Tour 8 This week’s backroom tour by Director Adrian Green is about Heywood Sumner. Salisbury Museum is fortunate in having originals of some of his exquisite work.
Sumner was born in Old Arlesford, north of Winchester, in 1853, studied law, but became a painter and illustrator of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Sumner’s earliest contributions to archaeology involved surveying the prehistoric earthworks of Cranborne Chase, riding his bike from his home at Cuckoo Hill (Gorley, near Fordingbridge) in the Avon valley. The results of his fieldwork between 1911 and 1913 were published in a collection entitled The Ancient Earthworks of Cranborne Chase. Adrian shows us extracts from these in a first edition copy. In 1917 he published a companion volume The Ancient Earthworks of the New Forest. In 1921, he also published work on archaeology in the Bournemouth area.
If you like his stylised drawings and paintings, facsimile copies of his books, such as Cuckoo Hill and his illustrations in John R Wise’s The New Forest, can be purchased from Amazon.
Tour 7 Museum Director Adrian Green has taken us behind the scenes again to perhaps the most compelling part of the museum, The Wessex Gallery. We are shown some of the finds from Stonehenge, including Adrian’s own favourite of all the wonderful items there…
As regular readers know, Alan Clarke looks after the photographic archive at the museum and we have had many excellent blogs based on a huge variety of these. Today, something new…
Reed and Mallik – REEMA
There was a company called Reed and Mallik (R&M) whose headquarters were in Salisbury in Milford Manor. I remember them well as I used to get a lift with one of their engineers to Cambridge.
Salisbury museum has been given permission to scan a number of documents and photographs concerning this now long-gone company. This company ‘s bank was the Barclays branch on the corner of High Street and Bridge Street. This company was so big, that at one time, its account alone was bigger than all this branch’s other accounts put together. I know a lady who used to work at the bank and whose full-time job was handling the R&M accounts.
These scanned documents show what an amazing world-wide number of projects REEMA (the R&M pre-fabricated concrete business) was involved in. This blog only has room just to scratch the surface of this Salisbury mega-company.
Most of Salisbury’s original Bemerton Heath housing estate was built by REEMA. There are some lovely photographs of the various house types used in this estate.
350 REEMA houses were built on Bemerton Heath and more at Harnham, which I know nothing about.
The company traded in Salisbury, Wiltshire between 1937 & 1968. Today it is hard to obtain finance for such buildings in the UK, primarily due to unforeseen problems with similar large panel system construction buildings over the decades but many have lasted for decades. REEMA built prefabricated concrete houses and high rise apartment blocks, village halls, dams in Wales and Scotland and bridges in Australasia.
REEMA were amongst a number of companies building government subsidised ‘prefabs’ (prefabricated houses) after WW2. They were a major part of the delivery plan to address the United Kingdom’s post–Second World War housing shortage envisaged by war-time prime minister, Winston Churchill.
Photography around the 1900s involved the use of glass plates as negatives. By the time these are donated to the museum, some 100 years later or so, there is not much, if any, information with them. Associated notebooks etc. have long since been lost. Occasionally there are small pieces of paper stuck to the glass but these have often faded or deteriorated and so become illegible. Thus the challenge of identifying where, when, and what occasion etc. A collection can be identified as local by recognisable Salisbury scenes such as the Cathedral, Old Sarum, Stonehenge, the Poultry Cross, or village signs. Sometimes, amongst all these obviously local images, there are some strange ones.
Was there a connection between Salisbury and quarrying on Bodmin Moor? This one was solved by a famous industrial archaeologist from Shaftesbury. William Fawcett Esquire** of Salisbury was the chairman of the company that ran the Marke Valley Consols Mine from the White Hart in Salisbury! See attached image below:
Yes, Salisbury Museum image archive includes images of documents, where appropriate, especially school plays and concert programmes to accompany archived play images.
Amongst the latest large collection of glass negatives, mostly local, there are some on rubber. The one here has some legible writing: “Ceylon Rubber Exhibition. R.B.Gardens, Peradeniya Sept 1906. The branch of overhead tree is ‘Ficus Tyimouic’”. One couldn’t ask for better – when, where and occasion – all given.
A search via Google finds that there was an article in the 1906 copy of the magazine Nature.
“An exhibition of rubber has lately been held in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Peradeniya, in Ceylon, with the most unqualified success, and the time is opportune to see where we stand, and to sum up the work of the scientific institutions which have been engaged in starting this new, and now very prosperous, industry”. WILLIS, J. Rubber Cultivation in the East, and the Ceylon Rubber Exhibition . Click for full article: Nature 75, 209–210 (1906)
The photograph in Nature is roughly the same viewpoint but without the people; not nearly so interesting. The dress styles for Ceylon in 1906 are quite intriguing; especially the man on the far right with the stove pipe top hat. Perhaps you’ll like to study the photograph in detail and write some comments to add to this blog and thence the archive.
Now what was this to do with Salisbury in 1906? Was J Willis, the Nature author, from Salisbury?
There is another clue. Another glass plate giving a photograph of a newspaper/magazine (unreferenced) cutting titled “From the Amazon to Ceylon” hand dated 1910. It would appear from the text below the photograph that Mr H A Wickham***, who apparently started the rubber industry in Ceylon, was visiting for the first time.
Now with a name, I could find lots of details about him in Wikipedia where it states “Henry Wickham was born in Hampstead, north London.” Not quite Salisbury but much closer than Ceylon. That is as far as I have got.
** In 1815 William Fawcett, born in Westmorland, settled in Salisbury , began as a draper’s assistant then opened his own business as a draper. In 1825 he married a Salisbury solicitor’s daughter He was mayor of the town in 1832, a keen supporter of the Reform Bill, and, in later years, of the Anti-Cornlaw League. In 1841 he took a farm at Longford, near Salisbury, upon which he lived for some years subsequent to 1851. He was involved in successful speculations in Cornish mining.
***Mr HA Wickham’s connection with Salisbury remains a mystery. As Alan has discovered, he was born in London, and died there in 1928. He was buried, at his request, in Wickham, Hampshire, being convinced he was related to William of Wykham, Chancellor of England in the Middle Ages. So, close, but still not a man of Salisbury.
How he obtained the rubber seeds in their native South America and smuggled them out to Asia is another story….
From Alan Crooks, echoing the thoughts of many of us….
“Fascinating series of mini-talks from Adrian. I’ve only just got around to watching them – been awaiting the onset of some poorer weather to warrant being indoors 😀.”
And from Maggie Hunter….
“Please thank all of you who are keeping us up to date with Museum. Now that Adrian has shown us the original chess figure from the drainage collection, should we keep quiet that the one on display is only a copy?”
We look forward to more in this series of fascinating tours behind the scenes.
Meanwhile, please remember there are other You Tube presentations about the museum collections. Just use your search engine (eg Google) and type in Salisbury Museum You Tube. Click here for another example.
Looking back over my selection of photographs of Minute Books and cuttings from the beginnings of Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, (taken while researching the Wilton antiquarian James Nightingale), I came across a number of references to committee members with the surname Read. There was a C.J., a Raphael, an S., a Sydney (presumably the same person) and, most mysteriously, a Deputy Inspector General. The Deputy Inspector General of what I wondered, were they all from the same family and where does the discovery of a sour relationship with John Constable fit into the story?
In 1820 an artist, David Charles Read (born 1790 in Boldre, in the New Forest) moved to The Close, Salisbury. The first census (1841) indicates his home was between Bishop’s Walk and St Ann’s gate on the southern side. He would have brought with him his wife Charlotte and his oldest son, born in 1819 with the artistically aspirational name Raphael. The couple would go on to have four more children, of whom two are of interest here: Charles John, born 1820 and George Sydney born in 1824.
David Charles Read trained as an etcher in London when young but returned to the country for the sake of his health. The Dictionary of National Biography states ‘he had ample though unremunerative employment as a drawing master’. He spent his spare time drawing and painting, mostly landscapes, though he did complete a few portraits, including two of the poet Goethe. His paintings were mainly of the Avon valley and the New Forest though the subjects of his etchings could be from further afield.
Campbell Fine Arts, a print specialist,writes ‘Whilst David Charles Read may have remained little known as a painter, he excelled as an original printmaker. His beautifully open and highly confident etched works display a spontaneity associated with fine natural talent and betray the particular influence of the Dutch masters such as Rembrandt van Rijn. Further than this, D. C. Read was one of a select group of original printmakers…. to make extensive use of drypoint as an original printmaking technique, handing on the traditions of this important process to the mid Victorians’.
Salisbury Museum owns a particularly atmospheric engraving of Stonehenge by him.
Stonehenge. 1830. The Salisbury Museum.
View from Pugin’s House. 1835. The Ashmolean Museum.
Britford Vale. 1835. The Ashmolean Museum.
As a character David Read seems to have had inflated ideas of his own talent and his demand for recognition eventually upset none other than john Constable. Initially Constable found Read’s copies in oils from Claude and Van de Velde ‘very far from bad, and very much better than I expected’.
But in 1822 Archdeacon Fisher asked Constable to promote one of Read’s painting to a London gallery and this is his rather waspish reply.
” MY DEAR FISHER, There is nothing so cheering to me as the sight of your handwriting, yet I am dilatory in answering you. I will gladly do all I can for Read and his picture, but you know I can only send it; I possess no favour in that place, I have no patron but yourself, and you are not a grandee ; you are only a gentleman and a scholar, and a real lover of the art. I will mention R ‘s picture to Young, and this is all that is in my power. Is it not possible to dissuade him from coming to London, where he will be sure to get rid of what little local reputation he may have? But perhaps he prefers starving in a crowd, and if he is determined to adventure, let him by all means preserve his flowing locks, they will do him more service than even the talents of Claude Lorraine, if he possessed them’.
Some months later Constable confided to Fisher ‘the truth…is that he is ignorant of every rudiment of art-without one grain of original feeling-without one atom of talent’. Read countered this lack of public recognition by talking of ‘future fame being preferable to present flattery’ and, when ‘exalted’ at a wine-party in Salisbury, he prophesied that posterity would say ‘here Read walked and there he sketched’.
David Read worked fast, completing up to five etched plates a week, and produced six series of prints between 1829 and 1845. Also (perhaps in order to enhance his reputation), he presented the Earl of Pembroke with a set of prints, and dedicated another to Queen Adelaide. He befriended Pugin and presented a volume of his etchings to the British Museum in 1832 and 1842. In the letter he wrote to the British Museum with the presentation in 1842 he complained of the ‘chilling neglect that attended their first publication’. However, his works did find appreciation from Goethe, Mendelssohn and a few connoisseurs.
In 1845/6 he spent a year in Italy painting well known scenes. Then, in 1849 he moved to Kensington and died there in 1851 at the age of only 61. Between 1871 and 1874 his son Raphael compiled a manuscript catalogue of his works, with a memoir and gave it to the British Museum. They bought a number of his works in the nineteenth century with the result that they now hold around 300 of his drawings and etchings. It is now rare to find his etchings, partly because he was so scrupulous that did not wish any etchings to be taken from worn plates.
David C Read’s own etching copied from a watercolour by John Linnell. His son Raphael has added the words’ Very like him when young’. The Salisbury Museum has one of these prints.
The sale of his collection at Christie’s. 6 April 1853. Note that he is referred to as ‘that accomplished amateur’ which probably would not have pleased him.
Rosemary Pemberton May 2020
The story of David’s three sons (the committee members mentioned in the Minute Books) to be continued…
Rosemary has been researching this and putting it together ‘under lockdown’. It is another reminder of what we can do via our computers. Thank you Rosemary!
Director of The Salisbury Museum, Adrian Green, continues his tours of the museum. These are wonderful opportunities to see objects which are often kept in store and to hear an expert tell us about them.
Last week we had a very interesting ‘mystery’ photo from the museum archives, courtesy of Alan Clarke.
The mystery was, what was the burnt out building in the middle of the photograph? The clue was the church, top left.
St Thomas’ church, by the Market Square of course. So the burnt building was very much in the centre of the city, just south of the Market. It was the yard and buildings behind the Old George Inn.
Alan supplies further photographs to explain. The date is 1945.
The street front section survived, and still does, of course, as the entrance to the old George Mall.
Below is a description, from a redundant BBC Wiltshire website, of the Old GeorgeInn from 2004, before it became home to the Boston Tea Party cafe. It was possible to tour the then empty inn on special open days.
“Through a door on the High street, in Salisbury, through a maze of offices, fire doors and breeze block corridors and before you know it you’re back in the 15th century.
Well not exactly but you will find yourself inside an ancient medieval hostelry aka The Old George Inn.
The Old George Inn, now perched above the main entrance of the Old George Mall, has been providing bed and ‘board’ since 1364.
But it hasn’t been open to the public since the mid 90s when its last incarnation, The Bay Tree Restaurant, closed down.
Since then the Inn, with its entrance blocked off from the street below, has languished disused, empty and closed to the public.
But be warned, with steep steps, a warren of corridors and uneven floors it’s not for everyone. But if you are able it’s well worth it.
As you push open the last fire door, leaving the mall behind you, you enter a remarkable wood-panelled banqueting hall.
Trussed together by a forest of pillars and oak beams, the great hall not only boasts a minstrel’s gallery but an intricately carved Jacobean mantelpiece.
Above you, on two beams ends, hang two crudely carved figure heads of Edward II and his Queen Isabella.
Queen Isabella, nicknamed “the she-wolf of France”, was fiery to say the least and had her husband done to death which might explain why they appear to be glaring at each other.
The bay-window, overlooking the high street, was built in 1453 at a cost of just £1.00 by some Italians doing a spot of moonlighting from their work on the Cathedral.
But the most impressive part of the Old George Inn has to be its heavy weight celebrity guest list. The diarist Samuel Pepys booked in for a night where he “lay in a silke bed and had very good diet”. But he found the bill so exorbitant that he became “mad” and had a row with the landlady and moved to a cheaper inn the next morning.
In 1645 Oliver Cromwell stopped off at the Old George for bed and breakfast on his way to joining the army and it also crops up in Charles’s Dickens’s novel “Martin Chuzzlewit”.
Even William Shakespeare and his strolling players are said to have performed a “one night stand” in the Inn’s courtyard which once stabled up to 50 horses.”
It was all redeveloped in the 1990s with archaeological excavation taking place as appropriate. You might like to read more about that here.