Tag Archives: Quebec House

The Battle for Quebec

One of our places in Kent is Quebec House which was the childhood home of James Wolfe. Wolfe commanded the British Forces at the siege of Quebec and the Battle of the Plains of Abrahams. You can a short introductionary video about this interesting house below which boasts one of the largest Wolfe related collections.

James Wolfe had joined his fathers regiment at 13th and by Quebec had already served in several campaigns.

With the anniversary of Wolfe’s victory approaching this next week on the 13th September. I thought this would be an ideal apportunity to put a few highlights from the collection and do a post what would be Wolfe’s finest and final victory.

James Wolfe was from a military family, his father was General Edward Wolfe and who had served in numerous campaigns including the War of Spanish Succession, the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion and the War of Jenkins Ear. James himself joined his father regiment of 13 and by the time of Quebec had already fought in the War of Austrian Succesion, the 1745 Jacobite rebellion and the early stages of the 7 years war with France.

A map of Frances Territory in Canada, the battle of Quebec would see the begining of the end for French rule and allow the British to move against Montreal the following year.

Having impressed William Pitt the Elder, he was raised the rank of Brigadier General and sent to fight in Canada, then known as New France. Having aquitted himself admirably at the seige and capture of Louisbourg, Wolfe was selected to lead British efforts against Quebec, the capital of New France and French Canada.

Having arrived at Quebec using the St.Lawrence river, Wolfes forces occupied the land around Quebec and started what would become a 3 months long siege.

The British army under Wolfe’s command would sail up the St.Lawrence and lay siege to the city with the goal of siezing Quebec before Winter set in. Aware of Wolfe’s plan, the French Commander, the Marquis de Montcalm had several weeks to prepare defenses and Wolfe was forced the besiege the city for 3 month.

The Battle on the Plains of Abrahams was the end of almost 3 months siege which had left many of the building in the city rubble.

Following a 3 month bombardment of Quebec and an inconclusive action fought north of Quebec at Beaupont, Wolfe settled on an risky plan to land his troops ambhibiously below cliffs to the South West of Quebec before winter set in.  His troops scaled the cliffs, known as the heights of Abraham. In the morning Montcalm was confronted by the British army on the Plains having scaled the heights he believed unscalable.  The French Army advanced to meet the British who were held from firing until the last moment, their volley causing disruption and casualties in the French lines causing them to retreat. The battle had lasted only 15 minutes.

The Marquis Montcalm, the commander of the French forces at Quebec would also die of his wounds the day following the fight. This print depicts his death in many ways similar to the Death of Wolfe, although the Marquis is shown in more comfort than his British counterpart.

The battle is notable for both leaders dying, Wolfe dying within minutes of winning his most famous victory. The defeated Montcalm would die the next day from his wounds. Wolfe’s victory at Quebec would enable the British to push towards Montreal the following year and secure Canada for the British. Along with the victory in Quebec, there were British victories in india, at Minden in Europe and at Sea ending French hopes of invading the U.K.

The Death of General Wolfe, after the version by Edward Penny. Penny's version is thought to be more accurate than the more famous painting by Benjamin West showing Wolfe's death.

If you are interested in the Seven Years War, Quebec House is well worth a visit and has had installed a new exhibition this year recounting the story of the battle. Why not visit this weekend? Where Quebec House and the Town of Westerham will be holding a Soldier and Scarecrow weekend where re-enactors will be recreating the French and Indian Wars!

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All Change

Spring is in the air and many of our places opened their doors to the public after being closed for the Winter in the past week or so. Of course over the winter there have been a few changes over the winter and I thought it would be nice to talk about one or two of them.

The new exhibition at Quebec House

I went along to the opening of the new exhibition at Quebec House on Friday. This exhibition has replaced the older, interesting if a bit wordy exhibition with a new more modern exhibitions space.

The exhibition space also has a couple of screens showing video, it was a little too busy to fully enjoy them

I’ve attached a few photos of the day; it has some rather interesting bits. There’s an increased use of digital media including a couple of videos. However the thing I especially like is the banner of the Wolfe’s troops scaling the heights of Abraham, the banner being the same height of the very heights those men climbed just over 250 years ago.

One of the other major pieces of news is Ellen Terry’s Beetlewing Dress has been returned to Smallhythe Place after several years of conservation.

 

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth wearing the Beetlewing Dress, painted by John Singer Sargent. © National Trust / Andrew Fetherston

Ellen Terry was one of the major names of the Theatre in the late 19th Century, and her beetlewing dress is perhaps her most iconic costumes. Smallhythe Place being her last home and containing a vast wealth of Terry memorabilia and being a very picturesque venue for a day out.

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Beyond Artefacts?

I was at a loss as to what to do the weekend before last so I took myself off to one of the Heritage Open Days. As I’ve said previously having a bit of a soft spot for all things 18th century and re-enactment I went to the event at Quebec House. Although I’ve concentrated on new ways objects and collections can be highlighted, I’ve tended to keep to all things digital. So today I’m going to the opposite end and talking about a physical way of bringing objects to life, specifically re-enactment.

Guard at Quebec House

The idea of recreating past events is not a new one; in fact the Romans were partial to a bit of recreating the past, in what was known as Naumachiae. Naumachiae being the term for naval re-enactment and the venue in which they took place. Caesar going as far to have a basin built in the Campus Mauritius, where 4,000 oarsman and 2,000 fighters fought a recreated battle costumed as Tyranians and Egyptians. One interesting thing to note is that Rome was not involved in these fights, in case the wrong side won!

Camp at Quebec House

What is increasingly popular idea is that of bringing the past to life through carrying out normal tasks. Increasingly even battle re-enactment will incoportate some sort of camp in which daily tasks such of the past such as sewing, cooking, drill and fatigue duties are carried out better known as living history.

18th Century Surgeon

When you think about it the foundation of re-enactment is really about recreating material culture from the past and using it, be it clothes, a simple sewing needle or reading a drill manual(arguments about standards of reproduction and interpretation are for another day!).

Blowing bubbles with a clay pipe

I think seeing a close reproduction of historical objects in daily use in the right context can bring objects in display cases and houses to life. It will never replace a priceless original, but it does illustrate how it was used and can allow people to engage with the object. It can go beyond being an artefact.

Of course this is just my opinion and certainly opinion is divided on the topic. For instance another Walsh referred to re-enacting as ‘shallow titillation’!

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Opening the Generals Bedroom!

Its been a while since my last post as I’ve been away at Fort George in Scotland. I thought I best make up for this and put a new post up. I’ve finally managed to cobble together my first video using the very basic editing package on that used to come with windows media player. So here it is…….

I think its come out quite well considering it was done with a handheld camera and some basic software. What do you think?

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You can prove anything with statistics!

It may be that I’ve had numbers on my mind, but recently everywhere I go I’ve come across statistics. From the episode of ‘Yes Primeminister’ I watched the other night to a meeting on Friday where I was casually asked how many hits Quebecs introduction video I’d uploaded a weeks ago had now. Through to reading about culture24 starting research into how museums measure success online.

It got me thinking as to how useful statistics actually are in relation to a Heritage/Museum Youtube channel and what they can prove. Certainly Youtube is excellent if you want to find out information about how many people have been looking at your video (108 so far). Just look at the some of the insight information for the Quebec video below!

Insight information from Youtube

It makes for an interesting read; it tells me where hits have came from and it tells me the video is most popular with 13-17 year old males. It tells me where hits have came from and it also tells me where in the world people who watch the video are from (hits from Canada, USA, Finland and even Saudi Arabia!).However it won’t tell me how many of these people will then go and visit Quebec House and chances are I will probably never know.  Arguably people from around the world will probably never visit Quebec House after seeing a video on Youtube. This got me thinking, I wonder if this is the only measure of success?Other factors can also be used to judge success. Virtual visit themselves are important; they expand access to audiences who may not have the ability to travel to a place to see it in reality. So in these terms virtual visits from places like Saudi Arabia and Canada are a success in themselves. 

You can prove anything with statistics, but how should we measure success? Should it be a numbers game or should other measures be used?

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Who was General James Wolfe?

I visited Quebec House on Friday and after a bit of confusion finding my way from the car park to the House I was very impressed with what I saw. I may be a bit of a military history geek, but I thought the place was really interesting. For those who haven’t made the trip to General James Wolfe’s childhood home I highly recommend it. You can even drink port (although I didn’t as I was driving!).

One of things that came out of my visit was using youtube to set up a channel specifically for Quebec House, which I have done. I have also uploaded an introduction video produced by the BBC, which can be seen below (It has 17 hits so far!).

I’m going to do three different simple videos using items from the collections to tell some of the stories and themes relating to Wolfe and his story. One about the long Siege of Quebec in 1759 which ended with the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, but is largely forgotten in the Wolfe story. Then one highlighting the destruction of Quebec, something perhaps felt most by the inhabitants of Quebec today and still a sticky subject if the calling off of the 2009 re-enactment in Quebec is anything to go from. The third and final video is going to involve a placement student talking about some of the art work surrounding Wolfe.

I’ll let you know how I get on with creating my videos, but I’m open to any suggestions which might help! Which do you think will get the most interest?

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Filed under Collections, National Trust, Re-enactment, Social Media, Uncategorized, Youtube