Yesterday was the anniversary of Napoleon leaving Egypt. In addition to his military army, Napoleon had taken a second army of scientists, scholars, technicians, artist and, engravers. His expedition included the discovery of the famous Rosetta Stone, which became the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphics. The stele ended up in the British Library where Frances Rolleston and her friends pondered it and she first saw the link between the Sphinx and Virgo.
About that time, Frances was staying next door to Dean Vincent, headmaster of the Westminster School. Ancient geography was his chief area of study, and he sometimes had Frances translate old Italian for him. His great work, The Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients in the Indian Ocean, was admired by Napoleon, who had it translated into French. Napoleon, perhaps in appreciation, sent Description de L'Egypt to the Dean.
This gorgeous book was produced by Napoleon's second army—those scholars and artists. The old Dean invited his young friend, Frances, to view and puzzle over it with him, and she had the feeling that some day those magnificent must be explained.
In the spring of 1835 FR left the London area to live among her relatives in Nottinghamshire. News of the day was that at nearby Newstead Abbey, a ghost known as the "black monk" had badly frightened a man-servant. (FR claimed later to have put that ghost to rest, but that's another story.) One other piece of news concerned some antiques.
Newstead Abbey, estate of the poet Lord Byron, at that time in the possession of Colonel Wildman, was founded originally not as an abbey but as a priory of Austin or Black Canons. For the uninitiated, whether an abbey or a priory is a matter of rank. Priories were subsidiaries of abbeys. The head of the priory—the prior or the prioress—was answerable to the abbot or abbess, whereas the head of an abbey—the abbot or abbess—was answerable to the Pope. That is, until Henry the Eighth broke with Rome.
Newstead dated from the 12th century, and so FR found it humorous when Colonel Wildman persuaded Mrs. Rolleston (FR's aunt) to let him have the old grates from Watnall Hall. Watnall Hall was less than 200 years old. How amusing that the old grates were "now among the precious 'antiques' of Newstead."