Georgina Green’s case study explores the history of a house (Valentines Mansion, Ilford – shown left), a ship (the Valentine, in its successive reincarnations) and a network of Georgian maritime investors associated with the East India Company (most notably Sir Charles Raymond and his family). More broadly, the case study examines the ways in which profits from commerce conducted at great risk in Asian outposts and Indian Ocean waters came to be reinvested in Britain, refurbishing homes and gardens and reshaping the neighbourhoods in which they were located. Grounded in the eighteenth century, this material history extends to the present day: ‘Valentines, the Raymonds and Company Material Culture’ illuminates global commerce in the Georgian era, but it also reveals the ways in which the Company’s legacy has shaped the built environment of London in the twenty-first century.
The Valentines case study is especially distinctive in its broad-ranging and innovative methodology. Painstaking research in the Company’s archive at the British Library and the text-based practices of family and local history underpin this study. But so too does scuba-diving for shipwrecked Company treasure. The illustrations that accompany the case study’s text seek to capture the highly diverse methods and sources upon which it is based. Like the broader narrative presented here, the illustrations date from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, encompassing Georgian prints and entries from ships’ log-books at one chronological extreme and dive reports and contemporary art installations at the other.