Detail of the attar casket of Tipu Sultan
The East India Company at Home, 1757-1857 May 2013 Newsletter Mid-Project Conference As you are all aware, the Mid-Project Conference will be imminently upon us. We are very much looking forward to seeing many of you there. Those of you who were unable to secure tickets for the day-time events may wish to join us on Friday evening: a few spaces are still available for Giorgio Riello’s keynote lecture, which will take place on Friday 31st May at 5.30pm in the Cruciform Building at University College London (and will be followed by a reception). Further details can be found on the project website. Osterley Park and House Exhibition Preparations for ‘The Trappings of Trade’ are progressing at pace. This National Trust exhibition, prepared in collaboration with The East India Company at Home team, will explore the different ways in which the East India Company shaped a house predominantly defined by its Robert Adam connections. We are currently working with participants from the Hounslow oral history project to decide upon portraits and complete oral history recordings. The exhibition will open on Saturday 27 July 2013. New Case Studies May saw two new case studies uploaded onto the East India Company at Home project website. Project Associates Sarah Longair and Cam Sharp-Jones have written a fascinating analysis of the attar casket held in the collections of the British Museum, where they work. Originating from the palace of Tipu Sultan (c.17501799), the casket came to Britain after the siege of Seringapatam. Once here it passed through different branches of the Fraser family before joining the British Museum’s collections in the early twentieth century. The study explores the enduring significance of Tipu Sultan, the particular attention paid by family members to transferring the casket between generations both in India and England as well as how material culture represented the legacy of East India Company family histories. To read the study visit http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ eicah/the-attar-casket-of-tipu-sultan/. Project team member Ellen Filor has also written a compelling case study on Colonel William Rattray of Downie Park, Angus. It examines how a career in India could rehabilitate Jacobite families in the aftermath of 1745. Using the inventory of Downie Park, the case study reveals Rattray’s strategic use of his domestic interiors to display his Scottish ancestry, Indian career, and Jacobite heritage. It can be accessed here: http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/eicah/case-studies-2/william-rattray-of-downie-park/ Out and About In early May, Kate spent time in Aberystwyth completing research at the National Library of Wales. After further reading of the Ormathwaite papers, she explored a series of interesting correspondence and inventories in the Clive papers. In mid May, Kate travelled to the Somerset Record Office in Taunton to examine the Strachey papers. This research will feed in Kate’s article on the role of women and homes in East Indian Company networks.
Detail of the attar casket of Tipu Sultan
The East India Company at Home, 1757-1857 May 2013 Newsletter Helen was invited to give a paper about the Project to the Eleventh Annual Historic Houses of Ireland Conference held at Castletown House in County Kildare on 9th and 10th May. She was delighted by the tremendous response and hopes to work with several of the participants on case studies in the near future. On 17th May Helen visited Richard Pollitt at the Mansion House in York. The presence of a large collection of Oriental ceramics, given by Lord Mayor R.W. Hollan in 1865 opens up some possibilities of research on this interior. In the light of an HLF bid by the Mansion House for opening up more of the space to the public, plans are afoot to explore its hitherto unexplored global dimensions.
Grave of William Rattray, Dundee. Photo via impta (Flickr)
On 15 May, Kate gave a talk for the Coventry Historical Association. She received a warm welcome from local members and some interesting questions. On this date as well, Margot drew upon research and insights from the EIC at Home project in her presentation at London’s Institute of Historical Research addressing the question ‘How can things make historians think differently?’. A podcast of her talk, and of the accompanying presentation by John Styles (on ‘What can things tell us about the eighteenth century that we don’t know already?’), is available at http://historyspot.org.uk/podcasts/british-history-long-18th-century. Upcoming Events In April, Margot contributed to filming for the ITV series ‘Britain’s Secret Homes’. This five-part documentary series reveals the remarkable stories behind the UK’s secret, surprising and intriguing homes. In the episode to which Margot contributed, ‘Britain’s Secret Homes’ featured a house belonging to a returned East India Company captain and explored the life he lead both here and in India. The programme will most likely be broadcast on Friday 28th June at 9pm. Tune in to watch another dimension of the research findings of The East India Company at Home.