A post by Collections Assistant Jennifer Leach
Content note: Historic material will reflect the language of the original creators. Voices, objects and images from the past can display attitudes, opinions and relate to events which may be viewed as biased and offensive in today’s society.
As Christmas is fast approaching, this month’s item shows how a family in 1878 brought some festive cheer to those around them. This is a humorous newsletter “Imprinted at Winster Hall, in the County of Derbyshire, at the private press of Llwellynn Jewitt, F.S.A”, sold for the princely sum of “Nowt!” for private distribution. The newsletter states that only 25 copies were printed so perhaps these were to amuse friends, family or neighbours in the Christmas season.
Llwellyn Frederick William Jewitt (b.1816, d.1886) was an illustrator, engraver, natural scientist, author and publisher. His most famous work being The Ceramic Art of Great Britain (1878) with other works covering antiquities, archaeology, topography, local history and many other topics. In 1953 he moved to Derby and started the ‘Derby Telegraph’. He was vice-president of the Derbyshire Archæological Society, acted as honorary curator of the town and county museum at Derby, and was a promoter and one of the earliest officers of the Derby rifle volunteers. In around 1868 he moved to Winster Hall, High Peak in Derbyshire. His attachment to the location was clear. In addition to becoming swiftly involved in local life, in 1871 he was instrumental in resolving issues with the local water supply. He led a very successful campaign which raised nearly £1,000 and led to three miles of pipe being laid to supply free water from clean springs to eight public taps.
The item contains a gently mocking description of the town of Winster and its inhabitants. The author’s fondness for both the town and people is clear once his flare for pseudo-Middle English and enthusiasm for non-standard spelling has been deciphered. It is heavily implied that this author is Llwellynn Jewitt as he has put his name to the poems but not the article. Perhaps he was enjoying himself not being bound by the requirements of his usual academic work. The description of Winster Hall and its “auncient Scribe much given to the digging up of dead men’s bones” indicates that he was clearly not above poking fun at himself and his family, as well as his neighbours, in the spirit of Christmas jest.
There is a “Christmas Jingle” in the form of a poem capturing the chaos of preparing for Christmas, an example of “A Christmas Dinner in ++ ye olden time++” which is taken from The Accomplisht Cook by Robert May written in 1660, and “An All-Round Peak Toast” which plays with an attempt to render the local accent.
The final page includes another poem, some “Flabbergasters”, “Diggings” which require the reader to ‘dig’ for a hidden place and meaning in each – possibly a reference to Jewitt’s interest in archaeology, the answers to some anagrams possibly from a previous ‘edition’ of this newsletter, and a humorous declaration of copywright as “No poachin’s allowed except wi’ eggs’.
This newsletter is part of a collection of items relating to local history that were collected by George Clementson Greenwell and bound into three volumes in the late 19th century.