “popular Doctor” (New Zealand Herald 24/1/1901: 3). It is not clear when Annie and Joseph’s paths first crossed (was he the Moore family’s doctor?) but it was almost certainly a love match as the two secretly conspired to be married. Annie and Joseph’s wedding took place at St. Barnabas’ church at 11 o’clock on Saturday 15 September 1900. Contemporary newspapers described the wedding as “a very quiet one” with the only witnesses being two friends, Mr R. W. Stringer and Mr. H. W. Bishop. One conspicuous absence from the wedding party was Annie’s father, and indeed it was Mr H. W. Bishop who is recorded as walking Annie down the matrimonial isle. Annie was fashionably attired for the event in a fawn silk poplin, richly trimmed with silk velvet and Maltese lace, and with a hat and sunshade to match, all made by well-known local drapers J. Ballantyne and Co. (Press 18/9/1900: 5). This romantic elopement feels like it could have come straight from a Jane Austen novel!

George Moore is believed to have never found out about his daughter’s wedding and subsequent marriage (Christchurch City Libraries, 2019). This begs the question: where did the newly married couple live after their wedding? Did Dr. Townend quietly sneak around the Glenmark estate concealed from Mr Moore’s blind eyes? Or did the new Mrs Townend come to live at the Townend family home in Park Terrace where some of Dr. Townend’s children still resided? Surely if it is the latter, then Mr Moore would have wondered at the absence of his daughter from their family home? Or was the truth hidden from him by some fiction of her travelling abroad or taking up a house of her own? Unfortunately the answer to these fanciful questions are uncertain. Mrs Townend’s place of residence is not listed in the contemporary street directories or electoral rolls, and while Mr Townsend is still recorded in 1900-1902 as occupying premises on Park Terrace, this could merely be a reference to his family doctors practice and not a true representation of his place of abode (H. Wise & Co. 1900: 220, 1902: 339).

Sadly, Dr. Joseph Henry Townend died just two years after he and Annie were married (Star 11/7/1902: 3). It is interesting to note that Dr. Townend bequeathed all of his estate to his widow, Annie, without any inheritance being set aside for his children (Archives New Zealand, 1902). This shows the trust Dr. Townsend had in his wife to continue to provide for his family (sadly records from the Probate Court show that this is not always the case!).

Annie’s father died in July 1905 at the good old age of 92 (Star 7/7/1905: 3). Annie was the sole benefactor of Moore’s large fortune (Moore’s son, William, had died young and estranged in London in 1865). The inheritance made Annie the wealthiest woman in Canterbury, but even in death Moore managed to ensure one last input in Annie’s future and scare off any suiters who were after her money. In his Will he included a clause that if Annie were ever to marry, her future husband was to have no control over her money:

I give and bequeath to my daughter Annie Quayle all my real and personal estate for her absolute use and benefit and I wish her to have all the powers to deal with it that I possessed in my lifetime. Should she marry it is my most earnest wish that her interest in my estate both real and personal be so securely settled upon her that her husband can have no control over it (Achieves New Zealand, 1905).

With Moore’s money Annie purchased the Karewa property on Fendalton Road, and renamed it Mona Vale after her mother’s house in Tasmania. Annie continued to own Mona Vale until her death in 1914 (Oamaru Mail 18/5/1914: 5). Unlike her father (or maybe in spite of him?) Annie was a very charitable woman. This is not more evident than in her Will in which she generously bequeathed a large portion of her extensive estate (which was estimated at £800,000!) to her step children, cousin, servants, friends, and to various public institutions. So generous was her endowments that local newspapers even published part of her Will for all to read:

Copy of Annie Quayle Townsends Will printed in the Press in 1914. Image: Press 30/5/1914: 11.

Annie’s obituary printed in the Oamaru Mail in May 1914, succinctly summarises her kind nature and charitable spirit, and reveals how she became one of the most cherished women in Christchurch:

The deceased lady, who led a most retired life, was chiefly known for her charitable work. She was one of the kindest and most humane of women. She was a most liberal contributor to charitable and deserving objects, in many cases anonymously. She was greatly loved by all who knew her (Oamaru Mail 18/5/1914: 5).

Er steht einfach nicht auf Dich (He’s just not that into you)

Nineteenth century Canterbury was to be the bastion of an Anglican utopia, a prime colonial example of good social order. But even a brief foray into the records of the day unveils that the love life of the early settlers was often the cause of the more interesting accounts of the Canterbury settlement. Love manifests in many ways and can create a heady concoction of misjudgement, illusion, and sometimes manipulation.

Some of us (or a lot of us) have had that brief but embarrassing delusion that someone is totally into you. Sometimes in that haze of infatuation (sometimes mistaken for the real deal) we get that niggle of reality that all is not what it seems. The wakeup call is either getting dumped unceremoniously, ghosted into oblivion, and the oh-so often allocation to the ‘friend zone’, or in the case Wilhelmina Klaus (despite her tenacity) completely replaced by an imported wife…

Johann Grabau had been part of a migration of German settlers to the Halswell/Tai Tapu area in the 1850s and 60s. In 1864 Grabau, a single man at the time, had gone into a brief partnership with another German immigrant Wilhelm (William) Klaus. Wilhelm was married to Wilhelmina (cute I know!). Current research indicates that Wilhelm and Wilhelmina were married circa 1858 in London. Klaus and his wife were recorded immigrating from London to New Zealand on the Regina which arrived in Lyttelton 4th December 1859. Klaus was listed as William Klaus, aged 43, and his wife Wilhelmina, aged 28 (Figure 1). By 1862 Klaus was naturalized and listed as a farmer originally from Hanover, Germany.

The Klaus couple’s arrival to New Zealand. Image: Archives NZ, 1859: 4.

By 1866 it appears all was not well in the marriage as William advertised in the Lyttelton Times that he would not be answerable for any debts that his wife, Wilhelmina Klaus, may contract from this date: 20th September 1866 (Lyttelton Times 21/9/1866: 4). From research conducted in a later court case, it was noted that Wilhelmina (possibly affronted by this development) took things into her own hands and on the 1st December 1866, it was alleged that she cohabitated with Johann Grabau.

By March 1867 Klaus was suing Grabau (also recorded as Graban or Grabow) for £500 over the alleged cohabitation of Grabau and Wilhelmina (Lyttelton Times 8/3/1867: 2). During the Supreme Court case the legality of the Klaus marriage was called into account – were they actually married? Two witnesses who knew the couple in London attested that they were married as they witnessed the couple coming out of an East End church in London approximately five years prior. Historic documents show that a Wilhelm Heinrich Jacob Klaus, aged 41, married Wilhelmine (Wilhelmina) Johanna Wespfahln (Westfall), aged 28, on the 31st of October 1858 at St. George’s German Lutheran Church in Whitechapel, London. The cross-examination of the witnesses even covered the sleeping arrangements of the married couple’s one roomed cottage on Lincoln Road, Christchurch. Apparently, Wilhelmina had other ideas for her sleeping arrangements. Whilst staying at the Wellington Hotel in Tuam Street (which she had stayed at on a prior occasion with Mr Klaus) she was collected by Mr Grabau, along with all her boxes.  Some two weeks later Wilhelmina was back at the hotel this time with Mr Klaus. Grabau arrived at the hotel to inquire of her whereabouts only to be told that Wilhelmina was booked in at the hotel with her husband. Grabau infuriated at the situation stated he had a great mind to go upstairs and knock the old *&^%$’s eye out! Mrs Fuchs, the proprietor of the hotel, reminded Grabau of the married state of Mr and Mrs Klaus, to which Grabau retorted “why does he not keep her!” Grabau, good to his word, stormed up the stairs of the establishment causing a great commotion. Back down in the bar after his outburst, Grabau was soon joined by Wilhelmina speaking German in low tones. Grabau then went to get a horse and carriage, while Wilhelmina collected herself and later left with Grabau. Various other witness testimonies also confirmed that Wilhelmina and Grabau were indeed cohabitating for weeks at time (Lyttelton Times 8/3/1867: 2).

The upshot of the instance was to prove a case for Klaus to divorce his wife, and to be remunerated for it. Prior to this accusation, Klaus and his wife had planned to travel to America, resulting in the conveyance of a rural section to Grabau. The case eventually concluded that adultery had occurred, with the verdict to the plaintiff with damages of £40 (Press 8/3/1867: 2). It must be noted that Grabau’s conduct as recounted by witnesses, appeared to be reluctant. When confronted of the fact of taking another man’s wife he replied he did not want Klaus’s wife, and that she had come after him.

In 1877 (yes all was not over yet) Johann Grabau became naturalised at the age of 42 years. Grabau was also recorded in 1877 in newspapers as noting that all money due to him must be paid in full to Mrs Klaus (it seems that no trip to America eventuated…) during his absence from Canterbury (Press 13/3/1877: 4). By 1879 Grabau and Klaus were back in the district court, with Klaus claiming wages for his wife – yes, they were still married! Mrs Klaus (Wilhelmina) deposed that she had been living with Grabau as a housekeeper for eleven years and had paid her £200 in 1873. In March 1877 Grabau left for Germany and returned the following year. During this time, Mrs Klaus acted as farm manager for his property and was to receive all payments regarding the farm. On cross examination, Mrs Klaus said she had argued with Mr Klaus, and was living with Mr Grabau as a result of having nowhere to go. During her management of the farm the property had produced a good profit. On Mr Grabau’s return in 1878 he had promised payment of her wages. Grabau did return but not with payment of wages, but with a wife! Grabau had married in Germany. Grabau testified saying the £200 was a goodwill payment as they were going to part ways and it would pay for the construction of a dwelling. Grabau also stated that Mrs Klaus persuaded him to keep her as his wife. Mr Klaus at this time lived not far away. The rather convoluted court case had the judge dryly commenting that the witness, Mr Klaus, after being cross examined and insisting that Mrs Klaus was living with Grabau as a servant, that servants must very scarce if it was necessary to take such energetic exertions to secure one. Mr Klaus replied (with poor English), ‘how could she (Mrs Klaus) have two mans?’ The case closed in favour of the defendant with no costs.  The judge commented that the judgement was with regret as there was no doubt the contract between Mrs Klaus and Mr Grabau was an immoral one (Lyttelton Times 21/2/1879: 3).

To be honest it is hard to say who was playing who in this unfortunate triangle of monetary tit for tat and whether the concept of love and romance ever entered the equation. Whatever was the truth, Grabau produced his trump card in the form of a legitimate marriage, to remove himself from Wilhelmina’s entanglement. Nothing more was recorded of Klaus and Wilhelmina in local newspapers, suggesting that they left the region and Grabau to live a much more uneventful but by all accounts, happy married life.

Lydia Mearns and Annthalina Gibson

References

Acland, L.G., 1946. Early Canterbury Runs and Glossary of Station Words. Whitcombe & Tombs.

Archives New Zealand, 1859. New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973.

Archives New Zealand, 1902. Probate, Joseph Henry Townend. Archives New Zealand, Christchurch Regional Office, CAHX-2989-CH171-123-CH4478/1902. Available at: https://familysearch.org/

Archives New Zealand, 1905. Probate, George Henry Moore. Archives New Zealand, Christchurch Regional Office, CAHX-2989-CH171-144-CH5328/1905. Available at: https://familysearch.org/

Christchurch City Libraries, 2019. Annie Quayle Townend. [online] Unsung Heroines. Available at: <http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Heritage/Publications/UnsungHeroines/AnnieQuayleTownend/>.

Gardner, W.J., 1990. Moore, George Henry. In: Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. [online] Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Available at: https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1m52/moore-george-henry

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year, New Me

Every January I find myself saying the phrase “new year, new me” any time I do anything remotely healthy or out of the ordinary. Ate a salad: new year, new me. Went to the gym: new year, new me. Read a book rather than binge watching seven hours of Netflix in a row: new year, new me. I’m a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. Every year I resolve to get fit, do more with my free time, actually put money into my savings account, make more of an effort to catch up with people, stop buying a coffee every day. But as February dawns and 2019 really kicks into action, all of those January New Year’s resolutions are already falling by the way-side. So, as I sit here sipping my iced mocha that I guiltily spent seven dollars on, I can’t help but wonder if the nineteenth century residents of Christchurch were also in the habit of making (and breaking) New Year’s resolutions.

It turns out the practice of making New Year’s resolutions long pre-dates the Victorian era, by around 4,000 years. The ancient Babylonians are said to be the first people to celebrate the beginning of the New Year and to make New Year’s resolutions. During Akitu, a 12-day religious festival taking place in mid-March (their new year), the Babylonians either crowned a new king or reaffirmed their allegiance to the current king. As part of this festival they also made promises to their gods to pay their debts and return borrowed objects (not dissimilar to my recurring New Year’s resolution to actually save money). In return for keeping their word the gods would bestow favour on them for the coming year. So not quite my resolution to stop buying daily coffees, but a resolution nonetheless.

Whilst we can’t really associate any of the artefacts we find with the concept of New Year’s resolutions, we do find ceramic vessels that are connected to the ideal of being a better person. For instance, this coffee can is decorated with a pattern inspired by one of Dr Benjamin Franklin’s maxims. This particular pattern is illustrating the idea that you need to work hard in order to achieve success. Image: C. Watson.

Many other cultures also made New Year’s resolutions (or promises similar to a New Year’s resolution). The Romans made promises of good behaviour and offered sacrifices to Janus, the two-faced god that symbolically looked backwards to the previous year and forwards to the up-coming year. In 1740 John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, started the tradition of the Watch Night service. During the Watch Night service, Wesleyans would show penitence over shortcomings and failures from the previous year, whilst making resolutions of greater faithfulness for the year ahead. By the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the practice of making resolutions at the start of the year was common; but it was not until 1813 that the phrase “New Year’s Resolution” was first used.

The first reference to New Year’s resolutions that I found in New Zealand newspapers was written by the Lyttelton Times in 1860. Following their recap of the 1859 year in which they accused residents of talking too much, praised the progress of the settlement, and discussed the plans for a tunnel and railway between Christchurch and Lyttelton, the newspaper announced their New Year’s resolution was to fully support the building of the railway. Unfortunately for the Lyttelton Times, this resolution did not come to be, with work beginning in 1860 but stopping shortly after the contractors struck rock. It was not until 1867 that the Lyttelton rail tunnel was officially opened.

Similar to us now, many New Year’s resolutions were made to give up smoking and alcohol. Although it would seem that like us, people weren’t very good at keeping those resolutions.

Given that this joke was printed in the December 1907 issue of the Lake Country Press , it would appear that “Bronson” made it a whole 11 months before he went back to smoking.

The cycle of a typical January: making various excuses for cheating on New Year’s resolutions until ultimately deciding life is better with without New Year’s resolutions .

Given the quantity of satirical stories and jokes written about New Year’s resolutions, it would appear the making (and breaking) of resolutions was a common practice in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These satirical resolutions included promising to get on better with the boss, not being so stressed about things, and women resolving not to speak to their husbands (I highly recommend clicking on the links and reading the articles for yourself, they are quite hilarious).

When your New Year’s resolution is to accept the fact you’re single and embrace it.

As well as being used for humour, New Year’s resolutions appear to have become a big marketing ploy for businesses by the early twentieth century. Many advertisements listed in December and January encouraged potential customers to make it their New Year’s resolution to purchase new items from their stores, with everything from umbrellas to hats, and shoes advertised. My favourite marketing campaign that played on the idea of a New Year’s resolution is the one pictured below for Valaze, a type of skin cream. The New Year’s resolution the advertisement appeals to is the resolution to be beautiful, which I love because it makes it sound like women woke up on January 1st and said “Right, this year’s my year, I’m going to be beautiful now”.

Valaze, the ultimate solution for if you New Year’s resolution is to be beautiful .

From reading through these old newspaper stories and advertisements, it seems like our Victorian and Edwardian era ancestors had a similar approach to New Year’s resolutions as we do today. People made resolutions to be a “better” person, be that by giving up smoking, drinking, or becoming beautiful. But it was commonly accepted that many people did not stick to their resolutions, leading to the many satirical stories about people breaking their resolution. This practice of wanting to start the New Year afresh, to make it better than the last, is one we continue on today, and is one of the few ways we aren’t so different from our forebearers.

Clara Watson

2018: We Out

And just like that another year has passed us by. 2018 has been a year of changes here at Underground Overground. It’s with a very heavy heart we’ve said a few goodbyes to some tremendously talented archaeologists; Chelsea, Shana, Matt, Jessie, Teri and Maria. All of which have left a very big hole in the UOA family. We have however had a new addition with Michael joining the team along with Clara and Jamie becoming permanent full-timers following the completion of their Masters at Otago (Congrats – you guys rock!). Let’s take a look at some of our highlights from the year.

We got to work in some pretty cool places…

Costa del Timaru. Image: Megan Hickey.

Tikao Bay. We get paid to go to these places, it’s a pretty sweet deal I know! Image: Megan Hickey.

When the Christchurch office met the Dunedin office. The two joined forces for our dig at Redcliff. Image: Tristan Wadsworth.

Just when you think these locations can’t get any better,  we met some furry friends that really were the icing on the cake. And if you missed Hamish’s We Dig Cats blog now’s the purr-fect time to give it a read (sorry, that was claw-ful).

Did you get my good side? Image: Hamish Williams.

RIP Muncho (pictured here on a 19th century salt-glazed sewer pipe.. We also sadly lost another team member this year, the best archaeology cat you could wish for; Muncho. Image: Hamish Williams.

But on a slightly more positive note, Monty the sausage dog joined the team. Image: Clara Watson.

Of course we found some cool features…

Perhaps the best road reserve find of the year – a 1880s stone pedestrian crossing on Norwich Quay, Lyttelton. Find out more about this fine feature, and road formation archaeology here. Image: Hamish Williams.

Our buildings archaeologist’s have been busy finding hidden 19th century gems in Rangiora. Images: Jamie Hearfield.

A gully in Akaroa containing (literally) hundreds of artefacts. Image: Maria Lillo Bernabeu.

We also came across some interesting people from the past.

This year we celebrated the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage, which saw New Zealand become the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections (check out our blog post A tea cup as a symbol of political change from September to read our tribute to those amazing women who helped make it all happen). Not only did women get the right to vote, but women were also eligible to sit on many councils and boards (although women were not eligible to become members of Parliament until 1919!). Mrs Elizabeth Yates became the first Mayor of the Onehunga District in Auckland in December 1893, just three months after women had been given the right to vote (Star 20/11/1893: 3, Press 1/12/1893: 5). Unfortunately this was an exception and not the rule, and Canterbury’s local governing bodies continued to be populated by men throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

During our research of Canterbury’s past we often come across some interesting insights into those men who made up these governing bodies. For example, the Superintendents of Canterbury. When the New Zealand Constitution Act was passed in Government in June 1852, the Province of Canterbury was officially formed and a Provincial Council was elected to govern it. At the head of the Council was the position of Superintendent. During the tenure of the provincial system Canterbury had four Superintendents; James Edward Fitzgerald (1853-1857), William Sefton Moorhouse (1857-1863), Samuel Bealey (1863-1868), and William Rolleston (1868-1876). These four gentlemen held different opinions on the best way to govern and what ought to be prioritised, and not unlike the government today, their opinions sometimes conflicted. In 1869 Alfred Charles Barker, a prominent Christchurch photographer, took two photos of two of the Superintendents of Canterbury, Rolleston and Fitzgerald, which highlighted and made fun of this fact. The first photo, entitled “The Argument”, shows the two superintendents apparently having a heated discussion (Figure 1), while the second photo, entitled “Result of the Argument”, shows them apparently resolving their differences with a (mock) fist fight (Figure 2).

Photgraph entitled “The Argument”, showing Superintendents James Fitzgerald (Left) and William Rolleston (Right) in discussion. Image: Barker, 1869b.

Photograph entitled “Result of the Argument” showing Superintendents James Fitzgerald (Left) and William Rolleston (Right) having a mock fight. Image: Barker, 1869.

Unfortunately, not all of the disagreements between Canterbury’s official elite were so jovially represented. In 1900, a disagreement between Sumner’s Mayor William Rollitt and Councillor Charles Hulbert, resulted in a heated argument which was recorded in the local newspapers the following day. The two men exchanged impassioned words before members began to storm out of the session without a quorum being met (Figure 3). We can only hope if women had been present their behaviour would have been more considered!

Excerpt from the Star newspaper, recording the heated argument between Sumner Mayor William Rollitt and Councillor Charles Hulbert. Image: Star 20/4/1900: 1

As always we found some cool artefacts to keep our specialists busy…

Some lovely tea wares from one of our favourite suffragists (not suffragette) here at underover, the infamous Ada Wells! Image: Clara Watson.

Anyone would think Cantabrians enjoy a beverage or two…at least one of our Lichfield Street sites would suggest. Image: Clara Watson.

And of course we couldn’t talk about 2018 and artefacts without doing a wee shout out to the Convention Centre. One of our largest sites to date, but also one of the coolest with some amazing artefacts found!

Some of the many many cool artefacts recovered from the Convention Centre.

From everyone here at Underground Overground Archaeology we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The blog will be back at the end of January.

Underground Overground Archaeology

Around the world in seven plates

Have you always wanted to travel the world? See the famous cathedrals of Europe? Smell the streets of China? Taste the spices of India? But travelling is expensive and everything’s just so damn far away, right? Well have we got the blog post for you. Sit back, relax (maybe even make a cup of tea), and prepare to go all the way around the world without even stepping out the front door.

We start our wild adventure around the globe in a country that may be familiar to some: England. Depicted on the plate below we can see the charming views of Nuneham Courtenay Park, located five miles south east of Oxford. Nuneham Courtenay was one of the most famous 18th century gardens, described by Horace Walpole as “the most beautiful in the world” (Coysh and Henrywood 1982: 399). The central scene of the plate is one which will be instantly recognisable to anyone familiar with England: a canal with a bridge and a lock-keeper’s thatched cottage. A riverside walk ran along the canal, allowing visitors to get the full experience of the quaint landscape. In the background on the left side is the Nuneham Park house, the seat of Earl Harcourt, whilst in the centre is a building that was never actually built. A gothic tower was designed to be built on the hill but the building never eventuated, meaning the plate shows what could have been, but never was. The gardens are still there if you fancy seeing them yourself!

Wild Rose patterned plate. Image: Underground Overground Archaeology.

From England we travel to the continent and the charming Swiss city of Lucerne, located on the banks of the River Reuss where it flows out of Lake Lucerne. In the background of the image is a building with two pointed spires. This is most likely the Church of St. Leodegar, named for the city’s patron saint. The church sits on the banks of Lake Lucerne, with a charming Swiss chalet standing on the opposite bank. The view on the plate depicts Lucerne as the ideal getaway spot, a nice quiet holiday location with stunning scenery.

Lucerne patterned plate. Image: Underground Overground Archaeology.

Is it really a European holiday if you didn’t go to Greece? The cradle of civilisation, founder of democracy, home of Euripides, Aeschylus, and Homer. In the chamber pot below you can explore the wonders of the ancient city of Corinth, with ruins of Greek temples located in the foreground. Classical ruins not really your thing? Then hop across to the gothic city, located just over the body of water. Does modern day Corinth have classical ruins lying next to Gothic buildings? Not according to a google image search I did, but hey, what more do you expect from travelling somewhere via a chamber pot. I’m sure if we were looking at Corinth from a plate there would be more classical temples and less medieval cities.

Corinth patterned chamber pot (it’s not a plate, but around the world in six plates and a chamber pot doesn’t sound as catchy). Image: Underground Overground Archaeology.

Whilst Europe might be ideal for viewing gothic style churches and classical architecture, it’s a road well-travelled for us Kiwis. This trip around the world is meant to be an adventure, full of far-flung spots around the globe. Enter Saudi Arabia. We’ve now travelled to Medina, located about two hundred miles north of Mecca. Medina is a holy city, containing the tomb of Muhammad in its main mosque, and attracts many pilgrims who visit the city on their way to Mecca. As you can see from the scene depicted on the plate, it features everything you would expect to see in the Middle East: mosques in the background, palms trees in the foreground, and most importantly camels!

Medina patterned plate. Image: Underground Overground Archaeology.

Now, let us go east. East to India! On the plate below, we can see four exotic birds flying around and landing on a willow tree. Rather than showing us a place, this plate evokes a feeling of exoticness, displaying flora and fauna we wouldn’t see at home. From the name of the pattern we can deduce it refers to the Indian city of Madras (modern day Chennai). Madras was the location of an East India Company outpost, Fort of St. George, which became the main administrative centre for the British in India. No doubt tales of the city by soldiers and traders inspired the potters back in England to recreate the essence of India in dinner ware form.

Madras patterned plate. Image: C. Watson.

India not far enough east for you? Then let’s go further along to China. The delightful scene depicted below is inspired by the city of Amoy (modern day Xiamen). Amoy is located in the Fujian Province, beside the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese port city was captured by the British in 1841 during the First Opium War. The Treaty of Nanjing in 1842 made Amoy one of the first five ports opened to British trade. The scene shown on the tea wares below was made in 1844, only a few years after the arrival of the British (Coysh and Henrywood 1982: 21). The scene shows two Chinese figures resting beneath a parasol, with exotic flora surrounding them.

Amoy patterned tea wares. Image: Underground Overground Archaeology.

Sometimes the best part of an overseas adventure is coming home. Therefore, we end our journey where we started it –  in New Zealand. This plate shows the Defiance Pattern (see a complete version here).This plate was part of a set of patterns made by Grimwades in the 1930s, referred to as “Maori ware”. The patterns show idealised scenes of Māori life, with Māori in traditional dress standing in front of whare and performing actions such as hongi or whakairo (carving). Whilst Māori ware appears very kitsch to modern tastes and raises questions about the appropriation of indigenous culture for souvenir items, it is part of a wider theme of depicting exotic views on table wares, one which began in the century before.

Defiance Pattern, an example of “Maori ware” by Grimwades. Image: C. Watson.

The vessels shown on the blog today were manufactured in England and probably designed by people who had never visited any of these countries. Instead designs were often based off the drawings or accounts of people who had. The eastern-most cities, Madras and Amoy, were British outposts, showing how the expansion of the British Empire inspired the imagination of the people back home. I think it’s quite interesting we get transfer ware depicting exotic scenes in New Zealand, arguably a location which in itself was very exotic for 19th century settlers. Whilst there are patterns such as Wild Rose which depict scenes of England, those are far outweighed by the patterns depicting classical, medieval, and exotic places.

What does this all mean? Why do we find so many dinner wares decorated with images of exotic places? I think you can look at it in two ways. Firstly, perhaps the people coming to New Zealand had an internal adventuring spirit, a hunger for the exotic. Even though they already found themselves in a country unfamiliar to the one they grew up in, they were excited by the thought of distance lands and intentionally purchased table wares depicting far-off countries. Alternatively, it could all be a case of availability and popularity. In our adventure around the globe we did not visit America, despite the fact there were many different American inspired patterns manufactured by the Staffordshire potters. The lack of any American views in our finds from Christchurch would suggest American themed dinner wares were not shipped to New Zealand, and instead were manufactured specifically for the American market. We don’t know yet if there were patterns made specifically for the New Zealand market, but its likely there was a limited range of patterns available at least when compared with what was being manufactured in England. In regards to popularity, British expansionism in the 19th century led to great interest around foreign cities and cultures, with that interest inspiring new trends in ceramic design. It may be that the owner of the Medina patterned plate purchased it simply because it was trendy, and not because they liked to picture themselves riding on a camel towards the sunset.

So many things to ponder, clearly the sign of an excellent trip. Travelling broadens the horizons, exposes us to new and different cultures, and forces us to reflect on our own culture –  often leading to questions of why we do things the way we do. Whilst we may have only travelled through plates (and a chamber pot) today, we are still left with the same questions regarding our own culture and history, and how we fit in a global world.

Clara Watson

References

Coysh, A. W. and Henrywood, R. K., 1982. The Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery 17801880, Volume I. Antique Collectors’ Club, Suffolk.

 

 

 

In which a teacup is smashed against a wall in a fit of rage

One of the most fascinating things about studying and interpreting the past is the possibilities it holds. Could the broken tea cup I’ve found been smashed against a wall in a fit of rage after a wife found her husband being promiscuous with another man? Could the alcohol bottle lying at the bottom of a latrine be from a teenage son and his mates sneakily getting drunk in the backyard? Could it really be the year 2518 and we are all computer-generated simulations in an elaborate experimental archaeology project to examine consumer behaviour in the early 21st century?

Archaeology is an interesting combination of science and humanities. When we approach the past, we begin by dealing with what we know or can determine as fact…

  • This rubbish pit was located 300 mm below the top soil.
  • It contained a plate manufactured by the pottery company Pinder, Bourne and Co.
  • Pinder, Bourne and Co. operated between 1862 and 1882 so the plate must have been manufactured between 1862 and 1882.

From there we go to what we can determine as likely…

  • ceramic plates on average had a lifespan of 15-20 years, meaning the plate  was likely disposed of between 1879 and 1902, but could have been disposed of earlier or later.
  • the Johnson family was living at the property between 1870 and 1895 meaning they were likely the family who owned and disposed of the plate, but it could have also been disposed of by the families who preceded and succeeded the Johnson’s occupation.
  • the plate was decorated with a pattern featuring motifs from the Aesthetic Movement. The Aesthetic Movement was popular around the 1870s and 1880s suggesting the Johnson family were keeping up with fashion trends in homewares.

And then there’s always what’s possible…

  • Mr Johnson forgot Mrs Johnson’s birthday. In a rush he ran to the store and bought Mrs Johnson the newest, fanciest plate he could find. Mrs Johnson, however, was not appeased by the gift. She could not believe that Mr Johnson had forgotten her birthday after she had been dropping hints all week. She hated the offset designs of the Aesthetic Movement’s patterns and was a strong believer that Willow pattern was a classic which will never go out of fashion. In a rage she stormed out of the house, left Mr Johnson, and moved to Guatemala. Mr Johnson, devastated by the break up of his marriage, threw out the plate, burying his love for Mrs Johnson along with it.

 

As archaeologists we work firmly in the realms of what we can determine as fact and based on those facts what we can determine as likely. Whilst we do speculate, we generally don’t go very far outside the realms of possibility. In today’s blog post, however, I want to throw all that science and fact out the window and just run with wherever my imagination takes me.

The assemblage we’re going to be looking at today came from a single rubbish pit, found at the rear of a nineteenth century dwelling. The artefacts found in the rubbish pit included items which were typical of late 19th and early 20th century households. Several items contained manufacturer’s marks indicating they were made after 1891, but there were no items which were distinctively 20th century. This suggests the material was deposited either at the very end of 19th century, or the very beginning of the 20th. The Northey family, consisting of Paul, his wife Jane, and their son John, lived at the house between 1878 and 1926. Given the Northey’s long occupation of the property, and the date of the artefacts found in the rubbish pit, it’s highly likely they were the ones to dispose of the items.

That’s the facts folks, now let’s tell a story. The following are “extracts” from Jane Northey’s diary.

January Third, 1899.

Today was quiet. I went to the shops in the morning and purchased three bottles of Worcestershire Sauce for 1/-. An excellent bargain. Naturally, I chose Lea and Perrins. I don’t understand how these New Zealand made products can claim they taste the same as traditional English Worcester Sauce. I saw there’s even a Dunedin brand which has called itself Royal Worcestershire Sauce( making out like it’s endorsed by the king!) when really it’s made at the bottom of the world. No product which was not made in England will ever be stored on my shelves. The items you have in your house reflect on your person, and I am very much an English lady.

Good English made products were always a staple in Jane’s pantry. Image: C. Watson.

April Eighth, 1899

I could not believe it. Paul came home from work today wearing his ‘tramp’ hat. Whilst I might have tolerated him wearing such an article of clothing when I was trailing around after him on the goldfields in ’72, he now works in a respectable drapery business, and I will not have him walking around the town looking like a tramp. What would the neighbours think? We’ve spent the past twenty years building a livelihood here, extending the home, decorating the parlour –  I’ll not have people thinking we aren’t a respectable family. Rather than having yet another argument over it I offered to wash it. I’m sure there will be some way to make it fall apart in the process.

Paul’s hat. A great source of shame for Jane. Image: C. Watson.

July Fourth, 1899

I made a most excellent purchase today. I was reading in the newspaper about Strawberry Sets. Apparently, they’re all the rage in London at the moment. There’s a small handled dish to hold the strawberries on, and a sugar bowl and creamer which sit within the dish. The dish can be offered around during a garden party for people to eat strawberries off – very on trend. After reading about them I knew I just had to get one. I popped down to Ballantynes and managed to purchase my own, a dainty wee porcelain one. Of course, there aren’t any strawberries in season yet, but come November I will be prepared.

The strawberry dish from Jane’s strawberry set. Image: C. Watson.

July Fifth, 1899

Paul and I had a wicked argument last night over the Strawberry Set. He screamed at me that I shouldn’t have bought it and that my insistent spending was the reason why he went bankrupt back in ’84. I wasn’t having any of that and threw it back in his face that he promised me a better life when I followed him over here and that if we wanted to be a respectable family and impress our peers then we needed to look the part. He of course went off, ranting about the mortgages we’d taken on and that the house didn’t need to be as grand as we’d made it and that all I cared about was impressing the neighbours. Honestly, the man doesn’t understand. Of course I care about impressing the neighbours. He’s not the one who has to deal with Mrs Stevens coming over here and withering on about her new teapot and then saying “Oh, but the one you have is perfectly nice dear, it’s always sensible to purchase within your means”. Well the fight got a bit heated and he picked up my lovely flower vase that I use when I have ladies over for tea and hurled it at the wall. I couldn’t believe it. I picked up his whisky glass which was sitting on the table and hurled it back at him. That ended the fight quickly as it’s his favourite glass and he couldn’t believe I’d done it. He stormed out to the pub and I cleaned up. I hope none of the neighbours heard, although I saw Mrs Riley’s curtains twitch so I bet the nosy bat was listening in.

The remains of a fight. Jane’s vase and Paul’s favourite tumbler. Image: C. Watson.

September Tenth, 1899

Something most devastating happened today. I dropped the mixing bowl. Whilst most people might not shed a tear , most people wouldn’t have taken the effort to purchase such a wondrous mixing bowl! When I was at Mrs Riley’s house for tea last Tuesday (Mrs Riley who always makes a point of showing off her brand new set of china), the kitchen maid came running in shouting that there was a fire in the kitchen. We ran to the back of the house and saw a spark had jumped out of the range and onto the rug. We of course simply stamped out the flame, something I’m sure the ditzy kitchen maid could have done herself, but while doing so I looked around and saw Mrs Riley had plain creamware bowls in her kitchen. They looked like they were nearly thirty years old! So for all the airs she puts on it looks like the new china set is the only thing of any class which she owns. I’ve always been most aware that you never know when someone might snoop around and have made sure that the bowls I keep in my kitchen are of good quality. This bowl in particular was very nice, with moulded detail and green bands which almost match the rest of the dinner set. I feel most put out that it’s now broken.

Jane’s beloved mixing bowl. Along with some fragments of her near-matching dinner and tea sets. Image: C. Watson.

November Second, 1899

An absolute disaster of a day. I invited Mrs Riley and Mrs Stevens around for tea today. Naturally I used the good china, my Lucerne patterned set, rather than the banded set. I was most excited as I had managed to purchase some strawberries from the grocer and it was my first opportunity to use my strawberry set. Well, we were sat down in the garden sipping our tea when Mrs Stevens children came tearing into the garden chasing their new puppy. The wee monster came straight for me, I jumped up on the chair to escape its nipping jaws but in doing so dropped the cup and saucer I was holding. I couldn’t believe it. But then to make matters worse while the children were trying to grab a hold of it one of them bumped into the table, sending my strawberry set to the ground. The dish survived alright but the creamer and sugar bowl both broke. I was so livid. Mrs Stevens simpered around saying how sorry she was, and that the new puppy had been such a handful. Naturally, I just smiled and said “It’s okay dear”. It definitely was not okay. I think she set the whole situation up on purpose because she couldn’t handle that I had something which was fancier than anything she owned.

Jane’s fancy Lucerne patterned china. Image: C. Watson.

At the end of the day, these “diary entries” are completely fictional. It’s possible that these events happened, just as it’s possible that there’s still moose living in Fiordland. As archaeologists, it’s important that we focus on the known facts. Yet doing so can mean we lose sight of the humanity of the past – artefacts become data in a spreadsheet, numbers rather than objects which people owned, used and maybe even loved. Whilst the stories I’ve told here are fictional, there may be an element of truth in them. The Northey’s did take out several mortgages on their property between 1878 and 1894, and Paul Northey did declare bankruptcy in 1884. Yet despite that, they had several unusual, high-end objects. We don’t normally find fancy vases or strawberry dishes. These are the kind of artefacts I would associate with a wealthy family, or at least a family which was trying to appear wealthy and “keep up with the Joneses”, which might be what the Northey’s were doing. Narratives and stories such as these remind us that artefacts belonged to people, they’re not just broken fragments of china, and as long as we’re clear that we’re telling a story, then they are an excellent way of exploring the lives of the people of the past.

Just as long as there aren’t any aliens in the stories. Aliens and archaeology don’t go well together.

Clara Watson