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On Official Service
The published accounts of diplomats and soldiers and the archives of those working on official service overseas contain descriptions of foreign cultures and countries in earlier centuries.
Ysbrand Ides, Ambassador for the Czars of Russia to the Emperor of China gives a fascinating glimpse into the customs and ceremonies of the imperial Chinese court in Peking at the end of the 17th century.
After a difficult journey, he was welcomed into the Forbidden City with great pomp. At the banquet there were seventy silver dishes, bearing cold meats fruit and confections.
Adam Neale's work, 'Letters from Portugal and Spain', draws on his experience with the British Army in the Peninsular War. His description shows the contrast between a peaceful country scene and a military campaign:
"The valley, village, and the extent of its beautiful and romantic environs, were stretched beneath my eye as on a plan. The atmosphere was serene, the sun blazed forth from a blue and silvery sky, streaked with fleecy clouds, and I could distinctly perceive every motion of the contending armies."
Since the mid-19th century photography has left a visual record of historic occasions. The Newcastle Collection contains a group picture from the Prince of Wales' royal tour of the United States and Canada in 1860, showing the bearded 5th Duke of Newcastle standing at the side of the Prince.
Further sources relating to this subject area are held by Manuscripts and Special Collections at King's Meadow Campus. See our website for information about our collections and catalogues.