History of Hampton Court

GEORGE V   |   QUEEN VICTORIA   |   Ernest LAW

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"FEW PEOPLE ARE TRULY LEGENDS IN THEIR OWN TIME: VICTORIA WAS ONE": DEDICATION COPY OF THE HISTORY OF HAMPTON COURT, 1885-1891, WITH AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR OFFERING THIS EXCEPTIONAL COPY "FOR PRESENTATION TO THE QUEEN… FOR HER GREAT KINDNESS IN ALLOWING ME THE FAVOR OF DEDICATING THE WORK TO HER MAJESTY," EACH VOLUME WITH THE ROYAL BOOKPLATE OF VICTORIA'S GRANDSON, KING GEORGE V

(KING GEORGE V) (QUEEN VICTORIA) LAW, Ernest. The History of Hampton Court Palace. Volume I: In Tudor Times. Volume II. Stuart Times. Volume III. Orange and Guelph Times. London: George Bell and Sons, 1885-1891. Three volumes. Thick quarto, contemporary three-quarter navy morocco gilt, raised bands, all edges gilt.

First edition, dedication copy of court historian Law's seminal work on Hampton Court, with Vol. I containing a tipped-in autograph letter signed and dated by Law in the year of publication to Queen Victoria's private secretary, writing in part: “I send you by this post a specially bound copy of my 'History of Hampton Court Palace in Tudor Times' for presentation to the Queen… could you offer Her Majesty my most dutiful and humble thanks for her great kindness in allowing me the favour of dedicating the work to Her Majesty," with each volume notably containing the Royal Bookplates of Victoria's grandson, King George V.

"In her sincerity, her enthusiasms, her effort to do her duty, Victoria was truly Victorian: the age rightly bears her name… few people are truly legends in their own lifetimes: Victoria was one." On succeeding King William in 1837, Victoria "inherited a tarnished crown, its powers waning, its popularity sinking. She left it to her son in 1901 restored and renewed." Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840 and at his death in 1861, went into deep mourning. In time, and although her court never went out of mourning, she became Britain's "one constant feature of the 19th-century political scene." On January 1, 1877 she was proclaimed empress of India "and the same day signed herself for the first time 'Victoria R & I' ('Victoria regina et imperatrix', Victoria, queen and empress). It was intended that she should use the new designation only in her dealings with India, but she soon made it her usual style… On September 23, 1896, the queen noted in her journal that 'Today is the day on which I have reigned longer, by a day, than any English sovereign.'"After a slow decline in health, she died in January 1901 at the age of 82 and in the 64th year of her reign (ODNB). Lytton Strachey would write: "the vast majority of her subjects had never known a time when Queen Victoria had not been reigning over them" (Queen Victoria, 309).

This massive History of Hampton Court Palace, by Ernest Law, chronicles the palace in three volumes: I:Tudor Times; II:Stuart Times; III:Orange And Guelph Times. Above all, "Hampton Court represents the pinnacle of Tudor grandeur and in that sense is unique" (Jerome, ed., Turn Back the Clock, 12). It stands out as "one of the historical palaces that bring to mind a specific era in history… (the very name connotes Henry VIII and his six wives)… The first manor house on the site of Hampton Court was built in 1338… Cardinal Wolsey acquired the manor in 1514 and… presented the palace to Henry VIII in 1525… during Wolsey's fall from power only few years later, Henry took possession of it and removed Wolsey from the palace. After the change in ownership, Henry and his queen-to-be Anne Boleyn renovated and redecorated the palace. All the Tudor monarchs following Henry frequented this palace, which was also used by the Stuarts: Oliver Cromwell even lived at the palace during his reign as Lord Protector. William and Mary demolished half of the Tudor palace and replaced it with a new baroque palace designed by Sir Christopher Wren during the late 17th and early 18th centuries… the first two Hanoverian kings, George I and II, both resided at Hampton Court" (Deselms, What Does the Guidebook Say, 13-14). Law, as Hampton Court historian, writes in another work: "with the accession of her present most gracious majesty Queen Victoria to the throne, there opened up a new era in the history of Hampton Court; for one of the first acts of her reign was to order that the State Rooms should be thrown open to all her subjects without restriction, and without fee or gratuity of any kind. This was done in November, 1838" (Short History, 393).

Volume I contains an autograph letter signed by Law on letterhead to Sir Henry Ponsonby, Queen Victoria's Private Secretary, tipped in before the half title. The text of the three-page letter, entirely in Law's hand, reads in full: "July 1st 1885, Dear Sir Henry, I send you by this post a specially bound copy of my 'History of Hampton Court Palace in Tudor Times' for presentation to the Queen, which I hope Her Majesty be graciously pleased to accept from me. –At the same time could you offer Her Majesty my most dutiful and humble thanks for her great kindness in allowing me the favour of dedicating the work to Her Majesty? Yours very sincerely, Ernest Law. P.S. If you have the specimen copy & proof sheets originally sent to you, to show the nature of the work, could you send them back to me?" The volume's dedication page, printed in red and black, reads: "By Special Permission, Dedicated to Her Most Gracious Majesty The Queen Who First Granted Free and Unrestricted Admission to all Her Subjects to View the Beautiful Home of Her Ancestors at Hampton Court." Each volume, as well, contains the Royal Bookplates of George V, Victoria's grandson who became king in 1910, with his distinctive GRV monogram and Royal Crown. Sir Henry Ponsonby, recipient of Law's letter, became Keeper of the Privy Purse and served as Private Secretary to Queen Victoria from 1870 until shortly before his death in 1895. With over 80 full- and double-page illustrations including multiple in-text illustrations, frontispiece in each volume. Featured are portraits of King Henry VIII, Ann Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth, along with numerous maps and double-page plans of Hampton Court across the centuries. Victoria became queen in 1837 at the death of King William IV and at her death in 1901 was succeeded by Edward VII, the eldest son of Victoria and Albert. At Edward's death in 1910, Victoria's grandson George V became king, reigning until 1936. This copy's subsequent provenance is reportedly from the library of Stanley Williams, who served as Superintendent of Buckingham Palace. In 1960 when Queen Elizabeth II gave birth to Prince Andrew, it was Williams who affixed official confirmation of the birth to the Buckingham Palace gates.

In fine condition.

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