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Read, Watch and Listen

Shanghai Volunteer Corps Armoured Car Company, 1932

Ep01-279. © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

Along with the International Settlement policy, the first line of foreign Shanghai's defence was the Shanghai Volunteer Corps. Ephgrave joined the Armoured Car Company, shown here at the Shanghai Race Club in 1932 preparing to have an official photograph taken. A significant proportion of young British men in particular​ joined the Corps, regularly parading through the streets, showing the strength of foreign power, and intent, then heading off to the their offices to trade. The irony was not lost on many of them; it was hardly lost on Shanghai Chinese.

An eight at 'Henli' (and a canoeist), c.1932

Ep01-699.  © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

Sport – in Ephgrave’s case soccer, golf, and rowing – was embedded in foreign settler culture. Young Jack took many shots of the Shanghai Rowing Club’s activities outside Shanghai at a place dubbed ‘Henli’. The double-exposure may well be accidental, but Ephgrave’s decision to keep the print from it and add it to the albums suggests that he liked the effect.

At the annual basket fair in Shanghai, looking towards the Bubbling Well, 1930.

Ep01-124 © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

1930: A crowded Shanghai street during the annual ‘Basket Fair’ which centred on the Jing’an -- ‘Bubbling Well’ – Temple, and which was held on the Buddha’s birthday. Far away from the Bund in feel, but barely a quarter of a mile west, tens of thousands of people thronged the streets and the hundreds of temporary stalls.


EP01-763 © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

Street photographer: Three men examine something in front of a shop in one of a series of shots of a busy market district. Ephgrave’s attention seems to have been caught by the silk clothing of the man whose back is to his camera, but he has also caught a lively grin from a smoking passer-by.

Riverside scene, Shanghai, c.1933

Ep01-754.  © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

What seems to be a river-side embarkation point for people getting to a ferry, or on the sampans on the right. Peddlers are selling snacks to the waiting crowd. The shot suggests the ubiquity of Ephgrave’s day-job’s craft: there is a poster for BCC’s ‘Hatamen’ cigarettes on the wall top left.

Portrait of a woman, near Shanghai, c.1933

Ep01-770. © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

There are photographs of friends and family, the oarsmen and the well-turned-out volunteers, but this portrait of a pensive woman haunts us. It is one of a number of such finds in this collection, one family’s private archive, but a distinctive and now uncovered vision of a city’s tangled history.

The Cnut Gospel, Southern England, early 11th century (between 1017-1020).

Owned by Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (d. 1612). Royal 1 D. ix, f. 45

The Christian Monarch

King Cnut as Benefactor of the Church

The inscription on the left-hand page in this book of the Gospels identifies King Cnut as a benefactor of the monastic community at Christ Church, Canterbury. Having established himself king of England by force, Cnut went to great lengths to justify his rule, and it is plausible that he might have donated this rich book to Christ Church, though there is no record of such a gift. The lavishly framed page to the right marks the beginning of the Gospel of Mark.

The Westminster Psalter, London, c. 1200 (Psalter) and 1250 (tinted drawings).

Owned by Charles II. Royal 2 A. xxii, f, 14v

A Psalter for Westminster the Coronation Church

This richly illuminated book belonged to the Benedictine abbey of St Peter, Westminster, and was probably commissioned by one of the community’s high-ranking brethren. The striking image on the left, King David portrayed as author of the Psalms, was painted by an unknown artist, probably an itinerant professional. The style shows the influence of some of the greatest artists working in southern England at the time. Further tinted drawings were added fifty years later during the period of heightened local artistic activity that accompanied Henry III’s rebuilding of Westminster Abbey.

The Henry VIII Psalter, London, c. 1540. Owned by Henry VIII. Royal 2 A. xvi, f.

Henry VIII Praying in his Bedchamber

Portrayed as we might expect him to appear at the age of 49 (his age when this book was made), Henry VIII holds a book that represents this book, his own Psalter. The writing in the margin is one of the King’s many annotations; he has written in Latin, ‘note who is blessed’. Placed at the beginning of the Psalms, Henry VIII’s portrait aligns him with King David, the supposed author of the Psalms. As seen in other copies of the Psalms in this exhibition, David’s portrait typically occupies this place in Psalters.

The Secretum secretorum, London, 1326–27. Purchased for the nation in 1952. Additional 47680, ff. 10v-11

How to be a King

Prince Edward’s Manual of Kingship

The king’s clerk Walter of Milemete commissioned this manuscript of the Secretum secretorum (Secret of Secrets) as a gift for the future Edward III. In the Middle Ages the Secretum compendium of knowledge for a king was believed to be a work that the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle had composed for his pupil Alexander the Great. Here, Alexander receives the book from a messenger who bears on his girdle the heraldic arms used by Prince Edward when Earl of Chester. In the lower margins, Edward’s arms are accompanied by those of his father, Edward II, and his two uncles.