[Rev. Henry Erskine Gedge.] Autograph diary of 'Our Life, Social and Domestic', covering 40 years including 16 years as chaplain at the Chapelle Victoria de Grasse, on the French Riviera. With copy of anonymous printed booklet 'A Family Gathering'

Henry Erskine Gedge (1832-1913), Vicar of Brixworth, Northamptonshire, Chaplain at the Chapelle Victoria de Grasse, son of Rev. Sydney Gedge (1802-1883; ODNB) [Alice de Rothschild]
Publication details: 
The diary covering the years between 1873 and 1913. The booklet, without publication details, privately printed in 1877.
SKU: 15036

Gedge's short obituary in The Times, 24 March 1913, contains the following brief account of his career: 'Mr. Gedge was a scholar of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he was Carus and Scholefield prizeman, and obtained a first class in the examination for theological honours in 1857. He was ordained in the diocese of Lichfield, and was for seven years vicar of Brixworth, Northamptonshire. For a short time he was rector of Peper Harow, Surrey, and for 16 years permanent chaplain at Grasse.' Through his marriage on 10 September 1873 to Harriet (or Harriette) Leonora Monckton (1842-1933) Gedge acquired aristocratic connections, and it was presumably these which gained him the position of chaplain at the Chapelle Victoria de Grasse on the French Riviera. Originally the Church of Saint John Evangelist, this was designed by W. & G. Audsley, and designed to serve the area's large community of English Anglican residents, on a parcel of land on the outskirts of Grasse, purchased in 1890 by a group styling themselves the Société Civile Saint John's Church (most notably John, Lord Bowes, his sister Isabelle Bowes and Charles Booker). The Chapelle was consecrated in 1891. (See Michael Nelson, 'Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the Riviera', 2007.) DIARY: 139pp., 4to. In good condition, on lightly-aged paper, in worn brown cloth quarter-binding with marbled boards, front hinge splitting. A methodical and closely-written document, with 53 of the pages taken up with an index of 1181 references to the names and details of acquaintances (including columns for 'Live at' and 'Met at'), beginning with 'Names of People known 1873 to 1880', and ending with '1896. New Names at Guildford and elsewhere'. The following note on the last page indicates that the volume is a digest of longer diaries: 'Names of Friends henceforth entered only in small bound 4to. Books; English & Foreign respectively.' (This is confirmed by the fact that the page beginning with the entry for 1 November 1880 is headed 'BOOK II.') Laid down on another page is a closely written list of '100 Names 200 persons' in five columns, headed: 'As a specimen year 1897, entirely spent abroad, is taken; a list being made of special people met during its course'. The following outline of 'Our Life; Social and Domestic' is written out by Gedge on the front pastedown: '1873 to 1880. Home: Brixworth Vicarage, Northamptonshire. | 1881 to 1884. Head-Quarters, Grand Hôtel, Pallanza, Nth. Italy. | 1884 and 1885. Home: Peper-Harow Rectory, Surrey. | 1886 to 1895. Head-Quarters: Grand Hôtel, Grasse, France. | 1895 to 1901. Head Quarters: Octr. to May; 12 Morton Crescent, Exmouth. Summers at Melrose: 1902, 3, 5. Rugeley. 1904, 6. Standon & Eccleston 1906. The Box & Littleham 1907. Sandford Amberley & Crediton 1908 | 7/4/1909 to [blank] Home: Sunnycroft, Milton Hill, Wells, Somersetshire.' From the first entry, 10 September 1873, describing his marriage at the British Legation, Brussels, complete with a diagram of the seating arrangements at the reception, Gedge's obsessively meticulous attention to detail is apparent. (In one of the earliest entries Gedge notes that on moving to Brixworth in 1873, he 'made practical map of the Parish, marking roads, footpaths, and every house; with corresponding book containing Names of Parishioners and particulars as to occupation, Number of Children etc.') Among other similar diagrams of seating arrangements is one of the five tables at the 'Wedding of Hon. Helen Brodrick [to Rev. Archibald Ean Campbell] | 14th. April, 1885. | The party at Breakfast. 1 p.m.' The diary also contains a 'Plan of our Home, Old Vicarage at Brixworth, Northamptonshire, 25th. September 1873 to 19th August 1874' and a 'Plan of our temporary abode, during alterations at Vicarage, 19th. August 1874 to 10th. May 1876. viz: Annexe of "Red Lion" Hotel, Brixworth.' Also a 'Ground-plan of the rebuilt and altered Vicarage. From 10th. May 1876' and 'Peper-Harow. Ground-Plan of Rectory'. There are also two pages of family trees for Queen Victoria, including printed matter laid down relating to the 'Queen's Descendants'. There are several pages of 'General Notes' for various periods (including several passages relating to the alterations to Brixworth Vicarage). The part of the diary relating to Gedge's time abroad is of particular interest, with his references to the English community on the Riviera - including Lady Balfour of Burleigh, Sir Donald Currie, Lady Douglas, Sir William Gordon, Princess Louise - especially valuable. On 30 August 1883 he learns of the death of his father while travelling on a steamer on the Rhine from Strasbourg to Saint-Beatenberg, and he records this with the slightest of references: 'when starting: Telegram "Passed away painlessly last night". On 4 March 1890 he records the 'Unanimous choice of name, S. John Evangelist for new Church' at Grasse. A whole page is devoted to 'The Queen's Visit to Grasse, A/M. France', from 25 March to 28 April 1891. On 30 March he sees 'Queen's delight in Cavalcade, threw flowers etc. from opp: terrace'. On 7 April the Queen asks 'for H. E. g's Nurse 11 a.m. for Elizh. Reynolds who died 5p.m. next day'. The following day the Queen sends 'message by [Nurse] "Queen thanks you very much for your most kind offer about wh. more anon" | We having had a good look from the Q. in donkey-chair at Hotel <?> at 11.15 a.m.' And on 10 April: '4.30 pm. H. E. G meets Queen at Ch. "I hope you are none the worse, Mr. G. for your exertions yesterday" | After Queen had come back from Church. "Thank you very much for letter her be placed here in the Ch. It is all most beautifully arranged. Could not have been nicer." You ought to keep your hat on!"Qn | H.E.G. walk with the Queen to her carriage.' In the evening of 26 April he receives a 'Letter from [the Queen's private secretary] Sir H[enry]. P[onsonby]. "The Queen commands me to thank you for your manner of conducting the Services. Hopes Mrs. G. will accept the accompanying Brooch as a souvenir of Her Visit, and I am to send a Portrait to you" - The Portrait arrived later. A cheque enclosed in letter.' There is a record of another visit by Queen Victoria to Grasse, on 8 April 1894: 'The Queen at Grasse: 3.55 to 5.35. see arrival & departure. H L present bouquet. To H L. gave hand: "What beautiful flowers!" To H. E. G. "I am very [last word underlined] glad to see you, Mr G."' Gedge leaves Grasse in 1901, and on 9 May of that year he records a 'Charming Goodbye visit, 2 p.m. from Miss de R. and Madlle Hofer.' ('Miss de R.' was Alice de Rothschild (1847-1922), who had a house on a hillside overlooking Grasse.) Gedge died at Wells at the beginning of March 1913, and the last entry in the diary, in a firm hand, is dated from 23 February of the same year. BOOKLET: Drophead title: 'A FAMILY GATHERING'. 11pp., 4to. Nicely printed (with vignette on twelfth page). In original green cloth binding, with the title stamped in gilt on the front cover. In good condition, lightly aged and worn. Presentation inscription, presumably from the author, on front free endpaper: 'Henry E. Gedge | with his brother Sydney's love'. Sydney Gedge (1829-1923) was a Conservative Member of Parliament and, like his father and namesake, an enthusiastic member of the Church Missionary Society. The booklet is filled with information about the family, and contains manuscript annotations in two hands. It can be dated from the first sentence: 'IN this year, 1877, Easter Tuesday fell on the 3rd April, and thus combined two sets of Anniversaries. | Our dear Father was born on April 3rd, 1802, and two of his Grandchildren kept their birthdays on the same day. | On Easter Tuesday in 1857 and 1860 two of his Sons were married.' The booklet is excessively scarce: no copies found on either COPAC or OCLC WorldCat.