Friday, July 05, 2024

150th Wedding Anniversary

Richard Jefferies and Jessie Baden were married at the parish church of the Holy Cross, Chiseldon on Wednesday 8th July 1874. Richard’s brother and sister, Henry James and Sarah, were the witnesses, but it is not known if Jefferies’ parents were present, nor who else was at the ceremony.


Chiseldon Church, Wiltshire c1910. Kate Allen Tryon (1865–1952)

Weather records at the National Meteorological Archive in Exeter, Devon, show it was a dry, very warm and sunny day across Wiltshire. Records from Marlborough College, kept by the Reverend A. Preston, show a temperature of 77.4 Fahrenheit, 25.2 Celsius, at 3 pm, and a maximum temperature of 78.5F (25.8C) for the day. Only one tenth of the sky was covered by cloud at 3 pm.

The 8th July was near the start of a prolonged dry spell. No rain was reported at Marlborough College from 9 am on the 6th until the 19th/20th, and rainfall records from Draycott Foliatt, kept by Thomas Arkell, show the same period with no rain. It also remained very warm, if not hot, with a maximum temperature of 85.7F (29.8C) on the 9th and a peak at 86.6F (30.3C) on the 19th.

It is not known if the couple went on a honeymoon. However, in Jefferies’ last notebook he wrote on 24 May 1887:

The intense beauty & love of nature —every grain of sand. I can see the grains at Ventnor now '74 &    the fragments of pebbles joy in each. But not in this the answer to the soul. A Double feeling.

This reference to Ventnor indicates they may have gone to the Isle of Wight at some time and ’74 refers to 1874. Weather records for Belgrave House, Ventnor are available for 1871-1875 but 1874 is missing. Ventnor is on the south coast of the Isle of Wight. Records for Parkhurst, in the north of the island, show very similar temperatures to Marlborough over the same period and an even higher maximum temperature of 89.6F (32.0C) on the 12th. It was also mostly sunny during this time. It is reasonable to assume it was probably very similar in Ventnor.

In the same notebook the preceding entry is:

The light burning always in the eyes; the soul (mind) always burning within.

Andrew Rossabi[1] suggests this entry could be related to Jefferies’ latent tuberculosis, but maybe it is him recalling the heat and sunshine in Ventnor in 1874?

Whether they went to the Isle of Wight or not, the first part of their married life was dry, sunny and very warm.


[1] Andrew Rossabi, A Peculiar English Genius Or, A Wiltshire Taoist. A Biography of Richard Jefferies. Volume II The Years of Struggle, 1867-76 (Foulsham, Norfolk, 2020).