Lady Eardley's Great Exhibition Season Ticket in Original Morocco Leather Wallet

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Vendor: Jason Clarke Antiques

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For sale an original Season Ticket for The Great Exhibition with leather wallet gilt embossed to Lady Eardley.

This delightful relic from The Great Exhibition comes complete with its original morocco leather wallet with “Exhibition Admission Card 1851” gilt embossed to the front and the owner’s name, “Lady Eardley” to the reverse. The watered silk lined interior has an insert section into which the card was placed and signed by the owner. The text to the front of the card reads, “Season Ticket of Admission to The Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations 1851” and is ticket No 9500. Lady Eardly’s signature is also provided.

The reverse contains the instructions for gaining entrance and reads as follows:

“RULES: This ticket must be produced on every occasion when the Proprietor enters The Exhibition & the proprietor must write her name & number in a book. If the ticket be presented by any other person than the registered proprietor it will be forfeited. Tickets lost cannot be replaced.

A special entrance will be provided for season tickets at the South. The autograph signature of the proprietor must be written on the face of it immediately after the number it bears.”

The bearer of this season ticket was Lady Isabella Eardley nee Carr (1804-1860), daughter of Thomas William Carr of Esholt Heugh, Northumberland & Frognal, Hampstead.

The Carr family although seemingly unknown today, were closely associated with the Byron family. Frances Carr, Isabella’s elder sister was a close friend of Lady Byron and travelled with her to The Lake District following the break-up of her short-lived marriage to Lord Byron. It is understood that in 1849, Frances was given a number of papers relating to the Byron marriage which were not to be disclosed for thirty years.

They were also known to hold a close association with the Bentham family. Jeremy Bentham was an English philosopher regarded as the founder of utilitarianism and was a member of the Philhellenic Group that was founded to the Greeks in their bid for independence from the Ottoman Empire. A struggle in which Lord Byron took active part and eventually died from illness there in 1824.

Isabella married Sir Culling Smith in 1829 when he succeeded to the Baronetcy upon which occasion he changed his name to Sir Culling Eardley Eardley. As is typical of the period, the information on Lady Eardley is somewhat scarce other than a letter held in The National Archive which suggests a somewhat mischievous nature. Her husband is better documented and his active life may provide some reflection of Isabella’s home life and situation.   

Educated at both Eton and Oxford, Eardley became an evangelical Christian during his time there and became a campaigner for reform of the poor laws serving briefly as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Pontefract. Given Isabella’s family associations with the Benthams it is perhaps unsurprising that she would fall for such a moral character.

His life was dedicated to charity, supporting religious freedoms in both the UK and internationally, acting as Treasurer for The London Missionary Society from 1844 to 1863. He actively supported causes in Lebanon, Italy and Turkey with a network of contacts that included Giuseppe Garibaldi and Frederick William IV, King of Prussia.

He inherited Bedwell Park from his Father (also Sir Culling Smith), the site of Medieval Manor House frequented by Mary Tudor in 1522 and Belvedere House in Erith, Kent. The latter no longer exists but was sold upon Eardley’s death to the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society and housed ex-sailors until it was demolished in the 1950’s.

Lady Isabella Eardley predeceased her husband by three years. She died in 1860 at the age of fifty six just nine years after her visit to The Exhibition and in the same year as Lady Byron.

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