GIFFARD, Edward. A short Visit to the Ionian Islands, Athens and the Morea, London, John Murray, MDCCCXXXVII [=1837].
Edward Giffard (1812-1867) was a British admiral and a graduate of Pembroke College, Oxford. Descended from one of the most ancient families of Devonshire, his great-grandfather relocated to Dublin. Giffard himself was born in Colombo, Ceylon, where his father, Sir Hardinge Giffard (1771–1827) was chief magistrate of the island. Two of his five siblings joined the Army and Naval forces of Britain. Giffard died in 1867 in Brighton, Sussex. Little is known about his life.
Giffard decided to travel to Greece when his physician advised him to spend a few months in a warmer southern climate. On 3 January 1836 he embarked on a steam-packet at Falmouth. When he returned to the same port on 24 March of the same year, he had visited Cádiz, Gibraltar, Malta, Corfu, Patras, Delphi, Corinth, Salamis, Athens, Aegina, Epidaurus, Nafplion, Tiryns, Mycenae, Argos, Lerna, Tegea, Vourlia, Sparta, Lionari, Messene, Phigaleia, Olympia, Pyrgos and Zakynthos. During his journey, Giffard stopped at several archaeological sites. He approached the ancient ruins in an inquisitive mood, always animated by a spirit of adventure.
Giffard recorded his impressions in A short Visit to the Ionian Islands, Athens, and the Morea, which was published a year later. In the time of Giffard's tour, steamships had made travelling in the Eastern Mediterranean far easier and faster than ever before. Aware of the increase of travellers, or tourists, in the region, the author does not omit to provide practical information and advice to his readers and future travellers.
Besides antiquities, Giffard also focused on contemporary Greece. He visited the capital of the small kingdom and wrote about the young monarch's endeavours to clean and restore the Acropolis monuments. He was especially impressed by the restoration of the temple of Athena Nike, which had been completed in 1835. Giffard was present in the foundation ceremony of the Royal Palce, where Otto of Greece and his father Louis of Baviers laid the first stone of the building. During the feast, he was able to witness the austerity of Bavarian officials, whom as he notes, the Greeks like to call Barvarians.
The book was warmly received. Contemporary reviews described it as “an elegant and amusing book” (Asiatic Journal, 1837, p. 302) and stated that "Whether as a guide to the traveller, or as amusing summer reading to those who stay at home […] Mr. Giffard's work is very creditable to its author” — Quarterly Review, 1837, p. 240).
GIFFARD, Edward, Esq. A short Visit to the Ionian Islands, Athens, and the Morea, London, John Murray, MDCCCXXXVII [=1837].
GIFFARD, Edward, Esq. Deeds of Naval Daring: Anecdotes of the British Navy, London, John Murray, 1852.
GIFFARD, Sir Ambrose Hardinge & GIFFARD, Edward, Who was My Grandfather?: A Biographical Sketch, London, Harrison and Sons, 1865.
Moore, Dudley & Rowlands, Edward & Karadimas, Nektarios, In Search of Agamemnon: Early Travellers to Mycenae, Cambridge, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014, pp. 103-104.
Asiatic Journal, Volume 23, London, Allen Parbury, May-August, 1837, p. 302.
The Quarterly Review, Volume 59, London, John Murray, July-October, 1837, pp. 217-240.
Written by Nikolas Nikolaides