FRIENDS IN KENT
On March 11th 1766 Kammell wrote to Count Waldstein that he “had played in his first public concert with such applause which I had not expected.” There is no sign of a concert featuring his name in 1766 so this might have been a solo appearance in one of Bach and Abel’s concerts which had been held on each Wednesday since the 8th January in Soho Square. He had met Johann Christian Bach very early in his stay in London and it can only be assumed that he had found work performing with Bach during the year he had already spent in England.
Not long after this Kammell became ill. His health would always be a problem and affect his performing ability. As he wrote on 5th July 1766:
“My illness started in early March and lasted almost to early June; it consisted of extraordinary depression, and started by much thinking and anxiety, to which the well-known mast-trees contributed very much.” (FREEMANOVA 2)
This seems to be putting part of the responsibility for the depression onto Count Waldstein’s shoulders. It is impossible to tell how sincere or honest he is being in his communications with his Lord and Master. There is often an emphasis on the need for money, at the same time as a great deal of talk of his success. But finding a place as a virtuoso was also difficult with such great competition:
“I must struggle against the other virtuosos….I made much money here already with my old violin, (and) also lost a lot of it, as I must pay for everything very dearly…”
This does not sound as if music was simply a way of passing the time until the “mast-trees” could be disposed of and he could go home. Surely establishing himself as musician was the chief object of his stay, and that might take longer.
“I would be allowed to stay here one year more I could have a benefit concert in the next year, which would certainly bring me 100 pounds sterling, that is almost 10,000 guldens, after that I would return home again with pleasure…” (FREEMANOVA 1)
His illness could have been a disaster if it he had been unable to perform and earn a living. He was very fortunate to have made friends who were willing to look after him. After three months of illness, and, presumably little or no music-making, he travelled to Kent.
By June 1766 he was living at Bourne Place, a few miles south east of Canterbury, the country home of Horatio Mann and his new wife Lady Lucy. Horatio was only 22 in 1766 and his wife two years older. These grand friends of Kammell were considerably younger than he was – he was 35.
He was taken to Bourne Place by someone whose name is not legible in his original letter. Freemanova transcribes the name as “Tay (lor).”
This gentleman had looked after Kammell in November 1765 when he wrote that his host “gives me food, drink and lodgings, and services for free, and likes me as his own son.” (FREEMANOVA 1)
Who was this important early supporter who may have introduced Kammell to the Manns and other valuable patrons?
The illegible “Tay (lor)” must have been Lord Teynham, a title held at that time by Henry Roper, 10th Baron Teynham (1708-1781). In an earlier letter, in 1765, Kammell had mentioned “Lord Thenham” and “Esq. Solis” “who is a Baron to whom I give lessons.” Theynham is alternatively spelled “Tenham”, which is probably how Kammell had heard it prounounced. Taylor and Thenham are obviously the same person.
Until the death of the 10th Baron the Ropers were a catholic family, which meant that they were not allowed to hold government office. Henry Roper’s son, after 1781, was the first to break with this family tradition.
Lord Teynham was married three times, firstly to Catherine Powell, in 1733, and secondly to Ann Brinkhurst, on 28th February 1766, only a few months before the trip to Bourne Place. When Teynham looked after Kammell during 1765 he would have been living as a widower after his first wife’s death.
Teynham did have musical connections.
Two of his sons married two daughters of Sir Francis Head of Rochester and Higham (1693-1768). Head was a keen lover of music and a patron of the Flemish composer Willem de Fesch. De Fesch had lived in London in the 1740s and had played violone (an early form of double bass) with Handel. He had composed oratorios for the English market, and also instrumental music. In 1750 he retired from work in London and became the Head family’s music teacher. Very unusually he is shown in a family portrait of the Heads. He would have been the music teacher of Lord Teynham’s two daughters-in-law.
De Fesch’s sonatas Op. 8 (1738) are dedicated to Lord Teynham. Kammell’s friend was also a subscriber to de Fesch’s set of Concerti Op. 10, which were dedicated to Frederick, Prince of Wales.
The list of subscribers included in the published score of Op. 10 includes the names of several musical societies in Dartford, Sittingbourne and Rochester, showing that there was a lively musical world in Kent and that De Fesch was associated with the county from the 1730s to his death in 1761.
Both the Ropers and the Heads were catholic families. Is it significant that the catholic Kammell had been living in a catholic house in 1765? None of his later friends and patrons were Roman Catholics. Religion might have been one element in the connection between Kammell and Teynham, but a more likely aspect would be that Teynham saw Kammell as person who might fill the place of De Fesch, who had died on five years earlier, and that was the reason for bringing him to Kent.
“Esq Solis”, who was either travelling down with Kammell and Lord Teynham, or already in Kent, is a name that does not appear again in Kammell’s story until the last few years of his life when John Cochaine Sole is the dedicatee of a set of Trios, Op. 16, published in 1780. Sole’s country house was Norton Court to the west of Canterbury, a place that seems remote, but which is not very far from the London road, now the A2.
The historic home of the Ropers was Lynsted. Both Lynsted and the village of Teynham are within a mile or so of Norton, John Cochaine Sole’s home.
Though there is no other mention of Sole, or of Kent, in any other letters after this visit the dedication of Op. 16 shows that they had kept in touch for at least fifteen years, and there are strong grounds to believe that Kammell was at Norton at the end of his life.
Bourne Place, now Bourne Park House
The Manns became his protectors for the next six months or more, and Lady Lucy would be the dedicatee of his first publication, his set of 6 Trios for two violins and bass, Op. 1.
Horatio Mann (often called Horace) is mostly remembered as a patron of cricket. He had a cricket ground on his estate at Bourne. He was the nephew of Sir Horace Mann, the British Resident in Florence. Horatio did not inherit his uncle’s baronetcy until Sir Horace died in 1786, so at the time that Kammell stayed with him he was simply Mr. Mann. Kammell describes him as “my best friend that I have here in England” and notes that “he is very rich, has more than one hundred thousand gulden of yearly income.”
His wife was Lady Lucy, having the honorary title because she was the daughter of an Earl, Baptist Noel, 4th Earl of Gainsborough. Lady Lucy, Kammell writes,
“is an extraordinary beauty, loves music and puts up with me very well.” (FREEMANOVA 2)
The Manns had had some important musical visitors a year earlier, when the Mozart family arrived on their way to Dover, from where they would set sail for home. Their proposed concert in Canterbury, which was advertised for 11 a.m. on Thursday 25 July 1765 at the old Guildhall had to be cancelled because there was too much competition from other summer entertainments. Instead Wolfgang had gone to the races. Leopold Mozart had noted in his diary that Bourne Place “was a very beautiful estate”.
Lady Lucy obviously made a big impression on Kammell. His dedication on the printed score of his Op. 1 describes her, in Italian, as:
“my first and principal protector on my appearance in this capital. My debt towards you, as well as my feelings, oblige me to publish these efforts under your auspices, to demonstrate in public my everlasting gratitude for these favours…”
This dedication is dated London, 15th March 1766. This date is only four days after the date of his first solo public performance, but, if she was his “first and principal protector” this would mean that they had met as much as a year before. She had married Horatio Mann on 13th April 1765, which was just before the occasion when Kammell had met the Mozart family and heard Wolfgang play. Perhaps there is a connection between this meeting with the Mozarts and his meeting with the Manns.
Another sign that Lady Lucy had made a serious impact on Kammell is the fact that he had intended to dedicate his Op. 1 to his patron, Count Waldstein. The music must have been composed before he came to England. In his very first letter to Waldstein he asks him whether he could “dare to dedicate my Trio to my most honourable Lord, or to somebody else.” The publication of the work would not necessarily bring him any profit. He would have to pay for the printing. It would cost 70 ducats.
Waldstein may not have not been tempted to send the 70 ducats, but it would have been a very dramatic gesture if he had refused the dedication. It is extraordinary, in an aristocratic world where correct form mattered so much that Kammell’s devotion to Lady Lucy would inspire him to give her precedence over his master.
The publication of this first work was a symbolic and significant thing. This was the launch of his career as a composer.
Count Waldstein would have to be content with the dedication of Op. 3.
At Bourne Place he also met another important new friend. In his letter of 5th July 1766 he mentions that “Esq Tay (lor) (??), Mr Sole (and) George Pitt are, unknown to you, sending their regards.”
George Pitt, later Lord Rivers, who first appears in the story here at Bourne Place, would be one of Kammell’s most important friends and patrons over many years.