Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sir Vauncy Harpur Crewe

Sir Vauncy Harpur Crewe (1846-1924) was a serial collector of Everything.  His main house, Calke Abbey near Ashby de la Zouch, is preserved by the National Trust as a crumbling monument to Victorian collecting ideology. 

He had the habit of descending on the New Forest in July, taking over the Crown Hotel at Lyndhurst, and bagging an inclosure - keeping out the riff-raff for a week or two by stationing flunkeys at all entrances.  Unfortunately, curation wasn't his strongest forte and most of his collections seem to have fallen apart.  Also, there are few data labels.

I visited Calke today to look at the remains of his great collection, in particular and obviously iris.  Unfortunately, I could find only a small series, of unusually large females taken in the Forest ca 1900 - 

These are seriously Big Girls by the way.  I've got the horrid feeling that some of the store boxes containing nothing but empty pins are all that remains of his main iris collection but will return another day to do a proper search and inventory. 

Pride of place in his collection is this amazing cardui var featured in Newman -

Finally, here's a tray of paphia vars taken in the Forest during the immortal summer of 1983 (think 1976, and double it) -

More from Sir Vauncy another time...

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