Thomas Noble’s Blackheath poetry book

A wonderful find on eBay (starting bids at £200), this 1808 poetry book about Blackheath.

Thanks to the wonder of the internet, you can look through its dusty pages for nothing, by going to this Internet Archive page. They have a great PDF version – complete with pen and ink illustrations, or the text only version (with dubious character recognition) is here.

Blackheath illustration from Thomas Noble's "Blackheath"poem

The illustrations are brilliant, as are the footnotes – little pieces of local history, like this one (page 40):

Lewisham is a very ancient village on the Ravensboum, and is famous for having been the spot of many great interviews. In 1415 the Emperor of Constantinople was here received by Henry IV. Here
Henry VIII met Ann of Cleves: in the same reign, a deputation here welcomed the high Admiral of France and Archbishop of Paris. In 1416 the Emperor Sigismund resided here; and in 1474 Edward IV here received a convocation of Londoners. At Lewisham also, the Lords temporal and spiritual attended by the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and crowds of the inhabitants of London met Henry V. on his return from the conquest of France.

Detail from Blackheath poetry book by Thomas Noble 1808

Here’s a description of the book from the Rare Books Mailing List:

An uncommon and handsomely produced collection by Thomas Noble, a local poet and historian of the Blackheath area in what is now southeast London. Noble was also an artist and teacher of perspective at Maize Hill, Blackheath, and published Practical Perspective, Exemplified on Landscapes in the following year (1809). He seems to have come from an artistic family, as the charming plates were engraved by S. Noble from designs by W. Noble, presumably Samuel Noble (1779-1853), a distinguished engraver who later went blind and became a Swedenborgian minister, and his brother William Bonneau Noble (1780-1831), a landscape painter and teacher of drawing. The volume’s title work, “a didactic and descriptive poem,” according to the author, must have been popular with the locals, or else Noble was a relentless salesman, because the 7-page Subscribers list includes seemingly half the population of Blackheath. Also featured in the list are the Earl and Countess of Oxford (subscribing separately), Lady Dacre, the Duchess of Northumberland, and His Excellency Sidki Efendi, Ambassador from the Porte (one can only imagine how he and the poet ever crossed paths). The volume is prefaced with a dedicatory epistle to Caroline, Princess of Wales, unhappy and notorious wife of the future George IV.

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Filed under art, blackheath, books, history, lewisham

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