A new book by Paul Holden sheds unexpected light on early 18th-century London.
The London Letters of Samuel Molyneux, 1712-13 with an introduction and commentary by Paul Holden, hardback, 168 pp., illustrated in colour and B&W, 26.5 x 18.0 cm. Publication no 171 (2011), £20
In October 1712 Samuel Molyneux travelled from his native Dublin to be elected Fellow of the Royal Society inLondon. During his stay in England he corresponded with his learned uncle Thomas Molyneux, bestowing intellectual and well-measured accounts of some of the most noteworthy connoisseurs of the day as well as first-hand descriptions of ecclesiastical and secular buildings, historic royal palaces, parks and gardens and notable public and private libraries and art collections. For the modern reader these seven meticulously written letters offer an erudite and discursive analysis of early-Enlightenment London providing a fascinating insight into the author’s intimate and voluminous knowledge of the cultural and scientific world. Over a century after Molyneux’s death copies of these letters found their way into the archives of the Corporation of Southampton, now Southampton City Archives. They have now been published for the first time in their entirety by the London Topographical Society.
The London Letter’s of Samuel Molyneux, 1712-13 describes first-hand visits to key art collectors, bibliophiles and scientists of the day. Before the next half a century was over, many of these collections and libraries had become the nuclei of the British Museum and British Library.
Molyneux also visits Oxford and Cambridge where detailed first-hand descriptions of the Ashmolean Museum and the colleges are given. The letters also provide details of daily life in the winter of 1712/13. Overall the book contains valuable source material for art, architecture and the history of collecting.
The book is published by the London Topographical Society and is available through their website http://www.topsoc.org/books.htm The National Trust Photographic Library and BritishMuseum have been gracious in supporting the book’s illustration.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Palace of Westminster
Tower of London
Museum of John Kemp
Collections of Lord Pembroke
Hampton Court Palace
Bishop of London
Chelsea Physic Garden
Kensington nursery of George London & Henry Wise
St James’s Palace
Marlborough House,Berkeley House
Dr Woodward’s Museum
Windsor Castle and Windsor Park
Trinity, Baliol and University College, Oxford
Bodleian Library, Oxford
Anatomy, Astronomy, Geometry and Divinity schools, Oxford
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford
University Church and ‘All Hallows’, Oxford
Blenheim Palace and Woodstock
House of Correction, Bridewell
John Petiver’s Museum
Littlebury House, Essex
Trinity College, Cambridge