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Sale of diary that gives fascinating glimpse of life in Victorian Staffordshire

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Local history buffs will be delighted to hear that a diary penned by the first Lord Hatherton, Edward John Littleton, who lived at Teddesley Park in the 19th Century, is once again to come under the auctioneer’s hammer.

Auctioneer Ben Gamble with the volume of Lord Hatherton’s
diary set to sell at Cuttlestones in September.


Born Edward Walhouse in 1791, Lord Hatherton was a prolific Victorian politician who, during his 40 year political career, was influential in a number of historic reforms; including the Truck Act of 1831, the Parliamentary Boundaries Act 1832 and the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. He was also actively involved in Catholic Emancipation and the Irish question; holding the post of Chief Secretary for Ireland between 1833 and 1834. Alongside his political activities, Hatherton owned significant lands in Staffordshire and had large holdings in agricultural and residential property, coal mines, quarries and brick works, mainly concentrated around Penkridge, Cannock and Walsall.


The diary in question, which covers the period Tuesday 15th April through to Tuesday 22nd July 1856 has not, unlike many of Hatherton’s other diaries, been published; having remained in private hands. MD and head auctioneer at Penkridge’s Cuttlestones’ Auctioneers and Valuers, which sold the diary to its present vendor of the impressive sum of £1,000 five years ago, says:


Lord Hatherton’s diaries hold broad appeal to those interested in the politics of the Victorian era and also those with an interest in local Staffordshire history. While many of his diaries have been published and a number are held in the William Salt library, this is something of an enigma as it has remained in private hands, so very few have had the privilege of reading it. The diary dates from Hatherton’s time as a peer in the House of Lords, and holds numerous fascinating anecdotes that relate not only to the higher echelons of Victorian society Walpole, Palmerston and Queen Victoria’s half-sister Princess Feodora all appear – but also references to Staffordshire and the surrounding area.


The vendor has thoroughly enjoyed reading the diary whilst in his ownership and now someone else will have the opportunity to get their hands on a very interesting piece of local history.


The diary gives an intriguing insight into Lord Hatherton’s social life at the height of his political prowess, and includes accounts of entertaining visitors at Teddesley and time spent at his club Brookes’s, one of London’s most exclusive gentlemen’s clubs. He also recounts meeting the ailing Lord McCaulay; the British poet, historian and Whig politician, and their subsequent meetings that variously saw Hatherton introduced to Cavour, the founder of the Italian Liberal Party, visiting McCaulay at home and observing the composition of his seminal work ‘MacCaulay’s History of England’, and discussing the case of the Rugeley Poisoner William Palmer during a breakfast meeting.


The diary also recounts a rather leisurely Continental holiday during which Hatherton cruised down the Rhine and took waters at the spa – during which he met with General Ashburnham who criticised Lord Harding for underestimating the Sikhs in the Punjab War – and culminates when he travels from Vienna to Berlin.


The diary, which carries an estimate of £700-1000 is set to sell at Cuttlestone’s Fine Art Auction in Penkridge on Friday, 14th September 2012. The full catalogue will be available from Friday, 7th September online at and viewing will be on Thursday, 13th September from 10am – 7pm. Live internet bidding via alongside telephone and commission bidding options will available for those unable to attend on the day.

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