We went back to
That visit not only enabled me to find Espérance’s crumbling, romantic mansion but also to explore Chalepa and to gain a different impression of Chania (of which Chalepa is a suburb), a town whose full potential I failed to reveal in the book.
Based as we were in Chania, at the pleasant and well-placed Delfino Hotel (through Simpson’s Travel), I was also able to visit three places that had earlier escaped us: Rethymnon, Eleutherna, and the Arkadi Monastery. So as well as some historical additions, new material on Chania, and some other places, there will also be fuller accounts of them to add to the chapter 18 itinerary. But I have found so much new material on nineteenth century women that I am dividing the update into two. This is the first; itinerary additions, corrections, and an additional bibliography will be in the second.
In the preface to the book, I invited readers to respond, particularly to help with such elusive characters as Mary Walker who, I claimed, was the only nineteenth century woman visitor to leave a travel account. Happily, the great grandson of Thomas Sandwith, British consul 1870-1885 (these are corrected dates) did so. He not only introduced me to another Crete account by Mary, a friend of Sandwith with whom she probably stayed, and provided me with a reason for her decades-long stay in Constantinople, but he assured me, too, that her sketches of Crete do exist; he owns some of them and some are reproduced in Old Tracks and New Landscapes (1897).
Stephen Boys Smith also
introduced me to two other women, Amy Yule and Felicia Skene, the first of whom
visited Crete, the other may, from
Then there have been new publications since May 2005: most useful are Karolyn Shindler’s biography of palaeontologist Dorothea Bate, Discovering Dorothea, which mentions the British consul-general’s wife Isabella Howard (1903-6), to be included in the Chania update, and Victoria Hislop’s intriguing novel The Island which makes it necessary also to include in the itinerary update the island of Spinalonga - a leper colony between 1904 and 1935, and earlier a Venetian and then Ottoman fortress in which families took refuge.
research for Tasmania: Women, History, Books and Places, which
is to follow Crete, I have come
across a visit to Crete as early as 1833 by Jane Franklin, a famous figure in
the history of Tasmania where her
husband was governor 1837-43. With a tip
from the author of Lady Franklin’s
Revenge, I was able to comb Jane’s difficult-to-read diary in the Scott
Polar Research Institute,
In what follows, I shall suggest where the new material should be inserted/read in the historical section of the book.
Insert p. 131 (end of 2nd paragraph) (this extended chronological historical material can be inserted in the same place and read together with pp.131-139. Page numbers refer to my original text).
Jane Franklin (1792-1875) is, in 1833, a quite early
example of those British women travellers who often intentionally brought
thrills and spills upon themselves. Even travel through the Mediterranean and
Five years earlier she had married John
Franklin, a serving Royal Navy officer. His service in the
forgets, though surely Jane cannot have done so, is that such travel often
entailed endless delays in quarantine. She had spent nine days in the Lazaretto
The Cretan and Greek-wide revolt that started in 1821 and reached its climax in 1828 had ended with the Protocol of London, negotiated through the British and other European powers and securing independence from the Ottoman empire for Greece, but not for Crete which was handed to the Viceroy of Egypt - leading to continuing violence on the island.
the background to Jane’s arrival in Crete in September 1833 on her way to
September Jane was called upon in her strange seclusion not only by Capogrosso
but also a Frenchman from a French ship in
As a result of deputation sent to French and English admirals by the Greeks of this island who are now to the amount of several thousands collected from different parts of the island encamped outside of the town, demanding redress of their grievances, and tho unarmed, yet not much disposed to listen to reason. The French captain seemed surprised that I had already heard of this affair.
On 1 October, the French consul called upon Jane to bring
her up to date on the political situation;
he, too, had met her husband. Then a ‘Turk’ called on behalf of the
Pasha. The rest of her diary entries contain, apart from descriptions of her
surroundings, social visits and gossip, information gleaned from the books of
previous (male) travellers to Crete, and they come to an abrupt end, as seems
often to have been the way with Jane, without letting us know how she left the
island. But she eventually arrived in
Felicia Skene (1821-1899) is best known for her philanthropical activities in Oxford after 1849 – organising nurses during a local cholera epidemic, visiting prisoners in Oxford Gaol and looking after women on their release, and writing about her work, including prison reform; indeed, a blue plaque was unveiled to her in Oxford (34 St Michael’s Street) in 2002. But between 1838 and 1849, having been born and partly raised in France, she lived with her parents in Athens.
The Protocol of London of 1830 was followed by the Treaty of London of 1841 under which Crete was returned to the suzerainty of the Ottoman Sultan. In The Isles of Greece and Other Poems (1843), Felicia wrote ‘The Island of Crete’, of which these lines are part:
Oh, who could gaze unmoved, where now,
Even at this hour, the fetter’d slave
Hath vow’d to lay the oppressor low,
And gain his freedom or a grave!
Hark! distinct upon the sultry air,
Comes the echo of the cannon’s roar –
Each blow ordains some heart’s despair,
Some perish’d hero to deplore!
Yet is the sound to me most dear –
The voice which tells from this low sphere
All that is noble hath not past! ...
Let Crete be free! Too fair a spot
(There is nothing about Crete in another of her publications Wayfaring Sketches Among Greek and Turks, and on the Shore of the Danube by a seven years’ resident in Greece (1847)).
Felicia’s attitude towards Crete and its struggle for freedom was probably inspired by the circles in which she moved as a young woman in the independence hotbed of Athens, and foreshadowed her later reforming work in Oxford.
Lucy Sarell (1824-1904) arrived in Crete in 1841. She was seventeen and had just married her cousin, Henry Sarell Ongley in Constantinople where both families were part of a wide network of British consuls and merchants in the region; Henry had been appointed consul to Crete four years earlier. They were to live in Chalepa – the consulate and airy suburb of Chania – for seventeen years and Lucy was to have nine children there, all but one of whom survived.
When Henry arrived in 1837, the Albanian-born Mustafa Nail Pasha sent from Egypt had been Ottoman governor for seven years, and was to remain so until 1851, and return in 1866 for a year – in that long process becoming known as Mustafa Kiritli (the Cretan). Henry established good relations with him, and the years from 1841 – post Treaty of London, pre-insurrection of 1866 – were to be relatively calm. But, in 1851, Mustafa Kiritli was recalled – perhaps as a result of tension between Cairo and Constantinople – and his son, Veli Pasha took temporary charge. He was followed by two other pashas (1851-2 and 1852-5) and in 1855 he returned and resumed the good relations with Henry Sarell Ongley that both he and his father had enjoyed.
To some, Veli Pasha, son of a Cretan Christian mother whose father was a priest, was seen as a liberal governor, but not to the Greek nationalists, nor the committed Muslims. Sources disagree about whether or not Veli Pasha was keen to implement the Hatti Humayun, forced upon the Sultan in 1856 which gave important rights to his Christian subjects. Certainly its clauses were to lead to both progress and upsets in Crete. The French Consul Dercherché sought to undermine Veli Pasha’s position, not least because of the pasha’s good relations with the British Consul. In 1858, demonstrations and, in particular, the murder of a Muslim by a Christian, brought matters to a head. The culprit, caught by the crowd, was taken to the governor’s palace where they demanded his execution. This the Pasha refused and sought Henry Sarell Ongley’s advice when he was recalled. The British Consul’s continuing support led to the supposition that Britain supported PashaVeli; this was reinforced when he was given refuge in the Consulate.
The part played by Lucy Sarell Ongley, whose two-year-old daughter Lucy had recently died, whose daughter Minna had recently been born, and who was again pregnant, eludes all but my imagination, though some idea can be obtained from the experiences of Laura Stillman ten years later. On 23 July 1858, Lucy’s husband, accused also of corruption, was replaced and the family left for Constantinople, his career in ruins. His name was eventually cleared and he was appointed to other consulates. They had four more children.
That there is no personal account of Lucy Sarell Ongley’s seventeen years in Crete has to be accepted since all that I know is garnered from the family research of an elusive descendent posted on the internet. What a treasure trove her letters home, if they exist, might be.
There is a travel account that predates by probably as much as ten years that of Mary Walker. Anna Vivanti visited Crete briefly in 1865 and published A Journey to Crete, Constantinople, Naples and Florence: Three Months Abroad (1865).
Anna had married in 1855 but it was to be ten years before she and her husband – leaving their children behind – managed ‘our first wedding trip’. She was ecstatic at the prospect: ‘Yes, to Crete! Where nobody has ever been that I know of, since Theseus.’
It is likely that Anna Vivanti was born Anna Lindau, known later, and perhaps before her marriage, as a German writer, and that her husband was Anselmo Vivanti who sought political asylum in London after the 1851 uprisings in Mantua; I have to assume that their daughter is the better-documented writer Annie Vivanti for whose parents those are the details.
Anna writes of Crete, where they arrived on 3 April 1865 for two weeks, that there were no hotels, so they stayed with an Italian widower in Chania. The first building that caught Anna’s eye as they came ashore was the ‘Pasha’s Seraglio’ and she had pointed out to her the ‘Harem’, the windows of which were covered ‘by thick lattice work.’
She describes all that she sees in some detail; out walking, for example, she notes,
Far apart, on a green slope, sat the Turkish women, with their children and black slaves. These women, wrapped in satin cloaks, their heads and faces covered by their white veils, the gaily dressed little children with their bright happy faces and dark sparkling eyes, the black female slaves in cotton dresses of the Turkish cut, and the most gorgeous colours and patterns, produced altogether a charming picture.