The Court Journal
A weekly London newspaper that ran from the 2nd of May,1829,to the 13th of March,1925. It was launched by Henry Calburn, a successful publisher, with Passmore Edwards as editor. It was created to fill a gap in the press as it was felt that Royal and Court news was not adequately covered in the other newspapers.
This paper will occasionally contain Royal and Court news items relating to Hertfordshire, such as this account of an archery meeting at Gorhambury, home of the Earl of Verulam, near St Albans.
THE ARCHERY MEETING AT ST. ALBANS.
The Court Journal, October 3, 1829
AGREEABLY to the promise in our Journal of last week, we have prepared a brief account of the Archery Meeting at St. Albans. Since the days of the Hatfield Archers, there has been no regularly organized society of the same description in Hertfordshire; and although, during the last two or three years, archery has been rapidly gaining ground among the amusements of the principal families in the county, little has been done towards the establishment of regular Bow-meetings, unless several entertainments, of which the target formed the chief attraction, may be considered as such. One of the best fêtes of the above description at which we were ever present, was that given by Lady Verulam, at Gorhambury, last year. It may indeed be considered that the signal success with which that occasion was crowned, suggested the idea of the formation of a society which should ensure to the lovers of the art a certain number of meetings in each year. Accordingly a club has been formed, in the roll of which we find the names of Lady Verulam, as Lady Patroness, Lord and Lady, and the Dowager Lady Salisbury, the Cowpers, Clarendons, Dacres, Bridgewater, Essex, Abercorn, Grimstone, Beauclerk, Gordon, Byron, Capel, Seebright, &c. &c.
It is intended to have four meetings in each year; and if in future (to use a newspaper phrase,) they go off with the éclat that attended the meeting of last week, the members of the club, and the county at large, will indeed have reason to congratulate themselves on the success of their plans for the promotion of amusement and cheerfulness; and they will not forget that some gratitude is due to those whose spirited exertions have created the "Hertfordshire Toxophilite Society."
The day has been when we could draw a tough yew bow with no mean success; and we can still, if need be, exhibit sundry arrows, medals, and silver bugles, which we keep as trophies of what has been with us, not what is. On the present occasion, however, (such are the changes which time and the hour bring on,) we drove to the Cricket-ground at St. Albans, and saw the targets set, without one wish to enter the lists again, or to mingle with the gay groups in any other character but that of a pleased spectator. The ground is well adapted for the purpose to which it was put on Friday: it is a pretty valley just beyond St. Albans, on the old North Road. There is no spot from which the town and abbey of St. Albans look so well; and the gay dresses and pretty groups collected at the targets, or promenading in front of the Old Hall; the rich uniforms and lively strains of the military band, with the crowds of people perched on the opposite hills to see what was going on, formed a coup d'œil, in every sense of the world, picturesque; uniting, at the same time, the groupings and effect of a panorama, with the bustling animation of real life. All this was pretty to behold from a distance; but they on the hills could not see the fairest features of the landscape - the sweetest, brightest flowers - "the lilies of the field," excelling "Solomon in all his glory;" and, in truth, when we saw some of the fair creatures standing at the target in an attitude of destruction, we trembled for the safety of the younger portion of the beaux attendant, and no longer wondered at the want of skill which some few of the gentlemen displayed. The Members of the Society began to arrive about two o'clock; and shortly after that time the sports of the day commenced, with a sweepstakes between Lord Grimstone, Hon. E. Grimstone, Mr. Bagot, Mr. Chestcr, and Mr. Baker, which was won in good style by Lord Grimstone. Immediately the Sweepstakes were concluded, the shooting at the target was begun, ladies and gentlemen shooting together, at sixty yards. The most successful shots among the ladies were Lady Emily Grimstone, our favourite Gertrude Brand, and Miss Moore Halsey; and among the gentlemen, Mr. Bagot and Lord Grimstone.
At four o'clock the company retired to the Pavilion, where an excellent hot dinner was prepared, of which it is sufficient to say that, in material and arrangement, it would have done credit to the omnipotent Gunter. After dinner shooting was resumed for a short time, until the Pavilion had been cleared of the vestiges of dinner, and the room had been lighted up and prepared for dancing; when it again became the point of attraction; and the ball was opened with a contre-danse, led off by Lord Dacre and Lady Verulam. The noble Lord was in top boots, - "the light fantastic toes" of which fell rather heavily upon the ground, and caused considerable merriment, in which his Lordship, with his usual good humour, joined. Quadrilles, waltzes, and galopades were then danced alternately throughout the evening; and the gay scene was kept up with undiminished spirit until eleven o'clock, at which hour concluded one of the most successful and agreeable meetings we have ever seen.
There was some very good shooting in the course of the day; and although it might have been said of a few, that
"Right and left their arrows fly,
But what they aim at no one dreameth;"
these Lesbias were so few, that the Herts Toxophilite Society have no reason to be ashamed of the deeds of their archers. We are convinced that we have the bump of gregariousness - we love collections of people; we are warm advocates for bringing together those whose locality naturally calls for intimacy; and of all county meetings, races, balls, fairs, cricket matches, and quintains, we hold none comparable to bow-meetings. we love to see Beauty in a morning dress, tripping over the fresh grass which rises beneath the taper foot; we love to see the glossy curls stirred by the pure breeze. Women, and men too, are more natural in the day time than at night, when the heated air of the crowded saloon, or the bright glare of the theatre, blight the natural graces, and supply their places with the affectations of art. And then that most graceful of all altitudes - the drawing the bow; the flight of the arrow through the air, gradually rising, and then falling again, till you hear it drop into the target; and then the dinner, with just enough of scramble to give to the realities of a comfortable repast a slight zest of adventure; and then in the evening the hall, beginning as in the olden time, with a country-dance, to the infinite delight of all elderly gentlemen and ladies of a certain age, Royal Dukes, and country magistrates. There is, too, such an absence of all form and ceremony; so much spirit, good humour, and cordiality wherever archery thrives, that we rejoice extremely to see this favourite sport of our youth and childhood making its way again; but when, in addition to these good things, we have such a display of rank, wit, youth, beauty, and talent, as we had at St. Albans, there is much cause for gratitude to the princely pastime, to the love of which we are indebted for the formation of the Herts Toxophilite Society, - many more of whose meetings we hope to see and report on. We should not omit to mention that the formation of the club is chiefly to be attributed to the spirited exertions of Lady Verulam. Lady Dacre. Mrs Johnes Knight, Lady Frederick Beauclerk and Mr. Moore Halsey.
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