Blog Rules

Wanstead House and Gardens, the 'English Versailles,' - England's finest Palladian mansion

Oh, grant an honest Fame, or grant me none..

Alexander Pope The Temple of Fame (1715), lines 523-4


All information posted on my blog will be drawn from information gathered from a variety of primary sources.  But in order In to protect the integrity of my ongoing PhD  (and other works in progress )  I will not be footnoting any articles published. However, I am happy to answer questions whenever clarity is required.

For my own part anything based on published works or copyright information/images will always be fully credited.

I would hope that anything taken from my blog will be fully attributed, since recognition (however small) is an important encouragement to any historian!

Finally I believe a project such as this, embracing the rise and fall of Wanstead House as well as the Long-Wellesley family is ALWAYS in need of further information no matter how small in order to help piece together the story as comprehensibly as possible. So, if you come across anything relevant in your own reading or research I would be delighted to hear back from you.

Greg Roberts

28 April 2014

8 thoughts on “Blog Rules

  1. The 1822 auction of the contents of Wanstead House was held by John Robins of Regent Street, not the famous George Robins whose premises were at the Piazza, Covent Garden. You can just see the address on the sales flyer on the webpage.
    I am a descendant of George Robins & have been researching him for several years.

    • Hello Olwyn, and thanks for your message

      Interesting point you make about the address, but I am positive that the auction was held by George Robins. Christie’s Auction House is also certain on this point. George had already acted for Long-Wellesley’s uncle in 1816, when he disposed of his Marquis Richard Wellesley’s Irish Estate. My research shows that George Robins actually lived at Wanstead House for several weeks whilst he composed the famously detailed sale catalogue, which is beautifully written in the style usually attributed to him. Do you know what connection, if any, there is between John Robins and George?

      I expect you know that Thackeray satirised George Robins in his novel ‘Vanity Fair’ – as Mr Hammerdown

      All the best

      Greg Roberts

      • In further reply to this query, Olwyn.

        I have carried out a lot of research on the auctioneer’s copy of the Wanstead House catalogue held at Newham Local Studies Library (Stratford, London E15), which has the names of all purchasers for each and every lot. ‘Wicked William’ Long Wellesley instructed Robins to buy a great many items on his behalf, hence that catalogue has quite a number of lots upon which the initials ‘GR’ are entered. King George IV, also ‘GR’ did buy a couple of items in the auction but it is the name of his agent that is listed in the Newham copy of the Auction Catalogue, hence ‘GR’ could only be Mr Robins.

        Therefore, the auctioneer could not have been John Robins, despite the mystery of addresses on the flyer.

        • I am still trying to correct errors about George Robins! Can you please check the catalogue of the Sir John Soane Museum at which lists John Robins as the auctioneer of Wanstead House? Sir John Soane was a friend of John Robins and build the house in Regent Street for him.
          A book “Repository of Art Literature Fashions..” published in 1824 -only two years after the sale- & digitized on Googlebooks quotes Mr John Robins as the auctioneer.
          I have a list from an original Strawberry Hill sale catalogue at Yale that George Robins compiled of all his sales & he does not list Wanstead House.
          After many years of research I have found no connection between John Robins & George Robins. In fact there is a document in Norwich Record Office showing that John Robins was appointed to arbitrate in a dispute over a property sold by George’s father, so they are obviously not related.
          Best wishes

          • Hello Olwyn – apologies for the delay in replying to this post.
            I do think that you may be onto something regarding George Robins involvement in the Wanstead House Sale. There still does, however, seem to be conflicting information. The main issue is that the original auctioneer’s catalogue held at Newham Archives fully lists the purchasers/agents names for each item sold. Surviving correspondence shows that Wanstead House owner Long-Wellesley did instruct ‘Robins’ to purchase items on his behalf from the catalogue – and these are marked in the sale catalogue under the initials ‘GR’ – This implies that George Robins was involved – but perhaps you may be correct in that George (or his agents) may have been there merely as purchasers (on William’s behalf) rather than organisers of the auction.
            The peculiarity is that apart from items marked ‘GR’ – of which there are many – all other buyers/agents names are fully annotated. John Robins would have known George well enough to have written ‘GR’ against items purchased – so maybe this explains why the auction catalogue is using ‘GR’ to denote items bought by Long-Wellesley.
            A second issue is the subject of Long-Wellesley’s items being subsequently re-sold in 1851 – this was 20 years after John Robins died – but not long after George’s death. This led me to assume that the Robins holding Long-Wellesley’s goods was George – but these items may have come from John Robins estate (they not ever have been paid for by Long-Wellesley – hence stayed in his storage for some years afterwards). Additionally the few items auctioned in 1851 were personal portraits etc that were never offered for sale in 1822 – so would not have been the same as the £5000+ Long-Wellesley paid to buy his own possessions back via ‘Robins’.

            Thirdly – we do know that George Robins acted for Richard Wellesley in the sale of his Irish estate in 1817. This is clearly stated in Iris Butler’s book ‘The Eldest Brother’ – Richard was Long-Wellesley’s god-father to whom he was very close. Given this fact, it seemed logical to assume that the family would have gone to George to deal with the Wanstead House sale and/or the matter of bidding for furniture and art that Long-Wellesley wanted to retain. On the other hand, we don’t know who appointed the auctioneer for this forced sale – so John Robins may have been appointed by the court/creditors. Its hard to know for sure!

            Good luck with your research

  2. Hello Greg,

    I note your comments about proper attribution of content, that’s a fair point.

    I wonder if you would extend the same curtesy in relation the images used on you site? I am specifically referring the the photo of the gold Sovereign you have used on your page

    Whilst I am broadly happy for you to use the image, it is on the basis that you acknowledge its copyright as belonging to Gold-Traders (UK) Ltd and you provide a link-back to the Gold Sovereign Expert web site.

    Thank you for your understanding.

  3. Dear Greg
    I am a botanical historian preparing a Commentary on the life and travels of David Douglas (botanist & plant collector, 1799-1823). Currently I have him boarding a coach at the Spread Eagle, Gracechurch Street bound for Gravesend and a boat to the Pacific North-west. I wonder whether I may use the image of the Spread Eagle on your blog, with attribution to your blog?
    Best regards
    Gordon Mason

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