Concluding Rosemary Pemberton’s research on the Read family and The Salisbury Museum in the Nineteenth Century.
Moving on to the three sons mentioned in the museum’s Minute Books, the third son George Sydney Read was born in The Close in 1824. He won a scholarship to Oxford at the age of 16 and was appointed a Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in Cork in 1849. In 1858 he became a barrister in London. At the time the museum opened he gave his address as ‘The Close’ where he was living with his sister. His name as G.S. or Sydney appears in some museum committee attendance records and he was appointed joint Honorary Curator of Numismatics. He spent some of his retirement in St Ann Street and, though he died in Surbiton in 1904, his funeral was held in St Edmund’s Church.
The second son Charles John was born in 1820, shortly after the family moved to Salisbury. He was present at the first meeting of the ‘Relic Fund’ in April 1860 that was charged with setting up the new museum and continued to serve on its committee. He volunteered to be present on a rota with three others during the hours the museum was open. A newspaper cutting of 1862 attached to the first Minute Book and reporting on the first year of its operation, states he was one of those ‘whose specimens constitute the greater part of the collection’. Current museum records indicate he donated a number of flint tools from the locality as well as loaning/donating ceramic pieces.
In 1885 he wrote a paper for the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society (WANHS) on flints from Bemerton and Milford Hill.
On August 17th 1870 he wrote to the Salisbury and Winchester Journal quoting from an eighteenth- century book on Stonehenge written by the famous Bath architect John Wood the Elder (Choir Gaure, vulgarly called Stonehenge 1747) that posited the edifice had never been completed. Charles then stated he had never come across this idea and recommended this be discussed at the WANHS meeting of the following month.
According to the censuses between 1851 and 1881 he was a lodger in The Close Porter’s house (just to the north of The Matron’s College) or lived in St Thomas’s Square and latterly with his brother Raphael, also in The Close. He earned his living as a Professor of Music having trained at the Royal Academy in London where he taught piano. (See Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Harpists by W M Govea.)
Among his pupils in Salisbury were two men, Dr C W Pearce and T E Aylward who went on to become distinguished organists. The Musical Times of 1 March 1864 notes that he directed ‘A grand miscellaneous concert of vocal and instrumental music at the Assembly-rooms’ where he gave a pianoforte solo.
The Salisbury and Winchester Journal of 3 October 1853 advertises his publication the ‘Parochial Psalmist’, an arrangement of hymns and psalms for four voices accompanied by organ or piano. He also composed, as The Musical World (Vol 16.1841) reports that he played a movement of his pianoforte concerto at the Royal Academy. It is also known that he owned a violin made by one of Benjamin Bank’s sons (See British Violin Makers. W M Morris)
He died on 26 June 1891 in the Fisherton Asylum.
Salisbury Museum Minute Books – 1866 above and 1860 below.
From the Musical Times. 1 March 1864
The artist’s eldest son Raphael Woolman (b.1819) possibly led the most adventurous life and was the only one of the siblings who did not marry.
He trained as a surgeon at Salisbury Infirmary, qualifying in 1841. In 1844 he joined the 52nd Light Infantry as an Assistant Surgeon and served with them in Dublin from where, in 1852, he was sent to the funeral of The Duke of Wellington to be in charge of the medical needs of his soldiers. In 1853 he went with his regiment to India.
His obituary in the local paper (13 March 1886) indicates that though he offered to go to the Crimea, he transferred instead to the 30th Cambridge Regiment with a promotion to Surgeon.
The obituary also states that he went to Canada with them in 1860 on Brunel’s S.S Great Eastern as a consequence of The Trent Affair (a diplomatic incident which looked as though it might start a war between North America and the UK). However, this incident did not take place until November 1861 and the transport of a mass of military personnel was shown in the Illustrated London News on 6 July 1861. It seems that the government needed to replenish our troops in Canada, especially with the outbreak of the American Civil War in April of that year. In 1864 he was appointed Registrar at the newly opened Royal Victoria military hospital at Netley on Southampton Water. He served in that post until his retirement aged 50 in1869 with the honorary rank of Deputy Inspector General of Army Hospitals.
Having retired back to The Close, possibly to the same house as his father, he became a Magistrate and served on the management committee of the Infirmary. His obituary notes a love of music and art. Both George and he loaned pieces to a Fine Art Exhibition held in The Council Chamber in 1879. A good number of their father’s works were also exhibited there. Ceramic history seems to have been more of a specialism for him. Sitting on the museum committee he had the added responsibility of writing a very detailed catalogue for the special Loan Exhibition of Porcelain Statuettes in 1872 to which he contributed some of his collection. His obituary notes he resigned from the museum shortly afterwards.
He died in February 1886 aged 67 and was buried (according to his obituary) just to the north of the two cedar trees in the cathedral cloister. In his will he leaves the majority of his effects to Sydney and Charles but an advertisement for an auction in June in The Canal suggests some was sold, as it advertises antique furniture, silver, books and a part of his china and wine collection.
A coloured version of a print from The Illustrated London News of 6 July 1861 showing troops embarking on SS Great Britain.
The Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley. Demolished in 1966.
Salisbury Museum’s copy of the 1872 Loan Exhibition catalogue signed by Raphael Read.
A Bow porcelain statuette in Salisbury Museum’s collection with R. Read’s label as ‘proprietor’ on it.
The two youngest Read children, David and Mary seemed not to share their sibling’s interest in the arts. David moved to London and became a solicitor. Mary lived in The Close with her mother until the age of 33 or 34, married Edward Davies of Stratford-sub-Castle, a landowner and also moved to London.
David Read is therefore the member of the family with the best surviving legacy but his three eldest sons, Raphael, Charles and Sydney, contributed a great deal to the museum in its early days and to the cultural and civic life of the city.
With thanks to Bea Tilbrook for census, military records, wills and newspaper information and to Nigel Wyatt for musical references.
Prepared under ‘lockdown’ conditions. Other source: John Constable’s Correspondence. R B Beckett. (ed)
The memorial tablet in Salisbury Cathedral Cloister commemorating David Charles, ‘landscape painter’, his wife Charlotte and their son Raphael.
Thank you Rosemary!